I got me a big bed of steel!

A moment of my backpacking trip at the Southern end of the Grand Canyon of PA

Wild trilium?! In a meadow on the West Rim Trail.

Foundation: Check.

Most houses require some sweat and patience to build a foundation. This one just required me shelling out a bunch of money and helping to direct Grandpa, my super-adorable, friendly, wise trailer delivery person, as he expertly positioned the trailer onto the edge of our driveway.

No one in the family (I live in a joint household with my parents, sister/husband/baby) particularly likes its position except me, because it makes parking a bit more inconvenient. But it’s in as-ideal-a-spot as it’s going to get, and once lumber gets delivered on Friday and I pick up a few more things (hardware, mainly) I will be ready to start tinkering with things (i.e. building as it were) on SUNDAY! Which also happens to be my little sister’s 27th birthday. (happy birthday Allie!!!)

If you are reading this and considering building your own tiny house on wheels somewhere in the midwest/northeast: Buy a trailer from Fayette Trailers! Not only do they carry PJ Trailers exclusively as I’ve mentioned previously (which are excellent and widely respected), but they have been a pure joy to deal with. Wendall, who I’ve mentioned before, has been nothing but patient and kind and communicative and lovely, and his grandpa as mentioned was an absolute sweetheart. I so appreciate the ideals, ethics, and attitude with which this family conducts their business.

One characteristic example: In a sea of overwhelming ambiguity already accumulated in my search (i.e. people telling me one price or one piece of info, and the actual/final truth/price being quite different), Wendall quoted me to the cent the final price of the trailer including everything (tags, taxes, delivery, etc.) a couple months ago via email. When the trailer arrived on Monday, that is exactly the price I was asked to pay – not a penny more or less.

Once the trailer was in place, I explained to Grandpa what I would be using the trailer for. He looked kindly into my eyes and told me, “the world is made by people who dream.” πŸ™‚

I then proceeded to sign the papers (they register and plate/tag it!) and make him some coffee and a sandwich before his 2+-hour drive back to the Harrisburg area. It is a very rare and fortunate opportunity when doing business with people actually touches your heart in the process.

~~~

One of the things I have to pick up before Sunday is some kind of underlayment for the floor framing (which, BTW, has cropped up as a major debatable issue.) I know Dee Williams, my personal Tiny House Role Model whom I look to for all things sense-and-quality-related, used to recommend aluminum flashing (like Jay Shafer) with the addition of a plastic layer to separate it from the treated 2×6’s since they interact badly. She now recommends using painted marine plywood, which isn’t going to work in my case since I haven’t found any on Craigslist, big box stores don’t carry it, I know of no marine stores in the area, and ordering it over the internet is prohibitively expensive. (it’s expensive to begin with!) My dad pointed out that the aluminum flashing used by most tiny housers could potentially over time mess with the steel if wear has occured to where the two metals are touching, in addition to the issues with it touching treated wood (either or both above & below).

And if I haven’t confused you completely, some others have been using RV rubber which I assume means the rubber used on RV roofs, which appears to be quite similar – albeit slightly cheaper – than products like Ice Shield roofing found commonly. I could use this, but I highly doubt that it keeps out rodents, which means I would still want to combine it with a metal product like flashing or mesh.

My dad suggested I use aluminum sheeting sandwiched in between a product like Ice Shield or tar paper, to protect the metals from each other as well as the treated wood, as well as providing an extra barrier against moisture infiltration. (think: wool insulation up in that framing cavity!) Then the thought came in my mind, “don’t they make galvanized steel flashing?” and a quick search revealed that indeed, it is available, and for only a few dollars more than aluminum. Which leads me to ask the question – why are people using aluminum?!

So I’m rather turned around as you may currently be, but by Sunday I’ll be ready to start with some combination vaguely resembling from bottom to top: galvanized steel mesh or flashing>;tar paper or Ice Shield>;treated 2×6 framing.

Fascinating stuff, I know.

~~~

I’ve been voraciously consuming other peoples’ tiny sites; it appears that I am part of a mushrooming wave of tiny house constructors blogging about their experiences, which fascinates me. Some blogs are well-designed and easy to navigate, some are not. Many follow the same basic aesthetic and formula (as I think mine probably uncreatively does ;)) and some are more outside-the-box and include other topics as well. Some (very very few) are a mess I can’t seem to understand. What is my point here? Basically that my goal is to make this site engaging and navigatable for you, my beloved readers. Please help me be better by telling me if you have any suggestions for topics, links, and how I can improve or expand the site to be more interesting and informative. I appreciate all of the support so far! And to address the recent greed I’ve been feeling for an increased readership: If you know anyone who might be interested in the glamorous and enthralling topics covered here, please share this site with them. πŸ™‚

That is all for now, as time has been slipping away with so much more left to do at the end of every day, which I usually don’t mind!

The garden is overflowing with spinach, the immense rains of late have all of the plants growing inches each day, and have made turning the cover crop MUCH easier! I’m thinking about starting a blog to devote only to my gardening endeavors, as I have so much to say about all of the exciting things happening back there, and this just isn’t the outlet. TBC…. It’s been so wonderful eating so many greens after the dark of winter, and exercising so much (backpacking/biking) – I’ve really been enjoying this, my first Eastern spring in a long time; I feel ready to build a house!

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11 thoughts on “I got me a big bed of steel!

  1. Your grandpa sounds like an amazing man! And I for one, really enjoy hearing about your decision for what to use under your floor πŸ™‚ We are still trying to figure that part out so it is great to hear about your search. Keep up the amazing work on your blog, it’s so inspiring to read about other people doing the same thing… makes me feel a little less alone when neighbors give me weird looks as I stare at my empty trailer for hours πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the support S! Actually he’s not my grandpa, just the grandpa of the sales person I was dealing with @ Fayette. πŸ™‚ But he said I could call him that. πŸ™‚ Yes it’s nice to feel the community (albeit distant) of other people going thru the same processes around the same time, isn’t it!

  2. What a great article and set of pictures! My trailer is set to arrive any day now here in Vermont. πŸ™‚

    I, too have struggled with the floor framing details. I realized that the cross members of the trailer are at 16″ on center, just like a sub floor. So I’m actually planning on removing ALL of the trailer decking and attaching the framing directly to the steel cross-pieces (with a layer of aluminum flashing in between).

    Also- Great idea about the steel flashing! I had never even considered it!

    • Hey Ethan, yeah, that makes sense to remove the deck; I was reading that’s what Dee Williams recommends now in her e-book. I’m considering doing that since it cuts down a couple inches in height (right?), but we’ll see how it all pans out…

      • What did you end up doing? I purchased way overpriced galvanized steel sheets from a local metal yard, but they are too thick at 1/8″ each and weigh about 80 pounds per sheet. Way too much! Now I’m thinking about aluminum again.

      • Hey Ethan, yeah, the floor has given me a LOT of grief! Very steep learning curves. I am so proud it’s almost over πŸ™‚ I decided to leave some of the decking on, as I realized upon closer inspection of my trailer that I couldn’t build directly on the steel ribs unless I Wanted to significantly narrow the house. It looks to me like your trailer is designed similarly, no? If I had known ahead of time, I would have ordered it with the ribs welded beneath the trailer frame, but oh well. This way I get a 90″ floor width. (I bolted 4×4 supports to the sides of the trailer frame to help support the floor/walls.) Basically I have done the floor almost exactly like Dan Louche recommends in his e-book, bolting the framing to the trailer deck and not the steel frame. I’ll probably also use some Simpson straps along the sides just for peace of mind. πŸ™‚

        I used the aluminum sheeting, which was a blessing and a curse; Much easier to work with than the galvanized steel (and lighter – a plus as you mentioned with your hardcore steel sheets!), so that’s good. But I chose to follow Dee Williams’ advice and use treated 2x6s which means preventing contact w/aluminum due to corrosion. That was a lot of extra steps that ate up my time; I ended up using tar paper strips along the decking followed by the aluminum, then using self-sealing flashing strips along the seams since I will be using wool insulation, then Tyvek on top of the aluminum, then the framing. One of my big mess-ups was leaving too wide a distance between the decking pieces to be able to staple the aluminum to them (I followed suggestions of 24″ OC when really I should have done like 18″), so I had to add a couple deck pieces back. Look out for that if you use aluminum and if you’re removing decking! I’m glad I did, thought, because I was able to re-use the lumber to build my entire floor. But now it’s good to go and should be fairly solid! I did see an interesting piece on aluminum flashing, not in our context (and might not be as interesting to you since I don’t think you’re using treated lumber?), but relevant nonetheless: http://www.deckmagazine.com/article/188.html

        I don’t think aluminum is perfect, but nothing is…I try to follow a middle path!! πŸ™‚ Good luck and keep updating us on your progress, it’s a joy to read/watch!

  3. Pingback: Fast Forward | Casita Bella

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