Little Lou, Big Star!

I’ve used this space to share details of the construction and design of my tiny house. I’m not the greatest at writing on a regular basis, but I’m trying. I like to keep you updated. Some information is missing because I haven’t had the time to share it yet. Some information is missing because I’ve had to keep it a secret!

In February of 2015 I received an email from one of the many tiny house newsletters I subscribe to announcing an open casting call from the HGTV show Tiny House, Big Living. I figured it was worth a shot and sent in an application. I was a little indifferent about being on television but I wanted to help promote the tiny house lifestyle in a bigger way.

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I didn’t hear anything for months. I assumed nothing was going to come of it and we got started on construction. Then in August, I received an email from the casting director asking if we were interested in a casting interview. Yup, you bet we were! Seth and I Skyped with the casting director and a few days later got word that our build was selected to be on the show.

In mid-September a crew of 5 showed up and started filming. The crew filmed for a total of 7 days between September and December. It was actually really hard work. We had to get comfortable speaking in front a camera, angling our bodies appropriately etc. It was really frustrating at times because we were already working on a tight timeline. It certainly added another layer of stress to the whole process but I’m very grateful that we had the opportunity to do something like this. Also, I’m much kinder to the cast when I watch House Hunters now.

After a few more months of waiting, we finally got word that the episode will air on Monday April 25th at 9pm on HGTV. I hope you’re able to check it out!

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Siding

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I like the look of T1-11. I also like that it comes in panels and is relatively easy to install. I wasn’t so crazy about the maintenance associated with it. T1-11 is pretty vulnerable to moisture and can require a lot of upkeep. We opted for LP Smart Side -a wood composite siding- for the exterior. It comes in 8’x4′ sheets and it was pretty easy to install. It’s also pre-primed so all we have to do is paint – except it’s been really tough for me to decide on a color!

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The front end, over the hitch, hasn’t been sided yet because we’re going to build a storage locker there. This locker will protect the electrical panel and provide a little extra storage. Under the locker, there will be a little roof to cover the propane canisters. My appliances will run off of bbq propane tanks. I’m not sure yet how often they will need to be swapped out. I’m guessing a least once a month in the winter. It will be more convenient to swap the tanks out if they’re not completely buried in snow.

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The siding had to be cut to fit around the wheel wells. Seth sorta eyeballed the first cut – I trust him, he’s good at this stuff- then we traced a template for the rest of the cuts. It wasn’t perfect and it took a couple of tries but we got it. Hopefully, that’s the hardest part. We then filled in the gap between the siding and the wheel well with silicone to prevent moisture inside the house. Thanks Mike for helping with this part!

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It’s electric!

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Little Lou is electrified! My amazing cousin Paul roughed in all the electric for the house!

I don’t get to see Paulie as often as I’d like and it’s always a treat when we get to spend time together.  So we got to hang out all weekend and my house has electricity – double win for me!

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It’s all pretty standard wiring, just like a “normal” house (As far as I can tell, clearly I’m not an electrician). We mounted the panel on the outside and will close it in a utility closet to provide protection from the elements. Right now we’re plugging into a standard extension cord from the panel. When Little Lou finds a more permanent home, the house will plug into a 50amp plug.

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We initially planned for 8 recessed light fixtures, a fixture over the sink, sconces in both the sleeping loft and the living room and a ceiling fan for the main living space. It didn’t take long to realize that we had over prepared! We ended up wiring for two sconces in the living room, 2 sconces in the sleeping loft, 4 recessed lights, a light fixture over the sink and a ceiling fan/light. We also wired for a fixture over the tub and a vanity light in the bathroom.

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My favorite feature is the plug with usb ports that we installed next to my bed. It feels like a huge luxury to me!

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Thanks Paulie for being so awesome!

a roof over our heads

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We have a roof! Now we don’t have to worry about messing with a cumbersome tarp. I think this step made the house feel more like a home. I was able to think about some design elements and start visualizing them in the space.

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Help from Meaghan and Mike putting in hurricane ties! Thanks friends!

Next up, windows! We tried to install some windows the same day we finished the roof but ran into some trouble. We framed the living room windows too small – oops. We will lower the sill and should be fine.

When we tried to put in the bathroom windows, the sash fell on Mikes face (hilarious). Since I had got them used at a local hardware store, I assumed I made a bad purchase. After a panicked trip to two hardware store, I was informed we were trying to install them upside down (embarrassing). At least the rough opening was the right size!

As soon as we’re weather tight (or close to it) we’ll start wiring the house! My cousin Paul is going to help out with the electrical. I’m a lucky girl to have so many friends and family willing to pitch in. I’m still pinching myself to make sure this is real life. 

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Lumber Yard

Supporting local business is super important to me. We’ve worked really hard during this build to salvage as many materials. But when we do need to buy new, we try to buy local. Almost all of our lumber and building supplies have come from Bryant’s Lumber Yard in Port Henry, NY. They deliver to the job site or Seth picks up materials when he’s running errands so this was my first time here. I was super impressed by how attentive the staff were. Chuck helped us out for almost an hour and a half while we picked out supplies and loaded the truck.

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Sleeping Loft

Have I mentioned how awesome my parents are?! Seriously. The most awesome. They came up for two days and we made some good progress. We finished framing the roof and framed my sleeping loft.

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Originally, we were going to do a shed roof for the whole house. Once we got the bathroom ceiling framed and the rafters over that section, it was clear that was not going to work! It would have been very tight. We decided to build a dormer over the sleeping loft that extends part way in the the main living space. I have plenty of room to climb up into the loft without worrying about bumping my head and will be able to sit straight up once up there. There’s beautiful tall ceilings in more of the house and it looks pretty awesome! We’re searching for a funky little window to place on the wall where to roof line transitions.

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The sleeping loft is about 7′ long and 6’8″ wide which will give me an extra 56 square feet of space. I can fit a standard queen size bed but it will be tight so I’m considering some other options. My Dad built this for me and then my mom and I helped him put it in. Remember when I said how awesome my parents are?

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My Mom made window pans to prevent moisture from accumulating on the window sills. She also started taking apart my kitchen cabinets so they can be refinished.

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Hurricane ties attach the rafters to the stud wall. This way my roof stays on while driving.

Tyvek Gift Wrap

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We finished framing the majority of the house, then sheathed and wrapped it. We framed to 8′ and then built a 2’5″ knee wall on top of that to ensure plenty of head room in the sleeping loft. The house can be a maximum of 13’6″ from the ground to legally transport so we’re aiming for an inch or two below that.

I was so lucky to have two very good friends, Nick and Matt, visiting from San Fransisco. Nick, Matt and my friends Mike and Ashley all put in a solid days work and we made enormous (by tiny house standards) progress. As always, I left the build site that day feeling incredibly grateful, thankful and happy.

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