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!


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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