Siding stain, vented ridges and life going on…


September already! I am sorry to have not given an update in so long. My dear 2007 laptop I got second hand in Scotland isn’t quite dead yet, but it’s certainly been crapping out on me, so it lives at my family’s house down the road where there is internet. I feel like nothing comes out right when I try to write in that space, so I haven’t. But I find I miss writing, so my boyfriend and I got a new-ish one so he can store photos and I can write at home again.

Modern technology is remarkable, this little computer (a nifty craigslist find) is super lightweight and the battery actually works unplugged for longer than 3 seconds before wildly warnings that it’s running on reserve power at 99% capacity. Oh well. Thanks 2007, that was an admirable run.

All is well in Little Yellow, I’m happy to report. Life is alternately skipping, jumping, and creeping past as it sees fit, and I follow as best I can in my bumbling way. Somehow I always feel a little behind.

I am so very grateful to be where I am. Travel and adventures take me far off places I never imagined myself going to, and simple life in Little Yellow on the coastside continues to fulfil my soul.

Even just a few miles out, the mountains and cliffs and beaches and tidepools and trails are there for the taking under chilly, overcast skies that remind me how much I love long, wool sleeves. And with wooly warmth, I sit, draw, play, and run like I’m 5 years old through the beautiful surroundings as often as possible.

I find my little house doesn’t make me spend more time outside because I feel the need to be outwith its tiny-ness, but that I venture out more often because I know I am only a few feet away. Though interestingly, some days I don’t because being inside can feel almost like being outside with views from 10 windows in sight. Either way, I love how much living tiny has knocked down the walls between nature and my wish to explore it.

I mostly stay on the coast when given the choice. I like knowing where the edges are, where the land ends and the water begins, and then nothing. No more highways, just a vast expanse of deep blue question marks. Something about it puts me at ease in a wonderful way like nothing else can. And as long as I’m close to the ocean, I will of course go in. Every day, wetsuit-less, regardless of weather or sensibility. I live for bodysurfing, but even when the waves suck, the shorebreak still suffices.

Not long ago I was out in the lineup catching some of the best surf of the summer, and a pod of dolphins swam past 3 times in the hour I was out. 8 feet away at most, I could see their eyes and the scars and lines on their skin so clearly. They seem like such happy animals, leaping and squeaking and bodysurfing far better than I ever could. I do run off on tangents. Focus. Right, back to the house…

Just about the only maintenance I’ve done was re-staining the exterior wood. Superdeck is supposed to be good for a year, so we put another coat on in May. Smelly, smelly stuff that didn’t smell any better this time. Last year when I coated the house, I accidentally dumped a quart of it on my favourite skirt that then smelled like a delightful vat of oil for about 30 washes, so this time I got smart and pulled out my one pair of pants.

Since working at Tumbleweed and talking with other tiny house builders, there is one (major) thing I didn’t do in my build that is very important in small spaces. A ventilated roof allows air to travel through wavy-gravy space makers called baffles that create an air gap on the underside of your sheathing. Vents at the soffits connect to vents at the ridge through these baffles, and convection passes the air up and out, keeping the roof deck (sheathing) dry and free of rot and mould.

Imagine hot, moist air rising up inside as high as it can go. If it reaches the ridge and can’t get out, condensation can form over time and render the sheathing useless. In ordinary houses, vented ridges keep what is usually the attic from moisture issues. In a tiny house this is especially important because the ‘attic’ is most likely your bedroom, and mouldy bed spaces are enough to scare anyone.

When I ordered and installed my roofing, I did not know about this, and instead thought to keep the ridge of my house as waterproof as humanly possible. So a few weeks ago, I gathered my courage, tool belt and building skirt to spend a solid few hours on the good old roofline to remedy this oversight. With my roof done now, removing the underlayment from the ridge and drilling some air holes was the best I could do. Here’s hoping that will help.

I can’t say I had an easy time motivating myself to get back up on the roof.  During the build, I was constantly up against situations I didn’t feel entirely confident or comfortable with, but throughout the year I got pretty used to it. Now, not so much. I don’t climb ladders or swing hammers all that often these days, and I had to remind myself getting up there that I did, in fact, build this house so damn it, I can fix it.

Being up there did not bring back pleasant memories. Last time I could barely walk for several days and I didn’t fare much better this round. 12/12 roof pitches are miserable things to be plonked on for any length of time.

We also took down the chandelier because in the last year I’ve turned it on about 3 times, and 2 were by accident. So instead we put up a spider plant which hangs from the same spot and sort of looks like a chandelier, but is a nice, air cleaning little bugger and is supposed to be very hard to kill. Guess we’ll see how that goes…

I love presenting workshops. I think tiny houses are the only thing I could still want to talk about after repeated, jam packed weekends of the same, solid material, because the people are so encouraging. Ridiculously encouraging. I thought I had a good gauge of the average tiny house enthusiast, and I have been totally wrong. Doctors, physicists, 9 year olds planning to build for college, 75 year old women planning to retire, empty nesters, mobile geared entrepreneurs and countless others. 50-120 attendees in every city I travel to all around the US are totally excited about tiny houses. It’s inspiring to hear so many different stories and such different situations that lead folks to the same path. These little, alternative houses solve a lot of problems for a lot of people. Far more kinds of people than I thought.

Off topic: I got a new car! And by new, I mean 3 years older than my previous car which was by no means new. New to me anyway 😀 A 1987 tin top Suzuki Samurai that was A BEAST to find. If I have previously seemed sensible to anyone, here’s concrete evidence to the contrary. Drove 500 miles to LA to pick up this car (mistake 1). Car wasn’t as we thought, bought it anyway (mistake 2,3,4,5,6 and 7). Drove 167 miles up the 5 and broke the hell down. Towed 150 miles home with my boyfriend’s fancy AAA. Perfect car appears on Craigslist the next day, 60 miles from home. Drive to check it out. Promise we’ll pay the guy as soon as we sell Bad Sam. Spend over $1000 getting Bad Sam smogged and running. Some guy drives all the way from Oregon to buy Bad Sam and doesn’t. 3 guys from Fresno come to buy Bad Sam and actually buy Bad Sam. Dance instead of walking everywhere for the next few days. Buy Good Sam 😀

Easy, right? Nice, stress free way to acquire a car. Good Sam is rocking the $50 rustoleum paint job in flat green these days, courtesy of a very wonderful boyfriend. Who knew you could paint cars with a roller? It’s super cute 😀  It’s also the bumpiest thing I’ve ever driven. I’ve heard them described not inaccurately as riding ‘like a haywagon’ and as providing ‘the full 3rd world driving experience’. 65 mph tops. I am tearin’ up this town 😀

Ok, a little more mush because I’m just so happy. This house and occupation have transformed my life so much from what I wished it could be to what it has come to be that I feel like I have time to do anything I have the means and moxie to attempt. I can barely believe this lifestyle is possible for a girl like me at all. Feeling so very blessed 🙂 Crazy that it’s been almost a year since Little Yellow and I went coastal! And remember, if you’re going anywhere, better coastal than postal.


27 responses »

  1. Cars . . . Hard to live with ’em, hard to live without ’em. Thanks for the account of the doctors, physicists, and 75-year-old ladies checking out the tiny houses. Good luck with the stain and the ridge vent, for as I put into verse after an owner-builder course:

    We learned in class
    that the first thing you oughter
    protect your house against is
    the ravages of water.

  2. Great job on repairing the roofline with some vents. They make Ridge Vents, they are like molded plastic for the ridge line with some batted fabric on the inside to keep bugs and other small critters out.

    One thing I may suggest for your holes, and I know you hate getting up on the 12/12 roof, but maybe add some screening over your holes and a few handfuls of some fiberglass insulation (to keep critters out). Just a suggestion, overall I LOVE the project, your house is really a home and it is amazing!

  3. Ella…
    You continue to encourage me. =) Glad to hear from you again and glad everything is going well. I hope to attend a weekend workshop near Atlanta sometime soon. Missed the workshop in June due to the fact I was on vacation in England with my family.

    Still lovin’ the project!

    (Forgot my WordPress password and lost the avatar… UGH. Life’s great today, just great…)

  4. Hello Ella! Long time!! Awesome post. Looks like your life is moving right along (despite Bad Sam!) but you’re an inspiration. Where can I catch a talk about the Little House Life? I traveled by train up by Mt. Shasta recently. It was so cool. All of your newsletter/blog posts are going to a different part of my gmail. I guess they have a “social” inbox now, so if I haven’t/don’t respond in a timely manner, it’s because I forget to look in there. Have a beautiful and warm winter. Cheers! Tina (magic fava bean) 🙂

  5. Pingback: Deek Gives You a Video Tour of Ella's Tumbleweed Tiny House

  6. Hi Ella…..just watched your last house tour with Deek. Where are your kittens? I did not see any sign of bowls or kitties. 😦

  7. Awesome ad hoc repair for a missing component on the ridgeline. That’s ace not-getting-distressed-and-making-do. Hope it works out. I second the screening for the holes. Bugs are no fun inside.

    Also, thanks to your high praise, we ended up getting a small wonders futon for our new place! Should be here tomorrow. : )

    So is staining once a year something you’ll have to do for the lifetime of this home?

    • Awesome! I intend to keep up yearly staining to keep the wood from greying. I love the look of weathered wood, but grey does not go so well with yellow teal and purple 🙂

  8. I love your project! My name is Whitney, I am completing a Certificate at Yestermomrrow Design Build school in Warren, VT. For my project I am researching the availability of homeowners insurance for tiny homes. If you own a tiny home please take a few moments to fill out this survey. Thank you for your time!

  9. Pingback: Of mistake making and taking my ceiling apart… | littleyellowdoor

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