Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010 // Bloggers Unite

In the process of building this tiny house, we are learning a lot about sustainability and eco-friendly living. Honestly, the primary goal for me wasn't about saving the environment; it was about living as self-sufficiently as possible. I have learned, however, that self-sufficiency and sustainable living really go hand in hand.

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

Installing Windows 1.0

Before going up to Asheville this weekend, every time we told someone we were "Installing windows" they thought we meant on the computer.  But no, we were actually going to be installing real windows on our tiny house. 

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 5:30am.  We were on the road by about 6:45 and heading north on I-85. 

When we got to Mt. Matt we got camp set up and started to plan our projects.  We had some preparation to do for the windows first, including sill flashing.  We went up to the house and Matt cut the openings in the homewrap for the windows and I trimmed and taped while he prepared the sill tape.  Sill tape is an evil thing devised by evil people.  It is an extremely sticky tar-backed tape with a foil face.  Trust me, there is no way in any universe that this tape can go on quickly and easily.  But, after Matt got into the groove he was rocking.  We were finished by about 5pm so we decided to treat ourselves with a trip into Asheville for the evening.  However, we were tired early and came back to camp by 10pm. 
It was chilly in the morning in the mountains, so when we woke up we knew we couldn't do any real work yet, so we headed up to the local coffeehouse, Zuma, and had some coffee and breakfast and planned out the day ahead.  There were 9 total windows to install.  We needed to dry fit them, determine if they needed shims and then just get to it.  Our friend Chris was joining us for the project, but we weren't quite sure when to expect him. 

We got back to Mt. Matt and checked the first two windows.  They were a perfect fit.  Just then, as it turned out, Chris pulled up to the barn.  It was only 12:30, which was excellent as he could help Matt with the actual installation of windows.  So we got to it.   The first one went in smoothly and so I left to go get some supplies at Lowe's.  By the time I got back they only had three windows left.  They knocked those out in no time, we cleaned up our worksite and went back down to the barn to have a camp fire and grill some steaks.  

On Sunday, we needed to do some finish work on the windows.  The manufacturers instructions indicated we should stain and paint.  Unable to do both, we decided to paint the inside first because the outside is primered.  While Chris worked on patching the nail holes in the outside window frames, Matt and I took out each window sash and stained them.  We let them dry and put them back.  Then we cleaned up for the day and headed back to Atlanta. 

We selected these windows purposefully.  We wanted to make sure that our cat was able to lounge in the sun through the windows but not accidentally push out a screen and get out, so these sashes provide both top and bottom opening.  The tiny windows in the gables are awning windows that crank out instead. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Relaxing Build Weekend

Last time we were up at the cabin, we had friends with us to do the electrical work.  With that big part of the project out of the way, Matt and I didn't have a whole lot of work to do this past weekend.  That made the trip pretty relaxing, to be honest.  The one big project we did tackle is to complete the home wrap on the gable ends.  Since the rest of the homewrap was harder than I thought it would be, I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of the remaining homewrapping process.  As it turns out, with a little creative thinking it isn't as difficult as it seems.

On the way up, we were thinking about different ways to handle it and I thought the easiest way was to cut a length of homewrap off the roll and just hold it up and staple it to the sheathing.  Then, we could cut off the extra pieces after the stapling was done.  We started on the front and as it turned out, having the extra corner parts flapping around didn't make it very easy to use the staple gun.  However, we finished the front half and then used the razor knife to trim the corners.  Then I had the brilliant idea of using those trimmed corners as a pattern to pre-cut the triangle of the back gable.  Worked like a charm.  I was supposed to get photos of that part of the process and I failed, so you'll have to make do with these fine photographs. 

However, I did want to get pictures of some of the electrical wiring that our friends did the last time.  The house will be connected to a solar array (generator for emergency back up).  You can see some of the light fixtures and power outlets in the above photo.  To the left you can see the plug on the underside of the house that will be plugged into our power source.  Think of it like an RV that doesn't go anywhere. 

Also this weekend, I met this frog.  He has nothing to do with the building process, I just really liked him.  A couple of years ago, we built a small deck to serve as an outdoor shower platform.  We use a Coleman Hot Water On Demand to generate hot water while camping and then a cheap pump and shower nozzle to shower with.  It is perfectly adequate.  Also on our land is a spring.  These two things were not connected in any way, until a couple of weeks ago when we learned that if we connected the spring via tubing to a mysterious tube elsewhere in the ground, it came out through the other end of the tube that we discovered was conveniently nearby the shower platform!  So we connected a Y valve to the end of the tube and have the water drain down the mountain in the natural drainage ditch, but now we can also turn it to another hose and use the water for showering.  How marvelous!  And that was a total happy accident.  That brings me back to my friend the little green frog.  Now that the water isn't draining into the spring reservoir, it isn't very deep and this frog (and a froggy friend) was just hanging out at the bottom.  Super cute!