Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend: A Massive Success!

Finishing up framing on the last wall- Sunday.
Awesome video at the end of the post so stick it out!

First off, I would like to say a belated, but still genuinely heart-felt thank you to all of our veterans. I hold one especially dear, my brother, Adam. Thank you for putting your life on the line several times to protect us. Thank you to everyone of you!

Getting excited for Monday!
So much happened on this long weekend that I'm going to break it down by the day. First, I'll give a small intro. SO, at the beginning of this past weekend, things were looking grim. We had originally planned to have the wall raising "party" on Saturday- weather pending. We still had a few bits to finish on the final wall, but we planned to do that on Friday. WELL. It did not happen that way. 

A serious incident happened at Dan's work (at another office location than his). They had to call in the best to clean up the situation- so, of course, Dan got called in to handle things. ;) He had to stay late Friday night, and then also work half of Saturday!

Dan had to work half the day and it rained, so we re-scheduled the wall raise to Monday- hoping people would still be willing to help. We did go get the last materials we would need for the wall raise: 1/2 inch plywood, slap stapler and staples, and house wrap.

Also a dreary sprinkly day, but we were determined to keep the pace going. We worked despite the intermittent sprinkles. We finished the remaining framing on the final wall (lower small window and cripple studs throughout) and prepped what we could for the big day! We were happy to hear that many of the people we asked would be able to come- even though we changed things last minute!

End walls are ready.
Dan and I grabbed food and booze as a gesture of gratitude to everyone that was going to help that day. Dad (Mr B) absolutely loves having cookouts, so he invited family and neighbors to watch it all happening too! We ran around getting things set up and ready for the big group. People filtered in at different times- almost everyone came early! There were also about 4 extra people that decided to come last minute. More the merrier!! There was a steadily growing buzz of excitement among all of us. I'll admit, I was nervous- imagining one horror scenario after another in the days that led up to it- you know, real useful exercise.

Dan and I worked to apply plywood  sheathing to the two end walls. We weren't worried so much about weight with these ones, and putting the sheathing on before the wall is up is WAY EASIER. We were super happy we did that once the walls were up, because they are TALL. We kind of wished we had done it to the long walls too (haha), but it was a good decision to leave the plywood off. The long walls were already very heavy, and having more places to grab onto was necessary. 
Putting the stud lines on the sheathing.

THINGS WENT GREAT! We set up the flipcam to video the whole wall raising process...when I walked up to turn if off- it read 39 minutes! In just 39 minutes, where there once was a flat trailer, now stands a tiny house. AAGGH! I'll say it again- NOW STANDS A TINY HOUSE!!!

Most everyone gravitated towards the food and beverages once the walls were up and secured. Long after most people had gone home, Dan, his mom, his Dad, and I continued working. We applied ALL of the remaining plywood- and thanks to Mr S's thrifty-ness we used up just about every scrap and have many extra sheets of plywood left over! Mrs S and I applied the house wrap and Dan helped with the third layer.  We need taller ladders to finish the very top. We placed the 2x6 rafters across the top of the tiny house and tossed a tarp over it to serve as a make-shift roof. The loft and roof are next on the agenda.

We made another time-altered video to show the walls being raised and to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU once again to everyone who came to help. We couldn't have done it without you! (See link at the end)

Oh! Another exciting bit of news! We now have a facebook page! So stop by- LIKE IT - and follow along for additional photos not posted here and all manner of other tiny house wonderment. :)

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For some reason the video
won't load to my post!
 Watch it on youtube here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Walls: Round Two

Reviewing the game plan.
It's almost time to raise the roof!!

This past weekend we were determined to keep up the steady pace we've been chugging along at. First and foremost, we wanted to finish both of the long walls. Well, we came damn close! If not for rainy weather, we would have stuck it out and finished the last little bit.

On Saturday morning we headed to pick up some more lumber for the roof joists. Yes, we were feeling quite ambitious thinking we were going to build two walls and raise them all in one weekend. HA! We quickly realized this after getting halfway through the first large wall. But hey, thats one less thing we will need to pick up this week.

Once again- very glad that we grabbed the bulk of our materials during the week. It does take time to select all your boards (we needed over 40 different pieces)- especially when you need to examine each one for cracks, knots, and warping. I definitly recommend this strategy to new builders- or anyone really. It really helps to us get rolling right away when we know we can just show up to the site and start.

Jake helped!

We chose to set up the house with a passive solar design, meaning the bulk of the glass is on one wall, while there is next to nothing on the opposite wall. (We actually have nothing on the back wall. More on that later.) Our tiny house has the door and the bulk of windows on a long side....usually most people design their tiny houses with the door on a short wall. While I like the "zen" flow this produces, I'm not a fan of how they look when parked and landscaped. It's only natural to have the front door be facing out into the yard space. I'd much rather have a broad wall facing anyone who approaches. Not to mention, it's important that the small side walls be sturdy- and any large door or window is going to weaken the integrity to an extent. Another aspect is that the small walls  don't allow for many options; we have a large it would need to be right smack in the center. Placing a door too close to a corner is not a good idea, structurally.
Our first, "Holy Shit! It's happening!" moment...

So through a combination of reasons, we decided on what you see coming together in the little video below. We opted not to put any windows on the back long wall because:
A) A blank wall is a super easy framing job and goes quick. Just 16s on center all the way, baby!  
B) Re-inforces the passive solar concept.
C) This wall will have the wet bath and majority of closet/cabinet storage, so windows would just get in the way!
D) Building this one first gave us the confidence to do the more complicated one the next


We actually had a little help from others this weekend! My little brother, Jake, helped out until he had to head into work, then my sister and her boyfriend came over and lent a hand here and there. It was nice to have people milling around, bringing in new excitement and energy for the project. My Dad has been the most fun to watch. I think by the end of this weekend, he's now more excited than we are! haha

He was always open minded and thought it was a cool idea, but as we started building the foundation on the trailer he began to perk up more. The weekend we built the small walls, he was texting and checking on our progress because he was at work. This past weekend, he set out his lawn chair and watched us with a big grin on his face. He couldn't stop hopping up and pacing around excitedly, talking about how cool it was to watch it come together. We are so greatful for him, and for everyone who has supported us, offered advice, and given encouragement.

Next weekend, we are going to need a lot of help. We've already started extending a few "invitations"- if you will. Just kidding, we know we're asking for labor. ;) But based on the two huge walls- there's no way we're doing this alone. Dan and I thought the blank long wall was hefty...well, that second wall? With the framing for three windows and a door? HOLY CRAP. We aren't even done adding all the framing and it was a serious struggle for us to just lift and tilt that thing with any sort of control. As my little frame wobbled and struggled to muster strength under the weight, I thought of the old addage, "Many hands make for light work." --Well then, many hands we shall have next time!

Here's hoping next weekend is rain free and the walls go up!

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

One Weekend - Two Walls

Half the walls are done!! :)

Once again, extensive planning paid off nicely. After my work trip, I opted to use one of my comp days to get settled back in at home. I spent a good four hours or more, on Thursday, mapping out the framing for the walls. After referencing the Google sketchup example, going cross-eyed from drawing so many straight lines right next to each other, and doing a lot of simple math- REPEATEDLY - I had our material needs down to the last ten foot 2x4.  

We grabbed materials that night so we could just dive right in on Saturday. We started by double checking the measurements of the windows that will be in the wall we were about to construct. Most say, "Measure twice, cut once." I like to measure about 20 times. haha

Start of the front wall - gonna be a lot of windows!

We set up shop under my Dad's carport since the forecast called for precipitation. We were determined to work rain or shine! It turned out to be a nice day overall with just a few sputters from the clouds.

Feeling a little bummed about the time-lapse camera getting none of the action out in the back yard, I decided to do a mini time-lapse. We just put my camera on a tri-pod and walked over and hit the self-timer every so often. But it beats posting 25 separate photos!

Here you can see us putting together the first wall.

We are building the smaller end walls first. On Saturday, we built the end wall with two windows- a bit complex, but just taking it one step at a time and following the basic framing rules wasn't bad at all. 

 Today (Sunday), we blazed through the second wall. Only one window in the center made for quick work. Especially after yesterday's wall. We stood there, pleasantly amused at how quickly and simply the second wall came together. We finished early and decided to take the opportunity to grab the materials we would need for next weekend. We needed to get the sixteen footers this time, so we borrowed Dan's Dad's truck. They still stuck out quite a bit and I had to improvise to mark the ends of the boards. I'd say a pair of blue hands flapping at you would catch a tailgaters eye. ;)

Tiny House - Huge Happiness
Stay back!

 Next weekend we will tackle the long walls...and the one with all the windows is going to be a DOOZY.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reconn' In Texas

Life is what you make it.

I had a seven day work trip coming up, running Wednesday to Wednesday, and since we choose to work on the house when we are together, a weekend was lost. I felt the first tinge of frustration, remembering too well how easily things can slide off track. I was bound and determined to explore and enjoy the time abroad, and find a way to use it to my advantage. Success! Not only did I take a hike through McKinney Falls State Park, and experience the Pecan Street Festival- I am thrilled to report that I was able to attend a Tiny Texas Houses tour. These small houses are made from 99% salvaged material. I wandered around in absolute awe. I have always been a bit enamored with old, distressed pieces of the past. These colorful and artfully constructed buildings showcase 500 yr old growth lumber- where the beams are so hard that a special tool is needed to drive a nail. I witnessed all the chic and smart ways to reuse common pieces, like panel doors.

MASSIVE of many!

 I was also thrilled to learn about a few natural and durable finishing supplies: tung oil for sealing wood, and milk paint for a splash of color and protection. I was able to get a pamphlet on the tung oil, but I need to research the milk paint.

Another fabulous find was the small ceramic panel heaters and blown in foam insulation. As we stood in the smaller of the houses toured that day, I stared at the small pot-belly stove in the corner and wondered if that would be enough for us. The tour guide, Dale, saw my gaze and remarked, "That'd be waay too much heat fer a place like this. You'd be openin' all the windows in ten minutes." I was shocked, considering the building we were standing in was easily 50 square feet bigger than our house will be. I asked what could be used, and it was then that I learned about the ceramic heater. It's just a simple tile that is mounted on the wall, and sticks out about 1.5 inches. It's electric and is the equivalent of running a 400 watt bulb. This immediately intrigued me, and when Dale mentioned they were about $80- I was locked in. Dale pointed out the heaters in the office; there were three. That was all they needed for about 400 square feet. Granted, this is in Texas, so the temperatures don't drop as low. Never the less, I will be researching that.

Oh! And the insulation! R-12 per inch. That means R-36 in a 2x4 wall!! We stepped into the 12' x 12' house set back on the property. It was an solid 90 degrees, beating sun, and slightly dry heat. We stepped into that small house, which had no windows open, no fans, nothing. It was EASILY 20 degrees cooler in there. Thanks to that insulation. A building with that kind of protection is going to be incredibly efficient. Again, super pumped to research this. I'll leave you with some photos now!

Ship-style ladder...makin' note!

All sealed with Tung Oil - waterproof!

This little guy is too much heat! Can you believe it?!

The porch has large hinges on the roof line. The deck and posts are removeable, allowing the porch roof to fold down
and protect the doors and windows during travel.


On the tiny balcony. :)

Riverstone shower floor, 200 year old tin, small antique dental sink.

Door recycled as a mantle/focal point.

Oscillating ceiling fan.