Monday, April 29, 2013

Foundation Complete! Next Up: The Walls

We can't believe it's time for the walls!!

This past weekend was yet another productive streak. The weather was ABSOLUTELY beautiful!! Sure, the work was a little slower going this time- but most everything we needed to do was meticulous and takes time no matter how you slice it.

We're both pretty pooped, and have a full week ahead- so I'm just going to make a list and plaster this post with pictures. Sound good? :) Excellent.


  • Applied 4x4s to framing for added support to weight bearing edges.
  • Secured 4x4 brackets to trailer and secured 4x4s to abutting 2x4s.
  • Foam sealed the framing.
  • Drilled and bolted corners of foundation to steel trailer frame (except one).
  • Began cutting and installing insulation board

  • Went to Lowe's for needed washers to complete bolting job.
  • Finished bolting trailer.
  • Finished installing foam board and sealed.
  • Cut and fitted 3/4 inch OSB (plywood) to framing.
  • Glued and screwed OSB in place.

And now we need to map out the framing for each wall so we can determine materials. I didn't take a picture of the leftover materials, but I'm pretty pumped. There was barely anything left, meaning we really had our calculations DOWN. One sorta poopy side note. We realized that we won't in fact have a 16 foot trailer- we actually cut it short by 4 inches! And when you figure in the width of the walls, we are looking at a 8x15 house! Even smaller! I'm hoping interior rearrangements won't be too difficult to adjust. Soon I'll post a video of the new layout we came up with just a couple weeks ago.

Oh! And I hope you all enjoy the blog face-lift! I finally did some playing around! Looks so much nicer, right?!
Sealing all the cracks with foam insulation. :/ Not my favorite material, but
this time around we want to go by the book. If there's a second tiny house, I will definitely strive to use
all salvaged and eco-friendly materials.

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Drilling through the steel frame for the bolts.

Putting in the last layer of insulation!
Applying the plywood-- to complete the subfloor/foundation!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunday...Twas a Funday

Setting the time-lapse camera.
Solid progress this weekend!

Ok, so we didn't get eeeverything done that I listed last time, but it was damn close to my over ambitious expectations. The only thing we did not get to was the insulation. I made the call at Lowe's that morning. I started to really digest what I had written so easily on paper the night before. Setting up the time-lapse camera, reinforcing the deck, applying the water seal, centering and attaching the framing with brackets, AND cutting, fitting, and attaching a "floor" to the framing that hung over the sides of the trailers. Yep. It was gonna take a while.

So we didn't buy any insulation, which was nice since transporting that on top of everything else would have been cumbersome. As soon as we got there, I began setting up the time-lapse camera. I definitely needed to consult the manual more than once, and even now I'm not sure if it's going to work. I sure hope so! How cool will that be! A time lapse! One of my favorite things. :)

Gotta....get it...juuustt...riiiiiiiiiight
Next, we immediately set to reinforcing the deck. We purchased a couple 2x6 pressure treated boards, placed them perpendicular to the deck boards, and screwed them in....REAL GOOD. That will provide additional strength to the deck, which is never a bad thing.

After that, we applied the rubber seal that will serve as a water barrier between trailer deck and the subfloor.  It's called Water & Ice, and is usually used in roofing applications, but the point is to keep water out- and that's what it's going to do. Another bonus, this material will snug up around screws, where as traditional metal flashing will begin to peel back and wear down around the screw as the trailer moves, leaving vulnerable areas for water.  Yes, we are applying adhesive side toward the water source, but with all the framing, a bajillion screws from brackets, and the foam insulation that will soon be in place- that stuff aint movin'.

Then came centering and securing the framing. Thanks to yet another wonderful neighbor on my Dad's block- Rick - we had two drills (with cords) allowing us to work uninterrupted as we began the thorough bracket job. Centering didn't take long, and with two people working at the brackets, that didn't take much time either. 

The last job was the one we were both a little apprehensive about. We needed to cut and fit pieces of 3/4 in treated OSB to create a bottom plate for the framing that hung over the trailer deck. As I started measuring, I realized the break lights were jutting into the plane that would soon need to be floor. We had to make specific cuts to fit exactly around each break-light. It was meticulous and slow going, but we did quite well!

Not gonna lie, we shared a few sets of enthusiastic high-fives (like a pair of nerds) after we had finished. hehe
No, we didn't get to the insulation, but in one weekend- we got a SOLID start.

Oh! And the 5 Day Water Challenge has concluded- SEVEN days later. That's right, we went another two days, and even then- we had 2.5 water bricks left!! Needless to say, we won't struggle with the new water habits- not even the heat-it-as-you-need-it aspect. It was definitely an eye opener; I learned just how little water you really need to get a job done. I also learned some good tricks- like washing my breakfast and lunch dishes right at work! 

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Look at that snug fit!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Subfloor Framing Completed

The build has officially begun!

Yesterday, we framed the subfloor that will be fastened to the trailer. We had a few minor hang-ups, but nothing could slow our momentum...we've been waiting too long!!

We started by studying our blue-prints for the framing design the night before and reviewing our materials list. Turns out having 6 months of time where you can do nothing but learn, and experiment, and plan and scrutinize and pays off.

Our only hang-up worth noting was the issue of stripping the screws. (Of course I got the wrong screws to begin with, but the hardware store wasn't far away, thank goodness) Each time we would try to drive a screw into the stud- it would immediately strip. Even when we pre-drilled a hole! 

We started to think that we had just got sold some cheap screws. We were solemnly ready to drive to Lowe's once again, but thanks to my Dad's friendly neighbor, Mario, we learned what the problem was. Turns out the drill we were using (plugs into the wall) was a little on the powerful side for this particular application. He taught us that those drills spin at such high speeds that the immediate change in velocity, plus the friction of moving through wood, was too much for the screw to handle- hence the stripping. He recommended we use a cordless drill, but the battery was still charging at the time; he showed us how make it work with what we had.  We needed to pre-drill, then apply great downward/inward force and drill very slowly. It worked! Trip to Lowe's averted!

And from then on, things went as they have with most every step so far- smoothly. :) Sure it took us a few hours, but we enjoyed the work. We just followed our own instructions and everything fit together like a puzzle!

Extensive planning and research really pays off.

Today, we plan to grab some re-claimed pressure treated wood from Dan's Dad- this will be used to re-inforce the trailer decking before applying the flashing and framing. Next we will head to Lowe's to grab our next round of materials. And today at my Dad's, we will mount the time-lapse camera (YAY!), re-inforce the deck, apply flashing, secure framing to trailer, and insulate!

Things are moving right along!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

DAY 4: Water Challenge Update

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." -HDT

So today is day four of the 5 Day Water Challenge...and it's going quite well! Neither of us feel all that displaced by the lack of running water. That word has a whole new meaning for me. See, I was walking into this feeling like we were going without water, when in reality, it was just the running  that we were leaving behind. Water is water = our new credo.

Wendy-Bunnns :)
We have learned some very valuable things which have caused us to make another, somewhat big change to our plans. We decided not to have the water tank in the attic that feeds down to the sink. The spigot doesn't yield much flow, and perhaps the only cumbersome part of this process was sitting there and filling up a pot with a trickle. So through a combination of this revelation and an article from Laura M LaVoie of - we have opted to go with a large stainless steel water dispenser that will sit on the counter over the sink (or mount on the wall) and provide water directly from a spigot.  
Dan's great idea! This filled them way faster!
Curious Bun-Buns

I've had curious readers ask me various questions like...  "How?!"
"What about showers?"
"How hard is it to do the dishes?"
"What about hot water?"

I'll answer a few and then leave you with our first video (below) where I give you a quick tour and tell you about how we've made it happen.

To the first question- see video.
The second- we use a camp shower and I have gone to the gym to shower as well. (after a camp shower, the gym shower felt like it was going to blast my freckles off)
The third- not all that bad. Across the board, most tasks just require a little more...strategy. But I was amazed at how little water I could use and still have clean dishes.
The fourth- again, see video. :)

Aren't I the cutest? tehehe

Thank you readers!!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Set! Level! Ready!

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." -HDT

Things are happeninnnngg!! This past weekend, we set the trailer up on jacks and leveled it for the build. We headed over to the big box store, bright and early, to grab the cement slabs that serve as the base for each jack.  We left early because we were expecting this to be a cumbersome and slow process.

It turned out quite the opposite! We examined the undercarriage and determined how best to position the jacks. These jacks were not what we expected at all, by the way. They are incredibly primitive, with just a locking crank and divets in the metal. No meticulous precision happening for these two. I guess we both thought they would have some sort of crank that allowed precise unique lengths, but nope, we got notches.

No matter!

After centering each set of cement slabs, we placed the jacks, and let the trailer rest down. I approached apprehensively. I had no idea what the hell we were going to do if that thing was off. I set the level down and stared in disbelief. It's level. What? Yes, LEVEL.

What are the odds of choosing just the right piece of land? Baffled into giggles, Dan and I sauntered off with the rest of the afternoon free for other things. We took it as a sign that we are on the right track; we just need to keep going.  :)

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coming Soon- 5 Day Water Challenge

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." -HDT

 There you see it! >> A simple exchange and the decision is finally made. We will begin our five day water challenge next week!

For a refresher, or to anyone just beginning to follow- Dan (ahem, yes, Gummibear) and I decided that it would be important to experience as many different aspects of tiny house living as we can...while we wait. That way, it's not a total culture shock when we finally move in.  A very big part of the tiny house life is going to be the complete de-railing of many, many habits we have developed over the years. 

Water use habits, I have a feeling, are going to be the hardest.  Again, siting that amazing book- The Humanure Handbook (everyone should read this!) - it is appauling how much water we waste.  Not only are we consuming at an alarming rate, we are also steadily contaminating the limited fresh water supplies we do have. Eventually, the world will be fighting over water, not oil.  It's a scary thought, and I'd rather not contribute to that impending crisis if I can help it.

Let me just take a small interlude here and list some of my own worst water habits...
1. I leave the faucet on throughout my entire tooth-brushing regimen.
2. I get impatient with boiling water for dinners, so I run the faucet until it gets piping hot, then put it in the pot and on the stove just to save myself maybe 2 minutes?
3. I shave my legs in the shower, which usually takes an additional 5-8 minutes with all that water still pouring out.
4. I fill the sink with water to do dishes, then I'll get distracted and forget about it. By the time I come back to it, the water is luke warm and I have to start over.
Those are just a few of my worst water habits, and believe me there are more, but these stick out the most. Ever since reading the H-Handbook, I have started working on improving these habits.  

For our water needs, we decided to go with a completely contained system, and

All our water needs are in!
very, VERY primitive plumbing. That way we are not dealing with all kinds of pipes in the walls, electric pumps, cutting a hole in the subfloor, etc. So basically, the only "running" water we will have is the water tank in the loft, by way of gravity, flowing out a spout in the kitchen sink which will be directly below. We will collect gray water in a storage tank directly under the sink and use it to water shrubs and trees. As for showers, we will make use of a camp/bag shower...and the real doozy- we will heat water as needed on the stove.

Yes, I find it intimidating...but how does that saying go?- "You will never know the true extent of your limits unless you push them." And if that doesn't work, this one usually snaps me around:

So, next week, we will be pushing limits indeed. We have all of our water storage needs already at the apartment (15 gallon tank storage and 28 gallons worth of waterbricks)- just waiting to be filled and used.

Waterbricks rock! Stack n store
to fit your space- that's just what
we needed!
Here are the rules:
1. All faucets will be taped as a friendly reminder to keep HANDS OFF!
2. All water will come from our storage, we will not refill during the 5 days to see how long it lasts.
3. Any water that needs to be hot will be heated on the stove top.
4. Water rules apply at the apartment only- we can shower at the gym, work, or a friend's place.
  PS: We certainly can't avoid using the bathroom, so the flush will remain in play.

It doesn't seem like many rules, but each represents a major daily life adjustment. Wish us luck!!

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Friday, April 5, 2013

A Warm Thank You & Email Subscriptions- FINALLY

"True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance." -HDT

Dan and I just wanted to take a moment to send out a heartfelt Thank You, to all the family, friends, and other followers out there. We can't tell you how much it means to us that you each have chosen to take the time and learn a little about what we are doing, show interest, follow progress, give suggestions, send along photos, articles, and links- ALL OF IT!

The tiny house movement may be alive and thriving in some parts of the country- namely the West Coast, with a thinning through the Mid-West, and just a handful of concentrated pockets here on the East Coast. But I wouldn't be surprised to find that Dan and I are the only reps in Rhode Island- and believe me, some days it can feel like we're the only ones in the universe. With a project like this, it's easy to intimidate yourself, dig too deep into certain aspects, over-think, second-guess, self-doubt.  It's all part of the journey when you choose to go against the grain.

I remember absolutely burying myself in scientific garble about vapor barriers, air flow, material densities, and so on when I was stuck on being worried about moisture build up in such a small, tight, structure.  I was having one of my first (but always fleeting!) moments of, "Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?!" Then I received a private Facebook message from an unlikely source. A friend that I hadn't talked to in quite a while had taken the time to write, telling me they thought what we were doing was really great. Our philosophy really resonated with them and they wished us the best on our adventure, saying they would be reading along, anxious to see the finished product. I was so touched by this message, that it completely shattered that moment of doubt and intimidation and provided a big gust of wind for my sails. I stepped back, took a look at the bigger picture on this whole moisture situation and realized, "Just apply the same rules/materials as a normal house! It's not like we are taking this thing on the water or parking it deep in the Congo rain forest!"

We realize that many still think we are a pair of nuts, yet you show us your support none the less. This tells us you are confident in our capability and believe that we are going to follow through. On tough days when we cannot seem to provide that for ourselves, we are so thankful to receive it from all of you.

 So to all of you, whether you just read along anonymously, make comments, hit the like button, subscribe, send along pictures or articles you come across, or even just ask every now and then, "How's the tiny house coming?" THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I'm sure we would get through this even if the world seemed like it was against us, but know that every little thing you do can show someone support, community, and encouragement at a moment they might need it the most. We genuinely appreciate the support each of you have given in your own way. :)

Stay tuned! I'll be posting about the water challenge and a total re-vamp of the house design soon!

PS! I finally figured out how to set up email subscriptions! HOORAY!
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