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A Tool Not In Your Tool Box

So I have been trying to make a final push on my tiny house, but I’ve had some delays with a window.  One of the things that I realized the other day was that there was a really important “tool” at my disposal that I’d never really thought of and frankly, at first didn’t realize I was even using.  It isn’t a traditional tool, but I’ve found it has been invaluable during this process.  The best part is that you have several of these in your possession already.

So what is this tool?  It’s a chair for thinking.

3132_Casual Adirondack Chair There are times in your build that you find something that stumps you, there are times where you have discovered a mistake, or there are times when things aren’t going your way.  Enter a chair to sit in and consider the problem.  It seriously have been invaluable, sitting in that chair, staring at the problem with your plans in your lap, you work it out in your mind.

A perfect example of this was when I went to put in my collar tie beams for the loft.  I cut them to the correct length, put it up on the top plate and notice there was some wiggle room.  At first I freaked out and thought I had cut the beam short, but after remeasuring I realized it wasn’t them.  What had happened was over the span of the wall, the center had bowed out slightly with the weight of sheathing.  The left side was bowed out 1/8th of an inch and the right side was out a 1/4th of an inch at the top; the bottoms were spot on.

Now at this point I had to figure out how pull the top of the walls inward the correct amount.  This is much easier said then done, because these walls now are secured firmly and are very strong.  I also had to pull one wall in more than the other.

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So I sat down and thought about the problem, several ideas came to mind, but after a while an elegant solution emerged.  I didn’t want to put holes in my floor and I noticed one important thing.  I had to bring one wall in twice as much as the other.  So I went to the store and bought a huge eye hook and fastened it halfway up the wall into a stud in the center of the bow.  From there I connected my trailer ratchet strap to the eye hook, and then to the top of the other wall.

What this did was allow me to pull the wall together, but since I fastened one side half way up the wall (the side I need 1/8th), it gave me a mechanical ratio of 1:2.  Meaning I pull in one wall an eighth of an inch, I pull the other wall in a quarter of an inch, which is exactly what I needed!  From there I dropped in my collar tie and fastened it through the outside of the wall to hold it in place.  After securing all the ties, I released the straps and the wall stayed perfect.

There are times you will get frustrated, upset, maybe even mad, but I have found the chair to be an important thing to use to clear my mind and get to a solution.  It has saved money, time and frustration; ultimately building a better house.  So consider a chair as a valuable tool that you already have.

 

Tiny House Sheathing

Playing catch up with the posts about building the house.   I went and ordered my sheathing for the walls and roof.  There is a newish product that I am using called the Zip system.  (zipsystem.com)  Basically it is wall and roof sheathing with the house wrap/roof felt already on it, which is pretty fancy.

It also has these little nubs on the edges so you don’t have to worry about expansion gaps like you would with traditional sheathing.  Along with the spacers, the board is printed with markers so if you do your walls correctly, you can just follow the guide on the boards and you hit a stud every time while securing it from the outside where you can’t see where the studs are.  The kicker is that not only does it have some major time and labor saving factors, it costs a lot less!  You have to use their special tape, but its about 1/2 the price of tyvek tape, so that isn’t a big deal.

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I priced it out and its much cheaper and then you don’t have to spend all that time house wrapping.  The vapor barrier on the zip panels does the exact same thing as tyvek, but its more durable and isn’t prone to being pulled off by inclement weather.    It also apparently makes a much better air seal and is LEED Credit Certified.

 

Traditional sheathing: 18 sheets @$28
Tyvek Wrap: 1 roll $150
Tyvek tape: $100
Roof Felt: $19
Capped Nails: $7
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Total: $780

zip boards: 12 @ $19.50  and 6 @ $26
Zip Tape: 2 rolls @ $27
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Total: $444.00

Me happy about saving money and getting the sheathing done!

Me happy about saving money and getting the sheathing done!

So when it comes to sheathing (which is what the plywood on the outside of the house are called) the trick with it all isn’t the actual plywood, but that you did your framing correctly.  If you have done your framing correctly, then the seams of each of your pieces of plywood will land right on the stud.  This is important because you need to be able to nail the edge of the sheathing to that stud.  There will be some cases where a panel lands on a window, so you will need to place an extra 2×4 piece to have something to nail into, you can see below an example of this.

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This photo also shows how in tiny houses we screw and glue our sheathing.  Here I used liquid nail on the studs.  A piece of advice for anyone who is doing this, help yourself and spring for a air powered caulk gun.  I tried to do this for one day and by the end of it I swore I gave myself arthritis because how hard you have to squeeze this stuff.  They have a lot of better powered caulk guns for $150-$350, but this gun is $35 and well worth it.  To give you an idea of how much you’ll be doing this, I went through about 40 tubes of this stuff while building my tiny house.  As far as fastening the sheathing, I used 2.5″ exterior grade screws, every 6 inches on the edges and 12″ in the center (field).

In the video and some of the photos you can see that the sheathing is actually larger than the wall frame.  I had the sheathing extend below the wall framing to hide the trailer so that you’d really only see the tongue and fenders, the rest of the trailer is hidden behind, once finished, nice looking cedar siding.  I also had it extend above the framing because I could wanted the sheathing to tie into the loft beams, flooring of the lofts, and the silplate.  So I carefully calculated the height of all the components listed and a few others, so that when I installed the silplate (that the roof rafters sit on) it was perfectly flush.  This

The other key thing to know about the overhang and extension was that this then tied all three systems together to be a very strong unit.  Effectively the floor framing, the wall framing and the roof became a unified piece because they all were brought together by the sheathing.

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Three Things I Am Having A Hard Time With

So in a few short months I am going to be moving into my tiny house and there are three things that I am really having a hard time trying to figure out how I’m going to handle getting into my tiny house.  They are things that I use very rarely, but there isn’t a good option to not having them.  I thought I’d air my metaphorical “dirty laundry” out for everyone to see, and just maybe I could get some ideas from you all.

So the three things things that I have been having a hard time paring down on are

  1. Tools
  2. Camping equipment
  3. Reference books and materials for my job

Going through this list I obviously still need my tools for building my house and I have several smaller projects to do after the house, so as of right now I use them every week, but what about after?  I have quite a few power tools that I’d really like to keep, but there is really no place in a tiny house for all of them.

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Half of my current tools

I wrote about this a little bit in this post and I have been thinking I’d like to build a tiny house office in the near future.  Basically the tiny house office will be for me to shift my job to a work from home job 100% of the time, I think it is important to have a separate space to work in so you can leave it behind when you need to.  My tools take up about 30ish cubic feet right now, so in the grand scheme of things not a whole lot, but too much to pack into the house; they are something that I do want to keep.

Camping/backpacking is one of my hobbies that I have have done since I was 12, I have literally backpacked a few thousand miles with a 40lb pack on my back.  I love the views, the time away from it all, and the time spent with friends.  The gear for this hobby is quite specialized and pretty expensive. As I have curated my “perfect system” over the years I have gotten down my weekend pack down to an impressive 24 lbs including my water!  The trouble with camping things like tents and sleeping bags, you have to store them loosely to not damage them.  Loosely meaning it takes up a lot of space, not ideal for a tiny house.

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Me a 14,000 feet

I’ve thought about selling it and then renting it when I need to, but honestly the idea of renting a sleeping bag that others have hiked all day and then slept in is not something I could handle… pretty gross.  Besides my gear is markedly better than what  they have for rentals around here.

Finally I have quite a few materials, books and other things that I need to do my job.  I am a very big proponent of digitizing things, minimizing, streamlining, but in the end, you need the tools to do your job.  This is an interesting difference between me and a lot of other tiny house people.  To add to the difficulty I am doing two jobs right now, the one that I’m doing and then the one I want to be doing full time.   While there are quite a few that live and work from a tiny house, their jobs seem to lend themselves to it.  My current job doesn’t so this is in part why I am considering building my tiny house office.

So that is my conundrum at this point, I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and haven’t really come up with a good answer.  Thoughts?

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Tools of the trade – Permaculture

The Search For New Land – Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted about how I suddenly had to find new land to put my tiny house, the land that I was going to be on was suddenly sold by the owners I was leasing from, you can read it all in this post.

I wanted to follow up with the next stage and share how things are coming along, plus I got some new photos and spring has sprung here!  I recently met with the local power company and determined where I could get power run to.  At first I had wanted to be much deeper into the lot, but it would have cost thousands of dollars to get the power lines run there.  So I settled for a nice spot where I could have to power run for free.  The company would install up to 200 feet of underground line to my power box for free if I stayed a customer for 1 year and paid their minimum, which was $15 a month.

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The next thing that I went to check on was water connections.  I was afraid that the water line would be at the other end of the property and would have left me having to choose water or power, otherwise I’d have to pay thousands to get one of the extended to where I needed it.   Well I think I might have lucked out because the closest water line is 300 feet from where my house will be, so while I’ll be spending several hours hard labor digging a trench (even with a trencher) I’ll take it over spending thousands any day!

Step one was clearing a path for the power company to dig the trench and then the area I’m going to park my house.  So I had someone with a chain saw come through and cut a path that didn’t have to take out any large trees, but maximized the 200 foot extension deep into the woods.

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Next up is having a temporary power pole service put in.  It will be a 200 amp service (the smallest they’ll put it).  The panel will be mounted on two posts, with a ½” piece of plywood between them.  From there the box and the meter will be installed and then a 20 amp plug has to be installed (I don’t know why, but it’s required to pass code).  Additionally two copper grounding rods will need to be driven into the ground.

The trick here is that this will need to be inspected by the city, but my house isn’t there yet (on purpose), It will be pretty tricky because they might start asking questions.  I’m just going to have to come up with a story of why I need power at that site, then cross my fingers.

Right now I am getting quotes to get the 200 amp service panel put in, if you know anyone around Charlotte, NC that would be good or may be willing to do a barter of some sort (me building them a website/free advertisements/etc), let me know!

 

Read part three of this series by clicking here

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Read part three of this series by clicking here

 

 

Tiny House Burn Out

I have noticed over the past month or so I have been getting a little burned out with working on my tiny house.  I think it really has been a combination of my time at work skyrocketing, a series of big set backs and less than favorable weather.  Additionally I had been asked to bring my house to a particular event, which put a deadline on things for me, so it became more of a job, not something that I was enjoying.

322470I have had some big set backs.  The biggest being my electrician was injured pretty seriously on another worksite the day before he was going to do my house.  He will be fine, thank goodness, but it meant I had to restart the process of getting quotes and scheduling work, which set me back about 3 weeks.

Enjoyment of the building process was one of the things that I wanted to make sure was part of building my house.  I wanted to enjoy the journey, to enjoy the realization of my dream, I wanted to take my time and have great posts for you all.  So this week I made the decision to decline bringing my house to that event, which on one had I was disappointed about, on the other, and more importantly, I felt like I could now enjoy the process of building again.  I felt a sense of relief when I made the decision and I think it was the right one to make.

So the moral of the story here is when you build your tiny house, or pursue any of your goals in life, make sure that you enjoy the journey, because it is often better than the destination.  In the near future I will be doing some more house update posts, but here is a photo I took this past weekend.

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