Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
It was one of the best weekends we've had in Asheville, though no weekend has been bad really. I took a half day off work so we got into town around 5pm on Friday. We stayed in Biltmore Village because the Warren Haynes Holiday Jam was going on downtown and all the hotels were booked up. Matt made reservations at a popular restaurant in Biltmore Village so we checked into the hotel and walked around that area of town before dinner, stopping at the new Village Wayside bar, which was very nice. While there, we discussed some of the next steps of our lives and what we wanted to do moving forward. There were some
interesting revelations that hopefully I'll be able to share.
Dinner at Fig was awesome right down to the bread pudding that tasted like Christmas. After dinner we went back to the hotel where I made Matt watch this week's episode of Fringe, which I loved.
Since it was predicted to be cold in the mountains, on Saturday Matt and I took our time getting up. We got ready and headed out first stopped at Lowe's to get the supplies for the interior wall. Some screws and two by fours later, we were back on the way to the mountain. We stopped in the little downtown area for lunch only to find a parade. We stopped and watched it for a moment before heading back to the main road to a deli for lunch instead. After lunch, we made it up to Mt. Matt to start work. It didn't take us very much time at all to construct the first interior wall. Thought it is small progress, it feels huge.
After the wall was built we cleaned up the area and headed back to Asheville for dinner. After dinner we stopped at Sante Wine Bar where we ran into the owner. She was off the clock, so she sat with us and
chatted for a while. We met her on what was pretty much our first trip to Asheville several years ago when we accidentally stumbled into the bar because it was cold outside. It was great to talk with her.
To top off a great weekend, on Sunday we woke up to snow in Asheville but not enough to be a problem. We went to a local sports bar to watch the Detroit Lions and in a Christmas style miracle, they managed
to beat the Green Bay Packers, who were playing for a wild card playoff spot.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Pictures might tell the story better than I can.
On Friday when I was there we actually spent some time cleaning up the building area, taking some of the materials we were finished with back down to the barn and organizing all the tools inside the house (and some underneath the house). When that was done we used a piece of scrap plywood to cover up the door just for the winter. We plan to install some type of glass in the door in the future. That left us with all day Saturday where we actually started doing some work on the inside to prepare to build the internal walls on the next trip.
The next trip will be in December and we'll be building the interior walls.
Monday, October 25, 2010
We got up early on Saturday and hit the road. We made it up to Asheville around 9:30 or so. We stopped at Lowe's to get the materials we needed to built a porch/deck on the front of the tiny house. This included deck block, pressure treated lumber and all the assorted screws and fasteners required.
When we got up to Mt. Matt we found that the ATV, an integral part of the getting heavy items from barn to house system, did not start. The problem appeared to be the battery and without any way to actually jump start the ATV we hooked it up to the generator using a trickle charger. We set it up to charge and had lunch and then took some things up to the house by hand - including two 42 pound deck blocks. We started by getting the two deck blocks by the house level and then decided to see if we could get the ATV to start since it had been a couple of hours. Luckily, it started just fine and we could load the rest of the tools and materials on the ATV trailer and get them up to the site. We decided to get everything up to the house, arrange it all neatly so everything was ready for us to start first thing in the morning. Then, we went into Asheville for the night. We stayed at a hotel in town instead of camping. It got kind of cold, but we've camped in colder. But we just decided we wanted to stay in Asheville and not have to worry about driving back up to our place that night.
We had built a deck before for the shower platform that we made by the barn so this one seemed extra easy. Plus, the dimensions were truly tiny considering it is the front porch of a 120 square foot house.
Just as we were fastening the last screw, our neighbors came up to say Hi. They couldn't have planned it better. We were able to give them a "tour" of the place and describe what it would look like when it was finished. They headed back out on their walk and we cleaned everything up before going to get dinner and heading back to Atlanta.
Matt is going back for a week soon and plans to finish the porch roof and beams. Then all we need to do with the outside is trim it. We think we will wait to do that until the spring and start working on the inside this winter by framing out the closet and bathroom walls.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
About a month ago, The Tiny life posted an update.
We still have a lot of work to, but we have some big plans for the end of the year. October is scheduled pretty heavily with non-building activities, but we'll be going up toward the end of the month for a weekend. Then in the beginning of November, Matt will be going up for a whole week and I'll join him on the weekend. We should be on track with getting the outside finished in 2010 and then we can move to the interior.
Our Tumbleweed House Design is the Tarleton, so I thought I would also share with you the link to another tiny house builder, Will, and his own Tarleton. Also, earlier this year Will took the car on a Trans-Canadian trip from British Columbia to New Brunswick. How cool is that? Our Tarlteon is stationary, so it won't be quite the world traveler.
Monday, September 20, 2010
We left Atlanta about 8am to arrive at Mt. Matt about 11:30. The intention was to get there in time for lunch and then start work in the afternoon. There wasn't much left to finish. I had to stain three more panels and then we had to measure and cut out the pieces for the gable ends and the front of the house. I got to staining and the panels were done in no time. Matt took the measurements for the back gable and traced it out and cut the peices. It was one of the hardest to install because of the hight and being up on the ladder,
but they were small peices so it didnt' take too long. Measuring the front of the house was a little more complex because we had already built a porch overhang and needed to install the panels around that.
It took a lot more math, but Matt diagramed it and we were able to cut the panels and install them without a problem. We were done around 7:30 so we got ourselves cleaned up and went into town for dinner.
With the siding complete we feel a whole new sense of accomplishment. The outside is nearly finished. The next task is building the porch and after that we can complete the trim on the outside of the house and then we can begin to focus on the inside. We expect to finish the outside this year and can start with the interior after the first of the year.
Monday, August 30, 2010
We left Atlanta about 6am on Saturday morning and drove directly up to Mt. Matt. We packed sandwiches and water and evening entertainment to prevent ourselves from wanting to leave the mountain to go into Asheville. It worked perfectly. We arrived and set out immediately to work on the siding.
After we started me staining panels, Matt would measure the house to determine where to cut the window openings. Once the stain was dry enough, he would cut those out and we could install the siding.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
So, on with the update. This past weekend our trip to Asheville was mostly pleasure. There was a big storm in Atlanta on Friday night, so rather than trying to get out of this city in the traffic jam caused by rain and by, well, traffic we decided to go up on Saturday. We got up at 4:30 am and left Atlanta. When we got up to Asheville we went to Home Depot to rent a truck and get the plywood we needed for siding. When we arrived, about 10 after 8, we were told the truck had just been rented out for the whole weekend! The helpful rental guy called the other Home Depot and they had their truck and would hold it for us. We drove over there and rented it. But then, that Home Depot didn't have the plywood we were looking for! The horror. So, we took the Home Depot Truck and drove to the Lowe's that is nearest our land. We were, of course, made fun of for taking a Home Depot Truck to Lowe's but they had what we needed. We took it back to the land. We had to use the ATV and trailer to get it up to the tiny house, but when we tried to start the ATV it wouldn't. Matt spent some time trying to figure out the problem and eventually we decided to change the spark plug. The sucker started up as soon as we did that and we were able to load the plywood onto the trailer in two loads to take up to the house. It took us longer to do that than we wanted to and rain was threatening so we decided not to do any more work. The next step was to stain and cut the plywood and that all had to be done outside. So, we decided to spend the rest of the weekend enjoying ourselves. We drove back to the Home Depot, got our car and began our new adventure. We chose to check out the town of Hickory, about an hour or so away. We drove out there, stopped at a microbrewery. The town was small and it started to rain so we called up a hotel in Black Mountain (back on the way to Asheville) and headed back. In Black Mountain we went to the Pisgah Brewery and enjoyed a beer in the courtyard of the brewery. The rain had cleared and it was cool and lovely. We went to dinner and then to the hotel to sleep. The next morning we decided just to head back to Atlanta. So, it doesn't seem like we got a ton of work done but delivering the siding materials was pretty important and we enjoyed ourselves otherwise.
We are in Atlanta this weekend, but next weekend we will be back up to Asheville and will stain and cut the siding and begin installing it. I can't wait to get photos of that!
Monday, July 26, 2010
This weekend was a little different for us. Usually, we go up to North Carolina with a clear plan of what would need to be accomplished. However, this weekend we were invited up for a block party and that was pretty much our only purpose for the weekend.
It was a great weekend, and one of the only weekends in recent memory where we went up to Asheville but didn't have days and days of work to do. Believe me, I don't mind the work at all but it was a very nice break. And it is great to know all the folks on our mountain road and all the cool stuff we are each doing.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Well, I certainly do like it. That is because we are currently building a tiny house designed by Jay Shafer.
The part that is most exciting to me (and probably to Jay) is that his Tumbleweed Tiny House company is getting so much national exposure. People all over the country are buzzing about tiny houses. Some people are beside themselves with excitement about wanting to build these small structures and others are wondering how anyone could possible live in a place so tiny. Whatever side of the discussion you're on, that is okay because at least it is a discussion.
Matt and I had the pleasure of meeting Jay about a year and a half ago, right before we took the plunge and bought the plans for the Tarleton that we are now building. He is a really good guy. On top of that, with the plans we got free consultation with him if we had any questions. Along the way we have had a couple of phone conversations about some alterations that we have made. We've also sent him photos of our progress along the way.
Keep watching for more details on our tiny house build and other interesting tiny house news.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I follow a few sites on tiny living in order to keep up on the latest tiny house news. I first saw this over at The Tiny House Blog by Kent Griswold. A small company in North Carolina has invented a new type of tiny house structure: The Yurtle.
I am excited by the innovation and creativity used by Laurel Nest Yurts. It is so awesome to see people taking tiny living and something like a Yurt to the next level.
Awesome work, Laurel Nest Yurts!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Wednesday, June 30th
Friday, July 2nd
Zuma Coffee. While we were on our way back, we got a text from the neighbors that Rob and Christy had pulled up the road, so we were right behind them. Unfortunately, Christy was coming down with a cold so we set up the bed in the barn room for them and she took a nap. Matt and I moved to our brand new Coleman tent. I love Coleman camping equipment - I think I need to buy their stock. We do a lot of camping and I found the tent quite comfortable. I went up to the grocery store to buy all of our supplies for the weekend. While I did that, Matt and Rob started on the door for the house. When I got back, our neighbors came up - mostly looking for their dog who had been hanging out with Matt and Rob. Their little cat also goes for walks with them which was super hilarious. They went up to the house with Matt while I sorted out the groceries. By the time I got there, they were starting to assemble the door, which turned out to be a great success. After we finished that, our neighbors went home and Rob, Matt, Christy and I decided to head out for dinner. We went out for barbecue, which was exactly what I was hoping for. We came back and built a fire and hung out for a while before going to bed.
Saturday, July 3rd
Saturday marked the arrival of the rest of our guests. Matt and I did some work up at the house in the morning, just basically getting things ready to do some priming of the door. Just after lunchtime, Matt went to Lowe's to get some supplies to build the porch overhang. About 2ish, the rest of our guests arrived pretty much at the same time - Bill and Susan from Atlanta and Matt's brother Jim from Michigan. We helped them set up camp and relaxed until Matt got back from Lowe's. Then we went up and primed the door. After the work was done, I made dinner for the group - bratwurst, macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw. Matt, Jim, Rob and Christy played some football toss. Christy was feeling much better. We all hung out by the fire and talked well into the night.
Sunday, July 4th
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. A good time was had by all.
Monday, July 5th
It was a great week, we did a lot of great work, but it is also good to be home.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I'll post a recap when we get back next week, but in the meantime feel free to follow me on twitter. I'll post real-time updates on the progress while we're there.
Thanks for coming along on this crazy adventure.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
The main focus of this past weekend was to prepare for guests. We're having a few friends up over 4th of July again this year, so we needed to make sure that areas were cleared for camping.
We were in the zone. Matt pushed himself, maybe a little to hard, and brush hogged all the way up the trail to the ridge. And I put on some music and painted the windows. I admit to not being the best painter in the world, so I knew after the first couple windows that I would need to do a second coat. That was fine, because it was only Friday after all.
Once the work for the day was done, we cleaned ourselves up and loaded up the brush hog to return to the Home Depot rental center. After dropping it off, we went into Asheville for dinner to celebrate. We went to the new Pack Tavern downtown. We sat at the bar and had a couple of tasty burgers and beers. Then we walked right next to tavern to the park and sat for a while before heading back to Mt. Matt.
Saturday involved more of the same for me - a second coat on the windows. They looked a lot better once I was done with that. Matt spent the day with the chainsaw cutting down some of the last trees that had fallen during the Snowmageddon back in December. There was one right next to the barn where people typically camp, but now it is nice and cleared out for 4th of July weekend.
Before starting work on Saturday, we went to Zuma Coffee for breakfast, which was delightful, and then to Ingles to buy stuff to make for dinner so we didn't have to go out again. After I finished painting the windows and Matt was finishing up the tree clearing, I set up the grill and made some Feta and Spinach stuffed chicken sausages that we ate with Greek feta pasta salad. Yum. After dinner, we got back to work and constructed the final shower wall. Our shower platform use to be secluded behind trees and with only a flimsy bi fold screen, guests were able to take a hot shower nestled in nature. After the trees were leveled in December, we needed to do something else, so we built a couple of walls. There was one more wall to go, and Matt and I put that together in about a half an hour before dark on Saturday. Now, we just have to cover it with canvas material and viola, a shower!
Sunday, I ran up to the tumbleweed house to put the newly painted windows back in. Then we cleaned up the barn, packed up the car and drove back to Atlanta.
We took a week off for the 4th of July - we will be up there from June 30th to July 7th. I can't wait.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I am the worst blogger in the world. Laura started this blog months ago with the idea that we’d both post about our experiences, but I’ve neglected to do so until now. Oh well, onward and upward!
At the end of May, I gave a workshop on alternative building. I may post more about that a bit later (let’s be honest, it took me 6 months to make my first post, so I wouldn’t bet on it), but for now I wanted to answer one of the more common questions I received.
Several people asked how we generate and store and use electrical power on our land. The short answer is “the sun”, whenever possible. For a slightly more useful explanation, I’ll break it up into a few different categories: power during the build, power for general use, and possible future expansion.
Building a house (especially one as small as ours) without power from the utility company is really not that hard. The key is to think about what you actually need and plan accordingly. In our case, I figured we’d only need a handful of power tools. Most of the smaller ones – drills, skill saw, reciprocating saw, etc. – were battery powered, so that meant I only needed to figure out a way to power the chargers. The miter saw, cement mixer, and compressor were the only things that needed to be plugged in while in use. I could have just bought a small generator and had the whole problem solved, but I set a goal to build a house using as little external power as reasonably possible (where I get to define “reasonably”, of course!), so I invested in a small solar setup at the beginning of the process.
Two other main goals were to keep the costs down and not overcomplicate things unnecessarily, so I looked to small commercially available solutions to get started. I could write all day about the options that are out there and all of the pros and cons, but I was a first time builder, so simplicity became the deciding factor. What I bought was a 60 watt solar array and a 60 amp hour battery pack with a built in inverter. With those, I have been able to charge all of my cordless tools, and run the smaller of my 2 miter saws. I could have run the larger miter saw, cement mixer, and compressor for limited amounts of time, but I did wind up buying a small generator for those to make sure we fit as much building as possible into our limited weekends. The generator I bought was the Honda EU2000. There are much cheaper options out there, but the Honda is incredibly versatile, reliable, and most importantly quiet. We are a couple of newcomers to our land, and the last thing in the world I want to do is disturb our neighbors just because we got the urge to build a house in the woods. The overall cost savings inherent in building such a small structure allowed us to spend a little more than we otherwise would to help keep our mountain quiet and beautiful.
The solar array, battery pack, and generator provided more than enough power for the build, but what about general power usage? I am very happy to say that the solar array has been our sole source of power for nearly two years of weekend build trips. Again, the key here is to determine what you really need and eliminate waste wherever possible. Our goal was not to replicate the conveniences we have in our home in Atlanta. On the other hand, we were not trying to be absolutely rustic in every aspect of life. We wanted to find a balance that worked for us, so we made a list of the things we’d like to have and how much power they used. In the end, our list turned out to be pretty small: a few CFL lights, the ability to charge our laptops and phones, and access to the Internet (for those of you who are wondering, we access the internet via an Verizon MiFi access point). Of those things, the only items that use a considerable amount of power are the laptops. We reduced that power draw by switching to an iPod touch for most Internet use. So far, the same small solar set up we purchased for the build has met all these needs admirably. I’ve even used it to power my electronic drums and a bass amplifier during our 4th of July party. Hurray sun!
When the cabin is finished I anticipate that we may need to add to our array and battery capacity. I won’t go into detail about this right now, but I believe I’ll still be able to keep it reasonable. All we’ll really be adding are a few more lights and fan or two. The cabin was wired to simply plug into the output of a generator or inverter, as an RV would in an RV park, so we have plenty of flexibility. I’ll try to post more about that as things progress.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
"All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one... characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers"
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Living small lessens our impact on the planet. We can all do just a little bit.
Earth Day 2010 // Bloggers Unite
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Happy Earth Day!
Monday, April 19, 2010
With the windows in, I can't tell you how pleased I am with our overall progress. Just a door and the siding (and general trimming, painting, staining and finishing) and the outside is nearly done. Then just a porch/deck and porch overhang. Then we get to move to finishing the inside!
This weekend, Matt and I took Friday off. We thought about leaving Thursday night but we just had too many things to get done to make that happen. We decided to go to sleep early and wake up...at 5:30am. We were on the road by about 6:45 and heading north on I-85.