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.
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.
This is a really common question people ask when they first hear about my tiny house. Good thing I’m pretty comfortable talking about poop!
I’m planning on using a composting toilet following the methods outlined in the Humanure Handbook. This eliminates a lot of questions about how I’m going to manage waste water.
Even though I don’t plan to use them, we did install the pipes and drains for a regular flush toilet. This way, if I ever find a place to park that has access to sewer lines I can swap out the composting toilet for a real one. I’m not squeamish about the composting toilet and would probably choose to keep it regardless of where I park. However, composting toilets don’t meet code in most Vermont cities. So if I want to legally park in a city, I would need a flush toilet. Also, if I decide that tiny house living isn’t for me this might make it easier to sell the house.
I found a bunch of pine shiplap at ReSource that I started to stain a beautiful dark brown. The T1-11 is 8′ tall, my house is 11’3″ so anything above 8′ will be sided in pine. The pine with be put up horizontally and I think the vertical T1-11 will be a cool contrast.
We decided to stain the backside of it to speed things up. But not until after CJ sanded a bunch of it. oops. Thanks CJ!
All the trim will be pine stained the same color – Thanks Sarah and Erika for staining a bunch of the trim and siding!
I’m endlessly grateful for all the help from so many amazingly beautiful people!
This was the week that I discovered timelapse on my iphone. Hope ya’ll are ready for a million more nausea inducing videos!
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.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this front door I picked up at ReSOURCE for only $65! Seriously – ReSource has been an amazing resource (see what I did there?) throughout this whole project. Last summer, they had a sign outside their store advertising a tiny house building workshop so I stopped in to chat. I couldn’t participate in the workshop but I was connected with the Youth Build program which was interested in building a tiny house. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to work together but it was through these conversations that I got the ball rolling.
I was so worried that something would go wrong while trying to install it. It was screwed shut – helpful so the door didn’t fly open during transport!- so I didn’t get to make sure the door opened and closed properly before buying it. I figured for $65 it was worth the risk.
Totally worth it – I’m over the moon! We’re still on track to finish before the snow arrives, but I’m a little worried. There’s been some pretty chilly morning and we’ve already seen some flurries. Brr!
Still chugging along trying to finish framing the little loft windows and installing other windows. Almost all of my windows are salvaged/second hand. But the thing about using used windows is they can be a real pain to install. Slowly but surely, we’re moving along.
I put the tiny bathroom window in upside down. Because I’m pretty clueless and awkward with a hammer (and just generally awkward) it took forever to pull out all the nails, turn the window upside right and nail it back into place. Seth could have done this in about 30 seconds – Thank God he’s helping me otherwise I’d still be building this house 30 years from now
The windows for my living room I ended up purchasing new after many unsuccessful searches on craigslist and at the salvage yards. Those went in easy peasy. Sometimes it’s easier and faster to use new materials but I think all the effort of using secondhand materials will be worth it in the end.
I laid out the floor plan in tape so I could start visualizing the layout. I had originally planned to have the refrigerator opposite the kitchen sink but it was too narrow. We made some adjustments to the floor plan and now the fridge will be next to the stove. I’m sure there will be many other changes as we go along.