Endless Research

I couldn’t predict every little thing and research it all before starting the build, because I never would’ve started. There are some things that just don’t come up until it’s time to do them. So I’ve had to continue researching regularly as the build has progressed. This month it’s been about siding: installing it, trim, rain screens, bug screens and soffits, what materials to use and how to put it all together into one working system.

Did you know that exterior window trim is not very common at all? Tiny houses often have painted wood around the windows for a pop of colour. That’s how I’ve always pictured my house, but looking at regular houses around here, most just have fake shutters. The siding meets up with the vinyl around modern windows and that’s all you need. So there’s not really any style options for exterior window trim because no one bothers with it. So I’m spending extra money, time, effort, and weight on the house just to add some colour. My mind was already made up, so I decided on simple 1.5″ x 3.5″ wood for the trim, with angled pieces above the windows so the rain doesn’t collect.

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$400 later…

As for a rain screen, it is highly recommended for behind wood siding, if not required. A rain screen is basically an air gap between the house wrap and siding, created by vertical strips of wood, that allows water/condensation to drain down the wall and out the bottom. However, a lot of houses have vinyl siding – which creates its own air gap – these days, so it was harder to find info and materials for a rain screen. Tiny Nest used plastic ventilated strips so the air can move from side to side as well as down, which they were able to order from a local building supply store. When I went asking for those, I was told, “You’re in Nova Scotia, good luck finding that!” Apparently wood siding is more common in B.C. So I went with 3/8″ thick, 1.5″ wide wood lathes for my furring strips. They of course only come in 4′ lengths even though it’d be just a bit easier if they came in 8′ lengths. I considered using strips of plywood, but it wasn’t worth the cutting. I might as well just use what everyone else uses, even though I tried to research and do better.

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My friend Shayne helped me put up all the full-length furring strips. I’ll put the rest up after I figure out how to integrate the rain screen with the window trim.

Then there’s bug screen, a mesh at the top and bottom of the rain screen that keeps bugs from getting into the air gap. That was a pile of research too, because there isn’t really a specific product for it. I was going to use simple fiberglass screens, like you have in your windows, because that’s what Tiny Nest used. I was told that it’s a bad idea because rodents will destroy it within the first year. So I shelled out the $50 for a 12″ wide roll of mesh meant to be used for a ridge vent. Around here, apparently they cut it into strips and use it for the bug screen, so that’s what I’m doing. I cut it into 2″ strips and will hopefully have just enough for the whole house, top and bottom.

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My ingenious way of cutting a consistent two inches.

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All done! 6x 2″ wide strips totaling 120′ in length.

I’ve read that rain screens can function without venting at the top, although they work better with venting at the top and bottom. But then that creates the issue of how to vent the top because there will be soffits there. Most houses have vented soffits so the question is whether or not to vent into them, but my soffits are solid, so I’m having a hard time picturing how that’s going to work. If I put my siding up to my soffits, then that will block off the venting, but if I leave a small gap, it might be visible and strange looking.

Speaking of soffits, what a pain! When I went shopping for a material to cover the underneath of my overhang and eaves, I was told that people often use vented vinyl, so vinyl siding should work. The material is exactly what I wanted and it’s nice and white, but it is so difficult to cut! I have to cut it lengthwise to get the right width and I spent 3 1/2 hours cutting only a fourth of what I need. I’ll have to come up with a better way to cut it than tin snips, but so far they’ve been the only thing sharp enough, and the vinyl is far too flimsy to use power tools on.

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Attempting to cut off the interlocking part of the siding.

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The first strip finished for under the front or back eaves.

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Strips of wood added so I can attach the soffits.

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Underneath the back overhang as well. Under the sides I’ll be able to nail to the ends of the rafters.

So I’ve been trying! It’s just been more than I can do in a month to get this all figured out and done right. That’s why I don’t want anyone else working on the house. Who knows if they would’ve bothered even doing a rain screen! I don’t trust people. Last year, I got a quote to get the siding put up for me, which was $1000 and it would take two days. This year, that same guy never returned my call, and a quote from a different company was $1200 and it would take a week, even though I told him all the furring strips, trim and everything would be already done. I’m not paying someone $1200 to do just the siding after doing all the trim and rain screen and soffits myself! He might’ve just been giving me a bit of a higher quote because he didn’t want to do a small job.

There are some amazing professional builders out there, so I should try to remember that. But I’m very happy with how my little house is turning out to be all straight and square. Check out my previous post for more details about where I’m at right now.

 

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Doing My Best

It’s hard for me to keep the blog updated when I feel like I should be spending every free minute researching or building. This month, I’ve discovered that the siding installation is a bit more complicated than I’ve been picturing, as is building a house all by myself!

Let’s recap. Since I last posted, I finished all the staining. I would’ve finished the last boards on the 3rd, as planned, but I ran out of stain for the last set of 12! So I stained the final sides on Dec. 6th after picking up my 5th bucket of stain. The rest of that week was spent getting some car maintenance done before winter and researching how the rain screen, bug screen, trim, and siding will go together. Then winter came early. Normally we have a green Christmas where I live, so I was counting on having a couple more warm weeks to get the trim and siding up. Mother Nature had other plans!

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First, it was just a sprinkling of snow. Manageable.

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A few icicles.

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Then the snow stayed.

I was still determined to keep working on the house, to get the siding up before Christmas. One of my friends offered to help on a sunny day, so we put up most of the furring strips despite the fact that there was snow on the ground. I worked on the house on a couple more nice days and put up some wood underneath the eaves so I could attach the soffits. I started cutting the soffits, which was so much more difficult than I expected.

But it just kept snowing! And then I got sick with a cold. I actually don’t have any more pictures of the house in the snow because I was curled up inside researching rain screens and eating soup. But there was at least a foot of snow on the roof and the weather was nasty. With the wind, snow, and a windchill of -31°C, and being sick, I wasn’t working outside. So I researched and waited for the snow to melt as it usually does. The majority of it did finally melt, but not in time for me to get any more work done before Christmas.

So this is where the tiny house is at, and this is where it will most likely stay until spring:

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This isn’t ideal. I really wanted to have the siding up and the house protected properly for winter. At this point, it might even have been better to not have the furring strips up because the snow sticks to them, but there’s no point in taking them down. The Typar will keep the house dry inside, but I only have another 3 months before it should be covered to protect it from UV damage.

It’s discouraging, because I’ve done my best to get everything done before winter, but I simply had too much left to do for one person. I’ve been working on the house as much as I can. I worked on the house 14 days out of October and 19 days out of November. I need to balance the full-time project of the tiny house with working 5-6 days a week whilst still eating, sleeping, and socializing. I’ve only worked on the house 8 days this month, but that’s because it’s been negative temperatures. I’ve also been sick from not eating properly and spending too much time out in the cold. So it sucks. We’ll see what the new year brings.

Quotes

"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