Monthly Archives: September 2011

A window or ten…


Thus far, I’ve been doing a fine job putting off getting these ordered. Most things I’ve had to procure for my project have seemed scary for some reason or other but windows take the extra scary cake. I think this cake might be black and have pepper in it…Because they are supposed to be tempered glass (like the kind in cars that crumble instead of shatter and are far more resistant to road travel) these little beasties are frighteningly expensive and I didn’t want to have a chance to get anything wrong. Having heard it can take 6-8 weeks for custom windows to get made, I finally gathered my courage today, wrote down my list of sizes about 5 times and called up some window making folk. 

I decided that I like the single hung type (which is coincidentally cheaper than the awning type Tumbleweed goes for) and have settled with aluminum. Wood windows are beautiful but they are also higher priced and take a lot more maintenance so for this time I’ve opted not to go down the traditional route. My parent’s house has aluminum windows with a white finish and I don’t mind the way they look, actually I think they’re rather quaint.

I am lucky to have encountered a very kind contractor at Tumbleweed’s workshop last month who has been instrumental in my quest for windows. With his help, I ordered the 10 I need from a wholesale company and should have my aluminum, white finish, low-E, single hung windows delivered in a little over 2 weeks. One less big thing on the list of to buy’s!


Weather and walls…


It has been rainy as of late, the warm, summer type with lots of thunder and lightning so my wee house has been under wraps waiting for the sunshine. Today was dry and beautiful but the afternoon air brought an undeniable chill that signifies fall has made its entrance and aims to proceed with its plans, regardless of mine.

My dad and I have been taking the walls in sections and though we have a good few done now, have opted not to attach them to the floor yet so it’s easier to cover. The tarps on the the trailer did their best but some of the water still sank through, stained the ply sub floor and probably got to the sheep wool below; good thing I didn’t use fiberglass…

Today we plowed onwards with the second back side wall and those over the wheel wells. Said wheel wells aren’t exactly the same dimensions on both sides but by some stroke of miracle, the wall seems to work on either one  just fine. I’m fairly sure I can’t tout this to excellent carpentry or previous planning but at this point we’re just happy it’s playing along.

I have also uncovered a silly mistake. I’m not sure how exactly I managed this, but as I realize it, at least a fair amount of the corner braces should have been used to secure the framing to the trailer boards and not just themselves. It would occur to me after I have neatly screwed all the plywood down so tomorrow’s excitement will be unscrewing them, getting more braces (oi), navigating through the insulation, nailing them in and re-screwing the plywood.

I have a delightful little brown bruise on my thumbnail from last week (courtesy of my careless hammer wielding skills) but I shall hope to have become a marvelously masterful hammer-er in this time so I can avoid a repeat performance 😀

Finishing the flooring…


I’m on a mission to get this part done. I had the help of a friend who gave time to lend a hand yesterday and with my dad’s skills as well today we are oh so close.

First came the tape to cover all the seams in the flashing. The aluminum tape I had previously used was pretty bad to begin with and was rendered useless after a few days of moisture and temperature changes so I pulled it all off and went for some super sticky form of duct tape my dad had in the garage. It also sticks to itself really well, so there’s a good thing to watch out for.

Tumbleweed recommends using corner braces for all the floor joists so I bought what I thought would be enough and nailed them in. Well, I was a vast 35 short and after yet another jaunt to the hardware store, got both sides of all joists in question covered.

From these corner braces I learned two important lessons: 1: if you count how many of something you need before you buy it, you might just make it 2 whole days without going to the store. 2: Hammers make little differentiation between steel nails and finger nails, particularly if you have a short attention span. My poor wee thumb got the brunt of the exchange so I guess this starts off the tally and it aint in my favour.

Putting in the wool insulation was rather rewarding and though I had heard it was time consuming, it took much less than taping the flashing or nailing the corner braces. It is also fantastically fluffy and there were far fewer incidences of finger crushing.

Today came to putting the 3/4 “ plywood down. Ambitiously, we figured we’d get a couple of walls done as well but I am realizing rapidly that it is wise not to figure on the side of ambition with this project. Just sorting out where to put the sheets of plywood so the edges would land on the floor joists took enough thought but we also had to cut spaces for the wheel wells and try to keep things vaguely square and level.

Darkness caught up with us after 3 of 5 sheets so we put off getting it all on until tomorrow, but the light at the end of the flooring tunnel shines with grandeur 🙂 I’ll be darn happy to cover this thing up and not think about it again!

Sheep’s wool insulation…


I have decided on sheep’s wool insulation for my little house and ordered it from the lovely folks at Oregon Shepherd a while back (thanks for being open on a holiday weekend, guys!). I had gone back and forth over several insulating possibilities for ages but kept coming back to wool before finally settling on it.

Having read wonderful things about sheep’s wool and it’s superior insulating properties, I particularly liked that it is effective at absorbing moisture which can aid in preventing condensation; one of my main worries in a space as small as mine will be. Some wonderful other reasons to use wool can be found at their website, here:

I really think that insulation is an important choice that will continue to affect the way I feel about my house and there’s something nice about knowing there wont be anything toxic in there. It was a bit pricey, but this will be my house and I don’t want it makin’ me sick!

Despite a few mishaps with the shipping company, Oregon Shepherd was very helpful and eight 40 pound boxes of wool arrived this morning in a big truck. The driver was one of the least conversationally minded humans I’ve encountered in some time and was entirely more interested in how he’d manage to get his epically large truck out of our cul de sac than my enthusiasm at this fluffy delivery, but you can’t have everything. SHEEP WALLS!!!

Measure twice, cut once…


When it rains, it pours, and when it pours, you really regret chucking out all the old tarps three days ago. It being around 80 before noon, I did not buy a 20ft tarp at the hardware store the other day so when my mom woke me up yesterday morning with the delightful news we scrambled to cover the floor framing with sheets of plywood and borrowed smaller tarps from the pickup truck and off the horse carriage. But really, rain? Didn’t see that one coming with the temperatures this week.

 Fortunately, the weather turned much more favorable in the afternoon and we were able to finish the aluminum flashing and start thinking about walls. Not so fortunately, the wall measurements in the plans are also set up around different sized wheel wells so it was back to the drawing board. With my stepdad’s and my generally lousy mathematical skills, this was a period of much head scratching and brain straining but we prevailed and created a very lovely back wall at long last.

My dad’s carpenter friends at work lent him a crazy loud nail gun that we’ve been using to secure the framing together thus far and today, on wall 2, we found out what happens when you screw up and need to get one out. It was actually less getting it out and more sawing it off so it was a good incentive to be a wee bit more careful in the future.

Miscalculations, a few bouts of cursing and working out new calculations took up most of the day but the floor framing still hadn’t been lag screwed to the trailer boards yet so we got started on that in the evening. Seeing as I’m smaller than my dad, I took the job of getting under the thing to drill them in and we got a good number down before it got dark.

It’s been great to have my dad and all his nifty power tools around this week to get things going. He works 3 weeks on, 1 week off so it’ll be a while before we’ll get this much consecutive time to devote to my little project but I hope to get as much as possible done in his absence. I also hope to keep all my fingers on so lets keep a tally, shall we?

One step forward, two steps back…


Yesterday was a great day of progress. Having bought as many materials as would fit in our lumbering 69 pickup truck the night before, my dad and I started early with plans in hand and spring in step. Despite the fact that said plans had to be completely altered to accommodate the wheel wells on my trailer, we went wild with the tape measure and were able to cut and make the 3 sectioned floor framing equal to the overall length as stated so that all further dimensions shouldn’t need to be changed.

We also got the extra trailer rail off with a metal grinder and a shower of bright orange sparks. Kind of like fireworks J The only worrying thing is that the metal edges of both ends of the trailer are a little raised. It’s not by much so we figured they might not be that big of a deal.

Today was a bit more challenging. We did get the wheel mount ground off and stapled down most of the aluminum flashing on the framing but for one reason or another we seemed to spend more time taking it apart than putting it together. First we forgot that the area where the porch will be (this part shouldn’t have any flashing to allow for water) is not in the same place when you turn it upside down to put the aluminum on. Enter re-do number 1.

More importantly, the issue of the little ridges on the ends of the trailer didn’t solve themselves and with the floor framing resting on it at about a centimeter higher on both ends than the decking, we couldn’t ignore it. Well, I guess we did ignore it. We actually ignored it until after we had put down the flashing on both framings so that when we decided to discontinue ignoring it we had to backtrack and extract all of my meticulously placed staples to get at the 2×4 framing below. My dad says leaving it would make the walls squint and throw everything off balance so, enter re-do number 2.

What we ended up doing was using a router to take off about a centimeter from any wood in contact with the higher level so that the whole thing would rest on the decking and not on the raised edges. This one took forever.  On the porch end it was just little notches in each 2×4 hanging off the trailer but on the other end were two lengthwise, 7’ 4” 2x4s to be dealt with and the whole thing had to be shorter. It’s not exactly pretty now, but I hope we’ll be glad we took the time to fix this while we still could. And I suppose when there’s a house over it, pretty floor framing isn’t really pertinent. 

Making a level foundation…


When I got up in the morning, it seemed like a pretty straightforward set of to do’s with a pretty straightforward goal: get the trailer level in the driveway and grind off the extraneous rails.But things that should be straight and forward have tendencies to go not only crooked and backward but also slightly bent and sideways, and that was the way things played out with this ‘simple’ task.

Getting to the driveway itself was our first obstacle and by the time we (my stepdad and I) sorted though the half finished projects, moved my mom’s horse trailer and navigated traffic cones, a bunch of old buckets and a large pile of pinecones it was already 2:00.

As luck would have it, our driveway isn’t level in the stricktest sense but with a little problem solving, my dad and I constructed a plan. We’d get some more gravel, pile it up where the wheels would be on the lower side, stick some cinder blocks under the corners and there you go! It was a good plan (I think) that appears to have worked in the end but it was definitely not as simple as we thought.

After backing the trailer in (no cake walk in its own right) not only did it take about an hour to get the gravel piles even, but just after we were rewarded with the beautiful little green bubble smack in the center of my dad’s leveling stick we realized that we hadn’t left enough space for the horse trailer to pull in alongside.

Gravel is also a nasty, dusty little collection of beasties and I inconveniently forgot to buy leather gloves at the hardware store. I ended up in a pair of terrifying blue latex gloves we had buried somewhere in the garage, though I can assure you that the purpose of these must not have been gravel shoveling and I felt something like a deranged dentist.

Operation park-the-trailer was successful by the time it got dark and we now have a darn close to level foundation to start on. Grinding the rails will have to wait until another day…