A Week of Winter

On the day after Christmas we had plans to head up north to our Tiny and see how she was doing.  Of course it would also give us the opportunity to hang out with some of our favourite people.   The roads were clear so off we went.  When we got to the house it was pretty cold inside, although the electric furnace ran at a minimum so we did not have to worry about anything freezing.  We quickly got a fire going in our little hobbit stove and within an hour the place was toasty warm.  We had some issues with our wood as some of our wood was very dry and we discovered some was not.  Next purchase will be a moisture metre for our firewood.   We went to the local building supply store and found they had a sale on manufactured wood logs so we stocked up on them and found that we got a lovely consistent heat when we used them.

It was so cold that even the air intake on our hobbit stove got iced up.  It did not appear to affect its function at all and it disappeared as the outside temperature got higher.

There are a few features that make our house cold weather friendly.  The spray foam insulation used by our builder gives it an R21 Value.  The skirt that we have around the bottom is also spray foam insulated keeping the underneath from freezing as well.

All windows are double glazed but we still had ice on the inside of them when the temperatures dipped below -25 Celsius.   We were told that this is pretty normal for any home up north in those temperatures.  When the out door temperature rose to a balmy -12 Celsius, the ice on the window disappeared.

We have all the pipes and hook up in place for the water connection but we have not yet connected it.  This is because we are not there full time and we do not want to risk any freezing while we are away.  So for now we shower and laundry at a family members home and bring in water for cooking and drinking.  The Hobbit stove can easily  bring it up to 23 degrees C inside but the outside compartments are not getting that warmth.   We have electric blankets on the propane tanks and a small rod heater in the compartment where the instant hot water heater is but because it is not hooked up , it is not yet providing its own heat.  Once we are in it full time for a whole winter we’ll have a better idea of what works and what we might need to change, but for this chilly week we were pretty happy with it.

It was beautiful and cozy watching the snow fall while we were snuggled up inside with a book and our magazines.

The view from our sitting area.

Our plan was to be up north for three days.  But the roads heading south turned very bad, and our grandson, who was due to be born the week before christmas decided to stay put and came into this world 11 days late. So we stayed to meet him and were so glad we did.

He came in at an exquisitely perfect 9 lbs and 6 oz.  Fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

 

 

 

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Tiny Home Prep

We always thought our tiny house was pretty big as far as tiny houses go.  And then we marked the layout on our site.  And suddenly it didn’t look so big any more.

Even though we built our tiny house on wheels we always planned that it would be parked in one place as much as possible, with the mobility of it giving us the option to move at a later date if we needed to.  So this meant we had to get our tiny home site prepped.  We have the option of going solar at a later date but for now we needed water and hydro and a base to park it on.  So let the digging begin.  The first step was putting down concrete sono tubes on all four corners to rest the corner jacks on.  But since one of us is an over planner we opted to dig eight sono tubes with four extra in the midsection of the trailer to take the weight off the wheels.  It is very convenient to have family members who can provide tractors, plowers, diggers and various other dirt moving equipment.  The guys dug the holes while my daughter Tessa and I wired the rebar together. This would be placed in the tubes before the concrete was added to give it extra strength.

It was pretty exciting to watch the concrete truck back right up and fill each hole.

Once we had the concrete tubes in the ground it was time to set up the hydro and water hook up.  Which again required a substantial amount of digging.   At one point the excavator took a bit of a tumble but we simply pulled it out with a bigger tractor. And by “simply” I mean a lot of head scratching and manual digging.    Now we know where Corb Lund got his inspiration for “The truck got stuck”

This adventure came with a certain amount of circle prayer time.  Once the trough was dug, the wires and tubes were laid for water and hydro.  A pole had already been put in place and the electrician got it all connected.

 

While we were at it we also dug in a French drain for our grey water.  Because we have a composting toilet there is no sewage which makes setting up our house so much easier.  Ha Ha… easier…. Obviously this was not all that easy.

While it was a lot of work we had so much expert help doing this.  We are so thankful for the hard working hands and ingenuity of my son Mike and son-in-law Matt who did most of the work on this, and of course Caleb who knew exactly where things had to go.

Next blog…. Moving day!

 

 

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Details

Before our home was delivered our builder had a photo shoot done by the very talented James Alfred Photography.   I love how the photos capture all the details that makes this home so special and personal to us.

I knew I wanted green cupboards.  And I knew I wanted them in this shade of green.  Sherwin Williams Clary Sage.  But Ikea does not make green cupboards so that meant I was painting the fronts while the builder installed the cupboards.  Once I had them done with primer and several coats he was able to install and finish them.

You can read about my countertops in another blog but I am so happy with how they turned out.  They clean up easy and the shine just adds to the whole feeling of light and lightness.

This pullout pantry was as a special request of mine.  I have one in my current house and its my favourite kitchen feature.  This one is from Lee Valley.  The builder had to adjust the door to make sure it would slide freely even when it was full of items.   The cupboard beside it is a closet.

I love our stairs but I really love the little kitty litter cubby hole that hides below them.  The second step lifts up to reveal the litter box for easy cleaning.  It has the same built in fan that comes with the natures head composting toilet and it runs continually giving Snoopy his own ventilation system.

The stove is a hobbit stove by Salamander stoves.  It is imported from Great Britain and comes in a wide variety of colours.  Not yet CSA approved although the pages and pages of specification provided by the manufacturer are probably over and above.  It has a low emission output and a separate air intake making it ideal for our small space.

Oh the debate over stackable or combo washer and dryer!  It goes on and on.  We have lots of storage so we didn’t feel like the combo was our only option. This Bosch pair has no outside vent on the dryer making it work well for a cold climate.  The reviews on the combos are not that great but I think we’ll be pretty happy with this.  A middle shelf pulls out for laundry folding, if you like that sort of thing. My second favourite thing in this photo is the opaque pocket door window.  I love that light can pour in from both sides even while it’s closed.

I had no idea how much thought goes into putting a couch together until I tried  design one myself.  How deep? How wide? How tall? How tall should the back board be? How thick? What about storage? Arm rests? Where will my cup of tea go?   I spent a year measuring every couch I sat on.  As a seamstress I usually carry a measuring tape with me and I found I pulled it out everywhere and kept notes in my phone.  My builder made the shape and back board and Snoopy and I got down to upholstering it.  We added the corner post because after all that measuring, I knew the corner of the couch would be jutting out and be the first thing you see when you come in the french doors so I wanted a feature that looked pretty and tied it all together.  So our friend Jon, who does excellent wood turning, created this post for me to tuck into the corner of our couch. And once it was all put together we discovered that the three window sills that surround this couch are perfectly wide enough for a mug.

As soon as Upcycled Studio posted this antique door on their instagram account I knew I wanted it.  Only it didn’t look that then.  I was just an old white door but the perfect fit for the closet I knew I wanted.  I took it over to Birchtree Path furniture who makes amazing things out of old furniture and she stencilled it up for me.  And for free!! All I had to do was babysit her baby Wally who happens to be my grandson so a pretty good trade.

There are a few things from our regular home that I wanted incorporated into our Tiny.  One of them was the wrought iron work that is in the loft and the other was these stained glass windows.  I had them custom made by a very talented person with the plan to have them  installed as transom windows in our 110 year old house.  But as soon as we started the build I pulled them out and gave them to Brian, our builder and asked him if they could be staggered down the stairs.  He ordered custom windows to their size and inset the stained glass into the frame work.  I love love love them and it is the one thing we get the most compliments on.

 

 

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Countertop Conundrum

When we hired a contractor to build our tiny home, there was one thing I wanted to do myself and that was the counter tops. I really wanted a raw edge thick substantial piece of wood that would really pop! If I have to stand at my kitchen counter for long periods of time, and be in the company of it, I wanted it to be fabulous. Luckily for me, I knew someone who could source me the wood I wanted. So I called up my boy Mikey, who lives in Northern BC and just happens to know someone who has a sawmill.

I told Mike what I wanted and he was able to help make my countertop dreams come true. However the thing with raw wood is that it needs to be dried. How long can that take I wondered? A couple of months? Turns out it can take over a year. Especially if that wood is particularly thick. So here I was with these fabulous slabs of wood. I wanted them in the house by a certain date because the builder was putting the house on display. I called a local wood working artisan and he agreed he would take my wood and shape them into fabulous counter tops for me. And then he asked “When were they cut?” I told him they had been cut for about three months and he said “Oh noooooo, I can’t touch them for a year!” A year! And I had seven days before my house went on display to the public at an event where hundreds of people would be coming through.

I need a plan B. I checked out IKEA. Nothing there popped out at me and I didn’t want to spend a chunk of money on something that I might take out a year from now. I headed to my local builder supply and I spotted beautiful cedar boards, 2 inches by 10 inches by 12 feet long. I fell in love but when I asked my builder for advice, he told me whatever I used had to be kiln dried. The cedar I had in mind was not. So I went to the store and asked what do you have that is 2 inches by 10 inches by 12 feet long that is kiln dried and suitable for a kitchen counter? They sent their guys out back and they found three of the straightest and flattest pieces of spruce. They trimmed off the rounded edges so I could glue them together with a nice smooth edge. They also cut them down to size to fit in my house. I took them home and glued them together and for the next four days, I put coat after coat of varathane on them.

I lost count but I think about 10. When the weather changed I moved all my boards to a room in my house. Before I went to work in the morning, I would add a coat. When I got home from work and before I cooked dinner, I added another coat. Finally I brought them to Brian at MintTinyHomes so he could complete the kitchen. He installed them perfectly and they look pretty great. We got so many compliments on our counters when we had our open house.  And the cost? $69 for the wood and about $55 for the varathane.

We knew we could never build our own tiny house, and my attempt at doing my own countertops proved why. The one thing I wanted to do on my own went sideways.
So now I have several pieces of thick raw edged wood drying out. I am not sure I what I will end up doing with them but whatever it is, they will look amazing.

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Tiny Open House

This gallery contains 16 photos.

This weekend for the first time, we got to stay in our tiny house. But we weren’t alone. We were joined by about a couple of hundred visitors and tiny house enthusiasts, most of whom told us that they watched … Continue reading

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Do we or don’t we?…..

We don’t have cable TV.  We had never seen a tiny house show.  There was a guy on Oprah one time but I didn’t pay too much attention to him.  What started the journey for us was a book.  It was called Tiny Homes Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn.  We picked it up off my son and daughter in laws coffee table and were immediately intrigued.  The seed was planted but it stayed dormant for quite some time.  But we did our research, googled, youtubed and instagrammed anyone who had a tiny home.  And every time we visited Mike and Jean Ann we would pour over the book asking our selves “could we?, should we? dare we?”

And one day we discovered a local tiny home building company right in our back yard.  So we called up Brian at Mint Tiny Homes and he gave us the grand tour. It was very short (dare I say tiny) but we had a zillion questions and he patiently answered them all, not knowing if he would ever see us again.

Fast forward a year later and there were big changes happening in our lives so along with those changes, we asked ourselves if this was the time to rethink how we live.  So once again we called up Brian and asked for another tour, and another round of questions.   Not long after that we presented him with our design and he said “yes” to every design/functionality question we threw his way.

And there we were, contract in hand, money transferred, and our journey as tiny home people began…..

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