Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green roof in bloom & loft built

Been on hiatus for the past 3 months (doing farm worktrade) but am now back and finally making some more progress on the tiny house.
Came back to the green roof in bloom! The CA wildflower seeds have taken root fairly well. We'll see how they hold up after the rains stop.

We slept in the tiny house for two weeks before we left but had only the floor so first task was to build the loft and reclaim the floor space. I wanted the layout to be rather free flowing and open (important in such a tiny space) so I really wanted to hang the loft from the rafters instead of putting in a post. During framing, I double up the 2x6 rafter where the loft will get its support.
Fairly straightforward and simple construction and I was pleased it took only a day to put together. Used 3/16 wire rope (800lb working load rated) for the hanging corner. Amazing to regain so much space! Having the bed lofted is really critical to the whole design. The bathroom will be below the loft; you can see the composting toilet stored already in the corner.
Next will be putting in the utilities, water and power. Decent sized project since I'm going to rehab the utilities for the main house in the process.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tiny house is looking like a tiny house!

Finally, a blog update! As it tends to, life has gotten in the way of progress on the project and as always, its been slow going.
Some more major milestones though: door and windows installed, tar paper applied and siding and trim is installed (on the south wall) and we are now living in the tiny house! Its been a week living in it so far and its been great. So weird and exciting to live in the project you've put so much sweat and energy into; feels good. What also feels good is the 15 degrees warmer it is in the tiny house compared to the main house! The south facing glass and insulated space really makes a huge difference, we haven't had to turn on the electric heater at all.

Door and window installed and tar paper


Here's a picture of the 1" foam sheathing that was applied over the tar paper

And here's that wall complete with fiber cement siding


The fiber cement siding is pretty interesting; was somewhat of an experiment. The price is similar or less than wood but unlike wood, this never rots and paint will last much longer. However, wood is much easier to work with and less messy. The fiber cement siding dust is rather harmful if inhaled and it drys out your skin like crazy. Best is to wear a good mask and to avoid cutting it with power tools when possible (you can score it and snap it like drywall).
The yellow color above is just the primer, although it actually doesn't look too bad. Still thinking about the color scheme

Planted the green roof with some carex grasses and spread some CA wildflower seeds which have sprouted. Not sure if the wilflowers will thrive in such shallow soil but I figure it is worth a shot. Its a lot easier to cover the space with seed than individual plants. Im amazed at how much water the roof can soak up! Theres been a few big rain storms and theres hardly any runoff; just a few drips from the drainage trough.

So, we are going on winter hiatus, doing some traveling, and will be back in the Spring, so the project is going to sit fallow for a while. Then hopefully in the Spring, I can get the utilities connected and work on the interior

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Green roof nearing completion

I had hoped to beat the rain...of course I didn't. The tiny house got rained on a couple times but had time to dry out after luckily. In typical fashion, the plans were once again changed mid-build. Now that our walls were sheathed (mostly) an the roof was on, we got our first glimpse into how much light would be in the house....and we though it might need more. So, we went skylight shopping. Chose a Velux 14x56 dual pane lowE curb mount, pretty inexpensive actually, around $160.
I laid out 7/16 OSB for the roof then put 2" rigid foam insulation on top (plus one scrap 1.5" piece mostly over the overhang)

Also seen in the picture is the roof edging to keep the soil in place. I ended up with some nice looking redwood 1x8 fence boards; way cheaper than "regular" 1x8 stock at about $4 for a 6' length. The front edge board is held in place by L brackets secured to the rafter tails.
A drip edge was installed and a "drainage basket" was made by securing wire mesh from the front edge board to the roof (for strength) and then filter fabric applied over that (to keep soil from washing out). I've seen designs that use gasketed shower drains but I wanted something a little more fail-proof and with more drainage.
Next came the EPDM liner. We bought a 15x15 liner from a pond supply for $130 but they're apparently also available at roofing supply places. Pretty awkward lugging up and unfurling a 100lb sheet of rubber, getting it positioned correctly isn't the easiest.

The skylight unfortunately adds some complexity and ripples an wrinkles in the EPDM are unavoidable. Should be fine though (famous last words)
Decied on a soil mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 perlite an 1/3 coconut coir. I calculated I needed about 60 cu ft total. The compost I can get for free from the city but the coconut coir and perlite set me back $125. I weighed the mix to make sure it was within spec and a wet 4 inch layer weighs in at 6.3 lb/sq ft; well within range

EPDM degrades under UV so its important its covered in all places

Still don't have the wall sheathing 100% done but that's next up and it's then getting tar paper up and really getting this thing weather-proof


Cost total so far: $1,727.42

Friday, September 23, 2011

Plumb sheathed walls and rafters

Keeping with the trend of slowww progress, inched along a bit more into the project. Big step was getting plywood on the walls and getting them plumb. For certain sections we needed three people: one doing the nailing, one checking plumb and pushing the top of the wall into position with a 2x4. Went together well and its really amazing how flimsy stud walls suddenly turn into rigid shear walls that don't budge a millimeter.
Next got the rafters up. Was a bit of fudging around with the birdsmouth notch but eventually figured out how to use my speed square properly (hey all those numbers mean something). The rafters will be visible on the inside so I gave them a coat of oil for looks. 2x6 rafters mounted with Simpson HS24 ties


Put in an order for the EPDM pond liner for the green roof. Will be tackling that whole can o' worms soon. Really hoping I can get this buttoned up before the winter rains come. I'm seriously slow at getting this done

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And I Said, "Let There Be Framing!" (and it was good)

Wahoo! Feels good to finally see what has only been a digital representation now turn into a tangible visible accomplishment. Of course, still tons of work yet to do

Framing was pretty fun (especially compared to concrete work). The process went very smoothly with the exception of one big issue: warped, twisted and generally not straight lumber. Terrible! What a pain in the ass to work with! Trying to salvage warped lumber seems a lost cause. I did my best in a few instances but in a few others, I just bought new lumber (unfortunately). I used the form boards from the concrete pour as wall studs but because of the water they took on, they went all out of shape, especially the long boards which had ends twisted a full 45 degrees.
Lesson learned, from now on, I won't try to reuse form boards and I will only buy kiln dried lumber. Like so many things, the extra cost is worth it to spare the frustration.

Next up, squaring everything up and sheathing with plywood

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last minute framing design changes

Figures I make drastic changes to the framing design JUST as Im cutting and laying down the sill plates

I originally drew the plans for top plates on top of 9' studs with bird mouth cut rafters but recently switched to variably sized full length studs mitered at their end. Here's what that looks like:


Im no expert of course, but this seems like it would pose no problem; certainly not traditional though.
I could use a second set of eyes on the project so if anyone has an opinion about this design change, please let me know!

I'm also toying with the idea of using Simpson HH4 header hangers to eliminate the need for jack studs but Im not certain if this is feasible or worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Earthen floor DONE

Finishing up a grueling multi-round epic of various concrete and earth pours, we have finally finished! Did I mention I hate concrete? Ya.


First we laid down 6mil polyethylene plastic sheeting as a vapor barrier. The barrier extends over the edge of the stem wall to give the sill plates a vapor barrier as well. Next went on the insulation. We used R-Max 1.5" rigid foam board from Home Depot. HD has cheaper stuff but we went with this one since its a tighter more uniform foam that has a lot more compressive strength. At the edges, pieces of foam were beveled at a 45 degree angle giving the slab total isolation from the ground and very good insulation. We are aiming to passively solar heat the house during the winter and this should go a long way to keeping heat in the floor.


Little unorthodox and probably not recommended but we loaded the slab with small pieces of broken up concrete (also referred to as urbanite). We figured as long as there was space in between the pieces for our mix to fill up, it'd probably be fine...probably. The concrete pieces helped us recycle more of the old patio slab and lessened the amount of material we had to pour. We also placed 6" square welded wire mesh within the slab (scored this for free on Craigslist).


The slab is a mix of clay/sand/silt from on site, aggregate from on site and collected from Freecycle and cement. The mixing was by no means scientific but cement comprised only about 1/15th of the mix by volume. We felt some creative liberty in our methods given the floor has zero structural requirements and just needs to be solid enough to walk on. The bottom mix is aggregate rich and uncolored while the top layer is a mix of fines and has red pigment powder added to it; this will be our finished floor


Looks pretty good! It definitely has some "character". We did a terrible job of leveling it which is going to make putting in furniture and cabinets hellish (oh well). The mix is going to take a long time to fully dry so the color should even out and become lighter in time. Its surprisingly strong for being mostly earth. Of course not as strong as concrete but it is fortunately easy to repair if needed.

Next step: framing!
Looking forward to getting some walls up!