After ordering my trailer, the thing I stressed about the most was insulation. I was trying to find a balance between a high R-value and overall environmental impact. I’ve seen many tiny housers use spray foam – with good reason!-but decided it wasn’t for me. It has the best R-value per inch, works as a vapor barrier and expands to fill in all the nooks and crannies. But that stuff can be really toxic. I really considered it and even had a local contractor provide a quote (which was going to cost an arm and a leg). But one day I was out for a walk and went past a house that was being renovated. They were using spray foam insulation and I could smell the fumes wafting down the street. I peeked at their truck and it had placards for all sorts of hazardous waste. Yuck. I’ve worked really hard to remove many toxins from my life (nail polish, perfume – ew) these past few years. I’m far from perfect but I just had a really hard time stomaching the idea that I was going to pay someone a boat load of money to coat my house in hazardous waste.
I ultimately chose to go with Roxul in the walls and rigid foam in the ceiling (for someone who hates styrofoam, I sure used a lot of it in the house! It you’re questioning the environmental impacts of styrofoam, see above where I say I’m far from perfect.). Taken from their website- “ROXUL insulation is a rock-based mineral fiber insulation comprised of Basalt rock and Recycled Slag. Basalt is a volcanic rock(abundant in the earth), and slag is a by-product of the steel and copper industry. The minerals are melted and spun into fibers.”
And this stuff was pretty darn easy to install. It comes in giant bags that I could hardly lift and had to balance on my head when walking across the lumber yard. I promise, it looked really cool. Each piece of Roxul is rigid enough to stand on it’s own in between studs. You can use a bread knife or a hand saw to cut it to size. You can break it into smaller pieces and shove it into the nooks and crannies. The only downside I experienced was the Roxul irritated my skin but nothing a good shower couldn’t fix. Since I’ve moved in, there’s been some really chilly nights, below zero kind of chilly, and I’ve stayed pretty warm in the house. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about this choice.
It took me so long to decide on a paint color. I was first inspired by this house in my neighborhood that was navy blue/purple with lime green trim. I think I sampled about 12 different colors and was starting to panic that I would never be content. I ended up with a navy blue with a dark brown trim, but not before trying out many shades of purple, gray and blue. I even bought 2 gallons of Egyptian Violet paint* before I decided it was way to bright for the tiny house.
There was a little bit of a time crunch due to weather. I had resigned myself to the idea that we weren’t going to have enough warm days left to paint the exterior. The composite siding is pre-primed and would have been fine until spring. So, I was taking my time deciding on the color. Then we had a warm spell and I was panicked to find a color before it turned cold again. The primer was really ugly and I really wanted to paint it.
We had a beautiful weekend and my friend Erika came to help again. This girl is amazing! She painted the entire house for me! I owe her a bajillion hours of painting, staining, my first born and whatever else she might need. It was a huge help and relief to have her there. Plus, I’m always thrilled when we get to spend time together.
*Anyone interested in buying 2 gallons of bright purple exterior paint?
After the poop questions, come the water questions. Once I’ve covered the bases on the toilet situation, people want to know how I’m going to get water to my tiny house.
The plan is to connect a hose to my host house (Thanks Casey and Brett) which should work just fine in the summer.
But what about winter, you say?
Yeah, totally -what about winter? Vermont winters are long, cold and brutal. I’m planning to invest in a winter weather hose and heat tape. When water comes into the house it is going to fill up a small water tank in the storage loft. The water will then go through the water heater and eventually to whichever faucet I’m using. Work case scenario, I disconnect the hose and rely on the water from the storage tank.
Even worse than the worst case scenario, I smell like armpits, my hair is greasy (this probably isn’t too far from my normal) and my sink is so full of dirty dishes that my house ends up looking like an episode of extreme hoarders.
Or, I just find another place to shower. Like a gym (ha, I can admit this is pretty unlikely), a friends house or work. And I bring water in for dishes, drinking and cleaning.
I would like to be successful in my efforts to have running water to my tiny house all winter. If you have any advice or experience using hoses in extreme cold, I’d love to hear from you!
I haven’t updated in over a month because I’ve been to busy building, towing, cleaning, packing and moving. Phew.
But we are so close to finished! The tiny house is “show ready” and it looks finished. Seth and I still need to finish up the plumbing and I’ve got to find someone to install my water heater. We towed the tiny house to Vermont where I’m going to live and I’ve moved all my stuff in. I moved out of my apartment which was more difficult and emotional than I thought it would be. Hopefully, I’ll be living in the tiny house full time by next week. EEEEK!
I am so excited to share these photos that I couldn’t wait any longer. But I still want to share all the in between details. Check back often because I’m planning to share more photos and details of the build, towing it over to Vermont and life in a tiny house.