Monday, February 20, 2012

Shower Installation Round #3

With a house that's just over 100 square feet, you wouldn't expect the plumbing system to be very extensive, right?  Well, that's true, but I've still managed to get my fair share of experience.  It all started after I framed the walls for the bathroom.  Upon putting them into place, I noticed that the fiberglass shower insert DEFINITELY wasn't sitting level.  In fact, it was about 1.5" lower in the back, as proven by a quick measurement from the floor to the top of the shower (since the house is on a trailer and isn't naturally level, its been challenging to make other things true).

I don't know why the shower wasn't manufactured with even foot pegs, but that's what I have to work with.  At first I thought "No big deal- it won't show with the finish material", but then I started considering all the work it would take to fit trim just to cover up that mistake.  So, I got out the handy "cat's paw" and started popping nails out.

Now mind you, my impression of these shower stalls is that they're kind of a one time installation deal.  Once you crack fiberglass, there's not much repairing it.  Thankfully, I was able to get all the nails out without considerable damage.  It was when I tried re-positioning the shower that I discovered why it wasn't level.  I had placed it to match up with the drain pipe, which inconveniently is in the middle of a floor joist.  I spent some time trying to shave the joist down just enough to slide the drain over, but eventually just grabbed the Sawzall and chopped through.  At least I have plenty of plywood sub-flooring tying everything together, right?  

I had a prospective fellow tiny houser coming by for a tour at 4:00, so I scrambled to get the shower back in place and everything cleaned up.  The stall still wasn't exactly level, but that was alright since I discovered the next morning that, oh, its gotta come out again!  The valves on showers are typically mounted on a piece of framing added to the wall.  Just for fun, I decided to put the covers and escutcheon plate together to make the bathroom look a little more complete.  When the cover didn't quite fit, I discovered that we had framed the valve about an inch too far forward.  So, out came the cat's paw again.  Moving the framing back meant that I also had to cut out and redo all of the plumbing attached.  This wasn't too bad, since honestly I wasn't that satisfied with the job I had done previously.  This time around I tried to straighten out the lines and simplify them some.  I can't guarantee that they won't leak and I'll have to tear everything out again, but at least they look a bit neater :)

By Sunday evening I had everything back in place (the shower still isn't exact, but much improved), looking just like it did Friday morning.  I guess with a project like this you have to expect some setbacks and redos and just appreciate the opportunities to learn and improve.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.  Now its on to gas fitting!  Gotta do a lot more planning and practice so I get that just right...


P.S. With the warm weather Friday, I was able to put a second coat of paint on the windows to deepen that Mesa Red!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Insulation, Some New Walls, and an Addition to the Family

My family has been rather busy this month, so I've been forced to get some gumption and press on with projects by myself.  First on the agenda was finishing the insulating of the walls and ceiling.  To date, I've spent well over 50 working hours purely on insulating, which I imagine sounds rather nauseating and boring.  Well, yes, it is a tad tedious, and it catches up to you when you realize you've just spent your whole weekend inside a tiny house with a jigsaw and chunks of dandruffy foam in your hair.  But, the advantage is that its a pretty simple task, and you really don't need more than one person to do it, so its been perfect for these solo weekends.

Seeing my walls slowly transform from a yellowish-tan to Pink Panther rose has been exciting, but there are so many other little but complicated projects that need to happen before I can move in.  So, after getting a quick five hour dose of insulating this weekend, I pulled some 2x2s from the loft and got to work on framing the bathroom walls.  I needed these walls to be extremely narrow so they wouldn't take up gobs of space, but I of course wouldn't mind them being a bit rigid and strong so they won't fall over when I stumble into them while trying to find the bathroom in the dark.  I was a little nervous about the wood splintering and things not aligning correctly, so I bought a brand new Makita hammer drill to ensure that I was properly equipped for the job.

Well, it was actually a case of the drill was a really good deal (came with a free angle grinder too!), and I wanted something to replace my dad's trusty Craftsman.  I was already borrowing my brother's new DeWalt, but that's beside the point.  I wanted a new drill, so I thought about it for 72 hours and bought one.  Welcome to my family of tools Makita!

Anyways, framing the bathroom walls gave me the opportunity to test my new drill (I was pleased with the results :).  To add some rigidity and squareness to the whole thing, I attached most of the pieces together using about a dozen little 90 degree Simpson Strongties.  For $7, I figured they would be the easiest way to work  with those fragile 2x2s.  After a couple hours of work zipping with my shiny new Makita, I had some walls framed up!

They still have to be secured and covered with finish material of course, but it does give me a much better sense of the space and parameters I have to work with.  To be honest, I'm a little blown away by how spacious the place feels!  I'm sure it will fill up once I start adding shelves and furniture, but I think I could have done a smaller house and been rather content...

I'm still hunting for a home for my house.  I have some leads, but everything's still very uncertain and up in the air at this point.  I did read a recent blog about another tiny house dweller in Michigan (Jonathan's Summer Project) who bought some land in the country to park his house, only to receive a zoning violation five months later and be forced to move.  I'm trying to avoid that, so if you have any suggestions, holler at me!

P.S.- I had my first snow storm in the house Saturday afternoon!  It came up without warning- thunder sounded and the winds rolled in with a driving snow.  I was warm and dry inside though :)