I have my designs on this…

By far, my favorite part of the building process is the design.  Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been able to find lots of pictures I like!  I’ve attached the ideas I like so far…

What I’m thinking for the exterior:  blue metal roof, red door (obviously), and siding stained in several different colors.

wood stainroofdoor

Interior color pallette:

paint 3I love stormy weather…greys and blues with some worn wood mixed in.  Maybe if I’m feeling sassy, a few pops of green or red.

decor 2Bamboo floors in a distressed wood.

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Lighting I want to be kind of industrial looking.  Something like this:

lighting 3 lighting 1 I like the idea of making my own light fixtures….but we’ll see

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lighting 4

Galvanized pipe bookcases, ladders, and storage spaces…

bookcase 1 fixtures 1

Lots of texture, cool and neutral colors!  Built-in storage, big clocks, metal fixtures, candles, greenery…Even a possible nod to the Brits… living storagedecor 1decor 4decor 3

I think I’ve FINALLY decided on the bathroom…I’m going with a corner shower that has a 1/2 wall as opposed to a completely enclosed stall.  bathroom 5 bathroom 6That way it still feels a little more open. I’m really not sure about what tile though (I’m liking the pebble look for the floor).

bathroom 2bathroom 1

Last Friday long about my 3rd trip to Lowe’s, I got lost in the tile section.  Not as in, “oh no, how do I get out,” but more “Alice in Wonderland” type lost.  I completely lost track of time and it was a blast!  All I know for sure is that I want the tile floor that looks like wood grain….bathroom 4 And I’ll have a sliding barn door on the bathroom.

For the Kitchen….oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, exposed shelving, roll-out cabinets, tin wall panels, wood countertops…

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The Subfloor Chronicles…Part Tres

Friday was a busy day in Tiny House Land.  I started the morning by going back over the insulation with expanding spray foam (for windows and doors…don’t want TOO much expansion after all).  The foam did it’s job.  I mean it really expanded.  So I did the only logical thing:  I scraped off the excess.  Aaaaaand this is what happened with that…

DSC00575[1]This stuff expands and then hardens as it dries, sealing the edges in case the tape cracks, creating another barrier to the evils of moisture.  I was afraid it would get all bumpy and wouldn’t allow the wood to sit flush with the rails.

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Thankfully, I figured out that it kind of squishes down when it’s not completely dry, but not sticky anymore.  That was helpful.  What a mess.  I’m still finding traces of the foam stuff on my arms and hands.

I spent the rest of the morning cutting OSB to fit together on top of the deck.   The floor is 4’x8′ 3/4″ tongue and groove OSB which stands for “too heavy to move yourself.”   I started out with 6 pieces and realized with the cuts I was making, I’d need 2 more.  So back to Lowe’s I went.

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After struggling with trying to lift one end at a time on to the trailer for cutting, sliding it around and basically ripping up the foil on top of my insulation, I decided I’d cut on the ground.  The final decision was made shortly after one piece slid off and nailed me squarely in the shins.  

I remembered after starting to measure with my good ‘ole pencil and straight edge (read: scrap 2×4), that I owned a snap chalk thing!  S.T.O.K.E.D.  There were no instructions as to how to use it, but how hard could it be, right?  Then this happens…..DSC00577[1]

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Pretty sure I put too much in, but oh well.  It did what I wanted which was give me a straight line.

Then long about 5pm, reinforcements arrived!  Happiest.  Day.  Ever.

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We started by gluing 3″ wide foam tape on top of the metal as a moisture barrier. When metal heats and cools, it sweats. I don’t want any of that to seep up into the floor, so foam tape it is!  I didn’t have enough for the entire frame, just the middle of the floor, but I think it’ll be fine.DSC00583[1]

Then we used Subfloor glue in a calking gun to glue the OSB down on the trailer. No, glue isn’t the only thing holding the floor down. We also drilled holes for 1.5″ metal screws that went through the wood and in to the trailer.

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The first piece down! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Then more people came too… in all I think we had 7 people there.

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DSC00596[1] Lining up the boards perfectly took some finesse….with the back of an axe.

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I don’t know if you can see this carnage.  We broke drill bits…or whatever these are.  Screwdriver bits maybe?  At any rate I think 5 of them are no longer with us.  Drilling in to metal is serious business.DSC00591[1]

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Congratulations, it’s a Subfloor.

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We didn’t get all the screws in; some of them would NOT cooperate.  I’m going to try drilling the pilot hole a tad bigger and see what that does.  Hopefully, it will be completely secure by next Saturday.

IHAVEAFLOORIHAVEAFLOORIHAVEAFLOOR!!!!!  And it only took a few hours and 4 trips to Lowe’s.

It’s exciting, but I was just so tired afterwards…and not the “I think I’ll take a quick nap” tired.  It was the kind of tired where you want to sit down in the middle of the floor and cry like a 3 year old whose grandma just told them that they don’t have time to get on the riding lawnmowers because they have to go home and make lunch for grandpa so they lose their ability to cope and throw a fit in the middle of Sears.  That tired.

So as a reward (and much-needed break) to myself for enduring the dirt and grit, I took yesterday off and went down to see a friend and her family.  Her Hubs was kind enough to watch the baby while we went out and got pedicures.  It was bliss.

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Sometimes you just need a day off from powertools to hang out with dear friends and do something girly.  We stayed up until 12:30 telling stories and laughing until our faces hurt.  I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!

Now next weekend when I’m covered in sweat and sawdust I’ll think to myself, “At least my toes are bright pink.  That’s awesome.”

How Much Does This Thing Cost…?

I’ve gotten a few questions about what I’m planning to spend on this Tiny House.   Because I stare at spreadsheets all day as my job, this part was easy!  I have everything listed out by line item.  Below is the summary of what I’m planning to spend per area of the house.

The Structure section includes the materials, trailer, etc.  It also includes the solar panels, electric breaker, and plumbing stuff.  That’s why it’s so high.

Unfortunately, I was so focused on the materials, that I didn’t put a line in for actual tools to put the materials together.  Hence the Contingency and why that is already in use…

Totals Budget Actual
Total House $   26,536.75 $       7,292.23
Structure $   17,180.89 $       6,552.72
Kitchen $     2,189.53 $                   –
Bathroom $     2,062.50 $           210.93
Fixtures $     1,773.78 $                   –
Deck $         330.05 $                   –
Contingency $     3,000.00 $           528.58

This is what I’ve spent so far:

Trailer/Delivery/Jacks: $   5,723.47
Tools: $       595.07
Workshop/Videos/Manuals/Books: $       618.20
Materials for Subfloor: $       402.54

Materials are actually pretty cheap when you get right down to it.  I did spend a lot on the trailer itself; I wanted to make sure  my foundation was solid.  There were several options of used trailers on Craigslist, but I decided it was better to go with a trailer that was built for tiny houses, and is all ready to start construction.

I bought the trailer from Carson trailers in So Cal: http://trailerrep.com/

I’m thinking I’ll hire someone to frame the house…after two weekends of drilling, taping, and cutting, I feel like I’ve got arthritis in my hands.  It’s worth it to me to let someone else do this part!  Also, I know I’ll have to hire an Electrician.  In order to get insurance, I have to have a licensed electrician sign off on all the installation and connections in the wiring.  That means:  the cost for those people will have to come out of the Contingency.

The Subfloor Chronicles…Part 2

Welp, it turns out the flashing was off my original markings…by 6 inches.

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*Sigh* At least I only cut my thumb once twice.

Thankfully, I had left over flashing (I bought the 50’ roll, remember?) so I marched myself over to the Lowe’s power tool section (where they keep all sorts of useful things) and bought myself some big ‘ole tin snips. And snap chalk. I saw a friend as I was walking in the store and he warned me that I would come out of the section with multiple things. I thought, “No way. I know exactly what I’m getting.” But he was right! In my defense, the snap chalk was a really good deal and I will need it eventually.

I forgot my camera for the cutting of the last piece (or pieces) of flashing. Just imagine kindergarten art time with more heavy-duty scissors. I had to cut two strips: one 4”x10’ and one 6”x10’ to cover the entire length of the floor. Why the two widths, you ask? Well…because I stare at spreadsheets all day.  I’m not exactly a professional flashing-layer. I’ve decided to “be ok” with the fact that the flashing on the underside of the trailer isn’t perfectly symmetrical and just be happy that it’s water tight.

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The process of “water-tightness” is an interesting one. I watched a Bob Villa Youtube video about installing windows (because that’s what I do in my spare time now) and he said to “think like water.” Huh. So as I contemplate sealing the floor, I’m now interested in every seam, every crack, every tiny space where water *might* get in.

One of my solutions is to caulk adhesive along the seams in between the beams. This acts as another attachment point for the flashing in addition to the screws as well as a water barrier.

To add to that, I taped all the seams under the trailer with foil ducting tape. This isn’t regular duct tape…it’s a metal tape that has a paper backing and it’s a little awkward to get the hang of.

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You peel the paper off as you lay the tape on the seam. It tears super easy…as in I-wonder-if-this-will-hold easy. But once I got it all stuck down, it wasn’t going anywhere.  Saturday I taped the inside seams as well.

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I also cut insulation.

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I started out with the “box-cutter” method.  It was horse pucky.  Styrofoam was flaking everywhere, the edges were jagged.  What a nightmare.  For the first two hours I spent more time chasing little foam chunks around the work area than cutting .

The little strip you see above is the piece that fit inside the C-channel.  Taking a regular measurement, I was supposed to cut the big boards 14.5″ wide, but they didn’t want to cooperate.  Once I cut them 14″ wide they slid right in (for the most part).  Any gaps or weird spots will be filled in with expanding spray foam before I lay down the OSB.

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See the jagged edges?  I had to stand on the board and jump on it so it would fit in the channel.  Probably not the best idea, but I’m happy to report:  I won.

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Then THIS happened!  I got the bright idea to cut the foam with my circular saw using a 140 tooth blade (that’s for cutting finishing work…basically *not* 2x4s).  That made the edges SUPER pretty.  As a side note, I had to cut 5 inches off the sawhorse legs so I decided to use this blade as opposed to changing it out for the one that is actually made for cutting 2x4s.  There was smoke.

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The insulation started to fit better having cut the edges with the saw.  Although, you can still see the jaggedness in this picture on one edge….

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I started to get the hang of the size I needed/cutting with the saw about 10am (I’d been working since 7).  Construction is a process for me, but one I’m learning to embrace.

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1pm:  all of the first layer done with the second layer started.  At this point it was well in to the mid-90’s and I couldn’t handle being right above a reflective surface.  So I left to go find some cold water and more food.  I ended up not being able to relax until I finished this section, so I came back at 7pm armed with a Cutco paring knife and a putty knife.

DUDE.  The putty knife is money.  There was a little flaking, but for the most part it slid right through the foam.  And bonus, there wasn’t a fine white dust sticking to me as there was with the saw method.  I finished the rest of the top layer in about an hour and a half.  Some of the reflective top part tore when I cut it with the paring knife, so I patched it with the left over foil tape.

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I was trying to get the entire subfloor done Saturday, OSB and all, but it just wasn’t happening.  So next Friday I’ve enlisted some help to set the boards and we should be ready to frame it up!

Don’t let the beautiful sunset fool you…it was 102 degrees.  A cold shower never felt so good…

The Subfloor Chronicles….Part 1

Last Friday was the first real day of get-in-the-dirt-work.  And let me just start by saying, all those who do this for a living…you’re amazing.  It is not easy drilling in to metal and keeping everything straight.

So this is how it all started….a bare trailer frame.  8.5 feet wide by 22 feet long
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Then I had to mark where all the flashing is going to go.  Galvanized flashing is usually used for roofs (or so I’m told)…turns out it works like a champ as a moisture barrier on the underside of the trailer.  I’m building my subfloor into the frame (as opposed to on top) so the flashing is screwed in to the beams on the underside, rigid insulation goes in between the beams, and finally OSB is glued to the top of the beams…

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I found a paint marker in my desk and it worked AMAZINGLY well to make all those marks for the flashing.  I bought 20″ x 50′ flashing, so I needed to cut it to fit the inside square you see in the picture.  The outside of the frame won’t be flashed….I don’t think.DSC00506[1]

Each piece of flashing was cut to 20’1″ long…so in the middle square that is 81″ wide, the plan is to have 4 pieces laying side by side.

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Measuring takes two people….

DSC00516[1]So does cutting.  But fun fact: flashing is soft enough to cut with tin snips.  I just learned that.  So take your metal-cutting jigsaw blades back to Lowe’s and save yourself $6…you don’t need them.

DSC00518[1]Once the flashing was cut, I threaded it underneath the beams.  It’s a little squirrelly and unless you have some good clamps (or an extra set of hands), it doesn’t want to play nice.  Also, WEAR GLOVES when moving flashing around.  You may be tempted to say, “Nah…it’s not that heavy,” or “I got this,” or “I’ll just be really careful ’cause I can’t remember where I set my gloves.”  No.  I made that unfortunate mistake and sliced my thumb open.  And at the time I didn’t have bandaids on me.  It stung.  Blood was everywhere.  There was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

DSC00517[1]Getting it started is probably the hardest part.  There is a lip next to the side beam and it took a LOT of wrastling to get it in place.

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I started out drilling holes and putting screws, nuts, and then washers later when I was advised that it would be a good idea.  I’ve since switched to self-drilling screws.  It took me 3.5 hours to get one 20′ sheet attached and glued with the first method.  With the self-drillers I was able to attach the flashing 3x faster.

And yes, I squirted a healthy dose of Liquid Nails to the seam just to have another attachment point.  I’m a safety girl.  Bonus points if you can name that movie 🙂

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One side done.DSC00524[1]My “little helpers.”  Seriously, the clamps are the best $20 I’ve spent so far…

DSC00531[1]On a side note, when you see this ^ happen to your screws…JUST STOP.  I ripped the heads off 3 screws.  Guys, I’m not that strong.  Turned out I had the torque too high on my screwdriver and when the screws got heated up (as they do when drilling through 1/4″ steel) they pop right off.

DSC00534[1]So I decided to fill the holes with the extra adhesive that was eeking out the caulking gun.  I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or not, but whatever.  My house, my rules.

DSC00535[1]Then I decided to add more because no one will see it so it doesn’t matter if it isn’t pretty.  Also, I’ve seen other methods of attaching such as drilling through the top of the beam and letting the pointy end of the screw stick out underneath.  I wasn’t a fan of that for a few reasons:  1) I like this look better, 2) I know I won’t see it per say, but I’ll know, and 3) I want to put in drain pipes, water lines, and propane pipes under the trailer and I don’t want to be dodging a gauntlet of spikes.

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After I screwed in where the clamps held, I squeezed myself up through the beams and then high-kneed it down the line to reattach the clamps, and wiggle down under the trailer to do it all again…

DSC00542[1]This is why it takes me so long.  I have exactly 18″ of clearance under the trailer.  That picture is me worming my way through the axles and holding extra flashing up with my knees.

DSC00543[1]I try not to think about the fact that I’m mildly claustrophobic and just get it done.  That, and I’ve learned that I don’t like wallowing in the dirt, so the less time spent shimmying on my back, the better.

I’ve gotta say though, yoga has really come in handy so far.  I’ve had to contort my arms and legs up and around and through the beams and if I wasn’t bendy it wouldn’t work!  So all you yoga people will have a leg up when building in tight spaces!  HA!  That one is for you, Nevada Laura… 🙂

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At the end of yesterday, I had 3.5 rows done (I forgot to take a final picture, but just imagine that last piece on the left threaded under the beams and attached to the middle axle).  I couldn’t finish because my screwdriver pooped out on me.  And my extra battery didn’t work.  It only had a little juice.  Ok, I didn’t plug it in to the charger right.

After inspecting the rows, it turns out I’m off my original markings.  I’m either going to have to take out screws and adjust the flashing or patch it with my leftovers.  Guaranteed the first one won’t happen.  We’ll see if I don’t just tape over the gaps.  I’m so tired and sore right now I don’t think I’m fit to make any decisions.  At any rate, my first statement stands:  all you construction folks, much respect.  It’s HARD getting those lines straight when you’re doing it yourself.

I’ll try not to be too annoyed with myself that I didn’t get it perfect and just take it a day at a time.  This weekend’s official count:  16 hours of work…14 hours of actual work if you don’t count the back and forth to Lowe’s, the odd Chipotle run, and a few breaks.  I’m hoping to have the subfloor done by next weekend!  WOO!

For now, Aleve has become a part of my diet.  I’m focusing on being not sore and thoroughly enjoying not being covered in dirt.

Pearls of *Construction* Wisdom

Lessons I learned from the first *real* day doing work…

  1. The first thing you need when you start any project is a workbench.  And sawhorses.
  2. Said workbench is a “non-essential” at this juncture, but it’s fun learning how to use the new circular saw and power screwdriver.
  3. Using power tools is kind of fun and when you see the finished product, you really do kind of feel like a bad ass.
  4. Plywood is frickin’ expensive.  Seriously, it’s highway robbery.
  5. If you wear your diamond stud earrings and cucumber body-spray, it is possible to feel a little like a girl in work clothes.
  6. Wallowing in the dirt covered in sweat and sawdust, however, quickly makes you forget you even put on earrings.
  7. Metal flashing doesn’t look intimidating, but it is SHARP and the slightest wrong touch will slice your thumb open and get blood on your shirt.
  8. No matter how much you like a t-shirt, if it is white, don’t wear it on construction projects.
  9. Also, don’t forget the Aleve at home.
  10. Bring snacks.  Lots of snacks.
  11. Wear sunscreen.  Farmer’s tans on one arm aren’t cute.
  12. Eventually you will get dirty.  Embrace it.
  13. Drilling through metal is a workout.
  14. Read.  The.  Manuals.
  15. The extra Liquid Nails adhesive on your hands seals up cuts nicely.

TOOLS!

I bought tools. It’s a miracle! Did you know that there are about 30 different circular saws at Lowe’s? 30. I almost cried.

My uncle took me to Lowe’s and was walking me through the power tool section, explaining the different things and why I might need them. Then we rounded the corner and there was the display of a gajillion saws. Or 30, whatever. All I wanted was A saw. Just one. I couldn’t care less how big it is or if it has a cord or a battery or is one name or the other or how many teeth are on the blade. I even asked my uncle if there was just an “all purpose” saw (the answer is no). Then it dawned on me: this is like shoe shopping. When I go in to a shoe store and see a wall of shoes in all different sizes, shapes, colors, and fabrics, I get excited. I know exactly how and where I could wear each one. But when a guy goes shoe shopping, he has about the same reaction as I did with the saws at Lowe’s: overwhelmed.

Thank goodness I know people. And in a pinch all the retired guys who roam the aisles at Lowe’s are SUPER helpful! A simple question gets you a dissertation on extension cords. It’s pretty cool.

So here it is: the start to my tool collection. What’s the saying? Organization can save your life? At any rate, it’s really easy to see what I have!

Tools for a Tiny House
Tools and such

I went with the DeWalt 20 volt cordless drill and 7 ¼ inch circular saw. The saw also does some mitering, which will come in handy maybe. So what if I’ve never used a saw? How hard could it be?

There’s a lot of stuff in the tool box that I needed that you can’t see: speed square (for measuring 90 degree angles and I’m sure other things), a level (because I don’t want to live in the Mad Hatter’s house), other measuring tapes, a hammer, ear protection, goggles, gloves, pencils, a hole punch, saw blades, screws, nuts, and that’s all I can remember sitting at my desk.

The liquid nails (heavy duty exterior) is for more attachment points for the flashing (I’ll be gluing the flashing to the trailer between the screws…more on that later), and the interior is for gluing the studs before I screw them together (that comes later too).

Instead of buying saw horses (because apparently I need an elevated work space…this was a later addition to my construction budget…I’ll post those details later), I went the cheap route and bought the saw horse brackets so I can make my own saw horse with 2x4s (it’s about a $10 difference).

This weekend I’ll be working on attaching the flashing on the underside of the trailer for the subfloor.