Monthly Archives: March 2012

A ceiling, door trim and a found porch post…


My ceiling is done! I feel like shouting it, and perhaps I will. My neighbors get that I’m weird. Seriously though, it’s such a thing to look at. The last pieces went up without much of a hitch, and Little Yellow just seems so much more…done. I know she’s not at all, but I feel there’s a lot less to do now. I have a ceiling!

The last run of paneling required the table saw to make them 3″ with the grove-side down. They left a gap at the ridge that ranged from almost nothing to nearly 1/2″ and I was worried that the final pieces wouldn’t cover everything, but I worried needlessly. With 45 degree angles on each side, they worked perfectly and hid all the unevenness.

Goodness I’m glad the overhead insulating is done, it really gets everywhere. Pieces kept falling out as I tried to cover it up yesterday and I came into the big house afterward blinking it out of my eyelashes and looking like a graying, be-chesthaired fellow with a full face 5:00 shadow.

I also finally got some trim around my wee yellow door. Since I’m set on cedar, I tried to use part of the fence boards I put around the bump out windows but they happen to be just a little too short. I left the idea for a while and I’m glad I did because I got the perfect wood for it at the local hardware store. The lovely lumber chaps dug up some old but nice 6″ cedar tongue and groove boards that must have been sitting there for a heck of a time. After a run through the table they were ready to go, and my door is simply and beautifully trimmed.

I took a trampling, sliding trek down a hill with a friend the other day and found a treasure trove of cut up manzanita trees. I don’t know why someone decided to go crackerjacks with a chainsaw on an unoccupied mountainside, but they did. I’m also pretty sure it’s illegal to cut down manzanita…Plies and piles of it, a bit sad really. Buried in a particularly high stack was the only branch of any length and we dug it out, by george.

They’re usually shortish bushy type trees that don’t grow up-the-way with much substance, so this one, being big and tall enough for porch post purposes, is quite the holy grail of branches. I made the drive home feeling rather pleased with the day and a wild, twiggy branch sticking a few good feet out my passenger window. I do love the mountains…


Almost a ceiling…


Putting insulation and wall paneling up on the ceiling has taken a really long time. I’d wanted to wait and write about it when it was all done, but it’s been longer than I deem reasonable so you’ll have to take it in its nearly finished state. It’s still nice though, and I can see looking at it how much has gone into this lovely little milestone.

All the walls leading up to the ceiling had to get paneling first. For me, this meant staring at the kitchen wall for AGES before closing it to make sure I put the wiring for my light in just the right spot. It is totally in the right spot though šŸ™‚ Then came the actual starting of the ceiling paneling which was proably the tricksiet part of the whole operation because everything didn’t line up quite right.

It took 3 sepertate sections through the table saw to get it; 1: very thin groove-side-down pieces to get the loft paneling at the same height as the wall paneling, 2: bigger groove-side-down pieces to raise the wall up straight to the rafters, and 3: tounge-side-up pieces with 45 degree angles on the bottom to fit over the previous pieces and start going up the rafters.

It sounds a little confusing writing it down, which makes sense because it was more than a little confusing trying to figure it out. But figure I did with my step dad’s help on the table saw (I still just don’t like using that one) and moved on to the next problem.

This stumbling block was that there was nothing at either of the lofts to nail the ends of the panels to. Lucky for me, I didn’t cut 45 degree angles onto the loft triangle panels as I thought I should have and put them up in a stair like manner when I first started. I figured it was less work and they would get covered by the ceiling panels anyway. In this rare case laziness saved me bum, and those boards provided a just-strong-enough surface to screw in a thin cedar support. It was entirely unintentional so I can’t claim any credit for it, but I was nicely chuffed just the same šŸ™‚

So then the proper paneling/insulating started. I’ve seen other tiny housers use single length panels that end on one stud, but I like the look of staggered paneling for the ceiling instead. I think it reminds me of a patchwork quilt. A wooden ceiling patchwork quilt. Anyway, that’s what I did, and I worked out a consistent system that I repeated on both sides.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned too much about the damn trouble it’s been getting a hold of good bundles of wall paneling, so get ready for a lumber rant. Each Lowes has a certain number of them in their inventory (economy plank white pine wall paneling), and until said inventory is entirely gone they don’t jump at any request for ordering more. This means that whatever is left is usually the absolute crappiest of the crap and you’re lucky to find something even slightly promising.

Up til now my dad, my mom and I have traversed nearly every Lowes in the Southern California area and usually come out with no more than 5 bundles. Of course, when you get to each new store you’re on you own finding them; I have explained the concept many a time to blank stares or a confident statement that 1/4″ T&G white pine paneling doesn’t exist. For the record, people do seem to know what cedar closet liner is and the pine is usually beside it.

It’s been annoying having to stop and wait for more lumber though, so when one of my sisters came to visit from Northern California, she was so good as to stop along the way and fill up her truck bed with 21 bundles of the stuff. The guy said that I could go through them and return what I didn’t use as long as I have a receipt and the packaging with me, and buddy, that’s exactly what I aim to do.

In each bundle of 6, I put at least 3 blackened, broken or twisted boards into the take-back pile which now eclipses the good pile several times over. I can’t believe that someone would package up and attempt to sell a board that has a frigging black hole in it the size of Canada (where they are manufactured, incidentally). Oi. Ok, rant over.

So, after much moving between ladders, cutting and re-cutting panels, and lots of dusty sheep wool sneezes (the very top was nice because it’d just fall right onto my head) I shall say voila! Almost a ceiling šŸ™‚

The house of my dreams…


Recently I’ve been dreaming about my house. Not the kind of fairyland dreams I might prefer, but dreaming nonetheless. I tend to be working on things like wall paneling, and it can seem as mundane as real life except when I wake up, I have to do everything over again. Sometimes it’s about my roof flying off in a mad tornado (boy, we get a lot of these in Southern California) or the trailer driving off without the house on, but whatever it is, it fills my sleep almost every time I close my eyes.

Last night I dreamed that I was done with my house. I knew I was done with it, and I had someone over to show it to. But somehow my house wasn’t little. It was massive, and I kept wandering around trying to figure out where my compact space had gone. It was quite a nice large house, with lots of long hallways and a big couch but the only thing I could do was worry about having to wash all of the windows. I remember feeling nervous and uncomfortable looking at the couch and kept saying ‘there’s nowhere for me to sit’.

Just before I woke up, I walked out to the big house’s bare yard to see Little Yellow in the driveway and was so happy that I could finally sit down. Isn’t the mind a funny thing?

This weekend is filled with big fluffy snowflakes that pile up quickly and make the creaky snow plow work doubletime. My roof was covered until it started melting this morning and slid off the shiny surface in the most lovely curved pattern. Ah, the things one can appreciate when one’s house is weather proof.

I honestly haven’t gotten any work at all in today. With a bunch of layers on it’s not so bad out there, but I spent my time doing research on various things I’ll have to buy soon enough. And of course watching the never ending bird feeder soap opera out the big house window.

The railing is laden with at least 6 inches of snow and the squirrels do the most ridiculous dives over themselves to try and run along it. We’ve gotten a big flock of rock pigeons crowding the feeder the last few days (this week’s drama) and Clyde is not happy about the intruders. I’ve learned not to underestimate the squirrels in these parts though. He doesn’t just run like the devil through their lunch and send them pell mell in all directions every time they land, he has also taken on the hanging bird feeder again.

This time he figured out that the food goes into the top and succeeded in prying the lid off enough to stick his fat head through. I think the manufacturers should consider relabeling their product from ‘squirrel proof design’ to a more realistic ‘squirrel engaging design’.

Exterior stained and just about done…


Seeing as I hate painting with the fire of at least a few suns, I would have thought that staining would be an equally unfavourable task. It was actually quite a lot of fun and I went about applying it with a spring in my step…splattering Super Deck all over my shoes (note, that stuff doesn’t give up lightly).

The stain was a little odd to see all at once, but it’s settling into itself beautifully to a very rich, finished looking colour.Ā  If I do say so myself, Little Yellow looks bloody lovely.

I got to insulating the ceiling over the doorway today and decided to cover it with 1/4″ T&G cedar closet liner which nicely resembles the colour of the redwood porch. There’s also wire sticking out for a light that will eventually reside on the redwood 2×4 alongside the porch window.

It hit me as I stepped back to admire the newly paneled/insulated doorway that that’s basically the exterior done. I have a few little detail type things I’d like to do, but all of the really big scary things are pretty much over with. Looking from the big-house window to my little darling outside I feel so freakin’ relieved, it’s not even funny.

All of the small aspects that bothered me or looked strange for so long have been remedied in one way or another and I barely even notice them anymore. When I see it, it looks like a house. When other people see it it looks like a house. So much so, that a passerby the other day thought I was reworking some kind of prefab existing structure. Hell, I can hardly believe that all the scattered projects have amounted to an entire house, however tiny.

I just went back through old pictures from when Little Yellow consisted of a trailer, a 69 Chevy pick up full of lumber and a general feeling of ‘holy shit, you kind of have to make this now’. I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the choices and decisions that that face me on the interior, but I’ve bumbled my way into this, so I’ll just have to bumble my way out again. One piece of wall paneling at a time…

Fascia boards and problem saving drip edges…


The finished fascia boards are finally up! I eventually settled on a curved design for the end boards and cut up the 4 pieces from the last redwood 1×12 before putting it all together the other day in glorious, good omen type sunshine.

As one may have construed from the history of my house, things don’t usually turn out square, and my roof is no exception. Up there by themselves, the fascia boards looked ok at the roofline from a distance, but any not-so-close inspection would reveal the bare edge of the plywood bending all willy nilly and the nice, straight fascia board highlighting the not-squareness of it in fine form.

But then enter the drip edges. To whoever invented these wonderful, metal, water repelling flashings, I would like to say thank you. I would like to say thank you multiple times and bounce around a while because these things are brilliant, functional and cover a shit ton of mistakes.

We didn’t follow the guidelines and buy the fancy, pricey, colour coordinated ones from the roofing company, and we didn’t put them on first as you’re supposed to, but we did find these dandy ones at the hardware store in an entirely passable dark brown for $5.68 a piece, and we did get them up under the roofing far after the fact (today) with narry a hassle.

And it looks beautiful. I was finally able to put the last screws in the bottom of the roof to secure the new edges, and the whole house beams with a delightful air of completion.

Another thing I worked on today was caulking. I haven’t noticed any other tiny housers mention this part so I don’t know if it’s common practice, but my cedar boards (particularly the stuff I did a while back) don’t exactly fit into each side like Cinderella’s slipper.

I find them uncomfortably inconsistent, ranging from almost no gap, to 1/16″ or 1/8″ gap without much warning. I’m concerned about water getting into the cracks and causing trouble, so I opted to run a thin bead of caulk along them wherever the siding ends.

Around the corners and window borders I went, cussing under my breath at the ‘drip free’ caulk dispenser scam that covered me in silicone. At least it dries clear, hopefully my mistakes will blend better into the wood than my hair.

A little yellow door!!!


And boy, is it yellow. Primed and painted, my door now shines a vibrant shade of happy that practically leaps out of the entryway every time I look at it. It’s a determined sort of colour; a vehement, fighting yellow you might say.

I hadn’t planned on filling any nail holes or dents in the wood, but it turned out they looked much more normal in an unpainted door than a painted one, so I filled only the glaring gouges and think it’s struck a nice balance. A very yellow balance šŸ™‚

The triangles above the loft windows needed something a bit different to tie in the door colour, so I tested the poor jigsaw’s capabilities and cut 4 half fleur de lis patterns out of a really sturdy 2 x 12. My right hand got a beast of a workout, the jigsaw prevailed and I put them up over painted 1/4″ tongue and groove cedar closet liner on both ends of the house.

It’s so much fun now that I’m able to start thinking about the nifty little details that give the house character. It seems so far away when you’re schlepping plywood around, but if you schlep long enough the good part comes.

I’m often amazed at how darn scratched and bruised you can get with the whole building operation. I’ll swear that half the time Iā€™m not doing much, yet at the end of the day, some limb that seems entirely unrelated to anything I’ve done always manages to hurt. Tonight, for instance, my left leg is all kinds of sore, my right pinky finger is bleeding, and I have no idea why. What is it with this carpentry thing?

Of redwood fascia boards and holes in my floor…


Not to worry, these holes are the good kind šŸ™‚ But first, I finally sourced lumber for my fascia boards!

Located a mere 80 miles away in the form of 1×12 rough redwood, my wonderful dad swung by on a trip to pick up my mother from the airport and strapped them to the roof rack. They dwarfed the car and stuck out in a mighty awkward manner (and made parking troublesome as I hear) but they are pretty much fabulous and the grain is beautiful.

Seeing as I’m faced with the bother of having to use more than one board to span my 20′ 4″ roof anyway, I’ve decided to incorporate a design element so that it might look as though I saw this coming. What that design or element will be I don’t know just yet, but I’m sure it will be amazing. Or at least…interesting.

To start, we had to run the 18′ boards through the table saw to get smooth edges and the right width. Then we ran them through again and put a 45 degree angle at the top so they fit nice-like between the rafters and the roof sheathing. I learned in this process that sometimes, when ripping a wide, seemingly straight board, half of it can go all weird and come out totally skewed. Lucky for us, this happened to the half we weren’t planning on using, but it’s scary to know that can occur.

Before we could put them up, we had to seal the wood under the eaves and rafters. My brain had somehow skipped past the sealing/staining part of housebuilding, but I guess I have to use something so I decided on a smelly product called Super Deck. Actually I decided on it before I knew it was smelly, perhaps I may have made another choice with this bit of knowledge.

Anyway, it drips, reeks, gets everywhere and makes the wood look gorgeous. I hadn’t wanted anything that would change the colour of my siding, but I have to say this stuff has a nice effect. Hopefully I’ll decide what I want to do with the fascia ends and get those up soon.

Now for the holes in my floor! My neighbor toiled away on more plumbing this weekend, and after multiple measurements and super double checking that we weren’t going to hit any metal, he drilled through the subfloor with a big, round metal bit and made the start of my kitchen sink and shower drains. He also built the toe kick for my cabinets and it’s SO exciting to have a visual for my kitchen.

I can’t believe after all that talk of fascia boards, I didn’t take a picture with them on this evening. So, I suppose you’ll just have to imagine them then. Maybe they’ll look perfectly square with nothing questionable whatsoever šŸ™‚