Build Days 28 and 29 (6/9/12 – 6/10/12)

Pretty short update that will be mostly photos…I’ve been behind on these because the draft of my research paper is due this weekend and frankly that’s more important to me right now! ¬†ūüėČ

On 6/9 and 6/10 Dad and I trimmed out the storage area on the back and put up the fascia boards around the house where the roof meets the walls. ¬†The photos will tell you the rest…

Build Days 25, 26, 27 (6/6/12-6/8/12)

I’m combining these 3 days since they all deal with trim and would have been too short to separate and still be interesting.

6/6: We put all the corner trim on (well, almost all of it…there are some corners on the dormers that still need it, but we have to wait for the roof to come in). ¬†It’s Smartside trim and siding from LP that is pretty environmentally-friendly. ¬†I got a good deal on it through the local hardware store and the company didn’t require a minimum order. ¬†I had looked into cedar and other options for this stuff that seemed cheaper, but everywhere I looked required a minimum of twice what I actually needed.

6/7: Trimmed out all but 2 windows after debating which style to go with. ¬†It’s certainly different, but it fits in with the vision I have in my head. ¬†Keep any disapproving comments to yourself please ūüėČ

6/8: Finished the trim on the last windows, around the door, and spray-foamed (that’s a verb, right?) around the wheel wells on the inside of the house and around the windows. ¬†Even though I knew it would expand a lot, I still managed to overfill the cracks. ¬†At least you know it’s extra sealed!

Build Day 24 (6/3/12)

A short workday but we managed to install the front door. ¬†It’s steel with a venting window to help cool down the house since I’m not putting in A/C. ¬†The original plans called for two windows on either side of the door, but I really wanted to use the space on the inside for storage rather than for windows. ¬†I think this meets the window/wall space requirement I had in my head quite nicely. ¬†As for hardware, I’m going to scrounge around the ReStore but I’ll probably have to get a new knob and deadbolt set. ¬†Boooo!

The installation itself was easier than I thought. ¬†I caulked the floor underneath the door to seal out the elements and such, then we popped in the door. ¬†After testing the swing and squareness, it just needed some shims on the side and to be screwed into the studs. ¬†A bit of caulk around the molding on the outside, and voil√†! ¬†We’ll start the trim whenever we get another dry day.

Build Day 23 (6/02/12)

Been a few days since we worked on the house – I went up to the office for a bit again. ¬†Yesterday the front door came in and we picked up the shower as well. ¬†I can’t wait to see how the door looks on the house! ¬†It’ll also be nice to keep out the bugs…they are quite enjoying their stay in the wee house.

As for construction, we finished the loft today! ¬†The rafters are 2x6s, cut a smidgen shorter than the interior width of the house so we could squeeze them in. ¬†It got a little awkward, but we managed to fit ourselves and the nail gun in the small spaces. ¬†The plywood was also a bit of a struggle based on the shape of the loft…admittedly, it’s not completely square so we had to move the plywood a few times until we got it to fit.

The siding also came in, so it’s stacked up waiting to be installed. ¬†I also ordered a fancy siding nail gun and dad found some cool tools for installation.

Build Days 21-22 (5/27/12 – 5/28/12)

The 27th was window day! ¬†We installed the remaining windows (one was already in from the previous day) and took the rest of the afternoon off. ¬†Honestly I was apprehensive about putting in windows myself based on some comments I’d seen on other blogs, but its’s not hard at all. ¬†It helped that these are new construction so they had nailing flanges on…I highly recommend that! ¬†We used more super flashing, popped them in, put the flashing around all sides, then tapped to our hearts’ content.

The next day was pretty short since we just put up some blocking. ¬†This is really just some more 2x4s cut to size and nailed up under the roof overhang. ¬†The soffits will be nailed to these blocks so it’ll all look nice and clean when you’re standing underneath and looking up at the finished roof. ¬†Happily, I was able to use a few pieces of wood from the pallets I’ve dismantled. ¬†Aside from some extra nails in them, they’re just like any new 2x4s you’d buy.

Water Heater Options

I have a few more building days to post but I thought I’d take a break and write about the current water heater situation that had me utterly stressed out. ¬†I am still set on making this wee house off-grid ready, so figuring out how to get an acceptable hot water source going has been rather tough. ¬†Here are the options I found and considered:


There are so many electric water heaters to choose from. ¬†The one pictured above is just an example that I found online that would work pretty well in a tiny house. ¬†Electric water heaters will probably run you anywhere from $150 – $700 depending on capacity, power, point-of-use versus whole-house, etc. ¬†Under no circumstances will I install one of these! Yes, you could install some crazy solar panel system that could supply enough electricity to power it, but Virginia isn’t a great solar state and it would need a TON of energy.

  • Environment:¬†
  • Economy: ? just depends on which one you’d go with
  • Society: I’m going to use myself as “society” here and my desire for off-grid systems


Now that I have eliminated electric water heaters, it’s time to look at liquid propane (LP). ¬†For those unfamiliar with this, these are usually able to operate on propane tanks that you see hooked up to grills. ¬†There are natural gas heaters as well, but this house won’t be hooked up to that. ¬†Here’s where the stress came in – most LP tankless water heaters still need electricity! ¬†Being tankless, something needs to ignite the heater and this means electricity of some sort. ¬†There are some models that use batteries instead of plug-in electricity but they are outdoor only models:

A few folks have rigged these for indoor use, but they really need to be outside or in a large enough area that there’s no fire or gas hazard. ¬†They are a good way to save money, but I’m more interested in safety for whoever ends up living in it.

  • Environment:¬†¬†(LP isn’t renewable, but better than electric models I say)
  • Economy:¬†
  • Society:¬†¬†(the safety issue kills it here, and it’d be annoying to alter for my needs)

So what to do? ¬†I went on a rant to my dad about how we could fly to the moon but couldn’t make a 100% non-electric , small, indoor, tankless water heater. ¬†I was irked. ¬†Luckily Bosch saved my sanity by making a hydro-powered model. ¬†DUH! ¬†It’s a water heater, so what better source of power for the ignition than the water that runs through it. ¬†Genius. ¬†They also have a push-button ignition model which is my alternate choice if for some reason I can’t get my hands on the hydro one.

  • Environment:¬†¬†(again, LP isn’t renewable, but these use ZERO electricity or batteries)
  • Economy:¬†¬†(way over my original budget for water heaters)
  • Society:(safe and reliable)


A quick thought on some other options: solar heaters are amazing. ¬†They are also thousands of dollars and Virginia just doesn’t have enough sun all the time. ¬†I saw on a forum somewhere about just putting a black hose up on the roof and letting the water get hot that way. ¬†Personally, I think that’s a great option for the sunny, warm months. ¬†For the winter, I could run coils from the wood stove but it’s “far” away from the bathroom and not really something I want to make someone deal with. ¬†It’s all about willingness-to-pay and I’m WTP for a more reliable system like the hydro one.

Build Day 20 (5/26/12)

Today was house wrap day! ¬†This was a neat transformation for me, as I’ve been staring at plywood walls for a while now. ¬†I went with Lowe’s house wrap because I couldn’t get any from smaller, local stores. ¬†I did research eco-friendly house wrap but couldn’t find anything legit that was made from recycled materials…they all say “recyclable.” ¬†Fair enough. ¬†My watch happens to be made from old Tyvek.

Back to my original point – Lowe’s wrap it is for convenience, logistics, price, and quality. ¬†I’m going to see about having an open house at the Lowe’s nearby once this is done, so the pictures look like good advertising for them anyway. ¬†Luckily we didn’t need more than one roll of wrap! ¬†I was also able to save some tape by using some of dad’s from a previous project. ¬†I am always happy to use leftovers if they’re still good – saves on material demand and cost. ¬†This ended up being a 3 person job in order to make quick work of it, so we borrowed mother dearest again ūüôā

After the house wrap was stapled in place everywhere it needed to be, I taped over the seams to seal out moisture and moved on to the window openings. ¬†I only did one today because there was a chance of rain. ¬†After cutting and peeling back the wrap on one of the living room window holes, we laid down some of the most sticky flashing I have ever seen! ¬†I always thought flashing was metal, but apparently not. ¬†And this stuff is really high quality…no worries about leaks here (did you see the stuff we used on the roof??). ¬†In went the window, we nailed around it, and taped it all up around the edges. ¬†I am really happy to see the big windows in the living room rather than two small ones on each side (no offense to everyone else’s window layout). ¬†I think it takes better advantage of good views and it saved a little bit of money and material.

Build Day 18-19 (5/23/12-5/24/12)

Another rainy day on the 23rd! ¬†Progress has been slow lately because of the weather. ¬†We put roofing paper on just one section of the A frame part of the roof and picked up some kitchen cabinets from the YMCA thrift store. ¬†They’re in great shape and I was able to buy them individually (most places sell them as an entire set, which is about 3 times as many cabinets as this tiny house needs!) ¬†I also found a quirky cabinet that will be good for the bathroom.

The 24th was way more productive. ¬†We finished up the paper and picked up the windows. ¬†I took a risk going with prairie style grills but I’m happy with the character it gives. ¬†Unfortunately, they’re new windows but they’re all energy efficient and the loft window was made in Rocky Mount, VA. ¬†I think the others came from Ohio? ¬†I’ll check on that again, but hey, Ohio is closer than getting windows from the other side of the country! ¬†I spent a lot of time looking for used windows but I wanted quality and efficiency…and I don’t have 6 months to look for the perfect used windows. ¬†Tomorrow we get to put up the house wrap which will really make it look different! ¬†So excited ūüôā

Build Day 17 (5/20/12)

…and yet another roofing day concludes. ¬†The plywood went up on the dormers so we’re good to go with all the plywood for the roof. ¬†Finally! ¬†Because of the height of the house and weight of the plywood, ladders seemed more awkward than necessary so we used the tractor. ¬†Not sure which would have won the awkward contest, but it certainly saved my arms this way. ¬†We even sucked mom into this operation! ¬†Basically we just both got in the bucket with the plywood, were lifted up to the roof, and flopped the boards over until all the pieces were up on the roof ready for nailing. ¬†Thanks mom ūüôā

We also managed to put up some tar paper on one section of the roof before the day ended. ¬†We’re using some super paper that is way better than regular stuff, so it’ll be really sealed from the weather up there. ¬†The weather is iffy all week, so it’s questionable if we’ll be able to finish the roofing paper tomorrow or the next day.

Build Day 16 (5/19/12)

Another roof day! ¬†This one was more exciting than the others though because plywood eventually went up. ¬†First I put on a few more brackets that secure all the planes of the house together, and then some went on over the roof trusses. ¬†Those were a bit of a pain, to be honest. ¬†The height, angle, and my shortness made for a frustrating combination. ¬†I keep thinking about them like the hurricane ties that they use in Florida…they seem like the tiny house equivalent to me.

Once that was done, we cut the plywood to size and nailed it on the end sections of the roof. ¬†Luckily the first piece just needed a little trimming and we were able to use some leftover pieces from the walls for the smaller bits that needed to go closer to the peak. ¬†I probably get a little too giddy whenever I see us using pieces that would have otherwise gone into the burn pile, but hey, why else would I be studying environmental sustainability if I didn’t get into this stuff? ¬†The various sections of plywood needed some clips to add strength wherever they didn’t meet the trusses. ¬†It’s pretty amazing how much sturdier it felt with just those small metal clips. ¬†I’m learning that there are a lot of seemingly insignificant items or methods to building that make a big difference on the finished product. ¬†Duh.