I had never planned on blogging about our tiny house project but after this weekend, I’m quickly learning that there is just way too much involved not to! Not only do I want to record the process for myself, but I also want to keep family and friends updated. It will also be cool exist on the internet so that some other newbie might stumble across it in their search for all things Tiny House related. Thus, without further ado, here is Tiny House Adventure post number 1…
With our shiny new 8×20 trailer parked snuuuuggly in our driveway, Mr. W and I were finally able to take measurements and draw some basic plans. That sounds a lot simpler than it was, at least for me! I started out using a few different online floor plan design websites that all claimed to be user-friendly, including floorplanner.com, homestyler.com, lucidchart.com and Google Sketchup, but each one lacked elements that I needed. I had the best experience with Lucidchart except there’s no option to input dimensions (you have to drag things across the grid to size them), and the grid didn’t account for things like wall thickness in it’s overall size. Google Sketchup is excellent, but without paying for it I could only download a fifteen hour free trial (and I am definitely not a floor-plan-in-fifteen-hours-or-less kind of gal!). After two days of these websites and not really getting anywhere, I decided to get some graph paper, pencils, erasers and a ruler. I had a workable floor plan in two hours! This is definitely the method I recommend if you are not super handy with more sophisticated planning software or don’t want to shell out the bucks for a copy of SketchUp. And as an added bonus, we’ll have this baby to display in the house as the first piece of art :)
Now that we’ve got a basic floor plan (specifically, door and window placement, roof pitch and dormer dimensions), and have finished researching insulation options (fiberglass, polystyrene, cellulose, mineral wool, etc.), taking into account environmental factors/green-friendliness, potential health risks, financial cost and R value, we went to Lowe’s today and bought fourteen bags of Roxul ComfortBatt (stone wool) for our floor, walls and roof. And we got it on SALE. (Yaye Lowe’s!) We chose stone wool for it’s natural water-resistant and fire-retardant properties (it’s not chemically treated for those elements) and because it poses low health risks, is arguably greener than the others and is affordable.
- (Free tidbit: Cellulose, or blow-in insulation, used to be the green “go-to” according to the internet, but due to it’s composition of recycled materials, which makes it impossible to ever know exactly what chemicals may be present, and it’s chemical fire-retardant, Roxul has begun to take it’s place).
- (Another free tidbit: according to this chart, Roxul insulation is naturally fire-resistant to the point that our steel trailer frame would lose it’s load-bearing capacity due to melting before our insulation would catch on fire.)
Since we drive a Honda Civic, we knew we’d need some other way to get it all home. We originally planned to rent a van from Lowe’s for $20/hr, but since neither of us have an insurance card with our name on it, the van was a no-go. We ended up lugging all fourteen bags home (all the way across the city) in five trips with the Honda and our friend’s four-door Jeep—three bags per car, per trip!
I think we both thought it would be a lot squishier than it is but this stuff is packed into the bags so tight, they are pretty much solid. Not a lot of wiggle room.
After three hours of back and forth we had it all home and tucked into the shed.
The back-and-forth made it a pretty long day, but I have to say, the staff at Lowe’s were a pleasure to work with. They watched us come and go, taking three bags at a time, and they were helpful, friendly and generally pleasant the whole time. No one minded that we had a huge load of insulation taking up space in the loading zone all afternoon and seemed to be both impressed and amused with our perseverance.
Our next purchase will be the makings of our subfloor—caulking, vapour barrier, thermal strips (to stop thermal bridging from taking place, which is what happens when your studs and joists act as thermal conductors and your heat passes right through them—I am constantly learning!) and plywood. And in the meantime, we will be very busy designing our stairs and working on our plans.