Posted on April 23, 2012
A lot happened over the last few days besides building. I grabbed another heap of pallets to work on in case the weather didn’t allow for construction. I’m considering making wood flooring out of the pieces…we’ll see where that idea goes. There’s a pile of about 10 pallets waiting for me to dismantle, which I will get to in a few days.
I also (finally) ordered my windows! As a result of knowing the window sizes finally, we got some framing done! We built the first wall down on the trailer and then stood it up in place. So nice to see some vertical progress 🙂
It doesn’t look like much for a total of 2(ish) hours, but I insisted on doing most of it so I slowed us down a bit. Thankfully the rain held off! The blue tape in the first pictures is left over from some space planning. We mapped out everything to scale to make sure I had the windows where they needed to be (i.e. away from the closets and stove).
Posted on April 11, 2012
Luckily day 2 was shorter than day 1, but we still got a ton done. As I noted in the previous post, we bolted down the floor frame to the trailer itself. After that was done, we finished up the foam board insulation by layering on a thinner sheet over the 2 3/4 inch sheets we installed the previous day.
More exciting was the plywood. This involved a lot more measuring than I had prepared myself for, but it worked out. Each sheet needed to be cut, glued, and nailed down to the studs. Some sheets required two long cuts and the pieces around the wheel wells were, of course, the most complicated. Thanks construction guru! I am now proficient in using several kinds of saws, a staple gun, a nail gun, caulk (kind of…), and I think I have a good grip on the basics of framing. We’ll see how much I can do on my own for the walls.
Speaking of walls, I also played around with window placement over the weekend. Before the walls can go up, I have to figure out where my windows are going. Admittedly I’ve been held up by the floor plan and where the stove is going. Luckily there’s a floor plan guru in the family as well. Thanks mom! Just for fun, here are some of the options she came up with:
The front door will probably stay on the short wall instead of the long one, but it’s a viable option to move it if you’d like. The closet that’s next to the kitchen will go all the way up to the ceiling, with access from the loft and it’ll create a little nook up there for more shelves and storage. This closet, however, eliminates a dormer window. I wasn’t all that worried until we realized that the stove pipe would likely go up through the roof right in front of the other planned dormer window on that side…I don’t want to remove both windows from one side. Depending on heat clearances and such, we’ll continue playing with the stove placement for the next day or so until it’s figured out. Since I’m going to start building the walls next week, I really need to get this window issue settled. But while I’m talking windows, I’d like to mention that I am sadly going with white vinyl ones. In my perfect eco world I would be able to buy used windows, refurb them a little, and slap them in. Based on time, labor, skill, and energy efficiency considerations, I’m going with new vinyl ones. At least I’m getting them from a local business though. All but one of the windows are manufactured in Ohio (not great with the carbon footprint there) and the loft window is being custom made from a manufacturer in Rocky Mount, VA. I’ll post the final design and windows specs once I have them figured out.
Posted on March 30, 2012
It may seem a little early to think about heating the wee house, but it’s actually pretty appropriate so I know how to alter the framing if needed. Will a window be in the way, how will it vent, will it take forever to ship, etc.? So I’m down to 3 options after a ton of research:
Tiny wood stove
- Environment (wood = renewable; used stove = awesome)
- Society (helping out someone who’s selling this on c’list; and it’s ADORABLE)
- Economy (cheaper option for me; money in someone else’s pocket)
- Logistics? (nightmare to transport and install)
Tiny gas stove
- Environment (gas/propane = non-renewable; new stove = not awesome)
- Society (support a local business selling it; and it’s also ADORABLE)
- Economy (have you looked at the price??)
- Logistics? (much easier to transport and install than the wood stove)
- Environment (electric = non-renewable unless it runs on power from solar panels; new stove = not awesome)
- Society (I’m saying no on this category since it’s from a big box store and shipped from who-knows-where)
- Economy (super cheap)
- Logistics? (easy transport and installation)
So far the Facebook poll I put up has the wood stove winning. That’s the ideal choice in my head, but I’m not sure about reality. If I can get the used one, I’m in! But if it’s sold by the time I can make the 2 hour drive, then I’ll either have to buy a new one (ouch) or go with the gas one (also ouch).
Posted on March 29, 2012
Last weekend the trailer came in! This was quite a pleasant surprise, considering I was expecting it to take 4 weeks. For a trailer it looks like a decent size, but seems quite small when you imagine it being a house. Now that it’s in, titled and registered, dad and I are going to find a nice spot for it in the grass and level it this coming weekend. As this all happened so soon, I’m not prepared with lumber for framing! Time to scramble.
Other weekend happenings focused on deconstructing pallets. In theory, it seems easy enough to just flip them over and take a hammer to the pieces you want to knock off. Here’s what happens with this method:
Plus, in order to hammer out the front pieces, you have remove the back ones. It’s just a general mess that way and I didn’t want to waste time cracking perfectly usable wood. After a few attempts, the best way was to saw through the nails. Dad held the pallets at first, but it really needs to be a one-person job so we used clamps to secure the pallet to a work bench:
The first one took me about an hour to dismantle. I managed to get the process down to a science by the fourth one which took only 20 minutes. The sixth one took longer because my wimpy arms just gave out on me! I’ll build up some endurance eventually. I have a lot of pallets to go through…
A NOTE ON PALLETS: Only choose HT (heat-treated) pallets to use in, on, or around your home. Chemically-treated pallets are covered in all kinds of nasty stuff that will off-gas or absorb into things and could cause some health damage.
Posted on March 14, 2012
Although I’m building from plans, this house is going to require a bit of customizing. The biggest issue at the moment is the overall height because the trailer we ordered seems a little higher off the ground than most, thus requiring some shortening of the walls and changing the pitch of the roof. I need to keep this thing under 14 feet so I don’t need a special permit each time I want to move it. My other concern is the windows because I’m going with cheaper options than what is called for in the plans so I’m sure I won’t find the specified sizes. In general, here are the basics of the mini abode:
- Approximately 130 square feet (maybe 140?)
- Wood siding exterior
- Front door at the back of the trailer (not the tongue)…I considered putting the door on the side, but didn’t like it as much
- Living room right as you walk in
- Kitchen is galley style behind the living room
- Bathroom includes a toilet and separate shower, behind the kitchen
- No attached porch, however I do plan on constructing a folding wooden “porch” that can be placed outside when the house is stationary
- RV hookups, but hopefully I can wire it for solar as well
It’s really a hybrid of Tumbleweed and Tiny Home Builders now that I think about it. Tumbleweed has cute porches on most of their houses, but that reduces the interior living space. I like the kitchen and bathroom layout of the THB design. I’m also planning to install Tumbleweed-inspired storage options to make it easier to live in as a permanent home.
Posted on March 12, 2012
Well it has officially begun! I’ve ordered the tiny house trailer and it should be here in 3 – 4 weeks. It’s a 7 x 20 Leonard brand trailer, wood deck, no dovetail, no ramps, no sides, 10,000 # GVWR tandem axle.
I was determined to find a trailer from a Virginia dealer and this fit the bill. Although it’s actually made in North Carolina, that’s way better than all the others made in Georgia or Florida. I spent a grand total of 29 hours researching tiny house trailers from dealer sites and craigslist. The quotes I received ranged from about $3200 to over $4400. Yikes! The only suitable trailer on craigslist within a reasonable distance was $2000 and had a bunch of extras I’d have to cut off. Plus, as dad mentioned, this is the foundation of the house and needs to be solid.
Here’s how I weighed the pros and cons of my options, relating to the 3 sustainability categories plus my additional category:
Craigslist or used trailer from a dealer
New trailer from a dealer
I still think a used trailer would be the best option overall, but I simply didn’t have time to wait for the perfect one to show up.
Posted on February 26, 2012
Welcome to Small House, Big Adventure! This blog is a complement to my master’s thesis in sustainable living in small spaces and I will be detailing my progress in building an actual tiny house on wheels! Thanks for stopping by to check things out. I should have more posts for your enjoyment in the coming months.