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Almost finished! …and what’s up with tiny house prices?

We are getting so close to finishing the house!  Since my last post, we trimmed out the interior doorways, finished the quarter round on the floor, and installed shelves in the closets.   The doorway trim was really the last major use of my pallet pieces…it’s kind of sad actually.  But they look great and I’m very glad to not have purchased new wood for them.  I had some extra stain left so I threw it on the solar panel stand just to pretty it up a bit.   Next I put two coats of polyurethane on the stair treads (and added some tile…I just couldn’t help it!).  Dad and I also finished putting the quarter round down on the floor and then installed shelving in the closets.  The shelves are made from scrap materials we had from previous tiny house tasks.  Even the rod is leftover from another project!  This is exactly why you should think carefully before just getting rid of construction scraps.

On a slightly different note, I’m now nailing down a sales price for the house because we’ll probably finish everything this weekend or a few days into next week.  I’m not at a number yet, but I will let you see why many tiny houses are as pricey as they are…here’s the break down of just the labor involved:

Let’s say I worked on the house an average of 2 hours each day since the beginning (I think it’s more, but for argument’s sake…).  Started in April, so that’s 8 months at 30 days each = 480 hours for me.  Add that for dad as well and we’re at 960 man/woman hours.  The average construction worker’s hourly wage is a little over $15.  So 960 x $15 = $14,400!  Add in the cost of materials which for most folks is $15k – $25k, and you’ll see why these are priced the way they are.  Of course, there are exceptions out there (so don’t jump on me if you’re building a tiny house and don’t fall into this cost range).

Flooring!

This is mostly going to be about the super awesome floor (because, well, it’s super awesome).  In all seriousness, let me backtrack for those not familiar with the master plan.  I originally wanted to use old pallets for practically everything I could think of (cabinets, flooring, trim, siding, etc.).  After a ton of work to use said pallets as interior window trim, the vote was to just use them for trim and flooring.  Pallet use is controversial because many are treated with chemicals…simple solution is to check them for “HT” which means heat treated.  Other stamps usually mean chemicals, but also keep in mind that a ton of pallets are just plain naked and fine to use as well.  Another thing to keep an eye out for is where you get them (i.e. from stores that sell chemical stuff, you’ll probably bet that their used pallets had chemical containers and such on them).  Avoid pallets with dubious stains as well.  I could go on and on about what I learned from this process, but I’ll spare you unless you really want more detail.  Heat treated or naked + planing 1/4 inch + sanding + stain + polyurethane = safe pallets pieces to use inside.

Anywho, the process for turning a pallet into flooring is actually really painful – sort pallets, deconstruct pallet, cut out sections with metal, rip down to same width, plane boards for thickness, sand smooth, apply stain to all sides (to seal it well), glue/nail to floor, apply polyurethane coats.  Dad found some really great eco-friendly glue and water-based polyurethane and both worked quite well.  I actually had to pry up one board that I split when nailing, and the glue was so strong that a layer of subfloor came up with it…whoops. I hope you enjoy the pictures!  Tonight I put the final coat of poly on the floor so tomorrow I should have some final shots I can post.

Early October Progress

We had another trip to prepare for, so in went the stairs/ladder and we finished up the exterior paint (aside from the door and touch-ups).  After getting back from the northern VA adventures, it was time to finish the propane lines!  Finally we could test the water heater, oven/stove, and the Newport P9000.  As much as I wanted a woodstove (and still have the one I bought sitting in storage), this little heater is a good option for tiny houses because of how little clearance it needs around itself.  I ended up buying the woodstove from myself to save for another house down the road 🙂

Besides all these pictures, I have a video treat for you all coming up.  If only I could get it to load…I took today off from work, so I’ll do my best to post the vid today sometime in between my various construction projects.

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. 🙁

The trailer is in and pallets have met their match…

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.

Tiny House Trailer

Freshly delivered tiny house trailer!

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:

Broken pallet after a failed attempt to dismantle with a hammer.

Broken pallet after a failed attempt to dismantle with a hammer.

🙁

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:

Tools for dismantling pallets.

Tools for dismantling pallets.

Clamps hold the pallet to a worktable so this can be a one-person job.

Clamps hold the pallet to a worktable so this can be a one-person job.

Me sawing through the nails on a pallet to get the usable boards off.

Me sawing through the nails on a pallet to get the usable boards off. Glamorous, right?

A stack of raw pallet boards.

A stack of raw pallet boards and the beginning of something exciting!

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…

Used pallets behind the hardware store.

Used pallets behind the hardware store.

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.

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