Monday, February 28, 2011

Thankless but Necessary Work

First of all, I will state up front that I forgot my camera on this trip to the Tiny House. There would not have been any time to take photos this weekend, however. This weekend, Matt and I decided to divide and conquer some of the more tedious jobs that were left. There are a lot of exciting and glamorous things when it comes to building a house. Then there are a lot of other things that are simply necessary.

My job this weekend was to cut the final pieces of interior insulation. We've been using expanded foam primarily for practical purposes. It is less likely to attract bugs who nest or feed on the foam and since the house is on a mountain, that was very important to us. I used a Ryobi skill saw to cut out 16 panels of 2 inch foam and 16 additional panels of one inch foam to insulate the ceiling. This process took me all afternoon on Saturday (we didn't actually start working until about 2pm that day). The cutting was not done yet. On Sunday, I spent all morning cutting other sized panels to install in the gable ends as well as couple of additional spots that had not yet been insulated in the main living area. These all had to be cut to exact measurements with variable sizes and labeled. I had wanted to get at least some of it installed, but after I took all the panels up to the house from the barn in 6 separate trips, there was no time left to start another project. The photograph here is actually from a prior day of insulation cutting.

While I was doing all of this, Matt was up at the house filling the soffits. Soffits, in case you have never built a tiny house before, are the open space that happens after you attach the rafters to the house beneath the overhang. In the tiny house, there were 16 total soffits along both sides of the house that needed to be sealed up so that bats could no longer use our tiny house for their very large bat mansion. We didn't really know the best solution to this problem and when we sought advice it was suggested we just plug some scrap wood up there. Matt, being somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to the work he does, did not find this a suitable suggestion and devised a method. With 1x4 lumber he ran it through the table saw to give the edge an angle to match the angle of the roof. Then, through a long day of trial and error, he would stick the pieces up in the soffit holes, devise a method of wedging scrap of 2x4 to hold it in place while he would then go back into the house and toenail the soffit filler in with screws. While I did not witness any of this process, I can imagine what it was like to do this for 16 soffits while going up and down a ladder outside, moving it over and doing it again alternating with going in the house, up and down a ladder and screwing them in. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

It was a long weekend of largely thankless work. There is just another round of these necessary jobs - installing the insulation and filling the gaps with expanding foam. Then the house is fully insulated. Matt is considering going up a couple of days early on our next trip to knock out that part so when I come up on the weekend we can go get the material to start the remaining interior walls. Once those are done we can start the kitchen cabinets and that makes me feel really accomplished. I am glad it is nearly spring and we can get back to regular building trips. Even though this weekend was tedious, it felt really good to be out and working at the mountain.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Insert cliche about light here...

Okay, I'll say it... "Let there be light!"

Now that it's out of my system, allow me to provide you this tiny house update.  This past week, Matt and I were on vacation throughout the South East.  We met up with our friends Dann and Cindy from Michigan in Savannah Georgia.  From there we went to Charleston South Carolina.  Both of those cities were a lot of fun, but this blog isn't about vacations.  The final leg of our journey brought the four of us to Asheville.  We drove directly from Charleston to Mt. Matt and started some work on the house.  Dann is the friend who wired the house last March and even though we were in Asheville on vacation he wanted to do some more work there. 

On a recent trip, Matt and I built one interior wall specifically so Dann could wire it this week.  We stopped at Lowe's on our way and picked up some things for him, including some cheap lighting fixtures just to test out the electricity.  We had only expected him to wire that one interior wall, but he took some time and did some additional fixtures, switches, and plugs.  This included a somewhat tricky three way switch that turns the light that will be mounted in the ceiling off from either the living area or the loft. 

While Dann and Matt were working I took Cindy on a tour of the land since she had never been there before.  We walked all the way down into the big clearing and then up to the ridge and back down to the barn and back up to the house.  It was fun showing someone around who had never been there before. 

After Dann completed the electrical work, it was time for us to plug the house in and see how everything was working.  Essentially, the tiny house has an outdoor hook up like an RV would have.  When you park your RV at the campground you just plug it into the camp ground's electricity and you're good to go.  The tiny house has a plug on the under side of the house that we can plug into either a generator or a solar panel with an inverter and battery.  We don't have our solar panels up to the house yet so we plugged the house into the generator.  And, as you can see demonstrated by Matt and Dann, the electricity was a success!

This is an exciting advancement since we are about to start work on the interior of the house.  The generator had barely any draw off these light bulbs plus it could easily power any tools or chargers that we need while working.  Now, we can work past dark on the house!  We have had several work days where we were racing against the sunset to get just one last thing done, so this is a huge step.  These lights, of course, are not the finished product but just testers so we could make sure the wiring was working.  Another bonus to this method is that when we are not at the house we can unplug it or simply turn off the breakers and not have any power going to the house. 

The next trip up we have some minor work to do.  These are just little things that need to get done to tie up any loose ends; like finishing the interior insulation and filling the soffits.  Once that is done we can work on the remaining interior walls and start to build the kitchen cabinets.  How exciting.