Tiny house build

Tiny: It Isn't For Everyone Or Even Necessarily Forever

I feel like I've done a rather thorough job of being very forthcoming about why we built our tiny house, what we intend to use it for, why we aren't currently living in it full-time, and when we do plan to be living tiny in it yet again. I also know I've mentioned many times that our tiny house on wheels has never been planned as our last home forever and ever til death do us part. 😜 One of the reasons I had no trouble convincing Brand to join me on the crazy adventure of building our own house with our own hands (beyond the fact that he'd always wanted to do just that) was the fact I promised him it didn't have to be forever. He knew I have always wanted to roadtrip across the country, so it wasn't a difficult sell to combine both dreams into one little tiny house on wheels.

 

Even though we did build our house and are looking forward to being back in it full-time sooner rather than later, we have always said we want a permanent house on some acreage in Washington state. That dream has never changed, and we still have every intention of moving there by the summer of 2018 before the kiddo starts first grade. We knew as soon as our son was born that we no longer wanted to own a massive 3200sqft house, especially since we were really only using about half the space. When we moved into my dad's place we condensed further into just 2 large bedrooms with shared kitchen and living room use. Only once did our tiny house ever feel too small during our 6 months in Colorado, and it was because we had just arrived, were still setting up, and simply got overwhelmed at all we had done and still needed to do to settle into our new tiny life in a new state with a new job. Just lots of new stuff in a very short time to be sure! That feeling passed quickly, and then everything people have said about how freeing having less stuff and less space to care for kicked into high gear for us, making the whole experience in the house itself pretty darn close to magical. Well, except for the frequently overflowing pee jug, but that's a story from another blog post all together. 😫

 

Anyway, my rambling point is that I know some folks out there likely think we're just another "casualty" of the tiny house "fad" because we aren't living in the house at this exact moment. While WE know that isn't the case at all and have plans progressing nicely that will put us back into our house much sooner than we had actually hoped for, we do know there are still Negative Nellys out there that likely shake their heads at us and anyone else who might have moved into and out of their tiny house in a hurry no matter what the reasoning may be. We can even admit to being surprised by they number of folks, particularly the ones on TV, that have moved on from their tiny houses, too, but we know first hand that sometimes life just doesn't go as planned and adjustments have to be made on the fly. We experienced some of that with the Colorado sticker shock we felt after thinking we could afford to live tiny AND pay off all our debt there, but the cost of living compared to Texas and the distance I had to travel to work (55mi each way) simply to have a legal place to park our tiny house made that as impractical as living in a mostly empty 3200sqft house with a $2000/mo mortgage. It didn't make financial sense to stay there just to stay in the tiny house, so we made the decision to come back to Texas to get the rest of our finances in order instead. The last thing we want to have happen is us getting out to where we really plan to settle down and struggle financially to stay put. We haven't always made the best financial decisions in our lifetime together or even before that, but we'll be damned if we set a poor example for our son by not shaping up and doing right by him. After all, we chose our target area of Washington specifically to put us near an amazing Waldorf farm school for him, and we want to provide for him something neither of us had growing up: a single house to call home all the way through high school.

 

Any way, the ever-amazing Macy Miller wrote her own blog post about the question on many people's minds when they hear of folks moving into and on from their tiny house life in a seeming hurry. As always her post is poignant and introspective, and it touches on the many sides to the stories of why some folks don't live tiny for long. She is in many ways an exception to what seems to be the "rule" about length of time living in a tiny house, but she's got a great answer to that suggestion as well. Enjoy!

 

http://minimotives.com/2016/09/12/whats-hard-living-tiny-whyd-move/

Our Funky, Colorful Roof

The folks who make our primary roofing material (and the ONLY thing on our tiny house that we never changed during our entire design process) have done a nice little write up on their site about our house and their products. We couldn't be happier with our DaVinci Roofscapes Bellaforte Shake roof! To our knowledge we were the very first tiny house to ever use DaVinci - ours was ordered long before the first Tiny House Nation season was even filmed (we know, because THN contacted us to film that first year) - but I'm glad others have found out first hand how amazing this product really is. It's definitely my favorite part of our exterior and constantly a topic of conversation wherever we go!

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For those wondering, we chose to have each of the four colors we used - light violet, light green, light purple, and dark grey - run in individual batches instead of using the Variblend technique so that each of our 4 colors would really stand out from one another. We felt that was both more true to our design ideas and allowed the colors to really stand out since a tiny house roof by design is significantly smaller than a traditional house. If you want to make your colors pop, that's really the best option just FYI.

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The folks we spoke with back in 2014 were super nice and helpful with our unique requests, and they made ordering simple. We did have to make some on-site alterations to the tiles (specifically the rake tiles) to get them to fit our roofline, and we chose to create a metal ridge piece (the top cap that's solid dark blue on our house) because we couldn't figure out a better way to make the DaVinci ridge pieces look right with our roof. Regardless, they were easy to install with just Brand doing the work by himself, and they turned out great!!

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So, here's the little article they recently wrote, and feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding our specific installation. We're happy to share what we know! 💙🏡💜

 

http://blog.davinciroofscapes.com/blog/davinci-roofscapes-2/davinci-roofscapes-goes-on-the-road

Happy 2nd Building Anniversary, TinyHouse43!

I just lost over 2hrs of writing and a really cool slideshow I was putting together of highlights from the tiny house being built since May 14th makes two years to the date since we picked up our Barn Raiser and started our tangible tiny house journey. Curse your lack of functional auto save, Squarespace! 😫 I do not have the mental bandwidth to even come close to rewriting it all (#emopost), but here are the highlights:

 

• Chose a Barn Raiser because we don't have a cadre of local friends/family to help with framing and wanted the peace of mind that came with professional tiny house builders doing the heavy lifting - a perfect solution for two busy parents 🛠

 

• Picked it up 5/14/14 in CO, brought it to TX to build, moved in 10/9/15 in CO, and are presently back in TX doing the finishing work and changing some things as well; end game for Washington state has never changed despite setbacks 💸

 

• Started blogging as a way to journal our experiences and deal with the death of my mother a few months prior; don't make a living with our tiny house (have earned a gallon of Penofin and $0.27 from it - #caniretirenow), so we share our story because we enjoy doing so and hope others learn from us; almost always a positive experience, and for that we are most thankful to our readers 📝

 

• Still feel a bit like outsiders in the #tinyhousetribe because we aren't super self-promoters and can't be as visible in the community as we would really like to be, but so grateful to have met/talked to such a wide variety of people from all over the world all bound by our crazy love of all things tiny house 💜

 

• Thankful for everyone who has followed along our journey no matter when you caught up to us; drop us a line if you're ever in the Dallas area for a possible tour 📸

 

• Celebrating our tiny house's 2nd anniversary since building began with some website housekeeping, including new photos and a vow to finally integrate our Wordpress blog fully for easier use 🍾

 

Truly, THANK YOU for all your support, kind words, suggestions, comments, and general awesomeness!!! We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our tiny life, and we hope you'll share your own progress as well!!

 

All the best,

 

Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

💙🏡💜

TH43 v1.0 Video Tour

Greetings! I have posted a pair of heavily detailed video tours of our tiny house to our own YouTube channel called TINY HOUSE FOR THREEI've also embedded them at the bottom of this post for sake of ease.

I want to again remind folks that our house is not 100% completed, and therefore you're going to see plenty of projects left to complete. I also intentionally didn't do a thorough clean on the house before filming, because let's face it - how often have you seen a house with kids and pets be immaculate other than on magazine covers and heavily staged TV shows?! Yup, that's what I thought! The only thing that would have made this video more accurate to our real, day-to-day tiny house living would be to have had R.A.D playing with his cars in his room and Brand sitting in the nook studying or playing video games with more dirty dishes on the counter and me sprawled out on the couch reading a magazine. You may wrinkle your nose at some of our unfinished work or the dishes in the sink because it's not aesthetically pleasing, and we've already had some folks give unsolicited snipes about our design choices and layout ("Only thing better would be tiny house with a better design than a hallway... 😬"). Regardless of your own preferences for what you think a tiny house should look like, including your own if you go that route, you need to keep one highly important fact in mind:

 THIS IS OUR TINY HOME, NOT YOURS! 💖

We built OUR house to OUR standards for OUR needs and to OUR budget and timeframe, and we aren't done yet!! We chose to go on and share both photos and a video tour of our work-in-progress house now because 1) it's going to be a while before we really have it ALL done to our satisfaction and 2) because we want to encourage others, especially those who have little to no help for their build who are trudging along fretting about whether or not they'll ever finish it, that IT'S OKAY FOR YOUR HOUSE TO NOT BE PERFECT by the time you are ready to move in! Sure, it's a royal pain in the keester to live in a construction zone, especially a TINY construction zone, but it CAN. BE. DONE.

Your house doesn't have to be HGTV ready to be loved, to be lived in, and to be proud of. The haters and trolls will be there no matter how pristine your floors are, how white your walls are, or how sparkling your expensive hammered copper sink that you simply couldn't resist is, so just keep on keeping on! 😉 Be proud of what you've accomplished so far, what you'll continue to complete in the future, and of the very fact you had the cajones to start in the first place!! I've found some of the most vocal critics of our tiny house and of many others don't even live in a tiny house and have no plans to do so. What suddenly makes them the experts on tiny house building, design, and living?! Oh that's right.... not a damn thing! ☺️ So just remember....

YOU ROCK, AND SO DO WE!! 

Now that I've dismounted the soap box and without any further ado, may I proudly present our unfinished, unkempt TinyHouse43 v1.0 in all its video tour glory! 

💙🏡💜 

P. S. I should also point out this isn't a, " and here's the kitchen, and over there is the bathroom," type tour. I actually share useful information about our house that anyone building or living in a tiny house might find useful. That's why combined the tour is 30 minutes long! 😜

Tiny House (43) Swoon

Even though our house is still a work in progress and we are having to take a break from full-time living for a while (see why Reality Bites), I finally decided it really is TinyHouseSwoon-worthy and sent them some photos. They agreed, and we are the new post for today! Sure, there are vast swaths of unpainted plywood visible and some areas completely missing doors or other coverings, but you know what?? It's still beautiful!

 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Our tiny house journey is still a work in progress as well - bumps, detours, and construction delays included - but that doesn't make our efforts thus far any less amazing. It's sooo easy for me to be exceptionally hard on myself when things don't work out the way I envisioned they would, especially when so much planning and hard work has gone into it all. I admit it's sometimes difficult to see all the gorgeous tiny houses on TinyHouseSwoon.com and all around the web and not feel just a bit inadequate as our house is nowhere near the finished quality of those displayed, and I know there's some psychological mumbojumbo that can explain those feelings. Still, we are very proud of what we were able to accomplish with virtually no outside help for the physical labor while building paycheck to paycheck with a full-time work or school schedule and a rambunctious toddler to chase around the whole time. It's not perfect or finished, but what in life ever truly is?!

So, without further ado, I invite you to check out our house on Tiny House Swoon. The photos of our house will be familiar, but once you're done looking at our post, be sure to swoon over some of the other beauties - some of which are also works in progress! - shared by their loving owners, proud builders, and other admirers. 

 💙🏡💜

Mold

We all know it. We all hate it. And if you live in a tiny house, you likely have all seen it lurking somewhere in your home.

 

Mold is a four-letter word that can mean anything from a minor annoyance or a legit illness-maker for those who are sensitive. Thankfully, there are multiple methods of reducing the added moisture in your tiny living space that can help reduce the likelihood mold even forms, and there are some good mold killer products out there that we've recently used with success that we'll discuss below.

 

First, however, please take a minute to read Andrew Morrison's post on mechanical moisture eliminators plus some additional moisture-reducing building tips below. Andrew and his wife, Gabriella, are the originators of the hOMe tiny house that is now being produced by EcoCabins, the primary sponsor of the Tiny House Jamboree. Andrew definitely knows a thing or two about making quality tiny houses and how to deal with excess moisture build up in cold climates in particular, and the suggestions he makes in his post are particularly good if you want to actively remove moisture from your house. The biggest difference between Andrew's post and ours is that he focuses primarily on prevention methods, where as we have actually experienced some pretty nasty mold and cover things to use to get rid of it when it does happen in addition to our dehumidification tools. I've been meaning to update everyone on our issues anyway, and the Morrisons' great post reminded me! ☺️

 

Here's his great post:

HOW TO SAVE YOUR TINY HOUSE FROM MOLD AND MOISTURE ISSUES 

 

For those of you who want to know about some additional methods of moisture reduction, here's a list of what we are currently using based on type (passive, hybrid, or active) and one extra thing we plan to try. You'll see the two electric appliances we picked up listed here, too, because we felt we needed a more immediate and noticeable reduction in humidity than our passive methods provided. We hope once we get the humidity % down we can stop the active dehumidification and rely on fresh air on good weather days and the passive options to reduce our electric pull.

 

PASSIVE DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • We started using DampRid disposable products to suck up extra moisture without any power needs (popular on boats and RVs and found at Walmart or similar stores), which use calcium chloride in bags you hang or jars you set in open areas. They are inexpensive and require nothing other than airflow (which, incidentally, you should provide regularly to mold-prone areas anyway), and we have hung them in our three trouble spots: the loft, the front nook, and the kitchen. So far the bags are about  1/3rd full with the nook one being a bit closer to half full than the others. We are also going to pick up a jar version to tuck into the furthest corner under our son's room as I discovered mold had formed where a basket of extra linens had become wedged behind the clothes cube and the back corner. I've already killed the mold with a spray we've found to work well (more on that shortly), and in addition to the DampRid we'll be making sure we regularly move the cubes under his bed to promote airflow.
Our DampRid hanging bags are scented, which might bother some folks. These are made to hang in a closet, though, so if you want nice smelling, dry clothes in your tiny house closet, these might be a great fit! They come in 3-packs. 

Our DampRid hanging bags are scented, which might bother some folks. These are made to hang in a closet, though, so if you want nice smelling, dry clothes in your tiny house closet, these might be a great fit! They come in 3-packs. 

  • The this next passive method may or may not work, but it does have some other benefits to it. While I'm not expecting much immediate relief of our current humidity levels, I won't deny I think this would make a great, natural addition to our long-term moisture control methods: air plants. Granted I've read some conflicting info on just how much additional watering air plants need beyond what they suck out of their environment, but since they're low maintenance and don't need to take up counter space, I'm thinking I'll create a little installation of them in a couple different areas of the house. Besides, who doesn't love a little live greenery in their tiny house?! ☺️

HYBRID DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • The first dehumidifier product I picked up is the EvaDry silica gel hybrid dehumidifier that can be placed anywhere you want, but when they're full (the gel changes from blue to pink when capacity is reached) you take them outside and plug them in to release the moisture into a well ventilated area. I bought two of these on Amazon for $20 each, and they can be laid flat or hung with the included hook. The ones we have say they can absorb up to 6oz of liquid, and so far ours are still deep blue. One is hanging by the front nook window, which has continued to be a bit of a problem child, and the other is wedged at the head of our bed near the tongue-end window. I'll update this post once they are finally full so we have an idea of how long it takes to fill them up.
Since the big blue window in our front nook has been a particular problem, it has both a DampRid and this EvaDry model hanging nearby to catch as much moisture as possible. 

Since the big blue window in our front nook has been a particular problem, it has both a DampRid and this EvaDry model hanging nearby to catch as much moisture as possible. 

  •  I want to mention here that our Kimberly gasifier wood stove by Unforgettable Fire LLC is another hybrid method of dehumidification. No, it doesn't require electricity, but you do have to burn fuel (wood) in order to heat up and dry out the air. As much as we adore our Kimberly, it has simply been too warm to use her daily and reap the reduction in humidity benefit that comes with use. 

 

ACTIVE DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • We also broke down and bought a small EvaDry mini electric dehumidifier that, unfortunately, has to run all. the. time. and is definitely louder than I'd like. That said, it has sucked several cups of water out of the air already (I've emptied it once just before the "full" light would have been triggered), and we keep it on the edge of the loft directly above the kitchen to catch any extra moisture that doesn't escape out the window when we cook. This is also from Amazon and cost $54
The white storage cube is roughly 15x15", so you can see the EvaDry is pretty small. I emptied the container 2 days ago, and it's already about 1/4 full again. Sucker works! Literally! 😉 

The white storage cube is roughly 15x15", so you can see the EvaDry is pretty small. I emptied the container 2 days ago, and it's already about 1/4 full again. Sucker works! Literally! 😉 

  • We didn't install a kitchen vent like the Morrison's have mostly because we have a much smaller kitchen with a double hung window smack dab in the center of the wall above the countertop. We have been opening the top window sash in the kitchen and a bottom sash on the other side of the house to create a cross breeze that forces the steam out while cooking, but it wasn't always working as well as we'd like. Instead of boring out a giant hole above the window for a permanent vent, we opted to pick up a small, portable O2Cool 8" square fan that can be run on either batteries or AC power, and we instead pull the top window sash down enough to wedge the fan in (facing out, not in of course) and cover the remaining open space with a piece of cardboard while opening an opposite-side window just a little bit. It's not pretty, but it's portable, storable, functional, and cost effective. Can't beat that!
It's not pretty, but it works!! 

It's not pretty, but it works!! 

  •  We also have a Vetus Marine 12V vent fan to install in the wet shower side that was a recommendation of Art Cormier, a Tumbleweed workshop presenter and dweller of the Tiny SIP House. That's something we bought early on in the build but just never got installed, and thankfully not having hasn't been an issue since we've almost exclusively been showering at the bathhouse, gym, or Rec Center depending on what we've got going on at the time. Once we start using our full-time, however, we will definitely need to use that vent. It's low voltage - as is all the wiring in both our wet and dry bath sides - to prevent shock, and as the name suggests, they were designed for the boating industry. Art has a great demo video with all the part numbers on his YouTube channel that's worth checking out.

 

DEALING WITH EXISTING MOLD

This stuff rocks, and it's non-toxic to boot! 

This stuff rocks, and it's non-toxic to boot! 

Now, if you DO develop mold despite your best efforts, there's a spray we can recommend after using it on 7 different wood windows where we've had problems. Bear in mind that we actually performed a series of steps to actually remove the existing mold in addition to mitigating its return (more on that below), but so far we've been quite pleased with the Concrobium Mold Control spray we spent $9 on at either Lowe's or Home Depot - can't recall which. This stuff is recommended by Mike Holmes, the HGTV star of Holmes Inspection and a few other building-related titles, though that's not why we bought it. This one gets sprayed directly onto the mold, and as it dries it actually kills it. It's non-toxic and had no noticeable smell I could detect,  which is helpful in such a small space. So far, none of the windows we treated with this stuff have had regrowth, though let me provide you the actual steps I used to removed the mold:

  • Scrubbed the mold with undiluted bleach and an old toothbrush. Let soak for 30min with all 5 loft windows open. 
  • Took a heat gun to the remaining wet areas very carefully to make sure the wood was truly dry.
  • Sprayed Concrobium liberally over all the exposed wood that had had mold on it plus a few spots I thought might be prone to it later. Let soak until dry, which was around 5hrs in this case.
  • Dried remaining moisture with heat gun again. 
  • Applied Rustoleum oil-based stain to one window, but the other 4 haven't been stained yet and are STILL mold-free despite repeated exposure to wetness/ice/inside moisture buildup. 

The smell is pretty harsh, so be sure you ventilate the area well! 

The smell is pretty harsh, so be sure you ventilate the area well! 

I didn't have as much luck with the Concrobium on the big nook window I painted with milk paint, but I also just realized I never tried the straight bleach technique. Whoops! Needless to say, not remembering that fact, I decided to try to other mold spray, Mold Armor, to see if it would kill the stuff. It's actually marketed more to remove mold stains than kill the mold itself, and I found out the hard way you MUST ventilate the area you're using it in. I dumbly thought it was like the virtually odor-free Concrobium and sprayed it liberally on the window, but even though I didn't actually notice the smell initially, Brand walked in from outside and had his eyes start watering immediately. Whoops!! Open went the windows post haste, and I haven't used it again. Now, that said, it worked!! We haven't had any new mold growth on the big blue milk paint window since then, and I did nothing else to it at all. No scrubbing, drying, or bleach. Sadly, I think I'm going to have to remove all the milk paint and start from scratch to make it look pretty again, but that's a small price to pay to not have mold again. 

You can still see the "shadows" of mold on the milk paint window, especially in the corners like this one. Unfortunately, you can also tell the anti-mold treatments have damaged the paint job. Looks like I'll be stripping it off and starting over... Oi! 

You can still see the "shadows" of mold on the milk paint window, especially in the corners like this one. Unfortunately, you can also tell the anti-mold treatments have damaged the paint job. Looks like I'll be stripping it off and starting over... Oi! 

 

Speaking of of keeping the windows from molding up, here's an observation I made during the removal process:

Mold only appeared on the windows either with no stain of any kind OR with water-based stains like the milk paint big window or the metallic acrylic paint used on the two bathroom awning windows.  None of the ones where I used an oil-based Rustoleum stain or white paint developed mold, which included all 5 of the double hung windows on the main level excluded the largest one. 

Now I'm staining the remaining 4 loft windows with oil-based black paint, and I'll seal the acrylic painted ones with polyurethane. I will add, though, that the milk paint window DID get a coat of poly on it, yet the mold kept on chowing down on it. After I strip it off I'm going to seal the wood with poly first before reapplying the milk paint and sealing a final time with poly. Hopefully that'll deal the final blow to any molds trying to eat that pretty blue-green paint!

 

I'll be researching a few of the products the Morrisons mention in their post, because we sure don't want to keep dealing with this fuzzy, nasty stuff! We do have a gauge that tells us what our indoor humidity is, but I'm starting to wonder if it's accurate. Some days it says 37%, and others it says 50%, even if there haven't been big indoor or outdoor temperature changes. Hmm. My understanding is that at anything above about 40% humidity, mold will have the chance to grow. We'll just have to keep chipping away at the overall moisture volume with all three types of dehumidification as best we can until the weather warms up enough to keep the windows open all the time. 

 

💙🏡💜 

Our THOW Interior: January 2016

We are most definitely NOT done with the inside of our tiny house - loads of finish work left to do, including painting a zillion different things - but since we had to do a deep clean for a visitor today who needed to take photos, I took advantage of the time to snap some photos. Granted I didn't drag the DSLR out from under the storage sofa for higher quality shots, but as I keep saying, you'll get the gist. Captions will come later, but I think these are pretty self-explanatory. Without further ado, I give you our still-in-progress TinyHouse43 interior! 💙🏡💜

 

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