Tiny House Build Weeks 17 and 18

So much got done these two weeks!!  First, Dad and Capn’ Fingers came over and we got most of the windows installed and the door hung, kinda.

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I didn’t take very many pictures the last few weeks because I forgot my fancy camera in Olympia and I’m basically a crazed work obsessed maniac these days, but 8 out of 9 windows are in.  I waited on the stained glass, because it is a tricky installation and my stepdad Jerry has a Plan.  Also, I needed to strip the paint and restain it, which worked well.

paint stripper is no joke! burns like a mofo too. don’t get it on your skin.
Before/After. the wood is not near as dark as it looks in this picture, but I am happy.
Before/After. the wood is not near as dark as it looks in this picture, but I am happy.

I am back in Olympia now and Jerry says he’ll install the window sometime when I’m gone and it will be a surprise.  Aw.  I think he just wants me done and out of his carport so he can buy more trucks to work on… 😀  Kidding.  Kinda.

The primed wood that we bought for the door jamb turned out to be particleboard, and the purple paint is peeling and looks like crap, AND the door is still slightly wonky, so Dad is going to get some real wood and reinstall the door this weekend and I’m going to stain the jamb the same color as the loft joists.


but for now, pretty cool to have a door!

In the middle of the week I packed up all my stuff, moved to Olympia, and started my new job at the college library.

bibliophile’s dream job
two of my new roomies

The house has a gigantic backyard and an RV gate, and I’ll be moving the house down in a month or so, once the siding is done and I get licensed.

After training for three days, I went back to Monroe for almost a week to get some more work done.  Mostly, flashing the windows, fixing up the stained glass frame, and putting a roof on the utility box, which I didn’t take any pictures of.  There was a slight hiccup when I realized rain is going to blow underneath the ridges of the metal roof panels and right onto the section of wall without siding behind the utility box… so as usual, I couldn’t finish and had to pause while I wait for some more foam closure strips to arrive at Chinook Lumber.

snuggle break
snuggle break

I spent one day in Seattle at the salvage yards, where I came up with an awesome plan for interior framing, closet and stairs, which I will share later.  In the evening I went out to Marysville and helped Capn’ Fingers pull his net back into the truck.

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Next, we got electrical roughed in!! Kyle came over in the afternoon one day and we banged it out in a couple hours.  There are still a few round boxes to wire for lights once I make a final decision on what is going where, but it’s about 95% done.  May all the gods bless brothers, especially electrician brothers.

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loving this light fixture for the reading nook
loving this light fixture for the reading nook

My urine separator arrived from Ecovita.  It’s a simple funnel and I have a plan for a box to build to accomodate the poo bucket, pee container, toilet paper and sawdust or whatever I use for coverage material.  Also to be revealed later (i.e. when I’ve figured it out as I’m building it).

IMG_20150918_205240IMG_20150918_211035I spent yesterday before I came back to Olympia putting up window trim.  I used 1×3 cedar and just boxed in the windows… no fancy angle cuts for me.  I like how it looks.  I’m using unstained bevel cedar for the siding, so will go in and stain the trim a darker brown later.


And finally, Jake and Kiva from Tiny Nest came to visit!  We babbled about our house builds and then shot a follow up video.  They came out and did a tour video in April before there was a roof.  So good to see them.  I’ll post a link to the video once it’s up, although I was tired and very, very ramble-y.  Oh well.

tiny house friends are awesome
tiny house friends are awesome

Back to Olympia now for 2 days of work and 1 day of new student orientation, and then back to work this weekend.  I’m simultaneously so pumped to see the house starting to really come together, and completely exhausted with all the chaos and ready to have the thing done already.  Just a few more months.



Tiny House Build Weeks 15 and 16: wheel wells, loft floors, utility box, electricity, windows, and more!

I have stopped keeping very good track of my progress on the house, mostly due to feeling like I am at a dead run to get it all done before January.

I definitely spent three days covering up the wheel wells:

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I thought this would take me maybe an afternoon, but noooooo.  The framing part was easy enough.  I followed the guidance of Tiny Nest as usual.  I sprayed Good Stuff insulation foam into the cracks between the wheel wells and the frame and stuffed wool insulation into the whole box.   I made mock ups for the outer casing out of OSB and was happy with the fit.  I was using 1/2″ hardwood plywood for the outside, and turns out the saw I was using, borrowed from my stepdad, had a blade meant for framing.  I had been vaguely aware that there were different size blades for different purposes, but it really came home when the blade chewed through my nice plywood.  I also discovered that it was much more difficult-maybe because of the blade, maybe because of the denser material, maybe because I forgot how- but I could not cut a straight line to save my life.  I got one side done and it was all wavy edges and ripped up facing.  Tried to get the blade off the saw to change it and couldn’t, had yet another existential crisis about my worthiness as a human being, and then snapped out of it and went down to Lowe’s to buy my own damn tools, because you can only use borrowed tools for so long and I’m going to need them anyway.

putting on my big girl pants and becoming a tool owner
putting on my big girl pants and becoming a tool owner

I still had a terrible time cutting a straight line- maybe because I bought a left handed saw-but I got them cut out and in place.  I didn’t think about what the rough edge would look like once it was all in place… you can see all the layers of plywood and it looks a little janky… but maybe it’ll look better when it’s stained, maybe I’ll use some trim, or maybe I’ll do it all over and use actual hardwood, which didn’t even occur to me as an option until I was done.  Oh, the joys of learning carpentry AS you are building a house with all the money spent on wood that you cut into a wavy, chopped up mess.

but whatever.  it's getting built
but whatever. it’s getting built

I also stained and laid down the floors for both lofts.  Some dearly loved and missed Domino’s coworkers drove down from Mt. Vernon to help.

I told them not to watch me so I wouldn't mess up the line, so they did this
I told them not to watch me so I wouldn’t mess up the line, so they did this

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Steve made sure that there would be headroom in the loft for, ahem, *private time with a partner* (consensus was there is enough room for all varieties of this).  Then we all went out for ice cream and thoroughly freaked out the rest of the patrons at Denny’s with our perverted jokes.


My brother, gods bless him, is an electrician and he came over one afternoon to discuss my electrical system and go shopping with me for supplies to rough in the wiring.  First he helped me hoist the little loft up and bang it into place, where it miraculously fit.  It will serve as storage mostly, but I’ll probably keep a camping pad or some kind of foldable mattress around for overnight guests to stay up there.

guest room!
guest room!

I am going to have a very small electrical load: No matter how much I read and talk about electricity, it still does my head in, so I can’t explain it here, but I will have a small hot water heater that only draws 12 amps, a mini-fridge which will be about the same, lights and outlets for charging, a ventilation fan, a porch light.  I’m ordering a woodstove that won’t be ready until Spring, so will have to use some kind of electric heater until then.  I’ve been eyeing this oil filled radiator for the coming winter.  Kyle and I went to Lowe’s and picked out a small, 100 amp electric panel with 6 slots for breakers, a bunch of (incredibly heavy!) wire, outlet boxes, and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t know the name of.  I was unsure what kind of plug I should get to bring power into the house, but have determined that a 30 amp RV plug with an adaptor to use a regular extension cord will work great.  I’m only going to wire in a few lights and will be using LED puck lights in the kitchen and bathroom that plug into an outlet, and lamps in the lofts and great room.  Electricity should be pretty simple.

someone on IG pointed out that Kyle seems to be staring rather intently at a big bottle of 'wire lube'
someone on IG pointed out that Kyle seems to be staring rather intently at a big bottle of ‘wire lube’

I also got the utility box for the tongue of the trailer framed, using the guidance of… you guessed it, Tiny Nest.  My box is much higher than theirs, and the configuration of the breakaway controls and tongue jack seem different, so I made mine a bit shallower and a lot taller, with the bottom starting high enough off the tongue to allow clearance for the tongue jack (as opposed to framing it into the utility box as they did.  Eventually, solar panel batteries will go in here, but for now I’ll use it for camping equipment, a mini grill, coolers, fishing rods.  Etc.

next up: tyvek, siding, metal roof, doors.


Dad was going to come over last Monday to install windows, but Boeing sent him to Qatar for the week, so Jerry and I took on the window task a few days ago, using the guidance of his framer buddy Randy.  Most of my windows are salvaged and don’t have nailing flanges, so we drilled through the sides of the vinyl windows into the frame, and caulked the heck of of them on three sides.  We still used flashing tape on the sill and will run it up the sides and onto the window itself a bit to simulate the water tightness of the nailing flanges.

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I did not get good pictures of this process, but Cap’n Fingers is coming by tomorrow to help with the rest of the windows so I will try to document better then.

That’s about all the work I got done on the house the past few weeks… seems like not a lot but I’ve been working just about every single day, at least 6 or 7 hours.  It’s slow going, working alone and with no experience.  But it’s getting there.  And I’m learning so much.  I also managed to attend the wedding of this lovely lady:

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and help Cap’n Fingers with his net:

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and sign a lease on my temporary place in Olympia.  It’s been a very full month.  Last but not least, we managed to raise just over $600 from the Crowdrise fundraiser!!!  Thank you SO SO much to everyone that donated.  It was really heartwarming to see the random folks in my life that gave small amounts.  It’s not the money so much as it is feeling the support.  With that said, money was the point and I’m happy to say it’s almost enough to put in the order for my woodstove from Navigator Stove Works.  Navigator is a tiny local company on Orcas Island and it takes 6-9 months to get a stove, but I think will be very worth it.  I wanted the Little Cod originally, decided it cost too much and takes too long, then changed my mind back when I realized how much of an investment this is.  I’ll have that stove forever, it will heat the house with no problems and I can cook on it as well.  And I’ll know every time I make tea or heat bathwater on it that the love of my friends and family helped make it happen, and that is truly priceless.

yoinked from Pinterest
yoinked from Pinterest

Tiny House Build Fundraiser

Because it is truly the case that building a tiny house (or anything, I imagine) takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will, I’ve started a Crowdrise account.  It isn’t a Kickstarter.  There’s no goal, there’s no rewards, and there’s no deadline.  I worked all spring (Domino’s!) and summer (71 days! 940 hours!) and have been gifted all kinds of money and supplies and time and yet, here it is September 1st, school is starting in 2 weeks, and my ability to earn cash money has come to an end until next summer.  I have to move into the house in January so am having to get creative.

Here is my spending on the house so far, by category:

Appliances: 574
Education: 275
Etc: 570
Fascia: 140
Subfloor: 623
Flooring: 300
Door: 100
Insulation: 868
Metal Roofing: 700
Paint/Stain: 152
Plans: 22
Plumbing: 135
Roof Lumber: 41
Sheathing: 240
Siding: 250
Skylight: 722
Structural: 50
Toilet: 15
Trailer: 4,057
Walls: 876
Windows: 1,061
Lights: 35

Total to Date: 11,804

Here is what is left, all estimates:

Licensing: 300
water heater: 150
Ventilation fan: 60
Electric and lights: 600
Plumbing: 200
Insulation: 200
Origo alcohol stove: 250
Interior paneling: 500
Woodstove: 2,500
Loft flooring: 100
Stain: 50
Interior framing and built ins: 500
Trim: 200
Unplanned expenses and Acts of God: 500-???

Total Estimate Left to Buy: 6,000

I’m not going to make a big deal out of this fundraiser… I trust that things will work out eventually (they have so far) and if it comes down to it I can always sell Honey Bear on the black market.

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Just kidding.  Thanks in advance for reading and any assistance given will be repaid (as I have noted on the Crowdrise page) with gratitude, love, tiny house tours, home cooked meals, and help on any building project out there… now that I have the skills and knowledge to be of use 🙂


Tiny House Build Week 14 – Materials, Materials, Materials

Not a lot of visual progress on the house this week, but a ton of stressful logistical stuff taken care of.  Mom and I went down to Earthwise and Second Use in Seattle to look for windows, siding, flooring and interior paneling.  I found some fir flooring I liked, but at $4 a square foot it was close to the same price as new and over my budget.  Also found some cedar tongue and groove paneling at $.25 a linear foot, but not enough to cover even the ceiling.  I did find a window to replace the big stained glass window that couldn’t be repaired.  It’s a bit smaller but it’ll do, once I fill in the wall framing.  Dad and I drove out to Barmon Lumber in Sultan to check out siding that same day and bought a ‘slide’ of 8′ beveled cedar for $.25 a linear foot.  It totals about 2700 linear feet which is almost 3x what I need, but Dad took the rest for a project at his house, leaving my bill for siding at $250.  Score!!!!

I don't have a picture of any of this, so here is Bear
I don’t have a picture of any of this, so here is Bear

While at Barmon, I asked about cedar tongue and groove paneling and they pointed me at their pine T&G for $.39 LF.  I bought a sample piece to test different stains.  I don’t like light colored wood and wanted to make sure I could darken it to my gothic color palate.  I answered an ad on CL for 175 square feet of leftover engineered hardwood flooring someone had from a project, and ended up buying it for $300.  While I was in Bellevue picking it up I went by Daly’s Paint and grabbed some sample stains.  My stepdad is a painting contractor and he recommended Daly’s.  I tested out the stains on the sample piece of pine and found I liked best a 50/50 mixture of English Oak and Walnut.


So, boom, siding, interior paneling and flooring taken care of.  This was a relief.

Interior of the door, loft joist, flooring. I'm liking the variety of wood
Interior of the door, loft joist, flooring. I’m liking the variety of wood

We had a big windstorm over the weekend that knocked out the power, so I spent yesterday painting all my white vinyl windows, and the eventual door jamb, purple.  Remember, goth color palette.  I don’t do white.

looks like an oompa loompa exploded in the carport

I was a bit unsure how to get into all the little nooks and crannies of the window frames, but stepdad Jerry suggested I get a matching shade of spray paint and use that on the inside.  I couldn’t find the exact color but the spray paint worked like a dream, and I got an unexpected two toned look on the windows that I really like.

this needs another coat of spray paint

I also decided to change the dull green frame of the stained glass to match the other purple windows.  We’ll see if I regret that or not.  I love purple, but that purple is REALLY PURPLE.

I am an impatient and not very talented painter, but I will make it look good eventually

I also got the loft joists installed with a cordless drill while the power was out.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to maneuver them into their spots above the windows, but only one was an issue.  I cut 4 inches off the end and got it in place with plenty of room for drilling the ends into the studs.  How did you cut it with the power off, you might ask?  Jerry had a generator going to keep the fridge on, and we plugged a saw into it and I made the cuts right there in the grass.  This suburban raised and ex-city living girl was pretty tickled at that.


Today, I finished painting the windows and started boxing in the wheel wells with 2×2 lumber, per the ever inspirational guidance of Tiny Nest Project.  I also fixed the oversized framing on one of the windows with some cedar fenceposts I picked up at Lowe’s, and it fit just fine.  Dad came over to consult with me on upcoming projects and while we couldn’t get it flashed due to the rain, we did get one window installed.


After he left, I was mucking about in the carport doing something and then turned around and saw the house with the window and the light shining from inside, and suddenly it was a HOUSE.  An entity, with a personality and a function, not just a bunch of wood and metal.  I said out loud, Oh hello there!!  And I swear, the House smiled back.