Steps List: Wall Framing

I finally got around to finishing the section of my steps list about the walls!

If you’re interested in building your own tiny house, check out the step-by-step list I wish I had when I started:

Phase 3 (start on slide 10).

See the rest of my steps list and related posts by clicking on the “Steps List” tag in the sidebar. πŸ™‚

The one difficulty I had was keeping the wood lined up while using the nail gun. A clamp by itself doesn’t have enough surface area. I used two metal plates clamped onto the top and bottom of the pieces I was nailing to keep them from slipping.

I spent 3.25 hours on clean-up, 50 hours on building the walls, and had help from family and friends for 22 hours (for the wall raising day and later adding blocking).

It only took me a weekend to build the two long walls, which was super encouraging. Building the walls was one of the easiest things I’ve done so far. I was able to do all of it (except the wall raising) by myself, and it’s pretty simple if you have detailed plans to just cut and nail everything together.

I can proudly say I designed my house myself, and it looks beautiful!

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Back in My Boots!

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Happy Beltane! It’s midway between spring and summer, and it’s a new month. I’m ready to start fresh!

April Recap:

It was a very busy month with my two jobs, and I turned 20! My aunt, uncle and cousins sent me this card, wishing me happy construction, and I thought it was very fitting. πŸ™‚

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I finished my SketchUp model, which was a big accomplishment for me, and sent it to the engineer. She replied saying I needed collar ties, which I knew about but had forgotten to include. It only took a few minutes to add them and send it off again, so now I’m just waiting on the final reply for that.

I’ve been working on my steps list, which is a detailed PowerPoint I’m writing for anyone who wants the step-by-step info on how to build a tiny house. Maybe no one will use it, but maybe it will be helpful to someone. Plus I’ve done so much research on every little thing I’ve done so far. It would feel like a waste to leave it all to just float around in my brain. πŸ˜› I want to consolidate what I’ve learned into one place to make it easier for anyone following in my footsteps. πŸ™‚ So I’ll soon be posting the next set of steps that I’ve completed in real life and recorded.

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Today I finally had a chance to sand some of my beams. I’ll be getting the house out any day now, so I want to have those done. I finished half of them, and will sand the other half later this week. I forgot how much I enjoy sanding, although I’m very grateful I have power tools!

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My main goal was to get rid of the roughness like this, not to make them perfect. I just didn’t want to have to sand them above my head once they’re in the house.

I find it can be really hard to motivate myself to get started, but once I tied up my boots and went outside in the sunshine, it was lovely! Sanding is so peaceful, almost meditative for me. I love working with wood, seeing all the details and imagining the story behind every piece. I can let my mind wander, and I’m away from technology and not trying to multitask, which is a great change. It’s so good to get outside and to work with my hands too. I’ve had a great day and I’m feeling accomplished!

I also finished sorting through my old bedroom. It’s a relief to get rid of some old clothes and junk that I kept “just in case”. I’m living with my boyfriend now at his parents’ house, and the tiny house will be moved here. I was over here most of the time last year anyway, so this way it’ll be easier to walk across the driveway to work on the house rather than driving back to my parents’ house.

I did miss out on hanging out with some friends today so I could sand instead, and it’s hard. I’m still building my daily life as a young adult, which is often more than enough to deal with, so I must be crazy to be building a HOUSE on top of normal life. I don’t know how other people manage to get big projects done while still balancing their everyday lives. Little by little, I suppose.

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Something else I’m starting this month is a shopping ban, inspired by Cait’s at Blonde on a Budget (and she’s Canadian too πŸ™‚ ). I spent way too much money last month, and even though I’ve made decent progress putting money towards the tiny house, I want to pay it off faster than I have been. So, I might do this for just May, or maybe I’ll do it for 3 months, or six months, or a year! The idea is to only buy the essentials – food, basic toiletries, and gas (plus bills). You can have an “approved buy list” for things you know you’ll need soon, but I haven’t made one yet and I’ve already bought enough recently. I think I have enough stuff at the moment!Β  You’re also allowed to replace anything that gets worn out or breaks. But really, you get to make your own rules for what works for you.

For my shopping ban, I’m focusing on not buying physical things that I don’t need. Going out to restaurants and treats from the corner store are permitted (within budget), while clothes, crystals, and knick-knacks are not. I will be buying books occasionally, but then taking them into the used book store to swap for different ones or donating them. I want to read more, so that’s why I’m not restricting myself as much for books, but I will also be going to the library more often. And the one extra I will be spending money on is my hair. πŸ˜›

I find that every time I got out, I come home with things I never planned on buying, and I want to stop doing that. So I’m going to avoid the malls and even when I do end up there, I’ll know that I’m not allowed to buy anything, rather than thinking, meh, why not buy this? My tiny house is the reason. My future is the reason. Travel, a car, a motorcycle, an education, land, these are all things I want to save for! Since it seems like I can’t differentiate between what I need and what I temporarily want, I’m doing a shopping ban to break the habit of mindlessly buying random stuff! I have no space left to put all the crap I buy! I’m so lucky to have as many clothes and shoes and beautiful things as I do, I should be grateful for what I have, instead of passively browsing for new things.

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Lastly, I’m starting a Facebook page for my little house. πŸ™‚ I’m shy about sharing all the details of my life with the acquaintances I have on Facebook (this blog is for close family and interested strangers πŸ˜› ), so I’ll be using the page to give people a look into what I’m up to without having to get into everything. Plus it will be good for quick updates. I’ll post on here when that’s up and running! Thanks for reading!!

Subfloor Steps

With the help of my dad’s friend and his jeep with a front hitch, my lovely trailer has been maneuvered out of our turn-around spot and onto the lawn where I’ll be building. We had it further away from the neighbour’s fence for the insulation spraying, and then didn’t get around to moving it until last week. It was convenient to have it closer to the garage to carry plywood and tools back and forth for the floor, but I couldn’t block the turn-around spot forever. Besides, I’ll be building the walls on the ground and then I’ll have people over to help move them around.

And it's a shady spot!

And it’s a shady spot!

I still need to put the jacks down and level it, but I’ve at least got a lock on it now.

Before I start to forget what I did, I want to share the steps I took up until this point. Here is the beginning of the 3rd phase of my steps list:

Phase 3

Do your own research as well though; I can’t guarantee anything I do is the right thing to do. I’ve never built a house before!

I love lists, so here’s one with all the tools and things I used for the first part of phase three:

– tarp

– bungee cords

– Shop Vac

– rope

– utility knife

– 4 foot metal ruler

– right angle metal ruler

– speed square

– carpenter’s square

– mini broom

– chalk box

– chalk

– tool belt

– clamps

– circular saw

– jigsaw

– drill

– impact driver

– extension cord

– measuring tape

– pencil

– gloves

– eye protection

– ear protection

– caulking gun

– awl

– wrench

– patio stones

– saw horses

– hammer

– and a camera!

Before I share how much time has been put into this build so far, here’s two tips from my mum:

1. Have a hammer and a 2×4 handy to hammer your T&G into place, like giant floor boards.

2. Have something soft, like a towel or a foam square, to put under your knees while you’re drilling into your trailer for hours.

So, I’ve started a time log. I could never guess how long I’ve spent online researching tiny houses, but I will be counting the hours I build. I’m also trying to keep track of some hardware store time and time put in by other people.

So far, I’ve spent 11 total hours drying out the trailer after rain and putting the tarp over it.

Mum and Dylan put in 3.5 hours between each other to help with the tarp and clean-up.

I worked on the subfloor for 42 hours total, and Dylan and Mum put in 40 hours between the two of them. With the walls, I’ll be working alone more often, but with the subfloor I needed help for almost everything. Plywood is bigger than me πŸ˜›

The insulation took an hour and 20 minutes. The welder took two hours.

I’ve spent 10.5 hours in hardware stores, and Dylan and Mum have put in 13 hours. I’ve always had one of them with me, and one time I had both of them with me.

So, I’ve put in 63.5 hours in the past month. The subfloor took 82 hours of work, if you don’t count clean-up or hardware stores. I’m telling you, those screws take SO LONG! Of those 82 hours, more than half of them were spent just on screwing.

Now, onto the walls!

Steps List: Procrastination

There is one step in Phase 2 that I didn’t include that I should’ve. I’ve been procrastinating on it myself, and now it’s holding up my build. It’s Step 6: Buying Plans.

I’ll include the text here, and update my post about Phase 2 so that the PowerPoint presentation has this step as well.

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Choosing or Creating Your House

Buying Plans: any tiny house do-it-yourself can use any instructions they can get their hands on. There are so many sets of plans available now that many people can find something they want. Tiny house companies work with designers and engineers to create a variety of plans and lay-outs, but they can be expensive. Some individual tiny housers that created unique plans sell them on their websites or blogs, but those haven’t necessarily been looked at by an engineer.

If you find a set of plans you like from a company like Tumbleweed and have the $750+ to spend, awesome. If you found a tiny houser that designed a house you really like and they sell plans, cool. Get an engineer to double-check everything. If you have your own plan in your head, either draw up your own plans and get them approved, or get them drawn up for you and get them approved. Tiny houses might not be required to meet code, but you’ll at least want a professional to make sure the structure is strong and safe.

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I had a pretty concrete idea of what I wanted for my house before I ever looked at plans for sale, so of course I didn’t find anything that was exactly right. I bought two sets of plans – one with the roof line I wanted and one with a corner porch – for reference with the intention of merging them. Then I procrastinated for months because I don’t know enough about framing to confidently make my own. Also, the plans were missing details and didn’t have any 16″ or 2′ OC studs at all. The people I bought from aren’t professionals, so I reached out to several engineers about creating and approving plans. One didn’t respond at all and one told me no. A third engineer told me that she doesn’t make plans, only approves them, but she gave me the email address of someone who does. I emailed them and got busy doing other things.

After a month or more with no answer, I contacted the engineer again and asked her if I could draw up my own plans and have her approve them. She agreed and gave me a price, and then I procrastinated for another month while other build things were happening. I finally finished the plans and sent them off a couple of weeks ago. She just got back to me this past week and told me everything looks good, except for my ridge beam. I think because of my roof line, a normal size beam won’t span the distance. I sent a few more measurements and she’s working on a solution that doesn’t involve lowering my loft height an extra 6 inches.

So that’s holding me up right now, which is unfortunate because it’s actually sunny and I’ve had a few days off. Learn from me and get your plans in order before you start your build!

Self-Evaluation & Stories: Part 2

Phases 1 and 2 continued:

Phase 2, Step 1: Keeping Track of Your Money –Β  In December 2013, I started keeping track in a notebook anything tiny house related that I bought. I knew I wanted to keep a record.

Phase 2, Step 7: Filling Your Toolbox – For Christmas in 2013, my parents gave me my first tool, a tape measure. I’ve been slowly collecting tools ever since, and for Christmas 2014, my parents gave me almost every tool I’ll need.

Phase 2, Step 3: Reading and Watching – I got my first tiny house video and book the same Christmas I got the tape measure. Since then, I’ve bought all the “must have” tiny house books and videos from the big names in the movement. The only thing I’m missing is a video subscription for Tiny Home Builders, but I’m waiting on that until I get around to watching the Tiny House Build DVDs.

Phase 2, Step 9: Planning – In March 2014, I started a PowerPoint presentation and filled the slides with pictures of tiny houses, lists of tools, and a simple steps list. This year, I’m working on a more detailed list. I should have more of it done, but I’m still learning as I go and filling in the blanks as they appear.

Phase 1, Step 18: Creating a Tentative Budget – I started an all-encompassing budget in March 2014, with many different categories, a column for my estimated cost, and a column for the actual cost. I also made a spreadsheet for my spending. Since creating the Excel document, I’ve separated the budget into 3 phases (unrelated to my steps list). The phases are 0.5 – before the build, 1 – the shell, and 2 – the interior. It makes the totals less intimidating πŸ˜›

Phase 1, Step 12: Visiting a Real Tiny House – I did this one a little late because I wasn’t going to pay to fly down to the U.S. to stay in a tiny house for a weekend. It just wasn’t in the budget. However, on my trip to Toronto in May 2014, I arranged to visit Natalie’s tiny house in Quebec. It was really great to step inside a tiny house, and even my skeptical dad agreed it seemed spacious. Then, when I was visiting my grandparents in Quebec that July, they mentioned a tiny house parked just down the road! My grandfather and I stopped by and got a tour of a Tumbleweed model πŸ™‚

Phase 2, Step 5: Going to a Workshop – My mum found a great deal on Tumbleweed workshop tickets, so I purchased two and went to their Toronto workshop in May/June 2014 with my dad. I was a bit disappointed by the presentation, but I got to meet Guillaume from Tiny House Giant Journey!

Phase 2, Step 4: Blogging – I started this blog shortly after getting home from the workshop. I’d spent money and finally had something more concrete to share than my quiet internet research and tool collecting. I was also overflowing with the things I’d learned. I wanted to share everything I knew to help other tiny housers, and to keep a record for myself.

Phase 2, Step 8: Practicing – My dad and I built a shed together in August 2014 so I could practice building, and in October I started a wood hobby course to learn how to build my own kitchen cabinets and other furniture.

Phase 1, Step 8: Researching the Rules – I should’ve done this step A LOT earlier, but I avoided it because it seemed difficult and day dreaming was more fun. I did a couple of Google searches looking for building codes, but there didn’t seem to be any free information. All I found were expensive, thick books on the subject. I didn’t even know to research zoning codes in my area. One thing I did do was research some road restrictions, and that gave me a maximum size for the house. Finally, in January of this year, I went down to both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the county zoning office and asked my questions.

Phase 2, Step 10: Collecting – I have been avoiding this step on purpose. Some people find a focus piece they love and build their house around that piece. Some people collect piles of salvaged materials in advance. Others buy things on sale that they know they’ll need later. I didn’t do any of those things. I’ve refrained from buying things for my future house because my money’s limited. I’m taking it one step at a time. If I do buy stuff though, I try to only buy things I can picture in my tiny house. And because of my love of kitchen utensils, glassware, and more, I’ve stopped myself from buying any of that. I need a house first.

Phase 2, Step 11: Deciding – Even with all the research I’ve done, I’m still undecided about a lot of things, even if I’m leaning in one direction. Most of my decisions happen at the last minute, like deciding to get the trailer delivered and choosing spray foam over Roxul. I don’t recommend last minute decisions, but that’s just how things are going for me.

Phase 1, Step 9: Finding Land – This is another step I should’ve done earlier. My parents agreed early on to let me build on their property, but I don’t plan on living here. Finding a spot to put my tiny house is pretty important, but moving the house is the last part of the build so I have time. I used to look at all the empty side yards on my way to work, but zoning prevents me from living in town. New development: I talked to someone I know who lives in an un-zoned area, and they’re open to the idea of having a tiny house on their property! There’s still the question of how sewage, water, and electricity will work out, but finding someone who’s willing to host my little house is amazing πŸ™‚

I’m still planning and deciding as I go, but with the trailer being delivered next week, it’s almost time to start physically building! On to phase 3, the shell!

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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