Mini Porch

My porch floor is finished! It’s so pretty and new that I don’t want to step on it with my dirty work boots!

It’s taken a lot of little steps to get the porch done. I covered most of the work in my last post, but I still spent six hours today working on it, as well as several hours throughout the week. I did a third coat of paint on the post. I primed and spray painted the porch and the back of the trailer (after sanding away a few spots of rust).

The porch has so many weird little corners that I needed to figure out. First off, the side wall sheathing was installed while the plywood porch was in place, so when I took the plywood out, I had a 5/8″ gap to deal with. I was planning on notching the porch boards to fit, but then I realized gluing in a strip of plywood would be way easier. I decided to paint it purple, so in the gaps between the porch boards, you would see a little colour.

I glued in the piece, then I thought I should caulk it as well, so no water can get stuck behind the piece.

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No more purple, oh well.

I spent a while fiddling with the boards to get them just right.

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Test fit!

I marked them, then predrilled, countersank, and set the screws partway in.

The edge of metal on the right side of the porch was simply not wide enough to accommodate the thick screws for drilling into the trailer, so I used some heavy duty adhesive. The first piece is almost completely underneath the threshold of the door, so that piece doesn’t have any screws in it:

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First piece down!

I didn’t want to put any screws into the flange (the 3 1/2″ on the left) where they’d be exposed, and besides, the wiring for the trailer lights runs underneath there. So that’s why there are no screws on the left.

After that I glued down the next five pieces and clamped them. Then I used the impact driver and burned through some screws and an hour or two. Drilling into metal is not fun! But it’s done! Oh and one screw unfortunately lined up exactly with some c-channel underneath, so it couldn’t tighten up and had to be glued in.

I shimmed the threshold because it was just a little higher than the decking:

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Then some caulking and it was finished!

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🙂

The boards are spanning three feet and bowed a little when you stepped on them, so the green screws in the center are for some support pieces underneath. My sis helped me with those. 🙂

My porch floor is done, so now I can get the trim up around the door and on those corners, and get the siding going!

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I’ll get some less fuzzy pictures soon. 😛

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P.S. I bought a third caulking gun, and it works amazingly. It is fifty times easier to use than the others I’ve used. I caulked around the octagon before I bought the new gun, and I was switching back and forth between two half-broken ones. With the new one, it took less than 20 minutes to caulk and tool one window, when before it was taking over an hour! I easily finished the last two windows, as well as around the wheel wells. 🙂

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$5, $10.50, & $13.50, respectively.

The porch ceiling will be the last exterior piece to go up. Trim and siding first!

It’s been a great week. I’ve been picking away at little to-do’s like priming and painting the plywood edges to protect them. I put together my porch! I’ve been researching HRVs and HVACs, as well as fans and vent hoods. I also did some 3D modeling of my future furniture, and it’s looking good!

It was pouring rain last night, so I went out and laid in my loft for a while, smiling in my little house that I built, listening to the rain, protected. I need to do something about the rain loudly hitting the wheel wells though…

And today was T-shirt weather! I had the windows in the tiny house open. 🙂 Cheers to warm weather!

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Hidden Details

The temperature has been above zero recently! We barely have any snow right now, and I managed to get a little bit of annoying work done.

There are some parts of a house that are not talked about, like soffits. I never knew what soffits were or how a roof was ventilated before I started researching, and even after that I found very few examples of how people build the more hidden parts of a house. Some tiny houses don’t even have an overhang, and others simply don’t show what they did for theirs. Some houses have exposed rafter tails, but mine aren’t particularly pretty, and I definitely don’t want to leave any sheltered spots open for hornet nests.

At a building supply store, when I asked for something to use for solid soffits (my roof is not vented because I will be using spray foam), they suggested vinyl siding, which I could cut to size. I bought a few pieces of white siding and matching nails, plus some thin pieces of wood. Underneath the overhang on the sides of the house, the vinyl will be attached to the rafter tails, but under the front and back, there’s nothing to attach the vinyl to. So I planned to nail up those thin pieces of wood to give me something to nail to. The first piece I put up I was able to hammer the nails in straight, but that left no space for hammering the second piece. For the second piece I used nails at an angle, and was pretty proud of myself for getting both pieces up.

The pieces that are attached to the house are nailed in straight, while the pieces attached to the fascia are attached with angled nails. Cut to me trying to put up the vinyl. I’ll give you a list of how many problems I ran into:

  • First off, the vinyl strips I cut were slightly too wide for the front overhang, which led to some very time-consuming trimming and checking, trimming and checking.
  • If the nail bit into the wood slightly over from where I intended, the vinyl would bubble.
  • Trying to leverage nails out by pushing against the very flimsy attached piece.
  • Trying not to hurt my nicely stained fascia.
  • The fact that the nails were designed to be difficult to pull out.
  • The wood had some flex to it I think, which meant that the majority of the time I hit the nail, it wouldn’t move. Ah, how many times I’ve been up on a ladder and swearing.
  • Sometimes a nail would go halfway in, and then just would not go in any further.
  • I was hammering at an angle, against gravity, on a ladder, mere inches from the house and a window.
  • The pieces attached to the fascia started to push up while I tried to nail to them, sometimes ripping out of the nails attaching them. One piece almost completely detached, and I added a nail through the side fascia to keep it in place.
  • The final piece I was trying to attach had split, ripped out of its nails, and the end of it also split when I tried to attach it through the side. It was impossible to nail to because it would just push up further into the cavity. And there was no easy way for me to fix it or replace it with the vinyl already half-attached.

But they’re done:

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If you look closely on the right, there’s a nail sticking out of the fascia that the vinyl is resting on. That’s all I could do. So don’t look close. 😛 It looks good from a distance!

I also cut the rest of the vinyl I need for the side overhangs. It was a lot easier and didn’t take as long because the side overhang is a bit smaller. Instead of having to cut where the vinyl curved, I was able to cut along straight lines:

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Putting the vinyl up along the sides should be way easier as well (except for the fact that they’re ten foot long strips) because I’m nailing into solid pieces of wood. But we had an ice storm today, so I didn’t get outside to work on the house.

Oh, my parents got me some wheel well covers for Christmas. 🙂

When all the snow melted off the roof, I took the opportunity to go up and inspect it, especially around the skylights and the ends of the ridge caps. It all looks good, and I checked the interior as well and it does not seem to be leaking! Yay! Phew!

I also measured all the windows so I can get ready to cut trim pieces. The plan is to cut them inside the tiny house, label them, then transfer them to the heated garage for priming and painting. I’m so excited to break out the purple paint! Then I’ll go from there.

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!

Skylight Stress

You can’t make detailed plans too far ahead with building projects, because things are constantly changing. You plan to do one thing, but don’t have something for it and the hardware store is closed, so you do something else instead. Things take longer, and you don’t always have extra people around to help. Things don’t go as you expected. But if you don’t make plans and deadlines, you won’t get anything done!

For the beginning of June, I had a list of things to do, and a rough outline of what I would do on each of my days off for two weeks. I didn’t plan the whole month though, because I knew plans would change too much by then. But by the time I finished that list and the middle of the month rolled around, I was busy with other parts of my life. I went zip-lining, hung out in my hammock reading, caught up with friends, spent time with my dad who’s home from Ottawa, and spent a day hiking and swimming with a friend at a local waterfall. 😀 It’s finally summer! 😀

I also needed to do some research after finishing the sheathing. New steps = learning as I go. I researched how to install skylights, ice and water shield, drip edges, house wrap, and more. You could spend forever reading forums of carpenters arguing about the correct way to do something and there’s no clear answer. Dylan’s also been working more now that it’s summer, so I often don’t have his help during the day.

After he got home from work one day, I was ready to work on the house and get my skylights installed, which seemed like the next step. Better to seal up the roof as soon as possible, while the walls could wait. So I got up in the loft to measure to cut the rough opening for my first skylight, and discovered that it would take up almost the entire width of the ceiling! When I ordered the skylights, I was more focused on getting my custom little windows all sorted out, and simply picked the middle size of 3 standard size skylights. It technically could fit, but I am not going to cut a hole in my roof that big. The way it is, yes the width of the roof is big enough on the top, but when you take away the overhang, the width of the wall, and the ridge board, you get less than 2″ on the top and bottom of the skylight. (Never mind that the instructions say to leave 24″ on the top and bottom of a skylight, which would be entirely impossible on my roof.) To frame it and trim it properly, to flash it and fit the roofing around it… there’s just not enough space. This was a horrible realization on the day I had planned to install the skylights, and worse because it was minutes after the hardware store had closed, so I couldn’t even call about returning them.

Discouraged, I didn’t bother trying to get anything else done on the house, and anxiously waited until morning thinking about the skylight boxes I’d ripped to get the instructions out.

The next morning, Dylan and I loaded the skylights and matching flashing kits into the car and went to the hardware store. They are stock sizes, so they should be returnable, but I was stressing that they were going to tell me no. It was my mistake this time, not theirs. Could nothing go right with the windows?!?!

I walked up to the window guy and clearly stated what I wanted. At first he hesitated, saying that he couldn’t really send them back to Ontario, but I insisted that they’re stock windows, that I needed to return them and get the smaller size, and that I wanted them next week. He said he’d call up the place to see if the flashing kits would be usable with smaller skylights, and told me he would give me a call later in the day. I told him, “I’ll wait.” So he called right away and ordered new skylights and new flashing kits. He told me they’d be in in 3-5 days and that I could return the other skylights then. It wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected, but I still walked away worrying that he’d screw me over when the new ones arrived by refusing to take the old ones with ripped boxes.

Since then, I’ve been busy working and attending my sister’s high school graduation! And of course, it’s been raining.

To be continued…

Rain and Rafters

I spoke too soon about my floor not getting rained on. The same night that we tarped the house, the wind was terrible and I woke up to a tarp split in two! My 28′ tarp ripped down the middle, lengthwise along the ridge beam, possibly from catching on a nail. My second tarp of the same size is still covering the floor, but it’s a flat surface with no where for water to go. When it rains, the water just sits until it finds its way underneath and my floor gets wet anyway.

And as usual, it’s sunny on the days I work and raining whenever I have days off, but that’s not stopping me this year.

This weekend, I cut the rest of the rafters to length:

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I traced the birdmouth onto each one, having decided not to mess with my original, and Dylan nailed some more metal rafter ties to the top of the walls. Then we swapped, and he cut out all the birdmouths for me while I finished adding all the metal pieces. He did a great job, and I’m glad I didn’t have to do anymore of the birdmouths. 🙂

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The last five had to wait because the jigsaw was overheating. Dylan also added the L brackets to the ends of the finished rafters so they were ready to go up.

Then the next day, I started putting up rafters while Dylan cut the last birdmouths, then we were both up there adding rafters. Yay teamwork! But I have to admit, Dylan is twice as fast as me at putting up a rafter, so he honestly did most of the work for this weekend. I have tiny, weak arms, so hammering (especially at weird angles on a ladder) is not my strong suit. You can’t use a nail gun with the metal pieces unless you have a special gun and/or tip, because if you miss the hole it’s way too dangerous, so hammering it was!

It was raining lightly the whole time we were putting these up, so we decided to do the ones on the ends later when the ladders weren’t so slippery. Other than the last few, the rafters are up and I’m so proud!

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I think that I post a lot more than any other tiny house blog I’ve seen, but every little thing is an accomplishment for me. Every single step means learning something new, so it’s slow going, but I’m keeping up with where I want to be. I can’t put in 10-12 hour days like some builders, it just doesn’t happen, but I’m picking away at it and doing the best I can.

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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