Last month, I promised more regular updates on my progress: weekly posts on design decisions and milestones met, detailed drawings and Matchbox musings. Alas, I have once again failed to make a habit out of using this blog to chronicle my tiny home build.
So once more, let's catch up on what has changed over the past few weeks. When I last wrote, the Matchbox had just been stood up. It had walls, and a plywood roof, and some window cutouts: in effect, the skeleton of a tiny house. But there was still quite a bit to do to get the home dried in and protected from the elements. For one, it needed housewrap.
Day 17: Turning the Matchbox into a 20-foot-long Tyvek billboard
Housewrap isn’t the prettiest invention known to man, but it’s a fairly integral component of any self-respecting construction project. Basically, housewrap (most commonly sold by Tyvek as HomeWrap) is an impermeable layer intended to protect one’s walls from any moisture that may creep in through the siding. It’s a thin, paper-like material, but quite tough: it’ll take a sharp knife to slice through even the thinnest layer of housewrap.
|Putting the HomeWrap on smoothly required a bit of care, a box of staples, and just about an hour of work.|
Having successfully clothed the house, we then turned to windows—first cutting holes in the HomeWrap where the windows were framed, then installing window wrap around said frames, and finally screwing the actual windows into the house, with the assistance of easy-to-attach fins that came with the JELD-WEN windows. Excluding the skylight and the small panes on the door, the Matchbox has five fairly sizeable windows: four five-feet-wide-by-three-feet-fall ones in the main area, and then a slender double-hung beauty, about twenty-inches-wide-by-six-feet-tall, toward the back of the house.
Hours to date: 172
Building a flat roof is, I’m told, a recipe for disaster. When it comes to construction, water is the devil, always eager to slither about in any nook or cranny it can find. And so, prudence dictates that one should aim to exorcise water from their dwelling as quickly as possible—namely, with a steeply-pitched roof that dumps water onto the ground (or into a gutter) before it has time to cause any trouble. But with a flat (or nearly flat) roof, pesky H2O molecules can meander about a bit more lazily—in the case of my house, taking a pit-stop near the skylight or rappelling down the back of my vertical siding—with nothing but a slight two-degree pitch coaxing water droplets toward the gutter at the home's front. So when waterproofing my roof, I needed to use an impermeable barrier that would keep things dry, and reliably so.
|HomeWrap stapled to the sides; EPDM glued to the top.|
Applying the roof membrane was, indeed, a breeze. After lugging the heavy roll onto the roof, we applied some adhesive to the roof’s right half with a paint roller, then did the same to the right side of the EPDM roll. We then lifted and carefully dropped the rubber onto the plywood, and smoothed out wrinkles by going over that right half with a (new and clean) roller. After giving the right side a few minutes to adhere to the plywood, we then rolled over the left flap and repeated the process for the left side of the roof. Getting the EPDM to stick right to the edge of the wood was a bit tricky, but for the time being, we just let the excess foot-or-so of EPDM hang off of each side of the house. We then spent some time cutting a hole for the skylight (having already framed it out, this hole just had to be cut through the rubber), and finally wrapped up the day by dropping the skylight onto its custom-built curb.
So off to Missco it was, to have five two-inch steel tubes (with a quarter-inch gauge, for those interested) cut. Unfortunately, commercial steel is messy business: these tubes were coated with a greasy rust protector that left sooty streaks wherever the steel touched. To protect my pristine, newly-acquired loft decking from such streaks, I picked up about a half-dozen cans of Kilz primer and sprayed them down with the rattle-cans, giving the beams a clean white finish (technically this isn’t a finish, as I’ll likely paint them later—either true white or a complementary accent color). Then Tony and I got to work installing them: drilling each into the loft plate with some self-tapping screws, then throwing the decking (a high-quality plywood) on top.
|An example of the magnificent microfauna at Boneyard Studios.|
- Truly off-the-grid and seriously carbon-neutral. I’ve always aimed to make my tiny home as environmentally-friendly as possible, but after a few weeks of soul-searching and feasibility-finding, I’ve committed to making the Matchbox genuinely passive. By going with all-electrical appliances, planning for a solar array, using a waterless toilet, reusing greywater to hydrate the garden, and relying on compostable goods, the house will have a zero-waste output and won’t be tethered to any city utilities. And with a rain catchment system that will reuse the thirty-plus-gallons-per-month of rainwater to power the half-gallon-per-minute shower, the only thing the Matchbox will need in terms of external resources is about ten or twenty gallons of tapwater per month from the Boneyard Studios cistern.
- Buying 200+ siding boards and burning them all. Torching perfectly useable siding might seem like the least carbon-neutral thing one could do, but it’s actually a vital and non-wasteful step of an old Japanese tradition known as shou sugi ban—that is, the burning of a cypress or cedar (I’ll be using red cedar) to create a truly unique and natural siding solution that is rot-, insect-, and (paradoxically or perhaps not-so-paradoxically) fire-resistant.
- An awning and a rain catchment system wrapped into one. Gutters don’t have to be ugly, but they usually are. In order to ensure that my rain catchment system doesn’t come at the cost of aesthetics, I’ve designed a hidden drainage solution that will funnel water through the porch’s support beams and underneath the trailer to the back of the house in a seamless and entirely hidden fashion.
- Earthen plaster on the walls. Though bead board and traditional Tumbleweed pine both make excellent options for internal wall treatment, I’ve decided to go with adobe plaster instead. In addition to its beautiful natural look and sustainable production methods, this earthen plaster does a great job of absorbing and releasing excess moisture and condensation—very important for a small space in a humid climate.
- A (revised) color scheme! Light grey walls, white trim and white furniture, dark wood floors, and green fabrics for a warm, inviting, earthy ambience.
- Lots of floorplan changes. They’ll probably keep changing, so I’ll get to these later.
Rather than explain each of these more in-depth, I’m going to cut this already-lengthy post (aren’t they all?) short and get to these, in turn, over the next several weeks. In the meantime: thoughts, questions, comments? Interest in helping out with building? Let me know!