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!


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

Winter Lull

January 21, 2013 – Happy New Year folks! It’s a good thing that “do a better job keeping up with the blog” was not one of my resolutions. Nothing has happened on the tiny house since my last post other than being covered by a giant tarp, twice.

Pete and I had the good fortune to be able to take a trip to Costa Rica after Thanksgiving for my brother’s wedding. The trip was partially funded by my dad and step-mom, so thankfully we did not have to completely drain the tiny house fund, thanks dad and Ruthanne! Pete was already downstate, so I called up Jeff to get some help covering the tiny house with the tarp before heading out of town. I thought we did a decent job securing the tarp, but when we got back from our trip, the giant tarp was lying on the ground. Luckily we still had the 6 mil poly and another tarp covering the roof; so the house was still protected. We had hopes of being able to work on the house during the winter; at the very least of getting the dormers figured out and the roof completed, but we also wanted the house protected from the elements. Especially the housewrap, as apparently the manufacturer recommends having the house sided within 90 days of putting on the housewrap. Since we knew that wasn’t going to happen, we figured at least covering the sides of the house with a tarp would be good enough. Unfortunately, it was kind of an all or nothing deal. The tarp is such a monster that it catches the wind pretty easily and needed to be tied down very securely. In doing so, it made it not worth trying to remove it to work on from time to time; so the tiny house will sit until spring.

So far, we’ve had another very mild winter. This is the third year in a row that we haven’t seen much snow. We got a few inches over the weekend and our temperatures dropped quite a bit, but we’ve only had to shovel once…and by we, I mean Pete. Although we enjoy outdoor winter activities, it would also be nice to have spring come early and get back to work on the tiny house.

We stopped in at the Modern Woodsmith a couple of weeks ago to take a peek at our door and drop off the door knob and deadbolt. I got a call today that it’s ready to pick up. It turned out so nice and we can’t wait to install it. It still needs to be sealed, which we will probably wait until spring to do.

In the meantime, we have been trying to pare down our belongings in anticipation of living in such a small space. We’ve started in the closet and have a bag of clothes ready to go to Goodwill as well as a few other odds and ends. Since not much work will be done on the house for a little while, I’ll do my best to come up with tiny house topics to write about. If you have any ideas, send them my way.

Categories: Door, Dormers, Roofing, Tiny House Living | Tags: | 11 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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