Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mid-Weekend Update

So much going on! I had to report back real quick!

This week and today, we have been steadily tying up loose ends. Ill admit, I'm reporting to you a little inebriated- just returned from my little cousin's grad party...CONGRATS AMY!  :)

After a day of digging more holes, we certainly enjoyed ourselves. I'll keep it short n' sweet- lots of visuals... 

Over the last week:
We secured the kitchen counter. It had been resting loose since last October. We applied a coat of poly and added splash boards. There was something specifically satisfying about seeing the kitchen counter have a durable gloss on it. To me it said, "Hello, I am scrubbable!" And for that alone, I love it. 

We also finished up the second wall with siding, completed all of the brown trim, worked on the kitchen drawers, started the third wall of siding, began packing up our loose items, dropped the Pod to the ground, filled the tires, adding additional supports to the solar racking, and so on. Basically, we covered a LOT. And tomorrow- we MOVE THE TINY HOUSE. 

Needless to say, I am less than totally calm and cool. When we are being reasonable and considering all aspects- we are going to be fine- but when you let the mind roam.....I keep thinking of all these worst case scenarios! Can't wait for it to be moved and safe and sound in the new spot!  It all happens tomorrow! Stay tuned for video and excessive photo coverage of the moving event! AHHHHHH!

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Preppin' the tires...

The Pod is on the ground!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

What A Weekend!

We aren't done yet, but we feel light as feathers!

It was a big pain and an even bigger relief to get the solar panel racking built and in the ground. Over the last week we have been steadily tying up loose ends. I sanded down all the areas of siding that I applied wood filler to, and then went out and got a stainable kind- which should make things way easier. We also finished building the rest of the posts needed for the panels, continued siding work, and then this weekend, mounted the posts in the ground. 

Talk about work! It took us almost two full days and some extra help to get those posts in the ground, level, plumb, and ready to rock. Luckily it was flat out amazing weather. Mostly sunny, low 70s, and breezy. When you are digging holes, the weather can play a big part in your experience. We definitely got frustrated and threw shovels (ahem, DAN) more than once, but I can only imagine how it would have gone down if it were say....98 degrees, 99% humidity and zero breeze.

The soil at the farm has a LOT of rocks in varying sizes from baseball to "Why don't we just put a koi pond here by the time we get this freakin' thing out!".  On day one, we did most everything ass backwards. Maybe it was the added stress of possibly moving the next day (which didn't pan out) but we both were approaching the task in a not so efficient way. We dug holes first and expected the rest to fit flawlessly. Never again! Thankfully, most of our holes were not too far off, but we did end up digging more than the 6 you see in these pictures. 

Dan's Dad came by later in the day and helped us get the first row secure, level, even, and pretty much any other direction descriptor you can think of. Man, can it be hard to get things lined up when they can go wrong in about 8 different directions! We put in about 9 hours on Saturday.

On Sunday, we came back and finished the second row. We had the holes dug, and things looked relatively straight. That was until we started measuring with tools. HA! Long story short, we had to dig our holes deeper, and of course we ran into a very large rock right where the pole needed to go. Deb and Michael were home Sunday, so Michael came to the rescue with his tractor and dug a great big hole before that stupid boulder was out. The second hole seemed fine, so Michael went off to tend to his own chores. When we got to the third hole, we realized that the poles were not in a neat row, and the hole had to be moved about 6 inches over and be about 6 inches deeper. We found another rock. We battled with that thing for about an hour, using every technique we could come up with including using an 8 ft 2x4 as a lever. 

Layla knows just where to lay down and relax...
After enough grunting, screaming, swearing, sweating, tripping, shoveling, filling, packing, twisting and tweaking, we had our second row in order. We thought it would only take an hour or two, but ended up taking the better part of 4 hours. We plan to add some more supports to help brace against wind. We will put a small leg under the front low arm and another 2x4 bracing against the back of the pole too. 

Our site supervisors. If only they were as helpful as they were attentive! :)

Pointing directly south? Check! 

Needless to say we are two pooped, sore, but very happy people. Sure the job sucked, but the land, the weather, the view, and all the wildlife made it worth it. The farm is SO beautiful and we cannot wait to get there! 

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Solar racking: MOUNTED! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Tough Math Day

Solar power racking is underway!

It's something we both avoided speaking about and dreaded starting- although, in the grand scheme- I have no idea why! Saturday, Dan was able to grab a few hours working for his Dad so he took it.  He's still struggling to find something part time that will work with school. If anyone in the Rhode Island area has any suggestions, let us know! While he was off earning some keep, I tackled a list of errands. Neither of us returned home until about 3pm, at which point, we called it a day. Well sort of- we grabbed showers and free movie passes at his parents so we could head out and see How To Train Your Dragon 2. Yes. That was my requested movie. I loved it almost as much as the first!

Anyways, after a day doing other things, it meant Sunday was a work day, noooo compromises. We hope to move the tiny house next weekend, so we need to get crackin!

We researched a few different ways to mount solar panels, and finally decided to go with the ideas shown in this youtube video. We made a few of our own modifications, but the over all concept is similar. 

We have 8 solar panels to build for, so we plan to make four smaller versions of this which will hold two panels each. We plan to put two racks right next to one another to make a 13 foot row of four panels. We will have two rows. That's a lot of sun power right there! I keep seeing all of these tiny houses with just one or two panels sitting out front and I wonder how the heck they manage with that. This is our home full time, and of all things to skimp on, solar power wasn't one of them. I work from home some days, and I KNOW there will be days in the summer when we thank our stars that we can run an A/C and days in the fall when we are happy to be able to plug in the small eco-heater- because the main stove would be too much. 

It's still a very modest system. Here is what our load calculator chart looked like- and it gives you an idea of what we can run.

Appliance Load/ Name On At Same Time Quantity AC Watts Hours on Per Day Watt Hrs/ Day
Cooler Y 1 70 8 560
Great Rm Lights Y 1 50 6 300
Kitchen Light Y 1 10 4 40
Blender/Juicer - 1 300 0.1 30
Sewing Machine - 1 100 0.1 10
Table Fan Y 1 25 7 175
Computer (Laptop) Y 1 50 6 300
Window Fan Y 1 40 6 240
Clock Radio Y 1 1 24 24
A/C (or heater in winter) - 1 600 4 2400

So our total system is 4079 Watt-Hours Per Day. Without the A/C option we would be down to just 1679 Watt-Hours per day. That would be nice on the wallet, but I've sat through more than one scorching day with no A/C and I'm not about to make us tough it out in that little box on wheels!  This chart comes right from the AltE website. They have a lot of great calculators that make it much easier to understand what you are calculating, and provide a lot of the basic appliance power loads for you!

The board at the bottom of this pic
is the where the panel goes.
Anyways- back to the racking. So we went out early and got our rough estimate of needed supplies. Then the mind-melting math came in. When I say mind-melting, please don't take that as an indication that it was truly hard- it was just one of those days when we both were suffering from chronic brain farts and could not process basic geometry. I lost count of how many times we talked out our moves and our cuts and our measures, only to pause right before beginning and say, "Wait....go over that again?" 

On our first run through, we made the cuts "upside-down" the first go round, meaning, if we had put the rack up, the solar panel would be at the exact opposite angle of what we needed. After doing the math for our latitude, we found that 35 degrees would be optimal. A triangle always adds up to 180, and we had our 35 and 90 degrees, so the last angle was 55. What we got mixed up on (among many other things that day) was which corner needed to be 35- the top corner or the bottom one?

I'll cut to the chase and tell you- it's the top. It may have taken us a few hours, but we finally got all of our cuts, angles, and measurements right. Our first racking post was complete. We spent another hour or so making cuts in an assembly line manner. By the end of Sunday, we had completed two of the eight posts we will need.

We didn't get it all done, but man does it feel good to have sailed over the hurdle of just-getting-it-started. We have about 40% of the wood cut. Throughout evenings this week we will complete all the posts and hopefully head over to the farm to mount them in the ground. 

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Yep! It fits! Woooh!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Update: Missed It By That Much

The first wall is almost done!

Earlier this week, I took a look at the forecast and noticed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were shaping up nice. So, in my zeal to complete even this one wall, I took a vacation day Friday. We worked steadily through Friday, which turned out to be the PERFECT conditions. Slightly overcast, mid 60s, active breeze, gorgeous. We both worked comfortably in jeans that day....such was not the case Saturday. On Friday we put in a solid day, and stopped only as we approached the end of our "wall-ready" wood supply. We thought we had enough for the front, and we weren't off by much! A just under 2 foot strip across the top is all that remains. The going was slow too. We had a lot of funky cuts and objects to work around. 

We decided to extend the wire for the outside lamp.
We used outdoor wire caps. Now the light will be in the top
left corner versus right where the door opens, head level- effectively sucking the entire
cloud of bugs that have accumulated right on in to the house with you!
We stopped using the light it was so bad! Happy for the change!

Saturday we jumped back to. We didn't have wood to work with, so the choice was made. Dan had grabbed some pallets earlier in the week, so we had material to work with. He ripped apart and de-nailed while I ripped all the boards down to a consistent width. Then we worked together-through the hottest part of the day-planing every last one. 

We landed ourselves another batch of stunning eclectic wood. One particular piece is QUITE yellow. I thought for a moment it must be painted, but we planed it and out came a more vibrant yellow! The shavings stood in stark contrast to the rest of the pile. 

I stepped out to grab groceries and cook us some lunch, while Dan stayed on and ship lapped the boards. His Dad got him the proper blade as an early birthday gift! Now he doesn't have to do it the long way with the regular blade! He was able to finish all the wood by the time lunch was served! Much faster!

It was mid afternoon when we finished with the wood we had on hand. We ate our lunch and decided that was enough for one day. We had a birthday party to head to soon enough. So we cleaned up the yard and cleaned up ourselves, sauntered over, and had a great evening with family!

EOD Friday...WICKED.

Saturday: Hot out! More wood processing..
On Sunday we each had events to attend. Dan- a paintball outing because the gift certificate expired THAT day. Me, the bridal shower of a dear friend. It was quite lovely too! Very tasteful decor, super cute displays, and nice food choices- gluten free too! :D 

By the time we both got home, neither of us had any juice left, so the front of the house remains bald just on top. The good news is we have plenty to finish that now, and it shouldn't take more than 40 minutes. 

Also this past week I ordered the exterior stain and it just came in today! Quick! I did some research and chose AFM's Safecoat product. Here's a link to one of the articles I found helpful for explaining eco-friendly alternatives. 

American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM) makes Safecoat paints, stains, cleaning products, and sealers without toxic chemicals. AFM products are pristine enough even for the chemically sensitive. They contain no formaldehyde, fungicide, or mildewcide, and meet strict VOC emissions standards."

We went with maple, it has warm golden tones to it. I think it will make a lot of different pieces really pop! Oh- and Mario stopped by with another gem- which I wish I had gotten just that morning. He explained that we should apply a coat of the stain and seal the wood before going in with the putty. As you putty, inevitably some remains outside the hole, this can soak into the pores, and when stained, will not hold the stain, so you will have those little light splotches everywhere you dragged a putty knife. I got about a third of the way up our wall before receiving this tip. We plan to do a decent sanding job which should take care of most of that. 

The more we think about it, the more likely we are to move the house before all the siding is up. It's going to take a while. Ha. Next up, after this first wall most likely, is building the solar panel racking. We want that in place and ready to rock when we move. Sure we could go a day or two without power, but why when it's perfectly doable?

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

AT LONG LAST! Visual Progress!

This guy has put in SO many hours!
AND he's getting reeaally good at shiplapping.

This weekend, we finally had enough wood prepped to start slapping it on the walls. First, we had to finish putting up the trim around the perimeter. We headed to the store and grabbed the wood we needed. 

Dan and I kept a steady rhythm, he measured and chopped while I painted. As one set was finished drying, we would nail it up.  We opted to have the base trim be quite thick. That way as it terminates at the wheel well, it is the perfect level for the siding to go right across the top. We really like the way it looks. Clean and simple. 

Seeing that first line of boards go up- neatly and easily no less - was nothing short of magical. It's been a long several weeks doing the same labor intensive chores and seeing no visual reward. It might has well have been lightning that delivered the new batch of zeal, we both felt charged with energy and the determination to keep going. 

We worked steadily, he ripping more and more boards to be ship lapped, me chopping and nailing up rows. We had no regard for time, and as I slowly gained on Dan's ship lapping and ran out of boards, we decided to call it.  We both stood back and admired the progress so far. We absolutely LOVE the look of this recycled pallet siding. From far away it has that interesting diverse look- kind of like a huge cutting board as my dad would put it- and up close it is full of texture and character. So- all that long tedious hard work? WORTH IT.

"What time is it?" Dan asked. "I don't know, five thirty?" I was quite wrong. It was seven! We had worked a solid 8 hour day! We felt like we really gained some ground Saturday, all the more rewarding after all this rain! Unfortunately I pushed too much, and didn't listen to my body as I worked away. My ankle/foot is on the fritz again! As a result, I wasn't able to put in as much effort today....but hey! It's my birthday! I'm good for working at all! ;) 

We estimate that we have enough wood "prepped" to finish the front wall. We may start a side wall if we have more ready. Given how much time this has taken, we are considering corrugated steel for the back wall. HA! Hey, we have to try to keep to the timeline-- which we haven't been great at lately. 

Siding is underway! The solar power system components are in! We will be ready to move soon!
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