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: , , , , , | 3 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

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

Walls Framed & Mostly Sheathed

September 4, 2012 – It’s been a full month since our last post and I am very happy to announce that all the walls for the tiny house are framed in!  Unless you count the small triangular sections at each loft end, we haven’t started on those yet. But the main walls to the house are not only framed, they are mostly sheathed as well.  We still have the back wall and 1/2 the front wall to sheath.

This has been a major accomplishment for us and it’s exciting to see the tiny house really coming along.  For the most part it has been a fairly painless process.  We did run into some issues along the way, mainly making sure walls were square.  The most frustrating portion of the wall framing happened this past weekend on our final wall.  The wall was built and when we measured from corner to corner, the wall was square.  However, when we laid out our first sheet of plywood we could not get it to fit squarely.  We could get the proper overhang all the way around, except in one area where we were 1/2″ off.  Unfortunately too, we had already put down the construction adhesive.  We fought with the sheet of plywood for a while, only to admit defeat and had to scrape up all the construction adhesive.  We measured the wall from end to end and top to bottom all the way across.  We did have a 3/16″ discrepancy when measuring the length along the top of the wall and the length along the bottom of the wall.  This was a tricky one to figure out too, because we had to modify the plans to accommodate our wheel wells.  In the end we fixed the discrepancy in length and still could not get the plywood to sit properly.  All our measurements were right on and we still were square when measuring corner to corner.  However, when we put an actual square into the corners of the walls one was always a little off.  In the end, we decided to keep the sheets of plywood at 8′ lengths and sheath the whole wall. Afterwards, we snapped a chalk line and cut the plywood leaving the appropriate overhang. The sheets went on the wall just as they should have, landing right on the center of our studs.  All we can figure is that the beginning of the wall must have been bowed or something. It was a rather frustrating day trying to figure this out and we put in many phone calls to all our resources looking for advice. A big thanks goes out to Chris, Kirk, and Pete’s dad, Sid for helping us figure it all out.

On the front wall the plans for the tiny house called for using Parallam beams and posts. The posts were 5.25″ x 5.25″ and were quite heavy.  To join the posts to the 5.25″ x 3.5″ beams, we needed to cut a sort of stair-stepped notch to join them.  This was rather difficult as not only were these very heavy, they were also too big for our tools.  We had to use the table saw, chop saw, and then a hand saw to make all the necessary cuts.  We were a little confused at our plans, because none of the other tiny house blogs we have followed used these laminated beams; however, we found out after the fact, that the Tumbleweed plans are now certified by a structural engineer.  They may be overkill, but if two elephants decide to sit on our front wall, we’ll be covered.

On another exciting note, we ordered our windows!  This was a long drawn out process and every time we thought we were ready to order them, we were faced with more decisions.  This was also a scary step, because the windows will be the most expensive part of this whole project.  We went with the recommended Jeld-Wen aluminum clad exterior/pine interior awning style windows.  We chose to stick with the awning style, even though they are more expensive than single or double-hung, because the house will not have much of a roof overhang and we will still be able to have the windows open if it’s raining.  We also went with the mesa red exterior that you see in many of the Fencl pictures on the Tumbleweed website.

Our roof and skylight were ordered and are being stored at ProBuild until we are ready to install them.  We were originally planning on going with the plain galvanized metal roofing; however, after some encouragement from others we decided to choose a color.  We chose Hawaiian blue.  This too was a scary decision.  Fortunately, we were able to get small samples of the roof color, the window color and thanks to my co-worker Brian, whose house and garage are sided in the same cedar siding we’ll be using, we were able to get a sample of the siding to compare all three colors together.  We think it will look quite nice.

This weekend we will finish sheathing the remaining wall and start framing in the loft ends.  We will also start cutting out the notch for our rafters and pre-install the joist hangers on the ridge beam.  Our goal at this point is to have the walls up and house wrap on, roof up, and windows in by the end of September.  Our tasks always take a little longer to complete than we think and at this point we’ve learned not to hold our breath.  However, we would like to have the tiny house up and weather proof before first snowfall, which has been known to happen as early as October.

Categories: Framing, Walls, Windows | 14 Comments

Walls Coming Along and Mistakes Fixed

July 29, 2012 – We always start our work weekends out with good intentions.  We plan on getting up early and getting to the job site right away.  We plan on working long hours and accomplishing a good deal of work.  Well, in reality, we work 4 – 10 hour days during the work week and never quite accomplish as much as we plan.  Such is life.

This weekend was no different.  After a leisurely breakfast Friday morning, we went to ProBuild.  Lately, it seems like we’ve been at ProBuild every Friday for at least an hour taking up Tony and Phil’s time with our incessant questions.  They talk to us in “builder’s talk” and then we ask “what’s that mean”?  Lucky for us, they’re pretty patient with us.  We thought we’d be starting on a new wall right off the bat; however, we weren’t quite finished with the first wall we built.  We assumed, because our framed in floor remained wobbly, that we would be able to square up our wall when we put the sheathing on.  This, however, was not the case.  The first wall we built had so much hardware in it, that it would not budge; which would be fine if it had been square, but it was not – we were a 1/2 inch off from being square.  We called Chris, hoping he would say that a 1/2 inch wasn’t a big deal; however, our hopes were dashed when he said to take out the screws and corner braces and get it to within an 1/8 of an inch.

All hope for the weekend was not lost though, we managed to square up our back wall, fix the rebar situation, tape out our floor plan to finalize window placement, and cut most of the studs for the shorter of our two side walls.



Categories: Framing, Walls, Welding | 1 Comment

Starting on Walls and Discovering Mistakes…Again

July 22, 2012 – We started framing in our first wall this weekend and of course in the process discovered another goof-up.  Well, it wouldn’t be homemade if there weren’t some mistakes right?  That’s my mantra I try to repeat to myself when frustration sets in.

In past blog posts I talked quite a bit about the welding that needed to be done on the trailer.  After many delays with the welding aspect, we finally found a welder who was able to get the job done.  Prior to the welder starting, he asked us to measure out how long the all thread rod needed to be and give him the measurement.  In order to do this, we put one of the pieces of all thread rod through the drilled hole in the subfloor and set a 2×4 next to it.  We then put one of the Simpson Strong Tie connectors on the all thread rod with the mounting hardware and measured to a point where we had 5-6 threads exposed.  This would be how long the all thread rod would need to be in order to go through the bottom plate of our walls and into the Simpson Strong Tie connector.

Here is where is gets frustrating.  We started on the back wall of the tiny house this weekend.  The back wall is designed to have a 2 – 2×4 thick bottom plate, as opposed to the side walls that have just 1 – 2×4 bottom plate, making the pieces of rebar too short to mount the Simpson Strong Tie connectors.  This discovery was disheartening to say the least.  Our project was started two months later than we would have liked trying to prepare for the welding portion of the project and find a welder only to now realize that after all that time we screwed up.

Well, like my brother told me during our last episode of frustration, all of our mistakes can be fixed.  Today, our friends, Kirk and Tami flew into Marquette for a day trip (Kirk has his own plane!).  We picked them up at the airport and before going out to lunch, we brought them to the build site.  Kirk has a lot of welding experience and came up with a good fix for our goof.  His solution was to cut the rebar shorter, use some permanent loctite and a coupler and piece together another length of rebar to make it the right height.  Thank you Kirk!  It’s so nice that we can fly out consultants for the project!  🙂

In the meantime, we built our first wall.  This wall was pretty straight forward.  We were able to follow the plans and other than building it as a mirror image to the plans, we did not have to make any changes.  We did discover, once the wall was finished and standing up, that the window is a little lower than we would have liked.  For my 5′ 3″ height, it’s fine, but it’s a little low for Pete’s at 5′ 10″.  Luckily it’s only the bathroom window and the other windows will be higher up on the wall.  The final touch was adding a CS-14 strap along the wall.  The plans call for this and we’re thinking it’s for added support for tornado-like conditions when the house is pulled down the highway.

Next weekend we’ll start on another wall and fix the rebar situation.

Categories: Framing, Walls, Welding, Windows | 2 Comments

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