In a holding pattern

After a few weeks of busily accumulating supplies and equipment, my progress appears to have come to a (near) dead stop just as I’m getting started. I’m not too fond of waiting around – ask anyone who knows me well: I’m chronically late, I charge ahead once I make decisions, and I don’t like being idle unless it was my plan all along. I’m a Saggitarius, damn it, I don’t have time to wait!

But in this case, I must. First of all, “April showers bring May flowers” apparently reversed this year, making me wish just a little that I had begun building in the beginning of April when the weather was mild and sunny every day. Now rain has been abundant – which is fantastic for the garden vegetables (we’ve all been enjoying that aspect with delicious salads) but poor for doing much to the trailer. Also I am waiting for Michael who graciously offered to revise the plans to match my exact trailer and window measurements. I must admit this has been challenging, as my lumber arrived, (see pics below :)) I bought my impact driver, and removed most of the trailer decking. I’m ready to go! But I must wait. At least work has been busy to fill the extra time with extra hours.

A nice plus I didn’t plan for was being able to use the extra trailer decking (2x6x18′) for my floor framing. I might be able to save $100 alone just by returning the 2x6s I purchased for that purpose. The trailer deck pieces were removed quite easily using the 12-volt impact driver and a little less easily using an 18-volt drill. The deck was screwed into the steel ribs below and tucked 1/2-1″ underneath the frame. I used a chisel and hammer/mallet to knock the boards out from under the frame for removal.

As it turns out, the method for attaching floor framing to the trailer itself is one requiring a lot of consideration, with many different variations possible. First off, my initial plans from Michael called for 4×4 floor supports along the sides of the trailer, but my trailer has tie-off notches welded onto the sides every 36″ that would prevent this. I’m interested to hear what suggestion he offers instead. Dan Louche recommends using lag screws to attach the frame to the decking below which is left in place every 24″ or so (which, as mentioned, is itself screwed into the steel ribs and tucked inside the steel frame). Dee Williams recommends having the trailer specially built so that the ribs are welded beneath the side frame, thus creating a pocket in which to lay the 2×6 framing, allowing the builder to bolt the framing directly to the trailer frame itself. The other added benefit of this method is creating more available height for the house itself. I wish I had properly understood this stuff before I ordered my trailer, but se la vie. Evan and Gabby appeared to use metal fasteners to attach the framing to the remains of the deck, similar to Dan’s approach. I will probably do something similar. As with the rest of construction, I’m sure there’s a hundred different ways to approach each step, and I will just have to do my best to choose the one most simple & suitable for my situation.

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I realized last night that I made my first big “oops” when ordering my windows: Tumbleweed recommends using tempered glass, i.e. the kind that shatters in place in tiny pieces when impacted, rather than breaking through in large pieces. Tempered glass is more resistant to vibration, movement, and impact which I’m assuming is why it’s found in all vehicles. I had forgotten this recommendation, however, upon seeing the price difference (would have been hundreds of dollars) and instead followed code guidelines I found for “regular” houses: Use tempered glass on any windows exceeding 9 square feet or within 18″ of the floor. So the two big windows in the front and front right corner will be tempered and the rest will not. I relaxed about it after I remembered a few minutes later that many people have built perfectly road-worthy tiny houses using recycled windows that were no doubt untempered with no (known) issue.

As for the floor water/rodent-proofing: I bought both aluminum and steel flashing with the intention of returning whichever one I don’t use (classic noncommittal move, BTW, yesss!). I think I know why people use the aluminum: it’s way lighter and easier to work with. I think I will end up using the aluminum along with tar paper (or Tyvek?), especially since it looks like either way I am going to have to attach the frame to the treated decking on the trailer instead of to the steel frame itself.

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A final reason for current delay: Remember when I mentioned that no one in the family (except my dad) liked the placement of my trailer? Well, in classic form, my mom has sheepishly insisted that it be moved. She told me, “I can’t visualize these things without actually seeing them” and felt that the trailer was going to be too much of an eyesore where it is. My neighbor has very kindly agreed to move the trailer with his truck this weekend, off the pavement and into the yard. I just hope I can keep it level out there.

Maybe by Monday I’ll be working on the frame? 🙂

Have a great holiday weekend, wherever it takes you!

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