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.


$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.


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.



My ingenious way of cutting a consistent two inches.


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.


Attempting to cut off the interlocking part of the siding.


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


Strips of wood added so I can attach the soffits.


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.



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!


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.


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!


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. 🙂


The lights are on, somebody must be home!




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.


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…


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.


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! 😛


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.



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


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. 🙂 It’s shaped up to be a great week!


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.



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. 🙂

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


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:


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. 🙂


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…


P.S. This is my 200th post!

The Long Update

A lot has happened since the end of October. I haven’t been blogging because I was more focused on getting as much physical work done as I could before winter.

I, with help from friends, got the last few sheets of the first level of plywood up:


This is the far side.



Even though I’m not anywhere near where I’d hoped I would be by now, it’s still amazing to see the progress that I’m making. I imagined this and now I’m making it real! It used to be just a drawing, then it was a custom trailer, then I had it insulated, added a sub-floor, designed and built my own walls, and then added sheets of wood that are bigger than me onto the outside! It might be a tiny house, but it’s a pretty big deal to me.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been blogging or working on the house recently is because I got a second job at the end of October, so I’ve been busy making money.

I did manage to get out a couple of times, to add the plywood in the pictures above, and to work on my rafters some more:




I only made 4 pairs of rafters to support the ridge board when it first goes up. That way, if I made them a little off, then I can make an improved template to make the rest from, rather than having every single rafter be less than ideal.

I bought a fancy ladder and a sander, both on sale 🙂


My very own sander 🙂

The revised plan was to sand my beams for the loft, get those in, get some rafters and the ridge board up, get some plywood on the roof, and tarp the house really well for winter. But the temperature was dropping fast, and with me working 6 days a week and having it rain on my only day off, things weren’t looking good…

Then I found a warehouse to store my house for the winter! That took a thousand pounds of stress off my chest. For $75 a month, I’ll have peace of mind knowing that winter won’t be destroying my little house, and I’ll be able to take a much-needed break.

But there was still work to be done. I had my siding delivered:



Then I finally got an email saying my windows were in, 5 weeks after they had told me it would take 3 or less. I was not impressed, and neither were any of my friends. So Dylan, his brother Dan, his brother’s girlfriend Tasha, and I all went up to the building store with the van and the truck, ready to pick up my windows and maybe do some yelling.

The whole window order has been stressing me out since I found out they weren’t ordered in August like I wanted. It means that despite spending thousands of dollars at their store on lumber and plywood, I wasn’t taken seriously. Altogether I’ve waited 11 weeks for my windows. They wouldn’t have made a contractor wait that long, and they would’ve been much more accommodating. Other tiny house builders, usually couples, talk about how they’ve made friends at the building stores and how everyone knows them there so that’s what I expected. Despite some warning signs on my first few trips to hardware stores, I wasn’t prepared for how I’ve been treated. It’s frustrating and I dread going to the building store. People were telling me to take Dylan or his dad or someone with me, and it makes me angry that I don’t get taken seriously on my own. I’m a paying customer and I should be taken seriously regardless of being young and female. So I won’t be spending my money at that building store anymore.

But I had to get my windows, so we all went in, and found out that my skylights weren’t in. That was part of my window order and I was not happy. Then Dan piped up and asked where the hell our discount was, and the guy totally tried to get out of it. Then I stepped up and reminded him that I waited 6 weeks the first time, which he also tried to get out by saying I never actually confirmed the order, but I know I told him I wanted them ordered and wanted to pay for them. But I waved him off and continued, telling him that then he told me they would be three weeks or less FIVE weeks ago. He was quick to deny that, saying it had only been four, and I told him they were still late and he had messed up my timeline. I couldn’t have siding put up so I was losing out on a deal on that, and I was having to store my project because I didn’t have windows in. He grumbled and gave me a teeny 5% off, saying there’s not much he can do on custom windows, which I can understand. I saved about $100 and I was happy to get anything off. Plus he offered to store the windows, which made things easier for me.

As for the skylights, he had to “check on those”. He mumbled something about a plant closing for two weeks, but I couldn’t care less if a plant closed, my skylights are stock windows, not custom, and they were only supposed to take 3-4 days. He told me they’d be ready in 3-4 days, implying to me that he hadn’t even ordered them at all. I was at a loss for words I was so angry.

Then a different guy, who I ordered my door from, came around the corner and said my door was in. I ordered the door around the same time I re-ordered my windows, but he told me it would take 6 weeks, so I was happily surprised to get it a week early. That’s how you should do business. Don’t tell people it’s going to take 3 weeks when it will take more, ’cause they’ll be mad. Anyways, here are the pictures:


They look so tiny! But at least they’re proportional.

I’m a little disappointed with my entrance window, because it was supposed to be 6″ taller, but it was my mistake. I framed it wrong and since I had to re-order my windows, I decided to stick with the mistake and changed the window size on the order instead of cutting apart my wall. But I’m sure I’ll like it when I’m done. Maybe I’ll put a cute little shelf over the window where that extra six inches of glass was supposed to be.


A custom tiny door!

I was worried about the door, because I wanted a window but I also wanted the paneling. This is what they made and I’m happy with it 🙂 It’s a really short door to fit under the loft, but it’s a standard width.

Then we had to get ready to get the house on the road. I’d already arranged for a friend of a friend who’s a professional at towing trailers to move the house on my one day off. Dylan and I moved all of my materials into the house for storage to free up the garage for the winter:



Then the guy tried to back out at the last minute saying he was busy, despite the fact that I’m paying him, but we put pressure on him and he showed up.

I had the ridge board and rafters ready to go, but left them off. They would’ve added more height and it wouldn’t have been that strong without all of the rafters in.

Getting the trailer onto the hitch was a little upsetting to watch, especially since there was water pouring out the end of the trailer somehow (the sub-floor plus rain is a whole ‘nother story):



Tiny house on the move!


Tiny house on the road!


I didn’t plan on moving the house until it was done, but here it is!


Tiny house in a warehouse 🙂

The professional driver – who I paid $100 to move the house safely – pinched the wire on the light harness while jack-knifing into the warehouse, so I’m not very happy about that. The lights still work though.

It’s a good thing the ridge board wasn’t up, because it might not have made it through the warehouse door! Thankfully everything worked out.



All tucked in for winter.

So after six months of stress and learning, I’m going to snuggle in and enjoy my winter. I’ll still be doing some research, working on my steps list, and posting on here occasionally, but I’ll also be taking the time to get back to my little personal projects and hobbies that got pushed aside this summer.

Oh, and we got the tiny house stored just in time. We had a rainstorm and over 50mm of rainfall the weekend after moving the house, then right after that, it snowed and the ground stayed white for a little while. The temperature went up again, but winter is coming…


Here are some pictures of the emptiness the house left behind:




Ta ta for now.

Working Away

My plywood was delivered so now the garage is full again:

I ordered 1/2″ plywood for my wall sheathing, 5/8″ T&G plywood for the roof (eliminating the need for plywood clips, plus it was all they had), and the 2x6s for my rafters.

The other day I was out measuring all the gaps between the studs to cut blocking for the plywood. I ended up having to leave before being able to cut anything, and then later I was reading about blocking. I read that you should measure at the bottom or the top; that way a bowed board doesn’t mess you up. So I re-measured all the spaces at the bottom and then cut them all.

I also cut some extra studs to make my California corners and cut all the pieces for the small wall. Then today, I had Dylan and Dan over to help, and Tasha, Jordynn, and Megan were there to watch. 😛

The first thing we did was pick up some 12′ boards with the truck for my ridge board, which I had neglected to order with the plywood. Then we spent most of the day up on ladders. We did a bunch of little things that aren’t very visible. This was when we stopped for supper (after starting at noon):

And at the end of the day:

What we did:

  • nailed together the small wall (that goes beside the window seat) and put it in place
  • added the angled pieces around the wheel wells and put a few extra nails in a few places
  • nailed the corners together (no more clamps!)
  • added the extra studs in the corners to create a nailing surface for the interior siding
  • started drilling a bolt-sized hole in the trailer to secure the post (but it still needs to be drilled bigger)
  • drilled a shallow hole in the bottom of the post to accommodate the the bolt head
  • snapped chalk lines for the plywood
  • added blocking (except for above the windows)

My mistake: not accounting for the fact that the trimmer studs don’t continue above the windows, so I have a few too-short boards to re-make.

I don’t know how other people manage having friends over to help them with their builds. It’s hard to direct people when you barely know what you’re doing! And unfortunately, a lot of jobs require about one and a half people and lots of patience. There’s one person doing most of the work, while the second person is bored just holding or checking something. But it’d be really difficult to do anything without that person holding or checking!

All in all though, it was a productive day, or at least a day that set us up to have a really productive day later. 😛

Next up:

  • cutting and adding in the missing blocking
  • finishing the bolt hole and attaching the post
  • making a perfect rafter to use as a template
  • putting up the ridge board
  • making a couple dozen rafters
  • bracing the frame so it’s 100% square when the plywood goes up
  • cutting and putting up plywood!

I have all the plywood planned out, and one thing I had to research was how to close the gap between the top of the wall and the top of the rafters because I have a 6″ overhang. A lot of buildings have to leave a gap for ventilation, which I don’t need because I’m using spray foam. Other buildings don’t show what they’ve done. Many tiny houses don’t have an overhang at all. It was difficult to find information on. One suggestion was to fill the gaps with blocking, but that would mean I’d have to buy 2x6s or even 2x8s to fill the 5.5″ gap plus the angle. Then there’s the question of whether or not to notch out your plywood to fit up between the rafters to fill that space. My plan so far is to notch my plywood, then decide if I need some size blocking for support. If I decide to leave the ends of the rafters exposed, then I’ll have a flat surface to continue my siding onto between the rafters, and if I decide to cover the bottom of the rafters, then the plywood will stop the spray foam from getting into the sealed off overhang.

Notes: Nail guns are heavy, the more ladders the better, and metal takes ages to drill into! Also, I’m a regular at the building supply store now.

Thanks for the help and patience, lovelies, and remember, I’m making it up as I go along!

Stuck and Stressed

I wish I had progress to report, but the trailer is still wall-less and summer is getting away from me.

Work, the weather, the engineer, the roofing, and calculations kept me from building before leaving for vacation for two weeks. One of my coworkers was on vacation for all of July, so I was working a lot, and then it seemed whenever I had a day off, it was raining. Now that I’m back, I still don’t have anything concrete from the engineer because she was out sick while I was gone.

I haven’t been able to confidently start on the walls for several reasons. First, I had to figure out how high I can build the framing without the ridge cap of my roof exceeding 13’6″. In the design stage, I appreciated the creative challenge of making my house fit into road restrictions. However, trying to get my house to be as tall as possible without going over has proven to be annoying and unusual. I don’t have any examples to go by because I’m working backwards from a specific height, whereas with normal houses, it doesn’t matter how tall they end up.

Then I found out that the only location in the Maritimes that sells the roofing I want, Onduvilla, is going to discontinue selling it. I hadn’t planned on ordering my roofing yet, but I wanted to get it before they stopped selling it! Since I want a special-order colour, I was told it could take 8 weeks or more, so all the more reason to order it right away. I was stressing for weeks about calculations and the framing and the roofing, and finally ordered the roofing the day I left for vacation. It arrived the day after we got back. So much for 8 weeks! I probably could’ve saved myself some stress by not worrying so much, but at least I have it now. It was exciting to go pick it up and see the orange colour in person. The house is going to look so good when it’s done!

A friend of my dad’s also gave me some leftover flooring for free:

I’m not sure if I’ll use it, but it’s a lovely medium brown that I would’ve picked for myself 🙂

I’m having a hard time balancing the build with a social life, but I’m STILL emailing back and forth with the engineer so I can’t do much. I should have her okay in the next couple days though. This week coming up, I’m back to my lighter work schedule and I will be out building as much as possible!

Previous Older Entries


"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