Easter Work

The siding is finally done being milled!  For those of you just coming to the blog, the golf course my father works at had some trees come down in a big storm over the summer.  We had it milled to use as siding for the house.  It was delivered from the mill by the time I arrived home for Easter, so we were finally able to put some of the siding up on the house.

I was only home for a few days, but we were able to get the two long walls, and the rear gable end finished.

We started with the side facing the neighbor’s house because they have been very patient and understanding about us building the house.  We thought it would be nice for them to not have to look at Tyvek anymore.  Also, that side did not have any windows, so we did not need to do too much cutting.

Unfortunately we are almost out of the English Elm, which was used for the siding, because when we had it milled they ended up giving us five 2″ thick slabs.  These are generally used for countertops, but I have no use for them in the house and they would be more useful to me as siding.  We will figure something out though for the rest of the walls.  All in all it was a productive couple of days that I was home.  As soon as the rest of the walls are done, I will be able to focus my energies on the interior of the house to try and complete that in time to move wherever I may get a job.

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Spring Break Work

This post is a long time coming, but when I was home from school over Spring Break I was able to work on the house some more.  I focused mainly on the loft because once that is completed, I will be able to move things from the first floor up for storage and have the majority of the first floor available to work on.

The biggest issue with the loft was the fact that the boards were not even from board to board.  This was because I got the hardwood flooring from different rooms of a demolition sale and they must have been refinished differently, making each board a different thickness.  I had to sand the floor 5 different times before it was ready to be a floor again.

The first sanding I went across the grain with 32-grit sandpaper.  The old adage is to always sand with the grain, but the intent was to make each piece level to the one next to it.  In order to do this I had to sand across the grain to try and make it pass cleanly without catching any edges.  Once that was completed, I sanded with 55-grit sandpaper with the grain.  I did another sanding with 80-grit, 120-grit, and then did a finish sand with 200-grit sandpaper.

Overall the pieces are level to those next to them, and the old finish is completely removed.  Now I need to stain it and put a coat of polyurethane on it, sand it again with a really fine grit, then maybe another coat of the polyurethane and another sanding.

Unfortunately the loft took the majority of the week to work on because of the amount of sanding that needed to be done.  We did start on another project though, which is a drawer system.

The kitchen unit will sit on top of the drawers to give me additional storage space.  You cannot see it in the picture, but the drawers will not be as deep in the middle because the fender intrudes 6″ into the living space.  The drawer system saves the kitchen from being moved in 6″ and gives me storage I otherwise would not have.  Six inches may not seem like a lot, but it would be about 1/4 the width of my hallway.  The drawer system is saving a lot of space and making the house much more livable.

That is all the work from Spring Break.  It may not seem like a lot, but I will be able to refinish the loft now.  Once that is done I will be able to move a lot of the materials stored on the first floor up there so that the first floor is more open to work on.

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It’s been a while since I last posted because I am away at school, but I was able to get something that will make the house both unique and is useful.  My dad found an old Dwyer all-in-one kitchen on ebay, and I was able to win the bidding war for it.  He and I will need to drive up to Green Bay to pick it up, but if everything works on it, I will have a nice kitchen unit that is small and fits the house well.

It has a sink, 3 burner stove, oven, and a fridge.  I am still going to get an apartment-sized fridge though because I could use the freezer space this one can’t offer.

Here are some pictures of it.  I will, of course, add more once it is installed.  That may be a while down the road because there is a lot of work to do before we move finishing things into the house.

I am hoping everything works on it because otherwise parts will be hard to find as it is nearly 60 years old.

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Loft Flooring

This post is long overdue, but while I was home over break I was able to install all of the flooring in the house, including the loft.  It is a good feeling knowing that it is all installed, but I know I have a long way to go before the flooring can be considered done.  I still need to continue sanding it all down so that it is level and then stain and seal it before it is done.

Instead of renting a floor sander for such a small space, we are using a belt sander and sanding across the grain to even it out to the same level.  The general rule is to never sand across the grain because it scratches the wood, but we need to in this case to make sure each piece is at the same level as the one next to it.  Once we get it level we will sand with the grain with a finer grit to remove any scratches we may have made with the first rough sanding.

The toughest part of working in the loft was the definitely the limited space.  As of now I have just under 3′ in the loft because I wanted to be sure I had headroom on the main floor.  Being bent over all day sawing, placing, gluing, and nailing everything in place was a lot tougher than when I did the flooring on the main floor and was able to stand and stretch from time to time.  Now the challenge is sanding it all because there is very little ventilation in the loft besides the sunlight.

As can be seen in the gallery, there is quite a bit of dust from the sanding, and we are nowhere near done with it.  We really need to focus on safety when we sand it and wear a mask and safety glasses to prevent the dust from getting in our lungs or eyes.  The other picture shows how we intend to do the walls of the house.  We are gong to glue and nail 1/4″ OSB to the walls, then nail the pine planking we got from the demolition sale to that.  This will make installing the planking go much quicker because we don’t need to try to make each piece line up to a stud.

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We were actually able to get a lot done on the house this weekend, as we installed all the hardwood flooring on the main level!  We first had to lay plywood on top of the solid plastic subfloor as we were not sure how well the plastic would hold the staples used to secure the flooring.  I must say that it is not going anywhere, and if I ever sell the house, that the owner should never try to change the flooring.

We first both glued and screwed the plywood onto the plastic subfloor.  In securing the hardwood we again glued it down, then used staples roughly every 18″.  My dad’s friend, Chuck, let us borrow his flooring stapler he uses for work and it saved us tons of time.  Instead of needing to hand-nail everything in place and worry about the angle of the nail so that the groove of the next board would fit the tongue through which we nailed, we simply had to put the stapler over the tongue and hit it.  It delivered the staple at the top of the tongue on an angle through the flooring and into the subfloor to hold it securely.

We split the work up into 2 days because my dad was busy yesterday, so it took a good deal longer.  I was able to finish about half of the “open living” area of the house before calling it quits for the day.  Today we were able to finish what was left of the main floor because we were able to work in unison and quickly move down the line.

Here are some pictures of the work from this weekend:

One thing we did to make the work go quicker was to lay out the rows before securing it down, as opposed to doing one row with cutting the pieces, securing it, then doing the next one and so on.  It makes it less work because there is less walking to use different tools, and it allowed us to get into a rhythm while installing the flooring.

In the pictures you can also see a pile of the hardwood standing in the corner with a stack of it on the floor.  One of the biggest challenges with working in the tiny house is the lack of space for storing materials.  All of the hardwood seen in the pictures had been stacked under the loft, which is the long expanse I am seen standing under.  After getting the first portion of the work done I had to move all the flooring to where it is now so what we would be able to work in the area it had previously occupied.

Another thing about the flooring is that while it may look nice in the pictures, it is a long way from being done.  Because it was taken from a demolition sale, none of it matches up quite how it should.  If you walk on it or drag your foot across the seams you can feel that the pieces are not at the same level as the ones next to them in some cases.  This is because the wood was probably refinished before and they sanded it down.  We took the wood from 2 different rooms in the house, so their thicknesses may have varied between them.  This just means that we need to rent a floor sander and refinish the floors ourselves.

Now all that is left as far as flooring goes is the flooring in the loft and refinishing all of it.  The loft will be extremely tricky because there is very little room for one to work, much less 2 people.  Also the refinishing will be more difficult because we may not be able to use the floor sander.  After all the flooring is done we will be able to continue work on the electrical aspects of the house, then insulation and wall and ceiling coverings.  After that, plumbing and furnishings.  It is all beginning to come together!  I wish I had been able to get more accomplished so far, as I have been home for 3 weeks, but I unfortunately had surgery and had to recover for some time.  That is all done though, so I have to do as much work as I can to make this last week count.

A final consideration I am still giving thought to is the bathroom.  I really like tile, but I am afraid that the bumps of traveling with the house may crack whatever grout it used and could potentially ruin the tiling.  I am open to suggestions as to how I can finish it if anyone has any ideas.

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Merry Christmas!

Hey Everybody,

I just wanted to wish all my followers and readers of my blog a very merry Christmas and best wishes as we head into the new year!

I came home to find a Christmas tree in the window of my tiny house.  It is fiber-optic, so it changes colors and looks pretty cool at night.

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Electrical Work and Stockpiling

I know it has been a while since I last posted, so I feel I owe all my new followers an update of what is happening and an idea of what is to come.  I would like to start off by saying thank you to Kent Griswold over at http://www.tinyhouseblog.com for running an article on my project.  I nearly doubled my all-time views in one day due to the traffic I gained from people who came here from his site.  I hope you all continue to follow my blog and comment if you have any questions as to what I am doing or why i am doing it.

Currently the project at hand is electrical work.  We have the structure finished and since we are still unable to put up the siding because of the moisture content of the wood, we have moved inside to begin work there.  As much as I would have liked to have the protection of siding up for the winter, we must make do and complete the work that we can in the meantime.

I have personally never done electrical work before, but when doing some research it became clear to me that some municipalities require conduit to be used, while others are fine with simply Romex being run through holes drilled in the studs.  For those who do not know, Romex is basically all your electrical wires put together in one casing.  When you run it to where you want it, you strip the end of the casing and strip the ends of the wires contained within, and simply connect the ends to an outlet or whatever it is you are connecting it to.  This certainly would have been the easy way to go, but I wanted my house to be built to the highest standards I could make it.  I decided to use flexible conduit and would then run the individual wires through that.  It is more work, but it is of a higher quality, and if I end up living in an area that does not allow Romex, I should be able to avoid any problems that would have otherwise risen.

It does not look like much now, but it was a lot of hard work even to do this small portion.  the conduit is 1″ in diameter, so I had to drill through the studs with a spade bit in order to run it through.  In some areas where the windows are supported we have studs that are doubled up and sometimes even tripled up so we would need to start drilling from one side, then switch to the other side to get the rest of the way through.  After running the conduit we had to get the snake through it, affix the three wires (Hot, Ground, and Neutral) to the snake, and pull them through the conduit to where the electrical outlet was to be.

Before we could start any of the electrical work we needed to determine where we would put the breaker box.  It needed to be somewhere where it is easily accessible, but non-intrusive.  I decided to place it next to the front window.

Some may think it is intrusive where it is, but my dad and I are toying with the idea of concealing it.  I won’t go into too much detail with that though because we are not sure how we are going to do it just yet.  If you look at the picture showing the box open, it is a good example of how the conduit is run with the wires.  For those who do not know, the green wire is always the Ground wire, the white wire is always the Neutral wire, and the Hot wire can be just about any color.  We chose to make it black, but it is also commonly seen as red.

Unfortunately that is all the electrical work I was able to get done last time I was home, but I will be done with finals very soon and am hoping to get most of the conduit for the 120 volt circuits ran by Christmas.  The Incinolet I have, as well as a stove will need 240 volt circuits, but I have not progressed that far yet.

In addition to the electrical work, my dad began erecting the remaining wall for the bathroom while I was at school.  We are planning on using a pocket door so that it does not intrude on the living space at all.  We were going to simply build two walls and have the dor slide between them, but that would have taken more space and with the house already so small it would have been quite a sacrifice.  My dad was able to get a complete pocket door assembly from a friend he works with.  This is the same friend who has donated the Tyvek, a couch for when it is finished, as wel as a ceiling fan to be used in the living area.

That is all for the progress of the build, but I have quite a stockpile of materials ready for use.

This is all the pine planking I bought at a demolition sale.  It was in a completely mold infested basement and we thought we were going to need to remove it ourselves.  My dad and I were dreading doing the work because there was no electricity and we would have been wearing respirators and headlamps, but I got a call from the person in charge of the demolitions saying they had removed it all themselves because they were doing demolition on other areas of the house.  It should be enough to cover my entire interior and it only cost me $50.  They even removed all the nails and wrapped it according to size as the planks vary in height.  Add this to the oak flooring I have stacked in the house, and the fan and couch seen in the picture, and I have almost everything I need to finish my house.  There is still electrical work to finish and a very small amount of plumbing to do, but I think most of the large expenditures are out of the way.


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