We Have a Shower

When we first started designing the floor plan of our tiny house, we were planning on putting in a small bathroom like so many of the other tiny houses out there. We had concerns, however, regarding freezing issues in the winter. We weren’t quite sure how we were going to handle the gray water coming from the shower. You can buy heating pads for a gray water tank, but those require electricity; something we don’t have here at the property. As far as dealing with black water, we were planning on having a composting toilet. However, after speaking with our local health department, we were informed that composting toilets are not allowed and neither are incinerating toilets. After being told that, we decided to eliminate the bathroom in the tiny house all together and eventually build a sauna bath house next door. The reason we called the health department in the first place is because friends of a friends home was condemned by the health department when they found out they had a composting toilet. They weren’t exactly on the up and up, so I’m told, so that didn’t help their situation either.

In the meantime, we are renting a porta potty and have built an outdoor shower. In the next coming months, we will build an outhouse and pay the health department $200 for a privy permit application fee. Prior to building the outdoor shower, we purchased something called the Zodi Extreme. It consists of a stainless steel canister (looks like a milk can) that sits atop a propane burner. There is a thermometer on the side to let you know how hot the water is and when it gets to your desired temperature you manually pressurize the tank with a pump at the top. Then you turn on your nozzle and enjoy a hot shower. It works quite well and we would highly recommend it. They also have battery operated units as well.

For the first couple of weeks we were using the shower without any sort of enclosure; but I prefer to have a tad more privacy and wanted an actual showering space. Keep in mind, we are on 40 acres and have no neighbors within sight of the tiny house, but I still wanted a shower enclosure.

Pete gave me quite a bit of grief when I wanted to hold off on working on the inside of the house to build a shower. He thought it was a huge waste of time. He has since realized how nice it is to have a place to shower, away from the bugs.

The design for the shower was in my head and rather than drawing out plans we started cutting and piecing together the enclosure. A few changes were made along the way and while the shower is perfect for us, it wouldn’t be ideal for a tall person. We made the base out of treated lumber and bought untreated 2×4′s for the uprights. Our friend Jeff stockpiled some pallets for us for the siding and we screened the whole thing in with netting to have a bug free experience (the mosquitos are the worst they’ve ever been!). We used some scrap metal roofing for the top which we plan on painting to match our roof. The most expensive part of the project was the roll of screen, but we have a lot left over.

Now that the shower is complete we can get back to finishing the tongue and groove inside the tiny house

Categories: Outdoor Shower, Tiny House Living | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

Moving Day!

May 31, 2014 – The day has finally arrived! We moved the tiny house out to our property! The tiny house is far from finished but our lease is up and we are done paying rent!

We hired Terry and his very nice truck to move the tiny house from Pelkie out to Chatham. It took just over two hours and everything went very smooth. It was rather windy though and Terry mentioned that it would have been better if we had sway bars on the trailer. Since we didn’t, he just took it a little slower.

I was a jumbled ball of nerves when we moved the house last fall to my moms so this time I avoided coffee in the morning and also drove in front of the tiny house while Pete followed behind. I discovered being in front was way less stressful than watching the tiny house from behind. I only had to think about my home rolling down the road at 55 mph whenever I looked in the rear view mirror; which lets face it was every 45 seconds. But still I was much less nauseous this time around. I’m glad we don’t plan on moving the tiny house any time soon, but I think I would eventually get used to it if we traveled with it.

It will be interesting trying to live in the tiny house while we finish building but we’re so happy to finally be out at the property that I think the new excitement will outlast the construction phase…I hope.

Thanks again Terry for safely moving my baby!

Categories: Tiny House Living, Towing the Tiny House, Trailer | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Installing Tongue and Groove Cedar

Pete and I spent the second weekend in May putting up the last of the vapor barrier and starting on the tongue and groove. It’s so satisfying to see the tongue and groove go up; things are really starting to come together.

The trickiest part of the vapor barrier was the sleeping loft and of course we left that for last. By the time we finished with the vapor barrier we jumped right in to the tongue and groove. We started at the easiest location, the wall behind the future couch. When we were finished with that we moved on to the ceiling in the sleeping loft. We were trying to work on areas that wouldn’t have any seams because our chop saw can’t do the cuts we wanted for seams. Instead, we would be borrowing my coworker Brian’s miter saw the following weekend. We borrowed this same saw when we put up the exterior cedar siding. When we finished with the ceiling in the sleeping loft we put up plywood in the kitchen area. Not only does this save us a few bucks but the metal plates covering the gas lines keeps us from being able to nail the three-inch wide cedar boards to parts of the wall. The following weekend we continued to make progress with the tongue groove.

Categories: Cedar Tongue and Groove, Vapor Barrier, Walls | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vapor Barrier Going Up

May 4, 2014 – After taking the last few weekends off from building it was time to get back on track. I was working without Pete for the first time; he stayed in Marquette for the weekend to supply sugar maple logs for a shiitake mushroom growing workshop. The trees were cut from our property and in return for supplying the trees we were given 10 inoculated logs. It will take about a year before they produce any mushrooms, but once they start the logs should be productive for at least 5 years. I was able to make it back to Marquette in time to attend the workshop and I took some photos that I’ll post soon.

I finished spraying foam around the windows and filled the cavity of the wheel wells with spray foam as well. I was very fortunate to have help from my mom this weekend. She helped stuff extra insulation in the areas the blower hose missed and helped me put up most of the vapor barrier. It definitely would have been a near impossible task for one person; thanks mom!

Initially Pete and I were going to skip the vapor barrier. It’s been important to me to use as few toxic/off-gassing materials as possible within reason and I really did not want to wrap the house in plastic. We’ve also seen several other tiny house builders hand place wool insulation behind the tongue and groove walls, skipping the vapor barrier. However, my brother the builder strongly suggested we put up a vapor barrier. Not only will it help keep condensation out of the walls, it will also increase our R-value which is super important in our climate. Especially since we will be heating with propane and propane is not cheap! So, we sucked it up and bought a 100′ roll of 6 mil poly vapor barrier. I did read on some website that this type of plastic doesn’t do much off gassing and isn’t that toxic; however, I had a hard time finding any sort of information regarding environmentally friendly vapor barriers. Either way, I’m telling myself it’s perfectly healthy because it’s a done deal. I do plan on keeping the windows of the tiny house open all summer to help speed/eliminate construction material off gassing; it is after all a very tiny space!

Categories: Vapor Barrier | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

We’re Famous!

Well, maybe just among Tumbleweed Tiny House blog readers.  I was recently interviewed by fellow tiny house builder and blog writer Jenna Spesard.  She was originally planning on writing a short piece on us using wool insulation, but instead decided to change the focus to mine and Pete’s future farm plans.  I have been following Jenna’s building blog and it was fun to chat about our future plans.  Thanks Jenna!  You can read Jenna’s post here!

Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

We’re Insulated!

April 6, 2014 – The tiny house in insulated!  But only because we have good friends that will let us borrow their truck for a day and a half!  I reserved an insulation blower to be picked up Saturday morning and we left for my mom’s house Thursday evening because we were expecting a snowstorm on Friday.  We were originally planning on taking the truck to my mom’s to take her winter’s worth of garbage to the dump, but because of the impending snowstorm and our very bald tires we decided it would be safest to take the car.  However, on Friday it dawned on me that maybe the insulation blower would not fit into the back of our rather large Volvo wagon.  My mom called and confirmed that the insulation blower needs to be loaded into the back of a pickup truck with a forklift and it stays in the back of the truck during operation.

My mom called our friend Paul, who came over with his brother-in-law and a truck to move the tiny house previously, and asked if we could borrow his truck.  He said we could come get it in the morning as soon as he was done plowing.  Meanwhile, we realized we left a full box of insulation back at our apartment an hour and forty five minutes away.  My plan was to drive back to the apartment and get the insulation in the morning if it was no longer snowing.  We ended up getting about 15 inches of snow on Friday, but it was clear by morning so I ran back home for the insulation.  Pete was able to pick up Paul’s truck and go get the insulation blower.  He ended up getting back to the tiny house about 10 minutes before I did.

It took us a few mintues to figure out the blower; of course no one at the hardware store knew how to work it.  By 11:00 we were up and running and we finished up at 8pm. We have a few areas where we need to hand place the insulation and we need to go back through and make sure we have enough insulation behind and under all the junction boxes.  Originally we were going to hand place the insulation behind the tongue and groove like many other tiny house builders have done; however, my brother strongly encouraged us to put in a vapor barrier and so hand placing was not an option.

Now that we are pretty much fully insulated the next step is to put up the vapor barrier and prepare for tongue and groove.  Our lease on our apartment was initially up on April 19th, but because of the super long winter we’ve had we decided to extend our lease to the end of May.  The tiny house definitely won’t be done by then, but my goal is to have the tongue and groove completed by the time we’re living in the tiny house.  We’ll then have the rest of the summer to install kitchen cabinets, appliances, closet, and a ladder.

Due to work and family comitments, we’ll be tanking the next two weekends off and if it hadn’t been for Paul we would have had to wait three weeks before getting the insulation in.  Thanks Paul! It feels great to have accomplished such a big step!  :) By the way, we didn’t end up even needing that box of insulation that I drove home to pick up!

Categories: Insulation, Walls | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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: , , | 12 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

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