This weekend doesn’t look like much progress in pictures, but it was a lot of preparation and the hard stuff; we worked on the bathroom bay window/utility closet, and started on the Dutch door retrofitting. Eventually we will cut a round top in the door, and lap end pieces to the cut edges of the Dutch door to make it strong and air/water tight. Sounds really simple but we had a huge debate about how best to do that. All agreed that it will be gorgeous when it is done; in fact it is such a pretty door it was fairly intimidating to make that first cut. The door is solid teak, after all – you’d have to try really hard not to have it look beautiful. Another awesome Craigslist find.
Some of us worked on plumbing/electrical logistics to stay out of the way. To our horror, our RV water inlet had this little sticker on the back (and we even went out of our way to hunt down a mostly metal water inlet instead of a plastic one! It’s a conspiracy…)
We also put together the rafters and raised them, temporarily screwing them down, mostly so we could feel good about our progress on something; next week we will put in blocking and attach hurricane clips (H 2.5’s) to make it really sturdy, and finally sheet the roof and put up fascia board. We decided to make our walls narrower so we could actually have eaves and rain gutters since it rains a heck of a lot more where we are than in Jay Shafer’s part of the world.
It was really good timing on hindsight, as we saw dark clouds coming and decided to tack down the black plastic over the roof in case it rained a little. It usually doesn’t rain a lot, but we didn’t have a good way of covering the floor any more since we had put up criss-crossed supports for squaring and stabilizing the walls in preparation for the roof. We had just gone inside when it POURED for about 20 minutes! We checked afterwards and there was some pooling of water but only where the North-facing windows were, so we tacked up coverings for the windows, too. The doorways will have to stay open until next week. Hopefully it doesn’t rain that hard again for at least a week!
In other news, we picked up some sheets of Magnum Board from a very nice fellow named Jim of EcoAbode, LLC in Tacoma who specializes in green building materials. Evidently he is familiar with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and he was very sympathetic to our cause. He’s the closest supplier of magnesium oxide board to Oregon (the next closest is in Northern California), so I will put his info on the Materials List page for those interested.
Also, I talked to a lady in Portland at a place called Brush & Trowel who is a great resource for questions on non-toxic plaster finishes. We are thinking of doing tadelakt for our shower stall instead of the usual galvanized steel or aluminum sheet, and she recommended a system called EcoStucco, which carries a very fine plaster suitable for for it, and the elusive “Savon Noire” recommended for burnishing and waterproofing. Normally I shy away from patented “systems” but in this case, I don’t want to deal with a DIY lime plaster debacle, especially for such small square footage and a short time frame. She said she had tadelakt installed for her shower and loves it, and didn’t see why we couldn’t use it, so long as we keep the whole thing really rigid to prevent cracking. The demo tile she showed us used a stiff cement board backing, followed by what appears to be an entirely superfluous layer of nasty paint, and topped with at most 1/16″ of plaster. Since the Magnum Board is really stiff, I think it would work great if it has solid framing behind it. The Magnum Board is 60 lbs per 4′ x 8′ x 3/8″ (9 mm) sheet, so the plaster won’t add much more weight, and we wouldn’t even use a full sheet. If we like it, we were thinking of doing the floor in Magnum Board with plaster as well, since our house will be a shoe-free area anyway, and the dog hates bathrooms (they are scary places, with BATHs and the site of a very mysterious but offensive habit of pooping in the same place, inside your house – very unhygienic) so no worry of dog nails. And there is certainly no worry of high heels in this household! We have not seen any tiny housers do anything similar, so hopefully there isn’t a very good reason not to – if anyone knows why we shouldn’t, do let us know!
We finished the wall siding this weekend, and mostly finished up the bay window framing. As soon as the sheeting was up, it was much easier to visualize the space, and you can start to feel the size better. The house seems massively tall standing in the driveway (which had me freaking out a little bit thinking about transport), but inside it feels just right. We also installed the Simpson Strong-Ties with our cool little no-weld brackets, and they work great! Although we did discover that the location of the cross-members NEVER coincides with the 16″ o.c. studs (which line up with our 48″ wide sheeting), of course. So if you are designing your own house and you really have it together, maybe you could get the builder to weld the cross-members every 16″. And to build according to code, the strong ties should be nailed to doubled studs, which are not located beneath a window. So we had to add a whole lot more studs than we would have liked. We had to skip one due to the French doors, so only 7 were installed.
We also “screwed and glued” our sheets to the framing, to give added shear strength. Since the Hi-Omega Epoxy STILL hasn’t arrived (in fact, it had not even been shipped) we bought some glue called Eco-Bond Heavy Duty Adhesive in 12 oz tubes, and that stuff works great! You can special order it through Big Box Stores, and it is zero VOC, non-petroleum based, and has almost no odor. In fact, I accidentally got some on my hands and found that I could detect no odors until I had it 1″ from my nose, and even then, it was faint. No headaches for me! And it is 1/4 as expensive as the above special glue.
The other thing we spent a lot of time doing this weekend was stripping the many layers of lead and latex paint off of our antique windows, to get down to the beautiful vertical grain fir that was standard for windows back in the day. We used CitriStrip (available at Big Box Stores) and it works well… to strip one layer off at a time. Next weekend we will sand the windows and apply sealant. No pictures, as it was pretty boring to look at.
The Furry Assistant mostly chilled out. Here she is, napping on the couch in the shade. Lucky dog!
After working in the Big City over Memorial Day weekend, we happily drove back to our Tiny. It felt like a vacation. The last weekend we were in town we built one and a half of the four walls, so this week we built the remaining ones: the long wall which we designed with passive solar in mind (i.e. lots of windows, to face south), the front door wall, and the bay/bathroom wall. The long wall we raised in three sections (in front of, in back of and over the wheel well), so before we placed the header over the wheel well we applied rubber door weatherstripping as before. We figure that will help prevent any stray water from infiltrating our wall and keep things warmer.
Then we raised the last wall, the one for our front door. Instantly, we have what feels like a house. Several of our relatives came to visit, and like anyone would, they tease that we are crazy, and then start dreaming about their own tiny house… We decided it is too big, and too small, so it is perfect! Standing inside it we can finally visualize the space, and all the windows that didn’t look like enough on paper look like fabulous natural light washing everything now. A pleasant surprise! One of our dads is also a handyman with a welder, so he made us some awesome brackets to tie the Simpson Strong Ties to our trailer frame without having to weld bolts on and destroy the finish, encouraging rust formation. The Strong Ties will in turn be thoroughly attached to studs so that our house doesn’t just rip off the subfloor while we are towing her. We have heard that would be bad.
While the boys were playing with the power tools, some of us spent time stripping nasty Latex, then lead paint, off of our antique windows. When they are clean & sanded we will seal them with linseed oil on the inside and a water-based sealer on the outside.
We also cut the roof joists (“we” being our other awesome dad), and ordered some very special glue from Canada last week made from linseed oil, which should hopefully arrive by the end of this week. It is surprising how much we take adhesive for granted – we are so glad we found the glue we did, as we obviously had concerns about nasty chemicals right above our sleeping loft! Once the epoxy arrives, we can glue our homemade joists together and put up our roof! We’ll spend most of next week sheeting the walls, finishing framing the bay window and utility closet, and putting up the roof. We hope to be able to sleep in our loft in two weeks!
We were so excited for week three because it was time to start putting up some walls! After the deck was screwed down, squared up, and some lines were snapped for our walls we set out our new jacks. It is very important to start framing from a square and level surface. We set our jacks in each of the four corners and lifted each one just a little bit, then we got out a 6′ level and raised or lowered each corner to the appropriate height.
There were many factors that went into determining which wall we would start with. Unsurprisingly, one of the primary factors was which wall would be simplest to compose and frame. The rear wall, nearest the tongue of the trailer, was ideal because there wasn’t much going in the wall that we needed to plan out right away, but it gave us a great visual reference for flushing out many of the details that still needed to be worked out. There is a 5′ wide window in the middle of the loft, so we put a header in at the top of the wall. We left the rest open because we will be framing out a bay window over the tongue later on.
The second wall was a little more complex. It has three windows, all of which had their own little puzzles to solve. One window is in the shower. We wanted it to be as high as possible but it also has to be underneath the loft. We had to first figure out how high it was to the bottom of the loft, then put in the header so the loft joists could sit on top of it. The second window is nestled in the stairwell, so to figure out where it belonged we had to calculate out a rough idea of where each step would be falling. The third window is in the kitchen. It sits between the sink and an overhead cupboard. We wanted to make sure the cupboard was low enough to be useful and the window had to clear our wall-mounted faucet.
We actually framed the wall as two 10 foot walls to keep things easy on our backs. Once the walls were up and braced we had to frame in the wheel-well. This was a little tricky as we had to make our framing water-tight around the fenders.
We used some exterior door rubber weather strips. The strips have a little adhesive on the back that we snugged up against the metal fenders, then we pressed the header down into the gasket to seal it. Once it was all framed in we used a ratchet strap to cinch the two walls together before joining them with the top plate to give ourselves one beautiful wall!