Here’s another couple that built a tiny house with no building experience. Check them out!
Monthly Archives: May 2012
May 25, 2012 – Last weekend we continued working on the floor framing and completed two sections of the floor (out of three sections). The majority of the time was spent screwing in corner braces to all areas where two boards join. This was a long and tedious process and not very exciting, so I did not feel it warranted its’ own post.
We are now waiting on some welding that needs to be done. The plans call for some “all thread rod” (which to me looks like rebar), to be welded in various spots around the trailer to tie the floor framing and walls into the trailer frame. A fire officer who works for the DNR and has welding experience was recommended and has agreed to take on the job; however, as I type, the UP is on fire and our fire officer is a little tied up at the moment.
So, we either wait until the flames subside; or we find a new welder. I’ll keep you posted.
May 23, 2012 – Our plans for the tiny house call for using polystyrene insulation; however, the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is in California and we didn’t feel as though this type of insulation would do for a tiny house in the UP. In addition, we are hoping to use as many natural, non-toxic components as possible when building the tiny house.
We started looking into our options and also discovering the options that are not such a good choice for a tiny house. For example, due to the small size of the tiny houses, excess moisture will be a potential issue. Some insulation options, such as natural denim, are not resistant to moisture and would probably not be a good choice for a tiny house.
We had originally decided to go with spray polyurethane foam (SPF); however, after reading some potential negative issues we decided against that route. Most of the information on-line will tell you that SPF is soy-based and non-toxic. However, there is conflicting information out there regarding SPF and how safe it is.
To err on the side of caution, we’ve opted to go with natural wool insulation from Oregon Shepherd http://www.oregonshepherd.com/. Through reading the blogs of other tiny house builders, we noted that a few of them also went with wool insulation. In fact, I called Oregon Shepherd to ask a few questions and place our order and was informed that due to the thorough question asking of Ella from the littleyellowdoor blog, Oregon Shepherd had decided to make a tiny house kit. The kit is based on the Fencl (the tiny house that we are building) and they’ve calculated the amount of material needed for the house. Thank you Ella and Oregon Shepherd for not making me re-invent the wheel!
George “Jordy” from Oregon Shepherd was able to answer all of my questions (including a follow-up call regarding dermestid beetles – a co-worker was concerned) and an order for wool has been placed! At first we were planning on only ordering enough for the floor, as it will be a little while before we’ll be insulating walls; however, to save on shipping costs, it made more sense to order it all at once. It should arrive in about a week! In addition to the wool insulation being a natural, sustainable product, I love to knit, and having wool in the walls is kind of cool! I hope to have my own small herd of sheep in the near future (along with alpacas, goats, and musk ox!) but until then I’ll at least know that it’s in my walls keeping me warm at night!
A few words on wool insulation from Oregon Shepherd:
Why Use Wool?
Since 8,000 BC, sheep have been able to adapt to even the harshest of environments; their wool protects them through hot, cold, damp and dry seasons. Because of their crimped nature, when wool fiber is packed together, it forms millions of tiny air pockets which trap air, and in turn serves to keep warmth in during winter and out in the summer.
The crimp in the wool fiber forces each strand to bump up against each other, as opposed to lining up side by side or laying down flat together. This keeps the tiny air pockets intact, acting as little insulators — the key to being able to keep you both warm and cool.
The unique advantage of wool as an insulator is the NATURE of the fiber.
- It absorbs and desorbs moisture, it heats and cools as this process takes place. Wool therefore can absorb moisture in your house, preventing condensation.
- It has plastic memory, not that there is any plastic in wool, but rather that technical description is used to explain the “crimp”; the ability to retain the shape it was in before it left the sheep.
- The energy required to produce our insulation is less than 10% of that required to produce traditional insulation materials.
- Wool can absorb and breakdown indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
- Wool is a sustainable and renewable resource; every year our sheep grow a new crop.
- Wool is completely recyclable; at the end of its life as insulation it can be remanufactured, reused, or biodegraded.
- Wool is an excellent absorbtion medium of sound waves; its inherent qualities provide much more acoustic insulation than traditional insulation in similar applications.
- While wool is generally fire resistant, our wool is treated with a 100% natural solution of organic materials that provide unequaled fire and vermin resistance. These materials are bonded chemically to the wool fiber, not merely “glued on” as in most other insulation products.
When we first started thinking about building a tiny house, we came across Gabby & Evan’s blog http://evanandgabbystinyhouse.wordpress.com/. Not only was their blog helpful on a practical level it was also inspirational as we started our own tiny house daydreaming. We started to talk about them as though we knew them personally. We were constantly saying, “Gabby and Evan this and Gabby and Evan that”. We followed their entire progress and appreciated all the research they were doing.
Check out their latest video, a look back at their tiny house experience!
May 11, 2012 – Today we were finally brave enough to officially start building. We’ve been planning for weeks and wanting to start, but also needing to come up with a game plan and source materials. The first issue we had with sourcing materials was finding the recommended framing nails. The plans call for a 3” Bostich Hurriquake nail. We are in Michigan, where we neither have hurricanes or earthquakes, so we weren’t able to just pick these up at Lowe’s. I called Bostich’s customer service line and was given the number to one of their distributors in Michigan. The distributor gave me the number to a sales rep in my area and he was able to tell me that they are available in a 15 degree coil; however, the nail gun that has generously been loaned to us for our project (thank you Jason), is a 21 degree stick nailer. After consulting with our off-site project manager (my brother Chris, who lives in Anchorage), we have decided to go with a ring-shank nail that will work with the nail gun. Let’s hope we don’t regret this when we’re driving down the freeway with tiny house in tow.
Our day started with a trip into town – a 25 minute drive. We stopped in at my office to pick up the nail gun and air compressor and a grinder. After a quick demo on how things worked we ran to Hilltop RV to purchase scissor jacks for the trailer. At this point we’re not quite sure where we’re going to install them; we’re hoping to have our welder weld them on while she’s doing the other welding (more on that later).
We’ve decided to get the bulk of our supplies from ProBuild in Marquette. We’ve been working with Tony, and not only has he been very helpful in getting us what we need, he also thinks this is a very neat project. We picked up a box of nails for the nail gun, a box of construction adhesive, the lumber for the floor, ear protection, and concrete blocks for when we put the leveling jacks on. I had originally picked up all the lumber for the floor two weeks ago; however, after consulting with our project manager, he strongly recommended that we frame the whole floor in treated lumber. It’s been his experience that the first thing to go in campers and trailers is the floor. Taking his advice we purchased treated lumber for the floor and will use the lumber I bought previously for the framing of the walls.
The first thing we tackled when we got home was cutting off a metal bar that runs perpendicular to the trailer boards. This piece of metal sits higher than the rest of the trailer frame and we felt it was going to interfere with the floor frame resting on the trailer. Pete used a metal cutting blade and starting cutting through the welded joints to free the bar. He had gotten trough all but the last corner weld when the cutting blade was down to nothing. We were hoping to get this piece of extraneous metal off and then remove all the unnecessary boards from the trailer, so we decided it was worth another trip into town to pick up another cutting blade as well as a grinding blade. And of course, on such a beautiful day, we picked up some ice cream!
Back at home with a brand new cutting blade, Pete cut through the last join and the metal piece was free. I followed that up by unscrewing all the boards from the trailer that we planned on removing. The plans say to remove all extra boards leaving a 24”-36” gap between boards. This left us with four boards on the trailer.
After the prep work we were able to start framing the floor. We started on the section on the hitch side of the trailer above the wheel wells. We were able to get a few boards cut and pieced together and was about to start cutting the cross pieces when the weather started to look ominous. We decided that we made pretty good progress for our first day of construction and decided to call it quits.
It feels good to have actually started construction. We are finally moving out of the planning phase and actually building a house!
…and for the folks who think what we’re doing is really neat – check out the following documentary on people who live in tiny dwellings.