Air Quality and Electrical

Construction on Tiny Refuge has gone from a weekend affair to a fully time occupation.  I will be living in Tiny Refuge in a matter of weeks.

The electrical is completed as far as it can until the bathroom is finished, the ceiling under the loft is put in and the floors are finished.  The Lunos e2 HRV (heat recovery ventilator) was hooked up and tested.  It took a little doing as there was a misunderstanding about how the switches needed to be setup.  The box we received with the HRV was a european one and it fit the transformer that controls the HRV units, so we installed it.  Oops.  The european box, that had the wires for the HRV running to it, had to be carefully excavated from the wall and a triple gang box was installed into the wall.  The Lunos e2 needs two switches, one switch turns the units on and the second switch controls the speed (low or high).  The switches needed a triple gang box because a double gang box doesn’t have enough space for the switches and the transformer.  In the third space in the box, a blank switch was installed and a hole drilled through it for the transformer’s LED.

With the switches and the transformer in place, the tubes were cut to size, the units were put in place and hooked up and then tested.  There was a slight delay as they started up, once they started they quietly purred and worked beautifully.  The Lunos e2 HRV must be installed in pairs.  One unit draws fresh air in as the other draws the “stale” air out, then after about a minute later, they switch.  They make very little noise, even on the high setting.  It was wonderful to hear them purr.





I checked on the tiny house this morning to see how the thinset was curing and to make sure that the floor wasn’t too cold.  It went down to -16 C (3 F) last night and the thinset needs to be at least 10 C (50 F) to cure properly.  The floor seemed to be curing but was still a little cool to the touch so I turned up the heater.  The windows and parts of the door were covered in condensation.  The condensation on the lock and door handle had frozen.  I do indeed need a heat recovery ventilator to for ventilation in the winter.  I didn’t have my camera with me to take pictures when I went in at first, so the photographic evidence isn’t quite as spectacular as it was when I first went in.

Flooring Part I

This weekend we were only able to build on Sunday, so the electrical will wait  and as the hook up at the house isn’t done yet, it doesn’t affect much.  Saturday, I was able to spend some time getting ready for Sunday, I cleaned the tiny house, vacuumed the sawdust off the floors, walls, windows, etc.  to get the floor ready to install the tiling.    I am using Nuheat Infloor Heating Mats.  They were the mat that was recommended to me and here are some of the reasons I am really glad I bought them, most in-floor heating systems require a layer of levelling cement, the Nuheat mats only require a layer of thinset under the mats, which saves on weight.  These mats also come in 120 or 240 volts, I chose the 120 volts because I wasn’t sure at the time that I ordered them if my electrical would be able to handle 240 volts.  I ordered 3 mats, one for the bathroom, one for the kitchen and one for the great room.  The mats in the bathroom and the kitchen do not go under the cabinets, the tub or the toilet.

After I finished cleaning, I laid out the mats to map out the path for the wires that run from the mats to the thermostats.  The bathroom mat was pretty straightforward, the 10′ wire had more than enough room to travel from the mat to the wall and then up to the box where the thermostat will be installed.  The Nuheat  thermostat can take up to 15 amps worth of mats each. I bought two thermostats, one for the bathroom and then planned on having both the kitchen and the great room mats on the second thermostat.  When I laid out the kitchen and the great room mat I was stumped.  The wire from the kitchen mat didn’t reach the thermostat.  When we roughed in the electrical, we set up a circuit for an extra thermostat.  Before we put up the interior siding, I chose to put the thermostat in the box further away from the kitchen, so Stefan ran a rope from that box to the floor so that the wires from the mats could run behind the paneling.  In retrospect, we should have done the same for the other box, but we did not, because I knew I only wanted to have one thermostat for the kitchen and great room.  The wires from both mats reach the box that doesn’t have the rope going to it.  So expect a post with details of how we run the wires to that box.

Sunday morning we started by laying out the uncoupling membrane, which allows the house to shift without the tiles or grout cracking, cutting it to fit the tiny house.  Once it was laid out, we carefully put away the membrane, the last piece to be installed went back in the box first and the first piece to be installed went in last.  Then we laid out the in floor heating mats and marked the location on the mat for the floor heat sensor.  Next, we put a thin layer of thinset down where the mats are going to lie.  The mats were laid down and then another layer of thinset for the uncoupling membrane.  Once the uncoupling membrane was down, more thinset to file the grid on the uncoupling membrane (see pictures below).  The thinset is curing (which should take about 24 hours) and next week the tile gets installed.

A Little Trim, A Little Electrical

Finishing the trim and starting electrical brings Tiny Refuge another step closer to being lived in.  Saturday we finished the rest of the trim.  A word about the trim, it has taken a while to get through all of the trim because Stefan is making all of the trim out of leftover siding.  There is a lot of leftover siding, which is ironic since I thought ironic since I was convinced in December that I was going to be really short on siding and that I would have to order a great deal more.

Making all of the trim is not the fastest process.  Stefan cuts the pieces to a rough size,  cutting off the groove edge and removing the tongue, cutting the siding to width on the table saw, adding chamfers either with the hand plane, the mitre saw or the table saw depending on the chamfer.  The trim then gets sanded on all sides that are exposed, this was my job,  the ¼ palm sander and I are very good friends now.  Once the trim is sanded, if it’s not already cut to the exact size,  the trim is cut to size and installed.  The windows were pretty straightforward,  with the exception of chamfers,  there are no angled cuts on the window trim.  The trim for the edges of the dormers and between the dormer walls and ceiling needed angled cuts, so there was a lot of cut, check the trim in place and repeat until it’s installed.

Sunday morning we finished the last pieces of trim until the floor goes in.  The bathroom wall was built and sided fairly quickly.  Then the electrical work started.  The panel was placed and as the panel is in the bathroom, I didn’t get to see much of what was going on.  There were moments of banging but it was mostly quiet steady work.  Every time I checked on the panel the mess that was the wires that had been sitting there since January started looking more and more organized.  Order from what had looked so chaotic.  There were two wires coming to the panel that I didn’t label, so they took a short bit to figure out.   I labelled by wires using different coloured electrical tape.  I labelled each circuit and then made a list of the circuits using the same coloured tape.

Next week:  more electrical and maybe some flooring!

Interior Siding and Trim

There is siding on lofts , the great room and the kitchen.  There is just a bit of siding left to do in the kitchen along the wall that divides the kitchen and the bathroom (that wall hasn’t been built yet).  The windows in the loft have their trim and the long dormer edges are trimmed.  All is good and right in the world.  I am possibly a month away from living in my tiny house.  A month!

Saturday, we finished off the siding on the dormers in the bedroom loft and then started on the small bit of 12/12 ceiling at the end of main loft.  Once again I was manning the nail gun and Stefan was on the saw.  It was really satisfying to cover up the insulation and watch the purple disappear.  That satisfaction was only trumped by seeing the windows trimmed.

I discovered this week that I missed a pretty important detail when I ordered my siding.   A lot of tiny houses use ¼” siding to cut down on weight.  I missed that detail and just ordered siding.  My siding is ¾”, which means it’s easier to install, is more solid and three times as heavy.   It’s not the most comfortable of realizations I have had over the course of this build and it impacts a great deal.  Now I just have to weigh one of the pieces of siding and start doing some math before I can choose the flooring I will install, which after a recent decision, choosing flooring has become a bit tricky.

Here’s a bit about that decision: while roughing in the electrical, I decided to add in-floor heating.  I contacted a tiny houser in Vermont who has been wintering in their tiny house with straw bales stacked around the base of their trailer and he wished he had installed in-floor heating.  So I went for it.  I have my in-floor heat mats and 2 thermostats.  I am hoping to install ceramic tile floor – a heavy choice, but a choice that lets the in-floor heating radiate into the room.  Wood insulates , so in-floor heating will heat up the floor, but that heat won’t radiate much into the room.

So choices have to be made and wood has to be weighed.

Fun fact:  in carpentry, a beveled edge is called a chamfer.  I learned that this weekend.

Interior Siding: Part II

This has been a wonderfully busy week for Tiny Refuge.  The replacement for my door finally arrived and it was installed.  The door they originally sent was 1/4″ too short, leaving enough space for the weather to get in. I have been waiting for the new door for months.  Not only do I have a new door, I have a door handle and a deadbolt.  Much fancier than the scraps of 2×4 that were standing in for a door handle.

I spent quite a few hours this week sanding the ridge beam.  I wasn’t sure if the ridge beam was going to be visible or not, so I didn’t get it sanded at the sawmill.  It had a few dark marks on it and was rough enough that you could get splinters if you rubbed it the wrong way.  I  used a palm sander and got that ridge beam smooth.  I am going to leave it exposed and as we installed some of the ceiling this weekend, it needed to be sanded before hand.

By the time Saturday rolled around, the tiny house was ready for some more siding.  Saturday we finished the dormer fronts and  the ceiling in the dormers.  The dormer fronts were pretty straightforward, with far fewer cutouts than the main floor.  The ceiling on the other hand was a little more challenging.  I am using wider boards on my ceiling and unlike the walls, where I manned the saw and Stefan did the installation, we were both up in the lofts getting the boards in place.  We started the installation at the ridge beam and then worked towards the walls.

Sunday, we started tackling the dormer sides and I was up in the loft installing the siding.  Saturday, I used a nail gun (the brad nailer) for the first time and Sunday I was manning the brad nailer.  The dormer sides are slow going.  The angles are slightly different on each one and the top two pieces of siding require cuts on the table saw and the mitre saw.  The tiny house only has space for the mitre saw, so the top two pieces required quite a few trips outside.  We got 5 ½ dormers done and one of the small sections of 12/12 pitch ceiling done in the small loft.

Next weekend: the dormer sides will get finished, as will the ceiling on the rest of the 12/12 ceiling. The bathroom wall will get built and sided and then we start on trim.

Interior Siding: The Beginning

Last week was quite the week.  Tiny Refuge went from bare studs with electrical, to purple with some studs coming through to beautiful knotty pine siding.  Part of me had forgotten what  a difference siding made to the exterior of the house. It is certainly making a wonderful difference to the interior.

The interior siding arrived just under four months ago when the ridge beam was delivered.  It was stacked beside the big house, protected under tarps, until December when it was brought inside before the snow fell.  Although it might have been fine to stay outside, the thought of snow sneaking its way inside the tarp and then melting, was enough to move the whole lot into the tiny house.  That pile of siding, much of which is 16′ in length was really interesting to get inside the house and then even more interesting to cut and install.

We set up the mitre saw next to the large window on the short wall of the house.  Then we set up a ladder outside, lined up with the window.  Whenever a 16′ board was cut, we had to open the window and slide the board outside, where  it would rest on the ladder and stay level to be cut.  If the board was the wrong way around, it was fed outside through the window, turned and then sent back in through the window.

Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold on Saturday and though colder on Sunday, it wasn’t too bad.  The insulation got it’s first real test and I have to say, it did a great job.  I had read a post by Laura Moreland of Tiny House Ontario on Tiny House Listings that described the effect opening a door had on the heat in her tiny house.  It had me rather nervous, and I am happy to say that Tiny Refuge held its heat fairly well.  Granted it was a balmy -12C (10F) and not -31C (-23).  Nonetheless, it was reassuring that with the small electrical heater going, the house remained comfortable while the window was completely open for minutes at a time.

We started by installing the 2×3 stud that is the beginning of the bathroom wall, with cutouts in it for the wires to be able to reach the breaker panel that will be in the wall.  Then the siding started going up.  It was a little bit of slow going with all of the cutouts needed for the electrical outlets and switches and for the wheel wells and windows.  Stefan used the table saw for the long straight cuts and we used two different tools for the smaller cutouts.  The first was a jigsaw and the second  was an oscillating multi-tool.  We used the multi-tool a little with the exterior siding, but it really got good use with the interior siding.  It was nice tool to use.  The jigsaw was also fun, I even got to cut circles with it and they were pretty fantastic for my first shot of cutting circles with a jigsaw.

We had wonderful help on Saturday from René.  He manned the mitre saw and juggled 16′ boards.

Natalie Heron Doula Services

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