I (Jon) have been privileged to help Michael in the construction process, and we are both quite excited with each day of progress, small or large. He has been planning it for a very long time - not only the house itself but of course the trailer also - no small task. He has planned pretty much everything on his laptop, right down to details of just how the framing members will be placed and fitted together and where to use specific fasteners. He is flexible enough, however, to adjust some things as we go along, depending on how things appear to be working out.
So far, we are still in what might be called the “foundation” phase. A layer of “galvalume” sheet metal was the first item to be put in place. It will keep out weather, vermin, and anything splashed up from below on occasional road trips. Next has come pressure-treated 2x4 sills and joists to support the plywood subfloor. Once the subfloor is in place, we will be able to move on to the exciting phase of wall framing - when it will start to look like a house! We - especially Mikey - are pretty demanding about getting measurements really close at this stage, because it will make sure that later building will go smoothly. A building supply driver got a look at it this morning when he delivered the doors, and I believe he said the construction looks much better than what you see in a regular house! Materials are arriving in a coordinated fashion, generally just as much as is needed for the next few days of work, but also some items like doors and door hardware that will be needed later and are already appearing. I try to remember that we should pray as we begin each day’s work, for safety and for foresight to anticipate issues in advance. It is clearly a team effort, with ideas often being the product of give-and-take between the two of us - even ideas about which tools to use for a task and how to use them most effectively. We are both learning so much.
I believe Mikey has the (I hope not misplaced) confidence to designate me as the electrician, or perhaps a licensed electrician’s primary assistant. I really enjoy doing what I can with wiring projects, but both of us will have to bone up on the details of providing an electrical service entrance of the right amperage and circuits capacity. Thanks to the previous owners of our house, there is an underground cable running from the back of our garage to the Tiny House site. I set up both a 240- and a 120-volt outlet on a post out there, and we use it for power needs right now. It is only 20 amps, however, and we may need at least 30 ultimately to supply the house.
For plumbing, he has found a good chap from Tolland, who has been at our house already for a couple of small jobs. He was a little hard to get hold of (as you well know about GOOD contractors), but persistence - with courtesy (begging?) - paid off, and we liked him a lot. His charges were quite fair, and his attitude excellent.
Mikey says the tiny house has a frame on top of the trailer frame mainly because he wants a thick layer of insulation below the floor. The space above the galvalume sheets on the very bottom surface and below the subfloor - a space that is as “tall” as the width of a 2x4 (the 3.5” dimension), will be filled completely with sheets of rigid foam insulation. He says that some tiny house builders build their houses enclosed by the trailer frame rather than above it, but they end up being less well insulated.
Today, we added more sheets of galvalume, making a total of five out of the eight planned. We then started placing pieces of wood framing (2x4s) around the sides and front of the trailer, on top of the galvalume sheets. Some of the 2x4s had to be notched with vertical channels in them to allow the threaded rods to pass through. We used a router to make the notches.
Twelve-foot 2x4 joists will be placed within the perimeter, parallel to sides of trailer. Insulation pieces will be cut to fit between the joists. Some short pieces of 2x4 will be inserted perpendicular to joists and between them, for bracing and subfloor support. Sheet metal pieces will be fastened to joists from underneath.
Here are some more pictures, from today - I hope they are a reasonable size.
Initial progress was made today on the Tiny House. When Mikey got home from work, we scrounged up what we could find by way of 2x4 lumber pieces and 1/2 inch plywood scraps (I’m glad we keep stuff like that right now) and made a support “jig” of sorts to hold the first piece of “Galvalume” sheet metal in place on the trailer frame until we can lay the floor joists above it and install screws from below up into the joists. We then laid the first piece of Galvalume down, after which I went in to start dinner and he made another jig and fitted a second sheet of Galvalume pretty much without help.
I can tell this whole project IS going to be a lot of fun, and we do seem to work very well together - as we did on the deck extension in 2014. If one of us doesn’t remember something, usually the other does; and we are both willing to be either the doer or the go-fer. It is definitely Mikey’s project and his money, however, so he has the last word on what happens (unless there is going to be a destructive impact on the real estate, of course).
Here are some pictures of today’s work. I will try to keep you current on doings as they happen. Tomorrow it may rain, so I don’t know if there will be progress.
Four more Galvalume sheets will have to be put in place before first 12-ft floor joists are laid on top of them, fore and aft of trailer. Sheets will overlap each other like shingles, about 6” overlap. Overlap is designed so that when trailer is moved on road, any splashed water from underneath will not be driven into cracks between Galvalume sheets.
That’s it for the moment!
This long, cold, and (very) snowy Winter has given me plenty of time to think and re-think my tiny house plans. All that thinking has led me to explore some totally new ideas, culminating in an alternate design which actually has its basis in some of my earliest plans from a year ago, but draws heavily on the experience I’ve gained while working on the model I’ve been featuring on this blog.
While I love much about the original ProcessHouse, I think that this new design may be an even better fit for my needs and aesthetic tastes. We’ll see. This experience is—after all—all about the process, and this just happens to be where that process has taken me.
That being the case, I’m holding off on showing any design mockups or floor plans. I think it may be more fun to just document the build “blind” and let you see it as it comes together.
Hope everyone is keeping warm and toasty by the fire as the snow flies. Right now I’ve got a lot to do to get ready for Spring. See you when the snow melts!
Well, I had to call it something now that I have a blog, right? Actually, the name is primarily inspired by a book I recently read, The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner. In it, Sterner talks about being process oriented rather than product oriented as the key to getting stuff done and enjoying life. Life itself is a process and we can only find a lasting sense of contentment if we’re able to find it in the process rather than the product.
The west tends to be a very product-oriented society, and the tiny house movement takes that mindset and turns it on its head. For me, this is an entirely new experience and I am learning everything about building from scratch, so I have to stay invested in the process and be patient as I learn the necessary skills. The name serves as a reminder to me that the joy is in the process, and to enjoy every moment of it.
It’s also a tip of the hat to one of my favorite pieces of open source web development software, ProcessWire. (It’s also the CMS that this blog just so happens to be running on!) I hope that ProcessHouse can embody a similar elegance in its approach to architectural design that ProcessWire embodies in its approach to software design.