Category Archives: Tiny Home

Laundry in the bath tub – what of it?

We no longer have a washer and dryer.The dryer isn’t such a big loss since I never really used it anyways but the washer is something I miss. There is a fancy laundromat here but sheesh, (and I understand the irony that will follow) I am too lazy to carry the laundry that far. So instead I wash by hand in the bathtub.

I tried using one of those hand cranked washers but it was a pain and not worth it. I’m sure if you were washing diapers and socks then it’d be all you need but washing one pair of pants took way too much effort. The Breathing Hand Washer from Lehman’s and some Dr. Bronner’s is surprisingly effective and not nearly as strenuous as would be expected. Awesome. And I don’t have to walk to the laundromat or keep track of loose quarters.

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Sudden Shifts

I’ll write more when I have time – our lives have taken a sudden shift in the opposite direction of where we intended. I had to leave my garden, we’re in an apartment, and we sold our tiny house trailer. We’re not in a bad place, just a very different place.

I’ve got a  garden at the school I’m interning at (where I’m also working with the science class, outdoor education, and cooking class) and we’ve stored the bulk of our building materials at a friends.  Because of the price of our new living situation we won’t be able to save money like we were before but it is still going to be a good exercise in general frugality. Plus, in the process of moving we have jettisoned over half of our belongings (mostly the things I have accumulated over the past 5 years without any real reason) and have made a (loose) pact to not bring anything new into the apartment unless it is food or toiletries.

The past month has been one of those months that you feel like you’re lucky to survive (mentally and physically) while its happening and can look back on years from now and pretend to laugh at while you hide that it still gives you goosebumps. But it’s done. I can’t say yet that it has made us stronger; just more wary. The series of events that led up to our sudden move made us both bitter and sad. I began feeling like I couldn’t trust anyone. There are still pockets of unease that only time will work to relieve. But the immediate response of our friends, family, and even a few strangers to give up their time to help us out was a great reminder of why it is so counterproductive to be jaded and distrustful. They were a reminder of how even though there are plenty of people who just seem to be genuinely awful, there are also plenty of people who are selfless and kind, and just want to make life enjoyable for everyone.

We are in a place we hadn’t expected to be but it isn’t a bad thing. It is just a new opportunity to work on ourselves and with others. It is an opportunity to be incredibly grateful for those that have helped us, and to learn how to not get so mad at people who we feel are hindering us.

Rainbarrel Workshop

I love a good diorama. Especially a diorama that is on a lazy susan.

Maybe it is the teacher in me but this is a great learning tool. Everything labeled, plastic bendy straws for gutters, it’s perfect!

Labels. Every diorama must have good labels.

The workshop itself was pretty informative as well. Everyone paid $30 and was walked through the step by step construction of a plastic rain barrel. There was a short lecture at the beginning all about rainwater, its uses, the legal issues with collecting rain water and different code restrictions. There were examples of different kinds of systems ranging from small collection set-ups for livestock watering to full systems to provide for an entire household. I’ll elaborate more on those later.

The barrel construction was incredibly simple. We drilled a 1″ hole about 2 inches from the bottom using a spade bit. Squeeze a ring of silicone caulk around the threads of a faucet (ours were especially fancy faucets), and screw the faucet into the one inch hole until it sits flush against the drum.

The top of the barrel has a 5″ diameter circle cut out for the filter /water entry. The filter was also incredibly easy to put together. We cut the bottom from two plastic flower pots of the same size as each other and as the hole cut into the barrel. You turn one pot on end and place a square of mosquito mesh over it. Next you slide the other flower pot on top. This keeps the mosquito mesh wedged tight between the two pots and snugly in place to filter debris from rain water and keep mosquitoes from breeding.

After that, the filter pots go into the hole and your barrel is done! The silicone caulk should be allowed to cure for at least 24 hours, then it is a good idea to take a hose and fill the drum up to the faucet level and check for leaks. Any leaks found can be sealed up with a little more caulk.

At the end of the workshop we took home two completed 55 gallon rain barrels. Again, I love my van. Keep Denton Beautiful hosts a number of workshops like this and if any of the others are nearly as informative and productive as this one than they’ll definitely be worth attending.

For our tiny home we plan on using every possible surface to collect rainwater for our garden and potentially our own consumption (for showers and food). We’re looking at a couple different kinds of filtration systems for home use but haven’t settled on one that fits our needs – there are size and weight requirements (tiny and light). If anyone has some good suggestions for water filters I’d love to hear them!

Cross Stitch Screen Door

I’m working on the screen door for our tiny home. I wanted it to be eye catching but not garish. I decided to go with cross stitch. 2 out of the three panel sections will have normal mosquito screen, but one panel will be cross stitched with one of my favorite quilt patterns.

I started by tracing the design onto some butcher paper using a diamond template. I taped the screen down over it and traced the pattern using a sharpie.

I made sure to mark which spaces would be a different color so I wouldn’t get confused – because I do get confused easily when it comes to unclear patterns.

I’ve only just begun to stitch but I think it is already pretty stunning. I’m working over a metal screen and really like how the design is coming through. I can’t decide if I want to fill in the negative spaces like I had originally planned or if leaving them open will be more interesting – I’d like to see the shadows it creates playing across the floor.

What do you think? Fill it in or leave it open?

Removing Scews and Nails

Removing rusted nails and bent screws goes hand in hand with salvaging free lumber. Very rarely does free lumber come without something pointy sticking out of it.
Crowbars, screw drivers, hammers, and saws are all involved in free lumber.
We have accumulated many pounds of rusty bent nails.

Sometimes you luck out and the hardware you remove can be reused. The screws that came out of these 1x3s are all brand new and in great shape. We ended up with about 3 lbs of screws. This load of lumber was pulled from a dumpster on the university campus – I felt more than justified taking this brand new lumber from the dumpster. After all of the unnecessary fees I paid to that school it was nice to get a little bit of it back through a van-load of wood and screws.

This pile used to be an old garage – it was not only full of nails and screws but also yellow jackets.

We took the panels that used to be the roof – their tar paper is salvageable and the planks are 1×12 tongue in groove red cedar. Sometimes when we find wood we aren’t immediately sure what it will be used for but know that it will definitely have a place in our house either as a shelf, framing, flooring, or counter top.

In the pursuit of free 2x4s

Craigslist Free listings – one of the best things happening on the internet.

“16 foot 2×4 pallets – good shape. Need to be gone by Friday.”

Somehow, the 16′ part of that sentence just didn’t register in either of our minds as we drove out to Carrollton to collect some free wood. A 16′ pallet will not fit in my van. Did we decide to leave the pallets there and go home? No. We went to Home Depot.

We bought a saw.
We went back and got to work. We took turns sawing those pallets in half as fast as we could – the listing on Craigslist had already attracted other free-seekers so we had no time to dilly dally.
These guys took all of the pallets that weren’t constructed of 2x4s, I think we looked a little desperate squatting over our pallets with our saw and hammers.

We managed to get almost all of the pallets, plus a composite board table top crammed into the van. My love for that van is constantly being reinforced. There was something we wanted that we couldn’t fit in the van – two completely framed out walls sitting out by the dumpster.

Who knew.

Salvaging

One of the biggest components of building our house is being able to salvage the majority of our material. A lot of what we’ve found so far was destined for the dumpster – or was already in a dumpster. If I hadn’t personally climbed into a number of these dumpsters to retrieve brand new 2x4s I wouldn’t have believed that anyone could throw out materials in such great shape. Maybe it is because I come from a long line of people who will hold onto every scrap of “useful” materials, “just in case!” we’ll need it down the road, or maybe it is because we’re poor and can’t stand the thought of spending money on wood when it is so readily available for free with just a little searching. We plan to build our house for under $5000, including appliances and solar set up. I’ll be working up a budget comparison of the cost of the supplies that we have salvaged if we had had to purchase them new; it’s more of a comparison between having a little patience and willingness to get our hands dirty and taking the most convenient route to gathering supplies.

Money aside, we want to show that a nice, solid, beautiful home can be built without having to use new supplies and contribute more waste to already overfull landfills. Our house, among many other things, will hopefully embody what a little resourcefulness and real recycling can do.