Tiny House Build Week 10- leaving Mount Vernon, eaves, tarpaper, skylight

I intended to keep working at Domino’s until May 21st, but my truck started lurching while I was driving on the 13th and when I investigated and found that it could be the timing belt or the transmission, I parked the truck.  Not messing around with that stuff, not for a few extra dollars.  I told the pizza place that I had to be done as of Friday and borrowed a vehicle from Grandma for the last two days.  I decided to move out of Grandma’s Saturday when I went to Monroe, which meant a whole unexpected week off work and at the build site.  Yes!!  Gonna miss these fools though:


Packing and cleaning and moving on top of everything else was not awesome.  But it got done.  Thanks to tiny house prep I don’t have much stuff.  At some point in that week, or maybe it was the one before… I ordered metal roofing by Champion Metal from Chinook Lumber.  I also ordered a Fakro roof window from Home Depot.  Total cost for both was around $1500, split down the middle between the two.  It was agonizing deciding on a skylight.  I REALLY wanted the roof window but the total cost with flashing was more than all my other windows combined.  But a regular vented skylight would only have been $200 less, and since heat rises and I’ll have such a tiny space and a woodstove, I definitely wanted an opening skylight in the sleeping loft.  Mom donated some $$ and that helped sway the decision.  I had to call Fakro to get advice on ordering the correct flashing kit… they sell two, one for flat roofing materials like shingles and one for high profile materials like metal panels.  Ordering the metal roof was not very fun either, but I made a final decision on color, panel lengths, underlayment and trim pieces finally and just got it over with.

I also had to decide on what type/size fascia to use, because that would contribute to calculations for the roof panels.  This was also agonizing.  I am so terrified of making the wrong decision on something and having to live with the consequences later, but besides emailing Dad and watching Youtube videos, I’m pretty much stuck just making a mostly uneducated choice and dealing with the consequences.  Besides decision paralysis, I am also close to tapped out financially, so it all had to be juggled carefully.  Writing all this out I am realizing that the last two weeks really did objectively SUCK.  It didn’t just feel that way. I finally decided on 1×8 cedar fascia.  Ordered those from Chinook also and my Mom and stepdad picked up all the roofing and fascia for me at the end of week 10.  Rob at Chinook recommended that instead of buying vented felt roof closure strips, I go DIY (and free) and just bend the top of my metal panels up underneath the ridgecap, maintaining my air flow and also blocking out any wind-driven rain from squeezing underneath the ridgecap and dripping down into the insulation through the gap I left at the peak.  It is making me tired even to write all of this, so I’ll leave it at that and take pictures when it actually gets done.

Saturday morning of week 10 I ran down the hill to pick up a last few things and then I had pretty much all the materials needed to finish the skylight, framing and metal roof on hand, and all of my belongings stowed away in the bunkhouse, and no job to go to for a few weeks, and 3 helpers with willing hands.  Yes!  Made the last few weeks of stress worthwhile.  Haley got started waterproofing the fascia boards, Melissa got to work finishing the scaffolding under the second gable end, and Uncle Jack and I started unpacking the skylight and figuring out how it works.


The skylight is a complicated piece of equipment and very important to get the flashing done right.  It came with a handy little template for cutting the rough opening, though.  Uncle Jack and I figured out from the inside where the skylight would go, held the template up and drilled holes at all 4 corners.  Then we used the holes as a guide to trace out the rough opening on the outside sheathing panel, then I climbed up with a jigsaw and cut the opening.  This was not my favorite task.  We had nailed up some pieces of blocking at the top and bottom of the roof and I tried balancing on those but it was way too unstable.  My stepdad is a painting contractor and there are ladders all over the place so I finally got settled with one foot on the blocking and one foot on the top of an extension ladder and then it was easy.

saw + ladder= :(
saw + ladder= 😦

We got as far as fitting the frame of the skylight into the rough opening and then realized that next, we needed to attach the tarpaper to the roof sheathing before we could flash the skylight for waterproofing.  But first I needed to finish building out the 12″ eaves on the front and back of the trailer, and to do that I needed to attach the fascia boards and also sheath and apply housewrap to the second gable end, and to do that I had to frame the window.  I really wanted to finish the skylight and really didn’t want to do any of the other tasks, but it is what it is.  The eaves required two pieces of 2×4 cut to fit between the ridgepole and the fascia board on each side, so Uncle Jack and I cut one 2×4 at the 41 degree angle and then by holding it up to the edge of the roof got it marked off where the OSB furring strips ended, and then measured, cut, measured again, cut, etc etc the other 7 pieces (4 to attach to the ends of the wall on each side, and 4 to attach to the inside of the gable end fascia).  Melissa and Haley had gotten the gable end window started before they had to leave, so I finished framing the window while Uncle Jack attached the 2x4s to the finished gable end.  Auntie Mary came over after work and took some pictures.


DSC_0090 DSC_0111

We all went and had dinner and I almost fell asleep with my head on the table.

But look!  Pretty window frame (and so much easier on this end now that I knew how to do it):


Cap’n Fingers is leaving for Bristol Bay this week, so he came over Sunday to help and collect all of his tools from the build site.

Bitchin' Camaro!
Bitchin’ Camaro!

I got the second gable end sheathed and covered with housewrap before he got there, and then we put up the fascia and finished the eaves.  I’d ordered two 12′ and two 10′ pieces of cedar for the long walls, but they didn’t quite come out to 22′ so Fingers cut down each end of the ridgepole to match.  They’re about 11″ on each side.  This will be good in the long run because I have 22′ of roofing panels and you’re supposed to overhang by an inch.


We attached the 2×4 to the wall of the second gable end, then figured out the length from the inside of that 2×4 to the inside of the outside 2×4… if that makes sense.  Cut 6 pieces of blocking for each side and toenailed them into the wall end 2×4.  Then attached the second piece of 2×4 to the blocking pieces and the fascia to the outside of that.  I didn’t take many pictures as it was only the two of us and we were up on the ladders sweating our faces off and hammering.

I guess you can sort of see what’s going on here. Aren’t we adorable?
I'm not sure why my face looks like that, but I was hot as F and my arms were probably sore as they are every second of always these days
I’m not sure why my face looks like that, but I was hot as F and my arms were probably sore as they are every second of always these days

Then we measured and cut pieces of OSB to finish off the sheathing on top of the eaves.  One of the sides was all wonky and sticking up 1/2″, so we (Fingers) had to remove all the nails and bang it down into place.  But we got the sheathing up and those eaves look beautiful if I do say so myself.

IMG_20150518_163131 (1)

We got done at 7:30 p.m. and I spent an hour cooking and then two hours cleaning and organizing the bunkhouse where I’ll be living until the house is done.  I don’t understand where I am getting all of this energy and stamina but I am certainly grateful for it.

Monday, which was yesterday (and also the start of Week 11 but who cares), I woke up with body aches and the sniffles and considered staying in bed all day, but Uncle Jack showed up at 9:30 a.m. and got me out of bed to put the tarpaper on the roof.  We cut 4 pieces a few inches longer than 22′ and rolled them out on the roof, attaching them with staples and small roofing nails when the stapler stopped working.  I saw the Tiny Nest folks used nails with wide plastic caps and wondered why, but saw that the tarpaper ripped out from underneath the nails pretty easily and would use plastic caps if I did it over again but it’ll do as it is.  For the uppermost layer (always layer from the bottom up for water shedding) Uncle Jack scooted the ridge and I went along the outside with the ladder and held the roll.  It was quite an easy task, for once.  20150518_112936

We got out the flashing kit for the skylight and figured out the close to incomprehensible, cartoon illustrated instructions for waterproofing the thing, then Uncle Jack had to go.  I spent an infuriating afternoon trying to track down a screw gun which my metal roofing instruction pamphlet claims I need.  My conversation with the tool rental guy at Home Depot in Everett went like this:

Me: I need a screw gun

HD guy: you mean a drill? (with patronizing voice like talking to a toddler)

Me: No, a screw gun.  For metal roofing

HD guy: pause, then speaking very slowly… Are you calling for someone else who needs this?

Me, head imploding: pause…. NO.  I need it for ME

HD guy, still speaking slowly: Do you need a hammer maybe?


We established that they didn’t have a screw gun, then through various emails and texts with the guy who sold me the panels and my stepdad and also google and youtube, figured out I can use a regular drill with a nut driver.  I applied silicone caulking around the outside perimeter of my skylight frame and then Mom and I covered the house with a tarp as big grey clouds started to move in from the east.


I painted the outside of my fascia with waterproof stain and then left the caulk and stain to dry under the tarp.  Went back later and applied flashing tape to the outside of the skylight frame and then gave up for the evening.  I’m hoping to at least get the eave trim and the panels around the skylight applied tomorrow as well as getting the skylight finished.  Hopefully get the whole roof done before I leave for Portland Friday but I know better by now than to assume that will happen.


Total cost to date: $9600 (this includes all the windows which aren’t installed yet)


Tiny House Build Week 9 – more roof, gable ends, house wrap

What week is it?  What day is it?  I don’t even know anymore.  Everything is nuts.

Week 9 Dad came over for a few hours in the morning before his flight to Mumbai.  He was called over there for work and will be gone until mid-summer when I am in Alaska, so this was our last chunk of time on the house.  I REALLY wanted to get my door installed, so we worked on that.  Picked up some primed white board and house wrap at Lowe’s.  The door frame I’d built was pretty wonky and out of square, and also too wide as I was expecting a 32″ door and got 29 7/8″, but we (Dad) figured it out and marked the floor and header.  I’ll need pretty big shims on one side and just a few on the other.

we had to angle the board what looks like sideways, but is actually square to the floor of the house. whoops, who framed this thing?!


But we couldn’t install the jamb and hang the door as I’d hoped.  I’m learning that no matter what task I’m engaged in, there is always going to be 247909 other things that need to be done before I can finish the task.

Like first we had to put on the housewrap.  But first we had to push the tarp up onto the roof.  Uncle Jack showed up and they went for it.

it's kinda nice when other people do the work for a minute
it’s kinda nice when other people do the work for a minute


We were able to use an unbroken piece of 9′ housewrap around the entire perimeter, overlapping one corner by a few feet.

we stapled that mother down and BOOM.  Looking more like a house every day
we stapled that mother down and BOOM. Looking more like a house every day

Dad and Uncle Jack left and I don’t know what I did the rest of that day.  Went to dinner with someone?  Who knows.  I’m a mess.

In the morning we had Mother’s Day lunch with Grandma and some of the family, and then I carried out the unpleasant task of sticking more nails into the roof sheathing where I hadn’t finished.  Nothing like doing a grueling and annoying task when you’ve already mentally moved on from it so there is no psychological reward of seeing something new take shape on your house.


I climbed up on the peak of the roof and scooted the ridgeline backwards, stapling down bug mesh over the gap at the peak and getting some more of those pesky nails into the sheathing.

so high up in the air!
so high up in the air!

At some point I also attached 1.5″x6″ pieces of OSB on the top of the walls at each roof joist.  The fascia gets nailed to those, creating a 1/2″ air channel behind it that runs up to the 1/2″ gap over the roof insulation and out the ridge.

you can see the OSB strips here
you can see the OSB strips here

Then I set to framing the first gable end window, which meant I had to reattach some of the scaffolding underneath, and I discovered I couldn’t maneuver one of the 2×4’s that was cut to the width of the house up at the front end anymore, because with all the sheathing it was too wide to fit over the window headers.  This was worrisome because I need to attach the loft joists permanently at some point.  I’m hoping to do this once the window openings are cut and before they are installed, or else I dunno what will be done.  I’ve literally woken up in the middle of the night multiple times the last few weeks worrying about this.

Since the gable end framing is perpendicular to the 2×6 roof joist at the end of the wall, first I cut another 2×6 joist and a piece of 7/16″ OSB for filler, and doubled up the joist so it would be 3.5″ thick, the width of the 2×4 framing that would be going underneath.  I facenailed the OSB to the outside joist with some roofing nails, then attached the new inside joist with regular long nails.  The nail gun pooped out a few weeks ago so this was all manual, and my elbow is reminding me of this every day.  I wasn’t as careful as I should have been to make sure the bottom edge of the new joist was flush with its mate, which came back to bite me in the ass later when I went to nail in the window framing.  I had to use little shims between the joist that wouldn’t meet the 2×4 framing.  Also my toe-nailing sucks.  That gable end looks like shit.  But it works.  BUT before I could attach anything I had to learn to cut angles on the chop saw.  I didn’t know about this though, and I thought I had to use a sawzall for some reason and it was fairly late Sunday evening and I was tired and hungry and shouldn’t have been working anymore but I just wanted to get something visible DONE so I went to get the sawzall, tried to jump over the retaining wall below the garage and my toe caught.  I went face first into the gravel and my thigh slammed into the wall and I scraped all the skin off my palm.  I took this as a sign that I should NOT use a saw and instead go to bed, and I did.

10 days later
8 days later

In the morning I figured out the angles on the chop saw (41 degrees!) and got my framing cut out and attached.  I measured the window and got the centerpoint mostly even with the center of my wall.  I kept the window up on the scaffolding with me and kept checking to make sure it fit.  I put a couple extra pieces of 2×4 between the outside of the window and the outside joist to nail sheathing into.  This wall doesn’t support any weight but I doubled up the header anyway for my own peace of mind.

getting there


I didn’t have any more full pieces of OSB, so I gathered 4 of the pieces I’d cut from the end of the roof sheathing and lined them up, then drew out the rise and the run of the gable end, drew in the ridgepole at the top, and cut the pieces out with a skilsaw and a jigsaw.  Then hauled them up and down the ladder testing the fit a million times until I got it sort of right.  Then I traced them onto another set of OSB in a cleaner way (for the other side of the house), then traced them onto a piece of Tyvek housewrap, then hammered them into the framing.  This was a huge MFPITA.


But BOOM!  Almost fully sheathed and wrapped.


I covered her up again for the forecasted rain, and headed up to Mount Vernon for what I thought would be my second-to-last week at work but was my last.  More on that later.

Tiny House Build Week 8 – The Roof!

Last week was intense.  I’m still recovering.  Friday was Beltane, or May Day,  my favorite holiday.  It is a celebration of sexuality, vitality, energy, passion, and joy.  It is the time of year when the sun starts to be out more than it is hidden behind a cloud, here in the Pacific Northwest… when the rains start to cease.  The height of spring, the beginning of summer.  My year revolves around the salmon season in Alaska… I’m working 7 days a week from about June 1-August 15th and sometimes through September, so over the years the time between Beltane and leaving for Alaska… the month of May, basically… has become my summer.  May Day is also a labor holiday.  I always take the day off and, weather permitting, try to spend as much time lounging in the grass and sunshine as possible.

a more leisurely year, 2013
a more leisurely year, 2013

This year the tiny house laughed at my adorable need for a break and put me to work.  Dad was able to come out for a few hours in the afternoon and I will never, ever turn down the chance to have Dad at the build site.  Everything is easier when Dad is there.

But I did get a massage in the morning.


When I got to the build site, my house was sitting sun drenched in a small driveway outside the carport where it had previously lived.  My stepdad moved it for me during the week, since the carport was just a hair too small to accommodate the roof.  I’m glad I wasn’t there for this.  The idea of moving the house gives me nightmares.  It seems to have gone fine.  Dad was already there and setting up the support beams for the ridgepole, which I had in the back of my truck (two 2x8x12s).  He/we ended up attaching two very tall (14′?) 2×4’s to each end of the house on the inside, and two more in the middle attached to temporary crossbeams and a few scraps screwed into the subfloor.  We placed the beams 3/4″ off-center of the house so that the ridgepole would sit evenly at the centerline of the roof.  Well, we did that after we realized we’d forgotten to take the width of the ridgepole into account and nailed the support beams on the center-line.  Whoops.


Dad went home around 4 and I had a very relaxing evening watching SVU and making beef stew with Bear cuddled at my feet.

In the morning we got back to securing the support beams, and once they were up realized we needed more 2x4s for scaffolding so I ran down to town in Dad’s truck and got more lumber and the OSB to sheath the roof.  When I came back, Dad was in a temper.  The nail gun had stopped working and his dog Skyler was going nuts from anxiety at the sound of the gun and all the banging, and Dad looked ready to murder everything.  We thought our work might be done for the day, but Dad took the nail gun apart and fixed it, I put Skyler in the bunkhouse up the hill with some water and a nice doggie bed, and we ate the rest of the beef stew that I’d made and got back to it after lunch.


There were still a few 2x4s screwed crosswise into the spaces where the loft joists will eventually go, so we put up a few more and created temporary scaffolding at the loft level, about 7′ up the walls.  We made it so you could climb up the ladder on one side and walk across the entire length of the house on the scaffolding, albeit with a lot of climbing (and bending after the joists were in).  This made working on the roof so much easier than I imagined it would be, working on ladders.  Dad suggested the scaffolding and he is awesome.

Bear inspecting our work

Since the ridgepole was in two pieces, we made sure the joint would be in between two of the joists and left about two feet hanging off each side; I’m going to leave a foot of overhang to create a little eave.  Dad screwed 2×4 scraps onto each support beam just at the level where we wanted the ridgepole, then we attached each half with drywall screws to the support beams.  We nailed a 12″ piece of 2×6 to each side of the ridgepole at the joint.

DSC_0005 20150502_131938

Then it was time to figure out the angled cut of the joists.  My trailer is built to 8’4″ wide.  The legal limit is 8’6″, so I knew I couldn’t overhang the long sides of my house at all.  This meant we didn’t need to figure out a birdsmouth cut for the joists… just one angle where they meet the ridgepole and another where they sit on the top plate, flush with the edge.  Dad said his usual method is to hold up a piece of wood at the edge of the roof so that it sits flush with the ends of the walls and the ridgepole, then just draw a line where the pieces of wood meet, and this gives you your cuts.  No fancy math or speed squares for that guy.  But since my ridgepole was sticking out 2 feet, we couldn’t do that.  I grabbed the piece of wood that I’d cut with a test angle from my little experiment drawing my roofline out in pencil on my subfloor (see Week 7).  We held it up to the ridgepole and it was perfect.  BAM!  We sat my cut flush with the ridgepole and held it just off the edge of the roof, drawing the top plate angle as per Dad’s usual method.  Cut that angle and then brought it back up to test it.  Perfect.  Dad said, “This theoretically should work on the other side too, if we have the ridgepole dead center, but it’s rare to get it that perfect.”  Guess what?  It fit.  BAM! Master carpenters here, clearly.  I checked the top plate angle with the speed square and it was the same angle as the ridgepole side, but reversed, which according to my Youtube carpentry education, was as it should be. 10/12 pitch.  And so we had our template roof joist with barely 10 minutes having passed.  High fives for us!

Bear was very busy during all of this
Bear was very busy during all of this

Uncle Jack showed up just as we were getting ready to cut the 22 roof joists.  He’d meant to come out earlier, but his garage door had gotten stuck in the open position when he was leaving his house, so he had to deal with that.  This is why I don’t trust machines.  We got a good roof joist cutting assembly line going, and banged them out with a quickness.  Ditto getting them nailed up.  We’d marked out the 24″ oc measurements on both the ridgepole and the top plates earlier, so it was easy to get them in place.  Dad and Uncle Jack muscled them into position and I shot a few nails at top and bottom.  30 minutes later and boom! Roof joists.


silly uncle jack!
silly uncle jack!

Next up was putting strips of the 7/16 OSB on each joist to raise it up a bit.  This was part of the system for venting my roof that I copied from Tiny Nest.  Jake explains it better on that video than I could with words, so just go watch.  Basically there will be a 1/2 inch gap (created with the same small strips of 7/16 osb) between my fascia board and the house sheathing, then a 1/2″ gap between the roof sheathing and insulation leading up to the ridgepole, then a 1″ gap between the tops of the roof sheathing, allowing air to flow up and over the insulation and vent out underneath the ridge cap.  There will be mesh at the top and bottom of this gap to keep bugs out and a DIY vented ridgepole (this will be explained after I figure out how exactly to do it, but was suggested to me by the man at the hardware store that sold me the metal roofing, so that I didn’t have to buy a more expensive vented ridge cap).  It is, apparently, really really important to vent your roof so that air and moisture don’t get trapped and start to encourage mold, as happened to Little Yellow Door.  After reading that post I was extremely fixated on how to vent the roof and do it right, and am grateful as always to the Tiny Nest folks for making it seem simple.  I had seen their video a few months ago but wish I’d researched it more deeply before starting the roof, as there were a few things I forgot or would have done a bit differently if I’d sat down and mapped it all out clearly the night before.  Oh well.

Uncle Jack and I got to cutting the furring strips of OSB while Dad nailed the bejeezus out of the roof joists.  I sort of hate the nail gun and sort of love the saw, so this was good.

I think here we got sidetracked talking about hearing the voice of God/ess/the Universe/the creator(s). Love that I have family to talk to about these things. No, I love that I am a witch and he is a Christian and that we can still relate on these matters. *heart love squish*

Dad left.  Uncle Jack and I had a few hours until Auntie Mary met us for dinner, so we nailed the OSB onto each joist with little roofing nails, leaving a small gap at the top to allow for the air gap.


I think we did something else next.  I can’t remember.  We had lasagna and baklava with Auntie Mary for dinner.  I drove to Snohomish after with a long list of things to look at/buy at Home Depot.  I came away with a big ass tarp and two rolls of bug mesh, drove home and made halibut.  This halibut is the first animal I ever killed and every time I eat it I feel incredibly self-sufficient and badass, but also kinda like a cannibal because I vividly remember that thing looking at me as it came over the side of the boat and it’s eyes were *intelligent* and it was PISSED, and then I bonked it on the head and cut it’s gills and have been eating it slowly for a year.

088 (4)
this is not me. my work came later.

Sunday I had the house all to myself.  Mom and Jerry were at the beach until the early afternoon and all my helpers had other plans.  I wanted to get the roof sheathing on by the end of the day, but had a lot of little tasks to get done first.

made sure to take lots of breaks though
made sure to take lots of breaks though

The OSB sheets we used on the walls are 8′ tall.  My walls including sill plate and double top plate were a bit taller than 8′, and we also let the sheets overhang at the bottom to assist moisture run-off… so in the end there was about a 2″ gap between the top of the sheathing and the top of the top-most plate.  I first cut down some more OSB and filled in this gap.  I did it first because I was dreading it.  Then,  I attached hurricane ties on every single joist.


These will help keep wind (when driving on the freeway) from separating the joists from the top plates.  I used the same little roofing nails and this was the most pleasant part of the tiny house build so far; it was bright and warm but the sun hadn’t climbed high enough over the trees to beat down on my neck.  I had kombucha and dark chocolate and good music playing, a sleeping bag to pad my knees, temporary lofts to sit on, a cool breeze and dragonflies bobbing about, checking in on the progress.  Next, I attached bug mesh all around the perimeter of the roof.


I did this with the roofing stapler.  I had 36″x25′ rolls and cut one into 12″ wide pieces.  I first stapled each piece hanging down the walls, then folded it up and under so there is a fold of mesh at the top and bottom.  I wrapped them around the corners and up the joists about 10″.  It seemed like creating folds at the top and bottom will help keep the bugs from slipping underneath the mesh, but I don’t know.  It looked good, anyway.

I also attached simpson strapping across the joint in the ridgepole, as I did in the bottom-top-plate, you can sorta see it here

I measured the joists and decided to keep the ends of the sheathing flush with the walls.  I’d forgotten that to keep the air gap for venting, I need to put furring strips underneath my fascia.  Plus the fascia.  The roof joists are 64.5″ and I should have cut the sheathing at 66.5″ and overhung the walls by 2″, which would have made the sheathing flush with the outside edge of the fascia.  But I didn’t.  I ordered my metal roof panels at 66.5″ and the eave trim will cover up the gap with no harm done, I think.

My dear friend Sarah was coming over at 6:30 to help lift the sheathing up to the roof, so I was rushing to be ready for her.  I screwed little stubs of 2×4 on the wall at the edge of every other joist, so that when we heaved the sheathing up onto the joists, it could rest on the stubs instead of someone having to hold it.  This took longer than I anticipated.  Everything takes longer than anticipated.  Still, I got them in with time to spare and cut all the OSB down to 64.5″ (except the ones that were acting as temporary lofts) and in a fit of independence, decided to start putting them on the roof myself.  A 64″ sheet is much lighter than a 96″ sheet, but still heavy.  I pushed them one at a time up the 10′ ladder ahead of me, balanced them on top of the ladder, then pushed them sideways over my head and onto the roof and let them slide down to rest on the 2×4 stubs.  This hurt my arms.  That is an understatement.  Then I got down off the ladder, went inside the house and back up the ladder, and stood in between the roof joists to turn the piece of sheathing the right way.  The first piece I held at the edge of the roof to see if it was square, which is was not, so I got out the trusty ratchet tie downs and, using the temporary loft joists as ballast, pulled the 2×4 that was still attached to the ridgepole toward me until the sheet was square.


I got 3 sheets up and nailed down by the time Sarah arrived.  She had 4 year old Violet with her, who was in a mood.


We got 2 more sheets up and nailed down… SO MUCH EASIER to put sheathing on the roof with someone up there to grab the sheet!… and then I had to take down the support beams that held up the ridgepole because they were in the way.  To do this I had to dismantle the scaffolding.  This took longer than anticipated and was a gigantic, unweildy, exhausting pain in the ass.  Meanwhile Violet was building towards a blow up, but bless her sweet little heart we managed to keep her calm long enough to get the rest of the pieces that I had ready up.

I love this weird little nugget
I love this weird little nugget

Sarah is a badass as both a build assistant and a mom.  Good work, dudette!

I thought I would go to bed and die quietly for 10 hours or so, but I had mega anxiety about getting the sheathing on by myself in the morning, plus some kind of not exactly sunburn, but overheating of my skin from the sun which felt like a fever and I was up tossing and turning until I plastered my face with a cold washcloth about 2 a.m.  I had to be at work at 4 the next day, an hour away, and needed to get the house covered with a tarp before the rain that was forecasted for Tuesday, and to do that I had to take down the other ridgepole support beam which was sticking way up above the house.

Oh, did I mention the nail gun quit working Sunday morning so all of this nailing of sheathing was by hand?  My elbow and arms and neck and shoulders and everything were screaming when I got up Monday morning, plus the housecleaner was in the kitchen so I didn’t eat.  I just put on my fucking Carhartt overalls and went at that house like the stubborn maniac that I am.  I won’t go into all the details because it gives me anxiety just thinking about it, but I got the temporary lofts taken down and put a few smaller pieces back up to stand on, cut down the rest of the plywood sheets, took down the support beam, pushed the rest of the fucking sheathing up the ladder above me and onto the roof, got everything squared up and nailed down, by about 1 p.m.  I didn’t sheath the gable ends because I still need to add framing for the windows.

last one!
last one!  you can see the air gap at the top also

I tried to pull my 20×30′ tarp up over the front of the house with ropes, but the ridgepole caught and ripped it, then I was out of time, exhausted, starved, dizzy, and couldn’t lift my arms over my head, so my stepdad said he and Mom would take care of the tarp when they got home and I got myself some kombucha and THREE cheeseburgers (Bear got one too) and headed an hour north where I went immediately to work for 6 hours delivering pizzas.  I. Am. Tired.


Tiny House Build Week 7 – Loft joists, final wall framing, OSB sheathing

Last week was so eventful and full of activities that it is Wednesday of the following week already and I’ve been too exhausted to write a blog post [edit: Saturday night of week 8 now!].  I leave for Alaska in 4 weeks, to work 80-120 hours a week in the office of a salmon cannery, and I’m looking forward to it as a vacation and a rest.  We work crazy hours, but the cannery takes care of cooking, cleaning, and laundry and it is a 5 minute walk from my bed to my desk and all I have to do is eat, sleep, and process fish tickets.  It sounds decadently relaxing at this point.


But anyway, last week…

I brought the eight 2×6 studs that had been leftover home to Mt. Vernon with me for the pizza-delivery-work-week and stained them in the mornings before work.  I sanded them each down with a belt sander, but I think this was unnecessary and I could have just used the 220 grit sandpaper block that I used on later steps.  I then wiped them down with tack cloth, applied one layer of wood conditioner to even out the color (soft wood like fir absorbs stain unevenly), two layers of stain and two layers of protective finish (with sanding in between).  It took about 6 hours total on three separate mornings and after all that crouching, bending, lifting, and cranking my neck around to get at the boards, I had a pinched nerve in my neck that was torture at work Friday night but hey, those boards look GOOD.



got this great nail/2×4 support idea from Jake and Kiva (tinynestproject.com)

On one of those mornings I also made a trip out to Guemes Island to pick up my door, window and porch light from the Guemes Island Tiny House remodel.  Guemes Island is a 5 minute ferry ride from Anacortes.  I spent an hour driving around the island (an hour is all it takes) looking at all the cute little houses.

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My door is 74″x30″ and adorable.  I’ll still have to cut 2-3″ off the height, and paint the outside purple, but otherwise it’s perfect.  I’m not going to make it into a Dutch door.  I’m already planning my next house.  I’ll do it on that one.



Saturday morning my stepdad Jerry had his framer buddy come out to the property and take a look at the framing we’d done so far.  I immediately felt comfortable and at home with Randy and when he told me he used to live in Fairbanks, Alaska I was unsurprised.  He seemed impressed or at least not horrified by my framing job and gave me just a few suggestions on things to change… most importantly, that I should fill in the headers over my big 5′ wide window and the door.



We had built the headers like this, with a gap in between the pieces.  He said that was fine for the small windows, but for these bigger spans I should fill them in.



So I sawzall-ed the framing for the door and the window out of the wall and filled them in with another piece of 2×6 and a 1/2″ piece of plywood.  Then placed them back in the wall.  I was pretty proud of this.

Randy also said he would have used a 2×8 header over the big window, which I was going to do originally.  I’m learning to trust my instincts/research.  I’m not an idiot and just because I don’t have experience doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.


Randy brought his grandson



who saw Bear drinking rainwater from the tarp and thought it was a fine idea
who saw Bear drinking rainwater from the tarp and thought it was a fine idea

DSC_0046It was a lovely day at the property.  My BFF Sarah came over with her daughter Violet and I put Sarah to work screwing in all of the brackets.


I was feeling overwhelmed and a bit hopeless with all of the small tasks left to finish framing the walls.  One corner was still a little off square, the second top plates weren’t attached, the strapping needed to go on the outside.  Sarah got the brackets screwed in and another few small but time consuming projects done and after an hour of messing around, suddenly it all clicked and the day fell into place and all the small tasks got done.  This happens almost every weekend.  This happens on any creative project, actually.  Sewing, dancing, writing stories… you start out feeling lost and overwhelmed and like there is no way it is going to get done or that you are capable, and then you just pick a spot and dive in and next time you look up, you’re halfway there.

It is one of the deepest and hardest won gifts of my life that I finally understand this.

One of the things I was most stressed about was how to get the corners connected before putting the top plates on, but then I used these  rad clamps and it was easy

One of the things I was most stressed about was how to get the corners and the split in the bottom top plates connected before putting the second top plates on, but then I used these rad clamps and it was easy.  Thanks to a suggestion by Uncle Mike I also was able to squeeze the walls in to the right width using a ratchet tie-down, rather than a rope, and was able to screw in the rest of the temporary cross bracing where the loft joists will eventually go.  The I attached the second top plate which you can see above.  I used the clamps to get it flush with the outside of the bottom top plate… the 2x4s were a little wonky and the clamps allowed me to pull them toward or push them away from me as I went down each wall and nailed them down. We decided to use 2×4 on top to save a little on weight.


Randy had also suggested I use Simpson strapping to seal the places where the bottom top plates joined together.  I also screwed brackets at the top of the same studs that had them at the bottom.  Since we used 2x4s for the second top plate, I was able to bolt these through the top as well without interfering with the roof rafters.

Sunday Mom and I wrapped Simpson 16 gauge strapping around the outside of the house diagonally, wherever we could that wouldn’t interfere with a window or the door, and wrapping around corners when possible.

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Mom and Jerry cut out the doorsill with the sawzall.


Then Jerry and I carried out the tedious and draining task of sheathing the walls in 7/16th OSB.



We made sure to take doggie breaks.

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We cut out the doorway before we enclosed the house entirely.  I ran a small drill bit through each corner of the door from the inside, then we drew a line from hole to hole on the outside and cut along this line with the skilsaw.

Jerry showed me how to do this on the top


tiny door!
tiny door!

Jerry had some other projects to work on, so we tacked each sheet up at the top and sides and then I went through and shot a bazillion nails in after he left.  My ears were ringing for days afterwards from the nail gun.  We had marked out each stud at the bottom of the trailer with a piece of tape hanging down, but I still managed to shoot a lot of nails… like, a lot… through the OSB into nothing.  Oh well.  I fixed it.

Bear had a really productive day
Bear had a really productive day

I was so wired and pumped from seeing my house look like a house that as the sun went down I wanted to keep working, so I drew out a line the width of the trailer onto the floor and measured up 3.5 feet from the centerpoint… this created an actual scale outline of the ends of my roof.  I got this idea from this amazing book that has been so helpful during this project…

I highly recommend

DSC_0101I tried using the speed square to figure out the angle for my roof cut, but eventually just sort of figured it out by drawing a line on the bottom of the rafter where it met the line that would be the edge of the ridgepole, transferring that line to the top of the rafter, and then connecting that point with the top corner of the rafter.  Then using the speed square found that my roof would be at a 10:12 pitch.  I was too tired eventually to really finish this project but spoiler alert: we installed the roof rafters today and my angle cut was frickin’ perfect.

you’re a handsome devil, what’s your name?