Tiny House Build Weeks 23 & 24: interior siding, stains, budgets, parking space and ALMOST DONE

Week 23 was spent frantically tracking down financing for the last $5k of the build and securing a long term parking space somewhere in Olympia.  Family came through with loaned and gifted money which is now turning out to STILL not be enough, but it’s enough to get me through to the end of the year and to get the house livable.

Get. The House. Livable.  Because I’m going to be living in it soon.  And it’s so close I can taste it.

Wild Rose drying out in preparation for caulk and stain
Wild Rose drying out in preparation for caulk and stain


I went to the interview at the Ideal Parking Spot and we came to an agreement.  Wild Rose has a semi-permanent home!  The spot is just down the road from school… I test walked the trail through the woods and it took 17 minutes from campus to the spot.  Rad.  My new landlords are sweet and grounded and feel like old friends already.  We’re moving the house there next weekend.

couldn’t have asked for a better spot

With all that stress taken care of, I was able to start buying more supplies, most importantly T&G for the interior walls.  I found a man just up the road from my new parking spot with a small lumber yard and bought 576 board feet of 1×6 beetle kill pine, and 480 board feet of 1×6 cedar.  I still need another 500 feet of cedar for the ceiling but it wouldn’t fit in the truck.  I wanted a varied texture to the walls, rather than one solid pattern of wood, and wanted to use the beetle kill pine but without having too much blonde wood in the house, so decided to do 1/2 of the walls beetle kill pine, and the other half + the ceiling cedar.  Cedar costs half as much so this was financially beneficial too.


I also picked up the Roxul insulation for the ceiling and took a quick road trip to Portland to pick up my full sized futon, gifted to me from a friend, and an extra box of Oregon Shepherd insulation.  A friend came by one night and we ate dinner sitting on the wheel well frames and then got most of the wool fluffed and installed.

insulation break

The extra box of wool STILL wasn’t enough, but I think the Roxul will cover it.  I wanted batts for the ceiling because the thought of stuffing loose wool at an angle on a ladder was too much for me.  The Roxul is itchy but is apparently not as toxic as fiberglass, and is super easy to install.


I took the last few days before Thanksgiving break off of school and house building to go up to Seattle for Fish Expo, which was amazing and full of much loved faces that I only get to see in Alaska.  My friend Kris, who was my deck boss on the Carole B last summer, was in town to see family and I swooped him up on the way out of Seattle to spend the weekend with me in Olympia.  We were both viciously hungover but took a very long detour across the Edmonds ferry and out the peninsula to Port Townsend to pick up my Origo 3000 alcohol stove.  I won’t have the electricity for an electric stove and decided at the beginning against propane, so an alcohol stove seemed the best choice.  I really want the Origo 6000 (it has an oven!) but at $1,799 that’s going to have to wait.  The Origo 3000 goes for $400 new but someone on CL was selling for $200, so it was worth the trip.

yes that is a bong in the background.  I didn't notice when I took the picture.  It isn't mine.  But weed is legal in Washington, so there.
yes that is a bong in the background. I didn’t notice when I took the picture. It isn’t mine. But weed is legal in Washington, so there.

Kris and I spent the first day of our work weekend running over to my new parking space to sign my lease (hoorah!) and then caulking all the seams and window frames and trim on the outside of the house.  We used a “cedar brown” caulk.  It is brown all right.  I am a messy caulker but I thought once I stained over it, it wouldn’t show.  Ha, ha.  Absolutely not true.  But oh well.  I have a house.

Honey Bear standing guard

Then we got the rest of the wool fluffed and the Roxul installed in the ceiling.


love him.
love him.

The next day we sanded down all 132 pieces of T&G with 80 grit sandpaper blocks, and wiped them all clean with tack cloth.  I had some pint cans of sample stains from Daly’s and tested the stain on both cedar and pine.  I knew I wanted the cedar to be pretty dark, and wanted the swirly blue effect of the beetle kill pine, but hated how much blonde pine color there is on the boards.  I mixed 50% English Oak/Walnut stain and turns out the different shades of blue/blonde in the pine turn out different shades of brown when stained… giving the same swirly calico effect I was looking for, without having so much bright pine color on the walls.  Sweet!  Monday I drove Kris up to Bellevue for further travels and picked up stain from Daly’s and then came back home.  I spent the entire week alone at home working on the tiny house, including Thanksgiving.  I got all the cedar and pine sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and stained.

left to right: unstained beetle kill pine, stained pine, stained cedar
left to right: unstained beetle kill pine, stained pine, stained cedar

As I was going through the pieces of pine I noticed some were dark enough or swirly enough or just cool enough looking that I knew I wouldn’t mind having them on the wall.  Plus, I got really tired of sanding and staining by hand out in the rain under a leaky tarp in the freezing cold, so I ended up with about 2:1 stained/unstained pine.  When I started putting it up in the house, I staggered the pieces and it turned out AWESOME.

I am so proud of this wall I cannot even tell you
I am so proud of this wall I cannot even tell you

Installing T&G is so easy.  I started on the wall that will be entirely covered eventually by bookshelves and a couch, so I could get the hang of cutting out around the outlet boxes.  I used a jigsaw and that was easy too.  I got close to half the walls done in about 10 hours of work.  Hopefully will get the rest, minus the sections waiting for plumbing, on Friday.

I also stained the entire outside of the house.  We had a whole week of sunny, cold weather.  I had a blip of panic when I tested the stain on a piece of cedar (Cedar Naturaltone from Lowe’s) because it was so orange.  I hate orange.  I panicked and considered just using a clear sealant since I liked how the house was looking, but with all that messy brown caulk everywhere that wasn’t really an option.  Jerry suggested I mix a darker brown into the orange to even it out, so I tried that with the Russet stain I’d picked out for trim and it looked ok.  I dumped the whole quart of Russet into the gallon of Cedar Naturaltone, and then picked out a much darker Walnut stain for the trim.  It took me 2 days of work, but I got it all done and it looks not only tolerable but pretty damn great.


The brown really did even out the orange tone.  I ended up having to get another whole gallon+quart of stain to finish.  That rough cut cedar siding sucks up the stain like nobody’s business.  It’s been in the 20s here at night, and although the stain says not to apply if the temperatures will drop below 35 within 24 hours, there seems to have been no harm done.  We’ll see how it holds up long term, but for now I have a (almost, sort of, not really) completed exterior!

That takes us up to today, when I spent 6 hours at my new parking spot trying to level it out a bit, cutting back branches and pulling out ferns, moving around pallets and sawing fallen branches with a handsaw to get them out of the way.  I found all kinds of weird things buried under dirt or leaves, including what I believe to be a tetherball post, embedded inside a tire with concrete.  I can’t wait to come up with an interesting use for that.



The ground is still lumpy but I think I’ll be able to get the house leveled.  I don’t know how far back my Dad and his amazing trailer driving skillzzz will be able to get the house, but I measured the whole driveway and it’s definitely wide enough for the house.  Moving day a week from today.  I was going to come home and put up some more walls, but this week and especially this morning have been grueling, so I’m going to lounge in my pajamas, watch Firefly and start a batch of kombucha.  Tiny house work will commence after our final project for school is done on Thursday.  Countdown: one month until move in!

Some Fish Expo fun just for the heck of it:


Tiny House Week 22 – A Big Surprise, Insulation and MOVING DAY!

I got up to Monroe late last Thursday night and crashed out, having had a full 9 hour day of school/work.  Woke up at 6:30 a.m. as usual (having been a night person/graveyard worker for all of my teens and 20s this rise and shine without an alarm before 7 a.m. thing is SO weird, but welcome) and went out into the main house to visit with Mom before she went to work.  As she was leaving she said, with a weird look on her face, “Call me once you’ve gone down and seen the house.”  I knew something was up because she has a transparent face, and guessed, “You guys finished the siding didn’t you?” and she tried to look serious and shake her head no but kept smirking and finally admitted that yes, Jerry had assigned two of his carpenters (he’s a painting/general contractor) to finish it up a few days prior.  I squealed and almost knocked her down hugging her, and then promptly panicked when I remembered that we hadn’t quite finished drilling the various outlets and fans through the walls and attaching blocks on the outside to hold them.  I called Dad to ask what to do and as usual he talked me down and explained how to fix it and then I walked down the hill and saw the house all nice and pretty and dressed up in her cedar outfit and I started shrieking and crying in the middle of the driveway with no one but Honey Bear as witness.

Looks so good!

One of my oldest friends and favorite build helpers, Melissa, came over at 9:30 to help for the day.  We got to work getting the rest of the rigid foam insulation cut for the walls and ceiling.  Sarah came over too, but given that she’s 7 months pregnant we let her sit and observe.  I had to cut a square out of the new siding to install the block for the water inlet.  This was terrifying because I hate skilsaws, plunge cuts, and sawing sideways, but I pulled it off and it was one of the proudest moments for me of this entire build, BECAUSE it was so many things that freak me out.

IMG_20151106_190554 (1)
not stoked
I got this lovely pre-made cedar block at Chinook Lumber for about $10. It had a 3.5″ hole already drilled through the middle so once I had the block installed, I used a 3.5″ hole saw to cut through the sheathing.

I later did the same process for the 30 amp power inlet.  Kyle came over and finished wiring the RV inlet to the electrical panel and the ceiling fan box and wiring for the overhead light.

In order to properly vent my ceiling, I attached little pieces of 3/4″ wood to each bay of the ceiling (shout out as usual to Tiny Nest for the venting system).  I already have a gap (covered with bug screen) at the top and bottom of the roof sheathing.  With these little pieces of wood attached, we were able to push the 1.5″ rigid foam up into the bays without closing out the air gap.  The wood was scrap from the loft floors and was the perfect dimension to allow a layer of rigid foam and then 3.5″ batts of Roxul.  I was planning on using Reflectix and then 5.5″ Roxul, but had so much rigid foam left over that we went in this direction instead, which also saved me about $120.  Love when that happens… since it is usually the opposite direction (thought you’d spend $100 on trim?  HAHA how about $600, fool!?).


Saturday we had another family work party and got the rest of the insulation mostly installed.  Also some small details like siding the sides of the utility box on the front of the house, screwing down the eave trim along the fascia so it wouldn’t blow away on the highway, picking up nails around the tires, etc.  My niece/nephew/cousins Laurel and Lane helped fluff the rest of the wool insulation and get it into the walls.  I’m so glad they have been able to be around for the building of the house and can’t wait to come through with the promised sleepover once the house is done.  Their mom, my cousin Maddie, and her fiance Matt brought over pizza for lunch and my Mom made cookies and Uncle Jack and Jerry powered through the insulation and before I knew it almost all the walls were done and the house was about ready to move.  I ran out of wool insulation and am going to have to grab some more this week to finish.  There is one section of the wall that is still waiting on plumbing and the Roxul for the ceiling won’t be here til next week, but the house looks pretty cool with most of the walls closed up and it is significantly warmer inside.  Awesome!

IMG_20151107_084052 (1)

March 9th - November 8th.  So much progress!
March 9th – November 8th. So much progress!

I spent the evening organizing and packing all my tools and supplies for the move to Olympia and then slept fitfully while dreaming about highway overpasses and sharp turns.  In the morning Dad and his wife Robbie arrived with the big diesel truck to make the move.


One thing I had neglected to do was double check that the house wasn’t over the 14′ road legal height.  The back end was 13’9″, just about what I had designed the framing to be, and the front end was about 13′ 11″ or so on the hitch.  Yikes.  A little too close for comfort but it’ll do and I’ll be glad to have all the extra headroom inside.

Here we go!

I drove behind Dad, biting my nails and watching closely at every turn and overpass.  The house looked really stable though, and Dad said it drove great and didn’t feel much heavier than his boat which is about 5,000 pounds.  We hit a little rain through Tacoma but otherwise it was an uneventful drive.

We backed her into the RV gate at my rental house in Lacey and badabing, there she was!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I only savored the success for about 10 minutes though, and then started moving onto the next problems, which were

  1. No more money
  2. Nowhere to park after December 31
  3. Huge school project coming due
  4. Tooth about to rot out of my mouth and kill me
  5. Roommate drama like whoa.

I think moving the house away from the safety and shelter of family was psychologically difficult too.  I had a 48 hour panic attack, one of the worst I’ve had in years, but slowly things started to come together.  Mom and Dad are helping me out with money so I was able to order all the stuff I still need for the inside; I put up a CL ad for parking and got 4 awesome responses within 24 hours.  I’m going to interview with the most likely candidate on Saturday.  The property is about 1/4 mile from school and I could walk to class through the woods.  Really, really hoping that works out.  Our school project is getting done pretty easily and I found a dentist that would take my state insurance.  With patience all things are taken care of, somehow, or something.  Hoorah!!

Here is a link to the woodstove I ordered:

Cubic Mini Woodstove (I got the Grizzly)

After much searching I found the chimney box/pipe that will fit the small 3″ pipe: Cathedral Ceiling Venting Kit, 3″ Stovepipe, damper

And finally I have to say that working with the sheep club at school and using sheep wool for my walls has been an unexpected, funny reminder that I am using real materials on this house, not weird chemicals (as little as possible anyway) and drywall and stuff that is made from who knows what, who knows where.  Every time those round, warm sheep bellies bump my knees trying to get the grain out of my bucket as I walk to the feeder, I am reminded where the warmth and elemental protection of my house will be coming from and say thank you.



Tiny House Build Weeks 19, 20, 21 (?) – Windows, Siding and Insulation

The weeks are starting to blur together, but here is some stuff that got done in October:

Windows got installed, and the outside trimmed including metal flashing above each one.

DSC_003820151018_162424 IMG_20150927_165128

Siding got started.

this little doohickie is the exact measurement of the width of the board minus the 1″ overlap. Once the first board was installed level along the bottom of the wall, we were able to just hold these up on each end of the next board and nail it into place quickly. Because I used such low quality, thin lumber, after the first weekend I came back and Jerry pointed out that the boards were starting to bow out, so we ended up face nailing each one down on the lower, thicker portion. If I had it to do over, I probably would have overlapped by 2-3″ instead, as the weight of the top board would have kept the bottom one from bowing. We had so much extra lumber that it would have worked fine. But, c’est la vie and it looks just fine the way we did it.
Originally this wall had the beveled cedar from edge to edge and we were going to put trim up on top of it, but people were consulted and it was decided it would look better/have less gaps if we put the trip up first and then butted the siding up to it, so Jerry trimmed down this wall and the rest were started with this new method.


We had a work party to get siding done and insulation fluffed.

banana break
the wool insulation is compacted and must be fluffed before installation into the wall


I still have a ton of the 1.5″ rigid foam that was used in the subfloor, and not so much wool, so we put one layer of rigid foam with the foil side out on the outside of the wall, and then stuffed wool into the cracks and in front of it to best use what I have available.
the white fabric holds the wool inside the wall and the interior siding will go right over it
the white fabric holds the wool inside the wall and the interior siding will go right over it

Kyle got most of the wiring finished, including all the stuff that has to go through the walls (vent fan, porch light, electrical plug and exterior outlet).  Just have to finish a few small things and then of course wire in all the actual lights and outlets once the interior walls are done.

Kyle's little helper
Kyle’s little helper

At some point, Dad also took the door down and replaced the crappy purple jamb with nice cedar.  I didn’t seal the jamb before I went to Yellowstone and the wood swelled.  The door still opens and closes, but we’ll have to shave down the width a bit.  I didn’t take any pictures of this.

Here is a picture of Fingers getting hit by a nuclear submarine in Hood Canal his first day fishing which went viral on the interwebs.  Both of these things could only happen to Fingers.
Here is a picture of Fingers getting hit by a nuclear submarine in Hood Canal his first day fishing which went viral on the interwebs. Both of these things could only happen to Fingers.

I haven’t been spending as much time on the house since school started.  I’m 1.5 hours away, taking full time classes, making new friends, taking lots of field trips for my program, and generally starting to have a life again.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone
Old Faithful
Conserving Wildlife bonding rituals, Camp Buffalo Bill, Wyoming
Mt. Rainier field trip w new friends

Yellowstone was amazing… I didn’t bring my zoom lens (WHO DOES NOT BRING A ZOOM LENS TO YELLOWSTONE) but saw all kinds of beautiful and amazing things, like a confrontation between rival wolf packs, a moose taking a dip and a drink in the creek, a bear way too close to me just outside our cabin, an elk with gigantic antlers standing majestic and virile in the trees, ravens and lakes and trees and dragonflies and sunrises and the Milky Way.  I left Olympia for the trip knowing just a couple people in town, and came back 10 days later with a whole squad of new friends.  Olympia has been really good to me so far.  I stayed home this Halloween weekend for studying but next weekend we’re having another work party to get the siding and insulation done, and then moving the house to my backyard here in Oly on Sunday morning.  I am slightly terrified of this, but can’t afford to be out of town every weekend anymore, school and sanity-wise, and cannot frickin’ wait to have the house right outside the backdoor to work on anytime.  More after the move!