Category Archives: House and Garden

Garden Fliers

I’m part of a group of people who try to encourage my area to start gardens and share extra vegetables. I draw fliers to get people to come to events and covers for informational pamphlets. I’ve thought up lots of things to do with veggies.

 

Tiny House

There’s a movement in America called the Small House movement that promotes the idea of scaling back the size of your home and living in something simple that can meet your needs. It contrasts the wasteful McMansions that are way too common (I have a hard time understanding why people even want to live in those).

Tiny Houses are basically repurposed trailers that have been ripped apart and rebuilt into customized little homes. I’ve been helping build one with a couple of people for a friend to live in and it’s been going up incredibly fast. The house is about 30 feet long and 8 feet wide, which is actually pretty large for a Tiny House. It has a kitchen and fully functional bathroom with a shower, as well as two bedrooms (one is a loft). It’s not done yet, but after about 6 weeks it’s almost complete. I’ll post some pictures of the final product when I have them, but for now here’s some shots of the building process.

This was the busted old trailer we started with.
We ripped it down to the frame. It was in such bad shape that there was a bee colony living in the insulation
Rebuilt floor
The new frame is built out of 2x4s. The original trailer was built out of 2x2s, so the Tiny House will actually be much more stable.

There are two lofts in the house. The one that the camera is on is where a bedroom will be.
This is the beginings of the kitchen counter. The dark wood on the wall is actually salvaged from a building that was over 150 years old. It’s a custom touch that the person who’s going to live in it requested.
This is another view of the sleeping loft. Admittedly, it would probably be uncomfortable if you were tall, but the person living here is pretty short. There’s also going to be another bedroom in the bottom back, which you can also see here.

 

Livable House

So by December the house was fit to live in and we were sleeping in it. It’s heated by a wood burning stove, and although it could be bigger, it heats the whole space easily. On days that were 10 degrees F, I was in there with a T-shirt and was totally comfortable.

As far as light goes, it has several sun tubes built into the roof. They’re basically just plastic buckets with the bottom cut off and some mylar on the inside to reflect light. They light the place up considerably during the day. We also have an electrical connection coming from the trailer on the property. We plan on cutting that out eventually and rigging up a solar powered battery setup, but we’re not there yet.

Water comes from a well on the property. We have a few 55 gallon drums ?hidden in the ground above the house. Every once and a while we fill them up and have gravity fed, cold water. We’re working on making hot water as well by just wrapping a drum in black material and leaving it in the sun all day, but with a stove on hand, it’s not really that important until we rig up showers.

We have a toilet in the house as well. I don’t have pictures of it, but it?warrants?it’s own post. It’s a compost toilet, so it uses no water and the poop will be used on the garden in a couple of years. It doesn’t stink at all. I’ll explain more about it when I get some pictures.

The house is covered in plastic and so far (A year down the line) has not leaked. There is a small amount of leaking that comes from the cracks in the stone wall, but we actually build planters?underneath?it and they’ve worked well. Overall the place feels pretty luxurious, even though I’m sure there are skeptics thinking it’s a glorified cave. It still gets dirty, but that’s mostly due to the fact that the place is still under construction and we stomp through it after dirty farm work.

I have no shots of the back room in the right of this picture. It was mostly used for storage until recently. The walls in that room are wooden.

This is an old shot of the outside. Since then, the plastic has been covered by a stone wall and it looks more hidden.
You can see the planters we built to prevent rain runoff from the stone wall.

These are the stairs that lead down the cliff to one of the doors. They're built on a natural incline

Putting on the roof

The roof is supported by logs we got from a friend who lives nearby. He helped us lay them on with his excavator, but it wasn’t easy work. Here are some in progress shots. I’d say these were about 2 months after we started the house, so probably in early October 2011.

After this there was a surprise October?blizzard?in New York. Our hands were covered in motar and we were digging through piles of rocks to build around the logs and hold them in place. We were also bringing the rocks up ladders. Probably the most uncomfortable work day we had.

The first build

We actually made friends with someone who had a small excavator and he was able to clear most of the spot where we planned on building the house. Like I said, it turned out there was a rock shelf under the area, but it actually worked with our design.

The first thing that needed to be done was to get the mud out. Even a power wash was ineffective, so it had to be done manually.

The next step was to start piling up rocks to build the walls. All the blue stone actually comes from the property. We didn’t import any rocks for this project. We literally dug them out of a hill with our hands… watching for snakes of course…

We also set up a method to get?mortar?down the cliff for us to use. We mixed it on top of the cliff and then sent it down the tube into a bucket. Way easier than carrying those 80 pound bags down there.

We never worked with stone before, but we had someone teach us how to do it and get us started. Here’s a shot of what we had about a month in.