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.

~

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 🙂 ). 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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!

~

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. 🙂 Trust me, I’m working on it, even if I’m not writing about it!

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Dear Family

I know I haven’t updated in a little while, but I’m here now to catch you up.

It has been a challenge to balance work with the build and everyday life. Normally, you have one job, then when you’re not at work, that’s free time. You can take the time to spend time with your significant other, your friends, and your family. You can spend time by yourself, which is quite necessary for us introverts. You can practice your hobbies, exercise, read, watch TV, go to the movies, eat 3 meals a day, and do the laundry. Even if you have a side project that you’re working on, you only work on that some of the time, while still taking time for everything else.

A tiny house build, however, can be all-consuming. I’ve jumped into a huge project with infinite unknowns and I almost never stop thinking about it. It’s a risky project, because any mistakes will have a huge affect later, so I’m constantly wondering if I’m doing everything right. I have nightmares that my roof sheathing has been ripped off and it’s raining directly into the house again. I’m still tense every time it rains!

I have two jobs, and while they’re both part time, I work weird hours and pick up extra shifts when people ask. Dylan works long days, sometimes not getting home until 8 o’clock at night after starting at 6am. So this month has not been as productive as the past two, especially since I lost my steam after dealing with the skylights.

This month I’m working 4 days on, 3 days off (unless I pick up more shifts like last week), and despite the rare consistency in my schedule, it’s been hard. I get home between 9 and 10:30 on days that I work, so keeping up with laundry and dishes and my own introvert time feels like a losing battle sometimes. Then, when I have my three days off, I don’t start building right away because I’m busy catching up on everything else, and Dylan’s usually at work. Then building gets pushed and pushed until we’re scrambling to try and get something done on the third evening. And as much as I don’t like mornings, building in the evening seems to make us very cranky.

I’m still trying to fit my life and the build into what feels like not enough time for everything. But when I get motivated, and I get out there, I run with it. Here’s what I’ve managed to squeeze in, rain, shine, morning or night:

☑ Cut the piece for the porch ceiling (but the temporary door needs to come off before we can put it up)

☑ Trimmed around the other wheel well (thanks Colby!)

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☑ Cut all the blocking to fit each space. I did the first half with Colby’s help on Saturday, but we didn’t finish all the pieces. So I went back out on Sunday to do the rest and had the saw inside the tiny house while it rained.

☑ Put up the drip edge on the eaves

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It was fun to hammer by hand for once instead of lugging around the nail gun.

I originally only bought enough drip edge for the sides of the house because my roofing comes with pieces to finish the front of the house. But the guy at the hardware store insisted I needed some on the front too, so I bought some just in case. I was there buying nails, tin snips, and picking up the custom drip edge for over the wheel wells. But I should’ve stuck to what I already knew, because when I got home and tested the drip edge with the roofing piece, there’s no way I can use both, and I’m going to use the roofing piece.

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Finally got to use my tool belt. 🙂

☑ Measured and marked where the skylights will go

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☑ Put up all the ice and water shield! It took a couple days working before and after work shifts, but it was easy and fun! I like being up on the roof, and for this, I was able to work by myself so Dylan didn’t have to get up on the roof. 😛

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Doing all the right overlapping 🙂

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And done! Easy!

Right now, Dylan and I are working on fixing an issue I discovered with the ridge board, which I will explain once we fix it, and getting the blocking up, which is tedious. After that, I need to cut out the windows, do a few little things, cut A LOT of nails because they don’t seem to sell the short ones in Canada, then get the house wrap up and the skylights in! Then it’s the window and door installation, roofing, and purple trim around the windows! Now that we’re nearing the end of July, we’re going to need to get a move on!

My goal is to get the exterior of the house, with maybe the exception of the siding (staining is going to be very time-consuming) done by August 31st. My sister and I leave for a road trip on September 1st, so that’s my deadline. That said, so long as I keep working on the house as much as I can, if I don’t get everything done before that, I’m not going to beat myself up. This build can be unpredictable and so can my life. I can still work on the house into September, and I’m still considering paying to get my siding installed for me, which would only take two days. August is going to be a big month. Let’s just hope more things are as easy as the ice and water shield was!

 

 

What They Don’t Tell You

After I finished the roof sheathing, I needed to switch to research before starting the next steps. I had several days off, but ended up spending them on the computer.

(If you’re just here for the story, not the technical stuff, you can skim the next several paragraphs).

Skylights:
I researched how to install skylights and read the instructions that came with them, which all seemed pretty simple. I could cut my rough openings, line up the skylights, nail them down, put the sticky flashing around them, and then work on other things. The casing they come with can be put back on until I’m ready to put on the metal pieces of the flashing kits, around the same time as the roofing.

Weather-proofing:
I researched ice and water shield, and found amazing things about Grace ice and water shield and how other products don’t compare. I checked, the kind I have is not Grace brand. Then I researched Tyvek (the “best”) vs. Typar (what I bought). Tyvek seemed a lot better too! So I started calling hardware stores to check prices. I might as well use the best materials since I’m building such a small structure. But how can you know which brands make a difference and which ones are pretty much the same? Apparently Tyvek and Typar are similar and are almost the same price, so I stopped worrying about that. As for Grace ice and water shield, it’s $160 a roll! I only need one roll, but still, that’s 3x more expensive than what I picked up. The man I was talking to asked if a building inspector was making me use it, so I guess it’s not generally used, and the stuff I have is supposed to be as good. We’ll see.

Drip edges??
While I was reading about installing ice and water, I discovered drip edges and started Googling again. That was quite the rabbit hole, involving arguments on forums and people correcting people correcting other people. Finally I decided that I wouldn’t install gutters, unless it became apparent that I needed them down the road, but a drip edge would save my fascia, and should be installed underneath the ice and water at the eaves. But that was the point that people disagreed about, with some saying the drip edge should be installed on top, with an added skinny strip of I&W. That doesn’t make sense to me because that’s not a “water-shedding lap” like I kept reading about. You have to think like water, and about gravity, but also about where water might sneak backwards or up. So I might put a strip of ice and water underneath the drip edge in case any water finds its way up underneath, then install the drip edge, then roll out the I&W overtop. I still need to figure out exactly how to integrate the metal flashing of the skylight with the I&W, but all the videos show cutting back any underlayment before installing. I’m going to put the skylights up first, rather than putting on the I&W then trying to cut through it later to install the skylights.

House wrap:
House wrap seems pretty straight forward. You just tack it up with staples and you’re done, right? Well, what about the edges?? And as I was looking up how to install house wrap, every video – including a tiny houser I follow – recommended using plastic-capped nails instead of staples. The point of house wrap is seal the house from any water that gets behind your siding, which will happen, while still allowing your house to breathe (which doesn’t matter in my case with spray foam, I need an air circulation system). So, how is house wrap supposed to do its job when you’re poking thousands of holes in it, in pairs, with staples? Using the exposed side of the garage as an example, there are only 3 staples that are still securing the house wrap, while there are at least 10 others that have ripped through the house wrap. Knowing this, I couldn’t buy the $20 pack of staples and get to work. So I decided to wait on the house wrap until I could get the special nails.

It’s all this crap that they don’t tell you about. I didn’t even know drip edges existed until last week. Workshops and tiny house construction videos will talk about things like house wrap and siding, but they rarely mention how to do edges, corners, or things like weatherproofing the ceiling of the covered porch or underneath the eaves!

So, armed with my new knowledge, and some things I already knew, I made several trips to different hardware stores. I…

  • returned some glue and nails I didn’t need (got back $32)
  • bought wood to frame the skylights
  • bought wood to use for blocking in the roof
  • bought more galvanized nails to nail into the blocking
  • bought some plastic siding to cut up and use to cover underneath the overhang
  • bought some wood strips to use underneath the front and back overhangs
  • bought drip edges
  • ordered some custom bent metal to use as drip edges for the wheel wells
  • bought the expensive plastic capped nails ($100 a box!)

All while working 9 days out of 10, so I haven’t had much of a chance to build, unfortunately. I’ve fallen a bit behind in my plan for the summer months, but I expected that after the skylight issue. It’s also been pouring rain, which sucks, because I had planned to have the ice and water shield on by now, but that’s how it goes, and the inside of the house is dry at least. I’m back to work for the next 6 days, so we’ll see what I can squeeze in until my Saturday off.

 

Skylight Update

I have my new skylights! Phew. I got an email on Thursday saying they were in, but didn’t have time to pick them up before work. Then Friday was Canada Day so everything was closed. So this morning, with the too-big skylights in the back, I went straight to the hardware store, even forgetting to eat breakfast. The window guy gave me a sheet with the skylights and flashing kits listed and the total price, which was over $1400! I asked him how much each item was, thinking in my head that there was no way they could be this expensive. I only paid $1264 for the first set of skylights! I did get a discount on those because they were so late, but even still, the new skylights were 12″ smaller! He looked up the prices and dropped the price of the big one for me by $35, and made the flashing kits $20 cheaper each, bringing the total to $1345. I didn’t fight him anymore on that. He always looks cranky when he sees me now, which I think is unprofessional, but since it was my mistake this time choosing the bigger skylights, I wasn’t going to argue more about the price. I went into the store willing to pay a restocking fee or pay for the ripped boxes or whatever it took so long as I left with the right skylights – and they didn’t say anything about the boxes. I had been looking forward to the new ones being cheaper, but I guess nothing ever is. 😛 And I did save myself $75 just by asking (which goes to show how much they can manipulate prices). But anyways, here they are!

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$80 more expensive yet way smaller, but oh well.

Making Progress!

I had Thursday off and was out working on the house bright and early! Dylan was at work, but with his best friend’s help (who happens to live a few houses over), I cut and test-fitted that final odd piece.

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It’s so much easier to move and cut plywood when you have someone to help lift and hold.

Then we put up the first 4 notched pieces on the far side:

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First piece!

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I had to break for some midday plans, then after supper I worked on getting more pieces up with Dylan. My goal for the day was to get all 12 pieces up, but we were getting pretty cranky working on piece #10 at 9pm. When you’re snapping at each other, it’s probably time to call it quits for the day and go get some ice cream, which is exactly what we did. 🙂

We got that whole side done though:

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I dropped Dylan off at work on Friday morning and considered working on the house or going back to bed before my shift at 3pm. I ended up staying up, cleaning the kitchen, making myself eggs and bacon, and getting a message from Dylan’s best friend, T.O., saying he was available to help. So I decided I could get the last two pieces up before work, and we did, plus a small piece on the front wall, and we even rough cut the piece for the end wall.

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I don’t think anyone else can comprehend how beautiful I find this. I’m SO proud!

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The full piece was too heavy for the two of us to safely get up to test fit though, so we cleaned up for the day in time for my shift. I was pretty happy for the progress on an unplanned build day. It also meant that I didn’t have to take time out of my Saturday building to finish Thursday’s work. But Saturday’s plans did end up changing… Dylan and T.O. were both around and willing to help, so we finished the last two big pieces of the plywood!

Before that though, I was doing a bit of research about skylights, and checked my receipt to see if I had curb-mounted or deck-mounted ones, and my receipt said curb-mounted. As I was reading about the differences, I was getting more and more angry, because based on the descriptions, I knew I had asked for deck-mounted which are easier to install and won’t stick up as high. I was on the verge of having a fit, thinking about having to go back to the store AGAIN to yell at this man about windows AGAIN. I ran outside barefoot in my pajamas to check the skylights in the garage – which I picked up last week:

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and the boxes read, “Deck Mounted Skylight”:

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I calmed down a bit, but continued fuming a little bit that this person, who has apparently been in charge of ordering windows for decades, cannot do his job properly!

I refocused and got ready to work on the house. I wasn’t too concerned about getting the end walls sheathed before the roof; I figured I could do them after the roof sheathing, but since I had people to help I figured I might as well take advantage of it!

We test-fitted the piece I’d cut a notch in for the end wall, and it fit on the first try, so we traced the angles onto the piece while it was up there:

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This piece was ridiculously easy. 🙂

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I finally have a back wall!

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The front wall took a bit more thought. The other walls were big and simple, so planning the plywood was easy. But the front wall is special. The lower level is just over 4′ wide, which means that you can only get one piece from a full 4×8 sheet. And nowhere on the wall is a convenient place to add blocking, so I was hoping that going 4′ up, then to the top of the first level, then up another 4′ would work, but with the ridge beam added…

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That’s not quite enough plywood…

So I’ll have to add a little notched piece and put some blocking behind the gap, but all the big pieces are UP! 😀 We finished this piece right before I had to get ready for work, and we used the rest of the glue. We actually ran out of glue with only a few short studs left to do, so we used a piece of scrap wood and scraped any excess glue to where it was needed. 😛

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So pretty!

I also got a lot of little things done recently. Dylan and I…

  • spray-painted the exposed porch hardware underneath
  • taped up the wire for the lights on the trailer where it got pinched the first time it was moved
  • scraped some solidified glue off from between a stud and the plywood, then nailed the plywood in tight again
  • trimmed some plywood edges where they were sticking out too far
  • bought ice and water shield for the roof
  • bought wood for the fascia
  • bought more L brackets for the small loft beams
  • returned the rafter ties that I didn’t use
  • bought more adhesive to use for the roof sheathing ($72!)

I am loving getting stuff done! I seem to be better at resisting the urge to go back to bed or otherwise procrastinate because it’s so exciting now that things are happening faster. I am getting this done, even while working two jobs!

Check back for my post about the tiny houses Dylan and I got to see. 🙂

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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