Sunday, December 29, 2013


Well, I'm pleased to report that something has finally been accomplished. Today, I was able to drill 10 1/2" holes in the angle iron to better support the load bearing walls. Need to return the carriage bolts and get hex heads. We figured out, thanks to the next door neighbor, to drill a pilot hole. The larger hole was then much easy to drill and went faster. I will add the bolts and tighten them later this week. And while it was raining, we cut the 2x6's that will glued and bolted to the front and rear of the frame to provide 3.5-4" support for bottom plate. I'm not sure these were needed, but...

Insulation in the floor has been an ongoing concern since acquiring the trailer. I plan to use 1.5" white foam board between the existing 2x6's planks that came with the trailer. Four planks are placed 24" on center, leaving about 16.5" between for 1 1/2" foam insulation sheets. This will supplement the 1.5" additional foam that will be placed on top of the planks after the 2x6 sills are screwed into the frame with self-tapping screws. I'm thinking about bolting these into the frame as well. In essence there will be roughly 3" of insulation in the floor which I expect is sufficient for a TH located in the sun belt. However, I still have plans to add additional foam insulation (sheets or sprayed) within the C-channels and then screw aluminum sheathing to the bottom of the C-channel to protection from moisture from the road and rodents.

Also, we verified that the trailer frame is a perfect rectangle...the diagonal measurements were identical! Yea!

The Trailer Foundation

I am grateful for my friend Genie. She has been a sounding board and has reduced my frustration and feeling of overwhelm substantially. For instance, we took the advise of several TH builders and taped out the floor plan on the floor of my driveway. We only part of it and discovered there the location of the wheel well is *functionally* not where I was told it was. Specifically, you really can't have your door placed within a 1/2" of where the wheel well intersects the top of the trailer frame! So many of the hours and hours of plan designing was worthless. Genie to the rescue...she calmly offered several alternatives for the location of the door. [For those of you with the door off the rear, this should not be a concern.]
So, with the revised floor plan in place -- what feels to be the 100th design -- I felt comfortable that everything was workable. More importantly, I took the neighbor's suggestion and committed to get the foundation and sub-floor completed so THEN the exact working floor plan could be drawn accurately. The trailer is five weeks old with not a single nail pounded or screw driven! Time is ticking. And as soon race to dry in before the moonsoon season, I'm racing to work while the temperature is under 80F. Florida is hot and humid and both in combination is freaking bad and actually dangerous.
So after MUCH angst, I finally finished reading Go House Go by Dee Williams. Her use of 3" angle iron is the closest to what I've fallen into with my design. I have yet to see any approach to building the foundation that I can or want to use. Therein lies the fear and the risk.
In the materials section of Go House Go, Dee details a cross section of the entire house, from roof to foundation. The section showing how the trailer frame and wall section joins as been my nemesis from the beginning. Since I was trying to optimize the width of the TH, the plan on how to extend beyond the frame was extremely important. Maybe this decision would have been easier had I tried to get 30 minutes with a Tumbleweed consultant since roughly December 17th. Holidays are not a good time, apparently. So, finally deciding on my own design of the foundation, I called my trailer manufacturer (now acting as a psychotherapist) to consult. The decision was to drive the trailer back to Gainesville to have them weld additional angle iron along both sides AND remove the protruding break lights. Local welders were going to charge about $400 for the modification while Shaun at Texas Trailers said he'd do the angle iron for a bit less. After it was all done, I had invested another $344. Having the manufacturer do it made me feel more confident. I had the same quality paint applied to all new welds and steel. More importantly, Shawn was able to literally squeeze me in on Friday so I wouldn't have to wait until January 10th. I really recommend Texas Trailers. However in hindsight, I'd probably gone with Dee William's custom trailer design if I have a trailer built.
Although there is still some questions about how to best accommodate the wheel well and the inside wall, here is the foundation design we are going with:
I'm going for it. I have asked myself countless times if I am really brave enough to do this project. I'm not sure the answer is 'yes' but I'm driven by a needing to realize a dream that now is about five years old. I feel like a Olympian who is driven to take home a medal. Regardless, my financial commitment to this project has now exceeded $9000 having purchased all my foundation supplies and ordered the windows. I'll leave the topics of Windows to another blog entry.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Floor Plans

The reason the trailer purchase was so important was to really know the exact placement of the wheel wells, the max dimensions of the living space, etc. I have 14 iterations of the floor plan! The one key aspect that I settled on was a side entry door since I envision either living in an RV type park, a national park/campground or in a yard where I can build a full length porch. This aspect resulted in two issues: (1) There are few plans available for sale (zero from Tumbleweed) and (2) the cute/adorable TH look is now gone. But I am always error on being more practical and functional than aesthetically pleasing. One more issue that I have not seen discussed is the total height. Apparently, my next door neighbor warned on going above 12' due to the inability to take the home off the interstate or U.S. highways. He warns that I'll remove the roof one day. Lovely, eh? But due to a strong believe if the masses, if everyone else is going to 13.5' then is must be a manageable issue. I'm not willing to give up the loft space, which is the second aspect of importance to my design. Sadly, the loft creates another design issue that remains TBD: dormers in the loft. I believe dormers are worth the effort of adding given that it makes the loft more usable and less claustrophobic. Since I don't want to worry about skylights leaking, dormers also add more windows and light to the loft. I'm leaning to adding dormers.... Here is my 'latest floor plan' (loft will be above kitchen):

Trailer Purchase

So the first decision was made a month ago -- I bought a utility trailer from Texas Trailers in Gainesville, FL. They were willing to make some adjustments to save money. Ultimately, I didn't think through the details completely. Here is what I bought....
I would have considered to purchase my trailer from Tumbleweed but the nearest location was in PA. That is too far to drive (for me). So given Tumbleweed was $1000 more AND the drive up/back would have resulted in it costing about $4000 and some vacation time. The out-the door cost of my 8'x20' trailer was about $3000 including a spare tire.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Journal beginning

On this 6th day after the New Moon in December 2013, this blog has begun to help to all my fellow Tiny House hobbit in their building adventures. I hope this blog answers some construction questions while giving reasons for my choices and decisions.