Tag Archives: siding

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: 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.







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.


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.

Kitchen Layout and Siding

This past weekend has been happily filled with tiny house planning.  Some of it wise and some of it not so wise, but enjoyable for the most part.  I ventured out to Ikea on Sunday because their summer kitchen event was ending and I wanted to see if it was worth my while get my kitchen from Ikea.  Going to Ikea on a Sunday was probably not what one would consider wise.  It was a madhouse.   It took 15 minutes just to get on the waiting list  and then another hour to see an Ikea staff member.  In the end, I spent more time with their design app than with a staff member.  It worked out for the best, as I had figured out the larger elements of the layout of my tiny house, but not the details of the layout of each space.

So I spent a good chunk of time at Ikea with my plans and my scale ruler looking very official, playing with the layout of my kitchen.  My kitchen is important to me.  I love to cook and having a space that feels good to work in is a big deal.  I want to have as efficient a kitchen as possible.  I would like to have storage, counter-space to work on, a standard sized sink, and an apartment size fridge, and possibly have room for 2 people to work or be in the kitchen at once.  Much to my delight, I have found an energy-efficient apartment sized fridge with the freezer on the bottom, that seems to be made in Canada.  Much to my chagrin, after spending part of my afternoon at Ikea on Sunday, I am wondering if I have the space.

A word about the Ikea app, it has its limitations, but it also has some really useful things built in.  It has a series of warnings that let you know if you might be putting somethings too close together or too close to a doorway or window.  It was a bit annoying because my house will be too small to give heed to all of those rules, at the same time, it did make me think about my counter depths and whether or not I wanted cupboards facing each other that were both drawers or shelves.   I won’t go into the exact details of Ikea cabinets right now, as I will have to go back if I choose to order from them.  A couple of things that some might find useful, they only have 2 depths for counters, 26″ or 12 7/8″.  They do have a good selection of widths for their cabinets.

In the little time I did spend with an Ikea staff member, I discovered that they have another kitchen event in the fall and that they can only delay delivery of a kitchen for 3 weeks from the date it was ordered.  Just as well, I can let my subconscious play with my kitchen design and look at it with fresh eyes a bit later.

The exercise did force me to think about some issues that should probably be reflected in the framing of the house.  I have confirmed that I want my bathroom along width of the hitch end of the house and since I would like to have an exhaust fan, I will need to use 2 x 6 studs in the loft framing over the bathroom and that I will have to rework the framing for the loft so that there is room for the fan.

Monday, I ventured out to a sawmill. I had prepared myself decently well and crunched numbers for the amount of interior and exterior siding I need.  I felt prepared, but a little nervous because this was going to be my first time talking to a supplier who didn’t necessarily know what a tiny house was and I was not in the mood to defend or justify why one would even consider building tiny house, let alone live in one.  My fears were unfounded.  I will be getting my interior and exterior siding for a good price, they didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked for a 21′ 4×6 for my roof, they had 2 good options for flooring and their prices were good.  Yay!  I did forget to discuss getting my roofing material with them, but  I know that I can and I have to get back in touch with them to confirm my order so that they can pull it from their current stock and put it aside.

Next steps:  go through my lumber needs and start getting that order together, determine my wall width (now that I know what my siding will be) and start get some quotes so that I can order my windows.

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″.