Who Knows What Week it Is?
Sorry we have been so long in updating our blog regarding our progress. As is usually the case, when things get really juicy, it’s when one is super busy. And such was the case with us. (We move in on Thursday!) We have been lucky to have friends come help, and the local sandwich shop guy asks every day at lunch how progress goes (he loves Lloyd Kahn, too!) And yes, we will be camping out. We have electricity*, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, but that is where it ends, for now. But it can’t be that bad, as we are choosing to move in instead of paying for another two weeks of our current rent, which is an option. Or we’re pleasantly nuts, which is also possible. This is the theory some of our family has taken up.
The progress is as follows:
Reflectix installed between the rafters. That stuff is amazing. We ordered it figuring it would be a good idea given our current roofing is black underlayment, soon to be followed by aluminum sheeting, neither of which is known for good thermal cooling properties. Now we wish we had used it for the entire envelope prior to sheep’s wool insulation. Reflectix is similar to what lines your lunch bag – it has excellent radiant heat/cold insulation properties, advertised as 97% efficient. We can tell you, just by stapling that stuff up, without even the insulation to go over it yet, the indoor temperature was close to 10 degrees (F) cooler at lunchtime compared to our confused/sweaty/grumpy prior afternoons.
Next improvement was more paneling, and the installation of the shelf for the fridge and start of the closet underneath.
And more paneling in the loft area so we have a place to put our clothes and bed in a few days.
Also, electricity works in all circuits*. As mentioned previously, we have 4 circuits, (2) 15 amp and (2) 20 amp circuits. One of the 15 amp circuits, much to our chagrin, kept tripping the breaker when we fired ‘er up. Turned out to be a cable clamp that had been over-tightened, short-circuiting the wire. Also had a faulty GFCI circuit, new from the Big Box Store. As we closed up tonight, we realized that the kitchen circuit did not shut off when the breaker was switched, which was not cool. *We have since found that the breaker was fine; mislabeling and tired brains were at fault.The gas lines, similarly, have been a bit of a pain, which, when time allows, we will provide our reflections on.
Last but not least, the beautiful Dutch door is nearly installed. We love the rounded top, to match our rounded roof. And the hardware is all ready to go, same for the French doors.
And although the bathroom is not usable yet (take that back – the bucket has been, ahem, christened), we did put up a little curtain for privacy from the street while still having a little air flow while working. It stood as a foretaste of what our little house will be, so very soon. It will be a future full of house plants. It’s a cheery, domestic view.
Next time we post, we’ll be living & camping in our beautiful house! What better way to learn what you really need in life?
Weekend 11 of Construction
This weekend will seem rather boring on virtual paper, as it was mostly logistic, and we have a pathetic number of pictures as the usual photographer was busy doing the work mostly alone. But fear not, that won’t stop us from boring you with the details! You want the authentic experience, right?
Drilling nice, perpendicular, centered holes in studs that are closer together than 16″ o.c. is difficult, so the installation of the plumbing was stymied by a seemingly minor detail. A right-angled drill would make the job magnitudes easier, but we couldn’t seem to locate one, oddly. Even the Craigslisters who advertised ones for sale didn’t call back. We are hoping the NEPTL will help. Tool libraries are the cat’s pyjamas, so you should see if there’s one in your area.
We did install most of the 12v wiring since those holes are smaller and if they are less straight, no one cares. And we picked up our interior paneling, some very attractive 5/16″ thick by 4″ wide tongue and groove fir. Again, it was salvage and in mostly short sections, but looked like clear, close vertical grain, suggesting old growth (without the guilt). Also, a friend of the family has offered to give us all of her pine trim from her house build that she didn’t use, for free. So supplies are coming together. Happy day!
One of us, who shall remain unnamed, was having a bit of a heart attack over the weight limit of 10,000 lbs, as we are currently sitting at a little under 7,000 less tools and extras. So, after some serious panicking, we learned the difference between linear feet (lf) and board feet (bf) when calculating lumber weights. They are not the same thing. Linear feet is what you’d first think of – the actual length of lumber, but it is difficult to calculate weight as widths and thicknesses vary. Board feet is an assumed 12″ wide by 1″ thick piece of the wood you are choosing, even if the boards you are buying are not 12″ wide by 1″ thick. So board feet is the more helpful but confusing number, as it is a volume of wood rather than a length when calculating the weight of piles of lumber. But bf was exactly what we needed when deciding on our future lumber choices for siding and paneling. Board feet is used most commonly for hardwoods (as opposed to the softwoods most often used for framing), and is calculated either as width (in inches) x length (in feet) x thickness (in inches) x 12, or as width x length x thickness (in inches) / 144. Then you can figure out the weight, for a given moisture content (wetness) of the wood, based on standard values for 1000 bf, which you can find in tables all over the internet. We realized we will be heavy, but not catastrophically so as originally miscalculated! Hence finding 5/16″ paneling, instead of using the ubiquitous 3/4″ thick pine tongue and groove. Fir is slightly heavier than pine, but when you are looking at something less than half as thick, it will be much lighter. And we did install a small wall’s worth of paneling, just to get the hang of it and feel like the weekend wasn’t a wash:
The wood will need to be sanded, but we kind of liked the “rainbow” effect. And we fluffed and filled with wool insulation as we went. Very gratifying.
Also, the weather portends rain in a few days, so we were very excited to have our Grace Ultra underlayment arrive. It was the least toxic waterproofing roof underlayment we could find, to go underneath our aluminum sheeting, so it had to be high temperature rated. Instead of being made from asphalt rubber or plain tar paper (all nasty fossil fuel based things that reek) like most, it is made from butyl rubber over a sheet of essentially Tyvek. Still fakey, but hopefully not as bad. We also ordered Reflectix, which is glorified bubble wrap with a metallic foil coating on it, to block radiant heat from the roof, as that seems to be the main source of the heat coming into the house. It has an efficiency rating of around 97%, which seems like a darn good number. So that will be installed just inside the roof sheathing, followed by wool and then paneling. Should be nice and cozy.
Last thing is the thorn in our side: the propane system. In addition to the abovementioned hole drilling problem, there are other obstacles. This one, it seems, the “Experts” have cornered the market on. As we see it, there are three main choices for running gas lines in a tiny house: black pipe, which is heavy, stiff, and a real pain to install, flexible copper pipe which requires careful installation and specific fittings to be airtight and has a much smaller diameter (at least all that we could find), and CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing), which I have mentioned before. All brands of CSST have proprietary, non-interchangeable fittings. You can buy the first two types of gas lines at Big Box stores (the copper pipe can be found in the “icemaker” section, near the fridge stuff), and you can buy one type of CSST online from a certain Big Box store, namely AlphaFlex, which is the same thing as Homeflex. However, AlphaFlex/HomeFlex are made with PVC. There are other brands, such as ProFlex and TruFlex (I don’t know if they are affiliated with each other) which use less toxic plastic coatings, and their fittings also include a rubber gasket, which seems like a really good idea. However, all of the above types of CSST and fittings cannot be found in a brick and mortar retail store in this town. In fact, if you call any place that advertises that they stock gas line stuff, they get really huffy when you inform them that you are “doing it yourself” and tell you how you couldn’t possibly know what you need and should have an Expert determine that for you. Puckey, I say. So we ordered on Amazon. Even ordered the how-to booklet for installers who want to get “certified,” and it doesn’t look like a very long read! We’ll let you know how it works out. So far, the lesson learned is: do not be optimistic in your lengths of line. Patchwork propane lines are frowned upon, obviously. The good news on the propane front is that we have a sympathetic uncle who knows how to pressurize the system as required to check for leaks, and has all the fittings to do so! So don’t worry, we won’t be endangering anyone with our propane system, sans Experts.
This week, we hope to install the Grace Ultra in time for rain, and continue paneling and insulating as we finish installing the necessary pipes. May even wire up the switches and receptacles, so the house can be “plugged in” and have actual lights on!