baby steps: the outside and the inside

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Getting the exterior painted was so clutch. Guys, we painted on the last warm day of fall. I think a lot of folks thought our siding was already painted, but it was only primed. We do not want our house “Ken Doll Beige” – not unless it also gets the 6 pack. We picked out the color with a fantastic interior designer, cat lover and pal, Rhonda Brynko from Precious Nest. She has been helping us out with all our “make this look good” needs! You should check her out because she will never tell you that something makes your house look fat.

Anyway we picked out this color:

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Churchill, because it felt presidential

Then we painted it with all our friendly friends in only light jackets! So unheard of.

As you can see, it turned out a little brighter than we thought – apparently we were supposed to water down the paint? Who knew! But we love it this happy and bright anyways so forget it.

Our friendly neighbourhood mechanic and brother-in-law Rob got our lights up. Now we are LIT guys. Is that what the kids are saying? It’s a positive thing right?

KitchenCraft met up with us and gave us some pretty designs of what our kitchen will look like! We made some minor tweaks with the design but come here and drool all over these. Not so pretty in the thumbnail, very pretty up close so feel free to click on these bad boys.

 

We also got the utilities finished up juuuust in time for the spray foam guys to get in there. We had ours done by Dependable Spray Foam Solutions. Their guy Micah was awesome to us and shuffled things around to make sure we got it done in time! We got the underside spray foamed in as well as the walls and roof with 3″ to give us an R value of 21 added onto our rigid foam on the outside. It also acts as a vapour barrier and seals up all our little cracks so our house is pretty sealed up. Now even in really cold weather (-32, anyone?) we can heat it up with a heater.

Here’s what spray foaming looks like (messy and pink):

 

After the spray foam, we started putting up our interior walls. On the long walls, we are using 1/2″ good one side plywood. We screwed those up and sank the screws, then filled everything with a wood filler called Plastic Wood. It squished into all the cracks and kind of went on like peanut butter. We sanded that down, and all the walls one last time to try and emulate a smooth surface, then paint white. The one wall there with the tank on it is going to be stained the same color as out exterior, it is made of maple just like all of us Canadians.

I also found a scary face.

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tiny house for sale: definitely not haunted

Um – anyway – now it’s time to paint the walls, get up our interior roof, and build our fancy custom furniture!

what we did last summer

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Hello folks! OK, I know it’s been a while since I updated and I really should have and I’m very very sorry, so let’s all be in a very thanksgivingy, forgiving mood, and enjoy looking at all the pretty pictures of all the pretty progress we made!

Our siding is on. We got it through Monarch, and I gotta say, I am very impressed. They were really helpful people, and made sure we were getting the best product for the job. If you’re looking for siding and you don’t know what you’re looking for, (or if you do), I would recommend checking them out.

We settled on LP Smartside, which is a wood composite. It has a bunch of nifty features, like being really really incredibly strong (vs golf balls and rocks, according to their studies), DIY friendly, and not being incredibly heavy and crushing our trailer’s axles. Big thanks to Ryan Freeman too, for all his hard work on installation! I want to warn you that we haven’t painted the siding yet…

It comes pre-primed but now with the weather being unreasonable, our paint will chip and crack in these sub zero temperatures. Rats. We will have to wait until spring, or until we find an indoor space to finish up.

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but just as a friend

I’m sure you astute people noticed that we also have our solar gear on. We do!! Our amazing Trevor from NU Energy came out and helped us put on all the brackets he designed. We wouldn’t change the slope of our roof to be the best angle for the sun because we’re stubborn and he made it work! So that our house still sits within the 13’6″ height restriction, our solar panels will lay down on the roof below the highest point when travelling, and then we can slide them forwards and prop them up for capturing the rays of the sun and leaving the rest of the world in perpetual darkness.

We have been working hard on our utilities, because once they’re in, our house will have all its organs in order and we can spray foam it all in forever. So far our talented electrician friend Shaun has got half our wires run for electric, despite having just had a baby (!!!) and Sheldon installed our fancy metal roof despite having just had a baby (!!!). Sheldon brought such a cool, chill atmosphere to the site and he really knows his stuff. Check out his business, On Top Metals, in our sponsors section, cause he really came through for us and he has a cute new baby and I bet he’d show you pictures if you asked nicely.

Donat Carnegie is back helping us out with all our wood and painting projects. OK this man turned an old wine barrel into a friggin adorable bathtub/shower basin. I am not entirely convinced he isn’t a wizard. I am so in love with this thing, in the words of many wise teenage girls, I can’t even.

 

If any of you guys are interested in building a tiny house, or if you just want to be an uber nerd and learn everything about building one, Kenton is running a tiny house course in St Albert as a part of his army of permaculture workshops! It’s on June 24/25 next year. Check out his website to pick and choose or do them all to impress your friends and enemies.

See you guys soon when I have updates on the completion of our utilities, spray foaming and (gasp) the interior finishing!

windows, doors, and interiors, oh my!

OK troops, much to report so get comfy.

We have finished the rigid insulation (for cozy warmness) and the furring strips (for siding attachment). Let me tell you a thing about furring strips: boo. They took so long to put on, and it was irritating to try to figure out exactly where the framing was on the other side of the rigid insulation to screw through to – but it did use up a bunch of leftover wood and it looks kind of nifty.

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Ryan Freeman (from Freeman Tiny Homes) does something that looks important! also, furring strips half done.

Kenton and Ryan put in our windows and our door. Sorry, that didn’t accurately convey the proper feeling. Kenton and Ryan PUT IN OUR WINDOWS AND DOOR!! Closer. It looks and feels great. All our windows are operable, so it’s nice and breezy when you open them all up, and the double doors sometimes made us feel silly – we really had to fight to have the room for those bad boys – but they are a majestic beauty. Ryan apparently had to do quite a bit of wrestling to make sure the door went in straight, so we will have a championship belt to give him at the end of the build. We appreciated the suplex.

We threw on some housewrap! May have been redundant with spray foam but it is a good idea because it could keep air from passing through into our house through any cracks, and deter any wayward big bad wolves who may happen to huff and puff near our house. We wrapped it up good, and tuck taped all our holes and tuck taped the housewrap to the roof. No wind was getting in, not by the hair of our chinny chin chins.

Enough about the outside, what really counts is what’s on the inside, right?

We were having trouble figuring out how to mount the 4x4s that will hold up our lofts. Normally, the joists would rest on top of 2x4s that would nestle up against the wall framing. The issue was this: the framing on the opposite wall didnt match, and also there was a window and supporting studs the way that would prevent that from happening anyways. Here was our solution: we will screw in a beetlekill 2×4 (for prettiness) up against our walls, running parallel to the ground, and then put the 4x4s on top of that. Well, it worked out perfectly.

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some would say it worked out picture perfectly

A big thank you to Beetlewood Industries for sending us some really beautiful pieces of wood – you can really see all that pretty pretty blue grey that this particular pine is known for. While I’m mentioning seeing beautiful details in wood, thank you also to the hard working Donat Carnegie for informing our decision on a finish (not a stain) for the wood, which really kept the soft pastel feel we were hoping to preserve.

We threw some plywood scraps up there so we could sit and feel it out. Let me tell you how it feels: good. Both of us can sit in there without banging our heads on the roof, and can make it to the short end without army crawling so we’ll call that a win.

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our ‘playing it cool’ faces

We also got in our water tanks. There will be two water tanks for fresh water storage – one in the kitchen and one in the couch. The kitchen one is JUST too tall for a regular countertop for my regular-heighted self, although 6’4″ Kenton will tell  you it would have been fine. Mm-hm. So we will have one tall counter for the Mr. (otherwise known as storage counter), and the others will be a more reasonable height for the Mrs (otherwise known as actual food prep areas for normal people).

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regular person and giant in tiny house

We moved our appliances into the kitchen to get a feel for how the space will do for walking around each other and to get the gears turning for how we want our kitchen cabinets arranged. We’re in talks with KitchenCraft on how to make the most of our space and the possibilities right now seem really exciting!

Next we will be installing our metal roofing, siding, mounting our solar panels and solar hot water heating systems. From the outside, our house will look finished!

It always sounds so simple when you can say it in one sentence.

the shell

Any hermit crab would be jealous of the shell we are making here. Here’s the update!

We have finished putting on all the hurricane ties and structural strapping, so our walls should be pretty solid if we ever move this bad boy (or girl, it’s 2016 after all) or get a big storm or something. Kenton and Jeff spent a day doing that, plywooding the rafters, and getting the battery box built.

Then we glued a bunch of rigid insulation over our beautiful skeleton to hide dem bones. And that roof. Thanks to Dave (who I hear is a daredevil with heights) and Ryan for coming out to help us out. Wall of famers. Once we have walls.

Now that there’s the rigid on the roof, we have it all tuck taped (hit the road, duct tape) so that it’s a water barrier. We officially have some kind of structure that actually shelters us if it were to rain! Remember that we’re going to spray foam in behind the rigid insulation when it’s all done, and that will close any gaps we might have behind the tape, and give us the majority of our R value.

Each step now feels like we’re building towards something, even if it’s a tiny something.

ladies and gentlemen: walls.

Now that our trailer is all dressed up and ready for prom (thanks for the joke, Mom), we BUILT OUR WALLS. Kind of. Partly. Expect this blog to have more entries as our build picks up.

Our framing is (mostly) done. Behold it before I explain it.

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gasp! wonder! awe!

You can absolutely learn to frame your house by yourself. I mean, you can teach yourself all the Latin names for every species of frogs, too. The internet is a magical place. Our friends Aimee and Matt came up with their own tiny house framing plan using brainpower and graph paper, so it is definitely possible. For us, we hired Jeff Cuddeback. He was a life saver. He sped up the actual putting things together part, and also did a lot of problem solving. It would have taken us twice as long, easily, to do his work. We like Jeff. If  you want to hire someone for framing, we think you should hire him.

We started by putting in our floor. Here is our floor. It’s very floor-y.

Some stuff to note about our not-as-exciting-as-walls floor… We put our subfloor directly onto our trailer frame. We glued this down with PL glue and exactly one million screws. Our buddy Steve helped us out and did a lot of annoying drilling into steel to make room for those screws. Anyway, normally a floor would have framing underneath it to hold your insulation. Since we are going to use spray foam, we are saving a 3.5 inches or so by tossing out that framing and just spray foaming the trailer underneath. Apparently, there is a coating you can spray over the foam to make sure it won’t be damaged by rocks and stuff when we move the house – the same thing they use under trucks. We are planning currently to put cork flooring directly on top of that, so our floor is going to be very minimal.

I’ll give it to you straight – our framing plan wasn’t perfect. OK, we didn’t exactly have a framing plan. We had all our lumber and stuff dropped off at the build site, and we printed off our sketch-up drawings solar Trevor (our only Trevor now, there can be only one), and we brought them out and gave them to Jeff.

But our windows weren’t drawn to the right size (our order was adjusted so our windows were regular manufacturing thus saving us the money we would spend on customizing our windows). Jeff is wonderful, figured it out and made the adjustments based on our actual window order.

Finally, we decided to pull the whole kitchen wall out instead of building a box for one of our storage tanks on that side. It seemed a little silly to build the box when we could be making our bedroom loft bigger and our framing easier. Since the water tank still has to go there, it’s going to give us a C shaped kitchen now, with the tank area on the end three inches higher than a normal countertop. With super technical experiments run in our kitchen, I have T-Rex arms when I try to chop 3 inches higher. So, the other countertops will stay the regular height (unless Kenton can convince me otherwise – good luck).

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what a bunch of weirdos

Kenton ran a tiny house workshop a couple days later, and the participants jumped in and helped out attaching hurricane ties and structural strapping! This is to make sure our house doesn’t get pulled apart from the wracking forces of moving the house anywhere and not for actual hurricanes, but I will feel a little more confident in Kansas after this.

 

hopefully the last post about our trailer

All the welding on the trailer is now done. Only a few more things to do and we have a fully built momma-lovin trailer!

Here is our new design (drawn by the lovely Kenton Zerbin):

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Let me break it down for you. The outside supports and extensions remain the same, but we added a few things.

  1. The hitch is longer. We upped the length of the hitch from the frame by quite a bit – from 5 feet to 7 feet. This will give us a swanky spot to put our battery box and our propane tanks. Most importantly though, it will increase the turning radius of the trailer when someone with a giant truck hauls it. You have to size your hitch to the back of the biggest truck that will haul it, so that the wideness of the  back of the truck fits along the triangle of the hitch, otherwise it will hit your house when it makes a sharp turn.
  2. It is beefier. Before it was built out of what looks like sheet metal bent to look like C channel, so that’s real cute. It will be nice to have it stronger in case something hits it or it hits a tree or something. I don’t know, these things don’t happen to us. Also they seem to have done a repair job or something in the back, because they jammed a piece of wood in there that caught fire a few times while we were welding. So… That was a weird thing to do.
  3. This time it was made with LOVE! … and a little bit of hate. Stupid tree should have grown about 3 feet to the east.

 

Here is what it looks like now:

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Next steps… Get on the wheel wells (Kenton’s friend from high school, Robert, built the hitch AND the wheel wells for us.), get rid of the rust, silicone all our seams (to keep water from sitting inside it and rusting), and then slap some paint on it!

If we were to do it all again:

We would still get our axles from Timbren. They withstood the accident like a champion – they drove the trailer back smooth as butter even though it was all bent up and made our souls cry. Everyone who has seen them or driven the trailer with them on has complimented the system. It rules.

We would NOT buy another used trailer and try to make it fit our plans. It was a big hassle to try to bend the pieces back to square, a bigger hassle to add on strong well designed elements to a flimsy frame, and the biggest hassle of all to rebuild when it ultimately failed us. We have literally replaced the whole trailer at this point. We would probably recommend that people think through a plan, draw it out, and bring it to a fabricator. This way, they could build it in the shop (which has a lot less to worry about for leveling, squaring, etc) in a lot less time, exactly how it should be and with the strength you are looking for.

OK. Breathe.

Bring on the walls! I am so ready for the walls.

the setback

Time for some real talk, you guys.

OK. So we spent a lot of weekends welding on our additional pieces to the old trailer frame to make it wider and stronger. And we did! Look at all our welding! We are welders now!

We did it. The trailer was done. Wait, WAS? Is that a past tense I see?! Yes, dear reader, it is a past tense because the trailer was done for about 20 minutes. Let me tell you a story all about how our lives were flipped, turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute so sit right there and I’ll tell you how our trailer got un-trailered.

So stay with me here, the trailer is welded together, it looks like this, we can visualize the walls and furniture and dirty dishes in the sink.

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But it’s really late at night, you guys. We are so tired, we have put in three full days welding the trailer and we want to go home. But if we want to build by next weekend, we need to have the trailer painted. So, we have to haul it.

We haul it. We haul it about ten minutes down the road before it comes off the hitch and rolls silently, beautifully, unstoppably into the ditch. Not just into the ditch, into a farmer’s fence. And then into a tree.

Now, the good news: The stuff we welded onto the outside stayed squared and lovely, and our suspension is OK.

The bad news: The old trailer parts, the inside box, is all warped and bent. The impact caused it to go out of square, and now it looks (mind the technical term here) all diagonally on the inside.

If you would all turn to page 2 and look at the diagram, I will try to explain more. The blue middle square on this picture is the old trailer, and the red parts are the parts that were added on by us. This is a bit of an old drawing, since then we have an addition of a few pieces cantilevered onto the back to hold up a water tank, but I digress. So, the red parts are OK, the middle blue parts are all messed up now.

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We have a couple options for fixing it.

  1. We pay to have it bent back into shape: it costs about $2000 on average to bend a trailer back into shape, and it would never be QUITE the same again, but it would cost us no time or effort really.
  2. We cut out the parts of our trailer that are OK, namely the outside pieces, and rebuild the inside with new, stronger metal: We have the technology. This will cost us about $800 of scrap metal and another month or two of our weekends, but we come out with a better frame and foundation for our house.
  3. We cry over spilt milk, set the trailer on fire and buy ourselves a mansion to live like kings in.

Weighing our options, we went with good ol’ #2. Starting this weekend, we pull up our socks, put on our masks and some Eye of the Tiger and get this DONE (again).

It’s gonna be OK. Here’s an updated picture of the house from Trevor to make us feel better.

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Ahhhh. So much better.