Tiny House Construction Essentials: Plumbing Systems

Remember Casa Pequena, that tiny house we framed and wrapped in just 2 days at the Casa Verde festival in McMinnville last April? If not, here's a sweet video of the Case Pequena build.

It's time for Casa Pequena to be plumbed. Fortunately, Shelter Wise and Portland Alternative Dwellings are teaming up to offer a Tiny House Construction Essentials series and the next class is the plumbing session. Derin Williams of Shelter Wise and Ian Bruner of Bruner Plumbing will be leading the session on Monday, September 16th from 5:30-8:00pm. You can find more information and register for the session on the PAD Workshops page. Sign up today!

Day 4: Tiny House Plumbing & Wiring Begins

Today we did a walk around of the tiny house first thing so Jane could decide where she wanted all of her outlets and switches. One of the builders focused on the electrical and plumbing most of the day while the rest of us finished sheathing the house.

We continued with our method of measuring the area to cover, cutting the piece, holding it up to make sure it fit properly, then adding a bead of construction adhesive to each stud and header, and stapling the OSB to the studs. We have become pretty handy with Liquid Nails construction adhesive, a circular saw, and a staple gun. The trick of nailing a pieces of 2x4 to the top plate so that we can butt the sheet of OSB up to it is a great one!

Because the house is 8'6" wide and 20' long we aren't able to use full sheets of dimensional OSB so we have used full sheets as often as possible and placed our filler pieces strategically. The stud layouts I'd sketched out a couple weeks ago were useless since the layout of the house has been tweeked a bit. We also didn't have the trailer yet so we couldn't get precise measurements from it until just before we started building. We certainly added some weight by using extra studs, but hopefully the enhanced sheer strength will be worth it. As we covered it in sheathing the house started getting darker but we cut open the windows again with a sawzall.

The trickiest pieces we worked on were around the wheel wells. Since we are building out to the full width of the trailer we're bringing the wheel wells into the house. We needed to make sure we had a good connection between the walls and the trailer and we wanted to minimize the number of exterior wall surfaces. We all puzzled over it for a while and finally came up with a solution that involved capping the ends of our double joists with plywood, then placing a 2x4 at the bottom of the gap and gluing it into place with massive amounts of construction adhesive. We'll be sure to tape it well, too, with our handy aluminum tape. Then we had the fun task of bringing the OSB to the fenders. We ended up scribing the cuts from the inside with a long pencil and then cutting them out with a jigsaw. This allowed us to get a pretty close connection which we can seal up with spray foam and caulk.

We seem to have hit a snafu with our insulation that we'll be working on later this week. Tomorrow a roofing framer is going to come out to get started on the roof which we're all looking forward to since the house will really take shape then. It's been gorgeous the past four days but we got sprinkled on this evening so we wrapped things up early. Roofing in the rain is neither fun or safe so we're hoping for some good weather the next couple of days! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Known By the State of California

The garden hose I'd hooked up burst earlier this week so I decided it was time to hunt for a drinking quality hose. One of the scary things about hoses is that so many of them have a disclaimer that says "warning: contains a chemical known by the state of California to cause cancer." That's the sort of thing that's worth avoiding, so I called around and found that a local hardware store carried drinking quality hoses that are also made from recycled materials. Bingo!

Trouble was, when I stopped by on Wednesday they didn't have them in the right length. So I went back today and picked up the hose they'd ordered in for me. I packed it into my backpack and headed home on the bus. I got it hooked up this evening and it does reach, but only barely.

My host and I have talked about digging a trench to run the water and electricity underground, but for now above ground seems fine. She has decided she might want a drinking quality hose, too, so she'll probably pick one up this weekend and we'll put the two together which will allow us to snake it from the back spigot which can be dedicated for the tiny house. If we get around to the trench later these two hoses can be used in the garden.
So it's taken two full weeks for me to get all the utilities running just right because I've been busy with school and a weekend out of town, but I think if I'd been a little better prepared it would have been a cinch.

You Know Those Boxes in the Garage?

The ones you never unpacked from the last move?

I don't have any of those! Hooray!
Today I unpacked my belongings into the tiny house and all my thoughtful consideration as I downsized seems to have paid off. The goal is to have a place for everything so I can put everything in its place. I'm pretty close to meeting that goal. With a few more tweaks I think I'll have it.
My cordless drill and driver set was put to use for a couple of "remodeling" projects. Some of the spaces that worked well for Brittany weren't as ideal for me. I am more a drawer person than a shelf person so I changed the height of a couple of shelves in the kitchen to create space for drawers and baskets I could use for kitchen gadgets and food. I also changed the bookshelf heights to better accommodate my small book collection and I raised the height of the window seat so I could slide my laundry baskets under there since I plan to store my scarves, mittens, hats, etc. in them this winter. I moved a couple of hooks, too, and I'm realizing hooks are awfully useful for taking advantage of vertical surfaces in a small space.
Then it was just a matter of unpacking everything into the spaces. There are a few things that seem luxurious and unnecessary (do I really need a hand mixer? probably not, but if it makes me happy, it's worth having!) Everything fits and there's room for more but I'm going to make a concerted effort to not accumulate any more stuff!
I don't have electricity or water set up to the house yet, so tonight I'll be using candles and probably turning it early because I'm exhausted. It seems like it shouldn't have taken all day to get settled, but moving always takes longer than expected, even in a tiny house!