Monthly Archives: February 2015

Four walls make a house

Hello lovely fans!

Before I say anything, I’m gonna try to make a practice of listing important things I’m still looking for – as many as I can think of at the moment. So here goes:

I really really want this cook stove/ oven/ range called the origo 6000, but it’s super expensive so I’m hoping to find one that is used but in good condition. It’s usually used in boats and runs on alcohol so no fossil fuels!! And it’s small.

Two windows! 32″ wide x 48″ tall, give or take about 1/2″. Double hung, in good condition, with screens preferably, open easily, double pane.

I might also need some more 2x4s for the lofts but I’ll keep you up to date on that because I’m not so sure at the moment.

That’s all I’m looking for right now… but I’ll add more if I think of it.

I have made a huge amount of progress over the last couple of weeks. Sam Kelly came for lunch one day and I was able to ask him all the questions that I needed to. It was both extremely helpful to have his advice and also fun to learn more about building. Afterwards, I felt confident and ready to keep building! I am so grateful to have these great talented friends who are supportive and eager to help me. I can’t do it with out you guys, thank you!!!

A little while ago, I also got an email from a young woman named Katie. She’d been talking to our mutual friend Lou, of Lou’s Upcycles, about wanting to build a tiny house for herself. Lou knew about my project and put us in touch! Turns out Katie lives in the hilltowns too, and we found a day to meet up for warm drinks at Elmer’s here in Ashfield. I showed her my plans and talked to her a bit about my project and what her hopes are for her own tiny house. Then I brought her back to my house where I showed her the walls I’d framed and the other materials I have – windows, wood stove, etc. It was a lot of fun to talk tiny houses with another enthusiast and local gal! I’m looking forward to keeping in touch, sharing ideas, and having her help building soon.

The middle of February has been break from school for most people. I’ve been in touch with Julian, a tenth-grader from Young Friends/ Quaker youth group for a while — he’s planning on building a tiny house in his back yard when his family moves out to this area. I’d talked to his mom a few times about getting him over here to help me build, and it finally happened! Julian and his friend Roy came this past Tuesday night through Thursday morning. It was a delight to have them here! It was wonderful talking with them about tiny houses, sharing what I know, giving advice, and hearing about their passions. They were great company and easy guests, helping out with meals and all.

On Wednesday, we built the third wall! I am so thrilled with the outcome, partly because the wall looks beautiful, and partly because I really enjoyed teaching Julian and Roy some building skills — how to measure and mark lumber, how to use the chop saw safely, how to hammer nails and line up the frame… and it was fun to see them working together as a team, learning all the way through. They were patient, careful and clearly passionate about learning how to build. I’m proud of them for their determination and enthusiasm, especially throughout some very very cold hours. Sharing my joy is just as much part of this project as anything else!

Here are some photos from Wednesday:

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There were a lot of nails we had to take out and redo for various reasons. Frustrating, but good to have the right tools! Here’s dad using the crow-bar:

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On Thursday morning, we set in on the fourth wall — cut everything, set it out, and then built the first half. Nina and Alan, Julian’s parents, arrived at noon to pick Julian and Roy up and saw the progress we made. Nina even helped pound a few nails!

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Today, Lliam and Kai came to help me and my dad finish up the last wall. It was unbelievably cold and we were all a bit grumpy until after lunch when we got some hot soup inside us. I was glad to have their help and am so happy (!!!) to be finished with the fourth wall! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of us working, but I did take a later picture of the outcome:

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Next steps are getting the second top plates onto the walls, and painting then attaching the 1/4″ plywood and putting the walls up! I’m so psyched to have a house that looks like a little more like a house!

Wall number two

On January 19, Martin Luther King day, I had a small building party! I got in touch with Susan Durkee – my advisor from high school who recommended the Heartwood Building School to me and is a fellow tiny house enthusiast – and because Lliam also had school off, he came as well. I spent the two days before sketching up some framing plans for the other three walls so that I would have everything figured out by the time Susan and Lliam arrived.

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Though there were a couple of adjustments throughout the day, my sketches made it easy for Susan to make a list of lengths to cut while Lliam and I lay everything out. It was like creating and putting together a puzzle that I made up; I was thrilled when everything fit together.

We decided to tackle the most complicated wall. My parents came out to help as well and we all cruised along building the wall in two halves. For lunch we had a delicious pot of lentil soup that my mom made with locally made bread and cheese.

We were able to finish most of the wall by the time Susan and Lliam left. It ended up being a great day for building – warm compared to every other day I have worked out there. It was the first time I worked without my jacket this winter! It was a lot for one day and I stopped hammering nails when Lliam and Susan took off. Here are some pictures:

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And I actually haven’t made much more progress since then. I went back to my plans and realized I should figure out the design for the frame of the roof before I go much farther. I also need to paint the 1/4″ plywood white before I put it on the walls to make them square — I want the inside of my house to be white with the exposed framing left as-is and it’ll be much easier to do that if I don’t have to paint the walls around the framing after it’s already up. Unfortunately that means waiting longer until the walls are up and taking a little bit of another detour. It’s also been so cold that there hasn’t really been anywhere I can paint. Sometimes I worry that I’m missing pieces because I’m designing this whole thing. It all takes patience and confidence. Soon I’ll run some of my plans by one of my expert builders who have offered their advice.

In the meantime, I have taken a break to finish applying to college and for scholarships. Though I still have quite a few more scholarships to go, I am officially done with college applications! There have been many stay-at-home snow days at this point that have given me a chance to relax and get work done.

In other news, my friend Annalise sent me a link to a blog she thought I’d appreciate: trashisfortossers.com. It’s a blog written by a girl who decided to go zero-waste and has been writing about her experience and giving tips for a few years.

Anyway, I have decided to make my own toothpaste and hair care products and generally work towards producing less waste. I made some toothpaste just with baking soda, salt, hazelnut extract, and water. I didn’t have peppermint extract and didn’t put enough hazelnut extract in so it didn’t taste too great. Hopefully my next batch will be better. I also started using baking soda and water for shampoo and vinegar for conditioner. My hair is feeling a lot healthier too. Once I’m living on my own, and am buying my own food, I’ll work more on buying food that doesn’t come in plastic bags and other things that don’t create as much.

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Okay, that’s all for now!