Jill of All Trades

let there be (sky)light! We (almost!) finished the tiny house's exterior last week. Eli has found a professional painter with all the equipment to paint the tiny house in just a day. So on Monday I caulked big gaps and primed the battens and trim to prep for the painter. Simon - who is quite an artist in addition to being a great site supervisor - is letting some thoughts percolate for the time being about the design details for the upper portion of the gable ends. Of course, we still need to install the metal roofing, too, but I won't be able to do that by myself. Manda and Simon have been super busy over at the Cully Grove site since the framing has begun over there now. In the meantime, I shifted my attention to the interior of the tiny house and solo projects.

I started out the week by clearing out all the building supplies we'd been storing in the tiny house and cleaning it up. After sweeping and vacuuming, I caulked the floorplates to the floor, studs, and sheathing. I also installed the door knob so that we can close up the house at night. Then I got going again on the rough electrical. Eli did a walk-through over the weekend and had a few modifications and additions for electrical switch and outlet boxes so I set those in place Monday. The electrical additions required a few more holes to be drilled through the studs so I've become pretty handy with the right angle drill. (Manda informs me that it's actually a "hole hog," but I like the idea of Going Whole Hog on the Tiny House!)

wiring fun

With the thumbs up from Eli I was able to pull the wire Tuesday. (I realized there was a good reason Eli suggested making my runs as straight as possible - it's much easier to actually pull the wire that way!) We're using a 12 gauge wire with 4 circuits. There's a dedicated circuit for the 10 gallon tank water heater and second for the range. A third circuit controls the bedroom and bathroom lights, outlet, and exhaust fan. The fourth circuit is for switches and outlets throughout the rest of the house. I've labeled the wires to make it easier for the electrician to connect everything once we've finished out the walls.

Running wire was a good logic puzzle and by the time I had to leave for my Real Estate Construction class on Tuesday, I had a long list of questions which Simon helped me answer on Wednesday. I enjoyed my crash course in electrical. Turns out I enjoy pulling wire and double checking that my switches and lights are all wired properly. Of course, now that I've got the hang of it, I'm finished with rough electrical, but I'm eager to give it a go again soon!

sleeping loft before the skylight

Eli also asked us to install the skylight over the sleeping loft so we can start on the roofing. I marked our rough opening, but I was nervous about using the sawzall, especially in such a confined space and at an awkward angle. The sawzall and the table saw are the two power tools I'm still not quite comfortable with because I hear horror stories of professionals doing serious damage with them. Certain power tools demand respect and I intend to be respectful! So I decided to wait for some coaching.

Fortunately, Manda had some down time at the Cully Grove site yesterday afternoon so she taught me how to use the sawzall safely. Simon helped us set the skylight in place and fix it to the roof sheathing. It's amazing how much the skylight opens up the sleeping loft. Once again, I'm convinced that skylights are the trick to creating a feeling of spaciousness. It's my new favorite feature of the tiny house!

little shared car, big load

Today I did a supply run to pick up 14-3 wire for our 3-way switch, nail plates to protect our wire from puncture wounds when we install the interior finish, and the insulation for our ceiling and walls. Paragon Pacific has a crazy-wonderful selection of insulation, including this 3 inch rigid foam we'll use for our ceiling. I loved loading up the Getaround car with a heap of insulation. It reminded me of the IKEA commercials. Tee, hee!

I've realized this week that one of the strange things about building a tiny house is that I don't have a chance to perfect any of the building techniques. Just as I get the gist of hanging siding, running wire, or cutting rough openings with a sawzall we've finished up that step and moved on to the next one. I imagine by the end of the summer I'll be a true Jill of all trades. Fortunately, I anticipate there will be plenty of chances to apply what I'm learning to other tiny houses! I learned a lot this week and next week it's on to a whole new skill set...

Going Whole Hog on the Tiny House

going at the tiny house electrical whole hog This week we wrapped up the siding, adding panels and battens above the belly band and shingles in the gable ends above the head band. It was fun to work with the cedar shingles. They smell much better than the cement board! There was also an amusing puzzle aspect of making them fit together just so. It reminded me of building a stone or straw bale wall.

There's something about working with natural materials that's so aesthetically pleasing. I often wish it were easier to combine natural building methods and tiny houses. There are, of course, many natural materials that can be used for tiny houses, but several natural building traditions such as straw bale and light straw clay don't work well for tiny houses. (To learn about a wee house built with light straw clay, check out A Tiny Natural House.)

Siding & Shingles

We also got started on the rough-in electrical which involved walking through the house, imagining a day in the life of a tiny house dweller. Where do we need a light switch when arriving home with groceries in the evening? Where do we want an outlet to plug in a desk lamp and computer? How can we ensure that someone can get into the loft with adequate lighting but still manage to flip out the lights to go to sleep? It's amazing how early on in the building process these decisions need to be made! (On the other hand, for my vardo I don't plan to run electrical through the walls any more than I have to, so I'll probably have electrical chases above the kitchen counter and desk and use plug-in lights in most places. I will still need to plan ahead for where all the electrical will go, but I probably won't actually run the electrical this early in the building process.) I tacked our light switch and outlet boxes and light fixture boxes into place, so Eli can do a second walk-through and make sure it's all just right.

To bore holes through the studs for all the wiring I also got to use a heavy duty right angle drill with a super long auger bit. I'm told the tool is called a "whole hog" and I felt like it requires the accompanying attitude. When using a tool like that you've got to be committed to the placement of that hole! It was great fun. I've got a feeling I'm going to earn both my muscles and my sun tan this summer!