Next came the really exciting part. Framing! We framed entirely with 2×4’s to keep the weight down while still providing the structure we needed. We should have referenced it earlier, but we followed a great little guidebook called “Tiny House Design and Construction” by Tiny Home Builders. It is not a specific set of plans, but instead an overview of the phases of tiny house construction. We definitely recommend this book if you’re going the route of building your own tiny house.
This was the moment when the fact that we were designing everything about this house ourselves really came to the fore. We needed to decide what we wanted to do about the windows and the door (more on this later). Through the magic of craigslist, we found 6 window sashes for $5 a piece. We got a leaded glass window from ebay and a stained glass awning window for a song from a lady who was renovating her house. We decided to make our own door since we wanted one smaller than any standard doors we saw and because we wanted it to be a dutch door.
We mapped out where these openings went and followed some basic rules which caused the downstairs framing to really design itself. Our studs were spaced the standard 16 inches on center. Our head height needed to be 6’2″ We put headers above the window and door openings. We also used a header as the bottom plate of the framing over the wheel wells. Before we knew it, the downstairs was framed and our little house was taking shape!
Frame of the downstairs front wall.
Will and his dad cut 2x4s
The next decision we had to make was what size exactly our tiny house was going to be. Legally, we had to keep it under 8′ 5″ wide and 13′ 5″ tall to take our tiny casa on the road without a permit. We mocked up our floor plan in the sun-room of our apartment. We decided we could fit all our things in an 8 ft by 14 ft space, provided we had the ubiquitous sleeping loft and storage loft. Now we needed a trailer. This is the first big purchase you will make if you decide to build a tiny house, and it’s a darn important one! After scouring craigslist again, we found P&T Trailer Sales, Inc, based out of Hunstville, AL. They gave us a great deal and built it to order.
Nya with our utility trailer
Will’s father graciously allowed us to use his yard as our building site and gave us full access to his impressive collection of tools collected over years of home building projects. Many thanks! 🙂 We built the subfloor out over the wheel wells of the trailer to give us a full 8 foot foundation (2×4 construction).
We doubled up the floorboards of the trailer to get it level with the lip of metal frame.
The trailer covered in flashing to protect from water and critters
We covered the bottom in aluminum flashing, and filled it with rigid insulation. We bolted it down with lag screws and covered it in thick subfloor plywood. Voila! The foundation is complete!!!
Will bolting down the frame
Will’s dad cutting rigid insulation
Nya sets the insulation in place
Filling the cracks with Great Stuff
The subfloor is complete!
Back in September 2014, we were in the early brainstorming phases of our tiny house journey. We knew we wanted to travel frequently and explore the beautiful varied vistas of the US of A, so mobility was obviously key. It needed to fit within our modest budget as well. Our original concept was a small gypsy wagon called a “Vardo.” A quick craigslist search turned up a beautiful little Vardo handmade by a man in Blue Ridge named Blackfox. When we spoke on the phone, he was very polite and clearly passionate about the tiny house movement. He said the Vardo was too small for our purposes, but he could make us a custom unit that would fit our needs. Well, hot dog! We hopped in the car and made the sojourn from Atlanta to Blue Ridge, GA.
After trekking through the woods, we pulled up to find the Vardo parked right at the end of the drive. It was even more beautiful in person! We had a blast as he showed us his workshop with creations ranging from homemade rocket stoves to a beautiful live edge table. We sat down to discuss particulars. What we came up with were some very cool plans. We both agree that if we had decided to work with Blackfox we would have ended up with a great tiny home. We decided against it though, for a few reasons. For one, we lived too far away. We wouldn’t have gotten to be there as our home was coming to life! Secondly, our money was tight and we didn’t want to enter into an agreement if there was a chance we might not have been able to afford it. And thirdly, we were gaining confidence that we could do this ourselves!
So we thanked Blackfox and set out to design our house. We had some googling to do.
We first looked at a gypsy Vardo like this one
Let me tell you a little story.
Last September, two newlyweds, Will and Nya, were searching desperately for an alternative lifestyle to escape from their prisons of the full-time cubicle 8-5 desk jobs they were toiling away day after day at. After seeing a documentary called “Tiny” on Netflix, they started building a tiny house together so they could travel the country while working remotely and living the dream of wandering gypsies. Neither of them had any building experience. They didn’t buy any plans. They had very little knowledge of the world of Tiny Houses. They just went for it!
So that brings us to the here and now where the story lives and breathes the present day. We’re starting this blog with the outside of the house nearly complete and the things we’ve been doing appear to be successfully culminating into a real, working house! We even dragged an air mattress into the bedroom loft and “camped out” inside of it for a few nights! It seems we are rounding a corner in the building of this tiny house of ours where we can’t help but say to ourselves multiple times a day “it’s really happening!!!”
What all this amounts to is that we finally have the confidence to write a blog about what we’re doing. This blog is not intended to be the final word on how to build a tiny house. This is our journey to freedom. And the view looks great from where we’re standing!
Our progress so far…