I’m frequently asked what the hardest part of building a tiny house is. People expect that I’ll respond that it’s the electrical or the plumbing (the two tasks that seem to scare people the most), or perhaps attaching the house to the trailer. But really the hardest part is just getting started, and taking that first real step. By real step I’m not referring to the planning phase, while technically that is where you start when building a tiny house, it isn’t a commitment (it’s easy to walk away from an unstarted plan).
It’s human nature after all to resist change and to avoid the unknown. And for most who are building a tiny house, since many have no construction experience, that means a tremendous amount of firsts. Then, beyond the construction, you’ve got the actual living in a tiny house. Something that isn’t exactly common quite yet and thus not ‘normal’ as viewed by society.
Those can be really scary. Some people consider living in a tiny house and then immediately abandon the idea thinking that they just can’t do it (and for some, they are right since it isn’t a fit for everyone). I’ve seen others that have been in the planning phase for 5 years and that have attended 5 workshops who can’t seem to move past the planning stage. That doesn’t count as getting started :).
While building and living in a tiny house can seem insurmountable when looking at everything that goes into it at once, you can do it. Just look around on the internet and see the countless individuals and couples who you wouldn’t think could do it, doing it. The difference is they picked up a hammer and got started.
As some of you know I am speaking at the Tiny House Fair in June. My topic is “designing and building a tiny house”… I have one hour. Unless I want to pass on the information Clockwork Orange style, I need to narrow down the topic. So I’ve decided to answer the most frequently asked tiny house related questions that I receive.
So what do I want from you? I’d like to know what questions you have about tiny houses so that I can make sure I’m answering the best questions. In exchange, I’ll record my responses and share then here after the fair. And who knows, maybe I’ll make this a weekly thing :)
I came across this tip and thought it was super useful. When going up on a ladder, put a magnet in your shirt pocket to keep some screws handy.
I can’t tell you how many times I climb up a ladder with a bunch of nails or screws held between my lips. I’m always afraid I’m going to fall and choke on one. With this I wouldn’t have to worry about that, although, now I have to worry about falling and having a screw piece my chest ;)
Now I just need to find a magnet and make sure I wear a shirt with a pocket
My brother recently came back out to my dad’s and tried to finish the roof but we ended up being short two pieces of the gable rake and some screws. I put an order in for the last of it so that will only take a few hours to wrap up once it arrives (and my brother makes it back out there).
The windows were delivered and have been installed. They still have some protective wrapping on them which can be seen in some of the pictures if you were wondering.
The front door was just ordered so we are waiting on that. We won’t be able to finish any more siding on the back of the trailer (front of the house) until that gets installed.
About half of the interior siding has been installed. The Florida humidity is giving my dad a hard time right now as the wood that the siding is made from is very porous and thus easily grows and shrinks with the weather. Its tongue and groove so if it shrinks after it is installed it’s not that give of a deal (the tongue and groove prevent you from seeing any spaces between the boards when it shrinks), but if it grows after it is installed then it wants to pop off the walls (not good). So he is leaving some of the wood out in the open (in the house) to expand before he puts it up.
Both long sides of the house are practically done. He can’t begin on the short ends until the roof is done (in addition to the front door going in) since the scaffolding is attached to the house there. The siding is stained before it is installed so that you don’t see any unstained strips in the event that the wood contracts after being installed. I have only been able to see the house in pictures but my brother says he loves it and it feels really cozy.
I’m really looking forward to going back down there in a couple months.
I’ve just put the finishing touches on the plans and the wiring diagram for this house. I still need to complete the materials list and the build manual before I release them but I’m optimistically shooting for August 1st. Then I will start updating the first set of plans and materials list. I will also start selling the manual separately for people who want to see what goes into building a tiny house but haven’t quite decided on a set of plans.
I expected the roof to arrive in Port Orange on Friday morning so while we waited for the call that it was ready to be picked up we didn’t really do that much. Without the windows, roof, or spray foam we had pretty much done as much as we could do. Last time I purchased a roof I was able to deal directly with the manufacturer and we were able to pick it up the next day. This time, we were dealing with a distributor (Bradco) who was getting the roof from the manufacturer (Semco Southeastern Metals). This extra layer made everything slower. By the time I finally got ahold of the salesman, I found out that a mistake had been made and the roof wasn’t on the truck for delivery. This meant that it wouldn’t be delivered until Monday, several days after I will have left. I thought a week would be more than enough time to get a roof but I now realize that I should have placed the order on the first day that I arrived.
On Saturday, I only worked a partial day and wrapped up a few miscellaneous items but nothing very significant. I left early to go see my family who have driven down for a vacation in Kissimmee, FL with my wife’s parents. I’ll be spending the next week over there before returning to Atlanta. We My dad is going to continue working on the house while I am gone and I plan to continue to post updates as they come in, though I expect not nearly as frequently.
Quick funny story. My brother stopped by and saw the fan we had set up to keep the inside of the hose cool and ask (jokingly) if we were doing wind tunnel testing (maybe you had to be there :).
In the morning I told my Dad that as his Fathers Day gift I would only make him work 6 hours today. I know what you are thinking: But Dan, you have a schedule and a tiny house to build, now is not the time for generosity ;) Don’t worry, we ended up working until 5:30 anyways. We did take a little break in the afternoon to once again take a dip in the pool to cool off.
Check out the video for where we stand:
I ordered the windows before I left Georgia but they take at least 3 weeks before they can be delivered (after I will be gone). Without windows we are prevented from doing too much more that will be really noticeable (siding, internal siding, etc.) beside the roof. So going forward it will likely appear that our progress will have slowed. But as I’ve pointed out before, the devil is in the details.
We finally completed the roof today and got the tar paper down. Just in time for a big storm to move in. We also made a trip to home depot during lunch to return some of the supplies that I had delivered. Having two people involved in the build allows you to be a little more efficient with the supplies since you can move around larger pieces of wood.
I will be updating the materials list for my first house with the latest information, including prices, with information that I have learned from this house. I’ll send out an email with a free link to everyone who has already purchased them once that is complete.
We didn’t quite get as far as I expected today. Between it raining for an hour, the power going out for an hour, and it being 102 degrees at peak, we were only able to work for about 6 hours today. During that time we completed the right side of the roof.
On Saturday I expect we should be able to complete the roof and frame out the gable ends.
I wouldn’t recommend setting up a walkway like the one in the picture above. It was a little shaky so we won’t be repeating this on the other side. At least we didn’t do this.
We completed most of the roof framing today. Should only take an hour or so to wrap that up in the morning. Once that’s done we can sheath the roof and add the tar paper which will make me feel a lot better about the rain.
If you have any questions that you want me to cover in one of the videos let me know in the comments.