Making Progress

Since the last post, we’ve gotten the electrical to the point where we can start insulating. We also had ALK Contracting out to run our gas lines. They are a small local company that specializes in heating, cooling, and plumbing. And while Pete and I ran our internet and cable lines, we hired Aire Care out of Houghton to finish up the job for us. We didn’t have the necessary tools to put the ends on the wires and cables and really we just wanted to make sure we were doing it right. We worked with Roger, who stopped by on a Sunday on his way to camp and showed him what we were working on. He came back out a few days later and finished things up; super nice guy!

We’re installing an oven range vent hood to help with humidity while cooking.  We bought an under cabinet mounted hood that will vent straight out the back.  We located the area where we wanted to the hood to be installed and started making the opening.  We wanted the range hood to be up as high as possible and started hacking into our top plate before going outside to realize that the vent opening would interfere with our soffit.  We relocated the opening so it comes out just below the soffit.  We also had to cut into a stud, so we placed another stud next to it.

As for our gas lines, we had to run three separate lines because we would not have access to the lines in the wall.   When it comes time to install the appliances we’ll have a professional come out to finish the job.  At that time, the tiny house will be out at the property so we’ll have to find another company to finish it up.

And finally, last weekend we put up the netting that came with our wool insulation. We’re scheduled to rent a blower tomorrow morning to blow in the insulation. After that, we’ll be able to put up our vapor barrier and start putting up the tongue and groove cedar.

 

Categories: Electrical, Insulation, Kitchen, Propane Lines, Soffits | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Electrical Has Commenced

We started working on the electrical a few weeks ago. We’re working with Fred, a semi-retired electrician who’s a long time family acquaintance. It’s been slow going because we have had extremely cold weather lately and haven’t been able to keep the tiny house in comfortable working conditions. We did borrow a big propane heater from our friend Eric and were able to keep the tiny house toasty warm over the weekend. In the couple of times we’ve gotten together we’ve made some decent progress and we’re hoping to wrap up by the end of next weekend. While Pete and I are assisting and have a general idea behind the concept of the electrical, we don’t begin to really understand the why’s and how’s. We leave all the expertise up to Fred and do as we’re instructed. With that being said, I won’t go into the details of our electrical plan because I couldn’t if I wanted to. Instead enjoy some pictures of our interior for a change.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Electrical | 4 Comments

Siding Complete

The siding is complete (we still have three framing pieces to finish in the porch area)!  It is Sunday evening and since I need to go to sleep in a little bit and get up for work in the morning this post will be all about the pictures.  Enjoy!  :)

Categories: Siding | 4 Comments

On the Road Again…Again

November 2, 2013 – Like fish that starts to stink after three days, so too, do friends building a tiny house in your driveway!  Jeff and Cindy have graciously let us occupy their driveway the past two summers and into this fall so we were not at all surprised when Cindy asked if we would mind taking the winter off.  Our plan though, is to be living in the tiny house full-time come spring, and since we haven’t even gotten started on the inside of the tiny house, we really need to keep plugging away throughout the winter.  We started looking into our other options and at first thought we would move the tiny house to our newly acquired property.  However, the property lacks power, we lack a snow plow, and it would have been pretty tough trying to work on the tiny house in the middle of winter.

Our only other option was to bring the tiny house to my mom’s house one and a half hours away.  At first we were not too keen on this option as it will mean a lot of driving most weekends, but the more we thought about it the better it started to sound.  While working at Jeff and Cindy’s, we tried to be very conscientious of their space and tried to stay out of the way as much as possible.  That meant only running inside to use the bathroom when I couldn’t possibly hold it any longer.  At my mom’s house, I’ll feel free to pee when the moment strikes!  Another bonus is that we’ll be able to put in longer days.  Since we’ll be spending nights there it will be easier to get started earlier in the day and work later into the evening, so we should be able to be more productive.  Also, my mom said she’ll cook for us!  This too will allow us to be more productive as we can keep working until dinner is served.  Before you start thinking we’re taking advantage of my mom, this is also a win win for her too!  My mom has gotten to the point where she dreads the Michigan winters.  Last winter she went south for the first time and stayed with my uncle Bill and aunt Karen in Macon, Georgia.  This winter she’ll have constant company and will be able to rely on us for shoveling and grocery shopping.

When we first decided to build a tiny house, we read about how other people who owned tiny houses would rent a 1 ton U-Haul truck to move their houses.  This had always been our plan if we didn’t have a truck to use.  While trying to line up a truck, we quickly found out that it’s not as easy as we thought it was going to be.  Apparently finding a rental truck in a large city is not too difficult, but here in the U.P., they don’t exist.  We called several companies and none had a large moving truck in the area.  In fact, U-Haul places that I know exist right down the road, couldn’t even be found while searching the company’s website.  I put in our zip code and was informed that no U-Haul’s were within a 100 mile radius.  We checked with the couple of people we know with 3/4 ton trucks but for one reason or another that wasn’t an option.  I started Googling how to move a tiny house and found a blog post with a few suggestions.  One suggestion was to have a tow truck move it; I called a tow truck company and they said they could not move anything that long or that tall.  I went so far as to email someone on Craigslist who was trying to sell a big truck and see if we could hire him or rent the truck for the day; we even put an ad in Craigslist.  I finally started texting everyone I know asking them if they knew anyone with a large truck.  We were starting to get a little worried and thinking that “this is the U.P., more people should own big trucks!”. But everyone we know, including ourselves, only had 1/2 ton pickups.  Thankfully my co-worker Sharon came though.  A good friend of hers owns a big Dodge dualie and was willing to move the tiny house for us for a reasonable fee.  Her friend Terry owns Marquette Transmission and Auto Repair here in Marquette and I’ve seen his truck at the shop before.  We’ve brought our personal vehicles over there for repair as well as work vehicles.  When we heard Terry pulls a 14,000 pound fifth wheel trailer with his truck, we knew the tiny house would be a piece of cake.  Of course even with a super big truck, I was still nervous on moving day; we’ve invested quite a bit in this little house.  But, I am happy to report that the move went off without a hitch.  We did have to stop one time to re-staple the house wrap that was starting to flap around, but other than that we didn’t have a single issue.  We did get a lot of really strange looks though; that was probably the best part. Thanks for taking half of your Saturday to move our house Terry, we really appreciate it.  And, we’ll be calling you in the spring to do it again!

We also have to thank our friends Paul and Tom for coming over on Sunday to adjust the tiny house location.  Thanks guys!  When Terry pulled into the driveway with the tiny house, we had him park it on the driveway, but just off to the side.  After thinking about it, we realized it would work out better to have it right on the driveway, making it more stable and easier to level.  At first we figured we could just drive our truck out the next weekend to move it, but we really hated to drive the truck all that way just to move the tiny house.  So we called up a good family friend, Paul and he and his brother-in-law Tom were more than happy to come over and lend a hand.

I also had to tell Pete that he was right and I was wrong!  When were having trouble finding a truck to tow the tiny house, I looked online to see how much a half ton Chevy could tow.  All the websites I checked kept saying it could tow over 8,000 pounds.  At this point we figure the tiny house doesn’t weigh more than 5,000 pounds so I was trying to talk Pete into moving the house with our truck.  As I watched Pete lower the tiny house onto the ball of Paul’s truck I realized that our truck could not have moved the tiny house; I thought the back bumper on Paul’s half ton Chevy was going to bottom out.  Moving it around the driveway was one thing, but we definitely needed a bigger truck to haul this thing down the highway.

The tiny house will stay at my mom’s until spring and we’ll keep working on it throughout the winter.  Hopefully it will be move in ready by April, and if it’s not, we’ll be living in it anyway!  A super huge thanks to Jeff and Cindy for letting us get this far on our project in their driveway! We couldn’t have done it without your generosity!

Categories: Tiny House Living, Towing the Tiny House, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

We Bought Property!

Our most frequently asked question since we started building our tiny house has been, “where are you going to park it?” Our response has always been that we’re looking for land, but hopefully we’ll find a backyard that we could put it or if all else fails we could park it at the local RV park. I am extremely happy to report that as of last Thursday, which happened to be our 5 year anniversary, we can now call ourselves land owners!

Pete and I have been looking for land the moment we left college and headed out west. We would be driving down the road in Garden Valley, Idaho and I would say, “look at that land, we should buy that.” Pete’s response was always the same, “is it for sale?”. No, it wasn’t for sale but it didn’t matter because we weren’t in a position to buy anything anyway! We didn’t have permanent jobs and we knew we would be living in a new town in 6 months, but it was still fun to daydream about our future land and the farm that we would start.

To make a long and probably boring story short, the land we purchased (40 acres) had been for sale since we first moved to Marquette and probably for a year or so before that.  We had checked it out when we first moved here but the timing was never quite right for us.  At the beginning of the summer we finally decided to look at it for real and make an offer but it was no longer listed.  At this same time we found another piece of property that we liked but the seller was not yet ready to accept our offer, she was holding out for something better.  Because of her unwillingness to negotiate with us, I started checking the listings again and this time checked Craigslist (which I rarely look at for property).  Low and behold the original property was now being listed on Craigslist, not with the realtor.

Pete was in Montana fighting wildfires and when I told him the land was still for sale he told me to go check it out and make an offer. I thought I should wait for him to come back before looking at the property, but at his insistence my mom and I went and walked the property. I made an offer and waited to hear back from the seller. Then we found out that the seller who was not ready to accept our offer on the other piece of property was now ready to accept. There were pros and cons to both places, but ultimately we liked the 40 acres the best and we were able to settle on a price and proceed with the purchase.

Our goal is to start a small farm. The property is about 20 acres of pasture and 20 acres of woods, with the woods being mostly sugar maple. We hope to make maple syrup, raise laying hens and meat chickens, have a dairy cow and pigs, as well as a large garden. The property comes with its challenges; mainly it is off grid and it would be rather expensive to have power brought in. We also have to have a well drilled.

We are now under more pressure to finish the tiny house so we can move it out to the property when our lease is up on our apartment next spring. We’ll be roughing it for a little while. We’ll have to haul in water until we get the well drilled and we’ll have to rely on solar panels and/or a generator; we’ve been doing a lot of research on off grid living. We’re no strangers to backpacking and roughing it though, so this will just be one more adventure to have fun with.

Categories: Farm Tours, Tiny House Living | Tags: , , | 30 Comments

A Productive Vacation

Pete and I had every day last week to work on the tiny house; typically we only work two days every weekend.  While we didn’t accomplish everything we had wanted to, we got a lot of little details taken care of and are that much closer to having the exterior complete.  My mom also spent the week with us and she got busy staining boards and sealing the door when she wasn’t working her own job.

Here is what we managed to accomplish:

We installed the Denver gable trim on the back of the house, but still need to trim it at the top; we installed the soffit boards at the front of the house along with the Denver gable trim; we installed the soffit boards on the dormers; we installed the end wall trim under each of the dormer windows; we installed one 10′ 6″ section of ridge cap over the 12:12 pitched portion of the roof; we framed in the dormer windows, storage loft window, and finished framing the window opposite the porch window (we still need to frame in the porch window but we were waiting for the door to be installed first); we installed sidewall trim on one side of each dormer along with the fascia boards and Denver gable trim; we put up more corner trim in preparation for siding; we stained the porch ceiling; we sided the back of the house; and had the door installed.

We brought the door over to the tiny house for the first time since we picked it up from the door people.  My mom was going to start sealing the door and before she got there we decided to put the door in place and see how it looked.  The company that made our door did a fantastic job; however, they apparently didn’t pay too close attention to our rough opening size because the door/frame was a half-inch taller than our opening and it just barely fit from side to side.  We figured our only option was to sawzall the door header.  We borrowed our friend Eric’s sawzall and Pete went to work taking out an extra inch.  We then proceeded to put the door in place and start leveling it.  After messing around for about half an hour, we decided installing a door was beyond our skill level and had my mom call for help.  She called our long-time family friend John who runs his own carpentry business, JW Ferguson Contracting here in Marquette.  John showed up just before dark as Pete and I were still putting siding up on the back of the house.  We watched John quickly go to work and while he said we could continue doing what we were doing, we wanted to see how a door is supposed to be installed.  We had watched a few YouTube videos, as usual, but quickly admitted defeat.  While we watched John work, we realized we were on the right track to start out, but he knew the order of how to go about screwing and shimming and in no time the door was installed.  When I asked him how much we owed him, he said one hug!  Apparently that’s only his rate for long-time family friends; he has after all known me since I was a baby!  Thanks John for showing up in the evening after a busy day and installing our door!

We had really wanted to get the roof completed this week, but realized we still needed to order a few trim pieces and that would take a week to come in.  We also had to get more trim boards and since we cleaned ProBuild out of their stock of 5/4 cedar we were going to have to wait a few days for that to come in as well.  In another couple of weeks we should be able to declare the exterior complete.

Categories: Door, Dormers, Fascia, Framing, Porch Ceiling, Roofing, Soffits, Trim, Windows | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Since the Last Post

We’ve been slowly plugging away at the tiny house making small accomplishments almost every weekend.  I’m on annual leave next week and Pete has been laid off early due to the government shutdown so we’re hoping to get the exterior completed on the tiny house.

Since the last post, we’ve continued putting metal up on the roof and as of yesterday, have all the metal sheets installed.  All that’s left for the roof is the ridge cap, end wall trim in front of the dormers, sidewall trim along the sides of the dormers, and the Denver gable trim along the edges of the roof.  We’ve had to stair-step the metal roof panels in places due to things not being perfectly square and we discovered how much harder it is to keep the panels square when you cut a huge section out to go around a skylight.  So the roof is not perfect, but like I probably mentioned in the last post, it will keep the elements outside where they belong.

We installed all the windows in a day and a half.  Putting in the windows has been by far the easiest part of this building project.  We decided that if we have to find new careers, we could be professional window installers.  We did have a close call with one of the windows though.  The instructional video that we watched said to make the windows level horizontally and put a couple nails in.  Then it said to check the level vertically and prior to nailing in around the rest of the window, open the window and make sure it opens as it should.  So we did this on all our windows, sometimes forgetting to open them before nailing on a couple, but we didn’t run into any problems.  On the final window, one of the big ones in the dormer; we did exactly as the instructional video said.  Well, we’re just lucky that I was sitting on scaffolding and not balancing on a ladder!  After putting in our two nails at the bottom and making sure we were level on the sides, Pete started to open the window. When the window was open most of the way, the window proceeded to fall out of the opening!  I was able to stop it from falling all the way out while Pete was pulling it back from the inside so all ended well but it definitely got our hearts beating a little faster.

We also put the trim around most of the windows, got the fascia up along the sides of the house and at the front and back of the house, and put soffits in along the side of the house and at the back of the house.  We also have the fascia installed in front of the dormers because we had to do that before we could put the drip edge on and the rest of the metal panels on the dormer section of the roof.

Our local Menard’s is having a lumber sale, so we took advantage and picked up the bulk of our beveled cedar siding at the lowest price you can buy it in town.  We spent over an hour at the store opening up each package and picking out the best boards.  After going through everything they had in stock, we wound up with forty-one twelve-foot boards.  We’ll probably have to get a few more but this is a good start.

Once we put up all the roof trim pieces, we’ll get the last few windows framed in, finish framing in the corners, and start putting up siding.  We’ve talked my mom into coming and staying with us next week; she’s very good at staining boards! :) Here’s to a productive vacation!

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Categories: Dormers, Fascia, Gable Walls, Roofing, Skylight, Soffits, Windows | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

We Almost Have a Roof!

The blog has definitely taken a back seat lately. Between working full-time jobs, milking a cow daily, taking violin lessons, making cheese and yogurt to use up all that milk, and building a house on the weekends we are spent!

Since the last post we: finished putting the sheathing on the roof, framed in the side walls of the dormers and sheathed those, put housewrap up on the gable ends and dormers, put ice and water shield over the entire roof, framed the roof in 1×4′s, stained the cedar fascia boards (thanks mom), put in the skylight, took out the skylight because we did it wrong, put up the cedar fascia boards along the sides of the house, installed the drip edge, re-installed the skylight properly this time, put up metal roofing on one side of the house, and started putting up the metal roofing on the other side of the house.

I usually like to be a little more detailed in my posts, but all of the above has been done over the course of the past month and a half and now I can’t remember the details. If you would like any specific information, just ask! :)

I will say we have encountered problems here and there and the phrase “we have no business building a house” was said through a bout of tears; I was however, able to calm Pete down. Okay, it was me that was crying and now I can’t remember what we screwed up that started it, but either way, this house is being built by amateurs and if you look close enough you will be able to tell. We had to stair-step the metal roofing in parts to keep it going in the right direction (after a phone call to my brother, he told us not to worry about it – that metal roofs rarely go on the way they’re supposed to), and we definitely forgot about the importance of being square when we built the dormers. But, it’s a strong and sturdy house and in the end I’m the only one who’s going to notice all the little goof ups. If you’re wondering how we screwed up on the skylight, no we did not install it upside down. We attached it to the roof decking, forgetting that we were framing in the roof with 1×4′s and that the skylight also needed to be set up on 1×4′s. Pete was able to use a dremel to grind off the heads of the nails and then used a nail set to pounds the nails in further. After that we were able to lift the skylight off. Now that I think about it, it was the skylight mess up that brought on the tears. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve cried over the house though, so I think I’m doing pretty good.

Categories: Dormers, Framing, Gable Walls, Roofing, Skylight | 5 Comments

Roof Sheathing Going On

June 16, 2013 – Last weekend we started putting up the roof sheathing. We continued this weekend and have all the sheathing up except for the dormers. Not much else to add; enjoy the pictures!

Categories: Roofing | Tags: | 4 Comments

Work Continues on the Dormers

May 25, 2013 – My mom was in town for a few days to visit and pick up a friend from the airport; which worked out great for us as she was a big help today (thanks mom). My mom used to be quite the woodworker and builder tackling roofing projects and building cabinets and other furniture items for the home. Growing up, whenever I asked my mom for something she would say, “oh honey, we can make that”. It was annoying at the time because I didn’t get what I wanted and more times than not, we didn’t make it. But it did teach me that you don’t always have to buy what you want, sometimes you can tackle it yourself. Hmmm, a tiny house comes to mind.

We got back to work putting up the other dormer wall and putting up the rafters. Like I mentioned before, the dormers were not in our building plans and we were making it up as we went along. We consulted YouTube, other tiny house blogs, and builder friends, and hoped for the best. One thing we had to figure out was the angle to cut the rafters that would sit on the dormer walls. When you know the pitch of your roof, it’s easy to figure out the angle you need to cut. However, when you don’t know what the pitch is, it’s a little more complicated. Of course there is always math to help you figure it out. Using the Pythagorean theorem and taking the Sin, Cosine, etc. will eventually give you the number you need. At one time I spent a while figuring this all out, but of course didn’t keep my notes and rather than give myself a headache again, we decided to go with the trial and error method. After a few cuts, we settled in on an eight degree angle for the portion of the rafter that attaches to the ridge beam. Knowing this, I was able to find a calculator online that informed me we had a 1.68/12 pitch roof. Definitely not very steep, but it should shed rain and gives us maximum head room in the loft. In the winter we might have to rake the snow off the dormer roof section, but it’s such a small section of roof that it will probably be just fine.

While Pete and I measured and cut the rafters, my mom chiseled out the wall sheathing that was in the way of the rafters. By then we had all the rafters ready to be nailed/screwed in place. The rafters that flank the dormer walls are doubled up with 1/2 inch plywood in between. This gives us extra strength in addition to making it easier to frame in the side walls. By quitting time (6pm cow milking time) we had the dormers up and all rafters in place.

It’s amazing how much more we accomplished with a pair of extra hands! Pete said my mom should come over every weekend. :)

Categories: Dormers, Rafters, Roofing | Tags: | 2 Comments

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