Starting Small

So I’ve discovered that I’m terrified of nail guns. I’m not gonna let that stop me, but it has slowed me down.

I bought a nail gun and some nails:

After realizing the air compressor we have is too small, I managed to borrow a bigger one.

I finally got the gun working with the new tank, did some practice nails, and made a little practice frame:

It’s amazing how sturdy it is!

It was so quick to put that together! I think though with the speed of a nail gun you sacrifice some accuracy, at least in the beginning. The pieces aren’t flush, but I’m sure I’ll get better with practice. I’m nervous about how difficult the nails will be to remove when I make a framing mistake, but I’ll deal with that when it happens.

I’m stuck on a few framing issues. It turns out that the roof line I want, even though it looks very simple on the outside, is so complicated! Especially because of where I want to put the windows in the end walls.

Speaking of windows, I contacted the window place the supposedly sells operable octagons, and four phone calls later they were able to give me a quote: $1285. That’s PER WINDOW. “Everything has to be cut by hand.” Apparently they haven’t sold an operable octagon in over 20 years. So that’s out. I’ve decided instead to have a fixed octagon in the front of the house for the look. I wouldn’t be getting up into the storage loft to open and close a window that often anyway, although it’s a shame I won’t be able to get cross ventilation. In the sleeping loft, I’ll have an operable square, because I just know I’ll regret it in the middle of summer if I put in a fixed window.

Wish me luck on my walls!


Not My Day Job

The days are counting down until I leave for vacation and I’m stressing! Researching nail guns by night and getting up early for wood deliveries isn’t very much fun, but I get to go to sleep daydreaming about my future kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday after my shift, I put in my wood order. Then Tuesday after work, with no new email, I called the engineer. She explained how I can change my framing so I don’t have to sacrifice any headroom ๐Ÿ™‚ It drastically changed my wood order, but I managed to call before closing and change some numbers. The wood was delivered this morning!

Does that look like enough?

Does that look like enough?

The framing change turned out to be easier and cheaper with less pieces. I still don’t have all the details because the engineer is really busy, but I have enough info to get started. I just hope I ordered enough wood!

Then there’s windows. When I went in to order my wood, I also got a quote for windows. The main floor windows are all good to go, except the bathroom awning window. I have to make that one a bit bigger. That’s the sort of thing I wanted to find out before I started framing. Most of the windows are pretty close to budget, but I underestimated how much skylights are so I will be over budget for the category. They don’t sell operable octagons though, so I’ll have to buy those elsewhere and I may have found a place that sells them. I still have to contact them. I’m not sure what size octagon I’ll end up with, so for now I won’t frame them and they can be added in later. I really want to get started!

I was originally planning to screw my framing together; it’s what I’ve done before and it’s easier to fix your mistakes. However, for speed and so I don’t have to pre-drill, I’ve decided to go with nails. After my shift today I’ll pick up a nail gun, and if the weather holds, I’ll start putting together my end wall! I had planned on only renting a nail gun if I needed one, but a nail gun will get me through framing, sheathing, and siding, so I think it’s worth it to buy my own.

Oh, and I also got a door quote. Instead of pricing a custom door, they added a cut fee for cutting down a standard door and the cost of that is ridiculous. I might end up making my own so I can make it exactly the way I want. I’m nervous about working with glass to put a window into it, but as my mum pointed out, if I can build a house, I can build a door.

Let’s see what I can get done today!

Subfloor Steps

With the help of my dad’s friend and his jeep with a front hitch, my lovely trailer has been maneuvered out of our turn-around spot and onto the lawn where I’ll be building. We had it further away from the neighbour’s fence for the insulation spraying, and then didn’t get around to moving it until last week. It was convenient to have it closer to the garage to carry plywood and tools back and forth for the floor, but I couldn’t block the turn-around spot forever. Besides, I’ll be building the walls on the ground and then I’ll have people over to help move them around.

And it's a shady spot!

And it’s a shady spot!

I still need to put the jacks down and level it, but I’ve at least got a lock on it now.

Before I start to forget what I did, I want to share the steps I took up until this point. Here is the beginning of the 3rd phase of my steps list:

Phase 3

Do your own research as well though; I can’t guarantee anything I do is the right thing to do. I’ve never built a house before!

I love lists, so here’s one with all the tools and things I used for the first part of phase three:

– tarp

– bungee cords

– Shop Vac

– rope

– utility knife

– 4 foot metal ruler

– right angle metal ruler

– speed square

– carpenter’s square

– mini broom

– chalk box

– chalk

– tool belt

– clamps

– circular saw

– jigsaw

– drill

– impact driver

– extension cord

– measuring tape

– pencil

– gloves

– eye protection

– ear protection

– caulking gun

– awl

– wrench

– patio stones

– saw horses

– hammer

– and a camera!

Before I share how much time has been put into this build so far, here’s two tips from my mum:

1. Have a hammer and a 2×4 handy to hammer your T&G into place, like giant floor boards.

2. Have something soft, like a towel or a foam square, to put under your knees while you’re drilling into your trailer for hours.

So, I’ve started a time log. I could never guess how long I’ve spent online researching tiny houses, but I will be counting the hours I build. I’m also trying to keep track of some hardware store time and time put in by other people.

So far, I’ve spent 11 total hours drying out the trailer after rain and putting the tarp over it.

Mum and Dylan put in 3.5 hours between each other to help with the tarp and clean-up.

I worked on the subfloor for 42 hours total, and Dylan and Mum put in 40 hours between the two of them. With the walls, I’ll be working alone more often, but with the subfloor I needed help for almost everything. Plywood is bigger than me ๐Ÿ˜›

The insulation took an hour and 20 minutes. The welder took two hours.

I’ve spent 10.5 hours in hardware stores, and Dylan and Mum have put in 13 hours. I’ve always had one of them with me, and one time I had both of them with me.

So, I’ve put in 63.5 hours in the past month. The subfloor took 82 hours of work, if you don’t count clean-up or hardware stores. I’m telling you, those screws take SO LONG! Of those 82 hours, more than half of them were spent just on screwing.

Now, onto the walls!

Steps List: Procrastination

There is one step in Phase 2 that I didn’t include that I should’ve. I’ve been procrastinating on it myself, and now it’s holding up my build. It’s Step 6: Buying Plans.

I’ll include the text here, and update my post about Phase 2 so that the PowerPoint presentation has this step as well.


Choosing or Creating Your House

Buying Plans: any tiny house do-it-yourself can use any instructions they can get their hands on. There are so many sets of plans available now that many people can find something they want. Tiny house companies work with designers and engineers to create a variety of plans and lay-outs, but they can be expensive. Some individual tiny housers that created unique plans sell them on their websites or blogs, but those havenโ€™t necessarily been looked at by an engineer.

If you find a set of plans you like from a company like Tumbleweed and have the $750+ to spend, awesome. If you found a tiny houser that designed a house you really like and they sell plans, cool. Get an engineer to double-check everything. If you have your own plan in your head, either draw up your own plans and get them approved, or get them drawn up for you and get them approved. Tiny houses might not be required to meet code, but youโ€™ll at least want a professional to make sure the structure is strong and safe.


I had a pretty concrete idea of what I wanted for my house before I ever looked at plans for sale, so of course I didn’t find anything that was exactly right. I bought two sets of plans – one with the roof line I wanted and one with a corner porch – for reference with the intention of merging them. Then I procrastinated for months because I don’t know enough about framing to confidently make my own. Also, the plans were missing details and didn’t have any 16″ or 2′ OC studs at all. The people I bought from aren’t professionals, so I reached out to several engineers about creating and approving plans. One didn’t respond at all and one told me no. A third engineer told me that she doesn’t make plans, only approves them, but she gave me the email address of someone who does. I emailed them and got busy doing other things.

After a month or more with no answer, I contacted the engineer again and asked her if I could draw up my own plans and have her approve them. She agreed and gave me a price, and then I procrastinated for another month while other build things were happening. I finally finished the plans and sent them off a couple of weeks ago. She just got back to me this past week and told me everything looks good, except for my ridge beam. I think because of my roof line, a normal size beam won’t span the distance. I sent a few more measurements and she’s working on a solution that doesn’t involve lowering my loft height an extra 6 inches.

So that’s holding me up right now, which is unfortunate because it’s actually sunny and I’ve had a few days off. Learn from me and get your plans in order before you start your build!

Shell Budget: Trailer/Floor

The second part of my budget is the Shell. It includes everything from the wall studs to the roofing material. When the shell is done, the house will look complete from the outside, with windows and siding.

The first category in my shell budget, Trailer/Floor, is all done and filled in:

My Trailer, from Warman’s Welding in New Brunswick, was over budget at $7015. Read about why it’s over budget here.

Gas was over budget at $402.50. I assumed I’d pick up the trailer, but then I found out they deliver. It didn’t save me money, but it saved me the stress and time of going to get it myself.

My budget for all-threaded rods was zero because they were included in the cost of the trailer, but then they ended up in the wrong spots. I paid a welder to grind them off, put rods in the right places, and add a few so the house is secured at more points. That cost $253.05.

For Insulation, I was way over budget at $1217.15. I had originally planned to use Roxul, but I wouldn’t have been able to get enough Roxul into the trailer frame for a high enough R-value. I chose spray foam instead and it worked out well.

For Glue, I was slightly over budget at $27.56. I used four tubes out of the six I bought, so I’m only including the cost of the four.

For Plywood, I was over budget at $248.66. I didn’t realize how expensive it is! Most builders use OSB because it’s cheap, but it also swells and it’s heavy. I decided that less weight and warping were worth the extra money.

For Metal Screws, I was over budget at $74.40. Specialty fasteners are of course more expensive, and I melted so many! There are less than 300 in the trailer, but I had to buy 500.

This was a painful category. I estimated I’d spend $6815 and I spent $9238.32. That’s $2423.32 over budget ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m jealous of tiny housers who found cheaper trailers and didn’t spend so much on insulation, but in the end, I’m okay with investing in the foundation of my house. The one thing I’d change is I would get the trailer delivered earlier so I’d have more summer build time.

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"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris