Tiny House Construction Tip #2 With Curt Lyons: Removing and Re-Using Your Trailer Lumber
One of the biggest differences between a tiny house and a trailer or RV, other than the fact that tiny houses can be beautiful in a way a trailer never will, is that tiny houses aren’t so tiny in the weight category. Before you even start to build, the trailer alone starts out over 2000lbs, which is already more weight than many cars can tow. When I started my building process, I was determined to see where I could cut weight. In typical house construction, when in doubt, you take the caveman approach and overbuild it, but when weight matters, you don’t have that luxury.
Purchasing your trailer is an exciting moment and a big reality check. It’s when the whole process becomes very real feeling. You’re anxious to start to framing the walls, because you want it to start looking like a house, but you need to take a breath and be patient, since there is some not so glamorous prep work that has to go into the trailer first. However this is also a great opportunity to save some weight. I’m talking hundreds of pounds, when everything adds up.
Unless you bought a trailer specifically custom made for a tiny house, one of the first things that needs attention is the decking wood. Most tiny house trailers are actually designed for hauling cars and have a pressure treated deck made of 2”x10” lumber. Pressure treated means this lumber has been infused with chemicals, under pressure, that make the wood highly resistant to being eaten by either insects or micro-organisms, but it also makes it very heavy.
Today, in the comments on this post, Shelby asks, “What kind of interior siding looks like conventional sheet rock — thought that was a no no for tiny house on wheels due to the stress off moving??”
Great question! A lot of people ask about how some builders install drywall on the interior of tiny houses that are built on trailers because they worry that when towing it will cause the interior drywall sheets to crack.
And that’s definitely a smart thing to worry about. When I saw Shelby’s question, I remember reading about a trick to prevent your drywall from cracking… even in a tiny house on wheels.
I learned about this ‘trick’ thanks to Carrie and Shane from Clothesline Tiny Homes. They used this method and it worked. Plus they traveled quite a bit with their tiny home with no issues.
As you know I have been happily living in my tiny house for nearly a year and a half.
Matt and I started this project a very long time ago and I thought maybe I would go back to the beginning to share some of my own tiny house building advice.
If I were to talk to the 2007 me who had barely touched a hammer in her life, what would I say? This post covers the top 3 tips I think you should know before building tiny.
1. Throw away your time expectations.
I realize that our tiny house experience was different than most. We were building on a fixed location that happened to be over three hours from where we lived.
This meant that we were only able to work on the house for a very short amount of time each visit. With the exception of a few week long vacations most of the construction was done on weekends.
We would arrive around noon on Saturday and work as long as we could before we had to leave sometime in the afternoon on Sunday to make it back to Atlanta. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
When we started construction in 2009 we had an expectation that we might be done by winter of that same year. Having never built anything before, we quickly realized that it was best if we slow down and be more cautious about the process.
In the end it took us three years to complete the house. Even for someone building a tiny house on a trailer in their yard I would suggest that you not adhere to some dogmatic time estimate. Instead concentrate on doing an exceptional job and the house will be finished when it is finished.
I encourage you to read my other 2 tips if you’re thinking of building tiny below:
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