Sunshine Portals!

All my windows are now installed! After the initial learning curve, and a bit of a mess with some caulking, everything went smoothly. πŸ™‚ Prepare for pictures! Here we go:

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The bathroom and entrance windows

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The living/dining room window and the kitchen window

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The front window for the window seat πŸ™‚

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And of course, my octagon!

This is how I installed my windows, based on the instructions that came with them (and influenced by some online research). Different brands have different installation instructions. My windows are Peter Kohler brand.

Step 1: Cut an upside down martini glass shape in the house wrap.

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Step 2: Trim the house wrap and tape the edges down (sides and bottom).

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Step 3: Cut a flap in the house wrap above the window, 45Β° angles from the corners and high enough to fit the width of the window flashing underneath. Tape it up.

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Step 4: Cut squares of flashing and add them to the bottom corners of the window.

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This is how the Peter Kohler instructions showed to cut the pieces for the corners, but I have seen multiple different ways of doing this part. I only did it this way for my first window because I found it doesn’t adequately seal the corner even after you put the sill flashing on, and I didn’t like how little flashing was below the window in the end. For the rest of my windows, I did a full piece of flashing like the picture below, and then put the sill flashing on as well.

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Step 5: Cut a piece 12″ longer than the sill, and apply it with 6″ up the side of the window.

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You can see in this picture that I added a little rectangle of flashing to the corners, similar to what I did with any weak spots in the skylight flashing.

Step 6: Put shims on the sill and check them with a level. I ended up taping mine so they would stay, and I planned to cut the ends off later. My instructions also had specific locations for shims on the sides, 3 on the hinge side and 2 on the other side. I almost quit at this point. Even if I could lift the window by myself, how was I supposed to put it in without having someone on the inside to help guide me? Other tiny housers installed their windows as a team: one person inside and one person outside.

I took a breather, went back to the window opening, and taped the side shims in place as well. That would help me center the window as I put it in.

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Step 7: First, have fasteners ready to go. The fasteners should be long enough to go an inch into the framing, so at least 1 3/4″ if you have 1/2″ sheathing because that accounts for the thickness of the vinyl. I also wanted something that had more gripping power than a smooth nail, considering all the vibration the house will go through on the road. But the hardware store only had 1 1/2″ nails with a rough finish, and 2″ smooth shank nails. So I went with a mix of the two.

Apply a bead of caulking closely around the opening, leaving gaps at the bottom.

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I was way better at a continuous, even bead of caulking on the later windows. πŸ˜› This was the first!

Steps 8/9/10?: Put the window in (some say to tilt it in, I ended up trying to carefully set the window in in a way that it didn’t disturb the shims). Hammer a nail in part way in, 4-6″ down from a top corner. Check that the window operates smoothly. Personally, I added two more nails in random places, then I checked the operation of the window again, just to be sure.

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This window went in pretty smoothly, but when I did the bathroom window, I accidentally lifted the window too high, and unknowingly got caulking all over the inside of the window. When I went inside to check the operation, I saw the mess, and my parents helped me find some mineral spirits to get it off. πŸ™‚

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Also check that there’s a gap all the way around the window, that the window is centered in the rough opening. The instructions for these windows called for a 5/8″ gap. Do NOT shim above the window. There should be no load transfer onto a window. This window doesn’t have a large header because it’s only 18″ wide, but normally there would be a header made of 2x4s on their side with a piece of 1/2″ ply in between.

Step 11: Hammer the first few nails all the way in, then fill the rest of the pre-punched holes with nails.

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On one of my windows, there was a gap between the sheathing and the nailing flange in one spot, even though the window was pressed tight to the house. I ended up shimming behind a couple of nails after the first nail started to pull the nailing flange away from the window.

Step 12: Apply flashing to the sides of the window, covering the nails and reaching at least a half inch past the bottom flashing and 2-3″ above the top of the window.

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Maybe I should’ve taken the step-by-step pictures after I’d gotten better at placing the flashing. πŸ˜›

Step 13: Apply flashing to the top of the window, reaching one inch past the edges of the side flashing.

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Always apply any flashing, tape, house wrap, etc. starting at the bottom. That way, water will run down the layers, rather than having the potential to sneak in behind an edge.

Step 14: Flip down the flap, trim it, and tape it. The instructions didn’t say to trim or tape it, they were very vague for this part, but it’s my understanding that it’s best to tape every edge of the house wrap so it preforms better. So that’s what I did.

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You’re not supposed to flash the bottom of the window, so any water or condensation that gets into the sill can drain out. Notice how little flashing there is showing underneath? For the rest of the windows, I put the first piece of flashing lower just so I felt more comfortable with it.

My mum helped me lift the two bigger windows into place, and my grandpa helped me with my kitchen window! Honestly, the windows were a bit easier than expected. Yay! Enjoy some more window-installation and family pictures below:

 

 

I also flashed around my front door so there’s no longer a drafty gap there:

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I love my lil porch!

Phew, that was a post and a half, huh? Stay tuned, I have more things to share!

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Up on Ladders

I have the week off work and my dad’s home from Ottawa! With his help, I’ve been working away at my (not-so) tiny to-do list.

Goals for the week:

  • Fix the ridge
  • Finish the house wrap
  • Add the ridge caps (and foam closure strips)
  • And at Dad’s suggestion: install the door!

Sunday:

The collar ties didn’t seem to be doing their job after all, as the walls were spread wider at the top than they should’ve been. The collar ties would theoretically stop us from being able to pull the walls in, so Dad yanked the nails out and took them down.

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My dad, the happy camper

I made new, longer collar ties (and sanded them this time).

I had already bought 10′ 2x4s to jack up the ridge again (having used up all the long lumber I had) and Dad screwed two together in a “T” for strength. We used that and it was much sturdier than the previous time I did this. I shouldn’t have to do this again!

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We jacked the roof up to just slightly higher than where I wanted it, and installed two collar ties, lower this time. This also pulled the walls in to where they were supposed to be. We added some hurricane ties to the four rafters, tying them to the walls. Then we moved the jack to raise the roof in a second spot for the last two collar ties. Those ties are difficult to put into the corners with the roof on, and it was getting dark, so we called it a day.

We brought out a light, a little stove, and had supper together in my little house! We had soup and hot chocolate in my future living room. πŸ™‚

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The lights are on, somebody must be home!

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Monday:

I spent Monday doing a little shopping. I looked at flooring! I’m mostly decided on a dark brown hand-scraped engineered hardwood, but I’m nervous about picking something too dark. I like dark wood stains; I just don’t want a dark colour to make the tiny house seem small. I like the hand-scraped because it looks and feels a little worn in rather than shiny new, and when I inevitably dent or scratch it, it will blend in. I want engineered hardwood because it’s thinner (and lighter) than hardwood, and it expands/shrinks less than hardwood. But I don’t want laminate or anything cheap, because I enjoy walking around barefoot and I want something that feels real underfoot. It’s a small enough space so I can afford to get something that’s more expensive per square foot.

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A sample of stained hickory on top of a popular colour of laminate.

A lighter colour might be the safer choice, but I want a flooring I love.

As for the bathroom, I was thinking of doing cork, because it’s warm and cushy on the feet, it doesn’t absorb water, and it’s a renewable material. But I hadn’t found a style of cork I liked, until…

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White cork!?

The reason I went flooring shopping was to find out how thick of a flooring I’m going to get. I needed to know how much clearance I needed for the swing of my front door. I might not buy the flooring until after I’ve finished building my kitchen though.

Tuesday:

I got a massage as a treat to my poor shoulders, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day (after a nap) hammering to finish adding the brackets to the rafters. So that might’ve defeated the purpose of the massage. Dad and I also went for a hike and had hot chocolate again, this time by a waterfall! Tiny houses, to me, are partly meant to encourage you to go outside more, and it’s already working! πŸ˜›

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Because the brackets had to go in tight corners, it was such a pain to get the nails in. I’d guess each bracket with its eight nails took about 100 hits, making that 2200 swings of a hammer to get all the brackets in. Oww.

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Wednesday:

I spent Wednesday working on the top strips of house wrap, so more hammering and more shin bruises from ladders.

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I’m enjoying just getting out there and getting to work. It’s not often we single task these days. Focusing on one physical task and doing only that thing makes me feel a lot less scattered and stressed. So did the yoga class Dad and I went to in the evening. πŸ™‚ It’s shaped up to be a great week!

Thursday:

I had a lot of little things on my to-do list for Thursday, including several trips to different hardware stores for buying and returning. And I managed to check everything off my list by the end of the day!

I finished the last piece of house wrap, took the support beam out – the collar ties are holding, and did some measuring especially for the door.

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I bought wood to frame the door (the rough opening is a lil bit big), shims, caulking, and a doorknob! I also returned some extra brackets. I brought back half of the plastic capped nails for a refund of $46! I don’t know what happened with numbers there, but I did not need them all!

I’ve been keeping my tiny house Excel document up to date with my spending and time log.

Then I spent my evening with friends. πŸ™‚

I’m taking the build one day at a time and trying to keep some balance.

Friday:

A source of stress (and nightmares) for me has been rain and my subfloor. I know that before the roof was up, water got below my subfloor. Water can be very bad for a house!

I tested the floor by cutting out a small puck of wood to see the underside:

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Dry, with no rot or mold! PHEW.

I will test another spot or two later. There is some water sitting on top of the insulation, unfortunately. Once the house in sealed for the winter, I’ll be able to heavily de-humidify the space. I’m very glad I chose spray foam and not wool or Roxul insulation, and plywood instead of OSB. It’s worth the money to not have your materials disintegrate or turn to mush!

With that little piece of mind, I worked on getting the door opening ready! I also added house wrap to my porch ceiling, which will get covered later by some art hopefully. πŸ™‚

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All taped up. I cut open the entrance window so I’ll be able to hop in and out when we’re installing the door.

I’ve worked after dark a few times, a consequence of sleeping in, but it gets dark earlier and earlier…

Cheers!

P.S. This is my 200th post!

A New Season

A lot of the tiny housers I come across online are either single people or serious couples. I started planning my build when I was single, figuring I’d meet someone someday in the far off future. Then, the winter before my trailer arrived, I met Dylan and he became an important part of my life. He loved the tiny house plan, and we pictured the two of us living in it when it was finished. We spent all our time together, worked on the tiny house together, and started living together. But over time, it became clearer to me that he never had any plans of his own. As much as I loved him, I got tired of taking care of someone who hadn’t yet learned to take care of themselves. Independence and self-sufficiency, these are qualities that I value, and after almost two years together, I was still making the plans and paying for everything. I couldn’t continue that way, so I broke it off. Endings are sad, but you have to do what’s right for yourself.

It’s been a month of change, but also of growth. I’ve grown as the tiny house has progressed, and every day I become better: at handling the stress, fixing the problems, getting what I need from hardware store staff, and moving forward. I had my time away on vacation to recharge after working two jobs, building the tiny house, and balancing a draining relationship. I got to visit family and see some old friends who know me well. I came home refreshed and ready to reshape my life, to put myself first again.

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I didn’t have time to get the ridge and verge caps on before I left for vacation (between work and some hair dyeing madness), but that turned out to be a good thing. The fancy tape kept the interior dry while I was away, and when I got back, I arranged to have the tiny house moved back to my mum’s. I added the verge caps (which may have involved some hammer throwing and tears due to uncooperative nails) before the move. That way, the edges of the roofing couldn’t lift up in the wind, and we put my house, with a roof this time, on the road again!

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The house cleared all the wires, but loosened a rather large branch that fell on my car! Thankfully, it didn’t crack my windshield. But that’s something to be careful of when you’re the follow car!

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Back home.

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Where the tiny house is now, I can see the top of it from the front window of the main house, and the ridge is sinking in the middle again! So I’ve had to hold off putting the ridge caps on until I can push the ridge back into place and secure it better. Originally, I thought we had waited too long to put the collar ties in and the ridge had a chance to sink. But the issue doesn’t seem to be with the collar ties. Since it’s happened again, I believe the connectors I used where the rafters land on the top plate are bending slightly and allowing the rafters to slide. So the plan is to jack up the ridge board again and add different connectors, fingers crossed:

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In the meantime, I leveled the trailer and bought myself an air compressor (on sale πŸ™‚ ). Then I got ready to do the house wrap. I’ve mentioned before that I had custom drip edges made for the wheel wells, so I went out and finally installed those:

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However, in my rush to get them done (in addition to the fact that it’s been almost two months since I ordered the drip edges), I completely forgot that they were meant to be installed so that the metal sloped down. I installed them flat, so a little bit of water will pool. But at least the water will no longer be hitting the top of the wheel wells and splashing onto my sheathing. And there’s no chance of it getting into the house. I caulked the gap between the wheel well and the frame, then nailed the flashing on, and the house wrap will go over top.

I had my friend Ian’s help putting up the house wrap! I love steps that change the entire look of the tiny house:

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Day one: Ian helped get the bulk of it done, and then I treated us to sushi for supper. πŸ™‚

This is one continuous piece of house wrap. Ian unrolled the wrap while I nailed along the top, and then we went back through and added the rest of the nails, smoothing the wrap as we went. The first wall had a very large ripple, so we ended up taking out most of the nails I had put at the top, pulling the wrap tighter, and then re-nailing. It took us about five hours to do this – oh and I also had Ian help me nail up the porch ceiling, the final piece of sheathing (using my new air compressor)! We even worked through some light rain.

This would’ve gone so much faster with a staple gun, but it wouldn’t have been as good of a job. I’m glad I chose to use the nails, and I haven’t run out of the short ones yet! But I did bruise my thumb at least a half dozen times, and we dropped and wrecked plenty of nails. The end of the day involved a game of “Pick Up Nails”.

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Day two: I went around and trimmed the wrap around the wheel wells, taped any nails that weren’t fully sealing around the plastic caps, taped all the edges, and cut out the doorway.

I could’ve gotten more done on the second day had I started earlier – it’s getting dark so early now – but I can only do so much between sleep and work. I never like to work when I’m tired or cranky; it’s not worth the mistakes and potential for injuries. Working on the house for 2-5 hours a day as often as possible is going well so far. I’ve worked on the house 6 days this month, even after being gone for half of it, plus a day for moving the house. This is the first month that I’ve ever worked on the house without Dylan, but it’s been productive. Once I have the radio out there and a task in front of me, I lose track of time and just focus. It’s almost peaceful. πŸ™‚ I’ve also been getting better at hopping out of bed, pulling on my work clothes and boots, and getting out there (after breakfast). This has to be done, and I’m going to do it!

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I told myself in the beginning that I wasn’t going to be on of those bloggers who let the updates stretch to months apart, but I do realize that the building life is a busy one. With everything else going on in my life, blogging hasn’t been on the top of the list. Plus I like to post updates when I completely finish a step, but sometimes the steps drag out. I only just put that last piece of sheathing on, the roofing isn’t fully finished (I ended up tarping it for a few rainy days), and I still have to add the top foot or two of the house wrap. But I’m making progress! And my dad’s home for a week so I’ll have his help for a few things. πŸ™‚ Trust me, I’m working on it, even if I’m not writing about it!

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