Doing Life

beach time with my sister and one of our best friends

I’ve been doing life. And I haven’t been making the time to post about it.

This summer, Life involved a five-week break from building The Lucky Penny. First I took a long weekend to make My Annual Pilgrimage to the Oregon Country Fair. Next I headed to Vermont to teach a 2-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. Then I headed to Seattle, my hometown, to catch up with one of my sisters, my best friend from high school, and several other old friends.

This is the little life.

And it’s a good one. So I won’t apologize for a moment for living my life instead of talking about it. But considering how many of you have asked me for an update in the past week, I suppose I probably should have said something.

The quick version is this:

  • class photo inside Katie’s Tiny House

    I’ve moved into The Big House in tiny house community where I’ll be bringing The Lucky Penny once it’s complete

  • I’ve helped my friend Ben who is finishing up his tiny house (and will also be moving it to this great little tiny house community!)
  • I’ve built My Front Porch (which is already much better than a Shrinky-Dink Porch and solves the problem of Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street)
  • I’ve been working on Fancy Shingles
  • I’m planning Tiny House Work Parties all through September to get as much done on the Lucky Penny as I can before the rains return
  • I’ll be hosting a Tiny Open House at the end of September or in early October to thank My Tiny House Helpers and show off The Lucky Penny (in whatever state of completeness she is at that point!)

minstrels at the Oregon Country Fair

In retrospect, I realize it probably would have been a good idea to officially take the month of August off from blogging. After all, I knew that things would get busy once I resumed construction of The Lucky Penny while simultaneously ramping up to full-time work as the Living Building Coordinator for the Breathe Building. I might have imagined that blogging would be a good thing to set aside for a few weeks. But, alas, hindsight is 20-20.

Chances are, you were out there having fun and didn’t miss me anyhow. You were Doing Life, too, right? (If not, get out there and have some fun in the sun!)

On the other hand, those of you who have been following along for a while probably know that me not posting doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not writing. After all, writing is one of the best ways I know to process my experiences. So stay tuned for some backlogged blog posts to appear in the coming weeks! Meanwhile, Happy Summer!

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Musings on My Vardo Roof Box

Skylight box went up the third day of my build, getting dried in took over a month!

Skylight box went up the third day of my build, getting dried in took over a month!

Today I met with Fred at Taylor Metal Products and Tim Bancke, the roofer who recently completed the beautiful curved roof for Lilypad, a tiny house currently under construction for my friend Anita by Walt Quade of Small Home Oregon. I did the concept design work with Anita and the half-curved roof was my big idea so I’m thrilled it’s turned out so nicely! You can read all about it over at Once Upon a Lilypad!)

Although I admire folks like Ben Campbell and my build buddy Laura Klement who installed their metal roofs themselves, I’ve decided to let the pros handle mine. I knew that my vardo’s roof would be a design-build challenge, but I am enamored with curved roofs, so I decided it would be worth it. Now that I’ve finished Sheathing My Vardo Roof, I do still think my curved roof was worth it, but I would have done a few things differently. (For the full list, check out my forthcoming blog post ALL The Mistakes.)

I’ve found myself drawn to curved roofs for as long as I can remember. Street cars. Gypsy wagons. Sheepherders wagons. Barrel vaulted ceilings. To me this shape means freedom, whimsy, and exploration.

I adore the lovely curved roofs on little houses like Ben Campbell‘s vardo and Caboose at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel. And I’ve been especially inspired by the exposed beautiful arched laminated rafters made by talented craftspeople like Katy Anderson who created PAD’s vardo and John who built Big Maroon on the back of a 1949 Federal truck. Exposed rafters remind me of ribs and there’s something about that structure that really appeals to me. I decided I wanted a curved roof, too, even though I knew it would take longer and cost more.

I knew as I was Building My Arched Rafters and Planing My Curved Rafters and then creating my Rafter Tales and finally Rafter Raising, that by exposing my rafters I’d be creating a roof system that would stretch my building skills and my budget. But I also knew I’d love it.

I took it a step farther by adding the skylight box. The shape was inspired by the mollycroft roofs of gypsy wagons of yore and by my friend John Labovitz’s tiny house truck Polymecca. I’ve never seen anyone put skylights on the top of the monitor like I’ve designed, but I’m enthralled with the idea.

I’m less enthusiastic about the amount of time it took to get my complex roof dried in! Once I’d created my Floorbox (and then reworked it with the help of Patrick Sughrue of Structures Northwest), My SIPS Wall Raising only took an hour and a half! The next day we completed My Tiny House Air Barrier. Because of supply issues, being rained out, and making a couple trips out of town because I was, well, Doing Life, it took over a month before my roof was dried in. That means I had to untarp it and tarp it back up again each time I worked on the house! (Mind you I did have the assistance of many Tiny House Helpers.) I ended up on Plan F: Take 2. During this time I was so anxious I didn’t sleep well.

It seems the roof is both my house’s crowning glory and it’s Achilles heel. So I’ve been thinking of ways I could have avoided (or at least reduced) the anxiety.

What I’ve decided is that I should have built my tiny house roof (and floor for that matter!) out of SIPs, just like I did with My SIPs Walls. I didn’t do a SIPs roof for one big reason: SIPs are flat and my roof is not. But I’ve come up with two possible ways to do it.

First, I could have done a curved SIP roof. Talking to Patrick Sughrue of Structures Northwest, I’ve learned that it is possible to have a curved roof built as a SIP. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have my whole house put together in just 1 day?! There’s only one factory Patrick knows of that can do a curved SIP on the Best Coast (did I say that?! er, I mean West Coast!) It’s also a fairly wasteful process because you start out with a big block of foam and carve out the curve, which produces a whole lot of material you don’t need. Also, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a curve with as tight a radius as the one I’ve got. However, I’m not sure that it has to be so curved. In fact, I’ve learned from roofers today that the snaplock panels which we’re hoping to use on my house work best with a radius of 10 ft or greater. My roof has a radius of approximately 8 feet, so it will be a stretch to use this system. Maybe it would be okay to have a shallower curve after all. Especially if I could get the house dried in in a weekend instead of a month!

This winter Patrick and I will be working on a Vardo kit made out of SIPs so that folks who love the vardo shape can get their shell built in a weekend! If you’re interested, please let us know!

However, this curved SIP roof wouldn’t have worked with exposed rafters like I have. As I learned while Making Ends Meet, getting those two curves the same is a challenge. On the other hand, I could have done faux exposed rafters on the inside. I plan to try it on the next vardo I build. Besides, my skylight box would have been a challenge anyway. So here’s the other option I came up with:

I could have had a set of long 1 foot wide SIP panels fabricated which would have sat on top of my exposed rafters on either side of the skylight box. Shorter 1 foot wide panels would go on either end of the skylight box at the front and back of the house. I would have put the rafters up as I did. I figure I could go through the same process of Ceiling Up My Vardo Roof with beadboard panels or I could install this material from the inside afterwards. Either way, instead of building the roof box, which required Eve Caps and Plan F and resulted in my first (and hopefully-but-I-doubt-it-last) melt down, I would have put the SIPs on top and attached them to the rafters. Then my roof would be both insulated and sheathed in one fail swoop. There would be triangular gaps at the top of the roof where the panels come together, so this area would be spray foamed and then cut back and covered with a flashing. The whole roof would then be ready for waterproofing and roofing.

Mind you, I’m not entirely sure either of these systems would work. Although theoretically they’d be fine, I’d have to try them to be sure. The design I’ve come up with for my vardo roof does seem to be working and maybe it’s the best way to do it. If you have done either of these alternate systems or if you decide to try it now after reading about it, please report back. As I’ve noted in another (forthcoming) blog post, My Mistakes Manifesto, I believe sharing our mistakes is even more important than sharing our successes because we can learn so much from other people’s mistakes! Also, if you have other ideas for creating an insulated and air-sealed vardo roof (especially with exposed rafters and a skylight monitor), please share them in the comments!

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Katie’s Reflections on Tiny House Design-Build

And now, a word from our “sponsor.” Today’s guest post brought to you by Katie Tomai, a student in this summer’sTiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow and the client for the class. Thank you Katie for your perspective and the opportunity to help you make your tiny house dream a reality!

Day 9

Katie and her tiny house on the last construction day for Tiny House Design-Build

It’s been a week since the Tiny House Design-Build class ended and it still blows my mind to reflect upon how much has happened in the span of a few short weeks. Three weeks ago I had nothing concrete to show for months of planning beyond some craigslist windows and a trailer that I’d ordered (and hadn’t even picked up yet). Now I have the shell of a house- my house!- calling to me everyday. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. I literally dream about it. Every night. My life is like a sappy love song by the Backstreet Boys!

Building the house has felt like this: have you ever heard that quote about how mothers feel like mothers from day one of “Oh hey, we’re pregnant” while fathers don’t really feel like fathers until they are standing there in the delivery room, looking shell-shocked and holding the squalling, slippery bundle that is their newborn child in their arms? I am the father in this scenario.

Despite months of planning and dreaming and talking about the house, it didn’t feel real until we stood around as a class and began leveling the trailer, drilling holes, and cutting insulation for the flooring. And suddenly, it was a thing. A tangible, real, some-day-livable thing. And like many new parents, I was surrounded by a group of people who were just as thrilled about it as I was: we marveled over the framing and cooed over our assembled walls and rafters and took the countless pictures of trivial things that are the hallmark of new parents everywhere. Which isn’t to say it was all kittens and cupcakes and sunshine- just ask anyone who was there as we bent yet another drill bit trying to get holes through the trailer for the tension ties. But these challenges were small blips on the screen of an otherwise amazing two weeks of building.

The thing that I keep coming back to is how grateful I am to have had the chance to begin building with this particular group of people. They’re amazing. They filled every day with laughter, new energy, and a feeling of community so strong that I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I feel so lucky to have had the combined expertise of Lina, Paul, Lizabeth, and Patti, who were endlessly patient with our questions and who shared their years of accumulated wisdom on everything from dealing with grey water to whether or not it’s ok to iron your tool belt. (Cue the eye-rolling from Lizabeth!)

I’ve been fascinated and inspired by the people I’ve met through this project so far – and it’s only been three weeks! One of my goals in building this house was taking the first step towards creating a feeling of home and of community after years of transience. Somehow that was something that I’d imagined happening after the house was completed – so it’s an added bonus to find community being created around the house as its being built! I’ll take it as a sign of good things to come.

Looking ahead to the next few months of solo tiny house building, I imagine it’s similar to that new-parent feeling: two parts excitement intermingled with one part “Oh shit! Am I prepared for this?!” Ready or not, it’s all happening and I’ll be interested to see what learning this new adventure will bring.

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Day 3 of Tiny House Design-Build: Tiny Tours

Today’s guest post brought to you by Cheryl Gant, a student in this summer’s Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. Thanks, Cheryl!

2014-07-23 10.21.07Today we went on a tour of tiny/small homes in nearby Montpelier, Plainfield & Cabot, Vermont.

The first home was 500 square feet and will be on the new show about tiny homes in late August. You can watch episodes of Tiny House Nation that have already aired on the FYI website. The owner got a loan for $50,000 and $40,000 worth of materials were donated through the show. This is a well-designed high-end home with high ceilings, beautiful kitchen with concrete counter-tops, recessed lights & expensive appliances. The wall between the master bedroom & the one for his 22 year old daughter moves against the back wall to completely open up the space. Beautiful tile shower and swanky concrete bathroom sink are among the many elements that make this a very nice tiny home. The couple building it have decided not to move into it because they have all their kids back at home. We asked how it was permitted but he wasn’t sure but maybe as a ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit.)

2014-07-23 11.21.52On to the 2nd house which was up high with a view of the river. It had been designed by a Yestermorrow Semester Program. The angles were interesting and the mix of rusted steel exterior and other materials was interesting. The bottom part was a wood workshop (400 sq ft.) & upstairs was the living space (600 sq ft.). Again high ceilings made the space feel bigger. Not sure about the shower door entry on the hallway, but otherwise the kitchen, dining room, and den space were all very comfortable. The high R value of the sprayed in cellulose insulation made it very energy efficient.

2014-07-23 13.40.42Onward now to a tiny house on a trailer bed built by a Yestermorrow class 2 years ago. By built I mean started by a class then the owners have to do the rest of the work themselves and buy the materials.
Two years later they were done and living in it and soon to join them will be their new baby. The space was very functional but their loft ladder took up a chunk of space and the temporary bed covered a lot of floor. The owners gave everyone lots of good information about simplifying the electrical system and hiring a professional mover to move your home to a new site.

2014-07-23 15.25.12The last two homes were on the same property and both were used as detached bedrooms while using the kitchen and bathroom in the main house. The first had a bath tub underneath the floor, very cool! Lots of windows and a curved roof, a drafting table and bookshelf.

The next house, well as we headed towards it we had a sudden down pour and we all were drenched by the time we got to it. We lingered for a while inside, admired the plexiglass sunroof that barely leaked and decided that since the rain showed no sign of slowing down we’d better leave so we hopped out and headed for our two cars. The van had most of the class and I was in our instructor Paul’s car with Julie and Ashley Layne. Julie was craving ice cream so when we got back to Montpelier Paul dropped her and A.L. out and we drove around the block till they came out with their ice cream. Pretty good day at Yestermorrow!

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Day 1: Tiny House Design-Build

Today’s guest post brought to you by Katherine Arathoon, a student in this summer’s Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. Thanks, Katherine!

2014-07-21 14.46.31

Nora and Jung practicing cross cuts with a circular saw

It’s Day 1 of the Tiny House Design-Build, and we’re off to a roaring start!

Lo, the blank slate of a custom-built trailer sat before us in the hangar today, pristine and glossy black. As a class we took a moment to sit with the trailer and think about what we hoped to achieve. Building a home for someone is such an exciting project; we had aspirations for how we wanted it to be crafted (“Well built,” “Sturdy walls,”), and also what we wanted it to provide (“Laughter,” “Peaceful retreat,” “Good food, good cooking!”)

We started by leveling the trailer. The back right jack had gotten damaged in transit, but after getting it back into place using a very sophisticated technique (Tomas hit it with a large piece of wood), we were able to level the trailer with a water level. A water level is a long tube filled with liquid that uses only gravity and water’s innate predilection for seeking a level plane. As one of our instructors, Lizabeth, explained: “Water doesn’t lie.”

Then it was time to lay the foundation. We started by drilling pieces of wood into the inside front and rear of the trailer, on the same level as the cross ties. Drilling into metal is not easy, and one or two drill bits and screws were sacrificed along the way, but we got it done. Once that was accomplished we were able to place sheets of plywood across the length of the trailer on the crossbars. We squirted silicone caulk along the edges as an air seal, to stop water from being able to get up around the edges of the plywood. Then came two layers of rigid foam insulation, foamed into place to fill up any holes. We covered this insulation with heavy pieces of wood and clamped it down, to compact it snugly overnight. And then we were done for the day, and went off to eat a well-earned dinner.
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Hello Again, Tiny House Design-Build

2014-07-20 20.46.33This evening we kicked off the fourth two-week-long Tiny House Design-Build course at Yestermorrow. This is my second time co-teaching the course with Paul Hanke, Patti Garbeck, and Lizabeth Moniz. (And I blogged about last fall’s class in a set of daily posts. You can read them here: Hello, Tiny House Design Build. It was a great course, which connected me with incredible students, including Laura Klement, my build buddy.)

It’s wonderful, as always, to be Back Home at Yestermorrow. Vermont is a magical place any time of the year, but summers here are particularly splendid. It’s also nice to have a break from working on The Lucky Penny. I knew that between the Oregon Country Fair and the three weekends occupied by travel for Yestermorrow’s Tiny House Design-Build class, I’d have a whole month away from working on my tiny house. I knew I’d miss my little house but that it would also be good to take some time away. My goal was to get dried in before I left for the Oregon Country Fair, which was last weekend. I managed to do this with the help of my friends Mike and Eleanor – and a Pool Noodle! – so this break will be a good chance to recharge. When I return to my little house I’ll finish up the exterior – siding, shingles, and building a porch – and then turn my attention to the interior.

2014-07-20 21.35.18The same talented team will be teaching this summer’s Tiny House Design-Build class and I was excited to recognize a couple of the names on the class roster even before I met our fine group of students. One of them was a student of mine in a PAD workshop I co-taught with Dee Williams. And, of course, there’s our client, Katie, with whom Paul and I worked in March to develop a concept and basic layout for her tiny house. Paul has since developed the construction drawings for Katie’s house and we’re looking forward to bringing her house to life. After introductions last night I’m convinced we have another great bunch of people to work with this summer!

We started out with a parti exercise in which the students paired up to create a concept model for a structure based on inspiration from one of Paul’s found objects. It was great fun to see the creativity flowing and the neat results of teamwork.

We have an action-packed schedule, which includes tiny house tours, presentations, construction, and design time in the studio. I don’t plan to blog daily this year, but I’ll be inviting our students to guest blog, so I hope some of them choose to share their experiences with you. Follow along for the fun!

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Tiny House Rain Screen

Rain Screen StripsLet’s talk about rain screens for a moment. In the Pacific Northwest rain screens are recommended because they prevent siding from rotting by draining away water that gets behind the siding. (Note that I didn’t say any water that might get behind the siding. Around here we figure that water will get behind the siding!)

The most common system is to install vertical wood furring strips over house wrap (or over the exterior insulation if you’re doing an exterior insulation system like my build buddy Laura Klement). However, since I am installing vertical tongue and groove cedar siding, I had to do a horizontal rain screen system between my bottom band and belly band. And when you do a horizontal system you need it to be permeable so that water can drain away.

Rain Screen & More SidingMy plan was to cut strips of corrugated plastic (the kind that’s used for lawn signs). But it turns out that the hardware stores don’t stock it and I didn’t want to wait around for a special order. Luckily, there happened to be several sheets of corrugated polycarbonate roofing material left over from another project available at my build site at Green Anchors. After getting the thumbs up to salvage them, I donned my protective gear and set about cutting them into strips.

I really wish I’d realized sooner that I’d need to pre-order corrugated plastic because I would have much rather worked with that than with the polycarbonate. In order to cut the poly I had to suit up in my raincoat, gloves, a face mask, goggles, ear plugs, and a dust mask. As you might imagine, this was an unpleasant task on a hot day!

When Jack showed up, he asked “Are you preparing for the apocalypse?” I laughed and assured him that this is indeed my apocalypse gear. Cutting the polycarbonate was also the death of the blade on my cordless circular saw. But the materials was there and it was free, so I’m pleased I was able to salvage it. (And I’ve treated myself to a new blade as I turn my attention to interior finish work.)

Luckily, installing the rain screen strips is easy. We just tacked them to the walls with 1 5/8” star drive screws every foot or so. Since the purpose of the rain screen is to create a space behind the siding, it doesn’t need to be fussy so it’s a time that you can put perfectionism aside and get some work done. Do be careful though that the rain screen doesn’t sit taller than any horizontal trim pieces because you’ll need to flash over them and the rain screen will get in the way if it’s too tall. (And then you’ll have to cut them back which, I’ve learned, isn’t much fun either!)

Rain Screen with Siding & ShinglesStandard rain screen strips wouldn’t behind my shingles, so in the area above my belly band I installed a different type of rain screen. I lucked out because there were leftover TremDrain 1000 scraps available at the Breathe Building. This material is typically used for below-grade waterproofing, but it has the properties I need: lightweight and dimpled. And, like my polycarbonate material, it was free. Needless to say, I was happy to salvage it! And voila! A rain screen!

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Tiny House Trim & Siding

Lina & Lucky PennyOn Independence Day I celebrated the freedom The Lucky Penny will give me with Tiny House Window Installation. I even had my very own version of red, white, and blue in the form of My Arched Window. The rest of this weekend was dedicated to installing my exterior trim and siding.

On Saturday my friends Karin, Mike, and Eleanor came to help out. The first step was to install the rain screen strips at the corners and under the windows, so Mike tackled that project. (I’ll write up a separate little side post about my Tiny House Rain Screen.)

Meanwhile, Karin spray-painted the Z-flashing to go over my bellyband and bottom band. Eleanor is an art teacher so she’s got a way with detailed work. She finished sealing up around My Arched Window and My Arched Door with AirDam from Prosoco’s R-Guard system. Then she helped me noodle through a solution to close up the gap above my wheel well. The gap would have been small enough to seal up with backer rod except that I added an extra plate under my bottom plates. So I had a 2″ gap to fill instead of a 1/2″ gap. “You know,” I said. “What we need is something like a pool noodle…”

So that’s precisely what we used. Eleanor cut the pool noodle to fit and we wedged it into the gap and sealed up the edges with AirDam from Prosoco. Then we flashed over it with Fast Flash. It’s certainly not how I planned to close up that gap, but I think it will work! Thanks to Eleanor my house is officially dried-in!

Jack Trimming WindowOnce the rainscreen strips were in place under the window, we installed the first window sill. Then Mike and I cut the corner boards to length and installed them. When I was Sidestepping with Siding, I picked up some Deco Corners from Lakeside Lumber and they really are a nice touch! Once the corner boards were installed, we could cut the bottom band and the bellyband (which doubles as the skirt for the sill plates). The bottom band had to be cut at an angle to accommodate the fender and we determined that 30 degrees was just right. The bellyband runs the length of the house so we started out with a 10-foot-long piece on each side. We cut the end at 45 degrees so that the next piece can slip behind it and the two will look like one long piece with a little caulk and paint.

It was great to get the corner boards, sill plates, and bellyband installed all around the house and the bottom band installed on three sides. (We will have to leave the bottom band on the tongue side till later since I still have some figuring to do for My Front Porch. I’m doing a porch at the front of my house because I can’t stand Shrinky Dink Porches and I don’t want my Tiny House to Turn Its Back on the Street!) Mike, Eleanor, and I celebrated our Saturday accomplishments with dinner at Por Que No.

Julie Sorting SidingOn Sunday Julie and Jack took turns helping my build buddy Laura and me. I’ve finally caught up to Laura again now that we’re both working on siding, but I doubt that will last long! (Especially since I’m heading out of town for a couple weeks to teach the Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow!) We installed the window trim around My Kitchen Windows, picking 22.5 degrees for the angle. I thought 30 might be right because that was the angle of the bottom board for the fender, but it was too extreme. So 22.5 degrees it is!

We also installed the Z flashing over the bottom band. This process involved cutting the flashing to length with tin snips, putting a bead of Fast Flash behind it near the top, smoothing out the bead with a spatula, tacking it in place with tiny self-tapping screws, and then tooling the edge again to make a nice seam that will shed water. I’ve always liked playing with substances that are malleable: clay, plaster, frosting, play dough, marzipan, etc. (Perhaps it’s no wonder that when I took an aptitude test as a kid it recommended that I consider becoming a cake decorator!) Needless to say, I’m especially enjoying working with the Fast Flash and Air Dam!)

Siding to Go Around WheelwellsJulie and Jack also helped me get started with staining my cedar T & G siding. And that evening fellow tiny house builder Wade came by, full of fresh energy. He helped me install the first of the siding, working our way to the wheelwells. When we ran out of light we sat at the river to drink a beer and compare notes. How fun it is to talk to three other people currently building their own tiny houses! Living in Portland, OR – the epicenter of the tiny house universe – certainly has its perks!

On Monday morning I did a bit more supply sourcing and shopping (including cedar fancy-cut arrow shingles for my end walls from the helpful folks at Shur-Way Building Center). That afternoon Julie helped me paint and install Z-flashing for my bellyband and over my windows. Meanwhile, Laura hit a stopping point with her siding so she came on over to install a different version of my Rain Screen system around my door in preparation for the fancy-cut cedar shingles.

As evening wore on, Laura and Julie helped me stain the cedar shingles and I got the first shingles up. I’m delighted. My house is so darn cute I can hardly stand it!

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Tiny House Window Installation

Eric taking diagonals on arched window

Eric taking diagonals on arched window

On Monday we finished Sheathing My Vardo Roof with a great crew of Tiny House Helpers. Yesterday we turned to window installation and I had the two perfect helpers: my build buddy Laura Klement who has installed dozens of windows through her role with Habitat for Humanity and Eric who is a cabinet maker with an eye for detail and great problem-solving skills.

I had picked up the supplies I’d need from Atlas Supply the day before: backer rod, AirDam from Prosoco’s R-Guard System, and a spatula for tooling. Cody Hakala at Atlas is very knowledgeable and familiar with the R-Guard system as well as other liquid-applied air barrier systems.

applying AirDam around window

applying AirDam around window

The next step was removing the shims and inserting backer rod into the space between the window and the frame. We put the join at the top because it’s the weakest point in the system and water will collect at the bottom instead of the top. We used the fat side of a shim to push the backer rod ½” back from the interior wall surface.

Next we applied a continuous bead of AirDam around the window and tooled it to create an hourglass shape. Voila! A window installed.

(By the way, each of the R-Guard products has a distinct viscosity appropriate to it’s intended use. The Fast Flash reminds me of frosting. The AirDam is just like marshmallow cream!)

Laura and Eric installing the arched window jamb

Laura and Eric installing the arched window jamb

Once we’d done one of My Kitchen Windows the other one went in quickly. Then we turned our attention to My Arched Window. This one took a little more finessing. Luckily, My Arched Window Jamb was built by Dan, a talented finish carpenter. (More about that in a forthcoming blog post!) We started out by inserting the arched jamb in the opening and securing it in place with five screws: one in each of the legs, one at the top, and one on each side where the window starts to curve. Then we hoisted the window sashes into place and screwed them onto their hinges.

Next we fine-tuned the window by tightening and loosening screws just a smidgeon until the window was trued in its jamb. The process reminded me of tuning an instrument and it reminded Laura of truing a bike wheel. Once the window was swinging nicely and the reveals were satisfactory, we installed backer rod around it. The gap was larger here (better too big than too small though!) By now Julie had arrived and Laura switched back to working on her siding. While Eric was installing My Beautiful Arched Door, Julie helped me braid three strands of backer rod together and insert it into the gap. I ran a bead of Air Dam along each edge and let it skin over since this is a larger gap to fill and I decided it would be best to do it in two phases.

my red, white, and blue

my red, white, and blue

I glanced up at the window at one point and realized that I had my own red, white, and blue. My window is painted burgundy but the jamb hasn’t been painted on the interior yet, so it’s still white. And, of course, the painters tape is blue. This little house will give me freedom and independence, so it seemed fitting to celebrate the installation of My Arched Window, since my tiny house started with this window!

Installing the windows is always one of my favorite parts of a build, but getting the windows in was especially exciting for me because the roof had taken so long to get dried in. (See Plan F: Take 2 for more on that!) I hadn’t installed the windows because it was nice to have the openings while working on the roof. So putting the windows in felt like a reward. Besides, they’re just plain beautiful!

After Eric headed out Julie and I helped Laura with her siding for a couple hours and then headed to a great Fourth of July cook out. I couldn’t be happier with my own version of red, white, and blue!

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Sheathing My Vardo Roof

Jesse in the skylight box

Jesse in the skylight box

Yesterday the carpenters came out of the woodwork! (This is a good thing, by the way. Wouldn’t be so good if it were carpenter ants, but carpenters coming out of the woodwork is magically good!)

I had just pulled out all the tools we’d need to sheath my roof and I was untarpping the house (for the last time!) and waiting for Kenny to show up when Tony and Aline arrived. They’ve stopped by a few times now to check on my progress and they’ve helped with My Vardo Rafter Raising and Making Ends Meet, too. I hadn’t heard anything from them about helping yesterday. So I hollered out “Hey, did you guys come by for a status update?”

“Nope, we’re here to help!” Tony said.

“And we brought snacks!” said Aline.

Now THAT, my friends, was music to my ears. I was thrilled!

(And what’s better? These people. These people are going to be my neighbors! More on that to come…)

Aline cutting insulation

Aline cutting insulation

So we got to work. We pulled out the sheets of ½” plywood and checked them to determine right side up (the side with fewer holes to fill!) We’d already put the first sheet up during the Tiny House Mixer, which you can read about in Sidestepping with Siding. So we measured for the second sheet and cut it with a circular saw. We were just about to put it up when Kenny arrived. Together we hefted the plywood onto the roof and marked our rafter lines with a chalk line. Then we fastened the sheathing to the rafters with 4” GRK fasteners (one of my new favorite tools!) When my co-workers Evan and Jesse showed up, we really hit our stride. Kenny has worked in commercial roofing, Jesse is a carpenter, Evan does rigging on the side, and Tony and Aline built a tiny house. This was the perfect crew to have helping me sheathe my vardo roof!

Tony & Kenny applying Cat 5 to roof

Tony & Kenny applying Cat 5 to roof

We took a break for fish tacos and horcata at Super Burrito Express, one of my favorite St. John’s lunch spots. And then we went back to work, finishing the insulation at the ends of the skylight box and getting the last of the sheathing up. In the evening Kenny and Tony put the first coat of Cat 5 from the Prosoco R-Guard system on the roof. I’ll do another layer first thing Friday morning.

After a quiet weekend Sidestepping with Siding, it was such a productive day! Tony and Aline even managed to do the touch ups with Fast Flash in my window openings and get My Kitchen Windows cleaned up. Now that my windows and ROs are prepped and my roof is weatherized, I’m ready for Tiny House Window Installation on Friday!

I haven’t been sleeping well because I’ve been anxious about not being dried in. But last night, I slept like a rock all night long.

Hip, hip, hooray! Three cheers for my amazing Tiny House Helpers! I have a roof!

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