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 14 and 15 (5/17/12 – 5/18/12)

Another combo based on the smaller amount of work accomplished both days.  There was still some framing left to do on the dormers, so we put up both long angled boards on each side.  This is what the plywood roof will eventually sit on at the bottom.  Getting the angle cut right on these was a little tricky, since we were sans table saw and they’re both long boards (13 feet ish?  I can’t remember the exact length.)  I also screwed on some brackets that help secure the roof to the walls in case of high winds…it’s a bit of overkill, but good for peace of mind.

On the 18th we put up the last roof framing bits so we’d be ready for plywood tomorrow.  They’re the trusses on the very ends of the long angled pieces we installed yesterday.

Build Day 13 (5/16/12)

2.5 hours worked today, so this will be pretty short.  We found a small mistake made yesterday around the triangles so we cut out the trusses, trimmed them, and put them back in place.  It looked fine yesterday because sometimes it’s difficult to visualize how the next piece of the puzzle fits with the current one.  Luckily it was a quick fix!  Next we put plywood up on the dormers and cut out space for the windows.  You can really see now where I opted to not put in one of the windows…looks a little like a cyclops but I am still confident in my decision.

I’m also still going on my pallet pile.  Soon I’ll need to figure out where I am going to use pallets on the walls, combine the calculation with my floor dimensions, and then see how many more pieces I need.  I suspect almost double the pile I currently have. 😦

Build Days 11 and 12 (5/13/12 – 5/15/12)

I’m combining these since we only worked 2 hours each day and there’s not a ton of visual progress I can show you.  I’m working my real job during the day so the tiny house work doesn’t start until 4 or later, leaving just a few hours each evening.  But hey, it’s better than no construction during the week and having to migrate down here and drive back up north every weekend!

The small triangles at the corners of the dormers needed some additional attention, so we added the remaining trusses and some non-structural pieces in preparation for nailing on the plywood in a few days.  We also put up the roof extensions that will allow the front door and the storage compartment on the back to be covered a little from the rain.

And on a little bit of a weird note, those last two pictures are of the sawdust I keep saving.  Yes, I am saving sawdust in a bag…ready for the composting toilet!  And better to minimize waste by using everything I can for another application. 🙂

Build Day 10 (5/12/12)

YES!  We finally started to frame the roof today.  I am particularly excited about this because I can finally see the real height and design of the house in front of me instead of just in my head and on paper.

First we put up the ridge beam that we built about a week ago.  It’s attached to each end of the house with metal brackets and desperately needed some support in the middle until the rest of the roof can keep it from sagging.  The braces we keep making for the walls, dormers, and ridge beam have helped keep everything square as well until the framing is completely done.  Next we started to frame out the “A” portion back over the loft area.  The physical construction of the roof framing wasn’t too hard, but the math and angles were an absolute pain to figure out.  The other issues with angles is how the pieces eat up 2x4s and create a ton of leftover bits…because each board needed to be just over 4 feet long, I couldn’t get 2 out of each 2×4 I had so there’s a sizable pile of scraps now.  Don’t you worry!  I’ll use them for something (interior items, firewood, turning them into sawdust for the composting toilet, donating to Habitat, etc.)

We also managed to frame out most of the above-dormer section that’s in the middle of the roof.  There are some triangular parts that need more pieces and then some extensions out the front and back of the structure, but I’d say we’re 80% done with framing the roof!

Build Day 9 (5/6/12)

Today we built the two dormers that sit on both sides in the middle of the house.  I’m glad we went with this design to break up the roof line a bit and add more head room and storage on the inside.  These were actually pretty easy to make…they’re essentially mini walls.  The plans call for two windows in each dormer, but I removed one in order to gain some wall space inside.  This will make more sense once we get the roof on and I can have pictures of this section all plywooded in.

We ended up building each dormer inside the wee house since the floor is clear and it’s a decent amount of space to work.  Once one was built and installed up top, we built the other one in about 1/2 the time!  Although the framing was pretty sturdy, we get strong winds up here on the mountain.  The 2×4 you see going from one side to the other is just a temporary brace to keep the dormers from blowing off.  Next up: roof framing 🙂

Build Day 8 (5/5/12)

Last week I went back up to northern VA to be in the office for a few days, so the house sat untouched for a bit.  Minor progress today due mostly to the weather and it’s supposed to rain off and on for the next few days.  We managed to make the ridge beam that spans the length of the house and holds up the roof.  Since we needed it to be longer than any 2x4s we could get, we put two together.  To make it extra strong, each board was cut shiplap style, glued and screwed together.

….so that took all of 20 minutes.  Over the weekend I cleaned up an old barn elsewhere on the property and salvaged some nice boards.  They had nails sticking out and some of the ends were either torn up or rotten.  To clean them up and get them ready for their new lives as shelving, I beat out the nails first.  Next came clamping them onto the “work bench” (really the back of the Mule) and sawing off the bad parts.  I haven’t sanded them yet, but will get around to it soon and seal them once I find an eco-friendly sealer or light stain.  I hope to keep most of the weathered look though.

Build Day 4 (4/20/12)

Today was the most productive day I’ve had on this project.  Somehow we managed to frame the remaining walls!  It took us about 6.5 hours, which isn’t too bad at all considering I (again) insisted on doing a ton of the work.  I have to learn somehow!  And while I’m thinking about it – the lumber for the frame is from Newport Hardware and Supply.  I priced out bamboo and FSC studs, but could not afford it.  Luckily I was able to stick with a local business, so I feel pretty good about avoiding the two chain stores in our area.  Much of the lumber wasn’t selling quickly anyway, so it helped them clear a pile from inventory.  You’ll notice my dad cutting some studs we already put up in one of these photos. Once we framed that wall, we realized that the living room window needed to come down a few inches. Measure twice, cut once! It’s all part of the learning process for me.  Luckily, the construction guru is on top of these issues so everything is done correctly.

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And here’s a short video tour of the planned layout.

Build Day 3 (4/19/12)

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).

Build Day 1 (4/7/12)

It finally happened!  The first official build day began with leveling the trailer.  I attempted this by myself so it took considerably longer than if I had help, but we all know that I’m stubborn and determined.  The trailer has a jack on each corner and various sizes of wood underneath to help level it all out.  It’s not 100% level, but I’d say it ended up being pretty close to perfect.

 

Next was picking up roofing paper and lumber, which I got from Newport Hardware and Supply for a steal!  I grabbed some 2×4 studs that are shorter than typical ones and they had been sitting in an unsold pile at the store for a while.  It’s not reclaimed wood, but it was cheap and it won’t really increase demand/inventory for more of these studs since they weren’t selling anyway.  The plywood is awesome and came sealed so moisture won’t be an issues while it sits out waiting for me to puts walls and a roof up.

Most people say to remove every other board from the trailer deck, but we opted to leave them all on.  The trailer’s GVWR is 10,000 pounds so weight shouldn’t be an issue.  Plus, the whole structure should be more insulated and stable this way.   It also saved me about an hour of work!  So down went the roofing paper to keep critters out and provide a bit of insulation.  I rolled one length out, cut to size, and stapled.  Thank goodness dad had a staple gun instead of using a low-tech one.  I know, I know – it used some electricity.  If you take issue with that, I would be happy to have you come down to hand-staple next time 😉

  

After getting the paper down, I caulked around the wheel wells.  Thank goodness this will be covered up!  This was my least favorite job yet, mostly because my hands simply lacked the strength to keep squeezing the gun for so long.  But it’s sealed…maybe a little too sealed!

 

Next was measuring and cutting all the 2x4s for the floor frame, as well as laying them out to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes!  After double-checking lengths, I got a lesson on using the nail gun (again, you are welcome to come down to hand nail stuff if you take issue with that!) and we got to work nailing the floor frame together.

 

Once the frame is done, it has to be attached to the trailer itself.  You have to use lag bolts and screw them in from underneath…think about it – how do you figure out where your 2x4s are in order to screw them into place?  Well that’s one of the many reasons I have a construction genius sponsoring this operation.  My dad suggested pre-drilling small holes from the top down through the decking.  Then, you can see where the holes need to be from underneath!  Love it.

   

To be honest, the pre-drilling happened on day 1.  The lag bolts didn’t go in until day 2 but it seemed odd to stop the post in the middle of a topic.  Before we bolted the frame down on day 2, day 1 ended with installing foam board insulation.  We tried steak knives and electrical saws…knives wore our hands out, but the saw created such a mess that it would have clogged it.

   

On a different note entirely, I decided on a heating option!  I picked up the Jotul 602 from an ad on craigslist.  Apparently it was refurbished in Michigan somewhere, brought to Pennsylvania for remodeling an old house, but couldn’t be used on the project.  Despite the increased carbon footprint of me driving up to Maryland to pick it up, I still consider it to be the most environmentally sustainable option.  It’s used (3 times used at least!), EPA certified for emissions, and you can use fallen trees instead of chopping down live ones.  The up-front build cost will ultimately be a smidge more than the Newport P-9000 stove, but the wood stove is cheaper when considering entire lifecycle costs (free wood versus purchase propane, for example).  And it’s just plain cute!