Rafter Angles

Just a warning, I doubt this post will be that interesting to many of you since it doesn’t have that much to do with my TH but I wanted to share this information since I couldn’t find an answer already on the web.

I started refining my SketchUp model over the weekend and ran into an old problem; determining the correct angles and lengths for rafters. There is a lot of information on the web on making this calculation if you know the slope of your roof, however, when the exact slope is unknown, this can be a difficult calculation. When would the slope be unknown since I’m designing the roof you ask? In my case it was the portion of the roof above the dormers. When I designed my model, I created my walls, determined the slope that I wanted, and then drew the rafters and ridge beam in where it all lined up. But above the dormer walls the ridge beam was already in place, so I had to draw the rafters at exactly the right angles.

What prevents this from being a simple geometry (Pythagorean theorem) problem is that at the peak of the roof I know where I want the TOP of the rafter board to be (lined up with the ridge beam – B), and at the bottom I know where I want the BOTTOM of the ridge board to be (lined up with the inside edge of the wall – A). But these two lines (the top and bottom of the rafter) are not the same but instead parallel lines.

(Please excuse my not-so-great drawings)


The first time I ran into this I just approximated the angles since I didn’t want it to hold me up from starting my build (which in all honesty worked just fine). But now that the pressure is off, my perfectionism got the better of me. So with a lot of thinking and a little help from an online math forum here is what I came up with.

Rafter angles

the angle at A = arctan(u/t) + arcsin(v/sqrt(t^2 + u^2))

You can use the scientific calculator included with Windows, but I have found the one at http://web2.0calc.com/ much easier to use.

I warned you!

Update: While this can be very exact, it’s a lot easier to use standard roofing angles (e.g. 12/12, 2/12, etc). We’ve since switched all our plans to standard angles.

On Hold

Things have gotten a little busy for my brother over the last month so
there is no progress to report. My dad lives about an hour away from
him so he really has to be able to dedicate a whole day in order to
make the drive worth it. To eliminate this barrier he has decided to
move the tiny house to his house this week so that he can put in any amount of
free time that he has on any particular day. By doing this he loses my
dad as help but there is so little work left this shouldn’t be a
significant impact.

My mother is understandably anxious to get moved in so my brother and
I have decided to move it to her house by June 10 no matter what its
state of completion.  Although it would be much harder for her to make
progress on it, at least it will be in her control.

So hopefully in mid-June I will be adding a post of the THP’s completion.

(lc:0, sc:0, lt:109.5, st:414)

The Devil is in the Details

I put another 6 days into the tiny house, this time with help from my brother and dad. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite enough to call it a wrap.

Last week my brother relocated the trailer from Lakeland to DeLand where I was able to stay with my dad while I worked. The house was a little too big to fit under all the trees on his property but fortunately he has a nice neighbor who let us park in her yard for the time being.

Tiny Retirement Being Finished

On the first day we worked on finishing the rough electrical and plumbing…

Tiny House Electrical

…including the drain lines that will eventually be connected to the main homes sewer lines.

Tiny House Plumbing

We then moved on to the interior siding and trim. This is detail work and thus requires a lot of time. I also didn’t account for the trim in my mental ‘budget’.I thought I had essentially already laid out all the money I was going to have to to finish this job, image my disappointment when I had to put out another $1000.

In hind site, given the circumstances of this build, I could have and should have been more conservative with many of my selections. I could have easily shaved off a few grand if I had opted to build the economy model.

Tiny House Interior Siding Tiny House Interior Siding Dormer Windows Tiny House Interior Siding Kitchen Window Interior Siding above shower Finishing off trim Scaffolding in tiny house

When I left a small amount of trim and ceiling still needed to be completed, as well as all the flooring. My brother is going to travel back out to my dad’s next week to finish it up before moving it back to my mom’s for staining.

(lc:16, sc:132, lt:109.5, st:414)

Paint progress

Florida weather has made progress on the tiny house slow going. My step dad has managed to paint the entire solid color and is about to move on to the trim. Him and my Mom picked up some wood floor that was on closeout. The dealer only had 360 sq ft. so they had to take all of it but at $.50 a square it was a bargain (plus I have enough to do the next tiny house).

Tiny House Painted Exterior

A business trip is pushing back my trip to Florida by a couple of weeks but right now I am planning on going around March 31st to wrap it up.

Also, over the past weekend my fiancé and I rented a cottage at Unicoi state park in north Georgia. I had never really given it much thought before but ‘cottage’ equals ‘tiny house’. As soon as I walked in I took on the mindset that this was my home and not just another temporary hotel room. Beth and I had planned on living in my Moms tiny house for a couple weeks when I was done with it to see how feasible it would be for us. Obviously my home owners association put a crimp in that plan but this was definitely the next best thing. It was eye opening and made me think about storage and design in ways that I hadn’t up until then. I would highly recommend anyone considering tiny living to rent a small cottage for a couple days. I think you would enjoy it and learn something (like where are you going to put your toothbrush if your kitchen sink is your only sink), and I can think of worse things to do on a weekend.

Unicoi Barrell Cottage

The numbers are coming in

Construction on my tiny house isn’t completed yet but most of the materials for the remaining work have already been purchased. Still needing to be purchased is a little electrical, the kitchen setup, a sliding door, and the flooring. These should run about $1000 depending on what’s selected.

With that said, the stats thus far are:

Total materials cost: $10,566.11
Total tools cost: $1,856.42
Supply runs: 42
Hours of Labor: 375.5


The cost of tools is just what I’ve spent since beginning this project, and I started out with a pretty extensive tool collection. That’s not to say that every tool I purchased was absolutely required or that someone else building this house would need to spend as much.

It’s kind of a rub when building a tiny house. Often if someone is building a tiny house for themselves they are in the process of downsizing all of their belongings. So the idea of going out and buying a bunch of tools that will only be used for a few months is surely not that appealing. However, having the right tools for the job is extremely important as they can save a considerable amount of time and frustration. I followed a TH blog where the builder opted not to purchase a miter saw and instead used a circular saw for everything. Since my miter saw was among the top 3 tools I used the most, I can’t imagine making that decision. He didn’t know it, but I would bet that decision added a couple of weeks on to his timeline.

I followed another blogger who built her tiny house using her school workshop. This worked out perfect for her as she had access to a slew of resources including storage for her TH while it was constructed. Unfortunately I don’t think school workshops are an option for many of us.

I think if your building a TH for yourself the best bet would be to barrow and buy the tools you need to do the job right and just plan on selling what you must when your TH is completed. The pain and cost of selling everything would be insignificant compared to the cost of never buying what you need.

(lc:0, sc:0, lt:93.5, st:282)

Tiny House on the move

The tiny house made its maiden voyage to Florida on Friday. The last week and a half has been a little hectic trying to get it to a point where it could handle the journey. But after a lot of work we did it. Thanks again to everyone who offered their assistance.

In the days leading up to the houses departure we primarily worked on the siding and the roof. The pitch transition in the roof required a lot of thought and discussion on how best to complete it, which I expected. I feel good though about our final solution. I will definitely be (slightly) changing the design of the roof. I remember growing up working with my dad and he would be cursing the architects of the buildings he was working on because of some of the designs that they came up with. Well, now that’s me, but I’m also the architect, so who do I get to curse? My lessons learned will definitely make for better designs going forward.

I escorted my brother for about 45 minutes of the ride out of town to make sure that there were no issues at top speed (~60 mph). It was really fun to watch the expression on people’s faces as we drove by. Our path out of town also happened to pass by my work so I gave them a quick call to let them know I would be driving by. A few of my coworkers came out to wave and cheer, it was pretty cool :) Here’s a video one of them shot:

The house is headed down to my mom’s land where my step dad will caulk and paint the exterior. After that is completed and I can get some time off (in a couple of months) my brother will relocate it to my father’s property (about 2 hours away) where I will travel down to complete it. I don’t think that should take much more than a week or two with help.

In the mean time I am going to update the plan, parts/cost list, and build instructions. That will probably take a little while.

I’m having some computer issues at the moment but I will post a bunch of pictures as soon as I have that resolved.

(lc:34, sc:54, lt:93.5, st:282)

PSA: updated times

This post is for people who care about the times I record at the end of my posts. If you don’t, there’s nothing to see here… see you next time.

I went back and updated all the work hours at the end of all the previous posts. After talking with my guests we decided that rather than seeing the work hours divided by me and everyone else it would be more interesting and useful to see them divided by skill/experience (since 8 hours from a general contractor is very different from 8 hours from someone with no experience). While skill level is definitely on an analog scale I chose to divide the hours into two buckets, skilled and less skilled. Skilled being someone with experience and knowledge to work on complex tasks on their own, and less skilled being someone who is either a helper or works on less complex tasks on their own.

I figure this new system can help someone who is thinking about starting a project like this by allowing them to adjust my times based on their own skill level.

So from now on you’ll see less skilled current (lc), skilled current (sc), less skilled total (lt), and skilled total (st)

(lc:0, sc:0, lt:59.5, st:228)

If it isn’t the rain, it’s the snow

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an Eskimo building an igloo in the dead of winter with a cold? Well, me neither, but unfortunately I feel like I’m finding out. Building in the snow wasn’t that bad, but when that snow turned to ice in the days that followed things got a little rough. My brother and I drove to Home Depot on Friday morning and in my infinite wisdom I found the iciest part of the parking lot to park on. In the corner of my eye I saw my passenger door open and then in an instant my brother disappeared. When I turned my head to investigate I found my brother ass-flat on the iced asphalt clenching his wrist with a grimace, moaning. I’m a little embarrassed to say that my first thoughts where “how many wrists do we need to hang siding?” and “maybe he can use his cast as a hammer?”. Fortunately after a few hours of “Dan, I think I broke my wrist, we need to go to the ER” and “Seriously Dan, take me to the hospital” all was OK (I may have made up that last part).

As an exhibit of just how cold it is I submit the following picture. My brother drinks a lot of Pepsi. A lot as in Pepsi employee’s have called to thank him for helping put their kids through college. Anyway, we were getting started one morning and my brother set his Pepsi on a shelf outside while we unloaded all the tools from the garage. When we were done (just a few minutes later), he returned to find his soda to be frozen solid.

Darek with Frozen Drink

Here is a picture of our warming station for when our joints would start to seize up. The tarp was used as a wind breaker. Also in the picture is my new air compressor. The cheap Porter Cable one that I had used a rubber diaphragm mechanism that became too brittle in the cold and died off. There is no time to try to get it repaired. RIP

Cold Weather Station

Today we  completed more siding and roofing. Tomorrow I plan to go to work at 4 AM so that I can get off at lunch to come home and work a half day on the TH. Our plan is to finish up the roofing tomorrow, which if it happens will be pretty exciting. We’re getting close :)

Tiny House Siding

(lc:14.5, sc:29, lt:59.5, st:228)

Damn it’s cold!

Building in Freezing Cold

It was 22 degrees outside when we started working Wednesday and the forecast predicted that that was going to be the nicest day for the next week or so. Since I knew it was only going to get harder I wanted to get as much done as early as possible.

My brother, step dad, and myself worked on installing the roof. My brother has a little experience with metal but my roof is pretty complicated (I talked with my dad, who is a builder, about ways to slightly change the design to ease some of the complication for a future build). It took us all day to get about 30% done but we figured it was going to go quicker now that we worked out many of the details.

Not only did my brother and step dad drive up to help but one of my coworkers, Lis, was Help with Buildingkind enough to donate one of her vacation days to the cause. She worked in the warm(er) inside of the home installing insulation. She would poke her head out every few hours to remind us how good she had it with phrases like; “I  don’t even need to wear my gloves any more” and “It’s kind of balmy in here”. which was really nice ;) We forgave her though when she pulled out some homemade gumbo for all of us for lunch. It was really good!

On Thursday my brother and I put up almost all the trim on the outside. We then continued with the roof getting almost an entire side completed before realizing that we were a couple of pieces short. I was afraid that would delay our completion by a couple of days while they manufactured the missing pieces. But I called my supplier on Friday and they where able to make what I needed in just a couple of hours (that is the benefit of finding local suppliers to deal with). Rick worked on the inside picking up where Lis left off on the insulation getting it almost complete.

Friday it was 17 degrees when we started. We prepped for siding by installing flashing over the wheel wells and finishing up the AC porthole in the back. We roofed the front compartment and then Darek and Rick stated putting up the siding on the back while I went and picked up the fore mentioned metal.

It’s Saturday now and it’s just a little too cold to venture outside, so we are waiting for the sun to do her magic.

It's cold outside

(lc:34, sc:51, lt:45, st:199)