Friday, January 27, 2012

Wanted: Home for a House

After delving into some of the local zoning regulations, it appears that "living" is not permitted in recreational vehicles or, possibly, tiny houses.  Sooo...this presents a bit of a predicament.  I would love to stay in the Richmond area for the time being, but to do so I need to find a parking spot somewhat off the beaten path/not in suburban America where everybody's business is their neighbor's.  If you have or know of anybody with such a location available, or have any advice, please let me know!  Water and electric access are not essential (though preferred), and small rent or upkeep are possible...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

R.I.P Craftsman VSD

While many tools are passed down from generation to generation, there comes a time for all when they must be laid to rest.  For a truly great, well crafted instrument, you don't know whether you should provide a burial, compose a hymn, or offer it up in a gasoline fueled cremation.  Tossing it in the trash somehow doesn't feel right. 

Yes, it is looking like my father's trusty Craftsman drill is on its last legs.  It started coughing and shuddering while Clifton was drilling holes for the floor, and its condition only got worse Saturday.  I have many fond memories of this tool.  It was the drill I learned carpentry with, wobbling and dropping many a screw in the process.  Adam and I doubtless snuck it around to build trebuchets and forts.  There were those toothed boring bits that I never really knew how to use, but yes, they got stuck into the Craftsman's keyed chuck.  My father built his house with it, and generously loaned it for mine.  I'm not giving up on it and pronouncing it gone forever, but for the time being, it looks like David's shiny new Dewalt is going to have to step up to the plate.


Wires and Water

Being something of a small business snob, it's not very often that I brag about things that I find at stores like Home Depot and Lowes.  But, I'm gonna make an exception and do a little promotion for the Irwin Door Lock Installation Kit.

I liked it so much that I even provided a handy-dandy link there for you to check it out!  Some things you feel like you should stumble your way through and figure out for yourself, but I really wasn't looking forward to messing up my handcrafted front door, so I paid the $13 and got one of these kits from Lowes.  Totally worth it.  It comes with the right bits, a jig, a tiny cheap "router bit" that you put on your drill, and some guides.  And so naturally the other good news is... door is now hanging on the front/back of my house!  And, it has a handle and lock!  It feels like a luxury to be able to turn a handle and swing a door open, then pull it shut to keep the wind and leaves out.  But, its a well-deserved luxury at this point.

Of course, I did not accomplish this by myself.  Saturday morning, the Riedel men (my dad and brother David) gathered in Chester and we laid out the plan for running the electrical wires.  Like most people in my generation, I know almost nothing about electricity, so I deferred to my dad.  After making a list, we made the first trip of many to Lowes and purchased wire and bags of one and two "gang" junction boxes.  Apparently, each outlet or switch is considered a gang, which makes me a little more wary of electricity...

David attaching hinges

Dad "the Termite" drilling holes for wiring

By Sunday afternoon we had roughed-in the wires and plumbing, but it was time for my work crew to leave.  My attempts to work solo have almost always ended with me staring at the house in a state of frustration and confusion, but this time my spirit was boosted by the confidence the Irwin Door Lock Installation Kit instilled in me (yet another chance for you to check it out).  I forged on solo, drilling holes in the floor, insulation walls, gluing pipe together, and worked late into the night.  By 7 p.m. Monday night, I had slid my shower stall in and out more times than I could count, poured plaster of paris and chiseled it apart, but my shower was finally in place!  There were some frustrating moments, but I finally felt like I had accomplished something by myself (minus numerous consultations with my dad and brother).  Thank you, Irwin.

Monday, January 2, 2012


What. a. weekend.  House building weekends are normally hectic and tiring, but this one topped them all!  To celebrate New Years, I invited my friends over for house tours, some building, and a barbeque/campfire.  Saturday morning started out slow enough.  My friend Danielle showed up from Pittsburgh, and we worked on flashing around the wheel wells to seal water out of the walls.  This wasn't my first attempt at this project, so I was a little reluctant to try again.  Originally, I tried crimping standard aluminum flashing and sealing it with caulk, which was a disheartening mess.  This time, I simply gave Danielle a roll of self-adhering PVC flashing and asked her to figure it out, which she did!  Thanks Danielle!

After lunch we continued with the flooring project that Clif and I had done some prep work for.  Unfortunately, to finish, we needed some more boards sanded down, a task that I had gotten my fill of.  Thankfully, Eric showed up just in time for a tutorial and crash course in floor sanding!

Erin jumped into some coveralls and skillfully finished hammering the windows in place and painted the frames Mesa red:

By dusk we had nailed down about half the floor, but appetites were growing so we made a quick trip to the main house to pick up the dinner provisions.  When we pulled back into Betty's driveway, two men in coats and hats came walking towards us.  I started thinking that maybe a mob or gang had taken offense to my house, until I realized it was my friend Daniel and his buddy from my young adult group.  Power tools and lumber were still scattered around the yard, but dinner was calling so we started charcoal for the tiny house sized grill. 

One of the problems with having two residences is that your possesions cannot bilocate.  Mainly, kitchen utensils cannot bi-locate.  Upon realizing that I had forgotten a spatula to flip burgers, I asked Eric to run back to Castlebury Drive and pick one up...which would have worked great if I had remembered to give him my keys.  They stopped at the Dollar Store and bought a cheap one, but as soon as he got back to the tiny house, we realized that the ladle was missing for the tomato and artichoke soup!

My original plan had been to finish the floor and install the toilet Saturday afternoon.  For the build thus far we have been forced to make trips to the neighborhood park up the street whenever we need to use the restroom.  While its a nice break, it takes up a fair amount of valuable building time.  Since we were spending New Year's eve at the tiny house, I really didn't want to put my celebrations on hold everytime somebody needed to go to the bathroom.  So, sometime around nine o'clock at night we installed a toilet!

I'll admit that if we had another three feet of pipe, that toilet would be mounted in the loft right now (who wouldn't want an Attic John?)  To ensure that the fixture would be positioned properly in the bathroom, we developed an architectural simulation technique:

As midnight approached, the temperature kept dropping.  But, the cold was quickly remedied by some spiced cider and a tiny house dance party.  Buying an extra heavy-duty trailer was definitely a wise decision!

By 3 a.m. it was finally time for bed, so we bundled up in sleeping bags and blankets and had the first tiny house sleepover.  Unfortunately, the cold kept most of us up for the night, so installation of the front door and fireplace have moved up on the building agenda.

Thank you to all of my friends who helped celebrate this milestone in the project!  Happy New Year!