Tiny House update #1

Tiny house progress-

I realized that I have become more uncomfortable with my current living space knowing that I have a new space that needs attention before it can become comfortably habitable. With that, the distraction of planning my new space, the tiny house that measures all of 12×6 feet, with a 6 foot tall ceiling height on one side and 7’8” ceiling height at the other, has been a productive distraction. It is a uniquely small space, but as these things go, space and time are strange things that are relative to the subject, and my relative opinion about my 70 square feet of space is that it is adequate to my needs. It also presents challenges and puzzles that are fun the ponder over and tackle.

Yesterday I tackled the kitchen counter. I decided on a 36” tall counter-top height a few weeks ago when I picked up a metal cabinet that measures 36” tall, by 15”wide, by 20” deep to the wall. Although the cabinet is not as deep as the counter-top, with a 16”depth, it will have to do. It is the one and only cabinet and drawer in the whole place, and It is likely going to stay that way. I looked around my mom’s property to scavenge scrap wood from her 10 years of project remnants, and found some rough 15/32 inch thick plywood, as well as one piece of 24”x48”, ¼ inch thick birch plywood to lay on top of the ratty old stuff. I choose to purchase a few 2”x2”x8′ pieces at the hardware store so that I wasn’t using heavy 2×4’s or something hard to cut straight.

I spent $7 on 2×2’s and $7 on screws, so grand total for this project is $14, with about 400 screws to spare. I boxed the 2×2’s and then matched the height at several places using a 2×2 that was cut to the proper length to be used as a support on one section with an overhang. I bravely forged forward, without a level, which was unsettling but I had to keep in mind the trailer is currently not sitting level. This project is not exactly a precision job either. I need to make it usable, and then use it and see from the lived in perspective what improvements could be made.

For lighting I am currently relying on solar stakes from the dollar tree.  I took the stake and clear plastic sections off the solar panel/battery/LED section, and now the lights resemble small funny looking hockey pucks.  The lights are placed in sunny spot in the daytime and after they have recharged they provide 6-8 hours of very dim light.  I place 5 of them total inside, with a few hanging out on top of my water dispensers and water bottles to diffuse the light.   They are bright enough that I need to stash them away when I want to sleep, and for brighter lighting I have a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, like you would use to recharge a cell phone, which I can connect to a really bright LED reading light.  It has been in use the past two nights without needing a recharge. Otherwise, my headlamp or cell phone flashlight supplements the rest of my illumination needs.

I picked up a few other non-ideal but ultimately perfect necessities. A friend held onto a Coleman style propane camping stove which has really nice burners and she even threw in a couple small propane canisters, all for $10 total! And a different friend has some equipment to refill the small canisters from the bigger ones so it doesn’t create so much waste, so that is a cook-top win.

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Also added to the project is a propane catalytic heater, with igniter and high-low settings. This thing is certainly overkill but quality furnaces for tiny cabins and houses are $700-800 and that is as much as I paid for the trailer, so fancy chromed out furnaces won’t fit my budget. I also considered wood heat. I thought about a getting an old cast iron cook-stove but the large size of the oven and the small firebox wasn’t reasonable for my application, no matter how nostalgic and rustic it is. This propane heater will be one of the last things to be installed, but it’s better to have a heat source now rather than when I’m freezing and desperate to warm my bones. Also, this heater is “period appropriate” to when my trailer was built. It has a nice faux wood grain over the steel exterior. It uses no electricity, there are no moving parts, it burns propane very efficiently therefore produces few combustion related hydrocarbon by-products, and it was only $40. Another win.

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I’ve got counter-space, heat, a way to cook food and some storage space. I still need to figure out the sink, and where I will put it. I got a really inexpensive stainless sink but I don’t like it and I don’t think it will suite my needs, but unless I can figure out an equally inexpensive alternative I might as well use it. It’s really small and won’t be any good for soaking dishes, mostly for rinsing things and washing hands, in which case I have to get a square tub that I can get out when I need a basin for water. I think this will be a good solution, allowing for a large amount of counter-space when not cleaning dishes,and dishes could go directly into the tub to await cleaning, stored under the counter like in a restaurant where you bus your own table. Either way, I’ll make the sink work, but I’m not particularly fond of it. Thanks to the psychology of effort justification I will likely change my opinion about the sink once I have gone to the trouble of installing it. -Update: I installed the sink, and it’s meh.

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I have plans for pressurized water. I found a camp shower that is made from a heavy plastic and and has a spray nozzle and foot pump. The plastic bottle is filled with 3 gallons of hot or cold water, the foot pump pressed a few times, the bag fills with pressure and the nozzle sprays. This solution sounds like the simplest off-grid way to get pressurized water for the least amount of money. I can heat hot water on the stove, mix it with water that has heated in the sun all day, and have warm water for washing clothing, doing dishes, or taking a shower.

I’ll post some updates as the project unfolds. I will be starting to build a bunk for my primary bed on the wall to the opposite side of the kitchen counter. The counter-top/kitchen area and an elevated sleeping bunk with a very large closet underneath are my top priorities for the next two weeks. Then I will focus on building some boxes that will go in as bench seats with foam cushions, and a table between them that drops down to create a level 72” long by 28” wide space for someone to sleep. Then on the opposite wall I plan to install an old wood ironing board top which will provide a standing height space for me to do homework and type blog’s/papers.  The ironing board will be able to fold flat against the wall when not in use. And that is about it. I’ll need a solar setup, which the batteries and panels and controller will be paying for themselves within a year in this small of a space. There is not much left to do, and this small space is feeling bigger every day.

Update- I installed and bunk today, Monday, May 30th.  It is still in need of cross-support.

 


6 thoughts on “Tiny House update #1

    1. Thank you. I got the dishes at a flea market. They came in a nice hinged wooden box with a few other kitchen type items. It will be a nice thing to pack up and throw in the car for camping and picnics as well.

      And the bed; in a space that is only 12ft long I have few options that allow for the floorplan to stay open and avoid feeling confined.

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  1. What a thrill to read about your micro-home in the works! Gave me not a few ideas, and I applaud the solar light usage. Your writing is refreshingly familiar, which I enjoy because it has a conversational tone. Bravo all ’round.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. It is encouraging to know that others enjoy following my process of organizing my thoughts and my life into a more efficient and valuable form.

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