A Week in the Life

Last year I did a post like this, called A Day in the Life, but so much has changed, and I’ve been busy getting my siding up almost every day. 🙂 I’ve been working hard!

Friday

I get up, eat some cereal and yogurt, then tie up my boots and head out to the tiny house.

I cut pieces to length, with the angles for the joints.

20170602_125204

I’m getting good at these cuts!

I stain edges, and get my sister to help me put up a few rows. My mum also helps for a bit. I get 4 rows done.

Then I go get ready for work. I work for 4 hours, until 9pm.

My sister and I go to the drive-in and see Wonder Woman and Everything, Everything. 🙂

We get home and I go to sleep at 2am.

Saturday

I get up, eat cereal and yogurt, then go outside.

Some friends of friends happen to drive by, and see me in the yard. They pull in and ask for a tour, which I’m happy to give. We talk for a bit about systems and parking.

Then I cut boards.

I stain the cut edges. I don’t have help today.

I get ready for work, and work for 5 hours. It was crazy busy.

I go out for burgers with my best friend after work.

Sunday

I get up and eat more cereal and yogurt. I’m addicted at this point. 😛

I go outside and get ladders, sawhorses, and boards set up.

20170604_132325

I cut, stain, and put up some small boards on the front of the house.

20170604_141836

Nails set in a piece for the front wall.

I cut some boards for the back.

Steph helps for a bit, but then she has to work. I have Sundays off. 🙂

Mum helps me get the rest of the boards up on the side walls! She also helps me get a few rows up on the back wall. 13 rows up!

20170604_162217

I think I hit a nail… 😛

I finish up around 9pm, then go inside to enjoy my well-deserved supper and Netflix. 🙂

Monday

I wake up early and take my car in to get all-season tires put on (finally).

I start working on the house, and get some cutting and staining done since I don’t have help today. I get some little pieces up around the front window.

A woman who walks past every day calls out, “You’re doing a good job!” as she goes by.

I make myself some food, get ready for work, and work for a few hours.

I spend my evening with friends and we get take-out quesadillas after work. 🙂

Tuesday

I sleep in a little bit after staying up late, then get out to do some more cutting and staining.

I don’t have help today, but I try to get all the pieces I’ll need ready for tomorrow, when I have a friend coming to help.

A friend texts to ask if he can bring his dad to show him the house, and I tell them to come on over.

I give a little tour, and receive compliments on a job well done. 🙂 “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

I go get ready for work, and work for a few hours.

I spend the evening with friends again, and we get Subway.

Wednesday

I wake up early, eat, and get out to the house earlier than usual. I get the last few boards for the back wall cut, and I’m staining the ends when my friend shows up to help.

The first two pieces are a pain, and one splits after it’s already nailed down. 😦 We move on to the back wall, and get 17 rows up before he has to leave to get ready for work.

I get my mum to help for a half hour, and we get 4 more rows up.

Then I get ready for work, and I work for a few hours.

I come straight home, change my clothes, and go out to the house. I measure and cut two angled boards for the end walls in the last hour of daylight.

Then I go in and enjoy my food and Netflix before bed.

Thursday

I sleep in a little bit then have my cereal and yogurt (it keeps me full while I build!)

I get in a few hours of work on the house.

I don’t have help today, but I’m working on the front wall around the octagon.

I cut and test-fit and stain, and since the pieces are short, I’m able to nail them up by myself. I get 3 rows up.

I get ready for work, then I work for a few hours.

I come straight home again and ask for Mum’s help.

20170608_143226

We get 2 more rows up on the back before it gets completely dark.

I go out to put gas in my car, pick up some groceries, go to the bank, and I get a burger while I’m out.

Then I finally get to sit, relax with some TV, then a bit of reading before bed. ❤

~

The siding is far from perfect. Gaps here, splits there, less than perfect joints, extra nails… it looks great from a distance. But done is better than perfect, and the siding was definitely doing its job as it poured rain today (I finally took a break). I’ve ordered some caulking in a brown that matches my siding, and I still have a few little pieces to put up and some screw holes to fill and paint over. Then I’ll show you my fully dressed beautiful little house. ❤

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.

20161220_142801

$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.

20161220_142641

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.

20161211_183917

20161220_152006

My ingenious way of cutting a consistent two inches.

20161221_151620

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.

20161211_144826

Attempting to cut off the interlocking part of the siding.

20161211_144815

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

20161211_170702

Strips of wood added so I can attach the soffits.

20161220_142515

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.

 

Doing My Best

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

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

img_1308

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

img_1305

A few icicles.

img_1315

Then the snow stayed.

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

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

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

20161220_142531

20161220_142641

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

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

Stain Splatters

After installing all the windows, it was time to pick a stain colour for my siding! Which I was avoiding, because it’s a big decision! I’m doing pine beveled siding, and the colour I choose is going to be the colour of the entire exterior of my house! I also looked at paint colours for my door, post, and exterior trim, but I’m not revealing those yet. 😉

I wanted a stain that would still show the grain of the wood. Some people don’t like how many knots pine has, but I don’t mind at all – which is convenient, because pine is one of the cheapest and lightest wood types. 😛 I like the personality in wood grain, and I’m so happy to be able to use real wood for my house instead of plastics and particle board. 🙂 There weren’t that many options for semi-transparent stains, so it didn’t take me long to choose…

20161103_130111-2

I was aiming for not too red/orange and not too grey, and this seemed like the best one!

I’ve been going to a different hardware store, and the staff have been really helpful and gave me a great price on the stain. 🙂 I started staining on November 7th, in the heated garage (thanks parents!), and I’ve been staining almost every day and sometimes twice a day since! I learned that the wood fibers on the smooth side of the siding get heated while the wood is being cut, creating what’s called “mill glaze”. This closes the grain of the wood from accepting stain, so I have spent several days sanding my siding as well. It’s been a process!

I’ve really learned how to manage my time better and fit staining into my day, more than any other part of the build so far. With other tasks, I’ve usually been doing things for the first time so I never know how long it’s going to take. Then when I get the hang of it, I’m done and move on to another new thing. With the staining, it’s easy work, and I’ve already gotten plenty of practice, so I know exactly what to do and how long it’s going to take me. Instead of wondering how long it will take or having to wait until a day off, I know I need about two hours and I can get a decent amount done. That knowledge takes away the uncertainty that makes me hesitate. It’s easier to get out there and work on it, no matter my mood or the time of day, because I know exactly what I’m doing. I can blast my music, take the time to think, and go out to the garage rain or shine, day or night. It’s great!

The one thing limiting me is space. The garage is filled with stuff for renovations in my parents’ house, and I only have so much room on the sawhorses. At first, I decided I would stain 6 boards a day. I have room for five on the sawhorses, and one more on a stack of wood. And since I’d be staining every day, I didn’t want to allot too much. I have to stain the front and back in case water gets behind the siding, so that’s a lot of staining! Doing 6 boards a day and giving them 24 hours to dry before stacking them meant that it would take me 32 days to stain all of my siding. At first, I was okay with that because I had expected it to take a long time. Plus I was probably going to get someone else to install it for me later, so my work would be done when I finished the staining.

After about a week, I started doing a little more research, and any day I didn’t stain meant one more day into December I would need to stain. So I decided to start staining 12 boards a day, 6 during the day and 6 after work (I’m working 6 nights a week right now). I found more stacks in the garage to put boards on, and made room underneath the sawhorses for 3-4 boards. I also started to think about installing the siding myself. The only thing stopping me was a lack of help, and a few people offered theirs recently. I really didn’t want to spend the money and the more I thought about it, the less I wanted some stranger doing a mediocre job (or worse) on my house! I’ve done everything on it, except the welding and insulation, and I’m reluctant to let anyone else touch my house.

I’ve gotten faster at staining, and I’m usually pretty tired and/or cranky after work, so I switched to staining 12 boards during the day time. It is a bit of a musical chairs game with the boards but it’s working out so far. I’m 47% finished staining, and I hope to be done within the first few days of December. Take a look at my work so far, and remember, as always, I’ve never done this before! 😛

Aaaand this is why I no longer stain at night:

20161120_195624

Don’t kick your stain bucket. 😛

All is well, and I’m getting this done as fast as I can! It’s getting colder outside…

 

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:

IMG_0940

This is the far side.

IMG_0941

IMG_0939

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:

IMG_0935

IMG_0936

IMG_0937

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 🙂

IMG_0959

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:

IMG_0942

IMG_0943

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:

IMG_0944

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.

IMG_0946

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:

IMG_0947

IMG_0948

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):

IMG_0949

IMG_0950

Tiny house on the move!

IMG_0951

Tiny house on the road!

IMG_0953

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

IMG_0956

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.

IMG_0957

IMG_0958

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…

IMG_0987

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

IMG_0962

IMG_0963

IMG_0965

Ta ta for now.

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