Adversity brings determination and resilience

Two days ago, the weather was still a bit miserable so we spent some time inside the shell of the Tiny house discussing various options and the layout.  Our smaller loft has not been installed yet (we will probably do that after the insulation goes in) therefore we imagined its placement and where the  stairs would need to be to get up to the roof window and deck.  Suddenly, it dawned on me; there was really no way to actually walk up to the roof top window.  One would have to crawl across the loft then stand up to exit. What had I done?  I couldn’t believe I had messed this up.  Arrrrgghhh (okay, I said a few worse things….)

Julia, always so calm and collected, simply replied, “Not a problem. Let’s use it as an opportunity.  Perhaps we could mount a collapsible ladder and now enter from the main floor.  That might even be better.”

It was the end of the day so we went back in and researched various ideas for ladders using lofts and attics as keywords.  We did not find the perfect solution.  The next day we continued our other work as we had to get the roof all sealed and wrapped up. Rain was in the forecast; coming in a couple of days.   That night I went back into the office, still so agitated and upset at myself for messing up the design.  I turned on the computer and reviewed the design file to see where I went wrong.  On the design plan, the location of the rooftop window was a lot further forward than where it was on the house.  Had I missed something in my review of the Volstrukt final designs?  I opened their final drawings and they were accurate as well.  Eureka!!!  I figured it out.

“Julia,” I called. “I have some good news and I have some bad news.”

The good news was that I had figured out a solution to our rooftop window problem.  The bad news was that in our excitement to get all assembled, we had placed one of the roof panels upside down and it went unnoticed.   This meant we had to remove the roof sheathing, undo countless screws holding the roof panel, loosen the wall sheathing at the top, and unscrew four hurricane straps that held this section together.  We then flipped the roof panel and put it all back together again.

Today was an early rise and shine.  I ran off to Home Depot and Wegman’s, which both opened at 6:00AM.  When I returned home, Julia was already on the roof.  We had a great day.  Once we put the roof in its proper place, everything just worked out better.  We were now back on track.  In the process, we discovered some new ideas for storage in the roof.  Perfect!

Don’t ever let obstacles get in your way or get you down.  Think of ways to use the situation to your advantage.  When it seems you are behind the eight ball, just dig in a little deeper, try a little harder, and you are sure to get back on track.  There are no challenges, only opportunities.

Tiny baby needs to be wrapped up

After we got the sheathing and roof panels all cut and placed, the next step is to tape the seams and put down the roof underlayment so that it can be weatherproofed.

However before we can do that we need to make sure we add about 2600!!! screws to ensure it is properly tied down.   We started but have a ways to go.   On the materials front, we have loaded up with many rolls of ZIP-System flashing tape, courtesy of Volstruktfullsizeoutput_97c5This will cover all the seams of the sheathing and will also be used around the window frames.   Putting it down in the right order so that water can always travel downward is critical.

On the recommendation from Tiny Home Builders, we also purchased heavy duty Ice and Water underlayment for the roof.  fullsizeoutput_97c4Since the roof panels are more susceptible to moisture (the center roof is regular 3/4″ subfloor grade plywood as that is where the roof top deck goes) and that is often where moisture issues start.  It is such a small roof after all so two rolls will easily cover it.  Again, you start at the bottom and overlap each row as you go up.  For us that means we start with the center section first and we will also overlap the edges (which will have the tape on them already).

So with all this, why the tarp then?  Well, we got behind in applying all the screws as Robert got a bit under the weather, but more importantly, we can’t apply the Ice and Water shield below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit (+4.5 C) and it has been freezing cold.   So with snow and windstorms in the forecast for today and the possibility of sleet and rain on Monday, we had to get the tarps out again.  But no more cheap blue tarps (got a great deal we thought).   These are heavy duty and then took a trip to Home Depot to get 300′ of rope that we used to tie it down tight.


Winds are gusting at 40 mph, the snow is coming down, the house is all wrapped up, so we will stay inside, working on all the other items that need our attention.

Building the future…

With cold weather continuing, adding the sheathing and roof would be key in creating an envelope to protect the inside from the elements.    Snow was in the forecast for Saturday, so we started early Friday morning.  We had mostly completed the framing, adding screws and a few of the bolts.  We were still waiting for a longer drill bit to come as we needed to drill through the 2×6 tubular steel frame to attach the walls with 5/8″ bolts to the trailer.

Reading through our notes from our workshop and the accompanying building manual to make sure we were all set for the next step, we realized we still had to add the hurricane straps.  People in Florida know all about these as without them, roofs tend to fly off in hurricane winds.  With us traveling 60-70 mph (110+ km/h) down the road, the same rules apply.  Of course these came with the material from Volstrukt, so it was just a matter of climbing around the ladder and adding them every 4′.   It still took a while, so we got a bit behind.  We ended the day with about half the walls up.

A word about the sheathing.  We chose to go with the lightweight, insulated, structural sheathing versus normal plywood.  Just as discussed in our framing choice post, we did this because of weight and structural integrity.  These sheets are very light, Julia and I can easily carry 4-5 sheets at a time, have a little bit of insulation value (R-3), and add tremendous structural strength as they are screwed in with a very high density of screws.

So we wake up Saturday morning to heavy snowfall.  It snowed until 1 pm, accumulating about 3 inches.  The rest of the day was spent blowing, sweeping, and cleaning off as much of the snow as possible.

It was now New Years Eve and we were more determined than ever to make progress.  And what a day it was.  163nHYlcS4KwIszd0kHoGQWe decided to add a fire pit to the work area so we did not have to go in and warm up and it also let us get rid of some of the scrap wood we had.

The day became the day of extremes as we worked 11 hours straight outside in 12 degree F (-12 C) weather and then finished off in the Sauna at 185 degrees F (85 C).  We are living the dream! 

Here is a short video on our progress of the day.

We are very excited about 2018.  Happy New Year to all.

What a Christmas week it has been

I know we are in catch-up mode on the posts, so we did not accomplish all this since Wednesday night.  But I feel very good about our progress in the last week.   9WKnX%FPT0eRAKgvYjpxAgThe walls and sheathing from Volstrukt arrived late Thursday, December 22nd.   Two large boxes of 1200 pounds and then a skid of sheathing for the sides and roof arrived each on a separate tractor trailer.

The driveway finished that same morning and they moved the trailer into its position.   We were eager to get up early the next morning and we were fortunate to have some of the kids home to help us out.  Volstrukt really does a nice job putting labels and instructions together.  We laid out all the pieces around the trailer jr+ScnelTsquGmm1k+62WAin their respective positions.  Before we began building, we made sure the trailer was level in all directions.   After that was accomplished, we started to put the walls up.   Instructions said to start in a corner, building out from DSC_0509there and simply connecting the panels on the trailer.   We cut some foam insulation and strips of 3/4″ plywood and placed them underneath each section.   This creates a thermal barrier and also ensures it is at the right height when we lay down the subfloor.

RYGJTlV6TgGuzRaOEVsG5AWe had flood lights going and worked until late in the evening (dinner at 10PM), but wanted to get all the wall sections at least positioned before some of the kids had to leave next morning.  We also knew it would rain so we placed our tarp over the framing, erecting some long poles in a few places to ensure the water would not pool up.

Well, the idea was the right one, the execution was not as sharp.   When we woke up in the morning, the poles had fallen and water was everywhere.   After cleanup, we adjusted our design slightly, placing temporary roof panels to make the water run off. We also rearranged the tarp, removing excess and making it tighter.  The day had been pretty rain free, but it was going to pour again that night. We went to bed exhausted but with spirits lifted and quite optomistic.

The next morning was perhaps worse than the last.  There were pools of water on parts of the tarp that were still attached. The tarp was ripped in half and there were high wind warnings in the forecast for the next day.  Challenges?  Nah, we got this.  Time to ditch the tarp.   While there were high winds coming, no precipitation for 5 days.   We folded all the tarp sections (good news – we now have several smaller tarps) and stored them away.  We used ratchet straps to secure the walls to the trailer.   Time to celebrate Christmas.

After a couple of days off we jumped back in, working on making sure all the walls were plum which meant we had to make some adjustments to the framing.  Either the trailer frame was off, the measurements I had given were off, or the framing structure was off.  No use arguing.  There was nothing to do than to deal with it, as we needed to move on.   These last couple of days have been freezing (12 degrees F this morning), but we are making great progress.  I was born in Sweden, so this is just everyday weather, but I give Julia a lot of credit as she is from Portugal.  She just put on layers and got out there.  3v5sVaXUTgKczgPKbtSrpAThe picture on the left was taken from the top of the trailer. Julia appears to have short legs and looks like “Pop” from the Rice Krispies  commercial.  She even made a hat from bubble wrap.  Nothing seems to deter her from getting the job done.  Some of the roof panels were very heavy, but that didn’t stop her.  She helped me lift and screw them in.  Such a trooper!!  Now all is leveled, bolted down, and ready for the next step.

Here is the deal.  We have tomorrow, Friday to get all the sheathing up, as it is going to snow on Saturday.  Next update will be next year.

Hope you are all having a great holiday season and wishing you and your families the very best in the New Year.


Getting ready for the build….

It has been a while since we posted last.  While we may not have had much to show, we have been very busy working through design details, discussing with various suppliers, and ordering a number of parts and components.  We pushed the design limits of what we seen in a Tiny House in various areas and it resulted in us having to leave some of the more conservative suppliers behind.

With time ticking by, we knew that winter weather was around the corner and it became clear that we would not finish the envelope (basically the weatherproof walls and roof) before the cold and snow set in.  So we came up with the brilliant idea that all we needed was to rent some space in an old barn, unused garage, or warehouse for a month or two.  We spent about a week on that goose chase.   Looked at dozen buildings, spoke to a few folks, and called and researched quite a few more.   They either did not have a 14′ door way, wanted exorbitant amount of money, or were not interested in just a couple of months.  We then thought of building a frame, but soon realized that would also be a lot of work and expense for just a very short window.   Decision made – we will just deal with the weather.

Our trailer arrived back in November, delivered from Canada by Derek at Sierra Shipping.  He was great.  It was parked in the driveway and the first task was to erect the custom made steel frame that would surround our 13′ (3.9m) open span and still allow for a roof top deck.  DSC_0494.jpgGiven it was close to 300 lbs, we enlisted our neighbor Steve to assist.  We then painted it black to keep it from discoloring.  It was not until the frame was up that we could finalize the measurements and complete the drawings and start construction of the Steel Walls.

While we waited for the walls, we decided that the driveway was not really the best place for this house as it was being built.  Perhaps the blue tarp that we draped it in made it stand out a bit in the neighborhood.IMG_3012  But the drive also slopes a lot, making it awkward to level and it took up a fair amount of room which made backing out of the garage a 10 point turn.   So we came up with another brilliant idea.  Let’s add a crushed stone driveway so we can park it in the back of the house.  It would be out of the way and it can serve as a guest house when we are not on the road.   Decision made.