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.
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.
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.
A 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.
The past couple of weeks have been rather quiet on the tiny house front. My tiny house plans have not been completely left alone, I have made the order for my siding, rented a truck to go pick up my trailer (next weekend), contacted the provincial vehicle registration authority (the SAAQ – we are very fond of acronyms in Québec) and spend a good amount of time thinking about my heat source. I have been debating whether or not I want to use a wood stove with the Kimberly stove being a front-runner, or a propane heater such as the Dickinson Marine Heater. The Kimberley stove is efficient, doesn’t take up much space compared to other wood stoves, and is an expensive option. The Dickinson doesn’t need to be babysat, has an even smaller footprint and when I went to the Tumbleweed workshop in Boston, we toured a tiny house that had wintered in New Hampshire and the feedback was that the Dickinson had not heated the house sufficiently for the climate. So the Kimberley has been winning out, the cost seems worth it, I want to be able to live in my house year round.
I am in Prince Edward Island, where my not-so-big house is. I have spent the past week with the help of my mother and my best friends downsizing my belongings in the house, meeting with a real estate agent and doing some small chores to get the house ready to sell. It has been a big week.
My mother and I arrived first and our first day here we were able to go through almost all of my belongings left in the house and decide what should stay and what should go. We did pretty well, moving quickly and getting rid of much of what I really didn’t need. I managed to avoid being overly sentimental and parted with a lot of things. I managed to get rid of that which I was parting with in 2 ways. By chance we met a couple who are moving to the Island for the next year or so. They have lived a nomadic lifestyle and have few belongings. I am happy to know that I can help them out. I spent almost a decade being fairly nomadic, it’s nice to get the chance to settle somewhere for a bit, but getting all of the housewares you need can be daunting. That which they did not need was donated to a couple of local organizations. I was able to donate to the local women’s shelter, the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and to the Salvation Army. I work for a not-for-profit and it felt right to give some really useful and some beautiful things to the women’s shelter. It is difficult to restart your life when you left the old one with just the clothes on your back.
I was also able to help friends with their tiny house build, which was fantastic. My nomadic life was in theatre and I can handle a drill, but haven’t had the opportunity to use saws much. One of the couple who are building their tiny house in PEI is a cabinet maker and she set me to work using a skill saw and a mitre saw. I built 2 boxes to cover the wheel wells of the trailer. I also made a bunch of terrible box jokes.
They ordered their trailer from a welder in New Brunswick, who has built trailers for several tiny homes now and I ordered my trailer this week! So excited. It will be ready a year almost to the day that I first learned about tiny houses. That makes me rather happy. So I will be back in this part of the world about a month from now to pick up my trailer. Not that I’m excited or anything… I ORDERED A TRAILER!!!!!