Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ladder Progress

I know I have fans of my "duh" category of posts. (You know who you are. :-) Keep reading; this post contains a good duh moment.

I started this beautiful day with a bunch of ladder parts. Ladder assembly day!

It was slow going but, with a lot of careful chiseling, constant checking with a square, and tapping with a mallet, I started fitting the rungs into the cut-outs on the ladder side rails. After working for quite some time, with only two rungs left to go, I noticed some notes I had written in pencil on the side rails. (I'd totally forgotten I'd done that.) I had written "outside right" on the side of the side rail that was now on the inside left. And I'd written "outside left" on the side of the side rail that was now on the inside right. Oops! I sat back and looked at all the rungs I'd carefully worked into the side rails so far. I hadn't screwed them together yet, so...did I want to take everything apart and start over with the side rails swapped? ... Uh, no. I just kept moving forward.

After fitting in all the rungs, I screwed them to the side rails.

This is an inspiring, soothing spot to work--especially when I'm using hand tools and not noisy power tools.

Then I pegged all the holes where I'd drilled in screws.

Next, I attached two boards to the tops of the back sides of the side rails, and pegged those holes as well.

Finally, I sanded the whole ladder.

Now all it needs is some stain and some polyurethane.

No one needs to point out to me that this is a little like putting the cart before the horse--to build a loft ladder before a loft is even built. :-) I figured that since I'd begun the ladder over the winter, and since I don't yet have any lumber with which to build my JayBee, I might as well finish off this project. A bit less interior work to do down the road!

Also see:
Loft Ladder...Almost
Ladder Done

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loft Ladder...Almost

Beautiful day today! I spent most of it constructing the ladder I will use inside my JayBee to access the two lofts.

I started the day with the two side rails. I had spent one winter day filling my house with sawdust cutting all the notches for the ladder rungs.

Today, I cut the pieces I need for the ladder rungs...

...assembled them...

and finished them.

Next step: Attaching the rungs to the side rails. Stay tuned.

Also see:
Ladder Progress
Ladder Done


I have decided that I'm going to build the JayBee's walls straight up from the sills--so the bottom plates of the walls will be screwed directly to the sills. I'm going to put the floor joists inside the walls, instead of under them. (Except for the bumpouts on the east and west walls--those will have the walls on top of the floor.) This method will allow me to connect the vapor barrier under the subfloor with the vapor barrier behind the walls--creating a complete envelope. (I have plans to install two air exchangers in the space--to keep the interior air fresh, especially in the winter when the windows won't be open.)

I have also decided to use 2 x 6 lumber for the floor joists--so the JayBee's floor will be at one continuous height throughout the entire house. This will save me having to fuss to construct a platform along the north wall upon which to set the washer/dryer, refrigerator, and hot water tank.

Thank you, Dale, for helping me think through these things and make up my mind! Thanks also for the chain-saw lesson.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Could Do This...or I Could Do That

For my regular followers, I feel I should state outright that, even though my trailer beckons to me every day, I don't anticipate taking great leaps forward on construction of my JayBee over the next several weeks. I'm in the midst of our busiest season at work (which won't let up until mid June) and I'm working long days there. That said, I'm still hoping to take enough tiny steps forward that things can move quickly over the summer months.

Now that I have the trailer here as a reference, I'm trying to make some final framing decisions so I can put together a lumber order. My head is spinning with some either-or possibilities. I realize that I really just have to commit to a direction and then make it happen but, to that end, I'm making a list of these conundrums and Dale is going to come over tomorrow to help me hash through some of them. For example...

Should I begin (as ALL other similar projects I've found) with framing and insulating the floor so that the floor framing (and subfloor) go to the outer edge of the trailer, and then build the walls up from there? Advantage: More straightforward way to build the floor. After all, there must be good reason that everyone does it this way. Possible Disadvantage: Not as easy to make a sturdy connection between the wall framing and the sill that is securely bolted to the trailer frame? (See photo below.) I'm thinking those star-headed screws that are rated as good as carriage bolts might compensate for this.

Or... should I build the walls directly on top of the sills and build the floors inside the walls? (I know, Rick, this is your preference.) Advantages: Possibly a stronger connection between wall and sill. Easier to connect the moisture barrier from under the subfloor to the moisture barrier behind the walls. Disadvantage: Harder to construct the floor and connect it in a sturdy way to the walls--especially given that there will be bumpouts on the two short ends.

Here's another dilemma: I had planned to use 2 x 4 framing with styrofoam insulation for the floor. This would require building bump-up framing around the long wheel wells. Or...maybe I should frame the floor with 2 x 6 lumber, use less insulation over the wheel wells, but end up with a completely flat floor, even over the wheel wells.

And the list goes on...

Update: See the decisions I made--in the next post called Decisions (of all things).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trailer/Foundation Arrives!

I found out two days ago that my trailer was going to arrive today. I'm sure there must be others, as well as me, that have these moments--these moments of anxiety? panic? when something wanted and worked for actually happens. All day Friday, thinking about the arrival of my trailer, I was a nervous wreck. Would my driveway be too wet? Too muddy? Would Mercy have the room she needed to maneuver the trailer into place where I wanted it?

I had calmed down some by this morning, but I really wanted to get the basketball pole and backboard moved before the trailer arrived--to give Mercy more maneuvering room. Dale was kind enough to come over and help with the basketball pole. Thank you, Dale! We hauled a whole lot of water off the site while we waited as well.

So, the site looked like this first thing this morning...

Then, after we moved the basketball hoop out of the way, the trailer arrived and Mercy backed it into place.

Wanna dance, anyone? As Naomi Lauze demonstrates, my new (although somewhat breezy) home has a good dance floor at the moment. (When I told her she was dancing on my bed, she looked at me like I was crazy. :-)

Mercy Lauze, the woman on the left, is not only the person who delivered my trailer...She did the welding, the painting, the wiring, and more. The trailer is Rick Lauze's design; he built it, too. Thank you, Mercy and Rick, for this solid foundation for my new home.

Guess I have some work to do!

Next steps: Level the trailer by jacking it up onto blocks. (The trailer is straight and true; that's not the problem. The ground that the wheels are sitting on is not level.) Work on a small drainage system to deal with the water that collects in a spot right under the trailer. Anchor the trailer to the ground. Register the trailer, even though I don't plan to move it anywhere anytime soon.

If you would like to buy your own trailer designed and built specifically for building a tiny house, contact Rick and Mercy Lauze at:
Northlander Trailers
1021 Port Road, Machiasport, ME 04655
207-255-3377 (yes, spelled without the "o")
In fact, if you need any kind of trailer--boat trailer, equipment trailer, or tiny-house trailer--contact them. You won't find a better-built or better-priced trailer! (And, no, I have NOT been paid for this endorsement. Nor will I earn a commission on any future sales. Hmmm, maybe we need to talk, Rick. Just kidding.)

Also see:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Doing vs. Talking

When my JayBee project was featured in the Tiny House Blog, one of the comments added to that post was "Glad to see you're a doer not a talker." I've been thinking about that comment on and off ever since.

Perspective is everything when considering whether I am a doer or a talker. I'm sure my son, who is 25 years old, would sputter and laugh if he knew someone thought I was a doer--especially as it relates to building a house. All he has known his entire life is that I have talked periodically about building a house, complete with periods of house drawing and model building but never, until now, actually building.

Yes, there are things I decide I'm going to do and then I proceed to do them right away. But, just as often, I have an idea or dream that either takes years of methodical plodding to realize, or predates its time by years. One example is this house-building thing. I could not foresee years ago that this dream would eventually find its time. Until now, it looked like a dream that might go unfulfilled.

Here's another example: When I bought this property 20 years ago, I told my son (four years old at the time) that one of the exciting things about this move was that we could build a raft and use it on the river in the summertime. Maybe it's not surprising that he didn't express any enthusiasm for this idea at the time. Adding to some conversation we were having one winter evening eight years later, I said, "That's why I said years ago we should build a raft and travel the river with it." His (12 year old) eyes grew wide and he gasped, "Could we really DO that?!" So, the following summer, we built a raft and lived on it for a week--traveling south on outgoing tides and then north on incoming tides to return home. (My first tiny home!) We had so much fun that we repeated the adventure--with some modifications to our raft, and staying out on the water two weeks at a time--four more times before my son left for college.

My point is: I have learned--and I mean it with the joy of hard-earned discovery--that some ideas and dreams do not need to be rushed. If a great idea spurs a person to immediate action, great. In other cases, however, even though talking may be the only activity taking place related to a dream today, one should not assume that the idea will forever stay only in the realm of talking. It's worth paying attention... so that magic moment in time--that dream's time--is recognized when it appears and is grasped fully with both hands and open heart.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Moving Backwards a Bit

If we had received yesterday's snowstorm back at the beginning of the winter, I would have been excited to see all that pretty snow plastered to everything (especially if I didn't have to drive in it). As it was, it mostly felt like a cruel April Fools joke.

My drive to work was in the worst driving conditions I experienced all winter.

So, below is the site where the JayBee will sit. <sigh> There is more site work I'd like to do before the trailer is set here. Some drainage work, for example. See that nice mud puddle?