Tiny House Blog

Hello visitor!  I’ve been finished and living in my tiny house, Wild Rose, for almost two years, and yet I notice hits on this blog to my build posts almost daily.  Here is the list of those posts so you can find them easily.  More recent posts about writing and whatever else I feel like talking about can be found below.

Tiny Nest tours of Wild Rose Tiny House:
Before wall sheathing
Before interior
Post-build
Honey Bear special video

  1.  I’m Building A Tiny House!
  2. Why Build A Tiny House?
  3. Tiny House Trailer
  4. Building a Tiny House: The Five Requirements
  5. Building Plans (which I didn’t end up using)
  6. Windows and Insulation and Lumber, Oh My!: supplies
  7. Anxiety, Musings and Introducing my heroes TINY NEST
  8. Tiny House: A Spiritual/Philosophical Examination (and DMV info)
  9. It Begins: Iron Eagle Trailers and Caravan Tiny House Hotel in Portland
  10. The First Two Weekends: Floor
  11. Week 3: More Floor
  12. Week 4: Downsizing, subfloor
  13. Week 5: Walls
  14. Week 6: More Walls and Supplies
  15. Week 7: More walls, OSB sheathing, loft joists
  16. Week 8: The Roof!
  17. Week 9: More roof, gable ends, house wrap, (failed) attempt at a door
  18. Week 10: eaves, tarpaper, skylight
  19. Weeks 11 and 12: Metal roofing and skylight
  20. Week 13: Windows, Door, Sourcing Supplies (with links)
  21. Week 14: Materials, Materials, Materials
  22. Fundraiser Post, with cost to date at Week 15
  23. Week 15 and 16: wheel wells, lofts, electricity, utility box, windows and more!
  24. Weeks 17 and 18: windows, door, electric, composting toilet, exterior trim
  25. Weeks 19-21: exterior trim, siding, and insulation
  26. Week 22: insulation, venting the ceiling, cutting holes in the house, a Big Surprise
  27. Week 23: Interior siding, exterior staining, budgets, parking space
  28. I never wrote about the final two months of building, because I was also in college and working and panicking about my finish deadline looming.  I plan to go back and dredge up these memories, and photos, if I took any.
  29. Tiny House Living, the first two weeks
  30. Interior photos from the first winter
  31. One Year: Update
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Tiny House Update

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January 3rd marked the one year anniversary of moving into Wild Rose.  It was a difficult first year.

I’d never used a wood stove in my life, and learning to start a fire and keep it going was a challenge.  I have since learned that because my house is sealed so well, it creates a ‘negative draft’ which causes the house to suck air IN from the chimney rather than the chimney sucking smoke OUT of the wood stove.  House sucking air in when starting a fire means a lot of smoke billowing out into the tiny space.  This seems to only be a problem until the stove is nice and hot.  If I open the window directly behind the stove, it helps.

I didn’t have a proper floor the first 3 months.  The plywood subfloor is ugly.  I had rugs that were constantly covered in mud and dog hair.  I didn’t have a couch yet, and my desk was a piece of stained plywood attached to the wall that was too narrow.

I didn’t have enough lighting, and the house is very dark under the forest canopy and with the dark-stained walls.

I initially had an Origo alcohol stove with two burners, no oven, and a 2 gallon electric hot water heater.  My drain was installed badly (by me) and didn’t work well.  This meant no baths, very quick military showers, an ordeal every time I needed to use the sink to move all the water towards the drain with a squeegee, a lot of carbon monoxide scares with the alcohol stove, and did I mention no baths?

For a porch, I had some pallets piled higgeldy piggeldy outside the front door, and no covered area.

I was also in a new city with very few friends, it was winter, and my own propensity for loneliness and depression kicked in.  April/May were two of the roughest mental health months I’ve ever had.

And yet!!!  There is good news.  So much good news. After returning from Alaska in August I had the time and money to make some much needed improvements.  Being around dearly beloved friends during the fishing season and the Alaska sunshine kicked me back into a reasonable emotional state as well.  Here is what we did:

This was what the house looked like when I left for Alaska in June.  I intended to leave the area under the mirror open for dance practice, but a couch seem psychologically more important, which has turned out to be true.  It is a plywood platform on 4×4 supports with a 4″ layer of foam, wrapped in a sleeping bag (for ease of cleaning Bear hair).  This also created storage space underneath.  Lamps were acquired.

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A dear friend stayed in the house with Bear all summer and she acquired a big plushy armchair and when she sent me pictures, it seemed like a big plushy armchair belonged in the house.  The desk also felt too cramped between the bookshelves.  When I initially built the kitchen, I used the desk I’ve had since high school as the counter supports.  I dug that out (adding new supports for the counter, pictures further down) and parked it beneath the big window.  The desk is a reliable old friend of mine and having it back in the main space felt right.

I had to take off the back legs of the desk and prop it up above the wheel well box.  I still have the legs and could reattach and put the desk in the middle of the room for a (tiny) dinner party or board game night, but have not yet tried this out.

The plant didn’t survive the transfer of care and feeding from Branwen to myself and has refugeed to the safer space of her room.

The couch is incredibly comfy and I sometimes sleep on it.  Bear sleeps on it 23 hours of the day.

The rugs were tossed out, being unnecessary with that gorgeous floor.

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I built this little toilet box out of the remains of a kitchen cabinet that was too large when I rebuilt the counters.  The lid lifts up and hooks to the wall for ease of emptying the compost and urine jar.  To the left is a compartment for sawdust and a smaller one for toilet paper.  I also put down this weird floor that is 1×8 cut into (not square) squares and painted with paint samples from the Habitat store.  The jug is vinegar for the urine jar.  Pee can be incredibly smelly without vinegar.  In case you were wondering.

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I finally covered the exposed wiring that runs from the electrical box to the light switches, and added some wider shelving to hold bathroom things.  The hooks on the wall are perfect for earrings and jewelry.

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BATHROOM DOOR!  I don’t have many people over but not having a bathroom door was a problem.  The top bit is a picture frame with fabric inside.  I can change out the fabric or add paintings when I want a change.  The bottom is bead board and weathered old 2×4.  It’s held together with screws and strapping and works so well.

I recently shocked myself with a wet hand on one of the exposed light switches, so that needs to be dealt with soon.  The switches are too far back so all of the blue boxes need to be pulled out and moved forward, then I plan to make a custom light switch plate.

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First bath!  I did not want to use propane at all in the house, but after 6 months of military showers and carbon monoxide producing alcohol stove cooking, I gave in.  I have a Takagi T-T-KJr2-OS-LP Outdoor Tankless Water Heater on the outside of the house.  The propane tanks live out there too.  I didn’t have any extra room in the kitchen and didn’t want to have to vent the propane through the wall.  I also got an RV oven/range from Craiglist for $250.  A friend helped run copper pipes through the walls to bring hot water to the faucet and propane to the oven.

I’ve always taken baths as a form of self-care and comfort.  It’s where I do most of my reading. The ability to take them in my house has been inestimably good.  We also put in a better drain and installed it correctly, so the water drains as it should and it is easier to clean out the tub for bathtime.

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The skylight is lovely, but occasionally too bright.  I’ve had this little quilt for years and it was just the right size.  I sewed metal grommets into the corners and put hooks in the walls, and voila: skylight curtain.

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Remodeled kitchen with the oven/range.  Slightly awkward but spacious storage beneath it and in the corner between the drawer unit and oven.  I use the oven almost every day and don’t know how I got by without it.

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We also built a COVERED PORCH.  I sewed water repellent outdoor fabric into an awning.  The porch is in two pieces for relative ease of movement when it’s time to leave my current spot, and the awning will just have to be deconstructed and put back together at the new spot.  In the metal and plastic containers is recycling and dog food (saves a lot of space inside).  We’ve had a very sunny winter and I’ve spent a lot of time on the porch, bundled up, listening to music and staring at the trees.

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The backside of the house.

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winter sunshine

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Haley’s toes

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altar

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And finally, to unclutter my little part of the property I built a shed and proper wood bin out of pallets, scrap wood and leftovers from the siding.

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compost left/firewood right

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New plans are afoot; the city is working on a “Missing Middle” Infill Housing Analysis.  I spoke last week at a planning commission meeting about the need to legalize tiny houses and other small dwelling units.  The city is inviting folks from across the city to join a work group to get the codes changed by this fall.  Minutes from the meeting here.  I hope to be involved in the work group and especially want to talk about composting toilets, as plumbing infrastructure and hooking up to the sewage grid or a septic tank is one of the biggest hurdles/costs of tiny houses.  On a personal level, I’m in talks with my mother and some very close friends about starting a tiny house community in Olympia along the lines of the Simply Home Community in Portland.  Looks like we’ll possibly be setting up around the same time the city introduces new zoning rules.  Serendipity?  Maybe.  Seems to be how all the best things happen these days (alongside incredible amounts of hard work, planning, trust and love).

I hope you all are staying warm, wherever and however you are spending this cold January.

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Tiny House Interior Pictures

These are all kinda dark, because I’m only home in the evenings and it’s January so evening starts at 4 o’clock, but you’ll get the gist.

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Cabinet stairs to the sleeping loft, also my dresser.  Behind them are half steps, and above are black iron pipes for handrails.  Closet to the right with little fridge underneath
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Tiny bathroom on the left.  No door yet, just a curtain.  Kitchen consists of a salvaged cabinet section with my old desk perpendicular to it, and stained pieces of psuedo-butcher block pine atop them.  I treated the countertops with 1. tung oil/mineral spirits 2. pure tung oil 3. 4 coats of Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner (which I believe is tung oil + beeswax).  The counters are very easy to clean and water beads up on the surface nicely.  On the counter are many mason jars full of bulk rice/beans/dried fruit etc, a Travel Berkey filter for drinking water, and an Origo 3000 alcohol stove.  I plan someday to cut a hole in the counter and make a cavity for the stove to sit in, but for now I am tired of working.  There are shelves attached to the undersides of the loft joists for dishes and canned goods, and fruit, garlic and potatoes live in the hanging basket.  Above the sink/tub area is a wooden box that holds my toothbrush, contact solution etc, and the windowsill holds dish, hand and hair soap in mason jars.  
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View of the main room from the kitchen.  Just to the right of the tub (you can see the piece of wood I keep over half the tub for drying dishes on the far left) is the Cubic Mini Woodstove Grizzly.  This thing is badass and gets the house super hot.  It is only I think 12″ square but I cook on it all the time.  I took the metal railing off the top and can fit most medium pots and pans up there.  I keep cast iron and a little metal pot hanging on the wall near the stove.  To the right of that is my 16×48″ desk.  It’s attached to the wall with brackets that aren’t really strong enough, someday I’ll add legs.  Below the desk in a set of shelves I made from 2×6 that also support the desk.  I keep library books, pens, schoolbooks, notebooks, and general office things on these shelves, as well as DVDs.  In the back of the house are the built in bookshelf/cabinets (aka the Haley A Scott Library) and in the middle a small couch with storage underneath.  Above this built in area is a second 3′ wide loft for storage.  On the far right is one of the only pieces of furniture not built in: an antique desk that was my great-grandmother’s.  It has been my altar for many years and I was happy to find a spot for it.  The little bench underneath it has storage (intended for sewing supplies) where I keep candles/incense/tarot cards and things like that.  On the floor, Honey Bear.
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Dance studio!  It’s only 36″ wide and 48″ tall, but it completely suffices for most of my dance practice needs and I am so pleased to finally have a nice airy space to dance!!  The few guests I’ve had over so far have all commented on how spacious the house feels, and this is not only because of all the windows (9) but because I sacrificed bathroom space to make the living area big enough for dancing.  Bathing in my kitchen sink is worth it to be able to stretch out and move around.  I’ve been belly dancing for 15 years and I am so ready to take it to another level.
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The sleeping loft is my favorite part of the house.  I have a full sized futon pushed to one side of the 7.5×7.5′ area, which leaves enough space on the other side for a small cedar chest made by my great-grandfather.  I keep personal things in the chest and use the top of it for a nightstand.  I have an old make-up case to hold a lamp which is on the downstairs desk temporarily, but the white christmas lights are enough light to read by.  In front of the cedar chest near the stairs is an old milk crate turned on it’s side… I keep socks and sweaters and a knitted hat in there in case it gets cold at night, which it never does.  The blanket is a king sized down comforter with a smaller fleece blanket on top and so far I’ve had to sleep in very light clothes or I wake up sweating in the early morning.  The bed is below the Fakro skylight that opens out like a door, and on the other half of the ceiling are glow stars.  Out the skylight are many trees and lying in bed at night reading with the twinkly white lights and then turning them off to see glow stars and the dark silhouettes of trees out the window has made for very magical transitions to dreamland.  I have outlets on either side of the bed and I keep my phone charged there at night, and tucked between the futon and the wall are a fire extinguisher and 2 story fire ladder in case of an emergency.  I sleep like a child in here.
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The foyer.  An area of the house that I put exactly zero thought into.  It is created by the walls of the bathroom and the closet.  I use this area a surprising amount… one of those things I just didn’t foresee during planning.  I keep coats, scarves, dog leash, backpack, raingear, bike helmet, purse, and keys hanging on hooks (not enough hooks!).  I keep my Xtra tuf boots here.  I keep things here that are going to be removed from the house when I next leave (recycling, trash, Goodwill donations, compost).  I’m not sure there was anyway that I could have realistically expanded this area, but I wish there was at the very least more space for boots.  It will be better when I get more hooks, I think.  Also once I get a covered front porch built, then I can keep boots and raingear and most of this stuff outside the door.
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the view from my desk. 

Tiny House Living, the first two weeks

I know I skipped the whole last two months of building, and I’ll take some good pictures of how it turned out and explain what I did at some point, but I want to get the experience of moving in and getting used to the tiny house while it’s still fresh.

I moved in the bulk of my stuff and started sleeping in the tiny house on January 3rd.  The first few nights were a dream; I’d only moved the stuff that was absolutely necessary so the house was clean and organized and it was all fresh and new. Washington was having unusually cold weather that week and my hose was frozen, but I was happy to hand haul water from the spigot on the main house and heat it on the woodstove or the Origo cookstove.  We were in the Honeymoon Stage, Wild Rose and I, and it lasted about three days.  The heating water thing was fun in the way it’s fun to go camping and cook on the propane stove and sleep on a sleeping pad.  Because you know in the back of your mind that in a few days you’ll be back in a big warm house with hot running water, 4 burner oven and a comfy mattress.  After three days it began to sink in that I’m not glamping here, this is my life now, and going from that big resource gobbling American middle-class house lifestyle to 15 amps of electricity, a 2 gallon hot water heater (Two.  TWO), 18 gig of internet data per MONTH (it takes 1 gig to stream 1 hour of video.  Do the math) is going to be a really harsh transition.  I knew this, it’s not like I didn’t… I did design the house myself.  But the reality of having a tiny homestead in the middle of a mud pit with 160 square feet is something a little different than the hippie off grid self sufficient dream life that I’ve been imagining for years.  I know for an absolute fact that I am equipped mentally, emotionally and physically for that life and every day I learn the quirks and kinks of Wild Rose better and eventually, at some point, I will be living that hippie self sufficient dream life, but that life includes mud, setting off carbon monoxide alarms, a pissed off extremely large extremely hairy dog, mud, a smoky woodstove, a freezer that won’t stay closed and barely keeps things frozen, mud, and a sink/bathtub that barely drains AND leaks.

 

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gave myself a black eye with a bungee cord too

Here are some of my adventures the first week:

I have an Origo cookstove that burns denatured alcohol.  I have a big 70 gallon (?) stock tank as a combo kitchen sink/bathtub.  I have a 2.5 gallon hot water heater.  In order to have enough water for a proper bath, I need to heat water up in a 3 gallon stock pot on the alcohol cookstove, as well as smaller amounts on the woodstove.  It takes about an hour for 3 gallons to heat up on the Origo stove.  The first night I had running water (after the temp came up and the hose thawed) I decided to try to take a bath and got the water going while I was doing other things.  After 30 minutes I got the smaller pots and teakettle going on the woodstove and the second alcohol burner.  15 minutes later I was in the kitchen and noticed I was feeling a little light headed and headache-y.  I’d read that alcohol stoves can put off a lot of carbon monoxide so I have a carbon monoxide alarm.  I moved it into the kitchen area under the loft and within 10 minutes it went off.  I had the ventilation fan going and the window directly over the stove open.  I turned it off immediately, of course, and opened all the doors and windows.

After the house aired out a bit I poured all the hot water into the bathtub and ran water until it was cold.  This gave me about 6 inches of hot water.  I got in and it was actually quite pleasant, the woodstove was cranking just behind my head and the sides of the tub are so tall that it kept the heat in.  I have a piece of wood that sits over half of my tub most of the time for dishes and things, and when I pulled that over the top of the tub it was a little bit like being in a sauna and was cozy and I sat for a bit reading and felt like it was all ok.  I ran the hot water to wash my hair and this triggered the hot water heater and tripped the breaker and all my power went out… me, naked, wet hair, in a big stock tank in the middle of this weird little house that I built myself, in the dark.  Luckily my landlords were still awake and they flipped the breaker and then moved my connection to a circuit of my own, so it hasn’t been a problem since.

I continued my bath and noticed the water slopping around a bit when I was sitting perfectly still and could hear the wood in the stove moving around… a small earthquake?  Or an hallucination from carbon monoxide poisoning?  I sat still, waiting for the house to either roll off the ravine behind us or to keel over from the poisoning.  Honey Bear was acting really weird and restless too, anxious, and I didn’t know if she were poisoned or knew there was an earthquake coming or just hated me for making her live in this weird little house I built myself.  It was all a bit much for me so I finished washing my hair and got out… noticed the tub was leaking on the bottom in two places… gave up for the evening and crawled up into the loft to sleep away my anxiety and doubts for one night.

There was a lot more stressful figuring out the last two weeks… I blew through 5 of my 18 gig of internet data in 4 nights and the tub not draining is an issue, it’s crazy how much clutter takes up space in 160 square feet including and especially trash, I overflowed my urine jar onto my own feet one morning, etc etc etc… but let’s fast forward to the good part.

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I was dating someone the last month, someone I felt really good about, and he came over a few days ago and broke it off.  I’d still been feeling really uncertain about my house up to the moment he left, but I turned off all the lights, turned up Father John Misty and crawled into my little reading nook to cry.  It was dark inside with no noise but the music, and outside I could just barely see the trees rising placid and stalwart from the ravine and through their canopy the cloud shrouded moon and I cried and I could feel the house closing in around me with comfort and security and it clicked, finally, that feeling of Home.  I stopped crying and just sort of looked around the house in wonder, not seeing anymore all the problems and stress but a frickin’ HOUSE, that I BUILT, that suits me and my needs exactly and I can’t believe it’s real and I love it even with… maybe even because of… all the quirks and problems and things I have to learn.  I’m really truly inhabiting this house in a way I never have truly inhabited any place I’ve ever lived and by extension, truly inhabiting my life because I chose it and I worked hard for the freedom and choice that it gives me and I’m so fucking proud of myself and grateful for whatever strange force has been driving me to do this for so many years that I could just curl up in the reading nook and cry again but this time from joy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Honey Bear standing guard

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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not stoked
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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!?).

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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!

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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.

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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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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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.

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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.

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Siding got started.

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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.
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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.

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

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


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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.

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Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone
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Old Faithful
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Yellowstone
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Conserving Wildlife bonding rituals, Camp Buffalo Bill, Wyoming
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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!