In honor of his annual North East Pilgrimage, let’s take a moment to
check out Nick’s cute bootie appreciate Nicks awesome friendship. There was a good crew out at the job site this day and together we were able to sheath and then Tyvek most of the exterior. Tyvek was kind of a pain in the neck and the sound it makes is horrendous. I used the 4-foot rolls because they fit in my car. I’d be curious to know others experiences with 4-foot versus 8-foot rolls of Tyvek.
Seth and I talked a lot about different options for vapor barriers. Since deciding that the house wasn’t going to have some sort of air exchange, it was a challenge to strike the balance between keeping the house tight but not so tight that the house couldn’t breath. In the end, we decided to just use the Tyvek. If you faced a similar dilemma, I’d love to hear what you ultimately decided to do and why.
Now for the sappy shit – Nick spent two weeks with me last summer and it was amazing to have him here during such an exciting time in my life. We became fast friends while in grad school and continue to be great friends despite being on opposite sides of the country now. I feel really fortunate that our friendship has been a lasting one. We check in periodically throughout the year but I really cherish the times when we actually get to see each other. This year in particular because both of us have gone through a lot of life changes. Even after many months apart we always seem to pick up right where we left off.
During the construction of Little Lou, it felt like everything was always a mess and disorganized. We were constantly shifting materials to make room or hauling stuff in and out of the carport. It was a struggle to keep everything in order. I can be a bit of a control freak so the whole process was an exercise in letting go. Constant deep breaths and reminders that I can’t control everything.
I cherished the moments (ugh, that sounds corny) when the house was clean and tidy. It was a moment to reassess and allowed me to actually envision the structure as a house rather than a construction site. When we started, I had an idea of a floor plan but didn’t have everything totally laid out. I had drawn out several designs but found that many of my ideas didn’t actually translate well to the space. Another reminder that I can’t control everything, I have to be flexible and willing to change my plans.
I think I’m feeling sentimental about Little Lou. Lately, I’ve been scrolling through pictures from when construction first started (Do you think this is what its like to look at newborn pictures of your toddler?) and there are many photos that haven’t been shared.
This is a photo of my dear friend CJ helping install the subfloor over the rigid foam insulation. This kid is awesome. He regularly drove an hour and half from home to help me with the build. There’s not enough words to express my gratitude.
We used self tapping screws to attach the subfloor directly to the trailer. Damn, that was a pain in the ass. My hands were so swollen and sore (pretty sure I was doing it wrong) that I had to ice my hands at the end of the day. I remember thinking that if every step was this hard, that I was in way over my head. Luckily, this part was probably the hardest on my body.
The local news station featured Little Lou in a segment recently and they did a fantastic job! The story was short and sweet but really touched on all the hard work and love that myself, Seth and all my friends and family poured into this project. Also, the focus on the zero waste philosophy was much appreciated.
If you would like to check out the HGTV episode of Tiny House, Big Living it is available streaming on Amazon.
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.
We still need to finish the last details, but the metal roof is on! I was surprised how easy it was to install the roof…
but if I’m being honest, I didn’t even install it. Seth and CJ installed it while
I stood nearby and took a bunch of selfies I worked on other things. I think they were motivated to work quickly so they could get inside and watch football. slackers…
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!
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.
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!
This GIGANTIC window was only $35 at ReSOURCE! (I told you they were amazing!) The window had an extension jamb – a frame that fills the depth of the wall space* – that had to be removed before installation. If any of the screws holding the jamb in place were stripped, it would have been a nightmare to remove. Once again, we were lucky. The jamb came off easily.
The rough opening for the window was too small when we went to install it. Probably my fault (I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing). But luckily it was a easy fix and after removing a small section of the header, the window slid perfectly into place.
*Further proof that I have no idea what I’m doing: I googled extension jam so I could give a simple definition because I couldn’t think of one myself – even though Seth explained it like 100 times. Found out it’s not spelled jam.
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.
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.
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.