“Build-A-Bear”…I mean…”Build-A-Tiny House!”

Ness’s Mama is here to visit and boy do we have work for her to do! Teri, Ness’s Mama, was so happy and excited to lend a hand at one of the most boring and labor intensive phases of the build, insulating the house. We chose to use a polyester insulation called “Greenstuf.” We chose polyester over fiberglass pink batts because Ness is allergic to pink batts, and has asthma, which is not good when it comes to insulation. The Greenstuff is hypoallergenic, and has a better insulation value than traditional pink batts, so for us, it was a win-win. We had no idea that this stuff would be a bit of a nightmare to work with. The one and only obstacle in using the Greenstuff is that because it is polyester, and about 5 inches thick, it was very hard to cut. We tried everything we had to find the best tool to cut it. We went from utility knives, to scissors, to garden sheers, and eventually settled for kitchen knives as the best tool to cut this stuff. Mama’s poor little hands were so swollen from days of cutting, and we all had blisters from using the kitchen knives. But just like the heart in a Build a Bear, we all put our little hearts into this tiny house insulation and we are so thankful that Mama was here to help us. So here it is, the gorgeous Greenstuf.

Every great project starts with a Corona, doesn’t it?

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Raising the Roof

Once the cladding was finished, and the windows were in, there were some final trim pieces that we needed to install as part of the roof. Each window needed what is called a ‘header flashing’ installed above it. This piece is custom fit for each window. The header flashing locks in to the cladding piece above it and sits just above the top rim of the window, allowing water to drain out and over the edge of the window. The ridge cap for the peak of the roof, and the side caps were also installed. Now, every piece of the exterior is complete! We finally have a waterproof house!

Completing the exterior was the biggest relief of this whole process. Now, we don’t wake up every night that it rains or is windy, worrying about whether or not the tiny house is ok. We no longer needed to worry whether or not rain was leaking into the house, or if the wind was ripping off our cladding. We can now sleep peacefully knowing the house is safe and sealed up. Well, minus the fact that we don’t have a front door yet…

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Window to my heart <3

Our windows are here and they are gorgeous! We had them custom made to our specs by Kurt from Nulook. I love the matte black finish, its perfect. Here in New Zealand, it is actually a big deal if you have double pane windows. It didn’t seem like much to Ness, as she is so used to double panes in America. But here in New Zealand, you actually pay more to have ‘double glazing’ as they call it, and it is virtually a luxury. We didn’t really see that we had any other option. It is crucial that the tiny house is well insulated and as energy efficient as possible. Although there is no extreme weather here, and the insulation is not as significant as somewhere that does get the extremes, single glazing would have collected moisture on the inside which can lead to so many problems down the road. The other point of a tiny house is that it is cheap to heat and cool, and we honestly did not see single glazing as an option.

Installing the windows was a pretty simple task, but a big one for so many short people. Jess’s sister Kim was in New Zealand for a few weeks while she was traveling the world, so of course we had to ask her to throw in a couple extra hands to help. Kim is a towering 4 foot 11 inches tall and clearly the best person to recruit to help install our windows 4 meters (13 feet) up. We also recruited the help of Tursha, Ness’s Mother In-Law who is also a whopping 5 feet tall. We borrowed the scaffolding from a neighbor but it was still a stretch for some of the bigger and heavier windows. I’m still not sure how we managed, but girls rule and we did it all on our own! These truly are the windows to our hearts as we are truly grateful to the help that Kim and Tursha gave us that day, we couldn’t have done it without them! Thanks, ladies!

Clad Me, Clad You, Clad Who?

Honestly, this cladding was the most difficult part of this whole process. The aluminum cladding that we chose was actually pretty easy to install, if we are talking about the small pieces. This cladding, unlike most cladding, has to be installed from the top down. So, based on where we knew we needed to end up at the bottom of the trailer, we had to do the math to figure out exactly which point to start at the top, and hope that if we kept each piece straight, we would end up where we needed to be by the time we got to the bottom. These sheets are about 0.7 mm (0.028 inches) thick by 7.8 meters (25 ½ feet) long and difficult to install on a day with even the slightest hint of a breeze. Other pieces were shorter, depending on where they were on the tiny house. Each piece interlocks at the top with the piece before it and is secured along the bottom edge and the sides. After what we thought would be one very long weekend of cladding from sun up to sun down, we still needed an additional week to complete the project. When we were done, we were so proud of it though, and it looks fantastic!

The next step was to complete all of the outer edge trim, the finish work. Each corner, or exposed edge where a window would be, or where the roof came down to match the cladding had to be trimmed out with corner pieces and riveted on. In Bruce’s words, this part, although intricate and detail oriented, was a, “Piece of piss.” This finish work was so much easier than fretting about fitting those big cumbersome pieces of cladding. Next up, we get to fit the windows!