A Free House Built By Students

I ran across this on Kent Griswold’s blog this morning and jumped for joy. It’s another tiny free house project being built by three students in Salvo, NC. They are scavenging free materials and building a very nice 96 square foot tiny house. It has a little kitchen, bathroom, and living area. They plan to be done within a month.

I’d love to see a million free houses pop-up around the country. I can’t be the only one this simple idea has occured to… and the more people that do it, the more people will try it and discover that a little ingenuity can replace spending money any day. Read the complete story on Tiny House Blog. You can also visit the students’ project blog at thescraphouse.wordpress.com.

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Black & Grey Water Treatment

Initially I was thinking I’d make the tiny free house more like a ‘park model’ house with a flush toilet and RV hookups. But the more I learn about sawdust toilets and soil box gray water systems the more I think that these two solutions are really a better way of dealing with the waste water and sewage.

In addition to being free, these methods are far more sustainable, provide usable compost, and don’t require massive quantities of water. The sawdust toilet does require a special compost pile for the turds to cook. I’m also pretty sure few government agencies officially condone these little methods or handling human waste so before trying this yourself be sure to check your local laws.

To learn more about sawdust toilets and gray water soil boxes get the Humanure Handbook. You can also read The Humanure Handbook online free but this is one book you might want a hard copy of in your library. It makes great toilet reading too… (pun intended). Photo credit to Jenkins Publishing.

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The Roof is Framed

I took the day off from work today and went up tot he farm and finished framing the roof. After searching all my usual haunts for long pallets with no luck I broke down and bought 18 2x4s for the roof which cost about $28. I figure the money I’ll save in gas is will offset this little investment and it should be easily reclaimed by selling some of the free stuff I’ve collected so far. In fact the weather is just right now for a garage sale to do just that.

Anyway it felt very good to have this milestone complete. It also feels good to have a safe roof over head. I didn’t want to use pallets in the roof because it just seemed like asking for trouble. This roof shouldn’t collapse on my head.

The next step is to close up the roof with roofing felt, tin or shingles. I’ve already got enough scavenged roofing felt but I still need some kind of roofing material. Initially I was hoping to find an old metal shed someone wants hauled away, but I’ve been thinking more about using flattened #10 tin cans. I’ll need to do an experiment before I start collecting the 200 cans. My imagination tells me it will work great but my practical side tells me I’m crazy… but we knew that right?

A finished roof will give me some shade to work in while I finish up the interior wheel well and bathroom wall framing. I’d like to get all the rough framing work done before I start closing it in with pallet boards so it’s easier to work in there under the hot sun.

I’m also still on the lookout for insulation but I’m pretty sure I’ll use styrofoam packing peanuts stuffed in old plastic grocery bags. The bags should hold the peanuts together and keep the whole process of putting peanuts in the walls and ceiling less messy. The interior will be sealed up the same way are the exterior with pallet boards.

Here’s what it looked like after I cleaned up my mess at the end of the day:

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I plan to put bracing in at the peak to keep the roof strong. Instead of framing the roof normally I made simple trusses on the ground and lifted them into place and then added cross bracing between each truss. By adding a little metal or wood plate at the peak it should help keep the roof together for a long time.