The Back Wall is Finished!

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We all know by now how much I love working with shakes… This wall was no exception (though not nearly as complicated as the front wall!) The biggest challenge with this one was making sure we had enough shakes left to finish the project. We had pre-cut some shakes that randomly disappeared in the shop the couple days we weren’t there, which left us scouring our remainders to see if we had enough. Luckily we were able to stain some more and had enough to finish the back wall. This is the result!

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We luckily didn’t need to use a ladder (we weren’t sure how we’d lean it on the house over the bike box and without hitting the shakes). I was able to reach the majority of it, and for the last row closest to the roof Drew (who is much taller than me) could reach up and get it. It’s convenient having a tall guy around.

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We also put siding up leading up to where the shakes begin, just like we had done for the other walls and the bike box. Nothing we weren’t used to. However, like the shakes, we were afraid we’d run out. And, we did! We were one piece short. Not too bad, considering it was all guesswork in determining how much we’d need at the beginning.

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The wooden trim around the window was installed the same way we installed it for the front half circle window. What was nice about this wall was that it was a lot of repeat work from the other walls, so we didn’t face many new obstacles (which certainly makes for a nice change of pace…)

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Next we’ll be installing the front door. We may not have any tarps on the house, but we still have a large plastic sheet covering the front entryway to keep out rainwater. (That is until we finish the door.) We’re almost completely plastic-sheet-free!

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Bike Box Part Two – Doors, Siding, Roof, and Snow

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We’ve recently been working on the bike box (see part one here) and are now onto building the bike box doors. The doors were a bit tricky because the pitch at the top of the doors had to match the pitch of the roof. So we set to measuring and building.

P1020055.JPGWe began with building the frame to the dimensions of the opening. We used 6 inch log screws to connect the boards, mainly because they were the longest we had and nothing else would do it. We then cut the top piece and adhered it with the same log screws we’d used below.

Next, we routed out a ledge along the back of the door frame where our cedar tongue and groove boards would fall. We did this so that the back of the door would lay flush with the frame so we’d have even surface to roll our bikes on up into the box. Using the router was rough – the first time we used it the bit bore too far into the wood and cracked it. After replacing the piece of wood, we tried again. We had a close call when we plugged the router in and it suddenly started up. Drew did a magic ‘oh crap’ dance and stopped it from running into anything.

Next, we cut the cedar tongue and groove to size to fit into the grooves in the door frame. Drew then used a pin nailer to adhere them to the door. P1020064.JPGAs an extra protection, we attached a bit of 1/4 inch trim around the back to prevent the boards from coming loose. Here is the finished product!

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We completed the other door in the same fashion and then attached some oil-rubbed door hinges to the bottoms.

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A finished bike box door
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Looking into the bike box. The doors fold down so that we can roll our bikes in. There is another door at the far end of the box that opens just like this one.

 

…And then it snowed.

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Which unfortunately slowed us down for a few days, but once it melted enough we were able to get back to work. We put down boards so we could get across the snow without tracking mud or snow everywhere, which was great until the snow under the boards turned to mush and we began slipping and sliding everywhere… Not something you want to do while carrying power tools.

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It deceivingly appears to provide safe passage.

Next it was on to the siding! I installed rain screen on the back wall along the stud lines (which I drew with chalk so I knew where they were). The process was the same as when we installed it on the large walls, but conveniently much shorter and reachable.

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Rain screen construction – the panels are nailed in first, then tar paper is adhered around them with cap nails.
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Finished rain screen

We inserted the top ends of the tar paper under the trim so as to prevent water from getting in.

Next, we added the siding. Again, same process as on the house, only conveniently within reach (though the snow did add it’s own challenges..)

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Mmm. Fun.
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Finished bike box siding

Now the three sides were done, so it was time for the roof! We hadn’t received the roofing yet, so we (luckily) needed to wait until the ground was dry.

I ended up working on shakes while Drew finished the roofing. Since the bike box is kind of a mini tiny house, the roofing wasn’t nearly as complicated as it was on the ‘big house’. Drew adhered the panels to the roof with roofing screws, leaving a short overhang over the door to help prevent water from sneaking in through the door opening. Then he installed “Z” flashing, a type of flashing that the top panel adheres to. Because our kitchen window extends so low near the roof, Drew cut the transition flashing around the window in order for it to fit. He finished the process by sealing the top with a layer of silicone.

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Top view of bike box roof
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The “Z” flashing fully installed

And the bike box is finished! (Aside from a few tweaks here and there…)

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Rain screen, Siding, and Catching Up.

P1010634Long time no post! Sorry about that. We’ve been out of town for a couple of months (to put it lightly), but we’ll be back to working on the house shortly! (And hopefully providing more updates regularly.. assuming we’re not completely exhausted like we were last time around.) So here are some updates on what we accomplished before we left.

We (almost) got the house completely in the dry! We managed to get the majority of the roof, rain-screen, and siding installed.

Let’s start with the rain screen.

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Completed rain screen on one side of the house.

Rain screens are used to keep your siding elevated above your tar paper and create a drainage plane/ventilation for standing water – which could otherwise create rot. This centuries old method of construction has been used on Norwegian stave churches and Japanese buildings which are still standing today.

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The rain screen extends all the way to the under edge of the roof.

Creating a rain screen is quite simple – it basically involves installing ribs of plywood on top of the existing tar-paper surface. First we had to determine where the studs were inside the house so that we made sure we were nailing the rain screen into a solid beam. This took a lot of working with measurements inside the house and using them to determine where those same points were outside. Then we drew lines with chalk to determine where to adhere the plywood.

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Using the finish nailer. So much easier!
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I had so much time left over after nailing that I even had time to pose for a cheesy picture.

Once we completed that step, we used the tablesaw to cut long 3″ strips of plywood. From there we used a 2.5″ finish nailer to attach the plywood to the outside of the tar paper. I first started this process by attempting to use the dinky palm nailer. It immediately cracked the first piece of plywood. I tried again, this time more slowly and carefully. Same result. I even tried hammer and nail. Nope. The nails were too thick and the nailer was too strong. The finish nailer, while not petite in the slightest, is the smoothest tool I’ve used yet. And fast. (And luckily has two safety’s.) It can only fire when both the tip AND the trigger are compressed. So this made the process go much quicker!

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Notice we left room at the base of the wall so we could later add trim.

After attaching all the strips of plywood to the studs, I then cut long strips of tar paper (about 8″ in width) and attached the pieces around the plywood (so it essentially makes a ‘ridge’ in the wall) with capped roofing nails. I tried to cover the tops of the plywood so that the water couldn’t get through there either. Even if it did, we left the bottom open so it could drain out and receive air circulation.

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We later tucked the tar paper in behind the trim board.

If you would like to learn how to make your own rain screen, this PDF is an invaluable resource we found incredibly helpful during our process.  

Meanwhile, Drew added the bottom trim, but with a twist. He and his dad drilled holes through the wood and attached a screen over the holes to keep out debris and bugs. (A big thank you to the secret donor who donated the two screen doors he’d previously walked through and broken.) This made it so any water that got under the siding could drain out through the bottom.

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The base board with holes drilled all the way through for drainage.
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The window screen is wrapped around the board and then stapled.

Drew also worked on adding in the inputs for our water and electrical systems. He framed out a small utilities panel using cedar 2×4’s so they would match our window framing and cut out a pair of holes for the water and electrical inputs. Amazingly, they’re designed to be adaptable with nothing more than a garden hose and a standard 120 volt extension cord. That way we can have water and power just about anywhere we park.

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Drilling holes for the inputs.
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Inputs installed.

Now the majority of our walls were ready for siding! We still need to build a bike holder against the end wall over the hitch and figure out a front porch, so we haven’t put siding on those sections yet. We’ll hopefully be getting to that soon.

Next was prepping the siding for installation. We bought ~650 linear ft of cedar lap siding. As was mentioned in a previous post, we coated our cedar boards with 100% linseed oil. Pure linseed oil provides a protective coating that preserves the wood naturally and protects it from water damage, mold, insects, and UV damage. It also helps the wood retain its color. Unfinished cedar (over time) turns grey, because the outer cells of the wood dry up, turn grey, and flake off. So we needed to stain all 650 ft. of the boards on one side only. On the other we used a milk paint primer, the reason being if rain accumulated behind the siding, it would have less of a chance to soak into the wood.

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Adding a layer of milk paint to one side of the boards.
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After the milk paint dried, we stained the other sides of the boards with linseed oil.

This turned into a long process of paint, move, dry, wait, move, paint, move, dry, move, move-again-because-we-need-the-room, move-again-because-it’s-supposed-to-rain, fine-it-can-go-there-but-not-really-because-we’re-out-of-room–sigh-okay-fine-it’s-there-now.

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Finding a storage spot for these boards was difficult. A few of the boards wouldn’t even fit inside our house. Needless to say our house smelled like milk for a while.
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We set up sawhorses outside to dry the cedar boards.
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The finished boards stored away in the house.

Luckily a lot of people helped us with the painting process. Sam even helped install a lot of the siding! Thanks Sam, Kas, Z, and Diane. You all made the process a lot smoother!

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Mixing milk paint, which initially comes in powder form.

So while I was working with the boards, Drew was back on the roof trying to finagle the last few tricky bits – one being the ridge cap.

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The house with a lot of the siding already in place. Drew’s working on installing the ridge cap.

This part wasn’t easy. There are numerous steps that must be done and pieces to be attached before adhering the ridge cap to the roofing. First, the eave flashing had to be installed, and then we had to slip on pieces of metal called transition flashing, and after that we had to install the small rails of metal that the triangular ridge cap would slide onto. It was a lot of checking the sizing, then mark it, pull it back off, cut it, check it again, find that you forgot something, take it back inside, etc.

And with that, we had most of the outside of our house done. We had to leave town, so we bought a second expensive gray tarp, covered the whole house with it (I hope I never have to do that again-it’s the worst), and were on our way.

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I’ll be glad when we’re past the tarp stage – our roof has sharp edges, which unfortunately leads to tearing…

And now we’re (almost) back and ready to get working. We’re ready to stop worrying about rain and finish our house! We’re both so excited to live in it. While we’ve been away I went to a workshop on how to build your own rain barrel. When the instructor mentioned using a jigsaw I got really excited. Jigsaw! Rivets! Plywood! It felt like I’d been away from building for so long that it was an ancient language slowly coming back to me. Oddly I’ve missed it. As insane as it was, I’ve missed it. Or maybe I’m just romanticizing it and have forgotten how hard and sleep-depriving an adventure it was.

But hey, at least it was an adventure.

Oh, and should I mention that our tiny house is currently parked in a flood plain next to a river where it’s been threatening to pour 10+ inches of rain (and they’ve released extra water from the reservoir, making the river even higher), and we’re hundreds of miles away where we can’t really do anything about it? Eight years ago the entire area was about six feet under water due to a flood.

Yeah. An adventure all right.