I reached a place a few weeks ago in this little house project where suddenly things were moving faster and smoother. There was a distinct ease about the work, and my relationship with it. I had entered some kind of flow.
I asked my dad to what he might attribute this experience and he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know, maybe because you’re getting the hang of things now so it doesn’t have to be two steps forward, one step back all the time.” Quite reasonable reasoning, no? 🙂
Also it’s interesting when suddenly the work being done is going to be seen by people, by me, in the “final” product. Putting up fascia was the first taste of that. Since then all of the windows have gone in and most of the roof has gone up and preparations are being made for siding soon, too. All of these things have profound aesthetic impact on the final flavor of this baby house. There is some kind of curious spaciousness that comes in my mind when I am making decisions that have a definitive visual impact… Because you have to surrender. You paint some wood a certain color or use a certain fastener spacing or buy a certain kind of flashing, and bam, you have made a very bold statement. Is it good? Is it bad? What is it? It doesn’t really matter – it’s done. You’re belted into the ride and it’s about to take off. You’ve done your part, now what else can be done? I might say a wise person surrenders to the experience. Slight caveat, house-building isn’t quite that definitive, since you can usually undo or redo what’s been done… but for practical purposes….
Yeah, I know. Same old shit, Pix. It’s funny though, I cook up Surrender a hundred different ways, and it tastes new every time.
Putting windows into the casita marked my first true exhilaration of this project. I was high, I admit it. Something about giving your house eyes into the outside, and into the inside, filled me with bliss. I felt suddenly I was really getting somewhere – and there it was! The first one took a long while but after that, they really popped in. I made silpans with 6″ butyl tape (I got some generic “blue tape” from the Restore for $9/roll about which I was really excited, until I used it, and found it severely lacking in the stickiness department, so surrendered to $18/roll @ the hardware store) and a bead of silicone at the backside. Because these windows had pre-attached trim – not a nailing flange – we screwed them in through the face of the trim, which I’ll cover with putty and then paint, and I’ve slowly started shimming the interior and screwing through the interior frames as well. Haven’t figured out how to remove the track on the three double-hung windows to screw through those though. I flashed all the windows up over the outside edge of the trim and plan on putting metal drip edge over the tops as well, since we ended up shimming these windows 1/2″ out.
Notes to (tiny) builders on window installation:
1. Jeld-Wen has a very knowledgeable installation department, consisting mostly of a guy named Brent. Trouble is, their generic instructions included with each different kind of window *suck*, so Brent is a very busy man. Still, he was able to reassure me about such issues as the mysterious 1″ gap of open air at the sil of the double-hung windows that is supposed to be filled exclusively with expanding window foam. (We’re still a little skeptical…)
2. If you are ordering pre-trimmed (wood) windows, it cuts down potentially on leakage, definitely on labor, and adds cost (about $20/window if I recall correctly). Here’s the catch: If you’re using wood siding and furring strips to create a rainwall/air gap underneath the siding, you are probably going to need to shim the windows. After establishing that the window trim was only 1 1/4″ thick and the siding was 7/8″ plus a 3/8″ rainwall, I was considering either buying a planer for $250 to plane all of the siding down about 1/4″, or shimming the windows out 1/4″ or more so that the trim would jut out beyond the siding. After consulting with some carpenter friends, I decided to shim around the window frames with 1/2″ thick strips of treated lumber that I glued with wood glue and used finishing nails to tack into place. It added several hours to the window installation process. It also makes the windows a bit more vulnerable to leakage, which is why Brent told me to put metal drip caps over the tops.
3. Some other friends who are building a tiny house in Ohio (one of whom is a professional builder) mentioned they had to do the same thing, but found regular window drip edge to be too narrow to cover the full space, so they ended up using deck ledger flashing, which is comparable but wider. I haven’t used it yet, but will likely make a trip to pick some up tomorrow.
4. For the silpan, if I did it again, I would follow the recommendation of some smart builders who use a piece of beveled siding beneath the butyl tape to create a sloped sil. I opted not to do this, and just used butyl+caulk instead – which is also totally acceptable – because I was concerned that I didn’t have enough space in the rough opening to accommodate the addition of the bevel siding. Turns out there was plenty of room, as the R.O. gives about 1″ leeway.
5. If you can help it: Install your windows – and build your whole damn house – when it is above 55 degrees outside. Seriously. The butyl tape stops sticking around 45 degrees, so I was out there with a hairdryer getting it to stick. 😉
6. This last thought is iffy, but if you’re getting wood windows, I think I might paint them ahead of time rather than once they’re in place. It looks like it’s going to be a real pain in the butt. I am almost decided on a turquoise-ish color, but again, it’s too cold outside to paint them! Brent told me Jeld-Wen uses a water-based primer on their wood windows, which is cool, ’cause it’s eco-friendly. Unfortunately it means it’s not as durable, and he said if they’re left exposed to the elements for a while, they should be sanded and re-primed. Oy vey. In the meantime, I’m hoping for a freakishly warm 24-hour period in which to paint all of the exterior of the windows and trim. 😉 I think the interior I will finish with tung oil. Anyone have experience with this?
The roof was such a long time coming… it’s complete except for the ridge cap. Putting it up was easy, but a weird thing happened where I read and re-read and watched and re-watched instructions and instructional videos and called Fabral (the manufacturer) and called them again, trying to wrap my mind around the installation. Basically the people at Home Depot where I ordered the roofing don’t know shit about metal roofing, and I don’t blame them…. but that put the responsibility for knowing what the hell I was doing squarely on my shoulders, so I really had to get into it.
Just when I thought I “got it”, another thing would come up (see my last post, re: finishing strips). When finally the finishing strips arrived and we started putting the panels on, I thought I understood what I was doing. But after installing all of the panels and re-watching videos one more time, I realized that, despite my considerable attention, I had mis-read/heard the following:
1. Spacing on fasteners along the gable edge should have been 24″, not 6-8″. (That was a funny one. 🙂
2. Spacing along the panel face should have been 24″ for 90 MPH winds, not the 16″ I used. (Well, no hurricane is going to take this roof off!)
3. For a vented ridge (mine), the finishing strips at the top needed to be some kind of breathable material like Versa Vent, not the closed-cell foam strips I had bought for this purpose and used along the eaves (and waited 12 days to receive).
It’s fascinating how sometimes for us experiential learners, the mind doesn’t even register the words or meaning until physically having done the task. Anyway, now I have a really diesel roof. 🙂 I like it… it’s a little quirky and imperfect, full of character already. While sitting in storage for the past 5 months, some of the panels started oxidizing already… on my way to a rusty old thyme railroad roof, which is the look I was going for.
Meanwhile I’m starting to think ahead to how to make a doorway and trim the door so I can get the siding on pronto. You’re not supposed to leave Tyvek exposed for more than 60 days, which I’m sure is bendable, but it’s been over a month. I’ve also been making good slow steady progress on staining the siding. After buying two gallons of “espresso”, i.e. almost-black stain, I had the idea to use it up on the backs of the boards and go for a much warmer color called “black walnut”, which I LOVE. Because it is – you guessed it – too cold to stain the siding outside, I haul the 16-foot boards a few at a time awkwardly into our basement and get into the painting zone by listening to an e-book with my respirator strapped on. It’s pretty sweet actually. Right now I’m listening to an engrossing, albeit sometimes melodramatic, Wild.
One other thing about the next phase, i.e. siding, is the furring strips. These are strips of wood you screw/nail over wall studs over the Tyvek to create an air/drainage space between the siding and your wall. Tiny house people generally use 1/4″ strips as opposed to the traditional 3/4″, but I was having an impossible time finding something that thin besides the .77-cent-per-foot pine lattice. (Super expensive, FYI.) Then I found cedar interior paneling on clearance for a good price and thought to rip it into two pieces. But then I realized, why don’t I just rip down treated 2x6s? I don’t know why it took so long for that thought to come to me, but it’s good it did – I’ll now be spending about $25 for this step instead of the $50 instead of $120. Nevermind that I’m absolutely terrified of ripping lumber, especially 8-foot-long pieces. Fortunately my terror hasn’t kept me from any number of other amazing feats I’ve accomplished thus far, perhaps save for personal endeavors like asking boys out on dates and thru-hiking a long trail sola. But I’ll keep working at those, too.
Well, everytime I sit down to write this blog thinking I have nothing much to say and don’t want to be too intimate, I seem to write a very personal novel. Oh yeah – two more things I’m terrified and absolutely bound to do.
Love yourselves, you amazing evolution-factories!