BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!

There's been a lot going on in the Hollow! I'm wrapping up the build of another tiny house in North Georgia, a soon-to-launch website did a feature short video of us, and we're considering building another prototype, this one on a trailer chassis. 

Here's a quick pic of the current home under construction. It will be a yoga/meditation/healing place for one of our customers. It is totally off-grid, and set on 10 acres with phenomenal winter views. 

Below is a link to the short video that was produced at the Otter Den by a couple of young men who are launching the Nomadify project. It will be a social media site for builders, owners, and anyone interested in the tiny house movement. 

Misc.

I have issues, like lots of folks, keeping my blog fresh. I have the best intentions, but at the end of the day it doesn't always seem to get done! So, I'm going to try and bring you up to date on a few projects, and answer a couple questions.

A question I get asked often is "How in the world did you get the name Otter Hollow?". It's actually the name we gave our cabin when we bought it in Winter of 2013. A lady had lived in the cabin for over 15 years, and with it being fairly off the beaten path, she had become rather reclusive. We have a small pond (actually a lake, as it is fed by an active stream). When we were looking at the property, I asked if there were fish in the pond. She gave a rather lengthy account of how she had stocked the pond a couple of times, and each time otters had come up stream and eaten all the fish within 48 hours! We were pretty stoked at the prospect of getting to see some otters, and with our cabin being nestled in a valley, we decided Otter Hollow was the perfect name. 

Fast forward to a couple of months after we bought the place, and I'm out on the dock...and see some fish. Each day that spring, more and more fish arrived. They weren't huge, but they were plentiful. Soon we were feeding them, they spawned, and have come back each year. We haven't seen ONE otter...

I knocked out an item on the tiny house "to do" list this past weekend between the raindrops: putting up handrail on the deck. We hated the idea of anything obstructing the view, but safety is a priority. I matched the design I built for our cabin, using a steel grid fence material sandwiched between 2x4s. It does what it needs to, and doesn't mess the view up too much. I'll stain it once we get a few days of sunshine.

I bought Shannon a couple of pygmy goats for her birthday a few weeks ago. We put them in our old chicken coop area...because our chicken lives on our porch...like chickens are supposed to...Anyway, goats need shelter, so I converted the old coop into a mini barn. I love using left over/salvaged materials, and this job was perfect for them. I made it a little more airtight, as goats don't like drafts, put on some newer roofing, and built a little deck.  Below is a before and after:

Chicken coop.

Goat barn.

Roscoe gives the goat barn two hooves up!...I've learned that goats can watch humans work for hours...

Some exciting news: I was contacted last week by a couple of guys creating a YouTube channel for a tiny house show. They are in Georgia, so are looking at local tiny house builders. Apparently, they put our house on their Twitter feed back in August and it got rave reviews. We are tentatively scheduled to film next Monday. I really don't know much more than that, at this time. I will try and update this blog as more details become available. 

The Writing Pad

Earlier this summer, I was contacted by a local couple who had seen our tiny house featured on a website. We had them over for a tour and discussed their desire for building a writer's shed, as the wife is an accomplished writer. They had several other projects they wanted to complete over the summer, so budget was a concern. 

They had a 50-year old barn on their property that was about to fall down. They needed a place to park their three cars and lawn implements without fear of the roof caving in! Our first project was to disassemble (pull down) the barn and dispose of all the unusable material. My summer intern, Tim, and I probably enjoyed the pulling down part most! What guy doesn't love tearing something apart! Unfortunately, not much of the structure was without rot or insect damage. We managed to salvage a little bit of the lumber for a project at my house. After we cleared the area, we built a 1500sq ft 3-bay rustic carport.

We had several discussions about the writer's shed over the summer, and building a full-blown tiny house seemed excessive for their needs. We did some research, and hatched an idea to use a prefabbed shed from Home Depot, finishing the interior to the clients' specifications. The shed was actually assembled on site from pre-cut materials, and the guys from Tuff Shed did a nice, quick job of it. Taking this approach has its drawbacks: Sheds are typically not built with the intention of hanging drywall. While the framing is perfect for storing lawn equipment, it's a little rough as far as being level and plumb. They also are not framed to house specifications, meaning the studs are not always installed at typical house spacing. This lead to a bit of head scratching, but creativity prevailed!

We installed a 3-circuit electrical system, insulated the walls and ceilings, trimmed out the doors and windows, installed base trim, put in stand-alone heat and A/C units, built a deck and stairs, and placed a nice faux wood floor. The interior looks like a home office in any house, yet has the privacy and tranquility of a separate space. 

The owners' dubbed it "The Writing Pad", and I think that it provides the perfect inspiration retreat for her next novel. Contact me if you're interested in creating a small space of your own!

There was a 50-year old barn standing on a piece of the property. We pulled it down, salvaged what little wood we could, and built this rustic carport.

There was a 50-year old barn standing on a piece of the property. We pulled it down, salvaged what little wood we could, and built this rustic carport.

Most of the old wood from the barn was destroyed by rot and insects. I was able to save enough to build this - behind the door is the electrical panel and meter for our cabin.

The shed shortly after the folks at Tuff Shed put it up.

"Before" interior.

"Before" interior.

A deck, an outdoor light, some furniture and decorations make it look more like a home.

A deck, an outdoor light, some furniture and decorations make it look more like a home.

"After" interior.

Everyone needs a place to get their inspiration.

Everyone needs a place to get their inspiration.

I'm a big fan of electric faux stove heaters. They add a little ambiance, and do a fine job of heating small spaces.

I'm a big fan of electric faux stove heaters. They add a little ambiance, and do a fine job of heating small spaces.

Otter Hollow at the "Birthplace of Speed"

At the SCCA Road Racing National Championship "Runoffs" this week, supporting long-time friend Donnie Isley in the Formula Vee class. The races are being held at Daytona International Speedway. Donnie is running an Agitator, built by my father. Getting a little ad placement on the nose of the car, as well!

Donnie Isley's Agitator Formula Vee

Donnie Isley's Agitator Formula Vee

Formula Vees on the front stretch of Daytona International Speedway

Formula Vees on the front stretch of Daytona International Speedway


cutting the umbilical cord

Our little girl is breathing on her own! Finally disconnected the myriad of extension cords that had been powering the guest house the last few months. I wired a new breaker in the main panel of our cabin, and ran the 200+ feet of wire to the sub panel I have in the bathroom of the tiny house. The sub panel has four 15amp circuits (probably two more than we actually need). I used a spool of heavy gauge wire that previously had powered our well pump, which we had replaced and rewired this past winter. The wire had been chaffed in a few areas, and was the reason we had it replaced. The actual wire inside the insulation was still sound, so I patched the rough areas, and deemed it good to go.

A lot of people would ask why I'm using something that failed before. Well, for one, this stuff is like two bucks a foot! It's also still in good shape now that it's patched. There's really very little that can affect buried wire, other than a person or animal disturbing it. There's only about 40 feet that is buried, while the rest is secured under the walkway and in the crawlspace of our cabin. 

When the guy from the utilities company came out to mark the buried power lines, he let me know that he had been a plumber for 18 years. I told him I wasn't positive that I knew where our water supply line ran, other than the shutoff valve that is buried in the stream. I was pretty sure my intended route for the line I was laying wasn't near it. He takes one of the metal rods that holds the marking flags, breaks off the flag, bends the rod, and hands it to me. I said "divining rod???"..."Yep". 

I told him I didn't know how to use one (and, I'll admit, I wasn't sure I believed they worked). He places it in his palm, supporting the base with his pinky, and asks me roughly what direction is perpendicular to the water line. I show him, and he slowly walks in that direction. Right as he gets near the area that should be generally in line with the shutoff valve, the rod makes an abrupt right turn in his hand! I about fell over.

He handed the rod to me, told me how to hold it, and stressed that I "had to believe"...or it wouldn't work. With my mouth still agape, I seriously tried to believe as I shuffled about the area waiting for something, anything, to happen. But it didn't turn in my hand, despite walking over the line twice. It was just a piece of aluminum rod. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed. So, I called the guy a witch, tied him to a stake, and let the chickens eat him for dinner. We don't take kindly to practicing witchcraft in these parts.

Ok...so I'm kidding. He left me the diving rod/flagstick, and I tried again after he left. It didn't work then, either. I'm gonna stick to building tiny houses. 

Here are some pics:

This is NOT a divining rod. This is a piece of aluminum rod that held a tiny flag. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a witch and/or sorcerer...Ok, I'm kidding again!

This is NOT a divining rod. This is a piece of aluminum rod that held a tiny flag. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a witch and/or sorcerer...Ok, I'm kidding again!

My wife is sure gonna miss having extension cords running all over the place.

My wife is sure gonna miss having extension cords running all over the place.

New breaker box, ready for action.

New breaker box, ready for action.

This is one of our dogs, Aden, on one of our ATV's. This has nothing to do with building a tiny house, but is a funny picture. He loves riding on the back. I tried to let him drive once, but we ended up at a biker bar, and got into a bit of trouble. That's a story for another day.

This is one of our dogs, Aden, on one of our ATV's. This has nothing to do with building a tiny house, but is a funny picture. He loves riding on the back. I tried to let him drive once, but we ended up at a biker bar, and got into a bit of trouble. That's a story for another day.

This is the Biltmore House. I grew up not far from it, and my wife and I went there over Memorial Day. For those keeping notes, this is NOT a tiny house. 

This is the Biltmore House. I grew up not far from it, and my wife and I went there over Memorial Day. For those keeping notes, this is NOT a tiny house. 


Gratitude

About a year ago, my wife and I discussed the idea of me building a tiny house on our property. I had been wanting to build one for several years. We decided it would serve as a much needed guest house and a prototype/model for my business. The ultimate goal would be to steer my home improvement company in a "tiny house" direction. All along, we decided that, at the least, we'd have a cool little house on our property that would increase the value of our home. 

I provided her with a rough budget, and started some sketches of what the home would look like. I had picked a spot to build, but as it drew closer to reality, she chose the ideal spot; one that is absolutely perfect! Around Thanksgiving of 2014, I started on the foundation. Before I had laid the subfloor, I changed the entire design - only keeping the floor dimensions. I never even drew a plan for the changes, basically letting the design evolve organically. 

I worked mostly in my spare time, making progress some weeks, and watched it sit stagnate other weeks. As the momentum grew, I spent more and more of my days working on it. Despite having years of home improvement, remodels, and commercial construction under my tool belt, I still learned all sorts of new things that are specific to building tiny houses. I also was constantly reminded how hard it is to do most of the work alone. However, the help I did receive was invaluable. I am indebted to my friend Clark Campbell for his help installing roof sheathing (and multiple calls discussing progress on the house), as well as my dad for helping me with installing the finished roof. The sloping build site would have made it nearly impossible to do any roof work alone. Lastly, my wife Shannon was a never ending source of support and incredible ideas for design, decor, and layout. She even got down and dirty helping me install siding and landscaping! Her decision making was really the driving force that got this project completed. 

As I've stated in previous blog posts, there is still some work to be done, but it has already exceeded our expectations. As we were landscaping last week, I looked at the structure and could hardly believe we had built it by ourselves. I've built some pretty cool things in my life, but not anything on the grand/small scope that was all my own design.

I am in awe of the power of social media. TinyHouseTalk.com featured our tiny house on their website on Memorial Day morning. In 24 hours, my website was visited by over 1100 people, viewing 3000+ pages, and was shared on Facebook over 500 times, pinned on Pinterest, liked on LinkedIn, and tweeted on Twitter. I received dozens of positive comments across all mediums, and even had people I don't know send me personal emails complimenting me on the build. If it results in future business, that's great. If it doesn't, at least the pride in knowing that others appreciate my work and creativity has made the journey seem worthwhile. While it wasn't the latest McMansion in Buckhead, it took up a lot of our time, some creative budgeting, and kept me awake some nights. 

This blog will continue regardless of when the house is 100% complete. I hope to document other builds, or my next adventure. Thanks for the support!

Some of the wonderful comments we received:

“Just perfect and so adorable. Living smartly and beautiful here!” - Bev

“Wow! This is one of the BEST home designs I’ve seen in a long time.This particular design is so thoughtfully and beautifully laid out and just flows from one area to the next. You can bet your sweet patootie I will be keeping my eye on this tiny house company” - Sally

“Pretty damn cute, and very well constructed for such a small space….and stairs, thank you very much!” - Susan

“I’ve started a notebook of my favorite tiny houses and this one will definitely be added. I ADORE IT!!! I WANT IT!!!! GREAT GREAT JOB!!!” - Margaret

“Sweet! This is one of the best looking small lodges I have seen to date here. I appreciate the style, attention to detail, materials used, layout, colors, and overall look.” - Neil

“This one of my top favorites. It may even beat my all time favorite, The Pinafore. I keep my list of favorite features and houses along with a little secret dream that I may live in one some day…all by myself.” - Kat

“Very thoughtfully planned. I love the walkway leading to the home, the stairs and the more ample than usual headroom in the sleeping loft.” - Steve

Almost finished!

The good news is that the tiny house is almost done. The bad news is that I now have a long "to do" list comprised of the things I've put off the last few months as I dedicated my spare time to the build!

We painted and landscaped last week, and it's really brought the place together! Some pics are on a new page I put on my website, and can be found here: http://www.otterhollowdesign.com/tiny-houses/

I'm excited, as we've been in contact with Alex at www.tinyhousetalk.com in the past week, and he's going to do a feature on our house tomorrow morning (Memorial Day)! His website has been a valuable resource when it comes to seeing what others are doing across the country and around the world with tiny/small spaces. "Like" his page on Facebook, too!

Thanks to those that have followed our project. I will still be updating this blog with finish details and other projects. Hopefully, I'll soon be building a small space for someone else!


I've been able to devote a good bit of time over the last week to the tiny house build. It is beginning to feel close to done. There's still detail work to do, but it is useable as it is right now. 

I finished putting up cedar shakes on the entry side last week. I then decided to build an overhang over the entry stoop. The welcome mat was staying wet for days after a rain because it doesn't get a lot of sun. The overhang is a nice addition. I was able to use an old Coca-Cola pallet that we salvaged a few months ago to trim it out. It's an interesting detail that is easy to overlook.

We added a light next to the entry. I had prewired for it months ago, so installing it was no big deal. We then went looking at paint. We had talked about several different paint schemes, but made a last minute change to something we hadn't even looked at before; burnt orange! We're pretty happy with it. It kind of goes with the other small buildings we have on the property. 

The "to do" list never seems to get any shorter. I still have to finish the far side. I need to call the utilities company to come out and mark the various lines so that I can dig and run permanent power to the place. I then need to finish the inside wall where the electric panel is installed. Water will have to be plumbed in at a later date. Shannon is really looking forward to landscaping! She has some good ideas, and is very good at that type of thing. 

I've been approached by a tiny house website about featuring this build on their site. I'm hoping to have all the above done soon so that we can take some professional pics, and start promoting building others!

The door mat was perpetually wet. I decided an overhang would add to the detail of the house, and keep things a little dryer. 

The door mat was perpetually wet. I decided an overhang would add to the detail of the house, and keep things a little dryer. 

I had already run wiring for an outdoor light, so it was just a matter of making some connections and hanging this one that Shannon picked out. I like it.

I had already run wiring for an outdoor light, so it was just a matter of making some connections and hanging this one that Shannon picked out. I like it.

I had salvaged an old Coca Cola pallet several months ago. I took it apart and used it for the sides of the front overhang.

I had salvaged an old Coca Cola pallet several months ago. I took it apart and used it for the sides of the front overhang.

The entry side ready for paint.

The entry side ready for paint.

Almost done painting the body of the entry side. We kicked around a bunch of different paint schemes before settling on this burnt orange with linen trim.

Almost done painting the body of the entry side. We kicked around a bunch of different paint schemes before settling on this burnt orange with linen trim.

Paint going up on one of the sides.

Paint going up on one of the sides.

Still some detail work to be done, but close to being finished.

Still some detail work to be done, but close to being finished.

The other side still needs to be finished, and some landscaping.

The other side still needs to be finished, and some landscaping.

Down the homestretch

Been a while since I updated my blog, but things have started progressing again. Finally started work on the exterior again. I bought some cedar shakes at the beginning of the project, but had decided not to use them. I changed my mind, and I'm glad! It took a lot of cutting, but I finished the southern gable end with them, and we're very pleased.

I used a concrete based material for the trim, and was going to use a Hardie Plank type of concrete siding, but after looking at the product (and picking up each 32lb piece), I decided to just go with wood. It's easier to cut, is far lighter, and considering how small it is, it's not going to require a lot of maintenance. 

Once the exterior is done, there's still a lot to do, but it will feel much closer to finished. I think I'm going to build a small overhang on the entry porch to keep the floormat dry, and so that there is a place to pause in case it's raining.

Putting up the cedar shakes took FAR longer than I imagined, but I'm happy with the look.

Putting up the cedar shakes took FAR longer than I imagined, but I'm happy with the look.

Cedar and most of the trim on the south side done.

Cedar and most of the trim on the south side done.

Siding up. We still haven't decided on a paint scheme, but have some ideas.

Siding up. We still haven't decided on a paint scheme, but have some ideas.

Weather looks good this week. I hope to finish the exterior.

Weather looks good this week. I hope to finish the exterior.


Misc

Sorry, no real progress made on the guest house in the last ten days. I did put in some shelving under the stairs, but otherwise it has been just sitting until I can get some clear days to start on the exterior siding. 

I finished up a job this week where there had been some rot in the corner of a kitchen from water leaking over time from the dishwasher. Wood rot, in one form or another, probably represents about 60% of the work I do. Water is a house's number one enemy. Left alone, it can do an enormous amount of damage. If untreated wood is left damp, it begins to decay, then attracts insects, then spreads. I don't know how long this area had been subjected to the leak, but it rotted the bottom of the studs along two walls, got into the sill plate and surrounding floor joists. Fortunately, the homeowner was in the process of renovating the kitchen when he discovered it. I would guess the area had about six more months that is could have tolerated it, then I think the corner would have collapsed!

Another project that popped up last week is putting hand railing around our cabin porch. We recently changed homeowner's insurance companies, and, surprise, they did an inspection. I've known since we moved in that there should be a handrail...but the view is so nice that we didn't want to obstruct it. Besides, we don't get a lot of visitors out here, so I was never too concerned about someone stumbling off the porch. Well, we received a letter basically stating that we had to do it or lose our policy.

We decided to go with wood and wire. I tried one section with chicken wire, but it looked pretty bad. I ended up going with some 14ga fencing that works much better. I hope to finish up the handrails going up the steps today and put this behind us. 

photo 9.JPG

Underneath this rotten floor were some pretty rough looking joists. The bottoms of the surrounding studs were not even attached anymore. 

The customers wanted to open up the kitchen at the same time, so I took out the far wall and put in a full length header. They wanted to keep in a couple of knee walls so that the kitchen cabinets would butt up against something, and they wouldn't have to remove the ducting and electrical on the left side.

The customers wanted to open up the kitchen at the same time, so I took out the far wall and put in a full length header. They wanted to keep in a couple of knee walls so that the kitchen cabinets would butt up against something, and they wouldn't have to remove the ducting and electrical on the left side.

Almost done. I wasn't sure about the design at first, but I think it turned out great, and it definitely opens and brightens up the area.

Almost done. I wasn't sure about the design at first, but I think it turned out great, and it definitely opens and brightens up the area.

My first test section of our porch. Once it is stained, I think it will fit well with the style of the cabin. It allows us to see more than a typical balustered railing would. 

My first test section of our porch. Once it is stained, I think it will fit well with the style of the cabin. It allows us to see more than a typical balustered railing would. 

Finished the front yesterday. Hopefully, I'll finish the stairs and far side today.

Finished the front yesterday. Hopefully, I'll finish the stairs and far side today.

Bathroom done

Finishing up the interior trim this week. We had a bunch of tin roofing left on our property when we bought it. We're pretty sure it may have been the original roof that was on the cabin. I've used some of it to build a woodshed, a chicken coop, and a covered area next to my shop to park the lawnmower, ATVs, and kayaks. I used some of what was left to cover one of the bathroom walls.

In the future, I may put a door in that wall, leading to an outdoor shower. Right now, I just want to get the house finished, so that may come later. Putting up the tin will allow me to take it down easily. It also looks pretty cool. I've run out of the red oak I used on the other walls anyway. 

A view from the "living room".

A view from the "living room".

It's hard to get a good angle to show that the bathroom is actually a little bigger than it seems!

It's hard to get a good angle to show that the bathroom is actually a little bigger than it seems!

Put some simple shelves in the corner made from leftover scraps.

Put some simple shelves in the corner made from leftover scraps.

Toilet paper holder, lightswitch, and electrical control panel on the opposite wall. 

Toilet paper holder, lightswitch, and electrical control panel on the opposite wall. 

A light socket's view of the floor.

A light socket's view of the floor.


It's "roof week" at Otter Hollow. I've kind of been dreading this part of the project. While it doesn't look like much from the pictures, the incline that the house is on presents a difficult working area. The house is only 14 feet long, but loses three feet in elevation over that span. It makes accessing parts of it a little tedious. We've got little dig out areas all along each side to stabilize ladders.

My timing couldn't have been any better. My parents were returning home to North Carolina this week from being out west and Florida for most of the winter. They parked their motorhome at the top of our driveway, and have been here all week. My dad is a mechanical engineer and is an enormous help in bringing to reality my creative ideas. I tend to think of some cool stuff, but the execution part leaves me sleepless in the middle of the night! 

Reaching the ridge of the roof is impossible from a ladder. I installed part of the roof by straddling the ridgeline, but that doesn't work when installing 8ft. long metal roofing. My dad and I scratched our heads, and he finally came up with a solution where we took a 12 ft deck board and attached some foot long pieces of 4x4 in strategic areas that would coincide with the rafter tails. We took clamps and placed them over the entire piece close to the rafter and it created a lip for me to stand on. After the initial "test", which included me as the guinea pig, I got comfortable fairly quickly. This installation was pretty fast after that. Even at 6'2", I couldn't quite put the ridge vent on...So we schlepped a pallet up, and I stood on it. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazard Association) approved! 

My buddy Clark helped put up the roofing sheathing, and without the help of my dad this roof couldn't have been completed. I've pretty much been able to do all the other work alone.

We got the roofing felt up, then had to figure out how we were going to install the metal...

We got the roofing felt up, then had to figure out how we were going to install the metal...

Glad to have an engineer around! We made a toe board by attaching 4x4s to a deck board, then clamping them to the fascia. It worked very well. 

Glad to have an engineer around! We made a toe board by attaching 4x4s to a deck board, then clamping them to the fascia. It worked very well. 

Installing the metal roofing moves along pretty quickly. My dad and I both agreed that if it weren't for the inclined build site this project would have probably taken half the time.

Installing the metal roofing moves along pretty quickly. My dad and I both agreed that if it weren't for the inclined build site this project would have probably taken half the time.

Hillbilly engineering at its finest! While it worked perfectly, I wouldn't suggest supporting yourself with clamps and a pallet. It tends to make those around you a little nervous.

Hillbilly engineering at its finest! While it worked perfectly, I wouldn't suggest supporting yourself with clamps and a pallet. It tends to make those around you a little nervous.

Shannon is thankful my life insurance policy is up to date. 

Shannon is thankful my life insurance policy is up to date. 

My dad doing a little work on the drip edge. Couldn't have put this roof on without his help.

My dad doing a little work on the drip edge. Couldn't have put this roof on without his help.

The roof, almost finished. We have to trim the gable drip edges and install the eave drip edges, then we'll be good up top. Some siding, and a bunch of little work, and it should be inhabitable. 

The roof, almost finished. We have to trim the gable drip edges and install the eave drip edges, then we'll be good up top. Some siding, and a bunch of little work, and it should be inhabitable. 

We have our first guests! Shannon's Aunt Chris and Uncle Carl came up through Georgia last night on their way back from Texas, headed north back to Michigan. Carl and Chris are the first to sleep in the tiny house. Their boys, Tyler and Josh got to stay in the "big house". It's still early, so we've yet to hear how it went.

I finished installing the floors, and while there is still a lot to be done, it is starting to look somewhat finished on the inside. Shannon and Olivia really made the place look nice this weekend. They painted, decorated, and cleaned. Shannon really has a good eye for tying things together. She tells me her vision, and I stick things together! There's still electrical work to do, base trim needs to be installed, and we still need to decide how to finish out the stairs and underneath. I still need to finish one of the bathroom walls, and we haven't run plumbing to the sink yet. And, of course, the exterior needs to be completed. 

As usual, pics are better than words:

 

Looking in from the deck.

Looking in from the deck.

We have a faux wood stove heater. It is small, but will heat the space with ease. I made a lantern lamp with the same plumbing pipe I used for the handrail and loft guardrail.

We have a faux wood stove heater. It is small, but will heat the space with ease. I made a lantern lamp with the same plumbing pipe I used for the handrail and loft guardrail.

I ran the wiring through the wall and the pipe. I installed a simple bulb holder with a twist switch protruding out the bottom. It was originally intended to hold a candle.

I ran the wiring through the wall and the pipe. I installed a simple bulb holder with a twist switch protruding out the bottom. It was originally intended to hold a candle.

We put a queen mattress in the loft. I was going to build a platform, but we think it's pretty comfortable just on the floor.

We put a queen mattress in the loft. I was going to build a platform, but we think it's pretty comfortable just on the floor.

One of the exterior walls of the bathroom still needs to be completed, but it serves its purpose.

One of the exterior walls of the bathroom still needs to be completed, but it serves its purpose.

Shannon and Olivia helped paint this past weekend. We painted an old dresser, and matched it with the post supporting the loft and the bathroom door. The color really pops against all the wood. Also installed a TV on the wall. 

Shannon and Olivia helped paint this past weekend. We painted an old dresser, and matched it with the post supporting the loft and the bathroom door. The color really pops against all the wood. Also installed a TV on the wall. 

My two favorite people in the world, taking a break from painting Sunday.

My two favorite people in the world, taking a break from painting Sunday.

Time Crunch

Seems like all my blog entries have been the same lately; short on time to write much. Today is no exception. We have family coming in town next week, and, while it's not imperative that the tiny house get finished before then, we're hoping that the inside will be complete enough to have them (or us) stay in it. 

The weather continues to plague me. I've been working on a project in town the last couple of weeks, and it seems that every day I have an opportunity to work on the tiny house there is either a chance of rain, or it actually does rain. So, most of the progress has been done on the inside. I completed the loft this morning. In keeping with using as much reclaimed material as I can, I used #3 Red Oak flooring. Hardwood flooring comes in three grades, and #3 is basically the scraps and rejects from the better qualities. Pieces are either discolored, have checks and knots in them, or splits. It is used in rustic situations or in areas that appearance is not the top priority. While I'm looking for the rustic look, roughly 20% of the pieces are even unusable to me. I've used some of those pieces for the base trim. The scrap will be used for art projects, starting fires, or shaping a paddle for when Shannon doesn't behave!

I created an 8" guardrail out of the same 3/4" plumbing pipe I used for the handrail last week. It's not going to keep anyone from walking off the edge, but it feels a little safer up there, and it provides another hand hold when climbing up or down from the loft. If you do happen to trip over it, it will ensure that you land squarely on your head, thus preventing a lengthy recovery...

I'll be cleaning up the main floor in the next couple of hours to start on installing wood down there. We ordered the toilet, and it came in a couple of days ago. Haven't had the chance to try it out yet, but I'll post a detailed blog entry on that in the near future!

Here's a couple pics:


The weather has kept me from doing anything to the outside of the tiny home. Every time it starts to dry out, another day of rain (or snow) follows. That's ok, I've just kept making progress on the inside.

In the past couple of weeks, I've finished 99% of the interior walls, installed ceilings downstairs and upstairs, installed a ceiling fan and lights, and put up some trim. I ended up going with tongue and groove whitewood wainscoting for the ceilings. Like the walls, it was time consuming, but the overall look is what we were looking for. Last week, I took advantage of a good deal on some oak flooring, but need to wait until the structure is truly weather-tite to install. In the meantime, it's sitting in my trailer just itching to go in!

I bought some 3/4" iron plumbing pipe and fittings to make a handrail for the stairs. When the upstairs floor is in, I'll make a 10" tall rail for the loft out of the same material. I think it goes well with the rest of the place.

Hopefully, I'll start making progress on the roof and the exterior siding in the next week. I have a job in town that is taking up some time this week.

This is the ceiling below the loft. I installed three recessed lights that are on a dimmer.

This is the ceiling below the loft. I installed three recessed lights that are on a dimmer.

Half the upstairs ceiling done. I worked on this while it snowed outside last week.

Half the upstairs ceiling done. I worked on this while it snowed outside last week.

View from the deck after a little snowfall.

View from the deck after a little snowfall.

Finished ceiling in the loft.

Finished ceiling in the loft.

Attempted to saw off a couple of my finger tips a couple of days ago. Fortunately, they just kind of bounced off the blade. Drew a good bit of blood and chewed them up a bit, but I'll heal.

Attempted to saw off a couple of my finger tips a couple of days ago. Fortunately, they just kind of bounced off the blade. Drew a good bit of blood and chewed them up a bit, but I'll heal.

Put together a few pieces of the flooring I bought, just to see how it will look. The walls and floor are both red oak.

Put together a few pieces of the flooring I bought, just to see how it will look. The walls and floor are both red oak.

I like the industrial look of the plumbing pipe used for handrails.

I like the industrial look of the plumbing pipe used for handrails.

Installed the fan with a 24" downrod. It has a light kit, but I might not use it.

Installed the fan with a 24" downrod. It has a light kit, but I might not use it.


Just like most of my more recent posts, this one will have more pics than words. The last few weeks have been busy, along with a much needed few days of vacation.

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Clark and his friend (now my friend) James came out to our place with James's newly acquired bucket lift. James brought out a trailer full of ATVs, and the wives and kids went and played in the woods. Clark, James, and I set about trying to find the perfect place to move the lift; much easier said than done! Because its axle is far back, it was hard to get it positioned on the hill. We probably spent three hours moving it around, unhooking it, leveling it, and seeing how it worked. We finally found a decent spot and it was very helpful. It would be a perfect rig to work off of if it weren't for the rough surroundings we have here.

By the end of the day (actually, it was pitch dark), Clark and I had placed all the roof underlayment, and re-secured the huge tarp so that the expected rain the next day wouldn't ruin our efforts. I'm super grateful for a friend like that! 

So, the roof is somewhat weather-proof...but the weather hasn't really cooperated in order for me to finish, so I've turned my attention to other things. I've run most of the electric, and placed the power subpanel that will run from the main house. It's not all tied together yet, but shouldn't take a lot of work other than running the main line. I bought some recessed lights and installed the ceiling and light in the bathroom to get a feel for the amount of light they will put out. I'm pretty happy about the light, and can actually take a few back because they put out more than anticipated. I went ahead and finished out the wood work in the bath, minus the far wall, which I decided, while on vacation, will now be a door that will go to an outside shower...at some point down the road.

Bought a vanity on sale and dry-fitted it yesterday. It fits perfectly. I also started installing insulation.

Oh, I also built a deck on the front! Forgot about that!

Not a lot of time this morning, so I'll let pics describe what I've missed.

A loft's view of the bucket lift.

A loft's view of the bucket lift.

Clark working to beat the darkness. I owe this guy big time.

Clark working to beat the darkness. I owe this guy big time.

An inside view of the roof sheathing being installed.

An inside view of the roof sheathing being installed.

Framing the deck. It's small, but perfect for a pair of Adirondack chairs, a side table, and a couple of cocktails. Two drink maximum right now, until I get the railing installed!

Framing the deck. It's small, but perfect for a pair of Adirondack chairs, a side table, and a couple of cocktails. Two drink maximum right now, until I get the railing installed!

Deck pretty much done, supported by four angled braces. I didn't like the aesthetics of more vertical lines.

Deck pretty much done, supported by four angled braces. I didn't like the aesthetics of more vertical lines.

The bathroom, with overhead light and red oak walls installed. Most rooms tend to feel smaller once they are "walled" in. This feels just the opposite; it actually feels bigger than I anticipated. This picture makes it look tiny. I'm really pleased with the 3" gambrel recessed light. I'm going to use less of those lights than I originally thought. Considered using LEDs, but they are still pricey, and since they won't be used every day, I didn't feel they were worth the investment. 

The bathroom, with overhead light and red oak walls installed. Most rooms tend to feel smaller once they are "walled" in. This feels just the opposite; it actually feels bigger than I anticipated. This picture makes it look tiny. I'm really pleased with the 3" gambrel recessed light. I'm going to use less of those lights than I originally thought. Considered using LEDs, but they are still pricey, and since they won't be used every day, I didn't feel they were worth the investment. 

A view from under the stairs, opposite angle from previous pic. Cutting the red oak vertically has been a real time zapper, but the rustic look is pretty awesome, I think.

A view from under the stairs, opposite angle from previous pic. Cutting the red oak vertically has been a real time zapper, but the rustic look is pretty awesome, I think.

This is the wall next to the vanity we bought this week. I recessed in some hand-cut shelves I made from excess scrap for storing toiletries, coffee cups, etc. 

This is the wall next to the vanity we bought this week. I recessed in some hand-cut shelves I made from excess scrap for storing toiletries, coffee cups, etc. 

Dry-fitting the vanity. Got it on close-out at Lowes. It fits perfectly. It sits right next to the main entrance.

Dry-fitting the vanity. Got it on close-out at Lowes. It fits perfectly. It sits right next to the main entrance.

Hmmmm, how did this pic get on here?? We went to visit my brother-in-law and his awesome girlfriend in Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago. It's about 7 degrees in Canton this morning. The low while we were in Puerto Rico was 70. A rainforest hike, snorkeling, body surfing, a moonlight kayak, and a few Medalla beers recharged our systems!

Hmmmm, how did this pic get on here?? We went to visit my brother-in-law and his awesome girlfriend in Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago. It's about 7 degrees in Canton this morning. The low while we were in Puerto Rico was 70. A rainforest hike, snorkeling, body surfing, a moonlight kayak, and a few Medalla beers recharged our systems!



100 hours

Today will probably be another post that is short on words, but long on pics. Progress has been tedious as I spent an entire day last week just preparing for the rain. I put a couple of huge tarps over the rafters to protect the interior from getting wet. It did a very good job. I permanently installed three of the windows, framed out the bath, hung the bath door, and put the french doors in yesterday. I also started on some rough electrical work. 

It's really starting to look like a house now. I'm struggling not to think ahead. I want to finish the exterior because I have a lot of ideas about the interior. I've got other work and things to do, so I'm eager to get it weather-tite, so I don't feel the pressure to make progress every day. I've been pretty crappy about keeping track of my actual time spent on this project, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the neighborhood of 100 hours. Sounds like a lot, but I'm pretty pleased with the progress, especially considering 95% of the work has been done alone. 

Took a full day off Monday to cut firewood. It's pointless to spend $$ on firewood when you're surrounded by acres and acres of forest. I cut down a few standing dead trees, which after I split them, they are ready to burn. Had a few small trees that have fallen during storms, and cut them up too.

More details next post. Until then, I've tried to take a few pics that are from some different angles. Thanks for those of you following this!

The bathroom door is installed and the bath framed out. I call it a bathroom...actually, I guess it's just a pee/poop room! It's actually quite spacious when you compare it to other tiny houses I've seen. If, at some point, we want to add a shower, there is probably enough room.

The bathroom door is installed and the bath framed out. I call it a bathroom...actually, I guess it's just a pee/poop room! It's actually quite spacious when you compare it to other tiny houses I've seen. If, at some point, we want to add a shower, there is probably enough room.

This is a view from the front door (actually, it's the main entrance, but the back of the house). I've noticed pics of other tiny houses where they use some sort of fish eye lens that creates the illusion of a lot of space. It actually feels much bigger than I anticipated.

This is a view from the front door (actually, it's the main entrance, but the back of the house). I've noticed pics of other tiny houses where they use some sort of fish eye lens that creates the illusion of a lot of space. It actually feels much bigger than I anticipated.

Here's a view I haven't shown before. This is taken from the wood walkway that leads from the main house. Didn't get the sheathing down on the roof before last week's rain, so I tarped the rafters temporarily. It kept 95% of the rain out. 

Here's a view I haven't shown before. This is taken from the wood walkway that leads from the main house. Didn't get the sheathing down on the roof before last week's rain, so I tarped the rafters temporarily. It kept 95% of the rain out. 

Installed the french doors yesterday. It was not an easy job to do alone. Each door weighs close to 100lbs. Thinking about building the deck next, before I sheath the roof. It may give me a better foundation to work from.

Installed the french doors yesterday. It was not an easy job to do alone. Each door weighs close to 100lbs. Thinking about building the deck next, before I sheath the roof. It may give me a better foundation to work from.

View from upstairs (loft). There's a lot of natural light.

View from upstairs (loft). There's a lot of natural light.

The view is awesome. I'm really glad Shannon convinced me to build here. Before, I was intending to do it closer to our stream. This site allows you to get a full view of the pond and the mountain behind it. Our property has some strange dimensions. We own almost 2/3 of the mountain behind the pond, which is largely useless, but very pretty. 

The view is awesome. I'm really glad Shannon convinced me to build here. Before, I was intending to do it closer to our stream. This site allows you to get a full view of the pond and the mountain behind it. Our property has some strange dimensions. We own almost 2/3 of the mountain behind the pond, which is largely useless, but very pretty. 

Wow, it's been a busy week. I didn't even have time to update this blog like I wanted. 

In the past week, I've finished installing sheathing on all four sides. I built some stairs, which are in temporarily, just to see how they feel. So far, so good. They will come out when I start on the interior walls. I framed out the bathroom, but haven't installed the door yet. The big chore was raising the ridge beam and installing the rafters, which support the roof. 

I also moved the window that was initially close to the main entrance, and put it into the bathroom. Framing the gable ends of the house involved making rough openings for the windows, as well. I've started installing the house wrap, which protects the underlayment from moisture, and goes between the wall studs and the finished exterior. I picked up a few sample pieces of a concrete-type finish that is made to resemble staggered cedar shingles. It looks pretty good. I normally don't like "fake" wood, but the house will be in the shade (and prone to moisture) several months of the year, and I just feel like it will hold up better. 

I hope to get the windows installed permanently tomorrow, before the rain is supposed to come. It doesn't look like I'll get to start on sheathing the roof before the weekend, so I'm off to buy another big tarp (to match the one I already have) and put it over the rafters to protect the interior from getting wet this weekend. 

Here's a bunch of pics. Don't have a lot of time today!

Sheathing going over the main entrance. This pic also shows the jig I made to support the 16 foot ridge beam. Putting it up yourself requires a little help from scrap lumber. 

Sheathing going over the main entrance. This pic also shows the jig I made to support the 16 foot ridge beam. Putting it up yourself requires a little help from scrap lumber. 


Most of the way through installing the rafters.

Most of the way through installing the rafters.

On Sunday, I cut a couple of stair risers and treads. The pitch seems to work much better than a ladder, and it feels like there's enough headroom at the top to not feel terribly cramped. 

On Sunday, I cut a couple of stair risers and treads. The pitch seems to work much better than a ladder, and it feels like there's enough headroom at the top to not feel terribly cramped. 

Olivia had Monday off for MLK Day. She studied in the loft while Aden...was being Aden. It was a beautiful day to work outside.

Olivia had Monday off for MLK Day. She studied in the loft while Aden...was being Aden. It was a beautiful day to work outside.

Sheathing completed. Temporarily put up a trim board on the left side and some samples of the concrete shingle siding. It's not cheap stuff, but I've got a good source for it, and it is very durable...and heavy! 100sq. ft. weighs over half a ton! 

Sheathing completed. Temporarily put up a trim board on the left side and some samples of the concrete shingle siding. It's not cheap stuff, but I've got a good source for it, and it is very durable...and heavy! 100sq. ft. weighs over half a ton! 

Starting to install the house wrap. Hope to finish it before the weekend, when it's supposed to rain.

Starting to install the house wrap. Hope to finish it before the weekend, when it's supposed to rain.

Thanks, Dad

If you're ever at a party with my dad (because, man, does my dad LOVE to party!), and he's not talking, just ask him how something works. Four hours later, you'll either be in a vegetative state, or you'll be extremely thankful for then knowing EXACTLY how it works.

My dad is a mechanical engineer. We grew up fixing everything. And while we were fixing things, we were getting explanations, algebraic formulas, chemical make-ups, theorems, slide rule calculations, rocket propulsion physics, and complex diagrams that would make Einstein and DaVinci shake their heads. I can only remember one time my mom and dad hired anyone to do something around our house. We had a water leak in one of the bathrooms on the second floor. I can't remember if the drywall in our dining room fell in, or they had to cut it out to get to the pipe. Regardless, my dad hired a guy at work to come do the sheetrock work. I clearly didn't learn a damn thing from that, because 20 years later I did the drywall work in my basement, and hated every minute of it. I learned that just because you can fix something, it doesn't mean you should. 

Fast forward to my framing gun (air powered nailer) getting jammed the other day. I downloaded a schematic diagram of it from the internet, which made it look like it was just a few working pieces short of being the Space Shuttle. The itemized parts list was three pages long! So...I promptly threw it away and grabbed some tools. Note: I was smart enough to take some pics as I tore the thing apart.

A nail had inexplicably turned 180 degrees in the gun and got jammed between the "hammer" mechanism that drives the nail, and the frame of the tube that keeps it all together. Seemed simple enough. I took apart all the excess exterior pieces so that I could access the nail with some vice grips. I got a good hold of the head of the nail...and promptly broke it off. So, now I have just the shaft of the nail, recessed into the firing chamber. So, I take a few other bolts and screws off that were in the way, and grab the shaft with some needle nosed pliers...and break that part off, as well. Uh, crap!

Now I have just a sliver of the nail wedged in there. No option but to take the entire gun apart because I can't access it. I attempted to drive the hammer mechanism back into the gun with a steel punch, but I only manage to drive it (and the nail bit) deeper into the chamber. It's somewhere about this time that I use up my entire month's allotment of curse words and start borrowing from next month's stash. I should have recorded it because I got pretty creative, even stringing together words that have probably never been uttered in such succession. 

I took the head of the gun off, which was held in by four 6mm allen bolts that were apparently installed by a gorilla. The guys who change your tires at the service center and turn their impact wrenches up so high that no human could ever get your lug nuts off, have nothing on the dude that put this nail gun together. I had to put the damn thing in a vice and lean so hard on my VERY long allen wrench that I feared if it didn't break loose I was going to be catapulted through my workshop wall and into the creek. All I could think about was Shannon coming home, finding my body in the creek, a pained grimace on my face, a hole in my shop wall, and the empty pizza boxes I haven't cleared off the kitchen counter since she's been gone this week. 

At this point, I'm sure some of you are thinking "Hey, buddy, why don't you just take it somewhere and have it fixed?". I'll tell you why: BECAUSE NO STUPID METAL CONTRAPTION PUT TOGETHER BY MONKEYS IS GONNA GET THE BEST OF THIS GUY!!!...or maybe it will. 

I got the head off the gun and put it between two 2X12s so that I could support it while trying to punch out the nail without damaging the cylinder. I switched to a long square head driver that usually is put in a drill to drive screws. It was longer than my punch, who's length I had exceeded...and jammed the driver in next to the hammer mechanism. So, for those at home trying to picture this: I now have the tip of a nail wedged in there, along with the head of the driver I was USING to get the nail OUT!!! By now, I'm just making up words that don't even sound profane, but, to my credit, I haven't thrown or smashed anything (on purpose).

To make this long story a tad shorter; I finally got it all cleared out. I am taking a break while I put it back together. If there are pieces left over when I finish, I will just mix them in with the dog kibble when I feed them tonight. If, by some miracle, the thing actually works when I'm done, I'm gonna spend the rest of the day just aimlessly driving nails into anything I can find. I'll nail leaves that fall off trees back onto their respective limbs. I'll nail the chickens to their coop, so that I don't have to clean any more bird poop off the porch. I'll even nail the "s" on my keyboard that feels like it's starting to come loose. 

To conclude: Thanks, Dad, for instilling the ridiculous mentality (and ability) to fix almost anything. If the stupid nail gun doesn't work, then I also have the have the ability to edit this post.

Post mortum: It works! It actually works. I just nailed my hand to the tiny house floor. Someone please call an ambulance...

This is the internal plunger that takes the air and drives the hammer mechanism (to the left)  into nail.

This is the internal plunger that takes the air and drives the hammer mechanism (to the left)  into nail.

The shiny part about a third of the way from the left is the 1/2" piece of nail that was jammed in. This after I've dislodged the hammer mechanism. It was still wedged into the sleeve of the gun, but getting it tapped out was relatively easy. 

The shiny part about a third of the way from the left is the 1/2" piece of nail that was jammed in. This after I've dislodged the hammer mechanism. It was still wedged into the sleeve of the gun, but getting it tapped out was relatively easy.