In case of fire, exit building before tweeting about it.

Taking a cue from Macy over at minimotives, I’ve decided to write about safety in a Tiny Home. People ask me about it when they find out about my build, and I’ve seen lots of questions in various blog’s comments. Although my Oliver’s Nest isn’t livable yet, I feel entitled to address this issue, as I live in a (even Tinier) truck camper while building her.

So. first off, privacy. It’s related to safety, if you think about it. Who feels safe with no place to get away from everything? To hide? To really relax? I can only do what most people do, close curtains and lock the door. Here in this camper though, those normal things doesn’t really cut it. The walls are thin, so sound carries both inwards and outwards too clearly. The windows are single pane, and some of them won’t seal close. When the wind gets to really gusting, the whole place jerks sideways with a booming sound, and if there’s an electrical storm nearby, I get to feeling a bit tense with those sound effects!

Oliver’s Nest, on the other hand, will have 6 inches of insulation in the walls and floors, and over 7 inches in the roof. I’m positive that sound will be damped by the thick sheep wool insulation. The whole structure is heavy, and sits solidly on blocks. The double-paned windows aren’t installed yet, but no doubt will be more effective than the campers are. During strong winds she doesn’t even creak. Wind and storms be damned in there!

House fires. That’s a scary one. Although I haven’t read of any fires in a Tiny Home, even those with wood stoves, odds are someone will have to contend with one at some point. I’m doing my best to ensure it isn’t me. In such a small home, even a small fire could render it unlivable. It’s taken a lot of thought on where exactly to locate the wood stove so that I can make the minimum recommended clearances on both it and the chimney. The insulation behind the stove and chimney will be Roxul (rock wool) which is completely non-flammable. I’ll have the required heat shield with an inch of air space to the wall. I’ve discovered pretty chimney guards to help prevent contact burns. I’ve thought about the weight (and my home is already quite heavy), and have decided to place it over the axles. Interior gravity-fed water storage tanks will be located nearby (overhead, in the loft) for additional insurance against disaster. Lastly, I have a plan in mind for a metal roof to be added after Oliver’s Nest is moved to her permanent location, to cover the EPDM.

And what about scary events like forest fires, or random disasters like the girl who lost her newly-built Tiny Home to a barn fire? Once again, such small homes can be quickly ruined. How to best prevent these things from happening? I’ve already spoken to one of the forest rangers local to my property to find out what they suggest for protection. It was a surprisingly reassuring conversation, given the history of severe forest fires in the area. He gave me great advice and I’m a bit less worried, as I know now how to best protect my home. I can only hope everyone is also careful, no matter the size of their home.

Moisture, as I’ve said about a million times, is a real problem here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s imperative that any home in this area be built to withstand water intrusion from every angle. This comes under Safety, as mold, mildew, rot and their attendant pests are not safe or healthy to have in your living space. If the rot gets bad enough, you can end up with not much of a home at all.

On to the question of having my home towed away or broken into. Honestly? I think it’s a valid concern. There are uncool people in the world who think nothing of taking what they want, and messing with what’s left. The good folk over at Solar Burrito Blog had stuff stolen from their building site while they were away, and that can happen to anyone, especially those with an attractive target like a Tiny Home in a more rural setting. I’m not worried too much while living here, as there are three large dogs, lots of neighbors, and my home doesn’t show from the road. There’s also the old tires on the trailer….replacing them will be an unavoidable expense, but for now helps keep my home safe. I will be removing the wheels once on my own place, which only solves part of the problem. Keeping a safe home in a very rural place isn’t just a worry for Tiny Housers. I have to hope that strong fences, big dogs, a low-profile, and knowing how to use a gun (with appropriate scary signs) will keep me safe from all sorts of predators.

One last safety feature I feel strongly about: having two methods of emergency egress. Some people make do with windows for an emergency exit. Some apparently don’t allow for emergencies at all, from looking at their tiny little windows. I have two doors (not yet installed) on opposite ends of my home. I made the trade-off of useful interior wall space for safety. It has made planning out the interior much harder ~ I admit to working out plans with only the one door, which allowed for more counter space in the kitchen, or a fully enclosed bathroom, or a much larger closet ~ but kept coming back to wanting quick access to the outdoors. So, one end of Oliver’s Nest will have a full wall of windows due to the french doors that I’ll be able to open out wide onto a large, covered patio area. The other end will have a dutch door with a window in the top half. This door will open inwards (in the event of deep snow), let in more light, and give me quick access to the “mud room” area of my little home. I feel good about my design.

I’m really curious about how other people feel about these subjects. Please feel free to comment on your own thoughts and solutions!

As for roof progress?  Not nearly as much as I thought there would be.  I was so wrong about being nearly ready to install the drip edge.  So terribly, terribly wrong….  I’ll update soon. 🙂

I. Am. Exhausted.

Putting a roof on is so much work!

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

First, all the decisions to make: roof style (gable, gambrel, arched, flat?), whether or not to put in dormers (light and precious, precious space added, depending on what roof style), how much insulation, what type of insulation? What material for the outer skin? Metal? Asphalt shingles? Wood shakes? EPDM? hot or cold (vented) roof? I will use a wood stove, so chimney through the roof or through the wall?  Good thing I like to do research.  There are so many choices, so much information to evaluate!

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Then comes the reality of putting that puppy together.  I find that this is the stage where flaws in my design really show up, necessitating on-the-fly changes and re-evaluations of my patience and ability.  I’m sure that with generous helpings of both, I could have fixed the initial roof trusses, but after staring at the darn things for a year, decided I lacked both.  Off with the cool gambrel trusses, and on with the “flat” roof.  Boring, yes, but also doable and gives a huge bang of space for the buck.   Even so, this is a lot of work.  Hard, sweaty, muscle-groaning work.  I never knew that sweat actually DOES sting your eyes until I started this project.  Maybe it’s partly due to my state of physical fitness (almost nonexistent), but more likely it just comes with the job.  I am handling heavy, awkward pieces of wood, really high in the air, alone, and without experience.  Yeah, I sweat!

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty.  I'm quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty. I’m quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

There are days when I’m tempted to just build a most basic box, and not worry about boring stuff like thermal bridging and moisture problems; or simply follow a plan developed by someone other than me… I can see the allure. Well, actually seeing as it’s me talking here, the truth is I like a challenge, and to try to do things as “right” and “perfect” as possible. In my own special way. In my own, special, really hard-to-do way.

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy.  After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looked much more impressive

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy there. After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looks much more impressive, but I forgot to take a photo

So. What stage is Oliver’s Nest at?  Well, the insulation “sandwich” layer is on, the trusses have been wrangled into place and tethered down by many screws and metal tie-downs, the Roxul insulation is tucked in and securely covered by the AtticFoil radiant barrier, and the sheathing has been cut to size and numbered so I will know which piece goes where without (hopefully) any mistakes. I would have liked to use full-size plywood pieces, but they are just too heavy and unwieldy for me. I don’t think even having my boy over to help would get them up. I don’t think it’s the strongest roof design, but it will work for now.

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style)

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style).  The foil will also make sure the insulation stays put, and might even add to the total insulative value

I want to  remember how much I messed up my knee doing this and yet continued on;  how sore my shoulders and back are.  Years from now I want to appreciate the work I’m putting into this little home. I often downplay accomplishments, and I’d rather not do that with Oliver’s Nest.  It is an important part of a giant leap-of -faith that I can make a happy life for myself, and hopefully leave a lovely space for my son some day.

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there's a little slope ~ yay!

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there’s a little slope ~ yay!

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing


After having to balance on loose trusses for days, being able to walk across the roof deck is wonderful!  I’m thinking it’ll take another day to finish the decking, and after that a day to get the drip edges on.  It’s supposed to be drizzly for almost a week starting tomorrow, so my knee will get that rest the doctor ordered.  Booo-ring!

Up On The Rooo-ooofff…

The roof is going up!   A little later than planned, but weather and finances, health and mood all have to come together in a perfect storm.   It’s OK though, because I spent the time re-thinking (for approximately the thousandth time) how I wanted the roof to come together.   And of course I changed my mind…again!   Actually, I didn’t so much change my mind, as recall a method of insulating my flat roof that I’d run across more than a year ago.   So glad I came found it again!  This is the illustration from the website Building Science Information:

Breaking the thermal bridge

Basically, you build a thermal break into the roof with an extra layer of exterior grade plywood over a layer of rigid foam insulation.   You can’t use OSB, which can’t handle moisture or breathe ~ it has to be plywood.   One of the local lumber yards sells what they call “utility” grade 3/8” sheets for only $10, which I feel is fine for this purpose.   The more (thicker) insulation you use, the better ~ I used 1 1/2 inch expanded foam.   I really wanted to use extruded foam, but it’s out of my financial reach.   This extra layer goes up before the trusses, and creates a thermal break, making the insulation laid between the trusses more effective.   It adds to the total R-Value, as well.

An important step is to keep interior moisture from getting into the foam, so having a vapor barrier between the rigid insulation and the interior air is vital.   On the other hand, it’s also vital to allow any moisture that does get into the foam or wood an easy path back to the outdoors.   Good ventilation combined with keeping rain out is key here.   I’ve purchased perforated foil radiant barrier to ensure air flow, and will keep wind and wind-blown rain out of the roof with a good-sized overhang and deep fascia.  The point of the foil is to keep insulation fluff in place, while still allowing it to breathe with the perforations.  I’m using this stuff:

perforated radiant barrier foil watermarked

48 inches wide so easy-peasy to install


There are products made specifically to create air channels, too, called Attic Vents or something similar.  Some I’ve seen are made out of cardboard ~ easy to DIY.


Here’s a simplified list of the roof layers:

Ceiling treatment ~ in my case, I’ll use painted barn boards.

Vapor barrier of visqueen/thick plastic sheeting

3/8 inch CDX plywood

1 1/2 inch rigid foam board (R-Value 7.5)

3/8” CDX plywood

2×8 trusses filled with 5 1/2″ Roxul (23 R-Value)


Almost as good as sheep wool, and more familiar to any inspectors who nose around once I’m on my property.

Perforated radiant barrier

23/32” CDX plywood sheathing, with the gaps filled with a flexible sealant

.60” thick EPDM from Gentite fully adhered to the sheathing

10 by 25 feet ~ no seams!


I am pretty sure I have linked to this site before, but it’s so full of good information that I’m going to do it again.  You can get lost in there, digging ever deeper in technical building goodness.  Anyone thinking of constructing a building should check out the Documents section, even if it’s not a DIY.

UPDATE: I started writing out this blog entry on June 2nd, and didn’t get around to finishing up that day.  Now, a couple days later, I am embarrassed to say that I’ve managed to injure myself (again).  I’d like to pretend it hasn’t happened, but this is a record of my experience building my own home.  And part of that experience is the occasional (I HOPE it is only occasional) booboo.  Soooo, this time I jacked up my right knee pretty well.  It’s actually kind of amusing, as I first hurt this knee way back a couple years ago when I was first starting out on the build, by tearing the meniscus.  A few shots of cortisone, several weeks in a brace, and many painful months later I could walk without a limp.  But the dratted thing locks up multiple times daily, and on Saturday morning it locked up while my hands were full of plywood, causing me to force it straight instead of babying it out ~ ow!  Then, a few minutes later, I dropped that same sheet of plywood (on edge) onto that knee.  Swearing ensued.  THEN, and I’m still not clear how I managed to do this, I hyper-extended the SAME KNEE with my full weight plus (you got it) a sheet of plywood TWICE, and felt something finally give in the back. OMG OUCH!!!

Yeah. Don’t work alone with heavy stuff if you can help it, and always make safety your highest priority.  Trying to get the roof on in dry weather, meaning fast, caused me to do several clumsy things, and now I’m in a sort of removable cast to keep the knee immobile, and supposed to stay off the leg entirely.  Probably won’t happen, as I still need to get the roof on before it rains again.  We’ll see.

Here’s some pictures of what I gotten done so far:

1/4 inch sheets of plywood are hard to manage when you're short and out of shape

1/4 inch sheets of plywood are hard to manage when you’re short and out of shape

I painted these sheets top, bottom and sides because I wasn’t sure if they are CDX.


Laying out the rigid insulation

Rigid insulation

Starting to frame in the rigid insulation “sandwich” layer.


Covering the foam with thin CDX plywood

Covering the foam with thin CDX plywood.

This is still pre-knee destruction.  Look at the cool camo paint, heh.


This is some of the pile I schlepped back and forth on the roof

This is some of the pile I schlepped back and forth on the roof.

My son came over early Saturday morning to hoist a bunch of heavy/bulky stuff up to the roof for me.  I really wanted to do this whole house by myself, but I simply could not get these heavy things up there.  Of course, this meant I had to repeatedly move a big pile of (heavy!/bulky!) stuff around, trying to keep it out of the way.   Great workout.  At this point I’ve already done some of the knee damage, but the hurt hasn’t truly hit yet.


Trusses laid out, before cutting them into the right shape

Thermal break put in, and more room to work in!  Trusses laid out, before cutting them into the right shape.

My 2×8 trusses measure out to literally 7 inches, not 7 1/2 like I expected.  This meant I could only use 5 1/2 inch insulation batts instead of the 7 1/2 inch I originally planned on because  I want a good inch and a half of air between the Roxul and the sheathing.  I purchased the planks from two different lumberyards, so I guess it’s just lumber math?  Heh, or instead insert men measuring joke here.  So now I’m only getting an R-Value of 23 between the trusses, instead of 30.


Waste, but not too bad.

Waste, but not too bad.

The middle of the trusses are left at the full 7 inches, and are cut down to 6 inches at the ends.  Not quite as much of an angle as I wanted, but there’s that whole “7” instead of “8” inches thing again.


All washed up and ready to be cut to size.

All washed up and ready to be cut to size.

Part of my huge pile of wood pulled out to use for the flying rafters and barge boards.  I had to scrub a couple years worth of dirt off of them, due to losing the pile in canary grass.  That stuff grows to over 6 feet here!  Not my fault for piling it in the pasture, nope!


DIY bird blocks to ensure great air flow and hopefully no bugs.

DIY bird blocks to ensure great air flow and hopefully no bugs.

Bird blocks are those wood pieces with holes covered by mesh you find up under the eaves.  From the research I did, the holes don’t offer enough air flow in most cases, so I made these.  The mesh I used is 1/8th inch to deter insects stapled to 2x4s.  These will be obscured by the deep fascia boards I plan, which in theory should keep rain and direct wind out of the roof interior.

That’s all for now!


Offline Antics

I just got a taste of off-grid life I’ve been dreading ~ no internet.  I’m still in the middle of a city, and cut off from my life-line….

One of the consequences of choosing land way out in the wilderness is a lack of  amenities.  No easy-on power, no land phone lines, no internet (no 4g or even 3g).   Spotty cell phone coverage.  No fire department close by, nor police presence. I  bought the property knowing all of this. Good thing I like simple living, right?   Being certifiably nuts helps, too….

It took a couple days for the Comcast-free lifestyle to sink in…No Netflix?!  No  quick google searching?  What’s going on with Pinterest today, who’s emailed me,  what can I expect from the weather?  Ack!  Simple breathing exercises helped with  the adjustment.  Once the panic (seriously, panic) subsided, I remembered a precious  thing ~ books.

Oh, lovely books.  I have such a huge library, even after purging time and time  again, that I don’t anticipate running out of reading material for years.  However!   Most of them are boxed up and stored away and not accessible in preparation for my future move.

I also kept busy with the build.  The top plates are on, all windows and doors  framed in, and some other details attended to.  I used the time to revisit proper  roof framing, too.  So glad I have Building Construction Illustrated, by Francis  D.K. Ching.  I will use it again and again while building the other structures I’ll  need.

I finally found and purchased a pretty sink.  It definitely was a bathroom sink, but  is deep and wide enough to do dishes in.  Kitchen sinks are just not attractive to  me, and seem to run either very large or laughably small.  If not for living in this  trailer, I’d not have known how important having a big enough sink is. I’m totally  over wanting a “cute” tiny kitchen sink.

Last, I unexpectedly located two more windows from the Tacoma ReStore.  If I’d found  the windows even a day or two later, too much would have to be changed in the  framing, so the timing was very good.   I decided to move the two 4-foot, non- opening arched windows from the loft and replace them with the new, openable (is  that a word?) windows to allow more air flow and cross breezes.  One of the arched  windows is now framed in over the french doors.  The other is being kept for a  planned add-on once Oliver’s Nest is in place on my land.  I love that the addition  will sport an identical window, tying it in with the original space.  Oh, and the  new windows I found?  $25 each.  Brand new.  Same brand as most of the others I  have, too.  Very big smile on my face.

Newest windows framed in

Newest windows framed in


So very tall!

So very tall!


I still haven't re=stacked the barn wood

I still haven’t re-stacked the barn wood… There is so much more than it looks like here.



So lucky to have found great windows that match

So lucky to have found great windows that match


Gratuitous critter pic.

Gratuitous critter pic.

A New Twist ~ Netting

Heh, see what I did there?

Over on my Pinterest page, I’ve pinned a couple pictures of the coolest thing ~ heavy nets used as “floors”.  Way back years ago, when reworking a travel trailer first occurred to me as a temporary home (before I’d ever heard of Tiny Homes), I thought to use some sort of super heavy-duty wire mesh for the loft floor.  I figured it would save a ton of weight, give a much more roomy feel, and allow air and heat to circulate much better.  After a whole lot of googling though, I just couldn’t find any metal products that would work, so gave that idea up.

When I first came across this picture, I remembered that old idea, but tossed it aside since I couldn’t see myself crawling around on what’s essentially a big hammock.  But a couple days ago, it came to me:  put netting in only where I planned my bed to go!  But, would it work?

After some sketching and more googling, and thinking of how I could access my planned overhang of books, I decided that yes, it could.  So onto ebay I went, to a seller I’d already sussed out for other netting needs, and bought this.   For the duration of the build, I’ll keep the hole in the loft covered with planks for obvious reasons.

So now I’ve delayed buying lumber for the netting, and for a last, perfect window for the loft that I had to buy retail.  Darn… but I can’t really complain.  Most of the others are new and all of them were purchased cheaply from the ReStore.  I had to commit to this window so as to know what size the rough opening needs to be.

While waiting again to accrue enough money for the lumber needed to finish up, I’ve gone ahead and cut the short studs for the pony walls.  Of course, it’s raining again, and much of the wood is pretty soaked, so I’m going to remeasure the pieces after they dry to see if any need some trimming.  Each step forward feels amazing.  Each cut made feels empowering.   Lost beloved friends and mean ol’ horsies aside, life is looking up.

Hope yours is too!




Building Hurts After A Kick In The Ribs!

Ouch.  Ouch….ouch ouch ouch.

I’ve worked with horses most of my life, so know my way safely around them, at least you’d think!  But even though I KNEW Gaia has a potential of kicking (she’s not the most gentle soul), and I thought I was being careful, she smacked me a good one yesterday ~ she, I found out, is flexible, and has terrific aim.   I’m pretty sure I yelped comically as I flew (!) backwards into the mud.  I’m so very, very glad I had the heavy loft beams already up before this happened!

I’m fine, just bruised, no ribs broken.

I’ve been working hard on Oliver’s Nest, as the weather has been outright beautiful and staying busy keeps me positive instead of sad.  As of tonight, all of the framing in the lower portion is complete, including the framing of both doors (finally!), and as I already mentioned, the loft support beams.  Woot!  Also, as I was able to use some 4x6s from the old barn for the loft support as I had hoped, I could place them much further apart than if I’d used 2x4s.  I want an open look to the area under the loft, and having fewer beams will help with that.  I’m short at 5’5″, and decided to place the 4x6s at a height of 6 feet, which makes the ceiling between them 6’4″ ~ plenty of head room for me, even in heels!  The reward is a lot more head room in the loft.  I have learned from living in the truck camper that being able to sit up in bed is REALLY important to me.  The ceiling height in the loft will be an amazing 4’4″!  I’m thrilled!

Next up is buying nice looking 2x6s in 14 foot lengths for the loft floor.  I don’t want to build the pony walls while clinging to framing – I want a good solid floor to stand on while up that high.  It’s not that I’m afraid of heights, or even of falling – it’s just a lot harder to work with power tools safely when doing a monkey impersonation.

There’s one particular lumber yard in town which caters to higher-end contractors.  Super nice guys.  They have the highest grade of wood available (#1) in the widest variety of width and lengths, and are more than happy to dig through that nice stuff and find the best boards for me.  I plan to use them for all visible wood in my little home, and for my roof trusses, too.  The snow load is so heavy where my property is, I don’t want to mess around with iffy wood for the roof support.  I’ve shopped at nearly every lumber yard in the greater Olympia area, including the big box stores, and for most applications, any place has acceptable wood.  But it’s worth it to spend a little more for great quality wood when you have to look at it every day, and for anything that need to be really strong.

It’s kind of funny I suppose, that I’m using such a wide spectrum of materials….reusing old wood, re-purposing all sorts of things including the trailer bed from an old travel trailer, and then going first class on some things.   Wool insulation, expensive roofing materials like thick EPDM over the best quality lumber, big new windows….I like how it’s coming together though.  If I save money where reasonable (and safe), I can spend more on what matters the most to me.  It is such a personal creation, this tiny home of mine.  I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of myself.

2014-04-13 18.28.44

The loft beams! I’m a messy builder, aren’t I? My big red beast of a truck is back there, and a glimpse of the lovely tarp.


2014-04-13 18.28.22

Look at that blue sky through the trees!


One more thing ~ I am loving my new Makita impact drill!  It has made the construction process go a lot faster and easier!  I highly recommend the 18 volt cordless Makita line.  Now that 24 volt tools are showing up, the 18 volt tool prices are dropping and it’s easier to find them for a steal.  I’ve got the circular saw, the impact drill, the sawzall, and the battery charger with three batteries.  They charge really fast, and having three has kept me from ever having to stop building and wait.  I realize I’m sounding like an advertisement for Makita….it’s the only brand I have hands-on experience with.  I’m sure most of the 18 volt brands available are just as good.  Hurray for cordless tools!  Just be sure to buy an extra battery or two ~ it’s well worth the expense.

Be well, everyone! 🙂

Reclaimed Wood: Sweat + Time = Treasure

Things are moving ahead.  The pasture is  cleared of stacked wood (yay!), over half of the barn wood has been de-nailed and had the worst bits cut off, a large amount of 4x4s and 4x6s have been found and look great (!), and the tree overgrowth is getting whacked.  Feels good!

Those 4x4s and 4x6s are at a minimum 8 feet.  Some are over 12 feet.  Since they came from the barn’s interior, they are in perfect shape, other than some nails and green growth.  Well, everything here has green growth.  It’s the way of the Pacific Northwest to cover anything and everything with life….Anyway, the plan is to clean them up and use them in the build.  I’ve decided to use the 4x6s for the loft beams.  I love that by doing so, the supports can be placed much farther apart, thus making more perceived headroom underneath.  I also love not having to buy more lumber, and as always, I love reusing materials.  The 4x4s will be used as headers for the doors.  Nice!

Building a house on the cheap means compromises.  I’ve had to put up with piles of stuff EVERYWHERE for several years – even dragging some of the piles with me when I moved here.  It’s been absolutely worth it (for me, if not for house-mates or mothers).  Some of this stuff came free from a nearby closing metal recycling place, lots from the barn, Craigslist, the local ReStores, donations (which also involved accepting things I really didn’t want), and plain ol’ scrounging.  I’d call all that a compromise, when compared to a quick jaunt to the local lumber mill to buy exactly what you want, when you need it.  Another possible downside is the necessity of drawing up plans in accordance to what you have on hand instead of the other way ’round.

I don’t know.  I’ve been ok doing things this way, but I can see it being literally unbearable for other folks.  It adds a ton of effort.  If you can view it as an opportunity for creativity and thriftiness and keeping your carbon foot-print low, then the effort is worth it.  It becomes…an adventure.

More Has Been Accomplished, Despite – You Got It – Rain.

So here I sit under my new tarp tent, which only took two hours to erect, lol. After several glorious days of sunshine and 50-ish degrees, we’re back to rain, drizzle, mist, rain, downpours….yeah. Out of desperation, I searched online for pop-up tents, and hoo-boy, are they expensive! And the buyers’ reviews don’t look promising, either. As I was up feeding the rabbit colony, I looked around and noticed all the tarps I’d already put up to keep various things dryish. Hey! Oh yeah! I forgot about those! Actually, I also dislike how ugly they are, but I can’t deny that they do help. Tarps are your friend. Your ugly, obnoxious, yet helpful friend.
I’ve been busy working on the barn wood. It’s in such bad shape – dry rot in places, tons of nail holes, cracks and knots. I won’t be using it on the exterior of Oliver’s Nest. It’ll be new wood (bummer) and metal siding. However, I think there’s enough after cutting off the bad bits for the interior walls! I sure hope so, as I want to use reclaimed materials as much as I can. Plus, it has a LOT of character. I’m thinking to use a strong wood glue and small nails to attach the boards to a half-inch plywood base. That should give a nice, sturdy wall with a nice cabiny feel. Yay!
Speaking of nail holes, wow, it’s been taking days to get all the nails out! So far, I’ve accumulated two 5 gallon buckets full of nails, and the job isn’t done yet. Phew!

2014-03-23 16.17.18

The nails…the nails… oy, the nails….

2014-03-23 16.17.54

This is only part of the big pile of barn wood to go through.

2014-03-23 16.16.24

Merrily I burn the junk wood that’s accumulated over several years!


2014-03-20 14.47.29

Here’s a quick shot of some of the sheathing. There are lots of big holes because there will be lots of windows on this side (faces South). Also visible are those metal straps I want to salvage.

2013-10-08 11.56.10

Hank the cowdog. My faithful companion. He can’t wait for the new house to be built, as our tiny camper is TINY.

Sheathing Is Up! Well, Some Of It….

Yes!  All the trusses have been cut off:

2014-03-13 12.38.41

Several of them are still “hanging around” (heh, I amuse myself) up on the top plates to keep them out of the way.  I need to set aside a block of time to take them apart and try to salvage all that metal strapping on their joints.  If they won’t come apart, I’m considering throwing them onto the burn pile to remove the wood.  I really would prefer not to, as the wood might be usable in some project, but I really want that strapping – it’s a nice, heavy gauge, and definitely reusable.

The hurricane straps are all finally on the lower portion of the house, and the frame is looking strong!  Even before putting them on, I could climb the structure like a monkey and nothing would move, but having all that extra strapping tying things together soothes the worrier in me.  The weight it adds is negligible.

There was nothing keeping me from starting on the sheathing, so I went for it!  And quickly realized a big problem – I canNOT put 4×8 pieces of wood up by myself.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Why, ask her 78 year old mother for help, that’s what!  Oy.

It sounds worse than it was.  I did all the heaving and hefting , and piled up cement blocks to prop the plywood sheets at the proper height.   My mother just sort of leaned on them while I clamped them into place.  She helped eye the spacing between sheets, too, while I shifted left, right, left, right, holy cow this is getting heavy, left, right… Yeah.  I strongly recommend having at least two reasonably strong and healthy people working together during sheathing.  Three would be better.  One person…nope.  Unless it was He-Man.  Or The Hulk.

Working together, we got sheathing up all around the lower half of the house.   None of the sheets are completely nailed up yet, only enough to hold them firmly in place.   This has allowed the upper half of the vertically placed plywood sheets to wave in the wind a bit.  I know it looks funky and unprofessional, so refuse to post a picture.   Once everything is neatly nailed up, then I’ll get some pictures up for posterity.

So.  I need to finish nailing up all the sheathing that’s in place, and to salvage the metal straps from the failed trusses, and then to get the loft beams into place.  Been popping outside to work between rain showers the last couple days.  I plan to start on the loft by the end of this month, weather permitting.  Yay!

I want to put out a request to anyone reading this, to feel free to give feedback on my interior layout sketches.  Did I miss anything?  Is there something that you like, or don’t?

Sunny Days Are Here (again)!

It’s been gorgeous out the last few days, sunny with blue skies, temps in the 50’s….perfect weather for moving forward on Oliver’s Nest.   Been removing those problem trusses – finally.  It’s such a relief.  All but the last two are off, and I plan to tackle them today, along with starting to put up sheathing on the sides.  Woohoo!

I wish I’d remembered to take some pictures of “before” and “after” the truss removal, but I’ve only got the distance shots of them up, nothing showing the (probably) overdone way I’d attached them.  Nails, screws, plus hurricane straps on both sides…it’s a lot of metal to get through.  My trusty cordless Makita Sawzall comes through again – it’s a heavy beast of a tool, but with the right blade it’ll cut through just about anything!  So, not only have I made progress on the house, but I’ve been getting an upper body workout, too, heh.

If you’ve read the “About Me” blurb, you know I struggle with BPD, coupled with chronic depression.  Because of that, I tend to be alone most of the time, and I’m happier for it.  However!  Sometimes life is easier, better, with help from other people.  Building a house, even a Tiny one, is one of those times.  Even just to get design feedback, if not actual sweaty, hands-on labor-type help.  I believe I would not have let over a year pass since last working on Oliver’s Nest if I’d allowed people to come over and help with it.  Because it turns out that even the most intimidating problems aren’t necessarily all that big of a deal.  I’ve been dreading, yes, DREADING dealing with those trusses.  Turns out all I needed was to cut ’em off!  So easy, anyone could see that – if they weren’t feeling drowned as I was.   There’s a lesson here, folks.  Even the most die-hard loners and chronic “I’ll do it myself!”-ers would likely benefit from allowing suggestions, feedback, critiques.  Let people in.  Get together and toss ideas around.  With help, even when you think you’ve painted yourself into a corner, you’ll find a way out. (A little house-building pun there, didja see it?) 😀

Hey, and a big thank you to Lone Stranger for your suggestion of drilling pilot holes to rein in those wayward screws.  It really helped!  All finished with those as of yesterday.  I can’t believe the walls are finally going to get some sheathing on…it’s a big step, visually.  So, let’s see: sheathing, then the loft, then the pony walls, then the new roof beams.  With weather in my favor, I’m hoping to get all that finished up by the end of March.  Yeah, I know, the rain will come back soon.  But a girl can dream, can’t she?