Tag Archives: questions

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.

Winter is Here

As winter settles in and the temperature stays below freezing, the realities of building a house on a trailer bed in Montreal make their presence known along with the weather.  When I first decided to build a tiny house I searched and searched for tiny houses built for my climate.  I was frustrated because I found very few resources for adapting a tiny house for northern climates.  I found the story of a tiny house that was riddled with humidity – condensation on all the windows and poor air quality as soon as the house was sealed up against the weather.  I found another house built in the Yukon, but couldn’t find much on how it was handling the winter.

I started my build without all of the answers for my questions and fortunately some of those questions are being answered.  At the beginning of December  I found an HRV unit that will work with both the size of my house and can handle the winters.   I am thrilled to know that my house will have a healthy air quality all year round.  I fully plan on using passive ventilation during the spring, summer and into the fall, but have no desire to let the heat escape and windows freeze open (and then possibly warp) in the winter.

But air quality isn’t the only thing to worry about.  Plumbing also a concern.  How to set up the plumbing so that I can have running water year round.  I have purchased a 26 gallon fresh water tank so that I don’t have to have a connection via hose to have water in my house.  This water tank will live under the sink, and the water pressure will be supplied with the help of a small RV water pump.  To fill the water tank, I have bought a marine fresh water deck inlet that I plan on installing in my counter so that I can fill the water tank from inside the tiny house, I will also be able to run my water from a potable hose in the summer through an exterior water inlet.  I don’t really relish the idea of having to fill my water tank from outside in the middle of January.

Then what to do with the water once it goes through the tap… I am pretty sure I will only be using my grey water tank when the weather is warm and will live with very simple plumbing in the winter – i.e. having a bucket under the sink to collect grey water and showering at friends or the gym.  The direct vent propane tankless water heater that I had really hoped to be able to use, can be susceptible to freezing, and I haven’t been able to find the  one vented through the roof that I selected for order in Canada and it would also require some fancy venting through the kitchen and main sleeping loft.  I went back to the drawing board and have chosen a 6 gallon electric water heater.  As much as I would like a tankless water heater, the  propane options don’t work well for my house.  The electric tankless water heaters require a lot of power each time they are used, and I’m concerned that it will test my electrical system every time it’s used.  The 6 gallon electric water heater will demand more constant but lower demand on the electrical system.

Other considerations I have made for my climate:  an insulated door with a smaller window,  triple pane windows (only an increases the Rvalue by 2, but every point counts), an additional 1″ of insulation on the exterior of the walls and 2″ on the roof.  I am looking into ordering straw bales to go around the bottom of the trailer instead of building a skirt of temporary insulated panels around the base of the tiny house to keep the space underneath the house somewhat insulated.  The straw will also serve as composting material during the summer.  I am sure other things will be added to the list as I go along.

Questions and the next step

So my trailer is ordered and should be ready by the end of August.  I am looking at the next steps to begin building my tiny house.  I find this task exciting and rather daunting at the same time.  I have spent the past year dreaming, researching and building my tiny house in my head and it feels really close.  There are still some important questions that I need answers to regarding ventilation, insulation and water/plumbing.  On Monday, I met with a friend who is a carpenter to look over the plans that I bought.

The evening did not completely turn out as expected – I had hoped that he would be able to help me a fair amount with my build, unfortunately he has quite a few commitments throughout the fall and may be able to come by and help from time to time, he won’t be able to commit to a specific timeline and doesn’t want to make promises that he can’t keep.   In the end, this will force me to take the lead in the build in my home, which was the original plan.  I will be able to contact him for advice, and then will have to implement that advice on my own.

As for the plans, he had some wonderful insight and also was able to point me in the right direction for the next steps on my build.  This is his first exposure to tiny houses, and brings a great deal of experience to the table with regards to building a traditional house.  He also questions things in a way that I very much appreciate.  I am not a carpenter, and will follow the directions given to me by those that I trust as experts, I don’t know which aspects of the design that I have bought to question.  Having someone ask those questions can be challenging, but it also forces me to get the answers.

Here are a couple of questions raised during our conversation include:

  • Why frame the subfloor when the trailer bed offers has enough strength to support the house?  The answer is inches, which is to say, though a bit of a pain, framing the subfloor allows the house to have a slightly larger footprint and in a tiny house, every inch matters.   If you were to lay down flashing, 1/2″ plywood, several inches of rigid polyfoam insulation and then 3/4″ plywood and create essentially an insulation sandwich over top of the trailer’s welded frame onto which you build your house, the house would be  several inches shorter on each side.
  • Why are the studs 24″ on centre and not 16″ on centre? According to Tiny House Design and Construction Guide by Dan Louche, a tiny house does not need to be built at 16 on centre and can be built 24 on centre (wall studs are 24 inches apart, on centre refers to measure from the centre of one stud to the next), without loosing any structural integrity.

I happened upon the answers to his questions quite haphazardly.  I love when the answers to your questions jump out at you without you having to look too hard.

As for the next steps of my journey, I have calculated the square footage of interior and exterior siding that I will need so that I can go and select choose my siding.  I am leaning towards burnt cedar for the exterior siding and I am still not sure what my interior siding will be.  My carpenter friend recommended a local saw mill to check out for siding and suggested that I bring my plans along as the owner of the sawmill is extremely helpful and may have some good insight for me.  The sawmill can also supply my roofing and ridge beam, if I choose to go with them.

Once I have chosen and ordered my siding, I can calculate the wall thickness of my house and order my doors and windows.  It seems as though most doors and windows in Québec are made to order, so there aren’t really any stock sizes anymore.  My plans have a comprehensive materials list, which includes the windows, which is really lovely.  I am changing the plans enough that I have to recalculate the materials list, at least I have a place to start.  One of the things I am changing is my door placement and the size of my door.   I do not like the idea of having a door that is narrow. I don’t want to have to negotiate my way through the door every time I am carrying anything into or out of the house.  It just doesn’t seem particularly practical and the romance of having a beautiful little door on your tiny house will lose its charm quickly.  My door will be 6″ shorter than a standard door, which may make bringing large items like a mattress difficult and will probably mess with the mind of anyone over 5’6″.  Luckily I am only 5’5″.

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