Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reconn' In Texas

Life is what you make it.

I had a seven day work trip coming up, running Wednesday to Wednesday, and since we choose to work on the house when we are together, a weekend was lost. I felt the first tinge of frustration, remembering too well how easily things can slide off track. I was bound and determined to explore and enjoy the time abroad, and find a way to use it to my advantage. Success! Not only did I take a hike through McKinney Falls State Park, and experience the Pecan Street Festival- I am thrilled to report that I was able to attend a Tiny Texas Houses tour. These small houses are made from 99% salvaged material. I wandered around in absolute awe. I have always been a bit enamored with old, distressed pieces of the past. These colorful and artfully constructed buildings showcase 500 yr old growth lumber- where the beams are so hard that a special tool is needed to drive a nail. I witnessed all the chic and smart ways to reuse common pieces, like panel doors.

MASSIVE of many!

 I was also thrilled to learn about a few natural and durable finishing supplies: tung oil for sealing wood, and milk paint for a splash of color and protection. I was able to get a pamphlet on the tung oil, but I need to research the milk paint.

Another fabulous find was the small ceramic panel heaters and blown in foam insulation. As we stood in the smaller of the houses toured that day, I stared at the small pot-belly stove in the corner and wondered if that would be enough for us. The tour guide, Dale, saw my gaze and remarked, "That'd be waay too much heat fer a place like this. You'd be openin' all the windows in ten minutes." I was shocked, considering the building we were standing in was easily 50 square feet bigger than our house will be. I asked what could be used, and it was then that I learned about the ceramic heater. It's just a simple tile that is mounted on the wall, and sticks out about 1.5 inches. It's electric and is the equivalent of running a 400 watt bulb. This immediately intrigued me, and when Dale mentioned they were about $80- I was locked in. Dale pointed out the heaters in the office; there were three. That was all they needed for about 400 square feet. Granted, this is in Texas, so the temperatures don't drop as low. Never the less, I will be researching that.

Oh! And the insulation! R-12 per inch. That means R-36 in a 2x4 wall!! We stepped into the 12' x 12' house set back on the property. It was an solid 90 degrees, beating sun, and slightly dry heat. We stepped into that small house, which had no windows open, no fans, nothing. It was EASILY 20 degrees cooler in there. Thanks to that insulation. A building with that kind of protection is going to be incredibly efficient. Again, super pumped to research this. I'll leave you with some photos now!

Ship-style ladder...makin' note!

All sealed with Tung Oil - waterproof!

This little guy is too much heat! Can you believe it?!

The porch has large hinges on the roof line. The deck and posts are removeable, allowing the porch roof to fold down
and protect the doors and windows during travel.


On the tiny balcony. :)

Riverstone shower floor, 200 year old tin, small antique dental sink.

Door recycled as a mantle/focal point.

Oscillating ceiling fan.


  1. Enjoying your posts. Love the variety and artistry shown in the tiny houses in this one. It has really got me thinking.

  2. Thanks so much! Glad to hear from someone across the globe! That's awesome!! :) These houses were truly amazing. I'm so glad I was able to take a tour. It's amazing what can be re-claimed and how beautiful it can look.

  3. Can you remember what type of insulation they were using? I'm currently researching my options and the best I can find is R-6.5/inch. I'm also (soon to be) building in RI, and would love to hear about how your tiny house is holding up to our southern New England weather.

    1. Hi Molly- I'm sorry but I can't remember what it was callled...I know it was blown in foam, but I don't know the specific brand. You can contact Tiny Texas Houses and they will certainly tell you. They are very friendly and encourage others to build new with the old.
      That's exciting to hear about another tiny house build in RI! We used reclaimed insulation- hard foam board kind. It was pretty heavy duty stuff too. It is about 3.5 inches thick and perfectly filled the walls. We then went through at foamed each and every little crack. Blocking airflow through cracks in insulation is a major part of keeping warm.
      Last winter was much colder than this one has been so far. We used electric heat last year because we were at my Dad's still on the grid. I don't think that winter would be a fair evaluation either, because we realized in the spring that we had missed some major areas around our door as far as insulating is concerned. I knew it was too drafty to be normal! This year we have siding on as well. I would say we are handling things quite nicely. We now have a propane heater installed and it easily keeps the place at 65 on the absolute lowest setting- thats with cracked windows too. It's important to have fresh air all year- no matter how cold it might be! Good luck to you!