Monday, January 17, 2011

New Suit of Clothes

I have been working on my garage, and other projects in my "big house", so haven't found time for the tiny house recently. Although this is not really progress on the tiny house per se, it is progress. I have had trouble finding a durable tarp solution for the interim, but I think I've found a solution. I bought two 14' x 48' recycled billboards, and have used them as temporary cladding for my tiny house until I have time to get to the next phase of construction. One billboard reads "Isn't she a little young? Sex with minors, don't go there" and the other reads "The sign you want, the agent you need,". I find the first to be inappropriate, if not downright funny, as garb for a tiny house, and the second has interesting color combinations and patterns (shrubbery and sky) for use in other projects. After painting over the bits of the "Sex with minors, don't go there" billboard (the part that would be visible from the street), I used it to cover the sides of the tiny house. I was fortunate to score some mis-tint paint from Sherwin Williams, their best exterior paint for only $5 a gallon (normally $45 a gallon). The color is actually pretty nice (see final photo). I will use half of the Remax billboard to cover the roof, and use the other half for whatever projects come to mind. The shrubbery and sky in the billboard would make for great pillows on an outdoor bench or chair, and I have an outdoor two-seater frame that I bought at a yard sale which needs just such a set of pillows. 

The tiny frame, naked for the first time in almost a year:

The top of the tiny house and the Santa Catalina Mountains from my roof:

I don't have enough space on my property to lay out a full 48' by 14' billboard, so I used my roof to do the painting and cutting. At the bottom is the freshly painted section of the "Sex with minors, don't go there" billboard, and above is the Remax billboard (the bottom is a white picket fence). That light blue wedge  near the top is my tiny house with its old tattered garb, prior to the new duds.  

 This is the end of the tiny house covered with the painted billboard section, as seen from the street.

The billboards are actually quite a lot of work to handle, they weigh 75 or 80 lbs each, and are very unwieldy when unfurled. My fingertips always feel abused after handling them, even with gloves. But the material is supposed to be a few times thicker than the best available alternative at a hardware or surplus store, and they are coated for UV protection. They are also a lot cheaper by the square foot, even with the hefty shipping cost. I am hoping that with a bit of high quality exterior paint, these will last many times longer than the other tarps I have used, all of which have failed within three to four months under the brutal sun of the Sonoran Desert. We are in the season of the winter Monsoon, so rain is also of concern this time of year. We shall see how these hold up!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Return to tiny thoughts

It has been a long long while, but I'm getting my head back into the tiny house project, now that the weather here is perfect once again.

One major setback: I had purchased Pella custom windows for all the openings, based on excellent reviews on the web and by Consumer Reports, but when they came, the quality was horrible. There were quite a few caulking splotches on the windows inside the sealed gas-filled space between the two panes, there was caulking all over the frames, one of the frames had a huge crack in it, and they were not even trued up properly, so the angles were all off square! Some of it was design: the latch-holes were just holes literally punched into the fiberglass, with no trim or insert to protect the cut fiberglass edges from getting torn up. But most of it was just plain abysmal workmanship. Very very surprising, considering how much research I did prior to purchasing them, and of course, they were not cheap. Unfortunately, Pella's rough opening specs are just slightly smaller than their competitors, at least the one's I have checked so far. That means that my openings were built just a little bit too small for standard sized windows from these companies. Looks like I will have to purchase an electric planer in the coming weeks...

On another note, it is nice to see an icon among tiny house companies, Tumbleweed, validating my exterior design, with a boxy modern look, flat sloped roof, rusted steel sheathing and all!

The Tumbleweed Popomo's roof is much less sloped, and the interior layout is quite different, but otherwise the similarities are, well, uncanny. Tumbleweed is having a $9.99 sale on the plans, so I snatched up a set. I'm hoping they help with details such as the roofing edges, and around the windows.

All summer I have battled to keep my frame protected from the elements. Brutal Sonoran Desert sun, torrential monsoon downpours, and heavy winds have all decimated one tarp after another. I have learned quickly that you have to spend some cash for a decent tarp, but even the best have not lasted more than a few months to date. I'm still a ways off from sheathing, so I have been looking for new ideas for covering the structure. I recently found this:

I have worked with billboard material before, creating bike bags, but hadn't thought they were available in such large sizes. I'm planning to buy a couple. They are actually quite cheap compared to my next best option, even with $80 shipping for two tarps, and much thicker, twice as thick in fact. They are going to be monstrously heavy to work with though, I will probably cut them into smaller panels.

Hopefully more frequent posts will be forthcoming, as the weather and holidays are generally good for tiny house progress. Ciao!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Portals complete

(now to fill them with windows and a door).

I spent a fair amount of time this weekend finishing up the framing for the door and windows. The windows are due to be delivered tomorrow morning, first thing. With the use of a little old-fashioned pulley action, I managed to install the door frame without assistance.

Lots of little tasks still to do before the next step, installing the building wrap.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Window and door holes

This weekend I made significant progress on framing the openings for the windows and front door. I had skipped this part in the initial construction in order to get a covered structure completed in time for the monsoons here in Tucson. It is amazing how much easier it is to complete these framing components on the ground first, rather than building them up within the built structure. For one thing, you can hammer in pieces from the sides of the studs, rather than relying on metal "L" brackets due to a lack of hammering room between studs. This results in a much more efficient (and cheaper) construction. Of course, there is the issue of installing one of these heavy-ish pre-built components...we'll see how that goes next weekend.

Door and loft window framing components

Door and loft window framing completed, and Elsie.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hostess Lumber Cupcake

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Portal, View II

Today I finished the framing for my 3x3 window on the end of the tiny abode. Three more window frames to go!
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At long last, a portal!

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