Does anyone remember the tiny house that we are building for Grandmother? We started in November with a goal of finishing it in 2 weeks and spending less than $3,000?
The idea that we could build an entire house in two weeks – no matter how small – turned out to be completely unrealistic. My new tiny-house friend Andrew (from tinyr(E)volution.us) and I had a discussion about this. He said, ” Because of their size people assume it is like building a treehouse or something. But it is a house; a home, even. That takes a lot of work….especially when you get to the interior. It still requires electric, plumbing, trim work, etc”
Yep. We pretty much thought we were building a treehouse. So we didn't make our 2-week deadline. In fact, after 2 weeks of working on it, even with a lot of help, the tiny house didn't even have a roof yet. I feel bad about that, because tinyr(E)volution featured us on their tiny house webcast and told everyone how we were building a tiny house in 2 weeks. (Check out his webcast here! We're featured at from 5:57-8:14!) But we can't put Grandmother in a house with no roof!
After those initial 2 weeks, Papa the Farmer had to get back to work, so progress has felt slow. One of the reasons I haven't been updating the blog very often is because I haven't felt like I had much to share. But as I look over the pictures we've actually made really good progress!
The last time you saw the tiny house it looked like this:
The next step was to insulate! We still had some helpers visiting and we all helped Papa the Farmer put house wrap on the house. This just blocks drafts of air from coming in and also acts as a moisture barrier.
You can see the door and window openings through the plastic. Papa the Farmer cut the excess plastic away and installed the door and the windows. The door had been given to us by someone who was remodeling and we found the windows for a great deal at our local Habitat for Humanity resale shop! We purchased the windows before building anything so that we could frame the house to fit the windows… instead of later having to search for windows that would fit the openings we had left. It turned out great!
I couldn't resist sneaking into the bedroom and taking a picture of Grandmother's view. This was the first time it started feeling like an actual house.
Here's a picture of Papa the Farmer doing some finishing touches on the house wrap. At the point in the process we ordered the metal roof. It took some time for the roofing to arrive so we moved to the interior…
The first thing Papa the Farmer did inside was add these wood supports so that he would have a place to attach the drywall later. I think it's pretty unusual to see a tiny house with drywall. Usually they have wood walls because people are worried that the drywall will crack when you move the tiny house. After some research we did find other examples of tiny houses that have drywall (and have moved them successfully without cracking!) We decided to use drywall because it is cheaper and it is still very attractive. If it does crack when we move it… well, I am married to a handyman and he can always repair it!
So the next thing was to frame in the bathroom. The bathroom walls and one two-foot wide wall between the bedroom and kitchen will be the only interior walls in the house.
We found the shower for a great price at a home improvement store. The reason it was such a good price is because it's a couple of inches narrower than a typical shower… which means in most municipalities this shower wouldn't meet building codes. That's not a problem for us… it's an advantage! And when you stand in the shower it doesn't feel small at all.
The next job was to put Styrofoam vents on the ceiling. This allows for air movement behind the insullation. By this time Papa the Farmer had gone back to work and this was something I could do. So I made friends with the staple gun…
and here's the finished product!
The next job was to add insulation. Somehow I didn't get a picture of that. Maybe it was because at this point, I made a big, big mistake…
Papa the Farmer was still away at work. (He does handyman work to pay the bills while we get the farm going.) Now, I've never insulated anything before but I figured, “How hard can it be?” Famous. Last. Words….
I didn't know it, but there were 2 sizes of insulation: 16″ and 24″. Some of the insulation was up in the loft and some of it was down below. I climbed up into the loft and opened a bag of 16″ insulation. I started stapling it up between the rafters. As I stapled, I thought to myself, “I wonder why Papa the Farmer and Farm Aunt didn't build the rafters to be the same width as the insulation. That would have been so much easier.” And I mentally patted myself on the back for being so much smarter than the two of them. But never fear. I am a QUILTER… (a completely unrelated skill, by the way)… so once I got all the ceiling rafters covered in 16″ insulation (it took me all afternoon!), I figured I could just cut that insulation into strips and patch it along the sides to fill in the gaps. I was just pulling out the scissors to cut the first strip when Papa the Farmer pulled in to the driveway. I went outside to greet him.
“I've been insulating the tiny house today!” I told him. “You know it would have been so much better if you and Farm Aunt had built the rafters the same width as the insulation.” His eyes got wide and he asked, “Alina… WHAT are you DOING???”
He ran into the tiny house. “Oh NO!” He wailed. And he introduced me to the 24″ inch insulation that had not been up in the loft.
And so I had to undo all my work. I was able to use all that insulation on the walls downstairs, but it was a bit of a patch-job. Oh well. Now I know.
Anyway, after the insulation fiasco, the metal roof arrived. Here's a picture of Papa the Farmer installing it.
Then it was time to add the sheetrock. There are a few interesting things about this picture I'd like to point out. First of all, see that wooden box down where Papa the Farmer is squatting? That is the wheel well of the utility trailer that we used as a foundation. The trailer was 6 feet wide by 20 feet long but we gained an extra foot on each side by building over the wheel wells. Then Papa the Farmer insulated that space and built that box to cover it. This side will be covered by the kitchen cabinets. The other side won't be covered, but it will be in the bathroom so it will act as a small shelf next to the toilet. (A handy spot to set toilet paper, perhaps?)
The other interesting thing I'd like you to notice is that the insulation says “Formaldehyde Free.” A tiny house is so narrow that fumes from building materials can build up. We have lots of windows, vents and fans, but we wanted the building materials to be as non toxic as possible.
And one final thing to notice… This is the kitchen window. Isn't that Texas sunset gorgeous? What a great view to wash dishes by!
(Hmmm… I guess the camera lens had construction dust on it. Please excuse the spots!)
Papa the Farmer cut the sheetrock away from the window… It's starting to take shape!
Here's the kitchen area completely sheetrocked! The walls on the right are the bathroom walls and in the background you can see the bedroom.
Here's the bedroom window. It's starting to look homey!
And here's a view standing in the bedroom and looking into the bathroom on the left and the kitchen on the right. The dining room table will be against that far window and she'll have a chair behind the bathroom where she can sit and read or knit or whatever…
Here is Papa the Farmer standing on a small step stool putting drywall mud in the bathroom. As you can see, the electricity and plumbing have already been installed. The next step will be texturing, then painting!
There's still lots of work to do, but we're getting close to the finish line!
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