tiny house build blitz

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Days 5 & 6

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Days 5 & 6

Friday was Day 5 of the Build Blitz for Erin Maile & Kevin O'Keefe's tiny house on wheels... By lunchtime the roof panels were up and we spent Friday afternoon working on a number of touch up tasks... Since the house wasn't quite yet ready for her maiden voyage, we decided we'd better do some more work on Saturday to get her prepped. 

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Days 3 & 4

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Days 3 & 4

The Green Mountain Panel crew came out en masse to help us get the first wall panel up. We tipped up one of our slanted end walls and then its adjoining panel on the corner. Once we had a corner in place we were able to work our way around the building in both directions. With a crew that big it went pretty quickly. 

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Day 2

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Day 2

Yesterday we kicked off our second build morning by finalizing the detailing of our trailer and floor system so that the two were ready to be joined. Maile sealed the edge between the pressure treated undercarriage and the trailer with a sealant and Kevin and Peter installed lifting plates and put rigid foam around the perimeter of the floor system. Then we were ready for the real excitement to begin... Harold then brought the boom truck around and picked up the floor panel with an aluminum bar and three neverending loops. He hoisted the panel over to the trailer and set it into place.

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Day 1

O'Keefe Build Blitz: Day 1

Yesterday was Day 1 of the tiny house build and despite a few setback (there are always setbacks!) we made good progress. We started out the day by leveling the trailer (so fun to do that with John's awesome laser level!) and checking the trailer for square. (Wright Trailers did a great job on this trailer!) We did some tool orientation and safety so we could ensure that we're all on the same page and ready to roll. Then we measured and cut our pressure treated plywood as the undercarriage...

T42 Undercarriage & Floor Insulation

Great progress before lunchtime! Our tiny house build has begun! On Sunday Isha and I moved our tools down to our build site at Green Anchors. It was May Day and seemed an auspicious day to start a project like this! Yesterday we kicked off our first Build Blitz and with the assistance of two great Tiny House Helpers, we made great progress on our floor system.

We started out Build Day #1 yesterday with intros, safety, and a site orientation. Then we started cutting our 1/2" pressure treated plywood to fit inside the trailer frame, spanning the cross ribs, which are dropped to the bottom so that we have the full 6" cavity to work with. We used one full sheet of ply and ripped four of them to about 47" and one to 42" wide to get them to land properly on the trailer ribs. Once they'd been dry fitted we put a bead of sealant down underneath them and sealed the plywood in place with a bead of sealant from the top, too. (If I'm feeling super ambitious I may also crawl around under the trailer and seal up the seams from the bottom, too. Then again, I may decide this is good enough...)

Andy cutting foam board insulation

Next we crosscut our 2 1/2" polyisocyanurate insulation to length so that it would fit into the trailer frame. We ripped the first sheet in half so that the insulation seams would be staggered from the sealed seams of the PT ply. Then we crosscut our 3" polyiso insulation to length, inserting them with the seams staggered from the first layer. We ripped our last piece to fit in, just so. Our 79 1/2" measurement fit really nicely without us having to shoehorn the insulation into place. I've often spray foamed the gaps, too, but we didn't have gaps big enough to spray foam so we skipped the foam! Since we're well air sealed, we should be in pretty good shape here.

We wrapped up the day by gluing our pink seam seal to the trailer frame so that the wooden bottom plates and the OSB subfloor won't be in direct contact with the metal of the trailer. Then we tarpped the trailer and packed the tools in for the day. A good day's work!

Mocking up bottom plates, subfloor, and installing seam seal

You might have noticed that our tiny house floor system doesn't have a wooden joist system inside the trailer frame. That wooden floor system is important if you're using fiberglass insulation and need supports for your subfloor. However, I've never figured out why it would be necessary if you're using rigid foam insulation since foam board insulation has decent compressive strength. So we've basically made a SIP inside the trailer frame because we used a 1/2" PT ply undercarriage as the bottom skin, 5 1/2" polyiso foam as the insulation, and then 3/4" T&G OSB subfloor as the top skin. We didn't glue the pieces to each other, so they're not structural the way they would be if they were a true SIP. However, we have gravity working with us here, so it would take a pretty major event to separate them again!

Day 1 Done!

This floor system is how I built the floor system for The Lucky Penny, too. You can read about that in Floor Box Lessons Learned and My Floor Box Continued. Back in 2014, I'd never heard of anyone else doing it this way, but I figured building a SIP inside the trailer frame would save weight, time, materials, and cost over doing a wooden floor system. Additionally, it would reduce thermal bridging and provide more insulation which means better energy efficiency. The only drawback is that since my homemade SIP isn't structural, without those supports every 16" to 24" on center, there is a little more give in the floor. I suppose we could have gone up to a thicker (and therefore more rigid) subfloor, but it would have been heavier, more expensive, and would have taken away just a little more headroom. Fortunately, I found that once I installed my flooring in The Lucky Penny, the give isn't very noticeable anymore. This floor system worked the first time, so we're doing it again.


Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz: Day 4


Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz Day 4 Team Photo

If you’d like to come see what we accomplished during the Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz, please come visit us for Cilantro Poncho's First Open House at 5:30 pm on Friday, March 11 at 4674 N Kain Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705.*

Yesterday was Day 4 of a week-long build blitz for the Meyerhofer’s tiny house, Cilantro Poncho. Day 1 was a prep day, Day 2 we began the wall raising, and Day 3 we got all but the last panel up, so we were eager to get that last wall up yesterday.

We worked in pairs to accomplish the day’s tasks, including:

  • Bolting down the last sill plate
  • Erecting another set of scaffolding
  • Beveling & installing top plates
  • Creating a plan for beveling roof perimeter framing and testing a piece with an 8” board
  • Installing framing in door & remaining windows
  • Applying liquid flashing to rough openings (ROs)

Once we got our final sill plate bolted down that final panel slipped right into its spot so nicely it felt like it was magnetized! It was awesome to have the house finally be a box!

We were on a roll when quitting time came along so we continued working for another hour in the cooler evening air. We have two more rough openings to flash with the liquid flashing and some beveling to do for the roof perimeter framing, so that we can get our first roof panel up. I found myself dreaming about that first roof panel going up last night. It will be fun to make that dream come true!

*If you’re reading this after Cilantro Poncho's First Open House and you’d like to visit, please be sure to contact Courtney and Kurt to arrange a day and time. They can’t accept unannounced visitors because they’ve got work to do finishing their little house and they need to make sure everyone who visits can do so during a time that’s safe. Thanks!

Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz: Day 1


Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz: Day 1 Team Photo  

If you’d like to come see what we accomplished during the Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz, please come visit us for Cilantro Poncho's First Open House at 5:30 pm on Friday, March 11 at 4674 N Kain Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705.*

Yesterday we kicked off a week-long build blitz for the Meyerhofer’s tiny house, Cilantro Poncho. I joined Courtney and Kurt on Friday afternoon to begin Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz Prep and yesterday we were joined by an awesome crew of folks who came to help them get this little house started. Kurt’s parents, Andrea and Mark, drove over from LA with their SUV full of tools, Richard came down from Mesa, and Cammie and Andy drove from Phoenix to be here.

We started out with introductions, goals, tool safety, and “walking tour” of the tiny house. Then we split into work crews got started on the day’s project list which included the following:

  • "Painting" the SIPs exterior with a third layer of liquid-applied water resistant barrier
  • Cutting window framing and installing it in the window openings
  • Measuring and cutting sill plates
  • Determining the center of the trailer and snapping a center line
  • Measuring from the center line to clamp the sill plates into place
  • Tacking the sill plates in place with 2” star drive screws

Along the way we had a few moments of head scratching, a bunch of laughs, and gave each other lots of kudos. It was an awesome day and we’re nearly ready to get first wall up!

*If you’re reading this after Cilantro Poncho's First Open House and you’d like to visit, please be sure to contact Courtney and Kurt to arrange a day and time. They can’t accept unannounced visitors because they’ve got work to do finishing their little house and they need to make sure everyone who visits can do so during a time that’s safe. Thanks!

Cilantro Poncho Build Blitz Prep

Kurt & Courtney starting off on a good foundation We’ve had a lovely spring in Portland (read: plenty of rain!) so I felt parched the moment I stepped out of the Tucson airport. I immediately wheeled my tool-laden suitcase over to the nearest drinking fountain and began the hydration process that will ensure survival during our week-long build blitz in the desert.

Look, Ma, windows!

Kurt and Courtney are the homeowners for this tiny house (tentatively named the Cilantro Poncho) and I’ve been working with them since they signed up for The Package Deal in the fall of 2015. They took my Tiny House Considerations E-Course, my Downsizing E-Course, and we worked through a custom tiny house design together. (Their design is based on the Skyline tiny house built by Eric Bohne, which they stayed in at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel last fall – and we tailored it to suit their needs. Thanks, Eric!) For the past 6 weeks we’ve been working through project management together: getting quotes for trailers, SIPs, windows, water resistant barriers, and roofing so that we can get their little house dried in.

Ruby was as swoony about Kurt as he was about his new Trailer Made Trailer

As they wrapping up Friday afternoons at work, I hit the ground running with a list of errands. My first stop was reserving scaffolding at Sunbelt Rentals so that we can get the SIPs roof installed on this tiny house safely. Then I headed to the build site to receive deliveries and finalize the tool, material, and supply lists.

Once Kurt arrived we walked through what materials and supplies we have on hand, which are arriving with Kurt’s dad, and which we need to pick up. We were just wrapping up when the trailer arrived. Damon and Natalie of Trailer Made went the extra mile (literally!) to ensure an on-time delivery for the trailer, driving it themselves from Denver to Tucson. I met them at Tiny House Jamboree last summer so it was a delight to see them here in a different context. Kurt was as swoony about his new trailer as Natalie and Damon’s dog Ruby was about Kurt! We admired it for a while, Kurt walking around “in” his new house to get a feel for how it will be in now that he has a life-size foundation. I told him that the house will go from seeming really big to really small to really big again as we add the layers. The window delivery from Window Depot arrived shortly after Courtney did and it was especially exciting to see the tiny windows that will go in Kurt and Courtney’s “away room.”

Investigating protective eyewear

By evening we had all the major components we’ll need for the Build Blitz: trailer, SIPs kit, windows, and water resistant barrier. So we headed out, list in hand, to the hardware store so that Courtney and Kurt could select and stock their tool belts and a few basic jobsite tools. The part I’m most excited about for their sake is the impact driver and drill set they picked out. My Makita impact driver and drill set was one of the best presents I bought myself for my build and I’m sure they’ll appreciate having this great tool set for their own build and beyond.

By the time we wrapped up at the hardware store it was late, but I still stayed up talking with my host for the week, a friend from college whom I haven’t caught up with in way too long. She has a sweet little house not far from the built site and it feels splendidly serendipitous that she also has a guest room at the moment. Hooray for the week ahead! We can’t wait for everyone else to arrive! (And we still have a couple A Day at the Tucson Build Blitz spots available later in the week if you're in the area and want to join us!)

Tiny House Build Blitz in Tucson


SIPs Wall Raising during a Build Blitz in Spring 2015 Are you considering building a tiny house of your own? Do you want to learn how to build with SIPs (structural insulated panels?) If you are getting serious about building your tiny house this year, one of the very best things you can do is get some hands-on building experience.

I'm going to be leading a week-long Tiny House Build Blitz in Tucson, AZ at the beginning of March to help a fabulous couple build their tiny dream home and we're excited to share this learning opportunity with you, too! If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, this workshop is for you! 

SIPs Walls Going Up

Sign up with a buddy and you both get $100 off when you sign up! Space is limited, so please register for the Build Blitz in Tucson to claim your spot today! 

I built my tiny house with SIPs in 2014 and I've been helping other people do the same ever since. In a week-long build blitz using SIPs we can typically get the floor done, the walls up, the roof on, and the waterproofing on. We'll work together each step of the way! And the best part is you'll get to do this with the encouragement of other people who are embarking on a similar journey. (Hint: the people in the workshop may help you build YOUR house someday!)

The $395 workshop cost includes:

  • Hands-on experience building the shell of a tiny house on wheels using high-quality, energy-efficient building materials including SIPs and a liquid-applied water resistant barrier!
  • Personalized instruction to use basic hand and power tools!
  • Your very own tool belt with basic hand tools to take home with you!
  • The satisfaction of helping an awesome couple start their tiny dream home!
  • Lots of laughs, high fives, and an awesome sense of empowerment!

This six-day workshop will run from 9AM to 5PM each day from Sunday, March 6 through Friday, March 11 in Tucson, AZ. 

Register for the Build Blitz in Tucson to claim your spot today!