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!

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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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