Posts from the “Little House” Category

Water usage in the tiny house

Posted on March 22, 2017

Happy world water day!  I’ve been thinking about our water usage for a while, and it seemed only fitting to write about it on the day the UN has designated to talk about the water crisis across the world. Seth and I are lucky to be using very little water per day at the moment.  Right now our tiny house doesn’t have a working shower or sink.  We have plans for both.  I had hoped to get them in before the baby arrived, but sometimes life gets in the way.  And research!  Always with the research.  At any rate, we have water plumbed into the tiny house, but we don’t have permanent receptacles for it, and we use a composting toilet.  This makes our water usage…

Insulation and air sealing

Posted on February 27, 2017

If I’m starting to sound like a broken record, it’s because air movement is a big deal in our little house.  We seal gaps because it makes for less moisture coming in from the outside and fewer drafts, AKA a warmer, drier house with less chance of mold.  So we’ve spent a fair amount of time doing this to the inside as well as the outside. We air sealed the inside of the house by spreading silicone sealant into gaps and cracks — most notably in the large spaces around the windows and doors.  If the gap was wider than 1/2″, we filled it with backer rod first, and then spread sealant over it.  Side note: if you ask for backer rod at Home Depot, there’s an…

A little more on siding prep

Posted on February 17, 2017

In going over the photos for the trim post, I realized that we never mentioned the black strips that we put over the Blueskin under the siding.  This is a product called Cedarvent. It’s basically strips of plastic that are corrugated like cardboard. We’re using it here kind of like a rain screen: the siding repels most of the water from the house, but in case any rain gets behind the siding we want it to be able to drain away.  This is where Cedarvent comes in. It makes the siding sit away from the Blueskin by about 3/16″ and allows the water to roll down without soaking into the back of the cedar. We’re not pushing the product or anything.  We purchased it outright and…

Trimming the outside

Posted on January 31, 2017

One of the things that Seth has been saying all along is that trim makes the style of the house.  He’s said it about both the inside and the outside.  It’s a good thing he’s been so adamant because when it comes to details like that, I don’t really have an opinion.  Isn’t that terrible?  For me, aesthetics generally take a backseat to price, so I expected to wing it when it came time to do the trim.  Seth, though, has had an idea in mind of building a house inspired by the Craftsman era of design: 1920s bungalows full of simple lines, natural light, and beautiful wood.  We looked at pictures online for months.  Truly one of the nicest rabbit holes we’ve followed in…

Cedar siding and Vermont Natural Coatings

Posted on January 14, 2017

Way way back, almost a year ago now, we purchased cedar clapboards for the tiny house.  Sheesh, was it really that long ago?  Yes, Instagram tells me it was last February.  We got the clapboards delivered with the intention of staining them over the course of the winter so that we could install them in the spring and summer. Time ran away from us, and it was a while before we got the siding up and running. As per usual, the research phase made up the bulk of the delay.  We wanted to find an eco-friendly coating for the siding, one that would bring out the beauty of the wood, protect it from the elements, and be ok for the environment and for people with…

Cosmo Brown Hat

Posted on November 25, 2016

This slightly slouchy hat features a wave and banjo cable pattern reminiscent of American vaudeville theater in the early 1900s. Or as I like to think of it, Cosmo Brown’s beginnings from the movie Singin’ in the Rain. With big yarn, some cables to keep it  interesting, and old-fashioned seed stitch, this hat knits up quickly and is perfect for bus, train, or TV knitting to keep your hands busy. This hat is knit in the round and comes in one size. Final hat dimensions are 20” around and 7.5” long after blocking. Gauge  is 4 stitches to the inch. I knit this hat for myself, and I love the way it fits on my head.  Knit at such a large gauge, it is just big enough to wear for short…

Metal roofing for the tiny house, via Craigslist

Posted on August 21, 2016

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Last fall just after the house walls went up, I was trolling Craigslist for materials when a kind soul posted dark brown corrugated metal roofing for sale, never used.  It came in 17′ long panels.  We jumped on it and U-hauled seven panels away from his house along with a couple of donated 2×4’s for traveling, kindly given by the gentleman in question whose entire roof had to be replaced unexpectedly instead of covered.  Hence selling the panels.

Metal roofing is popular for tiny houses because it’s durable, affordable, lighter than asphalt, and relatively easy to install.  It goes well with the “cabin on wheels” look that characterize a lot of tiny houses.  Standing seam is ideal as the fasteners are not exposed to the elements and will last longer, but corrugated is good too.  Supposedly the fasteners start to go around 10 years.  We’ll see.

Metal roofing was Seth’s first choice but not mine. Originally, I wanted shingles, but sometimes you can’t pass up the Craigslist gods when they offer you a good deal.  Or as my Memere used to say, “You can’t go wrong!”  And of course I love it now.

Buying new metal roofing a lot different from buying used metal roofing via Craigslist.  For starters, you get all of the accessories with it when you purchase yours from a store.  We had to source our trim pieces, ridge cap, foam closures, and adhesives separately.  If you’re buying new-ish metal panels for your roof through Craigslist, you should know that there is a good chance yours are made by Union Corrugating, like ours are. We discovered this by accident, but it’s no trick — count the corrugations per panel and see if you can find a match to some of the popular brands available through big box stores.

Union Corrugating sells their panels to DIY-ers through Lowe’s, and we were able to confirm this by matching the color of the panels to the colors of the roofing supplies in the store.  Then all we had to do was purchase trim, touch-up paint, the ridge cap, etc.  If your panels are not easily identifiable like ours, apparently there are such things as universal ridge caps and trim.  They may not provide an exact color match, but I’ve seen people who enjoy the two-toned roof, and I’ve seen people who paint their roof so that everything matches.  If you’re building a tiny house, you’re no stranger to improvisation at this point. Right?

The corrugated roofing process is fairly easy to describe, although less easy to execute (unless you have scaffolding.  Invest in scaffolding).  There are many, many tutorials about how to install metal roofing so I won’t add one here.  I’ll just jot down a few notes about what we did.

  • We used Grace HT Ice and Water Shield as our underlayment.  HT means high temperature.  I think it was a good investment.  Synthetic roofing underlayment lasts a lot longer in UV rays than does 15 or 30 lb. felt, and it won’t glue itself to the back of the roofing panels.
  • We cut our panels with an angle grinder, de-burred them, and then touched up the ends with paint so that hopefully they won’t rust.
  • Butyl tape is weird.  It’s like if Play-Dough and Silly Putty got together and had a baby.  Special order this because most stores don’t carry it.
  • We followed along with Tiny Home Builder’s method of transitioning the ridge cap from the gable to the dormer.  We purchased the videos, but you can sort of see the way to do it in this blog post by Choo Choo Tiny House.

 

What to do when your walls are out of plumb

Posted on August 16, 2016

So this thing happened this one time where we moved the tiny house and two of our beautiful walls went from plumb to out of plumb.  One shifted by an inch over nine feet, the other by a half inch over the same. To the practiced eye, the house looked bow-legged. I consulted with one of my friends and coworkers, a resident building expert with more than 60 years in the business.  “Oh no big deal,” he said, “Just drill a hole in the two walls, use a come-along and ratchet it in, put up your collar ties, and release the come-along.  Make sure you tighten them a bit more than they need because they’ll snap back when you let’em go.  The collar ties’ll…

Inwards and Outwards

Posted on August 7, 2016

There has been a division in our life lately.  A natural division for us, I think.  It started in March when we learned that we are expecting our first baby this December, and culminated at the end of last month when some very kind folks moved our tiny house to their property so we can finish building. The division is this: Seth is focusing on the outward, aka the house, the house, the house.  It’s a big task!  Especially if we’re going to finish it in time for this baby we’re brewing.  And I’m focusing on the inwards, which (thankfully) means resting, researching house details, and daydreaming over things to sew. It’s one of the more ancient divisions: woman inside, man out.  It feels very Laura Ingalls…

Attaching the house to the trailer

Posted on June 25, 2016

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There have been times we thought we’d never move into the tiny house.  A lot of times.  I think Tara and Tyler write about it well in their post, Despair, which I read last year when they posted it but didn’t fully understand.  It’s hard to understand what it is about building a house that makes you want to give up completely.  I can now say it’s because so many little things constantly wear away at you and you feel like you’re never making progress.  You just want to be in the house.  You want to feel like it’s looking like a home, when it really looks like a pile of bones and the weather is conspiring against you along with your suppliers and your bank account your stupid jerk brain that can’t compute basic geometry all of a sudden.  And meanwhile, twice a week everyone asks, “How’s the house coming along?”

We were just at the part where we were going to make progress: put in windows, start siding.  Sounds great, soon to look great! When we learned that we had to move the tiny house a few months sooner than planned.  And it felt like back to square one.  In order to make the house safe to move, we had to firmly attach it to the trailer.

This is not a problem that all tiny-housers have.  For example, Tumbleweed welds threaded rods onto their trailers, and as you build the walls you drill holes in the bottom plates and slide the rods through those.  Tighten down with nuts and done.  Other tiny house builders use strong ties like these, which connect to studs and use anchor bolts through the trailer. We had neither option, and so we went with threaded rods drilled through the trailer, up through the bottom plate, and then reaching all the way up to the top plate as well.  We went with this approach because we needed to attach the walls to the pieces of metal channel that run perpendicular to the trailer’s length.  The bottom plates have nothing to sit on otherwise.  Might as well be secure, you know?

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It was a process to figure out.  We had to figure out how many attachments we needed, where they would sit that wouldn’t interfere with windows and yet still give us a rod every 6′ (as per building code), special order the rods, cut them to length, drill through the bottom plate, drill through the trailer, drill through the top plate, thread the rod through all the holes, and tighten down the bolts at both ends. Meanwhile, our suppliers conspired against us by providing the wrong size rods for two locations, along with our bank account which cringed at having to run to the hardware store four times for the correct tools to account for the change in sizes in our long lead time rods, and our stupid jerk brains that suddenly couldn’t do basic geometry.  Yes we did cut that rod too long, and that other one too short.  Building a tiny house is hard!  Who knew, eh?

Eventually the rods were in.  We tightened them down.  We felt secure.  We moved the house.  And one of the walls shifted anyway.  If there was ever a time I felt like giving up on the tiny house, threaded rods would be it.