Wednesday, July 20, 2016

(Jul 19) Free At Last

Can't tell you how happy I am to have my cast off! Everything appears to be healing OK. Took 3 hand washings and 2 showers to get that smell off my hand. The cut closed up really nicely. I still can't touch but 2 of my fingers to my palm on that hand but I start PT next week. It seems like forever ago that it happened and still another 2-3 months of rehab to go. :(

4 weeks after surgery

1 week after surgery

Last weekend, we worked on the toilet project on Saturday. Made some good progress. We got a hole cut in the deck and the diverter and the seat mounted. I think it's coming along OK. We'll still have to stain and seal the whole thing but it works like a champ!

Also did some more baking on Saturday night. I've been craving bread pudding so here was yet another. This time I made a chocolate sauce with toasted pecans to put over it along and served it with some vanilla ice cream. Wish I had taken a pic after I dished it up. It was delicious!

On Sunday, we went to a MeetUp with fellow DFW Tiny House Enthusiasts. (so exciting that our Facebook group has topped 1100 members for North Texas!) A quick stop at The Flying Saucer in Addison with a few of the members to chase a cold beer first. Then we were off to Michelle's, who graciously opened up her home for our meeting to discuss and plan our converging on Colorado next month for the Tiny House Jamboree.  :)

I've been so glad to be involved in such a vibrant and friendly group. With so much violence and anger erupting across the nation over religion, race and politics, it's really nice to be involved in something that transcends all of that. We all (straight, gay, ethnic, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, liberal, conservative) just come together to help each other on a wide variety of projects that we're all passionate about. This has been so much fun! I've never been able to count on this many friends at one time in my life. I want to thank everyone involved for making this time so special. :)

Yes, that's my Guiness in the foreground! :)

The Jamboree should be spectacular this year. They've announced that there will be 47 Tiny Houses (all commercially built units) on display this year. That should ease the viewing lines quite a bit compared to the 12 units they had last year. Ample parking, multiple food trucks on-site throughout the event, ability to bring in a cooler. I think this event will be quite special. Counting down the days!

Next week, we do some touch-up painting and hopefully some wood sealing - window casings, toilet, door jam, etc. I need to re-wire the outdoor lights on the north side as well as glue up the PVC drain pipes for the toilet and the sink. Also need to put in the P-Trap for the shower. Even though I have my cast off, I don't think Kim's going to let me on the roof yet to finish the flashing. Maybe when we get back from Colorado. :) There's always plenty to do in the mean time.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

(Jul 10) Plumbing The Toilet

With my hand still bound up in a cast, I've avoided getting back up on the roof. Instead, this weekend, we turned our attention to plumbing under the house, namely drainage for the composting toilet and the shower. We set out to get the first phase of the toilet ready, the urine diverter. It's an interesting conversation when you spend half the day trying to figure out where you mount this thing to make sure it catches everything for multiple people. Hopefully, we won't have to do too much adjustment after we cut the holes in the deck.

We knew where we wanted it to be positioned. We just needed to get it there. This involved cutting away some of the frame and grinding the plywood away to accommodate the curved front of the diverter as it rises with the lid.

Diverter attached to the cabinet lid. The drain pipe and bucket in place.

Once we got the position of the diverter set, that set the position for the drain pipe, which in turn determined where it would exit the floor. I got a range of motion of the pipe and confirmed that we weren't going to cut a hole directly above a floor joist. Cutting a hole in your floor is scary enough without the frustration of having to cut a 2nd hole because the 1st was in the wrong spot. We decided to drill a small hole to test the proposed location. I crawled under the house and verified it was right between 2 joists. :) I broke out our new hole saw and bored through the toilet frame, the flooring and both layers of subflooring without a hitch. Nice Saw!

Drain pipe exiting the cabinet through the floor

Diverter in position with drain pipe

Next, we secured the inlet pipe to the plywood wall and made sure the final placement of the diverted was good. We also confirmed that the bucket for solids would fit against up under the lip of the diverter. Just another safety measure to make sure nothing spills past the diverter. we are also on the hunt for the perfect bucket/container. Would love to find something square or rectangular that's tall enough to come up right under the diverter lip. A larger volume would mean we could go longer between emptying it.

Under the house, we plumbed a drain pipe that we tied into the drain under the kitchen. We left enough pitch to make sure it would flow downhill and out of the pipes. Also had to consider that we wanted the shower to start draining out back with the rest of the grey water. This was a difficult step for me. I had put a lot of thought and effort into proving the functionality of our recirculating shower. This would be the end of that project. :(

It wasn't that it hadn't worked. It worked fine. We were able to take showers for as long as you liked with only 5 gallons of water used. The reality of it though was that it took a fair amount of effort to set up each shower. I would fill the 5-gallon jug. Then I would turn on the pump that would circulate the water through the filter and the water heater just long enough to get the water to the desired temperature, usually no more than 5-7 minutes. After that, I would turn off the heater and leave the water circulating to take a shower. When done, I would have to dump the jug and start the process over if anyone else needed to bathe. I just couldn't see myself going through all of this every morning as we tried to get ready to go to work. :( It just wasn't going to be feasible for the long term.

I have since picked up a water heater (propane) at an auction and will be working on getting it hooked up and running. It won't be as efficient at conserving water but it will be much easier to deal with. I think we can still stay within our consumption goal of 5 gallons per shower. We'll just have to get used to Navy showers where we turn the water on and off throughout the shower for conservation. We just won't get to sit in there and take the 20-30 min showers we hoped to.

I'll have more pics coming as we hope to finalize everything soon. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

(Jul 4) Let Independence Ring!

Well, we've had an interesting couple of weeks. As many know, I had a pretty rough May/June this year. In May, my wife and I were hit by a truck on the way to work and our car was totaled. Luckily, neither of us (Kim was driving) was hurt badly. While dealing with that, I was cut by some metal flashing at Home Depot last month which severed a tendon on my left hand. I'm doing OK after surgery but really hate being in a cast! I can't decide which is worse, the itching or the smell. I don't know how they expect me to build a tiny house in this thing! LOL! (By the way - large zip ties work great for sliding into your cast to get those hard to reach itchy spots!)

Working on attaching rake to roof

Cast with FiberFix patch kit installed after I broke it. A lot like the original cast material. :)

This week, I upgraded to a version that I can get wet - swim, shower, sweat! It cost me a little extra out of pocket but I think it will be worth it over the next couple of weeks that I'm stuck in this thing. Kim won't let me post pics of the cut or surgery. Hmmmph! Anyway, I did get a new cast on today (after a week) as I broke the other one (cast, not hand) on Friday working on the roof. So here's a pic of where I'm at so far.

New waterproof cast

Pretty excited to get another phase of our water catchment system completed. My hand is still only about 10% back in action after surgery so we set a light work schedule. Well, that was the plan!  I wanted to get the gutter up and draining into our cistern to start rinsing and measuring what we get with the next couple of rains. We headed to Home Depot for supplies. I must admit, I walked by the section of flashing that had attacked me several weeks before with a bit of glare in my eye and a low growl. lol

As in everything we do, there was some good news and some bad news. The good news – there were some gutter pieces that were lightly damaged, enough for our project. We got those at 70% off. The bad news – they didn't have everything we needed. We would still have to go to another store. People are still amazed that we can fit 10' pieces of lumber and gutter inside our Hyundai Elantra and still shut the trunk. It's been really handy for transporting materials although I'm sure I got a couple of dirty looks as I stood by and watched my wife load the car. Not quite as obvious that my hand is out of commission since I had the bandages and splint off before I got my cast. :)

Gutter installed on south roof

Gutter draining into cistern

We'll work on a 1st Catch diverter in coming weeks to eliminate the debris washing off the roof. This will be absolutely necessary after seeing what accumulates up there. This week, while installing additional roofing components, I found a sizeable pile of raccoon feces as well as a pretty good splattering of dried blood that had dripped from a branch above. I'm guessing it was from an owl or hawk eating a little woodland snack. We're planning a 20 gallon 1st Catch system. Basically, a large diameter pipe standing beside the building that will give us a rinse when it starts raining. After it fills, the rest of the rainwater will continue on to the cistern. It still won't be perfectly clean but it'll be better than what comes off before.

I'm so blessed that Kim is both capable and enthusiastic about this life-changing journey we're on. It really makes it a blessing to have a goal that manifests itself into a hobby we both really enjoy doing together. :) You're the best!

Other projects we've been working on have kept us pretty busy. We got rake (overlapping flashing) on both the east and west sides of the roof. Kim made me get off the roof after I broke my cast. Probably should have waited 'til I had some help up there. Thus the dents from dropping it. Hoping to finish the north side next week. :)

West side rake on roof finally!

We also got a grey water drain pipe in place for our sink. There's plenty of adjustment available to extend the down pipe when we're ready to bury it. We just wanted to get it into place and confirm all was working well before we did so. I caulked the hole good around the pipe while we were working on it. This replaces the heavy and incredibly smelly horse trough that we were using before. Now this just drains downhill to the dry creek bed behind the house. The pee trap under the sink should keep out any smells and critters. We used double elbows to allow the pipe to follow the slope if the land. The 1st elbow lets us point the pipe in the direction we needed to go to avoid trees and such. The 2nd allowed the pipe to angle down at the right pitch. I had to beat them on to the pipe so I won't bother cementing them in place until we're ready to bury them.

Since last time, we also completed the soffit under the north side cantilever roof. The birds will sure miss nesting under here! In addition, we got the outside lights wired and installed a switch for them. Raccoons be warned. I'm going to be watching you now! lol

Hardi soffit installed above north wall

The sliding barn door also got some attention this weekend. It was dragging along the floor just a bit so we pulled it down and shaved some off the bottom. It glides really smoothly now.  :)

View of bath & kitchen area from living room

Our replacement of painted trim and baseboards also completed on the Monday holiday. We were pretty excited to have it done. I liked the gray we originally used but I think it looks much better in the natural pine tone. It really brightened up the room. The Plinth blocks really worked out well. They let me (with my very limited carpentry skills) smoothly transition the ceiling trim pieces together at corners with varying pitch and angles.

Trim work at northwest corner

Trim work at southwest corner

Living area trim completed. We are really loving the new ceiling fan!!

Kitchen trim completed

South kitchen wall trim replaced

Detail of Plinth block along ceiling

I must say, after looking at all of the projects we've completed over these couple of weeks, I'm pretty pleased. Especially considering I've been reduced to one good hand. Kim has really pulled more than her weight lately. Love you, Honey, and thanks for putting up with me!

Next week, we try once more to complete the roof flashing. We'll also make a run at getting the toilet project advanced. We have to cut out the hole in the top deck, attach the seat/lid, attach the urine diverter, lay out the drain pipe and pee trap (literally) as well as install a vent duct and fan. We'll see. I'm guessing it will take a couple of trips out here to complete but I'll be excited with any progress.

While I was cooking some steaks over an open fire this holiday weekend and listening to the Cicadas and newly hatched frogs, I was reminded that the woods are warm, sometimes muggy and full of bugs and wildlife. I absolutely love it here! I love the deer, the squirrels, the raccoons and the multitude of wild birds. Everything about it here! I truly hope everyone had a great weekend and holiday!!