Day 1: Tiny House Foundation

Today was the first day of our week-long tiny house build and we’re relaxing after a productive day. We’ve just finished a splendid supper and we’re making our shopping and to do lists for tomorrow.

We started out just before noon with a feasibility test of sorts as we described our plans to Jane’s friends who are helping with the tiny house build. They have more construction experience than Jane and me, so we were anxious to make sure that our design is build-able. We knew there would be some figuring out and some troubleshooting, but it was a little nerve-wracking trying to explain the construction details we’d basically invented. Since we wanted to maximize the space of the trailer we had a custom trailer built so we weren’t able to rely on many of the design details that many other tiny housers have already developed. Fortunately, a few moments playing with 2x4s and 2x6s enabled us come up with a plan to move forward.

Our goal for the day was to get the foundation finished and we’re very pleased we succeeded. We started out by building the floor box for the central portion of the trailer. We screwed eleven 75″ 2x6s to the two 20 ft 2×6 rim joists. (We was pretty exciting about using the impact driver – what a fun new toy!) Then we flipped the whole assembly over and tacked 6 mm plastic and rolled aluminum flashing to the frame.┬áThe moment of truth came when we flipped the frame over again and settled it into place inside the trailer. With a few whacks of the sledgehammer it fit snugly into place. Once it was settled, we bolted the central floor box and the 2x6s on the other side to the trailer frame with 6″ long 1/2″ bolts. We’d special requested 5/8″ holes drilled horizontally through the sides of the custom trailer frame at the corners and on either side of the wheel wells. The extra $5 per hole seems to be worth the time saved drilling through the steel ourselves.

We cut 1″ extruded polystyrene insulation to fit in the bays. (Unfortunately, Home Depot made a couple of errors in the order and delivered some of the wrong materials, so we actually ended up with mostly 3/4″ foam. We decided to go with it anyhow since we were eager to get the insulation in.) Once we had the rigid foam insulation in place, we spray foamed all the edges. We decided to wait on adding any additional insulation till tomorrow morning. The weather report is for clear skies so keep your fingers crossed for us!

As evening approached we worked out a revised stud layout that is a compromise between the plentiful windows Jane wants and her builder friends’ insistence that we have more wall surface for increased shear strength. We marked the stud layout onto the sill plates on the exterior walls so that we can tackle it in the morning.

Tomorrow will be an exciting day as we’ll be laying the subfloor and framing up the first of the walls. Stay tuned!

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7 Responses to Day 1: Tiny House Foundation

  1. I am tuned and ready to go. I am curious to know your overall schedule. Are you drying in in a week or doing the whole tiny house in a week? Who will be living in it. I see a lot of names but I am unsure of the “cast of characters,” if you will. HAHAHAH. Whatever the case, glad I found you (after you found me, of course) and look forward to watching the project!

  2. Justin says:

    I first want to say that I love the posts and that the progress looks great. I’m just starting the process of planning a tiny trailer home of my own. I’m very interested in some specs on the trailer you have. What is the height to the top of the frame from the ground? And what is the ground clearance from the bottom of frame to the ground? And did you use drop axles or regular axles? I’m 6’3 and wanting to start my first floor as low as possible without causing issue with ground clearance for my plumbing.

    • Little Life says:

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for asking about the trailer. It was custom built for the tiny house. The ground it’s on right now is pretty uneven, so the clearance from the ground to the bottom of the trailer ranges from 13-16 inches. Similarly, the top of the trailer ranges from 23-26 inches. The axels are regular – we considered dropped axles but decided against it. I can certainly understand wanting to get the floor as low as possible. That’s part of the reason we went with a custom trailer – we were able to build the floors into the frame of the trailer which allows a few more inches of height and secures the house to the trailer better.

      Tell me about your plans. Also, are you here in Portland or somewhere else? There’s a whole tiny house network in Portland and I’d love to connect you if you’re here.


      • Little Life says:

        Justin’s Response:

        Hi Lina,

        Thanks for all of the great info. I have been doing a lot of research on trailers and any real world information I can get is great. I’m planning on using a custom trailer mainly because starting the flooring inside the frame keeps it a lot lower and it seems like that will be hard to do with one of the standard trailers.

        The plan is for a 20-22′ home with two lofts. Although I do like the look of the steeper pitched roofs I will probably go with a lot less pitch or possible a single pitch from one side to the other. Gives me some more head room and should be simpler to build. But all of this is still up in the air. I’m going to take my time and gather materials as cheap as possible. I hope to have it done by the time my girl friend gets out of college in 2 years.

        I’m living in Alabama now. So I don’t think there is much of a tiny home movement around here. Thanks again for the great info about the trailer.


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