Tag Archives: windows

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.

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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.