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Framing My Tiny House

Framing is a really exciting time in your building process.  When you tip that wall up for the first time the change is dramatic, the next wall goes up, then the rest and before you know it your home has a form.  It’s an inspiring time in building your home, so here are some of the details on how to frame.  In these two videos I show the process of me framing the rear wall of my Tiny House.  You can see the whole process and the concepts your see here can be applied to the rest of the walls.

The one difference you will see in these videos from traditional house framing is that all of my cross pieces (fire blocks) are all in line, which usually are staggered.  The reason for this is I later went through and wrapped the whole house with structural grade hurricane strapping.

Part 1:

Part two:




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The Planning Stage Of Building A Tiny House

So I thought I would tell a little bit about my planning process before I even picked up a hammer.  This is a very important step in building your home and shouldn’t be overlooked.

thumb-whatstheplanBefore you even think about what your Tiny House is going to look like, how you are going to organize things, colors, etc.  You should sit down and list everything you do in your home right now.  Think about what you do in your home every day and those things that happen every now and again.  Take this list and order it in terms of priority and then start to think about what you will need to achieve those things.  From this line of thought the form of your house will emerge.

At that point start sketching various floor plans until you come up with something you like.  Once you have something that seems reasonably close to what you want, grab some masking tape and map out the entire floor plan to scale on the floor.  From there act out an entire day of your life and see how things work out.  Consider things like where your trash or dirty laundry goes, clearances for doors, how wide doors and passage ways need to be for you to pass through them comfortably.

It is at this point that you will discover things that don’t work and need to be changed, make them and start the process over again.  After you have worked out a solid plan, set them aside for a while and then after a few days, revisit them.  It will be surprising what things jump out at you that you were blind to before.  You can even enlist friends to get feedback from them on the design; sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will be useful.

sketch-quickAt this point I would take a look around at some of the plans that are out there and see if one of them is close to what you have come up with.  It might be worth purchasing plans if you are new to building if it matches your needs and budgets.  If you opt to come up with plans yourself then be prepared to do a lot of research and work to come up with a solid plan.  I would strongly suggest learning Sketchup which is free and pretty easy to learn.  Once your plans are drawn up consult with other Tiny House builders to get feedback on your plans, they will also be able to advise you on certain aspects that even experienced home builders will not have experience with because they are unique to Tiny Houses.  Finally draft a parts list of everything you will need.

Pros-Orange_thumb_w_580Once the plans are pretty firm and you have had them reviewed by someone who has experience in building, set a few hours aside to mentally work through how you will build the house.  Think about the process of building, envision it, where do you start, then what is after that and after that?  You will inevitably find some things that need to be rethought or given some thought when you discover the order will impact other parts.

From there consider work flow and your building site, where will you build?  Where are your tools stored?  Where will the materials be stored?  Is there power on the site, if not how will you get it there?  How will you handle trash?  Where will you setup your work station?  How will you get the trailer in and more importantly think about how you will get it out if you do have to move it?  If you need to get materials brought to the site in the back of a truck or a delivery vehicle, can they get close enough to where you need them to be? There are a million things to think about, but take the time to work it all out.

Next consider where you are going to source your materials.  The big ones are your windows, trailer, roofing, dimensional lumber, siding and any specialty items.  Windows, trailer and roofing often take a few weeks to get delivered if you are special ordering them, so consider the time line on things.  I would take your parts list to the store where you plan to purchase the bulk of your stuff and get prices and lead times on it all.  If you are trying to use reclaimed materials then hit craigs list, restores and other sources for the parts.

So that is quite a bit to chew on, if you are about to begin building your own home and want guidance feel free to contact me through the “contact us” page here

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The Hardest Part So Far…

If you had to guess what the most complicated part of building a tiny house is, what would you say?  Building the walls?  Making sure it’s all square? Putting in the gas and electrical?  Nope….

This one thing has been a lot of fun, but a major pain at the same time!  There are times that I feel like I spend more time on this one thing then I spend building my house.  So what is it?

wpid-life-friendship-wallpaper-quotesFinding all the materials to build my house has been the most difficult and near the top on the rewarding experience so far.

What I have found is that when you tell people about your tiny house, they are often really excited and really interested.  It is here where you can forge some great connections and maybe even friendships, in the end having people as your advocate goes a long way.  At this point when I walk into my local hardware store, everyone there know me.  To some I am the Tiny House guy; To most, we know each other on a first name basis and in part it’s because how much time I spend with them finding the right materials for my house.

There are times that I feel like I spend more time at the store searching the various vendors for the perfect fridge, flooring, flashing, or a million other details, but it is worth it.  The details that go into building a tiny house is mind boggling.

I would argue that I spend more time on the details in my 130 square feet than a person does in a McMansion.  The reason why?  Because when you have such a small space, every little thing matters, you have to consider how things will fit together perfectly because the tolerances in a Tiny House are much smaller.

Another thing to consider is that traditional building materials are of a scale for a larger house; there have been many times where traditional materials won’t work because of the size or the scale would look weird on a house so small.  When you get into the building process you see how substituting one thing for another could have a ripple effect throughout the whole house for various reasons.

One factor that I am constantly grappling with is the timing of ordering all the materials.  While I have a great space to build my house, I don’t have a lot of space to store stuff out of the elements.  This means I have to time things to arrive just when I need them or sweet talk the warehouse manager at the hardware store to hold onto them for me.

jared-spool-quoteTo give you an idea of how much time it takes to do all this, take for example ordering windows.  I literally spend 10 hours reviewing different vendors, choosing various options, matching colors, and so much more.  Today I went in and spent 3 hours ordering all the parts to my roof, but before that, it took 3 weeks of phone calls to get a color sample to make sure it matched my windows.  By the time I had selected my roofing I had considered 10 different metal roof manufacturers, collected 6 different color samples and spent a lot of time on the phone.  The reward was when I opened that last packet to find the perfect shade of red to match my windows.  It is identical, even though its two different companies and it is going to look great when brought together!

So just know going in that finding the perfect materials for your house will be a daunting task, but in the end, it’s worth it!

Insulating The Floors – Part 1

So in my last update I showed how I framed the floor (here) of my Tiny House and the next step was to insulate the floor cavity.  When you frame the tiny house, most people frame it so that it hangs off the edge of the Tiny House on most of the sides.  This creates a gap between the framing and the actual trailer.  So we use expanding spray foam to close it up air tight.  This foam creates a water and vapor barrier.

One major tip I can give you if you are using this stuff, wear latex/nitrile gloves that you can throw away.  If this stuff gets on your skin it literally will not come off, even with paint thinner, goo gone, pumice soap, or any other trick you have in your book.  You basically have to wait for your skin to wear off.  trust me, I know!

First off, this is what I started with, the floor framed, beneath that you can see the white vapor barrier and that is covering the metal flashing.   Then I sprayed the expanding foam into all the cracks to seal it up.  From there I will be putting in the foam board, which I will show in my next update post.






Framing The Floor

Today I wanted to share with you all on how I framed the floor of my house.  The framing was done with treated 2×4’s placed on 2 foot centers.  The trick to framing is to have all your joists designed to both land on 24″ centers (so when you place sub flooring – 4 feet wide – you know exactly where to screw into the floor joists).  The other thing you need to consider is the forces that the floor is going to be encountering, this effectively is your foundation, so it’s important for this to be really strong.

To add more strength I used corner braces that are used in hurricane prone area building, I also tied the floor joists to the deck of the trailer using high sheer strength screws.  I screwed from below the trailer, through the trailer decking, into the joists.  In certain key joints  I chiseled out notches for the cross members to sit into, this wasn’t in the plans, but I thought the potential forces seemed to call for it.  Here is a video and then a bunch of photos after that.












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