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The Beginning Is Near

Lillu's side window...after so long, I've always imagined it would look like that! 

Lillu's side window...after so long, I've always imagined it would look like that! 

Today, as I excited rattled on about the recently restarted progress on the tiny, my sister-in-law commented, "look at that, all your dreams are coming true! At the same time!" And she's absolutely right...

I mean, this guy materialized out of tiny-dom...

I just love him <3

I just love him <3

And this guy materialized out of, well, that...

I just love him!  <3<3

I just love him!  <3<3

And now after those lovely life interruptions, Lillu is back in the spotlight. She's missed her place there, I think, but has patiently waited, and literally weathered, the past year fairly well.  We moved her to our property in Accokeek last summer.  I unrealistically had the expectation that I would somehow be able to work on that house with all the other life changes going on in and around me, but it didn't happen.  And it kept not happening as I've sorted through life's changes.  Priorities have shifted, and as much as I've loved this project, she took a backseat.  

But new life was breathed into this project when a local friend recently expressed interest in renting Lillu. So suddenly the project is back up and running, with a strict deadline of less than two weeks from now....It's a good thing I brought an experienced builder into my life! The progress he has been able to make on it in the past two weeks almost equals the progress I made on it in totality... It took me a year to get it closed in and just barely electrified. Since restarting this project the insulation has gone in, the lights and switches are all functional, the drywall is up and primed, the windows and door are trimmed (there IS a door!) and the white oak flooring, toilet, and countertops are on their ways. Take a look! The projected course has shifted, and I am a little sad at no longer being able to actually build, but truth-be-told it's still a fascinating journey, and it is moving, and for that I'm thrilled. Next time I post, it will be D-O-N-E! 

The protective coat makes it look lighter than it is, but there it is!  The long anticipated metal roof, hugging the exterior wall with all its might! 

The protective coat makes it look lighter than it is, but there it is!  The long anticipated metal roof, hugging the exterior wall with all its might! 

drywall!  Oh the purity of a white wall! 

drywall!  Oh the purity of a white wall! 

I just can't believe it.  Oh how I love you Lu! 

I just can't believe it.  Oh how I love you Lu! 

 

 

Lillu, you have a(nother) new tenant

The tiny has landed in its forever home. It has a lovely view of a burgeoning garden and chicken coop to the front, and it's soulmate tiny house in the woods to the back.   above above: a short video of the move I thought best expressed in this painting by an artist that I can't accurately cite - my apologies artist.  I love it! 

The tiny has landed in its forever home. It has a lovely view of a burgeoning garden and chicken coop to the front, and it's soulmate tiny house in the woods to the back.  

above above: a short video of the move I thought best expressed in this painting by an artist that I can't accurately cite - my apologies artist.  I love it! 

We began the tiny house move with some difficulty last Friday, but completed it peacefully and quickly Sunday morning. We - me, my dad, my soon-to-be husband Cory and his always-entertaining son Jacob pulled a full day Friday - 12 hours of straight work with a small break to eat dinner and a refresher swim after a surprise thunderstorm (during which we moved steel roof panels around - yes, smart). At first the rain was more than welcome - the first half of the day was so hot and humid, I couldn't drink enough water to replace what I was losing. After dinner however, it became disastrous as we attempted for several hours to pull the trailer out of its suddenly very soggy resting spot, succeeding only after a collision with the garage and many narrow escape attempts thereafter.  The aftermath suggests that I owe my parents a new gutter on the garage (really sorry dad), but amazingly no harm came to the tiny. Must be solidly built. Ahem.

I stopped working on the house at the end of winter, exactly when I thought I would seriously dive in. I thought this because it was also the time I stopped working full-time in favor of starting my own practice, so time was now of my own making. Since then, however, everything major in life that could take place has - CeDAR (my new architecture practice) was born, Cory (my co-tiny house conspirator and brilliant and beautiful life-collaborator) and I got engaged, and - here's the big whammy - we soon learned that a baby was on the way. A real baby, like the kind that might make me look at the tiny house and then at my expanding belly and wonder if perhaps a new game plan is in order...that kind of a baby.  The kind where I say oh wait I never thought of having to store onesies and bottles and let alone a crib...that kind of baby. Still, it's an excellent challenge, a life changing challenge, and one we are both game for. We already happily inhabit his tiny house and its surrounding wooded acreage - what's one more? And now we have two little houses...The more the merrier! 

Getting back into it the other weekend felt good, but truthfully not much has been accomplished on the actual build, except perhaps the electrical and building the loft. I had some guidance from my dad and Cory, and Cory got the panel installed with several of the circuit breakers, but after that I was on my own, armed with YouTube videos and a Black & Decker guide to electrical wiring.  That was this winter's major project, and it still hasn't been tested to ensure nothing is going to short out or explode, but hey. I've now wired a house.  I know what it takes to complete a circuit, and that back means hot and you know what hot means, and that house framing has lots of holes cut into it for this stuff.

I still love this project, even with the half year sabbatical.  I love the course of events life has taken, and I'm pretty sure now that I can't even guess where it will go from here....

Lillu finally made it out of her construction site after a rather dramatic and stormy Friday night...she sat here until Cory pulled up with the UHaul on Sunday morning to make the final move. 

Lillu finally made it out of her construction site after a rather dramatic and stormy Friday night...she sat here until Cory pulled up with the UHaul on Sunday morning to make the final move. 

Three more miles to go!  Once here we were met by an entourage of cars - the final three miles are marked by narrow and sometimes gravel streets, and we had to be sure to warn oncoming cars of what they were up against...

Three more miles to go!  Once here we were met by an entourage of cars - the final three miles are marked by narrow and sometimes gravel streets, and we had to be sure to warn oncoming cars of what they were up against...

This balloon randomly showed up on our property a few weeks ago...maybe nature was hosting a baby shower?  At any rate it got it right, and we're pleased to have the built-in announcement! 

This balloon randomly showed up on our property a few weeks ago...maybe nature was hosting a baby shower?  At any rate it got it right, and we're pleased to have the built-in announcement! 

March(ing) forward!

IMG_5812 (1).JPG

(Note: I wrote this in March and am apparently only posting now...so a little backtracking action. There was a lot of work done that I forgot about!) Two months have passed since the last update, although progress on the tiny doesn't seem to imply it.  No matter, it's an exciting time with lots of positive changes! As I close out my final days at Grizform finishing Kyirisan - a beautiful little gem of a restaurant (thanks in large part a talented crew of builders!), I am preparing to launch my solo design practice - CEDAR (www.cedararch.com).  The website is in its infancy stages, as is the practice, but check back as I will be filling it in with more detail as I go.  Eek!

This weekend Cory and I are heading to a Tiny House festival outside of Atlanta, to tour and meet and greet, make contacts and gain some inspiration. It will be fun - the first of its kind for me. Although I'm building a tiny house, I haven't fully committed to the trend.

And as for Lillu: the loft is lifted, and it promises decent headroom both above and below. I worked on the details for that excessively.  I'm pleased so far - sitting up there is cozy, and sleeping under a skylight will be magical. Below it, working in the kitchen feels comfortable, even someone a foot taller than I am can pass through with no difficulties!

The exterior insulation is 75% done, with the exterior kitchen wall left to do. I chose to go with exterior insulation to minimize the impact of heat and cold before it hits the framing, and also to minimize the interior insulation requirements. This building is an experiment, afterall. I think it will make a different, though.

The metal roof was finally ordered and will be delivered next week, and electrical is in its final stages of install.  Soon the drywall will be up, and interior finishes can begin. Woot! Getting the metal roof just right took a lot of back and forth, and I'm very grateful to Mike at the Roof Center for his absolute patience and willingness to "experiment" with the material as we nailed down all the parts.  I am always afraid of contemporary materials looking too much like they snap together and are supplied from a superstore, cheap and flimsy, but I think Mike and I came up with great options for the trim around the perimeters. The skylight is leaking a bit, which doesn't seem unusual as the flashing isn't installed yet, but it does make me nervous as the final pieces come together. Cross your fingers!

Learning how to bend sheet metal is my next audacious task, but this moment's learning curve is set around wiring. The first outlet I wired took me a day and plenty of frustration, but with time and practice, it became pretty easy to nail down. Everything on this job has a steep learning curve for me...

Hello metal roof!  Yay! 

Hello metal roof!  Yay! 

The loft is in!  we turned the aisle portion framing on its side and added some steel for those extra inches.  It's surprisingly comfortable in height! 

The loft is in!  we turned the aisle portion framing on its side and added some steel for those extra inches.  It's surprisingly comfortable in height! 

Under the new loft framing.  The vertical 2x4 is temporary - there will be stairs connected right here. Check out that wiring. Man, I got this. 

Under the new loft framing.  The vertical 2x4 is temporary - there will be stairs connected right here. Check out that wiring. Man, I got this. 

You know you're ok when the sun shines like that

 

Quitting time is often announced by the barred owl (who cooks for you...who cooks for you all?) that lives in the trees just beyond the tiny.  This happens now during the dusk winter hours around 4.30 or 5.00pm, and it gives me enough time to close shop before the darkness fully sets in.  I like that - nature keeping time for me.  There's a time for building, and a time for relaxing (and drinking wine).  Maybe I can share a glass with the barred owl sometime, in gratitude for its supervision.  But it might prefer a quick shot of whiskey, as its job is only just beginning for the night, and its focus must stay sharp...

an early cold day for the tiny...it has its windows, but it hasn't yet been fully buttoned up, poor thing...

an early cold day for the tiny...it has its windows, but it hasn't yet been fully buttoned up, poor thing...

Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote, although much of it not so visible on this building project.  The holiday season has been good to me - in November I received some expert help from one of the contractors I work with in my day job to install the windows and skylight, which my dad and I couldn't have done on our own.  The holiday season has also given me my new favorite helper who contains a world of knowledge about this stuff vastly superior to my own, and for that I'm in awe-filled appreciation.  Helper is perhaps an unfair word as I tend to be his right hand, waiting for direction (but I still claim this project as my own and am here to actually build it, even if I have an expert to guide).  And workwise, I've also been given extra time to put into this project in the upcoming month or two.  I think my original goal of being finished by April may actually be a likelihood....I think I was afraid I'd be tired of this by now, especially considering how slowly its going.  But I only love it more and more as it goes! 

Chris, who is physically making my daytime project a beautiful reality, decided to stop by for a day to help when he knew I needed it....He wished he could have met the duck but was a few weeks too late for it.  Maybe next Spring? I can't thank you enough, Chris!  

Chris, who is physically making my daytime project a beautiful reality, decided to stop by for a day to help when he knew I needed it....He wished he could have met the duck but was a few weeks too late for it.  Maybe next Spring? I can't thank you enough, Chris!  

And Cory, who has built his own tiny house and is living full time the life of my dreams...and for some reason he's willing to spend his free time with me to help me finish.  If you want to see a finished tiny, look at his facebook page - happygotiny.  he's a craftsman, this one. We are a ridiculous pairing, and it makes me smile

And Cory, who has built his own tiny house and is living full time the life of my dreams...and for some reason he's willing to spend his free time with me to help me finish.  If you want to see a finished tiny, look at his facebook page - happygotiny.  he's a craftsman, this one. We are a ridiculous pairing, and it makes me smile

My dad and I moving to the interior - we framed the bathroom and partial loft.  I wanted to finish the exterior before getting to this point, but acquiring the necessary materials has proven to be a bit of work.  Plus, I'm being excessively picky.  I'm allowed.  It's my house, and I'm an architect. 

My dad and I moving to the interior - we framed the bathroom and partial loft.  I wanted to finish the exterior before getting to this point, but acquiring the necessary materials has proven to be a bit of work.  Plus, I'm being excessively picky.  I'm allowed.  It's my house, and I'm an architect. 


Source: http://lilluhouse.com/blog/2016/1/9/youkno...

In Gratitude...of Family, Friends, Windows, and Tyvek

hello, is anybody home? 

hello, is anybody home? 

A rainbow formed in the sky on the rainy day that the duck left for good. Although always promising by default, it left me bereft of my new favorite pet. Left, gone, flew away, duck no more, not to me, anyway.  I miss that duck, but I also am glad to see its primal instincts kicked in, enabling it to be the duck it always knew it was meant to be.  I like to imagine the duck telling its new duck friends a story of what it is to be a wild duck raised by humans and a pitbull, and that's why it doesn't fit in with every other duck. He had to go do what ducks do (which is vacation in Florida in the winter).  Maybe, just maybe, the duck will land on this pool one day next March or April, pretending like nothing ever changed.  And I'll know I did a good job, raising an independent duck.

That happened the day after the windows were delivered.  I stayed home from work that morning, and now am glad because the duck partook in the entire window delivery process, and we got to have a final building experience together. Even the delivery man took pity on the poor creature holding one deformed leg up.  He also took one look at Lillu the tiny house and said "what the...", at which point I had to give him the full tour (it's a quick one).  The list of people I need to invite to the open house party is growing.  There's no end to the advice and enthusiasm I receive on this project, all of it very welcome and encouraged. At times it seems to be a community building device as much as a physical building project, and for that I am glad. 

Once the windows showed up I felt frantic to ensure that the house was secure from the elements (after months of allowing it to be exposed), and that morning as we waited for the delivery, we wrapped one single sheet of Tyvek around the entire house.  There's only one seam, and the actual wrapping process took a total of 15 minutes (and four people - thanks to my Dad's cousin, Connie for her help!), but getting to that point to be able to wrap it up took about 2 hours. I'm a better gift wrapper than a house wrapper, I realized. 

So, now the house is a buttoned coat, although not quite a winter one.  Finding the right finish materials is a much harder task than buying the framing materials. The decision is a permanently visible one, and I don't want to make a mistake.  But even before I get there, exterior insulation is going to provide the down for the winter coat, and I'm working out the exterior trim for the windows.   We only installed one window with the discovery that they were delivered without nailing flanges delayed the whole process.  I thought we'd just install anyway, but it turned out to be not so simple, nor quite a perfect alignment, and I'd rather rely on building technology to even out certain human ineptitudes.  It will be finished next weekend. 

Re: Thanksgiving and a few days off, to mark this glorious holiday - I'll offer my deepest gratitude for this spirited project, and all those who have taken part.  Without you, this would quite literally, not be possible.  Cheers, and happy Thanksgiving to all! 

Celebrating early: Who needs a Christmas tree when you can enter a house through one?

Celebrating early: Who needs a Christmas tree when you can enter a house through one?


What Goes Up Must Stay Up

Over the summer I went to a screening of a new tiny house documentary called Small is Beautiful, held at the Woolly Mammoth theater in DC (a perfect venue), and hosted by Boneyard Studios, a local group dedicated to tiny house living.  I was excited to see this documentary - I think it was seeing the first documentary of this kind, called Tiny, that helped to reinstate my interest in building this little house.  But this one was different.  It served as a sort of speed bump, seemingly meant to make people stop and question if this is something they really want to do.  I recognize the need for that - it's a commitment, and one that just about weekly I get slightly (or more) scared of.  How am I irreversibly directing the course of my life by doing this?  WHY am I doing this?  What do I hope to achieve?

I can't answer these questions fully.  The questions are more apparent than the answers, at the moment. Yet, at the same moment, I carry with me momentum that does not want to be disturbed by this asking.  My brain tends to go into overdrive generally in life, questioning everything (specifically itself) but I won't let it do that here with this project.  And I am fully aware that is because the process of building this little house is immensely....enjoyable.  What service do I do for myself to question that? 

 

Already decorating the place with late blooming dahlias and these amazing purple ball-seeds I have no name for that Lucielle and I saw along the road.  I'm grateful for late season beauty...

Already decorating the place with late blooming dahlias and these amazing purple ball-seeds I have no name for that Lucielle and I saw along the road.  I'm grateful for late season beauty...

I've decided against a roof and instead will allow this to be my skylight. What do you think- doable?

I've decided against a roof and instead will allow this to be my skylight. What do you think- doable?

life would never feel bad if I always had this perspective.

life would never feel bad if I always had this perspective.

We've been amazingly lucky to have gorgeous fall weather on work days to keep us company while building for the past few weeks, right up to the complete enclosure of the house.  My lovely and amazing friend Michelle, who is always up for just about any sort of challenge (we are also challenging each other at the climbing gym as often as we can) has seen the tiny in all its major phases, and so didn't miss the roof framing and sheathing last weekend.  That was completed only yesterday, and now the house is fully sheathed, an unbuttoned coat waiting for Autumn to take over - as it is tonight with a chilly, steady rain.  I feel very protective of this newly created object though, and have a tarp covering it until it gets a more permanent enclosure.

Michelle the badass. but ok the nail gun is scary.  it just is. we are not gun people.

Michelle the badass. but ok the nail gun is scary.  it just is. we are not gun people.

A dark, dank interior...I still love it.

A dark, dank interior...I still love it.

Part of what I love about this process is seeing the house evolve, and that doesn't always mean into something more beautiful. The house is enclosed, and it's fun to sit inside and imagine its possibilities, but it also just feels like a slightly damp plywood shell.  That's a little gross, but it makes me excited to see how it transforms again into something brighter...The windows come soon, and I know as soon as those go in (at this rate it will take a month to figure out how to do that) the house will transform again...

Dad and daughter, enclosing a roof in the shadow of an autumnal bonfire. 

Dad and daughter, enclosing a roof in the shadow of an autumnal bonfire. 

I'm actually slightly scared to stand up straight on this first bit of roof.  "trust your feet!" heh.  no.

I'm actually slightly scared to stand up straight on this first bit of roof.  "trust your feet!" heh.  no.



The purpose of walls

Yup, we're going to figure out how to cut the top off later.  Any suggestions? (Not the kind that says I would have done it this way instead, please...)

Yup, we're going to figure out how to cut the top off later.  Any suggestions? (Not the kind that says I would have done it this way instead, please...)

I've built quite a few walls in the time span since I last wrote, and seen even more than I prepared for.  Most of this activity has not been with the tiny house, sad to report, but somehow still factors in - to my consciousness, anyway. 

For a few weeks after the framing was finished I worked alone. Already in the process of sheathing, I found that dragging 4x8 sheets of 1/2" plywood, hoisting them in place, and nailing them to the studs was not something I preferred to do alone. Nah. Let's accept help on this one. It's too bad the process is so linear, that instead during that time alone I could, say, start the electrical work or the plumbing, or the cabinetry or the stairs. But this house needs to be closed up before winter, and it's slow going.  So how do I chose to respond to that time-sensitive issue? By avoiding it completely and building the duck a house, of course! For two + weekends a habitable space for this special duck took shape, and now sits - finished- in the shadow of the slowly evolving tiny house.  Which, I must add, has progressed with the particular help of my dad and Navy man Rhett, to my great appreciation.

As my good friend Alyssa commented, the duck's living quarters spatially rivals some apartments she's lived in.  me too, for that matter. Luxurious duck.

As my good friend Alyssa commented, the duck's living quarters spatially rivals some apartments she's lived in.  me too, for that matter. Luxurious duck.

S/he seems to like it! And she has a spirit bird planter sitting outside to protect her. Also note the ADA compliant ramp

S/he seems to like it! And she has a spirit bird planter sitting outside to protect her. Also note the ADA compliant ramp

After that was finished, I boarded a plane for Israel. It was meant to be a vacation, but really was more of a life-lesson that I'm going to be sorting through for some time. Building all these walls - for the tiny house, for the duck, allowed me to pay particular attention to the numerous walls constructed throughout the ages in Jerusalem. What's particularly notable about those walls is that they still remain, unlike most ancient and medieval city walls, and even more remarkable, that they are currently being added to! Even tonight the news told me that Israel is building ANOTHER wall in East Jerusalem to deal with the recent attacks. Walls carry a heavy burden!  Yet, I actively build walls - to divide myself from the outdoors, from the rain and the cold, to give privacy and safety, to define space. So when is it that walls become detrimental to humanity?

The answer in that country is very difficult to ascertain.  But one thing is certain - ideology is fighting hard to replace humanity. Every person is a PERSON, just like me, just like you. Every, every, person. 





An Ode to A Ridge Beam

TheRidgeBeam

Today my dad and I got an early start for fear of rain, made real about an hour ago. We have been talking about getting the sheathing on for the past week or so but the chances keep getting missed, and we missed this one as well.  I love a day like today. It feels so cleansing; nourishing. I would be happy for the whole day to be like it is right now, silent, but loud with the rain in the trees.

I am experimenting with leaving the duck outside, alone, which makes me perpetually nervous for this vulnerable creature, but the other options seem worse - to let her sit in the cage all day? or to come up to my apartment where I follow her every move to make sure that nastypoop doesn’t land somewhere it shouldn’t? She doesn’t want to be up here, anyway. I can sense that.  She’s happy outside, that’s where she belongs. But this is about the build, not about the duck. Everything ends up about the duck these days.

We added buttresses to the interior of the house today to get the walls level and plumb, which worked for three, but the fourth, the little one facing the front, is out of plumb and a head-scratcher at that on how to fix it. But for interest in getting out of the increasingly steady rain, we screwed it in place and will address it later.  I woke this morning and felt the weight of water in the air; it hadn’t started raining but clearly wasn’t going to wait long. My first task then was to cover everything - cover the duck's cage, cover her hay. Cover the 1/2” plywood sheathing, cover the 2x8 rafters. Afterward I went to get some coffee, and my dad spritely said ‘lets get to work before the rain!’ and i spritely replied “yes! ok!” and he uncovered what I covered. And shortly thereafter it started to rain.  

Yesterday we put up the ridge beam, and one ill-fitted rafter.  He said in Amish barn raisings there would be a big celebration to mark the raising of the ridge beam. We smiled a bit, but that was the extent of the celebration.  It felt great anyway - although now I think we did it out of sequence - but there it is, the central structure, the most important piece after the cornerstone, which this building does not have.  I should have thought about a cornerstone. Obviously not a literal one, but something that marked the start of this construction, that implies the heart and soul of what was and is about to take place. Maybe instead I’ll make a little celebration of the ridge beam.

Ahem. Here's to you, o ridge beam! Here's to your strength and stability - may I always rely on you to keep this house together!

Framing done!

Framing done!

It was a wall raising party for the second weekend in a row, last weekend. I'm going to run out of people to help me with this soon...Michelle, Victoria, Hugo, Dad, and Chris - thank you!!

It was a wall raising party for the second weekend in a row, last weekend. I'm going to run out of people to help me with this soon...Michelle, Victoria, Hugo, Dad, and Chris - thank you!!

To back up a bit: the dog is showing the scale of the door.  It's going to be a grand door. I love this door.

To back up a bit: the dog is showing the scale of the door.  It's going to be a grand door. I love this door.

I mean, what is there to say, really.

I mean, what is there to say, really.