Portland Tiny Houses

La Casa Pequena Shell Constructed in 2 Days

la casa pequena On Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 I teamed up with Derin and Andra Williams of Shelterwise, and Dee Williams and Joan Grimm of Portland Alternative Dwellings to put on a 2-day building workshop to construct La Casa Pequena. The workshop was part of La Casa Verde green building festival in McMinnville, OR. (Stay tuned for lots more photos!)

With Derin’s dad DK and seven fantastic workshop participants from as far away as British Columbia, California, and Utah we built the shell of a tiny house on wheels in just 2 days! (Of course, Derin put many more hours into designing this wee abode and prepping the workshop so that everything was ready to go. Derin had the sheet metal pan installed in advance and two of the walls pre-built. Thanks for your meticulous planning, Derin!)

La Casa Pequena has a simple form with a shed roof, symmetrical sidewalls, and the short wall towards the tongue end of the trailer for aerodynamics. However, the wall system is quite sophisticated since Derin is an expert in energy efficiency. He’s a stickler for building excellent wall systems so we included building science lessons along with construction tips. (You don't have to take my word for it! You can read Angela Ramseyer's and Dee Williams' recap of the workshop, too!)

The tiny house was constructed on a 12-foot long trailer custom built by Iron Eagle Trailers. (Read more about Rob and Iron Eagle Trailer in Trailer Lust.) We started out Day 1 by securing the floor box into the trailer frame with ½ inch bolts through the sidewalls of the trailer and insulating the space between the joists.

Next we finished constructing the frame, using one of the sidewalls as a template for the other. The workshop participants had varying levels of familiarity and comfort with speed squares, impact drivers, and saws, so we shared tricks for building in a safe and smart way.  By the end of the first day we had raised the four walls and secured them to the trailer and to each other with HTT tension ties and fastener plates.

We raised the roof at the beginning of Day 2 with the help of a few folks from Casa Verde booths. Together we hoisted the roof system up onto the walls and secured it with hurricane ties. Once the roof was in place we wheeled La Casa Pequena into the middle of the Casa Verde celebration. We wrapped the house in drain wrap and stapled it in place with plastic washers. (This house has its sheer panels on the inside so we installed the house wrap directly onto the studs without sheathing it first.) Then Tate from Dupont demonstrated how to install a window, using flexible flashing. (Dupont donated the housewrap and flashing for this build. Thanks Dupont!)

Installing windows is my favorite part of the construction of a tiny house shell because it add so much personality to the structure. All of the sudden the house comes alive. In this case it was also exciting to install the windows because we were able to wrap up the workshop once the last window was installed.

Throughout the summer La Casa Pequena will serve as a demo house for micro workshops on plumbing, electrical, and interior finishes. Stay tuned for more information. Meanwhile, we’re switching gears to prep for our upcoming PAD Tiny House Design Workshop next weekend!

A Year of Little Living

moving into the tiny house a year ago Somehow it's already been nearly a year since I moved into a 121 square foot tiny house on wheels and wrote my first blog post: The Tiny House Adventure Begins. And what a year it's been!

This afternoon I was a virtual guest speaker for the Tiny House Design-Build Class at Yestermorrow and this evening I had a great conversation with my friend Derin about building tiny houses. Both of these got me thinking about how many amazing tiny opportunities I've had over the past year.

Through my internship with Orange Splot I coordinated the Pedalpalooza Accessory Dwellings and Tiny House Bike Tours and wrote several guest posts for AccessoryDwellings.org. Eli also connected me with the Space Efficient Housing Working Group and we've helped to plan the upcoming Build Small, Live Large Summit. I'll be presenting a session about tiny houses with Dee Williams of PAD Tiny Houses and Derin Williams of UrbaNest Northwest.

Tiny House Potluck

Speaking of Dee Williams, she helped me connect with other tiny housers in the area and our contacts spiderwebbed out from there. In the process I have met lots of great folks who are building, designing, living in, or dreaming about tiny houses. We've now had several potlucks and created the Portland Tiny Houses Facebook group and the Tiny House Network Google group. I've profiled A Tiny House Truck, A Tiny Natural House, and Advanced Fort Construction. We've chatted about the joys and challenges of the Little Life and helped each other with designing, building, troubleshooting, tiny house moves, and sharing resources and infromation. Dee also invited Brittany Yunker and I to participate in the Portland Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop in June. I am extremely grateful to both Brittany and Dee for helping me to make these connections with other amazing tiny housers.

going whole hog on a tiny house build

Over spring break I had the chance to help a friend built the shell of her Tiny Barn and I apprenticed with Orange Splot for My Summer Dream Job: Tiny House Design Building. In July we got Brittany's Tiny House On the Road again and I lived in an ADU which I dubbed My Summer Garden Cottage. I spent my days Going Whole Hog on the Tiny House, working on Tiny House Insulation, Roofing, and Interior Walls. The tiny house was featured on the Build it Green (BIG) Tour in September. I was able to use these design-building experiences as my practicum project for my Certificate in Sustainable Design and Building at Yestermorrow Design Build School in Vermont.

home, sweet yurt

I've been interviewed by journalism students for OR Magazine, by newspapers like the Portland Tribune, by a Canadian TV station, and by Vermont Public Radio. I'm also scheduled to do an interview with my friend John for  Portlandia's The Real Portland. Meanwhile, I've considered a plethora of tiny house issues such as Tiny Home Improvement, Shrinky-Dink PorchesTop 10 Reasons to Pick An Envi Heater, Creative Tiny House Storage Solutions, why Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street, and Tiny House Insurance (or lack thereof).

Now I'm Downsizing from a Tiny House to a Tinier House and, inspired by the 100 Thing Challenge, I'm currently Inventorying & Packing Up so that I can embark upon My Things Challenge. For the next school year I'll be living in a 113 square foot yurt in inner Portland, so the tiny adventures will continue. Thanks for following along everyone. Here's to another great year of the Little Life!

Portland Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop = Brilliance + Connections

Happy Birthday Denny! It was a delight to attend the Portland Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop this weekend! I was honored that Dee Williams asked me to participate in a panel on Saturday afternoon and open up the tiny house I'm renting for a walk-through for the participants afterwards. I arrived bright and early and had a chance to meet several of the participants, including Denny who is so tiny house obsessed that he decided to celebrate his birthday by attending the tiny house workshop. He even brought along the tiny house birthday cake commissioned by excellent friends who support Denny's passion. As people introduced themselves we discovered that there were participants from as far away as Plano, TX and Anchorage, AK. Some had recently learned about tiny houses and some had been fascinated for years. People looking for a place to park connected up with people who own property and people who are eager to turn their designs into a structure met experienced builders.

Britt's Bungalow: a tiny tester

Throughout the day Dee Williams, in all her glorious exuberance, wit, and wisdom, shared tiny house considerations such as wall systems, trailer and roof attachments, and moisture management. Over a lunch of food cart deliciousness, I joined a group of tiny house enthusiasts for discussion of downsizing and community-building. In the afternoon Brittany, Michelle, and I shared our experiences of living in a tiny house, including our inspirations and what we would do differently. I explained that I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to try on the little life before building my own tiny house. We encouraged participants to rent Brittany's Bayside Bungalow by the weekend this summer to see what it's like to live in a tiny house. Brittany's website is up and running and she's now taking reservations.

tiny house potluck

Then fifty-ish people came over for a tiny house tour of Britt's Bungalow, taking turns in small batches to note all the details of the wee abode. A dozen or so workshop participants stuck around for the tiny house potluck afterwards, which was the highlight of an already splendid day. There's a fantastic tiny house community here in Portland and several tiny house dwellers joined us for the potluck. It was fun to watch the synergy as workshop participants asked questions of Portland tiny house dwellers, builders, and designers. My friend Emily Morris, who is a videographer, started filming for the movie she's making about Portland's tiny house community. I also got confirmation from a couple leaders for the upcoming Pedalpalooza Tiny Home Tour on Sunday, June 24th from 10AM-1PM which will feature 5 tiny houses in Portland.

Brittany and I were too exhausted by the end of the day to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride, but we considered it a Saturday very well spent. I look forward to seeing what comes of all these connections. Thanks for coming to Portland everyone. And special thanks to Dee, Brittany, and Tumbleweed for an incredible workshop!