Once again I am not a professional. By sharing my experience here, I am not suggesting that you follow my methods or assume they’ll be fail safe. Please do your own research and follow whatever procedure works best for your situation.
On August 7th of 2016, my dad and I began what we started referring to as "The Big Push". One week of un-interrupted work on my house. After waiting so long, I couldn't believe Day 1 of the build had actually arrived. I was nervous, and excited and everything in between.
August in Upstate, NY can get pretty blazing’ hot. Before we did anything else, we framed out a workspace in the yard next to the trailer. We built a simple frame out of pressure treated lumber and covered it with a basic plywood floor. Then we set up a large canopy over the whole thing. We finished it off with some tarp walls in order to guarantee ourselves some shade. With this space ready to go, we could set up a makeshift workbench for the chop saw and some other tools where they would be protected from the elements and close at hand to the build area. Every time we needed
something from the wood-shop, we had to walk up a hill, across the yard and up a flight of stairs. Having a place to keep everything nearby was pretty awesome. I remember thinking that just setting up the workspace seemed like it took forever and I hadn’t even touched the trailer yet. I immediately starting doubting myself, and not for the first, or the last time. I was about to figure out just how quickly self-doubt sets in when you jump into the deep end of a project that you’re completely unfamiliar with. Luckily I only had one choice, and that was to begin.
The obvious place to start was with the floor. As I said in my last post, the welder that customized my trailer had already removed the floor boards and flashed the bed of the trailer prior to delivery. When it arrived in my yard, the first thing I did was paint over the welded seems in the galvanized steel flashing
with a waterproof exterior paint to protect them. This was the first time a friend came to help me. Deborah Huggins, a horseback riding friend of mine from childhood, just happened to be in town and couldn’t wait to lend a hand. We sat in the grass and painted around bare steel while we caught up on each-others lives. Having people show up for you does a world of good for an anxious mind.
On the evening of August 17th, my dad and I made our first tiny house shopping trip to Home Depot for lumber. We had done some rough estimating and figured out what we’d most likely need to frame in a subfloor and start the walls. We spent over and hour flipping through the huge stack of 2x4’s in the lumber aisle searching for straight pieces. At the time I didn’t know what I was looking for or why it really mattered. Trust me, once you start trying to build straight walls that are plumb and level, you’ll want everything to be as perfect as possible. Human error was a big enough problem for me, I didn’t need crappy materials making it worse. Now I can see the curve in a board before I even pick it up. Anyways, after searching through about 450 warped 2x4’s, we had selected 56 that fit the bill, along with several other pieces we planned to need. After cashing out, I stood in the parking lot, waiting
for my dad to pull the truck around, and took this photo. It was more satisfying than I would have imagined to see that first orange cart loaded down with the wood that would frame my home. I had already begun to photograph EVERYTHING. My dad relentlessly made fun of me, but it’s so cool to look back now and remember exactly what I was feeling at each moment. It’s even better that I can use those memories to finally share this story with you! We piled all of that lumber into the back of the truck, and headed home in the dark. Dinner was cold on the table when we got there. I guess we had lost track of time.
Early the next morning, with the trailer prepped and ready, my dad and I replaced some of the original floor boards and bolted them down to the trailer
bed crossbeams. This served as a base for the subfloor frame. From there we did a little math and subtracted the thickness of the 2x4 joists we were set to install, and realized that we wouldn’t make it quite level to the top of the frame edge, so we added some 1x4’s to the original floor boards so that the final joists would come right to the top of trailer pan. (I don't know
if that’s what you call it, but that’s what I’m calling it now. Look at the pictures, they help. I’m no carpenter.)
The last step of the sub-floor was adding plywood in whole sheets across the floor frame. Thinking back on that I’m wondering why we didn’t insulate this the floor at this time. One of the pieces of advice I got from my only other tiny house friend was to insulate the heck out of the floor. Because tiny houses sit above ground, keeping the floor warm during the cold winter is rather difficult. If you live in a cold climate and are planning your build, keep this in mind (and budget for a thick rug). As it went, I didn't open up the subfloor and insulate until after it was all framed in. I tend to be compulsively 2 steps ahead when I'm working on projects that I understand. House building, however, is not one of those things
Just being able to stand on “my floor” felt huge. My doubt by the end of the first two days turned to excitement. Even little goals being met should be celebrated. The day will come that you’ll look back on tiny successes and realize they were the only thing feeding your willingness to go on.
Next up - We start framing!!