Real progress!: construction commences on the tiny house floor


This will not be a post in which I talk about how I'm going to start building soon and then bore with you winding philosophical rants and/or minimalist musings. No, dear reader: this will be an actual update of actual work completed on the actual house. Behold: progress!

Day 1: Getting materials and installing the decking

Lots and lots of lumber: plywood and 2x6s for the floor.
As I mentioned in my last post, last Saturday marked the official start of Matchbox construction. The day began, bright and early, with a protracted trip to the local Home Depot, during which Tony and I acquired all the materials we would need to build a floor: lots and lots of 2x6s, a few plywood panels, an assortment of nuts and bolts and screws, several rolls of aluminum flashing, and some general-purpose construction gear like hammers and gloves and tape measures.

Three hours and $1,300 later, we arrived at Boneyard Studios with building supplies in tow. Adam, my welder, was already on site welding some steel tubing to the outside of my trailer (needed to support the walls and affix the house to its foundation), so while he finished up, Tony and I moved the wood from the truck to the shipping container. Then we got to work on the decking, the pressure-treated 2x6s on which the floor joists (and eventually the entire home) will ultimately rest.

If you'll recall, I purchased the trailer sans deckingthat is, without anything to stand on but a few steel beams running the width of it. To remedy that, I needed to cut some pressure-treated wood to span from beam to beam, then screw that wood into the steel beneath it to hold it in place.

Drilling several scores of screws into steel was a slow and sweaty process, so once completed, we packed it in for the night and called it a solid first day of work on the job.

Hours: 10
Hours to date: 10

Day 2: Flashing and framing the floor

With the decking firmly in place, this Friday I began building the floor. First, a brief stop at Home Depot to pick up some things that were out-of-stock the previous weekend (like insulation), then back to Boneyard to resume work.

We started by rolling out tar paper across the length of the trailer. This tar paper, I am told, acts as a barrier between the pressure-treated wood of the decking and the soon-to-be-added aluminum flashing; if absent, the former's chemicals will corrode the latter. After stapling the paper to wood, we then rolled out and nailed in the flashing: a sturdy aluminum that seals the floor's underbelly and prevents moisture and monsters from creeping up into the floorboards. Next, we got started on joists, the actual frame and structure of the floor itself. While Tony began taking measurements, I commenced cutting with the chopsaw, slicing a few dozen 2x6s to just the right length for their respective placements.

We spent a good portion of the day cutting and measuring and aligning and realigning, and as night approached, we managed to get the joists more or less screwed together and set in place.

Hours: 12
Hours to date: 22

Day 3: Finishing framing and installing insulation

The next day, we spent a few hours taking precise measurements of the joist placement, ensuring that the floor's frame was indeed straight and square and sturdy, as any imperfections in the floor would be problematic for proper alignment of the walls. We also ran into a few snags getting all of the joists uniformly levelsome sat higher than othersand rectifying that minute variance took a bit of time. Despite the slow start, however, a good amount of work was done: a few wonderful friends came out to help screw in L-brackets, which joined the joists and decking, and to get underneath the trailer and ratchet some very-necessary bolts into its steel frame.

Once everything was pieced togetherthat is, once the floor's framing was completeI started cutting insulation, aiming to squeeze just the right amount of foam into each joist pocket in order to best keep the cold from entering through the floor. Working with the insulation's rigid foam was a mildly frustrating (and rather messy) ordeal, but by the end of the day, nearly every box within the frame was stuffed with 2" of EnergyStar insulating material, providing an r-value of about 13 from below.

Hours: 11
Hours to date: 33
Total expenses to date: $7,125

And so ...

So yes: the Matchbox now has a nearly-completed floor! During the next day of building, I'll need to finish up the insulation installation, cover the whole thing up with plywood, and take care of the remaining boltingthen it'll be on to the walls! In the meantime, here's a short timelapse video that condenses three days (or thirty-three hours) of work into just three minutes. Enjoy!

I'm positively thrilled to finally be started, and immensely appreciative of all the support and encouragement I've received since this project's inception. I'd also like to thank a few individuals in particular:

  • Justin, for the use of his truck on the aforementioned lumber runs, and for coming out to the site on an absurdly hot Saturday to climb underneath a trailer and help out with the build.
  • Dan, for coming out to the site on an absurdly hot Saturday to help out with the build, even after being given the wrong address (by me) and winding up on the other side of an enormous cemetery on foot.
  • Jeff and Mona, for the use of their tools and for stopping by to check on the build and offer encouragement.
  • Julia, for architecture tips and access to her library of construction books.
  • Tony, for his absolutely tremendous help and guidance in these first steps of building, enabling progress that would not be possible without his superb tutelage.
  • Lee, for putting me in touch with Tony, sharing his fantastic services, and making a lumber run on Saturday for a much-needed missing 2x6.
  • Brian, for makin' it all happen.
  • And you, for giving a damn and reading this and demonstrating some interest (perhaps through a comment below?) so that I'm reassured that this whole venture isn't (entirely) crazy.

:) Thanks guys.


  1. Was more than happy to help, and can't wait to be out there again.

  2. Post lots of pictures so we can see it grow!

  3. More than happy to help. I am still sore from crawling under the trailer, LOL!. I can't wait to make it back out to help again.

  4. Very cool Jay. Looking forward to hearing all about it and would love to stop by.


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