Tag Archives: insulation

Overdue for an Update

I have started moving in!  I have been sleeping in the tiny house since my mattress was delivered at the beginning of the month.  It has been glorious to wake up in my loft, hearing the birds outside and feeling so very much at home!  The bathroom isn’t finished yet, there is no electricity and the propane hasn’t been installed yet, up until yesterday there was nothing to sit on and the floors were covered up with cardboard.

Here’s a recap of the work that has been done in the month since my last update:

The bathtub has been built!  The drain was installed, but leaked, so we had to head back to the drawing board and after some consultation and a new drain basket, fingers crossed, I will have a functional tub at the beginning of June.    Here are the tub progress pics.

The toilet bench has also been built.  The final coat of paint is drying as I type this.  The toilet bench also accommodates the winter grey water tank and the fancy grey water plumbing.  I have to attach the piano hinge for the two lids on the bench (one for the toilet and the other for the grey water compartment).  The sawdust will live in a bin that will rest on the grey water compartment.  The toilet will be ready early next week.

The kitchen counter has been installed!  I am really happy with the counter I chose and with the amount of counter there is in the tiny house.  The kitchen sink and faucet were installed and the freshwater plumbing is almost finished, with the exception of the countertop water inlet connection.  As it’s spring, I am all hooked with a potable water hose and I have running water.  The exterior grey water tank or french drain still has to be worked out, but as I am not living in the house full-time yet, it hasn’t been a problem yet.

The HRV units got their boxes, which we filled with spray foam, and then they were finished.  I am really happy with how the HRV units look and I get a bonus space above them to sneak in a knick-knack if the fancy strikes me.

Left to do (nb: this is not an ordered list)

  • Get a welder to come out and weld on the brackets for the propane tanks.
  • Get propane installed.
  • Install the stove and the furnace.
  • Finish the freshwater plumbing.
  • Install the drain and faucet on the tub.
  • Install the lids on the toilet bench.
  • Install ¼” plywood on the front edges of the rafters for the roofers.
  • Get a new roof.
  • Figure out my clothing storage.
  • Install the last of the trim in the bathroom.
  • Install the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.
  • Have a house-warming party!
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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.

An Unexpected Break Ending in a Purple Haze

My tiny house has been getting a lot of wonderful attention over the past couple of weeks. It has been truly wonderful to have people coming out and visiting  the construction site and getting the opportunity to geek out about tiny houses with them.  I have also been contacted by a freelance journalist and found a Tiny House Movement group online.  Very exciting times, and it’s a good thing too as I have not been able to move forward with the construction of my tiny house much over the past 3 weeks as I have been waiting for a plumber to rough in my propane lines before getting the house insulated.

Two days ago, I was finally able to book the insulation!  They are insulating as I write.  Apparently insulating Tiny Refuge will take 2-3 hours, in theory.

Lessons learned over the past three weeks:  propane is one of the few codes here in Québec when it comes to how to build an RV.  That code dictates that propane tanks be 10′ from any source of ignition and 3′ away from any opening into the house.  So we had to move the electrical inlet and one of the exterior plugs.  The exterior plug was easy to move.  The electrical inlet proved to be far more challenging when one of the screws, that secures the 6 gauge wire that runs from the inlet to the electrical panel, broke.  A trip to the hardware store proved only somewhat helpful, the right width of screw with the right threading was in the store attached to a stove plug outlet, unfortunately, the screw was too long.  Time was spent grinding the screw down.  While we attempted to reinstall the electrical inlet, another screw snapped in half.  So we called it a day.  I contacted the manufacturer, Marinco and they were amazing.  They replaced the whole inlet and sent it off to me, it arrived within a week and we were able to install the new electrical inlet without any issues.

While waiting for the electrical inlet to arrive, I contacted my neighbour, a plumber who had agreed to do my plumbing, about roughing in the propane.  Unfortunately, he isn’t certified to do propane.  He recommended a friend, who does a fair amount of propane installations, residential and commercial, and I contacted him.  Long story short it took three weeks to discover that the propane should actually be done after the insulation and be installed under the trailer.  That came to light Tuesday, and right now the interior of my tiny house is getting sprayed in WALLTITE closed cell spray foam insulation, which happens to be purple. Walltite is considered an ecological choice for spray foam, it’s plastic based (recycled plastic) and is also low in VOCs after the first hour of installation.  Installers have to be certified by the manufacturer and take a course in order to be allowed to install it.  From what I have read, the effectiveness of spray foam insulation  depends a fair amount on how well it is installed.

I have gone with spray foam insulation because it packs one of the best R-values per inch.  Vacuum insulated panels (VIPs) have an amazing R-value, R29 per ½”, but if they are perforated in any way they lose their R-value completely.  They are also not readily available.  If I were building a house on a foundation, without size restrictions, I would still build tiny, but my walls would be thicker so that I could get a good R-value with something like wool insulation.  Unfortunately, to heat my house throughout the winter in this climate an R-value of R13 or R18 will take a more resources.  As a wood stove is a bit touchy in Montreal, I am heating with propane, which isn’t the most sustainable choice,  and as such, I want to use as little propane as I can.

A view of the whole wall ready for spray foam.  You can also see the box built around the wheel well.  The big blue tarp is covering/protecting the interior siding that have to be stored inside the tiny house.
A view of the whole wall ready for spray foam. You can also see the box built around the wheel well. The big blue tarp is covering/protecting the interior siding that have to be stored inside the tiny house.
Electrical roughed in, ready for spray foam
Electrical roughed in, ready for spray foam.
Main loft electrical rough in.  I chose to light the loft with two lights at the end of the loft and there will be 2 outlets on either side of both windows.
Main loft electrical rough in. I chose to light the loft with two lights at the end of the loft and there will be 2 outlets on either side of both windows.
The bunch of wires on the lower right of the photo are all ready to go to the panel which will go into the wall dividing the bathroom from the kitchen - the only interior wall in the house.  The grey tube in the top right of the photo is the housing for the HRV unit.  The tube will be cut down to size later on.
The bunch of wires on the lower right of the photo are all ready to go to the panel which will go into the wall dividing the bathroom from the kitchen – the only interior wall in the house. The grey tube in the top right of the photo is the housing for the HRV unit. The tube will be cut down to size later on.
The grey box on the lower right of the photo is the new location for the electrical inlet.  The conduit will make it easier to make any modifications to that inlet down the road if needed.
The grey box on the lower right of the photo is the new location for the electrical inlet. The conduit will make it easier to make any modifications to that inlet down the road if needed.
A close up of some of the wiring roughed in and ready for spray foam.
A close up of some of the wiring roughed in and ready for spray foam.

 

 

 

 

 

Electrical Rough In!

After completing the siding, I took a bit of a building hiatus for the holidays.  Today we started roughing in the electrical.  It’s an easy enough sentence to write, it was far more challenging to get ready to rough in the electrical.  Because I have changed the interior layout of my tiny house from the plans I bought, I had to plan out my electrical.   In September, I started talking to an electrician who offered to help me design my electrical system, unfortunately, he had to back out in early November.  Designing the electrical system fell to the wayside and it wasn’t until the siding was completed that the electrical had to be tackled.  Problem was, I didn’t know how to tackle it.

Switch layoutA friend, who is a retired engineer and came to the rescue.  With his help, I was able to hash out a layout for my electrical system,I sent it to an electrician to double-check it, yesterday I went shopping for the AC components in the system, and today, we started roughing it in.

It was great to get back to the build.  It took 2 space heaters to get the tiny house warm enough to work without gloves on.  We started by marking out the locations of all the outlets and boxes.  We stapled vapour barriers in place, installed the boxes and then holes were drilled for the wires to run through.   The wire was run one circuit at a time, leaving enough slack for the wire to be put into each box later on. I colour coded each circuit so that when the electrical panel is put in later (the panel will be on an interior wall that won’t be built until after the insulation is done),  it’s easy to know which circuit is which.

We got most of the circuits put in today.  Next week, we finish the putting in the last of the circuits and install all of the bathroom fan vent, the furnace vent, the HRV units (or as soon as they arrive), the water and electrical in. Once that is done, we prepare for the spray foam to be installed, sealing up any openings to the exterior, building up the boxes around the wheel wells, and protecting the electrical outlets from the foam. I am getting a plumber to install the propane lines before the spray foam gets in.

Happy New Year everyone!

Vapour barrier going in.
Vapour barrier going in.
My first attempt at putting in an electrical box.
My first attempt at putting in an electrical box.

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My Stairs!  They are made from the lumber removed from the trailer.
My Stairs! They are made from the lumber removed from the trailer.

Siding!

The building done this weekend has been extremely satisfying!  Three walls almost completely covered in cedar lap siding, in below freezing temperatures.  As I write this I am under a blanket wearing two sweaters, flannel pants and a scarf.  After building last night it was the same get up plus a toque.  Clover is also cuddled up and snoring  next to me and I appreciate the extra warmth.

Saturday morning started with a few small jobs before putting up the siding.  We put more blueskin along the bottom edge of the exterior walls to close up the seam between the subfloor and the sheathing.  The blueskin was wrapped up about 3″ up the wall.  We secured it with roofing nails along the vertical side of the wall and with strips of pressure treated wood, screwing the wood into place along the bottom edge of the wall.  This blueskin is in place to help keep water coming up from the road or ground and getting to the sheathing.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of that step.  I thought about it, but my hands were pretty cold and the camera is metal…

We also shaved off the extra foam from around the windows on the main floor.  Once the bottom edge of the walls was sealed, the trim went in place.  Unfortunately, I miscalculated on the amount of trim I ordered, so we were able to trim all of the main floor windows and the door with the exception of the top trim on 2 windows.

Getting ready to make the cut.
Getting ready to make the cut.

Then came siding.  A truly satisfying step.  There is a lumber yard about a 35 minute drive from my build site that a friend let me know about and I ordered my ridge beam, flooring, exterior and interior siding from them a couple of months ago, before I updated the plans I am using to build, and I didn’t order enough of a couple of things.  That order was delivered last month and it is great to get it up on the walls.  They helped me get a good price and part of why my price was so good is because I got B grade siding. B grade meaning that there are knots and knot holes in the siding.  The knot holes will be filled with foam, and the foam will blend in when the siding is painted. Some of the bottom edges have “faults” in them and I have to say, I am really enjoying the imperfections.

Installing the siding over the wheel well
Installing the siding over the wheel well

The first two rows of siding on the long walls of the house were slow, having to cut the siding to fit around the wheel wells, but after that it went pretty quickly.  As it is lap siding and not tongue & groove, Stefan suggested that we nail the top and the bottom of the siding in so that there is less chance of siding getting loose when the house is on the road.  You can see the nails along the bottom of the siding, once again, I don’t mind seeing those nails.  They will also be a little less visible when the house is painted, which won’t happen until spring.  I am painting the house with semi-transparent exterior paint in what is called atlantic blue.  The trim will be white.

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The far wall with half of the siding up.
The far wall with half of the siding up.
Look at that siding and the windows with trim.
Look at that siding and the windows with trim.
The end of the day was spent wrestling the tarp back into place.  It was really windy and cold (-8C/17F).
The end of the day was spent wrestling the tarp back into place. It was really windy and cold (-8C/17F).
Tarp almost in place.
Tarp almost in place.