Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just Call Us Itchy & Scratchy

Woohoo! Music INSIDE for the first time! 
Insulation is underway!

On Sunday, we started the full fledge tackle of the insulation. Since we had completed and tested the electrical on Saturday, we knew we were good to go on the insulation.

For anyone new, our insulation is reclaimed from a warehouse with industrial coolers, so it's pretty intense stuff. Gotta love Craigslist! We saved a substantial amount of money going this route, but as we quickly learned on Sunday, there are "trade-ins". Since we purchased this reclaimed stuff that comes in 4x8 foot sheets, we have to do all the cutting ourselves. We learned, THANKFULLY, that using the skill saw made our job much easier....sort of.

This type of insulation is not the "closed cell" so that means when you cut, you get crumbles, powder, and dust. We wore masks last time to avoid breathing in the stuff. Dan wore one again this time, but I was the measure and mark person, and only occasionally  the cutter, applicator so I didn't wear one. There were a couple of times that I wished I had. That powder clings to sweaty skin like nothing else. I made the mistake of licking my lips at one point and spent the next 15 minutes spitting the awful taste and texture from my mouth!

Kitchen light...yay! :D

We forged onward however, because time is closing in. We only have the apartment until the end of September and we certainly don't plan on renewing the lease!

We decided to begin with the back wall since it is the simpler of the two long walls. This wall is pretty much all 16s on center, so the measuring and cutting would be pretty standard. Or so we thought....see the thing with this hard, unforgiving insulation board is that you have to cut it EXACTLY right. Being off by just an 1/8th of an inch can be a real pain, and often leads to a lot of grunting and griping, punching and kicking, sometimes even throwing a shoulder into it to get the damn thing in the wall. There was more than once that we had to give up and take the piece back outside to shave off just a hair.  Each time we did that, I think we shaved off a little of our patience too. haha

All the while we were both slowly changing color. The fine yellow powder collected EVERYWHERE on us...our skin, clothes, hair...and it ITCHES. After four hours of continuous work, and near completion of the back long wall, we cried Uncle. Neither of us could take the powdery itchiness, the nit-picky measurements, and the special circumstances that electrical wire introduced. With this hard board stuff, the wires don't play nicely. The foam board is almost exactly 3.5 inches, so that leaves zero room for anything else. We decided going forward that we will just cut the insulation to give the wires space and then fill in the larger gaps with foam as needed.
This coming weekend, I return to Maine yet again for a family wedding event. So much driving! Dan couldn't get the time off, so he's staying home and then heading to the Cape to visit his family since they are all gathered there for vacation.  We both return on Sunday, he much sooner than I, and he plans to work on the insulation some more while I'm gone. What a guy! :) A friend offered to help him out on Sunday too! But we've had those offers before, we shall see if he is good to his word.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013


We have power!!!
....when we hook up to my Dad's house....haha.

I am one fizzled out little gal tonight. So I'll lay it out skirt style: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting. ;) [Yep, I'm a bit cheeky when over-tired.] This week we returned home on Tuesday morning from a short vacation up North. This was after pulling an all-nighter- we set off at 6pm the evening before. As a result we spent Tuesday in recovery. 

We got a late start. But our goal was to fix the second window and then finally complete the last two. We had been dealing with how to install a replacement window into new construction. Ideally, you would use new construction windows, but hey, we wanted deals from Craigslist so we could save $$. It is by no means impossible, it just requires a little ingenuity and stick-to-it-iveness  and the job can be done. The main difference between new construction and replacement windows is that the new windows come with a nailing flange with significantly helps with the install process and also provides a water diversion. What did we do? We used a combination of techniques.
We first installed the window in a replacement style- using the screw holes within the window frame and screwing it into the studs. We positioned it just right, so that the window is flush with the wall. We then applied the tape, covering about a half inch all around the perimeter of the window and also covering a couple inches of the wall, this provides a water tight seal- thereby mimicking the nailing flange. 

The the second window fix went rather quickly. After the big window it was easy. This window was also a replacement window, so we used the same method. The last two windows, that we hadn't officially done any permanent work to, were very different sizes. They both are on opposite ends of the house.
One is about 2.5 feet by 5 feet, and the other is 21 inches by 33 inches. So yeah, a little different. We decided to tackle the larger window first- and it turned out to be a pain to get it just right. It ended up taking the rest of the day, but it looked great when we were done. We felt really good about how things were looking- and confident that we had the windows right this time.

The next day, we finished the small window first thing. It was starting to sprinkle and we knew it would get worse throughout the day. The remainder of the day we worked inside as it poured all around us. It was nice to listen to the rain patter on the roof while we worked.
It wasn't so nice, however, that it was 60 freakin' degrees out!! I was NOT dressed for that, the weather forecast said we would see high 60s low 70s. LIAR! But I grabbed a sweater from my sisters old room and kept on. We spent the whole day- 8am to 5pm- working steadily. We began wiring the electrical. We were able to get about 90% done.

We took the day off. We had errands to address and a family get together in the afternoon.

After a late night, we got sort of a late start. We headed to the store to get the last few supplies we needed and then to the site. We got there at about 1030, and we had a family cookout to attend at 1pm. Summers are definitely not a slow time when you have big social families! :) We managed to complete the last of the electrical, and test the power. We giggled with glee as we watched the lights go on and off, and each outlet passed the test. I'll dedicate a separate post to our electrical set up.

Conclusion: We managed to keep a good mix of work and play throughout our vacation. We finished the windows at long last, and we completed the electrical. Now, we can finish the insulation and begin the interior! Or complete the outside. We'll see. Tomorrow, we are visiting and having breakfast with Dan's sister and hubster. They are down from New York. After breakfast, we plan to head back over and continue the insulation work.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We're BaaaAAAAaack!

My favorite place with my favorite person. :)
Vacation was fun, but we've been itchin' to get back to work!

On Monday, Dan and I were floating lazily about in the pristine waters of Little Madawaska Lake. The sun was shining, not a breeze to be found, and a lovely humidity free 72 degrees was the day's number. We had been enjoying the whirlwind time of meeting all of the family and also my high school classmates. It didn't make for much down time. Monday was the first sign of that....and that's when the thoughts crept in. As we floated comfortably on tubes and drank ciders, thoughts of the house kept jumping to the forefront of my mind. Here was this WHOLE week of nothing but time! I couldn't help myself- I wanted to be working on the house!
Tiny house that I drove by every day on the school bus!

A peak inside.

I introduced the subject lightly, because I imagine most sane people are not dwelling on projects when they are off on vacation. Come to find out, Dan was feeling the same way too. We decided to be spontaneous. We packed up our things, cleaned up the camp, and jumped on the road for an all-nighter. Why spend all Tuesday driving with traffic when we could just drive all through Monday night? It sounded great at the time, haha...but what that does is make you completely useless the next day. 

So, yes, we got home early Tuesday instead of Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning...but we spent the whole day recouping sleep and working out the kinks of 12 hours on the road.

Anywho, while we were up there, it was as if I saw things in a whole new light. I was astonished at the number of homes we saw on the drive up- especially as we got into the County- that were between 200 to 800 square feet. Much innovation is born out of necessity. The winters up there are no picnic! We even visited a small hunting shack that my family lived in for about 8 months while we waited for our final home to be delivered.  It made me realize that I've lived in a lot of interesting situations, and never once do I remember complaining about it, or letting it affect my outlook-- at least not from a negative standpoint.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I look forward to living the tiny lifestyle; flexing your adaptability muscles is a healthy practice, and often gives you a new perspective to add to your collection. I'm always looking for those. ;)

Today, we plan to fix the second messed up window and then finally (and properly) install the last two windows. Considering it's 10am now and we have a 6pm dinner date with Mama Bear (Mrs S)- that's all we are putting on the list for today.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sunday Comeback!

Okay, so it sounds a little more epic than it probably was.

But that's how we feel! This past weekend was half and half. It poured all day Saturday at the site, which didn't seem to hurt our feelings any. We took that time to catch up on the day to day chores and errands that have been pushed to the back burner as of late. We are heading out on vacation at the end of this week! So we definitely needed to get certain things done. Dan and I are returning to my home turf to meet the family, attend my 10 year high school reunion, and have some true down time. Nothing like kicking back at the lake! Can't wait!

But on Sunday- we were determined to get a thing or two done so the whole weekend wasn't a wash. We arrived to work at 8am. We didn't have any demands set for ourselves, we just wanted to work on whatever we could, but at a pace that wouldn't kill us in the heat.
The day turned out to be absolutely GORGEOUS! It remained in the mid to high 70s, at my Dad's, with a nice breeze coming through every now and then. The sun has also been slowly changing it's path in the sky, and as a result, our work space remained in the shade until about 2pm! 

The nice weather and the relaxed attitude helped us accomplish far more than we expected. We started off by building a set of steps up into the house. We both (but especially shorty here) were sick of hoisting and heaving ourselves up and into the house every time we needed something- which is A LOT.  It was even more of a pain when carrying something large and heavy. And I, with my shankles, was just waiting for the time I would hop down and wreck my ankle when landing. So steps became priority one.

 I began by sorting through all of our scrap wood. We had a lot of 2x6 pieces which seemed perfect for the job. We began laying out the matching lengths and cutting others to size. We had several pieces that were one consistent size (the scraps from the roof rafters) and I had planned for those to be the treads. After we constructed the sides of the steps, Dan pointed out how ridiculous and narrow they would be if we used the treads I had in mind. I had a good hearty laugh envisioning the steps being 3 feet deep, but only 20 inches wide. Yeah, not a great design. So we took some of our longest scrap and cut treads to be just over three feet wide. When we were done, we had a nice big set of steps that easily escort you up into the house. :)

Completing a small job like that can have a profound affect on your attitude and outlook for the rest of the day. We were so happy about how quickly and easily the steps came together- not to mention the small pleasures of actually having stairs now- that we moved on to the next project with vigor. We started working on the insulation board for the roof. We had used a hand saw in the past because someone told us the foam would probably melt onto the blade. Using a old school hand saw sucked. The lines never stay straight, the pieces never seemed to fit nicely....Well, we decided to give the circular saw a shot anyway. It worked fabulously!

No melting whatsoever. Cutting time was reduced at least by 70%, and it was far more accurate. The nicely cut pieces fit into the rafters much more easily than the ones we cut by hand. We zipped right through that project as well.
We then decided we would tackle the large window. It was an intimidating undertaking, but the day was going so great, and it was only noon by that point! I began by cleaning up all of the silicon and foam on the outside of the window and removing the screws. Then, using a drywall knife, I started cutting out the foam from inside. It certainly took some time to get the window out with all that gunk that was meant to keep it sealed. After much maneuvering and tapping hear then tapping (okay more like banging) there, we finally got the window free. The reason the window did not go in properly the first time is because the rough opening was built to the wrong set of dimensions from the window. This particular window had three "steps" if you will, where the frame gets increasingly wider. I thought I had measured the largest part, but I had not. 

Dan was up there on a ladder with the skill saw for the better part of an hour cutting and hacking away to get us the extra 3/4 of an inch we needed for it to fit. That was probably the most precarious and tedious part. We lost count of how many times we put the window in place only to find that a tiny bit here or a hair there needed to be chiseled out. Finally the window fit in snugly and level. We re-taped, applied silicone, and then slid the window into place. The flanges are now flush with the outside as they should be.  And it looks MUCH better too.

After a day well done, we decided to go for a dip in the lake. We were so happy and more so relieved that the large window was fixed- and it really wasn't that bad. We don't feel like we are too far off track any more! 

We will be on vacation next week, but we plan to return home by Wednesday and spend the rest of the week working away at the house. We hope to cover some serious ground!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

A Little Hump Day Action

Finally! We put in some hours on a week night!

On Wednesday, Dan and I headed over to the site to do a small job or two. We both were determined to make it happen this time. After several failed attempts at mustering the gusto and worrying more and more about the timeline for completion, we found the straw that broke the camel's back. (Hump day, camels, see what I did there?)

We stopped by the big box store on the way over to grab a few lingering items needed for the wheel well covers, and also a dry wall knife to assist in the long arduous process of cleaning out and removing the two windows that need to be fixed. It was a relatively dreary day, weather wise, but we were happy to working out of the beating sun for once. We even welcomed the intermittent sprinkles that also brought in cooler temperatures.

We ended up doing some clean up around the site, talking out how to fix the windows with Mario (which we feel much better about now), and completing both of the wheel well covers. We took our time too. It was nice to be there in the quiet cool evening hours. My dad had some of the neighbors over and we could hear them laughing and carrying on out front. Just hearing them made us smile and go forward with cheer.

We used pressure treated boards and some 3/4 inch PT plywood to form the boxes that hug each wheel well. We mounted the boards with brackets, and while Dan cut the pieces that would be the top, I went about using the scrap foam board insulation from our trailer deck job to fill in as much of the space as possible. I also placed the foam board specifically to keep the foam spray from coming out the bottom on the exterior of the wells. We will finish those areas up nicely when it comes time to side.

We put in about two hours of work, which isn't much compared to what we have done on weekends, but hey, every last minute counts. Now we have one less job to do this weekend! We left at dark, feeling a happy kind of tired. The kind that let's you know you're going to sleep well. :)

Next up: finishing the ceiling insulation, electrical wiring, and then wall insulation!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Milestone: Our First Shitty Day

A much needed Sunday Funday.
My previous experience in construction taught me one solid rule above all else: Rarely does a project get completed on 'time'; mishaps and backtracks are common.  

Knowing something will happen, and being prepared for it are two very different things. And they don't always show up together. On Saturday we headed over to the house, sweating out the ride in Dan's truck (with no A/C), and even at 8am it was already a heavy, humid 90 degrees. We dragged ourselves around in the energy zapping heat, trying to decide what we could do. We decided we were going to put the termination bars on the roof, and then fully install the last two windows. 

First off, the termination bars did not look like the ones I saw in the educational videos, but we assumed the same concept. We spent about an hour applying the bars all around the roof- and since we used scrap pieces of 2x4 to jut the roof out that extra bit- we didn't have one solid piece all the way around. As a result some parts of the bars couldn't connect to anything. We didn't see it as much of an issue. The rubber is stuck on for life, this was more of finishing job. Or so we thought.

We then began to measure and cut the 1x3s we had bought that morning. These were to frame out the last two windows. For whatever reason, these 1x3s were not the same thickness, and just barely wouldn't fit. It was aggravating for sure. But, that happening was sort of a good thing. Sort of.

Around that time, Mario, our neighbor with years of house construction experience came over to say hello. He looked around and gently let us know that two of our windows were not installed properly, and what we had planned to do for the last two windows was not the best idea either. Oh, and we put the termination bars on upside down, and there shouldn't be gaps. So after a few sentences, the entire Saturday was negated and we are set back. We now have to remove the two top windows on the front side- of course, the HUGE one. Not to mention all that foam in the cracks. We have to dig them out and re-install again. That's one whole weekend for sure.

It was a combination of the 90 percent or higher humidity, heat, the relentless work we have put in thus far, the already building frustration and general burnt-out-ness that just needed a "failed inspection" to burst the bubble. We both felt defeated and exhausted, knowing what we had to undo and redo. We decided to clean up shop for the day, and call it a weekend. We both came to the conclusion that we really just needed a day off where we weren't doing something on the house. We didn't want to cultivate any kind of resentment for the project. Lately, we have only been associating really unpleasant working conditions and tedious/difficult tasks with the house. It was time to come up for air.

So on Sunday, we slept in, took our time getting ready for the day, went and bought a small inflatable pool, and set it up in my Dad's backyard. There was something therapeutic about sitting in lawn chairs, with our shins half submerged in chilly water. Despite the wretched heat and humidity, we felt comfortable for the first time in many days. As the cold water slowly cooled our bodies, it seemed to cool our tempers and perspectives too. We stared on at our tiny house, and despite what we had learned just the day before, found ourselves smiling and making positive remarks to one another. The biggest thing we told ourselves was: Yes, there are mistakes, but each one can be FIXED. Before we knew it, we were talking out how we would go about tackling each job. Onward!

Mistakes are par for the course. They allow you to truly appreciate when things are going really well.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Rubber Roof

The roof is on!

It's not the most fabulous looking thing, but hey, it's not like anyone can see up there. As long as it keeps the water out, we are happy. You couldn't say that to us yesterday around 1230pm, but we can say it now- haha.

So we decided that we would do just one job on Independence Day and then let ourselves relax the rest of the holiday. We got up bright and early to review videos and online instructions on installing rubber roof membranes. It all looked pretty straightforward and quick. Armed with the know-how, we headed over to the site. We immediately took the tarp off the roof to give it some time to air dry. There must have been a hole in the tarp, because there were a couple damp areas.

A damp roof sheathing is not a surface you want to apply adhesive to, so we had to wait and let the steadily rising morning heat do its work. Since we were stuck waiting around for that, we took the opportunity to de-nail all of our barn boards being careful to collect all of the super old square nails. We may try to use them in our flooring application, but we may not have enough. We shall see.

We then sorted the wood into piles of different widths. We need to make sure that whatever the width of a particular board is...that we have about 16 ft at that particular width (the length of the house) so the flooring install will be clean and smooth. We're looking forward to having floor boards of varying widths, we think it adds character.
Now we just need to locate a company that can plane the boards for us.

By the time we finished de-nailing and sorting, the roof had dried. We started out by hauling the rubber membrane up to the roof and rolling it out. It needs to "relax" for about 20-30 minutes to let all the wrinkles and folds come out. We then carried up the 5 gallon bucket of adhesive (yes, way more than we needed, but they did not have smaller sizes...grr). We folded the rubber back half way and I began rolling on the adhesive. The product labels say to allow about 20 minutes for it to become tacky. That's not how it worked for us... I was still rolling the last 12 inch strip of space and the far corners looked to be comepletely dry! It was getting tacky in about 3 minutes! ACK!

I think the 99 degree weather may have had something to do with that. So I quickly tried to re-apply in the drier areas and we started the rolling out of the rubber. It was definitely awkward, and we are not professionals by any means- so that seamless super easy application that we witnessed on the video is NOT how it went. The rubber appeared to go down flat and smooth, but then bubbles seemed to appear out of nowhere. We tried brushing them out- with very little success. The adhesive dried too fast. When we did the second half of the roof; we applied the adhesive quickly and only waited a minute or two before rolling out the rest of the rubber. Even more bubbles on this side...

We both definitly had a 10 solid minutes of serious peeving about the bubbles. We were upset that we did not get the perfectly smooth results we saw in the video. I was ranting about how it sucked that I'm not Cinderella, and I can't just gently loft a blanket into the air, sing a lovely song, and have my feathered friends escort the blanket perfectly down into place without a single wrinkle or bump. Instead, I had a big black, stinky, heavy tarp thing that I spent most of the time tripping over and swearing at- with no feathered friends to be found. Haha

After a solid rant session with one another, we started to come around. We stopped, took some deep breaths, and forced ourselves to point out the positives and the realities.

1) The rubber is one solid piece, so despite the bubbles, there are no seams- it is still water tight. So IT'S STILL A ROOF.
2) We are not professionals, and we were silly to think the roof would glide on like in the video. (Why would anyone show a video where the product does not perform flawlessly? DUH.)
3) Everything up to this point has gone incredibly well. We were probably due for a challenge like this.
4)The bubbles can be fixed. (similar process of fixing a bike tire)

We will most likely go through and fix the biggest of the bubbles at a later date, but for now we need to keep on truckin'. After getting the rubber in place and being crabby patties about it for a while, we cleaned up and called it a day. We will put the termination bars on this weekend. They are essentially metal brackets that clamp the edges of the rubber down just over the sides of the roof.

We spent the rest of the day lounging around with my brother, drinking Strongbows, listening to music, and people watching. We even went for a dip in the lake! All in all, we accomplished what we said we were going to get done and still had time to enjoy the holiday. :)

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