The roof, the roof, the roof is on.

Ta da

Well, here she is, a big box, ready to begin the roof framing. This was a couple of weekends ago. They said rain was coming, so the goal was to have it sheeted before the weekend was over.

Ryan puts his mathematical skills to work, Mr. Hart drinks coffee.

Ryan is our friend for whom Mr. Hart did a side job in trade for help on the roof. Ryan’s Dad and brother are both contractors, and Ryan is quite the craftsman himself, he has built a beautiful home for he and his family. So he came up to help us figure out the roof.

Actually, Ryan first helped us redesign the roof. There were several puzzles, one of which was insulating it. We had really wanted to be able to use the wool insulation in the roof, but Ryan realized that to be able to use loose fill you must leave some type of an air gap to allow for air flow to help relieve moisture build-up. In the end, he helped us decide to change our original plan of framing the rafters with 2×4’s to framing them with 2×6’s, a major consideration on our trailer home because of the weight and the height. However this is one of the reasons we ordered a 10,000 lb trailer to begin with, so we weren’t too worried about the redesign. And framing with the 2×6’s allows us to leave an inch and a half air gap between the insulation and the roof sheeting, creating air flow from the eaves to the roof ridge.

Another puzzle involved the eaves. We have built our eaves out wider than is allowed on the road without a permit by about six inches on each side. We don’t plan on moving the trailer very frequently, and the permit for moving it is relatively inexpensive. We just wanted the extra protection from rain on our windows and the look of the wider roofline.

Attaching the floor joists of the loft.

In other news, I joined the Hood River roller derby team, the Gorge Roller Girls. I have been practicing tons for the last 6 weeks, and we have our first bout scheduled against Hermiston on June 23rd! This obligation actually prevented me from being able to be around the day Ryan was helping out unfortunately, but I made up for it over the next few days doing little odd jobs to help finish up the roof.

Our efforts were not enough, though, to finish the roof before the rain came so we tarped her up, that was fun in the gorge winds.

And so we found ourselves a little behind schedule for our end of June deadline.

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The birthing of a trailer: a photo story

Plenty of room, no problem….

 

Steady…looking good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uh oh, she’s tilting. Or perhaps the ground is not quite level?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s try letting some air out of the tires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crap. Stuck. Deep breath (no panicking!). PUSH! No, wait, pull?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She needs a few stitches, but she’s perfectly healthy! (Looks worse than it is, it was really only a couple of inches big.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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800 + 6 = 160

 

It’s on! We have decided we are moving in to our tiny house at the end of June! That gives us six weeks to get it ready…enough. Enough to move into it. There will still be lots of work to be done afterwards. What is “ready enough?” Glad you asked.

Here’s the bar napkin containing our strategic plan

As we sat at the bar we made a plan. Then we went straight up to the trailer and put it into action.

We worked on tying up some loose ends. I did a lot of priming. We worked on finishing up the wheel wells and building the “utility closet,” where we’ll house the water storage tanks, the water heater, the water pump, etc…. These are things we want to have done before we do the roof and the house wrap.

Jesse (the Original Mr. Hart…Mr. Hart Classic…hmmm, OMH? MHC? I think from now on he shall be known as MHC) put the horses in the spot where we are going to put our trailer so they could mow the lawn for us. The plan is to get the trailer set up there this week, and to have the roof on it by the end of this weekend. Yep. This weekend. Ryan, if you are reading, start gittin’ yer work boots laced up!

So that’s week one.

Week two plan: house wrapped + rough electrical and plumbing.

Week three: insulation + begin interior walls.

Week four: finish interior walls.

Week five: set up a working sink, an outdoor shower and the loo.

Week six: move in + exhale.

We’ll see….

So we’ll be going from our current 800 square feet into 160 square feet, I guess that means we have some more downsizing to do in the next six weeks too.

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Long time no see, blog…

Hello!

,,,and hello to the four people who are reading! Or who were reading, before I quit writing. I may be talking to myself now.

We have taken quite a break. It was really really cold around here, and we were a little unmotivated to work in that weather.

The only picture from the vacation of the two of us together.

Actually, we’ve had a lot going on. We were saving up money for a trip to Hawaii, which we took during spring break. Mr. Hart had done an auto body side job for trade with a guy we know who has a house there, so we went to Maui for the first time! It was really nice and we got some much needed rest and relaxation.

As soon as we got back, taxes were due. That was no fun. Since we don’t own a mortgage anymore we didn’t have the interest credit to claim, so we owed money…a minor setback.

We are just catching up, then, from a few financially demanding months and are excited to get back on track with the home-building.

For the last several weeks, however, the time spent not working on the tiny home has been productively spent by Mr. Hart racking up some more trade hours on a couple of other body work side jobs instead of working directly on the house. But it will all pay off soon.

As a teacher, I have connections with special people who can do math without using their fingers. Ryan is a math teacher at my school, and my classroom-next-door-neighbor. But besides being able to do the calculations for the roofing puzzle, he has lots of other handy skills. One of them is construction. So Mr. Hart is helping him with his truck and, in return, he is going to help put the roof on our tiny home.

Since the weather is finally turning into spring, it’s great timing for this work. We are no longer working in the cold where screws break, wood freezes, and a hammer to the hand makes you cry like a baby. We are getting the tiny home ready to pull out of the shop so we can put the roof on. That means that on one nice weekend we will pull it out, get it situated in its new spot, and get the roof on all at once before the next spring rains begin. So it’ll be a big weekend. We’ll be glad to have the extra help from Ryan, and we may even cash in on more trade hours with some other friends for extra help on that.

We’ve got the walls almost finished. This required jacking up the trailer and leveling it. You may be able to see in the picture that the wheel wells are built, as they bump out a few inches into the living space. We decided to build the house as wide as possible, so the wheel well framing juts into the inside of the house, but we think the extra inches of space inside are worth the trade-off of the awkward bump-outs. We have plans to cover them, on one side there will be a desk or countertop area, probably with storage cabinets or shelves underneath. The other side will probably get some sort of built in sofa or seating area of some kind.

We struggled with the design of the front windows, next to the door, because we really wanted three separate windows there, across the front. We weren’t sure if we should frame them in separately, giving more stability to a wall with so much open space, or if we should make it one big window which would give us a large access opening to get big pieces in like a bed, a shower, and a refrigerator. We have decided on one big window.

We’ve also decided on fewer side windows so that we have more wall space for storage, but that front bay of windows, which will be where the kitchen will go, should offer us plenty of light. We’ll still be considering a skylight or two, as well.

So, there you have it. You’re caught up on the last three months of tiny home progress. There are no vacations planned between now and the next post…so stay close for another installment of our big tiny adventure!

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Finally, more progress.

The holidays are over, I’m back in school, and we got another paycheck. So the walls are going up. Yay!

This part is really exciting. Before we could begin, Mr. Hart and I went up to the shop on Sunday and we spent a couple of hours talking about floor plan layout so that we could determine window placement and sizes. We had to make decisions on the size of the bathroom and closets, the kitchen counter depth, the size of the porch, and some other minor details. This has gotten us super excited about planning the inside…but that’s getting several steps ahead of ourselves.

That Sunday it started snowing, and it was quite cold. We kept having to break and go inside to warm up by the fire, and watch football. But we actually got one wall built and set into place!

I stood next to it trying to imagine what it would feel like when it was all closed in. Then I made Joel stand next to it to see if he fit. He did. But he might have trouble showering and getting dressed with those monkey arms of his. We may have to make little tracks in the ceiling for his hands so he can put on his shirts (hee hee hee).

We are screwing all the framing together rather than nailing, so progress is a wee bit slower than one would expect. But Joel went up again this week because he was slow at work and in a couple of hours already had another wall built, and all the cuts made and wood laid out for a third!

The trailer is framed 16” on center instead of 24” like many of the others we have seen. The downside of this is the added weight. The upside is that there will be more wood for attaching sheer support. There is a 4×6 beam that will be added above the wheels to form the wheel wells. We are still doing a little research on exactly how tall that needs to be to offer enough clearance.

The window framing is not finished, we are firming up prices on windows which may affect the size. The decision on windows has been a really difficult one. One of the motivators for making this drastic downsizing move, as I have probably talked about before, is that we would be able afford to invest in and live with the sustainable, efficient, quality materials (read: expensive) for our home that we could never afford to put into our bigger home because of the scale of the project. The problem we are facing is that these items are really, really expensive, and that directly affects the speed of our progress. The windows have been this sort of decision where we are having to weigh what we really want against what is practical for us to afford. We really don’t want to be building this thing for years. We want to get it done so that we can start meeting the financial and lifestyle goals we have set for ourselves…and make our next small move!

By the way, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment if you’re reading.

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We love sheep!

We got the trailer moved back up to Sue and Jesse’s place. (It’s been in our driveway for the last few weeks). They were generous enough to offer us space in the shop so that we can work on it through the winter.

When we ordered the trailer we decided to have it built without wheel wells and to build our own. We do a lot of surfing around the nets to read other tiny home-builders’ experiences and we  have read that there are issues with the metal wheel wells on trailers and water seeping into the structure.

So, to start the wheel wells, Mr. Hart bolted on some pressure treated 2x6s to cap off the outside of the rail next the the wheels. This will offer a place to attach some metal to line the wheel wells, and also to attach the plywood subfloor.

We are so excited about our decision to go with wool insulation. We found a company near Portland, Oregon Shepherd, that produces an insulation made entirely out of sheep’s wool. We were looking for a product that would not off-gas in our tiny living space, something we need to be concerned about since the space is so tiny. We are psyched that it is a local company that raise the sheep themselves, plus it’s wool! How cool! And warm! (Oh no, not funny).

So we called the company and were amazed to find out that they have a special package designed specifically for a project like ours, a tiny-home-on-a-trailer. What a nice surprise, they had done this before.

We ordered enough wool to insulate the floor and it came in three big boxes that sat in our living room for a couple of weeks.

We couldn’t wait to break into it to feel it, so we did that right away.

Baaaaaaaaa.

One cool characteristic of wool that helped solidify our decision to use it is that it wicks moisture, thereby controlling condensation. Apparently, condensation and moisture are issues common to living in such small spaces and the wool will contribute in helping us battle some of that.

We are really stoked about benefitting from two other cool properties of wool insulation. One is that wool expands over time, filling in all small gaps and crevices, as opposed to other loose insulation that packs down over time leaving you with air spaces. (No, Caleb, it will not eventually blow the trailer apart, expansion is minimal, not destructive.)  The other is that we were able to overpack the space to get a considerably higher r-value than the product lists.

Here’s the pic that shows the pressure treated wood on the wheel wells and the insulation. Mr. Hart spread it in by hand, although you can blow it in too, but it was such a small area that it seemed totally doable. And it was. And he says it was fun, too, like petting sheep for an hour…uh…no, not like that you perverts!

Ava is bleating in her sleep lately...should we be concerned? Come to think of it, her letter to Santa has only one item, "Please bring me a little lamb!"

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Bottom’s up!

We began framing the floor. It involves sealing up the underside of the trailer for insulation and to prevent damage from moisture and pests, as well as creating a way to attach the entire structure to the trailer.

J and I

Before we had started any work at all, our good friends Jonas and Isolde + family came to visit us from California. This was excellent timing because Jonas is a brilliant contractor/do-everything guy and Mr. Hart got to pick his brain a little. (And Isolde is a perfect balance between creative + practical so she and I talked a lot about the floor plan, which is way more fun than floor framing…but that comes later).

Mr. Hart spent some time with Jonas, telling him all about our plans. Jonas walked around the trailer a couple of times listening to Joel talk, and then proceeded to list off some ingenious suggestions that changed all of the plans, which are directly reflected in the way we did all of what follows. Thank you Jonas!

First we needed to figure out a way to hold the insulation in that would keep it protected from moisture if traveling in damp conditions, as well as from mice and other pests. We considered using a thin wood, but that would require lots of work priming and painting it in order to make it waterproof. Jonas suggested using FRP panels (fiberglass reinforced panels), the bumpy stuff they use on commercial bathroom walls, which is ideal because they are thin, light and waterproof. Although we are trying to minimize our use of petroleum products, synthetics, plastics, resins, and the like, we thought this was a place that was worth the trade-off.

We decided using pressure treated wood for the floor framing wouldn’t be necessary, since we’re not building a structure that will have any sort of direct moisture contact, or contact with the ground or concrete. Also, we realized that pressure treated wood tends to be lower grade, softer species. Number 2 grade doug fir will last longer than softer grade pressure treated and there will be no chemicals such as would be involved with using pressure treated wood. It just seemed even more unnecessary since we were planning to make the entire bottom fairly waterproof anyway.

This is a shot of how the blocking is nestled into the c-channel rail of the trailer.

The house will be secured to the trailer in several ways. What Mr. Hart just finished are the blocks that were spaced every couple of feet in the channels that run the length of the sides of the trailer. These secure the 2×6’s that run lengthwise and cap off that c-channel rail on both sides.

Notice the 2x6's on either side of the c-channel rails, and the brackets that run down the center.

Next the floor joists were placed on the trailer, and they are screwed into the blocking and later bolted in three spots. They are secured with the bolts on each side of the trailer through the 2×6’s and they will be bolted through the metal brackets which were welded onto the trailer and run down the center of the trailer.

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