When we last left the house, the front floor box was just slightly too big on one corner to fit into the recessed area of the trailer. I really wanted to have the floor boxes finished before starting Saturday morning, so Fingers and I met up at the property on a Thursday morning. It’s an hour drive each way and I had to work at 4, but it was worth the extra driving and gas to try to keep ahead of my schedule. It’s a race I’m going to lose but one can only try and keep running.
We pulled the box out partway and Fingers used his sawzall to slice right through the nails and get the front joist loose.
Then we cut down the joists and reattached the front piece and the flashing on the underside. The sill gasket had gotten pulled down when we tried to force the box in, so we had the genius idea to tape the edges up with duct tape.
One of my oldest and dearest friends was heading up to help out for the day and when she arrived with a staple gun and an extra pair of hands, Fingers and I rejoiced. The box went in perfectly this time.
Next task was to bring the joists up to the level of the outside flange of the trailer. The recessed area is 6″ deep and the joists are only 5 1/2″. Fingers ripped a piece of 1/2″ plywood down to 1 1/2″ wide furring strips, and we attached these to the tops of all the joists with the same small-ish nails we used to the flashing.
While he did that, I started to staple the 6 mil. plastic vapor barrier inside each bay. This was a pain in the ass.
It was difficult to climb around on the skinny joists. We couldn’t walk inside the bays since the aluminum flashing was only supported every few feet. I hated this part. It took about 4 hours total. If I was to do this over again, I would probably lay the plastic down between the joists and the flashing all the way across the bottom of the trailer, and not run it up the sides of each bay. With all the stapling, adding blocking (later), and jamming insulation into the bays, the plastic didn’t stay up 100% anyway. Live and learn.
I also started to add “Great Stuff” foam spray in every single crack I could find in the joists. The instructions say, only fill cavity 50%.
It’s easy to cut down once it’s dried but what a waste.
Friday night I drove down to the property after work and woke up bright and early Saturday to get started stapling the rest of the plastic.
Dad showed up around 10:30 with gifts of tea from England where he had just been working, a nail gun and air compressor, 2 huge boxes of nails, and glory glory hallelujah, a roofing stapler- a magical device which you just smack onto the surface you are trying to staple, instead of contorting your entire torso and arms sideways into the bay and then having to hold one end of the other stapler down and pull the handle with enough pressure. We spent awhile talking about plans, subfloor plywood, windows, and framing. We decided to run the subfloor perpendicular to the joists (as you are supposed to). The trailer is 8’4″ wide, so that leaves a 4″ strip on one end. We decided to alternate which side the plywood starts from and therefore which end has the small strip under the walls. Fingers and I didn’t think about the subfloor when we put the short pieces of blocking crosswise into the joists; if we had, we could have put them where each sheet of plywood needs to be nailed down. Since we didn’t, Dad went in with pieces of 2×4 and added crosspieces for nailing, while I kept stapling.
When that was done, we went shopping at Lowe’s and I dropped $300 on plywood for the subfloor, 6 cans of foam spray, enough sill gasket for the edges of the trailer, more glue, 4″ carriage bolts with lock washers, regular washers and nuts to bolt the floor into the side of the trailer and a 5/8″ drill bit.
Of course the bolts were too small so I had to go back and get 6″ (Lowe’s didn’t carry any in between sizes. 4 1/2″ would have been perfect). The trailer has 7 pre-drilled 5/8″ holes on each side for the bolts.
While I ran to exchange the bolts, Dad started cutting the 4″ rigid foam insulation to fit into the bays. I’d told him, don’t forget to leave the side bays empty so we can attach the bolts. When I got back, he gave me a sheepish look and pointed to where he’d stuffed the 4″ foam into 2 of the side bays. They weren’t coming back out, so he cut a channel in the foam to get down to the level of the bolt-hole, and then we filled the channel in with foam spray.
I went along and attached the rest of the bolts as he kept on with insulation, and then on the last one I came upon him just stuffing another sheet of insulation into the bay over the empty hole. So we cut and filled another channel. It is immensely comforting to me to see these experienced builders do the same kind of dumb shit that I do. Silly Dad!
The floor is insulated with a piece of 4″ rigid foam insulation underneath a 1 1/2″ piece. This leaves 1/2″ between the top of the insulation and the subfloor. Apparently, this air channel is important. I got the insulation on Craigslist, used. The skinnier sheets were very well used, but they’ll do the trick. I put the 4″ piece in first, and then the 1 1/2″ piece on top with the intact side of foil facing up. This is supposed to be a radiant barrier but I’m not sure it’s very useful in the floor. Anyway, it’ll do to keep me and the house warm. Dad and I got the first 4 bays filled so we could lay down the first piece of 3/4″ subfloor, just to see what it will look like with a floor.
We also measured and cut the second and third pieces of plywood to fit over the wheel wells. We were tired and hungry and kept messing up the cuts, luckily without ruining any of the $30 pieces of plywood. Mom and stepdad Jerry were at the beach so I spent the night at the property alone, had a bonfire with a friend and drank wine and listened to the coyotes singing until I was so tired my eyes were crossing.
Sunday morning I had the house to myself. I really, really enjoy my solitude, so this was fun. I cut insulation and listened to 90s riot grrrl punk music and danced with Bear. Auntie Mary and Uncle Jack came over in the afternoon and we powered through the insulation, cutting the 4″ pieces with a handsaw and the 1 1/2″ pieces with a small blade that was one of the tools gifted to me by a writer buddy.
It took all damn day, but by 5 p.m. all but one of the bays were full of insulation and every conceivable nook, cranny, gap and hole filled in with five cans of spray foam.
I left one bay open and will be setting some personal objects inside what is the foundation of my house before I fill it in.
It was a good, productive week with lots of help from friends and family. I feel blessed, for sure.
I’m mostly out of money until next payday, and Dad can’t come out again until April 11th to frame the walls, so this weekend I will have my little foundation ritual and put a permanent altar in the floor, fill in the last bay with insulation, nail down the plywood floor and attach the washers and nuts to the 5/8″ bolts. I might also take care of some small projects like painting the vinyl windows, figuring out the size of my roof so I can order metal sheeting, calling the State Patrol to set up an inspection date, drafting an electrical plan to send to my brother, deciding on a water system, etc… and maybe even take a day off to relax. I need it.