I’ve landed my summer dream job thanks to Eli Spevak of Orange Splot, LLC. I’m apprenticing with his construction crew to build tiny houses this summer. The first house we’re working on was started last summer by a woman who was building it for herself with the help of some friends. Changes in her life pointed her in a different direction, so the tiny house sat all winter, waiting to be finished. I found this tiny house on Craigslist and decided it wasn’t for me, so I showed it to Eli and he hauled the wee house from Sauvie Island to his place in Cully. It’s now parked in his driveway, where we built the shell of my friend Jane’s Tiny Barn during an intensive week-long build. The interior design is evolving a bit, but we’re certain the tiny house will have a bathroom, a kitchenette, a hang out space, a sleeping loft, and a storage loft.
The thing I find especially cool about working on this tiny house is that when I joined the crew it was at exactly the stage Jane’s Tiny Barn was when my spring break ended and I shifted back into school mode. The house was secured to its 20 foot long trailer foundation, the walls and roof were framed up, sheathed, and tyveked, and the windows were in. So I got to pick up right where I left off with the last tiny house.
This week we’ve been working on exterior finish for the tiny house. We’ve put up our corner trim, a belly band and a head band. We’re using concrete board which is fine since this tiny house probably won’t be moving very often. But it’s been a steep learning curve for me since I’d never worked with it before. In general Hardi Board is not the best material for tiny house siding since it’s heavy, fragile, and not very forgiving. I’ve been working alone some days, so I’ve been using strategies like propping up one side of the board while I screw the other end to the house.
Most days I’ve been working directly with Cully Grove‘s project assistant who went through the Oregon Tradeswoman program and has taught carpentry. I feel very lucky to be working with her because she’s a great teacher in addition to being a really cool person. When she set me up to hang the door she asked “You got this, right? Feeling confident?” I laughed and told her I’d let her know if I needed a hand. I was glad she was confident in my abilities. It made me more confident, too. Doors are tricky and I had to modify the door to fit a mis-matched frame, but I got it to work. (And I learned how to use chisels in the process!) The exterior finish has gone slower than I thought it would, but I’m starting to get the hang of it and I think the pace will pick up next week. It feels so good to be working outside and I am immensely grateful to be spending my summer this way!