Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another blog mentions us!

Yesterday, Alex from Tiny House Talk posted a response to my latest blog post. He mentioned his next post would be about our tiny house. Today, as promised, the post was live. And on my birthday, no less.  Check out the post at Tiny House Talk. Matt even responded to him to thank him for his post. I like that he references Throreau's Walden when describing our little house. As cheesy as it sounds, it was an inspiration for us. 

This led me to reading the rest of Alex's blog.  I was most interested in this post from earlier this month. Apparently inspired by Evan and Gabby's blog as well as the folks who write this blog. Alex poses the question as to whether or not two people can live comfortably in one tiny house. It is actually one of the most frequently asked questions we get about this process, even from some of our closest friends. Honestly, many of the reasons he specifies are truly motivators to our decision to want to live in a tiny house. Of course, our house isn't mobile in any way, so we are fixed to one place on the planet. In our case that is 15 acres of our very own mountain in North Carolina. If we really don't want to be in the same space, we can find another part of the land for some alone time. But I think the real answer to the  question as to why the to of us want to build a tiny house and then live in it is because the two of us actually like to spend time together. People are often surprised by this.  We are, after all, a culture that seems to really appreciate copious amounts of personal space. I even had an acquaintance tell me that the reason we liked to spend time together was because we hadn't been together for very long. I laughed at this because Matt and I have been together for 16 years.  One of the lessons we learned when we lived in the big house that we recently sold was that we realized we didn't use the whole house, we just spent time together in a couple of rooms - the kitchen, the entertainment room and the bedroom.  Now the Tiny House really serves all those purposes in only 120 square feet. 

What I am really saying is that I give a lot of credit to couples who are looking to live in a tiny space with one another.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Can you Imagine?

As we were working on the Tiny House this weekend Matt reflected about people building cabins in mountains before power tools.  And we aren't even using a lot of the big guns - mostly just rechargeable Ryobi tools. I just can't imagine. 

I finally had my camera with me this weekend with a fully charged battery as well as a back up just in case.  I tested it by taking a photo of the Tiny Gnome my sister got us for Christmas.  Every tiny house needs a tiny gnome.  His name is Chomsky

This week, we decided to head up to Asheville on Friday night so we could get up early and get going.  We stayed at a hotel because we knew if we camped and it was cold in the morning we would have a harder time getting out of bed and getting started. The main task of this week was the final (or nearly final) materials run.  We rented a Uhaul cargo van and picked it up right about 8am.  From there we went to The Home Depot and when they didn't have a large chunk of the materials that we needed we drive over to a nearby Lowe's.  There we had to make a decision.  They did not have the materials we wanted for our interior siding but they had something else that would not only "just do" but also be a good alternative and it was about half the price.  Problem is, they didn't have enough of it so the Lowe's folks (all of whom were very helpful - Nick, Julius and Grant) called over to the Weaverville store (which is on our way to Mt. Matt) and they had a good chunk of the rest.  We still need a few more, but we can get those in the element.  While at lowes we also bought some other lumber we needed to finish the closets and the cabinets.  We also bought the wood for the two loft floors. 

We were also racing against the weather.  Heavy rain and thunderstorms were predicted and it had already rained in the mountains as the roads were wet.  We knew we needed to get the materials out of the van and into the barn room and were praying it wouldn't rain.  We got up to Mt. Matt and we got right to work.  Matt started the ATV with the intention of getting all the materials from the road to the barn in just two trips.  I went into the barn room and made some space for all of the remaining wood.  Thankfully, we did get the materials in without incident.  But since the next step of the process involved getting the wood up to the house, we decided to postpone that part for the next day or later.  Since the land was wet we didn't want to take the ATV all loaded down with materials up the muddy trails and make them worse.  We had to take the van back anyway so we decided to go back to Asheville and enjoy the afternoon while making some plans for the remaining work.  We ended up at the French Broad Brewery and Tasting Room.  After a couple of beers and some conversation with the bar tender, we walked around Biltmore Village for a while before heading back to Mt. Matt. 

When we were back at Mt. Matt we went up to the house to take some measurements so we could cut the smaller loft floors down in the barn out of the rain.  It had rained while we were in the brewery and it was constantly threatening to again.  Then we settled in around 6pm for some dinner which I made in our brand new Camp Chef camp oven!  This thing was so cool!.  We got it for Christmas from Matt's brother and his fiance.  Works just like a camp stove - screw in the propane and ignite - but it is an oven.  I had made some lasagna during the week and froze it.  It thawed in the cooler and I popped it in the oven for about an hour and and then we enjoyed it.  It was hot and evenly cooked and tasty.  By the time we finished dinner it was dark and had started to rain again so we retired to the barn room, watched some Deadwood on DVD on the laptop and went to bed.

On Sunday morning it was kinda cold so it was hard to get out of the nice warm bed to get going, but we weren't in a hurry.  There was still rain in the forecast so we didn't know what we would be able to get accomplished.  We certainly didn't want to take the wood all up to the house and get the table saw set up to cut and then have to stop again.  So, we started with the boards for the smaller loft and cut them in the barn with the circular saw. Then we took them up to the house to get them installed.  And, I have pictures. 
Here is the loft before with just plywood set up on the rafters.  

Here is me standing below while the boards are being placed.

Matt screwing in the boards.

 And the finished product.  Well, finished floors without walls or trim. There were a few hiccups in the process so we are glad we didn't rush to do the sleeping loft floors right away since we would change a few things before moving forward. However, the storage loft over the door looked great once it was done.  

Then we decided just to finish the second closet wall before calling it a day.  

Once that was secure, we cleaned up and headed home.  

The next trip in two weeks should be equally as productive.  We can finish the sleeping loft floors and start on the interior siding.  We are on track to being finished with the inside of the house - not including finish trim - by July.  We hope to have the furniture moved in and be able to stay in it.  It feels so good to be so close. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 Year of 120 Square Feet

I nearly let the anniversary pass me by.  I started this blog last year on St. Patrick's Day.  But that wasn't when we started the house.  We had actually already been building for a year when I decided to dive into the tiny house blogosphere. 

We will be back up to North Carolina this weekend and I am very excited about the interior projects that we are working on.  I do promise to take my camera. 

However, we did do something this weekend that is, after a fashion, really a part of the tiny house process. See, this blog isn't just for the process of building.  The intention is that this will also be a journal about living in a 120 square foot house.  Since today was the Spring Equinox, we decided to take on a project here in Atlanta - container gardening.  We live in the 16th floor of a high rise apartment so we wanted to plant a few different vegetables on the balcony.  We chose two different kinds of peppers - jalapeno and sweet banana peppers.  We also planted tomatoes and potatoes. Neither of us have been gardeners before, but it will be an important part of the sustainable and self-sufficient living we envision on our mountain. 

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Walls Walls Walls

I know, I fail at photo taking lately.  This trip I did have my camera with me and after taking only a few photos of some newly blooming spring flowers, the camera battery died.  I hadn't thought to bring the back up battery or the charger with me, so this building weekend once again came and went with out photos. 

Photos would be good here because what we built were very tiny walls inside a very tiny house.  Super cute little walls on either side of the front door that will eventually be tiny closets once they are finished.

Matt actually went up to Asheville on Thursday of last week.  He spent most of his time up there working his real day job which he can do remotely.  At other times, he was able to finish the interior insulation that we started as well as build an, um, attachment to be mounted on both gables inside to be able to attach the interior wall siding.  It was a clever contraption and I really wish I had photos of it.  Essentially, the inside of both gable ends were constructed on the last roof timbers so there wasn't anything that we could attach the interior paneling to. Matt constructed a device using angle cut 2x4s to mount to the inside of the gables which fit around the framing for the window and now will allow us to install the interior siding. 

I drove up to Asheville early on Saturday morning (I left Atlanta at 6am and arrived at 9am).  We took our time that morning because it was going to be cold.  In fact, it had even snowed when Matt was there by himself.  It was supposed to warm up, and it did.  Saturday turned into a beautiful day.  The day started when we took my Honda Element (which we could never have built this house without) to Lowe's to gather some additional supplies. Specifically, we needed 20 2x4s to construct the interior walls.  We looked at some finishing items like lighting and tile, but we aren't ready to by that.  Once we got up to the land, we spent that time finishing the very last insulation panels and the gable end contraptions.  We finished up before dark, cleaned up the space and headed back to Asheville for the night as it was way too cold to camp.  We are hoping that by the next trip we will be able to camp again.  I miss it. 

On Sunday, we got up to the land early and began work on the interior walls.  We measured and built the second wall in the kitchen but didn't install it since we have some finish work to do before that can be permanently put in place.  Then we measured and cut all the wood for the tiny closet doors.  We were able to install one of them completely before I wanted to pack up and go home.  Since I was driving by myself, I wanted to get back to Atlanta before dark. I left the mountain at 3pm and made it back to Atlanta, with a stop for dinner, by 7. 

We'll be back in two weeks and this time I promise that a large part of my job that weekend will be to get photos of all the things that I have missed in so far. That trip will be a fun one as the intention is to rent a Home Depot truck and get all of the supplies we need to finish the interior of the house including the materials for the loft floors, for the interior siding and for the kitchen cabinets.  Since we hope to camp and since the house is now able to be lit by plugging it into our generator (and soon, solar panels), we intend to be able to work past dark for the first time since we started this project.  That is a good feeling, too. 

Stay tuned for more adventures from Mt. Matt. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Check out Evan and Gabby's Blog!

I just came across another blog about building a tiny house today. It is so inspiring to see others building these tiny houses and I am excited to read about their progress.  It looks like they are just finishing the interior of the house, which is cool since we are just starting that part of the process now.  It also looks like they are building a Tarleton, the same design we are building, but with some modifications. 

Every day I hear news of the Tiny House Movement taking hold across the country.  People are simplifying their lives and building these small spaces to move the mission forward.