Small But Comfortable
I was inspired by the tiny house movement when I decided to build this house. The whole scale down on the homesteading to scale up on the bucket list appealed to me. In the end I decided not to do the sub 400 square foot thing but I worked hard to keep it small….. and still comfortable.
This sketch allowed me to study clearance for the window and casing as it related to the stairs. One of the hazards of building small is that little adjustments can have big impacts
This project involved lots of work at the drawing board. I did it old school with pencil and paper. I’ve got no formal architectural training but ran a design department years ago and learned enough to create the basic views needed for permitting and construction documents. I sure felt like a relic with my eraser and home made parallel bar system but was glad not to have to hand this level of design control off to someone else.
It ended up being about 1150 heated sq. ft. with three bedrooms and two baths and nine foot ceilings. I made sure the bathrooms and kitchen were sized so as to flow well and not feel cramped but bedrooms (for me) have been places where I don’t spend much time so I went with bedrooms on the smaller size. One was quite small at 10’x10′ and worked mostly as an office/study. There is an oversized single car garage with workshop/storage space. I wanted the main living area to be open and full of light so I placed many of the windows on the north side of the house, which brought in a lot of natural light without solar gain issues.
Groundbreaking & Foundation
Just before starting
Broke ground June 5th, 2017
Geotextile fabric under large base rock help make for a solid drive
Erosion control measures. I handled all the silt fence, raking, seeding and shoveling for the excavation contractor. At one point he had me running a “jumping jack” compactor in a sloped ditch. I think he got a little tickled about it all and at one point said, “that thing will make you sleep on your side of the bed.”
Footers – I had originally planned to do these myself but ended up handing them off to the foundation wall contractor because it made sense in the scheme of things.
Basement concrete forms were handled by a reliable concrete subcontractor
Foundation walls, just after the forms have been stripped.
Plumbing going in before slab. I consulted with my favorite plumber about layout and design of the plumbing and did most of the labor myself, including the under slab plumbing and slab prep.
I was determined to have no water in basement. This photo shows an above and beyond drain I added to ensure that any ground water coming up under the slab would have a quick exit route.
About ready to pour the floor
More water proofing before back fill. I subcontracted this work out to a specialist.
Basement slab freshly poured. I worked to support the team in getting this floor poured.
Adding more gravel than code requires is another step in the direction of overkill water management before back fill happened.
Framing – Getting the Shell Completed
A glimpse of the view
Floor trusses ready to go on.
First wall going up.
Walls up. Roof trusses arrived.
Roof is on
Most of the siding is up. I went with a sage green vinyl siding and white trim.
Interior wall framing in the basement under the stairs
Blown Cellulose Insulation
Interior wall framing
Interior Finish Work
Wood floors going down
Tile in the main bathroom
Tile in the downstairs bathroom
Tile in the foyer
Kitchen getting closer
Pics of the finished space
While many people played a part in this project none were as involved from start to finish as my parents. My dad worked with me almost everyday for months. And my mom too – she was always available and played a particularly strong role in helping with the wood floors. What an amazing and wonderful gift to work with them on this project.
My mission was to do as much of this project myself as made sense. I subcontracted out things like excavation, concrete for the basement walls and floor, the roofing system and siding/gutters. Those were things that require special equipment or involve working way off the ground and I don’t like heights. I’ve worn many hats on this project: architect, draftsman, general contractor, and laborer for many trades. I’ve shoveled, raked, installed silt fence, seeded & watered grass, plumbed, framed, sheathed, wrapped, installed windows, run a jumping jack, hung many doors including one for the garage, installed lights, fans, vents, stack boots, installed wood floors and tile floors, a one piece fiberglass shower stall, tub, tiled a tub surround, installed vanities, tops, sinks, assembled and installed cabinets, installed window and door casing, base trim and shoe, painted, built stairs, a deck, and a shed.
There were a few days, where I needed larger teams of people and was fortunate to have friends and family show up to help.
The town building officials team has been fantastic, always upbeat, welcoming and willing to help answer questions.
Special thanks to Rick Kraft of Kraft Builders, my mentor, partner and friend.
Thanks also to: Larry, Al, Steve, Gary, Cody, Trey, Jose, Melinda, Jeff, Danny, Michael, Katy, Max, Mike, Ashley, Will, Bill, Jerry, Jesse, Mark, Violet, Kirk, Nancy and Karen.
All in all it was a great experience with lots of learning and relationship building. It ended up being very nice place to live for a few months, I employed myself for project duration and came away making a little profit to boot.