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.
It’s like Christmas came early today. I am so very happy with the work that was done today. I am 19 1/2 inches away from a subfloor. 19 1/2 inches. Even better, tomorrow I get to start working on my wall framing. I head back to work Tuesday and will be building on weekends from here on in. I am so glad I took the past 2 weeks off to start my build.
Friday morning , a welder came and welded on taller threaded rods onto my trailer. He was fast, and charged me less than what he had quoted. Yay! I got rods. The rest of the day was still spent working on flashing and we got held up by the rain. I had hoped to be a little further along by the end of the day, but then the rain came. We wrangled one of my uncles and a couple of my cousins to come over and help us move some of the sections of the subfloor about, which they did help us do, but we weren’t able to do as much as we hoped because of the rain.
Saturday was a day where a lot of work was done, but nothing really looked any different. My uncle Phil and cousin Alex came back over and helped us move some of the subfloor sections as we needed some muscle. We also put down some more Blueskin on the pressure treated wood on the trailer. We got 2 sections in place, which with the new threaded rod was a bit of a challenge, figuring out where to drill holes and then having to re-drill holes when things didn’t line up quite as expected. The third section was set up in place, raised up on blocks as we tried to line up the holes previously drilled and drill some new ones for the newly added rods. Throughout the process of this build, checking for square has been a regular part of the process. With the 3rd section of the subfloor up on blocks, we checked for square and the previously square structure was completely out of alignment. At the end of the day we had to leave the subfloor incomplete, unscrew the flashing on 2 sides of that section of subfloor and leave the section undone over night, while I went to a kegger at my brother & sister-in-law’s. It was a much-needed evening of laughter, good food, good beer and friends.
When we were able to get to the construction this morning, we unscrewed a 3rd side of the flashing from that section, used a series of clamps to get the subfloor square and then screwed the flashing back on and got back to getting the holes lined up for the subfloor to fit over the threaded rods. My father was amazing as I found the process of getting everything lined up really frustrating. He was able to get the subfloor in place. Yay!
We started getting the insulation into the subfloor, a very quick and satisfying process of laying batts in the subfloor, when my neighbour Mike asked if he could lend a hand. Mike was my favourite person today. I did not realize that Mike used to build houses. Mike also has amazing toys or tools, call them what you will, a contractor’s circular saw is a beautiful thing. With Mike’s help we relevelled the trailer, and magically the subfloor was pretty much complete, if it hadn’t been for my purchasing one too few sheets of 3/4 plywood, the subfloor would be finished right now. As it stands, a quick trip to the hardware store and a rummage through their off cuts and my subfloor will be done tomorrow and the process of starting the wall framing can begin.
My goal for these first two weeks of construction is to get the subfloor done. For a while, I had hoped that maybe I could get some walls up, but I think it’s going to be a completed subfloor. I am not working as many hours every day as I had hoped, as I cannot work alone during this stage of the build. Turning over sections of the subfloor alone just isn’t feasible. So my schedule is restricted, nonetheless, construction is moving forward.
Today, most of the flashing is done, we had to stop working on the trailer as thunder rumbled in the distance (didn’t feel wise to work with metal when there was thunder for some reason) and I had to go and by an extra piece of the galvanized flashing I am using, as I miscalculated when I first purchased the flashing. In the end the slow pace is working out well. Every morning my father and I bring in a set of realizations that help us move forward. This morning our realizations had to do with wrapping the flashing up the edges of the framing of the subfloor. My original plan of folding the flashing over the edges of the framing didn’t work well with the flashing I ended up buying.
Most of what I have read recommends aluminum flashing for the underside of the subfloor. The decking of my trailer and the wood I am using on the outer edges of the subfloor are pressure treated, and the chemicals used in pressure treating the wood can react with aluminum. So I am going with galvanized flashing (I would tell you the metal that has been galvanized if I knew what kind of metal it is). The galvanized flashing that I was able to get is much thicker than the aluminum flashing and possibly also less flexible than aluminum, so wrapping it over the edges of the subfloor was far from pretty and left space for water to well in, so today all of the excess flashing was cut off. I am also using a product by Bakor called Blueskin WP 200, to seal the seams of the flashing and I am being possibly a little extra cautious and am using it wherever the flashing comes into contact with the pressure treated wood. Possibly overkill, on the other hand, this is a section of the house that will not be easy to go back and redo once I am further along and I want to prevent as much corrosion as I can.
Tomorrow, a welder comes to add extra threaded rods to my trailer, as the rods that are already welded onto my trailer are not long enough. Once the new rods are welded on, we can drill new holes in the sublfoor, set the 3 sections of the subfloor onto the trailer right-side up and move onto insulating and covering the whole thing up with plywood. Then it’s onto framing the walls and I have to decide exactly where my door will be.
In each of the books I have read about building tiny houses on a trailer, the first step is to level the trailer. And it is. It’s the first step, yet none of them really go into much more depth than one sentence, maybe two. It’s important to level the trailer. Sounds simple enough. In the end it wasn’t that complicated, but it wasn’t that straightforward either.
I had read on someone’s blog that they went to Canadian Tire and bought axle jacks. I could see how an axle jack could work, unfortunately for me, it didn’t work all that well. The axle jacks was able to purchase do not have the ability to adjust their height in small increments. In order to adjust in small increments you would either have to use shims or shift the placement of the jack along the frame of the trailer. I wanted my axle jacks to be placed on the inner part of the trailer so that I don’t kick them or trip over the paving stones I put them on as I am building.
I am not keen on the idea of using shims particularly since the difference in height I needed ranged from 1/2″ to 1 1/2″, that’s an awful lot of shim. The only shim I could find of that size is a metal shim used for log splitting, they are heavy and the one I saw was rusty. No thank you.
Back to the drawing board or the internet to find a stabilizing jack that can handle upwards of 7 tonnes. I was able to find such a beautiful thing at an RV supply store 30 minutes from my build. I bought 4 jacks. I also scoped some tire covers and other fun RV items, but they will have to wait for another day.
Another helpful and though not completely straightforward hint, use a laser level. I used laser levels in different context when I was working in theatre as a stage manager. We used them to help tape out any given production’s set on the floor, but never to level a trailer. My dad set up one of his laser levels on a camera tripod and we went about levelling the trailer. He has a very handy bumperjack and we used his jack in conjunction with the jack built into the tongue of the trailer to raise each of the 4 corners of the trailer to place the stabilizing jacks and lower the trailer back onto the stabilizing jacks. It took several times raising and lowering the stabilizing jacks to get the trailer level. We checked for level with the laser light on a camera stand and by measuring the distance on the diagonal angles (corner to corner) to make sure they were the same. We achieved level.
On Tuesday, drove through a rainstorm, picked up a trailer, discovered how amazing bungee cargo netting is, was reminded that people can be truly wonderful, spent 15 hours in a pick up truck and arrived safely home. It was an epic day.
It was great to spend the weekend in Prince Edward Island. I got to visit my friends tiny house build, they have made wonderful progress in the month since I was last there. Their plumbing and electrical are in, the house is insulated – they went with spray foam, the roof is on and ready for the installation of their Kimberley Wood stove (I am a little jealous). We had a wonderful visit and I got to feed and help herd ducks into their nighttime home. Ducks are very funny.
My house in Charlottetown is now empty of my belongings and ready for someone else to make it their home. It has not yet sold but am confident that it will. I love that house, it’s about 850 sq feet, I am the third owner and it was built by its original owner just over 60 years ago. It has character, is in a wonderful neighbourhood and is in pretty good shape, for a sixty year old.
Now, I am back in Montreal, my trailer is in my parents back yard, and construction can begin. Getting the trailer into the back yard was an adventure in and of itself. I have an uncle who was a reservist driver in the army in his youth and he graciously came over and backed the trailer into a neighbour’s driveway. Once it was in the driveway, we unhitched the trailer, and with the help of a dolly and some good old-fashioned heave-ho, we pushed the trailer around my neighbour’s house and through a missing section of fence. Once at the fence we had to cut down a vine that was up against the apple tree in my parents yard and then it was pushed into the yard. Check out the next post for a photo diary of the trailer’s journey into the yard.
Today, I cleared out my storage unit, purchased the supplies to start building my house. Tomorrow the build begins.
My trailer is ready and registered and Tuesday I pick it up and bring it back to Montreal. Getting ready for the trailer is its own adventure. I bought a trailer dolly, jacks, registered my trailer, have arranged to have the path to my construction site cleared and ready for the trailer to be moved in. I have read about backing up trailers and rented a truck.
My trailer needs a 2 5⧸16 ball on the hitch. I bought my own trailer hitch, I know that I will need a hitch again in the future and now I won’t have to worry about having the hitch work with the trailer. A bonus – the hitches were on sale at Canadian Tire.
The truck is actually hilarious. It is far bigger than I need to tow the trailer back to Montreal, but it’s all the rental company had that accepts a trailer hitch. My 5’5″ self is driving a Super Duty Ford truck, with a huge antenna on the back. During the drive to PEI we were higher up than all of the other pick up trucks. While packing the truck for the trip from Montreal to PEI, I went to step out of the back seat, misjudged the distance to the ground and ended falling out of the truck. I didn’t hurt myself, but find myself on my back with my legs up in the air, one shoe went flying into the bushes behind me. It was pretty funny. So a word of warning to those who are considering renting a truck to move your tiny home, if you get a Super Duty Ford, the distance to the ground may be greater than you think.