Building a Modern Tiny House in Connecticut

Long-awaited windows installation begins!

The slow and rather erratic return of warmer weather is stirring the blood of us Tiny House builders!   Mikey first braved the chill outside starting on Sunday 3/19, beginning work on the exterior utility box which will rest on the trailer tongue frame and hold the house’s twin propane tanks and a storage compartment for batteries and assorted gear.  His first hours of building produced the internal framing for the box and the sheathing for its small pitched roof.  At dinner that night, he said “It feels good to be building again.”

Utility Box framing

And - at last - he soon started installing the much anticipated windows, which have been waiting in the garage.   He began with the smallest: the square, operable one in the center of the bathroom wall, high on the trailer hitch end of the house.  Together, the two of us pulled aside some of the gigantic tarp which has draped the whole structure over the winter, revealing again the house wrap wall covering that was a challenge to put up in the fall.  Mikey climbed the extension ladder and cut the initial opening in the wrap.

Inline window installed

It could be noted at this point that there seem to be some differing ideas about the best techniques for preparing the rough opening to minimize any possibility of leaks around the window. We watched a video that showed one approach to taping the framing and flashing with wide waterproofing tape. Mikey ended up following a somewhat different method specified by the manufacturer of the drainable house wrap, Benjamin Obdyke. The house wrap was cut back 2” on the sides and bottom to allow for optimal adhesion of the window and flashing tape. The flashing was applied ”shingle-style” with the sill covered first, the window flange caulked and mounted, and finally the sides and top flashed. Special attention was given to providing a seamless seal at the two bottom corners of the opening. Two small, wedge-shaped composite shims were placed near each end of the bottom of the rough opening, to keep the window frame both level and slightly raised above that surface. (Some space there is needed to allow any moisture that gets in either to drain out or evaporate freely.)   Tacking the shims in place with some small nails proved to be helpful so they wouldn’t get knocked out of place as the window was positioned.

The windows each came with a nailing fin or flange around all four edges, and Mikey’s next task after the rough opening preparation was to drill a number of holes through the flanges, to accommodate fasteners which would hold the window in place.  He chose stainless truss head screws over nails (our usual approach with these choices), placed roughly 8” apart around the window’s perimeter. (Before drilling such holes, it can be a good idea to check if any of the fasteners will collide with metal header hangers used in the framing of the window opening - we lucked out in this respect).

He then applied a high quality (read: sticky, messy, dark brown) caulking bead to the wall side of the flanges - all except the bottom one, where caulking was omitted to allow for any moisture to drain from the small space under the window.  Note: with installations following the first two windows, he found that applying the caulking to the sheathing around the window worked more conveniently than applying it to the the window flanges.  This was simply because the handling of the window to lift it into place sometimes involved getting our fingers messy with the caulk, and that could lead to getting caulk onto the glass or metal exposed surfaces of the window - NOT easy to clean up!  

At last, the first window was carried up the ladder and placed into the prepared opening.   Mikey asked me to go inside the house while he held the window in place and check to be sure the spacing on all sides between the rough opening and the window frame was uniform.  We had to shuck the window a bit from side to side to get it centered, and the best gauge for determining uniform spacing around the window was simply my index finger’s thickness and how far I could push it into each crack.  With the window properly centered, the first screw was put in and I left to work on dinner or whatever while Mikey put in the rest of the screws.

The presence of a real window in the opening made a significant difference in the appearance of the Tiny House both outside and inside - we were getting somewhere!!  And you could tell right away the effect of the installed window as a sound barrier.

Inline fiberglass window installation

As of this writing (4/10/2017) there have been four more of the total six windows put in place.  Only the monster picture window remains (plus two doors, of course) to be installed, and we have not yet planned our exact strategy to accomplish that daunting task.  All the windows after the small bathroom one needed two (or three) pairs of hands and more than one ladder for the critical step of lifting them into their openings.

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