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. ūüôā

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

Dormer Walls Going Up

May 19, 2013 – We started putting up the dormer walls today. Because this was not part of our original plan, we first had to tear down the rafters that were already in place. Every time we take apart a piece of the house it makes me that much more confident that this tiny house will travel well; it is difficult to take it apart.

Once the existing rafters were removed we made a few new rafters that were two 2×4’s thick with 1/2 inch plywood as a spacer; this is what will hold the side walls of the dormers. We only got one of the dormer walls in place with the doubled up rafters on either side of it before we called it a day; we had a late start as usual and stormy weather was approaching.

It feels good to be back to work on the tiny house. We had gone through a period where we lost confidence in our building abilities, but once we had hammers in hand the confidence returned and we will be living in our self built tiny house in no time…more likely a year from now, but who’s keeping track.

Categories: Dormers, Rafters | 2 Comments

Slightly More Accomplished

November 3, 2012 – While every little bit adds up to an eventual tiny house, sometimes it seems like we work all day and accomplish very little. This was one of those days. We finished framing the second (storage loft side) of the gable walls and got the sheathing up as well. That’s it. That’s all we did.

On another note, we have decided to make some changes to the plans. I must first preface this by saying that I’m obsessed with all things tiny house! I’m constantly searching for new blogs, staring at google images of tiny houses, and searching for new you tube videos. It’s a dangerous habit because I find myself saying, “ooh, look at that, we should have done that”. I finally told myself that I could not compare our tiny house with anyone else’s because I would always be second guessing things. I assured myself that our tiny house would be adorable and we are going to love it. Well, then I saw a picture of the Protohaus. We have seen other tiny houses that made use of dormers, but we never felt compelled to do that with our tiny house. However, when we saw the pictures of the Protohaus, we gave it some serious thought and in the end decided it would be worth the extra effort and money to modify our plans.

Since the beginning, we’ve been trying to imagine how we are going to use our space. Are we going to use the loft as a hangout space or just a sleeping place? Because this place is going to be sooo small, it makes sense that we would want to take advantage of the loft as a secondary lounge space and dormers will make it that much roomier. It will mean not having a roof on as soon as we had hoped. There will probably be several feet of snow on the ground before we officially have a roof, and it will also mean ripping out a few of the rafters we worked so hard to put up. Stay tuned!

Categories: Dormers, Framing, Gable Walls, Rafters | 11 Comments

Tiny House Building Spirit Renewed!

The recent blue skies got us back into tiny house building mode.  As I type this post we do not have blue skies; it is currently overcast and snowing.  However, the past two weekends, while cold, were clear of precipitation and allowed us to get back into full tiny house building swing.

Because I have procrastinated on blogging, this post will be short and sweet and not too detailed.  Two weekends ago (October 20th & 21st) we got back to work and finished putting up the rafters and put in the blocking at the base of the rafters.  We also trimmed the ends of the rafters to what we think is the appropriate length.  As I type, I question whether we cut them short enough.  We did account for the fascia, but we need to figure out how long the metal roofing is supposed to hang over the fascia and possibly trim them a little shorter.  We need to make sure we are road legal and that means not having the rafters/fascia/metal roofing hanging out further than the wheel wells of the trailer.

The following weekend (October 27th &28th) we put in the blocking between the rafters where plywood sheeting seams will land.  We also framed in the opening for the skylight and framed in the gable end on the sleeping loft side of the house.  We chose not to put the skylight above the sleeping loft like the plans call for; instead we placed the opening for the skylight in the great room centered between the two lofts.  We also modified the gable ends slightly so as to lift the window opening as high as we could place it while still keeping the typical window header.  In doing so we only raised the window up about 3/4 of an inch.  Another modification we made to the Fencl plans was to keep the 12/12 pitch roof all the way across instead of going with the dutch hip roof at the front of the house.  This allows us to have a little more space in the storage loft as well as being able to put in another window.

Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be partly cloudy without precipitation so we will finish framing in the gable end above the storage loft and start putting the roof sheathing on.

Categories: Framing, Gable Walls, Rafters, Skylight, Windows | 3 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

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