Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tiny House Burnout

For over two years now Pete and I have become immersed in tiny houses.  When we first learned of Jay Shafer’s tiny houses there was the initial excitement and intrigue of people living in such a small space.  Then we started to seriously consider whether we too could live in a tiny space that allowed us to be mobile if necessary and just live differently.  We started, as I’m sure most tiny house obsessed folks start, be digesting as much information as we could find about tiny houses.  Our first obsession started with Evan and Gabby’s blog  and down the rabbit hole we went.

We started building back in May of this year and have been working on the tiny house in some way every weekend since.  I hadn’t realized that burnout set in, until last weekend when the rain kept us inside.  We had a fire going in the wood stove and we spent the weekend cooking, reading, talking, streaming movies and T.V. It was at that point that I realized how enjoyable it was to spend the weekend not having to accomplish anything.  To simply have downtime is quite a luxury.

This is definitely not the time to be experiencing burnout, especially when the tiny house lacks a roof and snow is on the way!  This weekend is supposed to be decent weather and so we will get back into work mode and try to get a roof on the tiny house.  While we need to keep working to at least get the house ready for winter, it is also important to enjoy some downtime from time to time to avoid burnout in the first place.

Happy tiny house building everyone! 🙂


Categories: Tiny House Living | 8 Comments

Lofts Complete & A Roof Started

October 8, 2012 – Pete’s parents, Sid and Nancy, and his brother Stefan came up for the weekend to help us with the tiny house.  While the weather was not always on our side, we were able to get the loft beams and flooring installed (mostly) and the roof beam in place with a few rafters holding it all together.  A big thank you to Pete’s family for helping us out!  We also have to give some long overdue credit to Pete’s co-worker Eric for many tools on loan.  We’ve been borrowing Eric’s table saw and jig saw continuously throughout the project and this past weekend we grabbed a few ladders, a belt sander, and a few other gadgets.  Thanks Eric for having such a well stocked workshop and the generosity to loan out your stuff!

Friday morning, Pete and his mom stayed home to make breakfast, while Sid and Stefan and I ran to ProBuild to pick up supplies.  We ordered 3/4 Doug fir tongue and groove flooring for the loft floor which was waiting to be picked up.  We also picked up some cedar decking for the porch floor as well as cedar 1 x 6’s for the fascia; a couple boxes of nails and screws as wells as Simpson straps and hurricane clips for the rafters.  A quick stop at Eric’s to pick up the above mentioned goodies and we were ready to get to work.

It was around noon before we ate breakfast and got to work and Nancy and I left the boys to take a run to Munising to meet with the door maker.  We’re having a company called The Modern Woodsmith out of Munising, Michigan custom make our door.  The door to the tiny house is only 1′ 10.5″ wide, which makes it difficult to find a ready-made door or to repurpose an existing door.  Also, from our understanding, doors are a bit tricky to make and way beyond our skill level.  I had spoken Jason and Tim on the phone a few times and went over the design Pete and I were thinking about, but we wanted to meet with them to make absolutely sure they were familiar with our project and what we had in mind.  Their showroom was amazing and made the task of picking the type of wood for the door very difficult.  Pete wanted curly maple, but when I saw all the choices I became uncertain.  Wood has a lot of variability and while one sample of curly maple or bird’s-eye maple can be spectacular, other pieces can be lacking.  I left with all the details in place except for the type of wood.  I took a bunch of pictures of doors they had on site so Pete and I could look over our choices; we wanted to be able to pick out the actual wood for our door.  (I stopped back in there today and was able to look at some of the wood they had in stock and decided on an African mahogany.  The door will be mostly glass with a 4.5″ – 5.5″ African mahogany frame.  I have no doubt it will be gorgeous).

Meanwhile, the guys were hard at work sanding the 4×4 loft beams and framing in the door wall.  By Friday evening all the loft beams were in place, the rim boards that join the side walls to the front and back wall were in place and we were ready to install the Doug fir loft flooring.  However, Saturday morning the weather was more than disagreeable.  The forecast was calling for 80% chance of precipitation with snow in some areas of the U.P.  While we did not get any snow in our area, we did have plenty of blowing rain, sleet, hail, and even some blue skies and sunshine throughout the day.

Nancy and I decided to sneak away for a couple of hours and visit the farmer’s market.  When we returned the Doug fir flooring was on its way to being installed under our two layers of 6 mil poly and a tarp.  We were trying to keep the layers of plastic and tarp elevated slightly with makeshift posts, but it was difficult working while trying to hold the temporary roof up.  We were also having some difficulty getting the finishing nailer to work consistently.  At some point that afternoon, we decided to call it a day and see what Sunday’s weather would bring.

On Sunday the weather was much more cooperative and we were able to take the plastic and tarp off the tiny house and really get to work.  Stefan had to be back downstate for work on Monday, but Sid decided to stay and help us for another day if we would meet Nancy halfway on Monday.  It looked as though we were going to be short on Doug fir flooring, so while the guys started figuring out rafters and bird mouth cuts, I ran to Lowe’s and Menard’s to see if I could get more flooring.  While I was unsuccessful on the flooring, I did pick up some  1″ cedar tongue and groove siding for the porch ceiling.  We put up the cedar for the porch ceiling and I quickly got to work fluffing up some wool insulation to fill in the space.  Pete was still working at installing the Doug fir flooring and Sid started cutting the rafters.  We used up all the Doug fir flooring (or so we thought) and installed the sole plate in order to put up the ridge beam and rafters.  By the end of Sunday, we had the ridge beam in place and nine rafters up.  It really is starting to look like a house.

We thought we were going to be able to put in a few more hours on Monday before driving Sid to meet Nancy; however, Pete got a call about a wildfire and needed to be ready to leave at 5am the next morning.  I got up and drove Sid to Newberry to meet Nancy and when I got home I promptly looked for more Doug fir flooring that I swear I saw leaning up in the garage.  As it turns out, we had the exact amount needed for both lofts and I didn’t need to order any extra.  It was a shame we didn’t realize this earlier, as we put up the sole plate and started putting in some rafters, thinking that we would just not nail in the sole plate at the sleeping loft end.  Now we’ll have to try to slide the last piece of Doug fir flooring under the sole plate; however, if this proves to be too difficult, we’ll just cut the 20′ board and install it in two pieces.  Either way, we’re making good progress.

Because so much was happening and quite a few people were working on different tasks I don’t have the usual amount of pictures detailing each step; however, in addition to the few pictures I did take, Nancy was kind enough to act as photographer for the weekend.  Thanks Nancy!

Categories: Door, Insulation, Loft Beams, Loft Flooring, Porch Ceiling, Porch Deck, Rafters, Roofing | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

The Walls Are UP!

September 30, 2012 – Several weeks ago, we planned for the last weekend in September to put up the walls, the roof, and get the windows in.  We realized these were lofty goals, especially since everything seems to take us a little longer than we’d like; however, Pete asked his parents and one of his brother’s to come up and help us tackle the tiny house raising.  As to be expected, our lofty goals went to the wayside.  Two weeks ago, Pete got called out to northern Minnesota to fight wildfires.  He wasn’t due back until Saturday the 29th, so his family made other plans.  Pete ended up coming home a few days early and the weather was supposed to be great this weekend, so we decided to proceed as planned.  Thankfully, Pete’s co-worker, Vince, came to the rescue.  We knew we couldn’t get the whole house up in one weekend without a lot of help, so we decided to just tackle the walls and buy some heavy-duty plastic to cover the house with until we can get the roof on.

For several weeks our roofing, skylight, and loft beams had been sitting at ProBuild and our windows came in a little over a week ago.  We decided to wait and have everything delivered at the same time which was scheduled for Friday afternoon.  We ran to ProBuild in the morning to pick up some heavy-duty plastic, and an assortment of structural screws for putting the walls up; and also to give them a large sum of money…windows aren’t cheap.

We also decided to move the build site to our current residence.  Since June, we have been occupying half of Jeff and Cindy’s garage and we are so grateful for their hospitality.  However, the folks who own the home that we are staying in, moved a bunch of their stuff out and we have an empty garage to work in.  We also thought, that by having the tiny house just outside, we might be able to work on it in the evenings and not just weekends.

After leaving ProBuild we ran to Jeff and Cindy’s to start gathering our tools and building supplies.  We waited for our delivery of other supplies and then went back to Jeff and Cindy’s to move the trailer with all the walls stacked on top.  Once we got the trailer to our place, we had to start installing the scissor jacks so the trailer could be leveled.

We were drilling through steel, so we needed a small 1/8″ drill bit to start the hole and then an 11/32″ bit to get the final size.  We started with the front jacks because there was only one good place to put them and it didn’t require modifying the trailer.  We placed the jacks under the trailer and raised the jacks until the trailer just started to lift off the ground.  Then Pete marked the location where the holes needed to be drilled.  He drilled both holes with the smaller bit and then drilled out one of the holes with the larger bit.  When he went to drill the second hole to the final size, the drill bit was already dull. We managed to get the second hole drilled out and the one scissor jack installed, but had to call it a night because it was getting dark.  We were also going to have to pick up some new bits the next day to get through three more jacks.   The jacks that were installed on the back of the trailer had to be placed in the location that originally stored the loading ramps that came with the trailer.  Because of that, we had to grind off steel plates on both sides that held up the loading ramp.  Long and boring story short and many drill bits later, we managed to get all the holes drilled and all jacks installed.

Meanwhile, while Pete was working on the scissor jacks, Vince and I got to work cutting the window openings on the smaller walls.

It took us until 4pm Saturday to get the last of the jacks installed and the window openings cut.  At this point we had to make a decision on whether or not we should start putting  up walls or wait until tomorrow.  We decided to proceed and started with the heaviest of the walls. This was no easy task, as the longest wall was super heavy and had to be picked up and set down so that the rebar would come through the holes on the bottom plate. With a little forethought, some concrete blocks, and a lot of luck, we managed to get the wall up and in place without anyone getting hurt. After the big wall was secured in place, the rest were a piece of cake. The next wall to go up was the second longest wall, followed by the end wall (the wall at the front of the trailer).  Once these three walls were in place and temporarily secured, we called it a night.

We got a 10am start on Sunday and finished securing the first three walls in place.  This required a run to the hardware store to pick up a deep well socket to secure the Simpson strong ties in place.  I ran to Ace, since it’s closer to our house than Lowe’s; however, I have now learned to just go straight to Lowe’s.  I stopped at Ace for a nut driver and the deep well socket.  I brought with me our socket wrench so that I could get one that was compatible with our wrench.  I’m pretty sure I knew more about tools and Ace itself than the kid helping me, which isn’t saying much.  We found a deep well socket in the right size, but it didn’t work with our socket wrench.  So I came home with a regular wrench instead.  The wrench was too long to fit in the space and wasn’t working and Pete and Vince told me that there is an adapter I can get to make the deep well socket fit into our socket wrench.  So, off I went to Lowe’s this time as I didn’t trust the kid at Ace to help me find the adapter.  Another long and boring story short, I got the deep well socket and the adapter and we were able to secure the walls to the Simpson strong ties.  We got the remaining walls in place and all the walls went up fairly smoothly.  However, another trip to Lowe’s was necessary as we were two nuts short for the Simpson strong ties.  It was at this point, that we were so grateful to be living closer to town than when we first started this whole project.  Prior to current residence, it would have been a 1/2 hour drive to Lowe’s.

We got back to the house and needed to get the house wrap on.  We had purchased a roll of house wrap a while back, but a co-worker of mine had a couple leftover rolls that he said we could have so we had the ProBuild delivery driver take back the roll we had purchased.  We picked the partial roll of the house wrap that looked to have the most on it and started with the shorter of the long walls;  the roll had just enough to cover this wall.   We decided to proceed anyway and that’s when we learned how difficult it is to put up house wrap.  The house wrap was not going on well.  It was wrinkled, we had a big crease, and then put a hole in it when trying to fix the crease.  At this point we decided we were going to need to buy more house wrap anyway and ripped the sheet down to start over.  For the final trip to Lowe’s, I ran and picked up a new roll of house wrap and some smaller sized staples as the ones we were using were bigger than they needed to be.

The learning curve is pretty short as far as house wrap goes and when I got back with the new roll, we had a new plan and determination to get it right this time.  The final long and boring story short, the house wrap went up the second time without any issues.  By this time we were all a little tired and ready to call it quits but we still had to get the heavy-duty plastic and a tarp over the house to protect it until it has a roof.  This too, is not very exciting so I’ll let the pictures tell the rest.




Categories: Framing, Roofing, Walls, Windows | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

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