From Construction Site to Home!

(We’re having some difficulties with photos, but here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to over the last month! We’ll get photos up as soon as we can.)

Well, it’s been an insanely busy month, but WE DID IT!!! We moved the Tiny Timber frame from it’s home of the past year, to it’s home for the next year or so, and  are living in it now! But I’m getting ahead of myself… we did a lot more to get to that point! Since the last post we have spent countless hours in the shop working on cabinets and stairs and countertops, and even more hours in the house installing those, framing out closets and bench seating, applying wall covering and more.

First: cabinetry and stairs… we bought a lot of poplar, and in the last post we had dry fit all of the frames. After that we had to mill out all of the paneling for the sides/walls and the shelving. For the panels we then painted (using Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Soldier Blue), then sanded it to add a bit of a worn in look, and finished with Skidmore’s Beeswax Finish. Then we glued up the frames with the painted panels in them (that was quite a process!) and finally painted all of the visible posts of the frame (why waste time, energy and paint on something that will never be seen?), and finished the entire thing with more Skidmore’s. Fun Fact, Skidmore’s is made in Port Townsend, but is available all over, and is not terrible for you or the environment! Then came the fun part – installation! Everything fit in perfectly and required very minimal adjustments (a couple shims to account for slightly uneven floors and we were good to go). After screwing everything to the walls we tested the stairs and even without treads they were way better than the kitchen stool we had been using to get into the loft! The final step was sizing and finishing the shelving and floors so that things could actually be put in the cabinets.

While all of this was going on Raphael was also working on the countertop and stair treads. We have some live-edge alder pieces for stairs that are this close to being ready to replace the temporary plywood treads! The counter is Maple, and was glued together, flattened (by hand!), sink hole cut and finished just in time to move the house. The finish needed to off-gas for a week before being installed, so that got put in yesterday, and we now have a counter, sink and running water!

For the closets and bench seating we did some pretty simple framing – just 2x4s cut down and screws. In order to mount the stairs we had to put one wall on my closet, but all the others are open for now (there were more important things to get done before the move). We bought some Montana beetle kill Blue Pine from a local guy for our closets and to also have as the woodstove surround. It ties in beautifully with the rest of the house and the blues in the cabinetry complements the pine better than we ever could have expected! We have some temporary plywood for seating, countertops and stairs, which is the only plywood in the whole house, and neither of us can wait for it to be gone!

The walls got done in bits and pieces, but had to be finished before we installed all of the built-ins, for obvious reasons. We decided to do canvas walls, and bought a roll of artists canvas that was primed on one side. We put that side in, because we didnt’ love the stark white, but the priming added some structure to the fabric which is why we decided to use it. We got a few pointers on stretching canvas from someone who had done it for paintings before, and using that and a lot of awkward stretching and reaching we got all the walls covered in nice, tight canvas. We called it close and were left with only tiny scraps at the end, but are pretty happy with the results! We’ll spray it with some tent waterproofing spray for some protection, and if we ever decide that it’s too dirty, it’ll be really easy to paint.

A couple days before the big move we decided to energize the electrical system. What we thought would be a quick procedure ended up taking several hours when we found continuity where it shouldn’t be during some final tests. It was narrowed down to a run that had only 1 outlet on it – the one for the fridge. We debated opening up the walls, or drilling a hole through the floor to run a new chase under the house, but neither of those sounded like good options, for many reasons. Finally, after some more testing and “this doesn’t make sense” we figured out that the 2-screw connectors that were bringing the wire into the breaker box had compressed them too much and caused a short, and after a quick patch and the addition of a junction box (and no tearing open walls or new holes in the floor) all tests were normal! We plugged in the system and turned on the back porch light (the only fixture we have right now) and tested all the outlets with 100% success and a big sigh of relief.

Now for the fun (and stressful) part – moving the house. We were fortunate enough to have the same person who moved the frame a year ago move the house again, and he brought his 6 month old puppy along (who I got to watch while the Raphael helped Josh maneuver out of the yard). There was some fancy footwork (wheel work?) required, but after getting it out of the yard, it was a smooth trip about 25 minutes out of town to its new home. There was more tricky maneuvering on that end (dirt road hills and low branches and wires), but it worked out great! The final (and arguably worst) step was then to jack up and level the house – meaning crawling around in dirt and gravel maneuvering heavy cement pavers into place and being sure they’re dead level before stacking pilons high enough to hold the weight off of the trailer’s suspension.

On top of all that we had to move all of our possessions from the house we had been renting for a year and a half to our storage unit (which is ironically bigger than the house) and the house. But we did it. We are alive and well, and although we are both sore, tired and have some bumps and bruises, there were no major injuries, and no catastrophies. It feels a little surreal to be living in the tiny timber frame after being a construction zone for a year, but as we find homes for everything and get more settled in we love it more and more.

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