Progress is Slow and Steady

As you can see from the photos below I’ve got a good start. I’ve also found that I’ll save bunch of time by using a table saw, router table, and reciprocating saw, in addition to the tools I already have. There is an old table saw and router table in the old shop at the farm (photos below) and I’ll give those a try before looking to buy anything. The less I spend the less free stuff I have to scavenge and sell to recoup the money and keep this tiny house free.

In the foreground above you can see the trailer. Notice the giant truck wheels which are far larger than those you see on other tiny houses, like the Tumbleweed variety. We also made the decision to permanently attach the house to the trailer. This will be far safer and stronger. This house is about being free too and not about being some fancy transformer. I’ll save the idea for another tiny house… or encourage you to explore the idea.

But I also need to go back the floor plan drawing board and the wheel wells. Now that I’ve dumped the detachable trailer idea, the house doesn’t have a perfectly flat bottom so the last floor plan doesn’t work. I really like the direction I was going in so maybe I can use some of those ideas while adding in the wheel wells.

Above is a stack of pallet slats cut away from their 2×4 rails. They’ve also had their ends cleaned up with a chop saw and sanded. Now they’re waiting for the router tp cut their lap joints.

Above are the boards lined up on the 2×4 frame illustrating how they lap joints will help seal the seams. I was planning on completeing each frame but now I’m thinking I should build the frames, assemble them, and then cover them in slats to keep the slats all lined up and tight.

Above is a close-up of my work space. Next time I’ll set-up in the shade. By lunch time it was at least 90 degrees and my neck is a bit sun burned.

The main tools are a circular saw, router, chop (miter) saw, belt sander, drill, and hack saw. I personally can’t stand battery operated tools so all these plug into the wall. I tried using a jigsaw on the nails but quickly broke my blade. A reciprocating saw would be much easier to use for cutting through the nails. A table saw would make cleaning up the long edges of the slats much easier. A router table would make the lap joints on the slats much cleaner and quicker to cut.

Above is a close-up of how the wall panels will look. The pallet boards fit together really well.

And last but not least my helper, King. He was my wife’s grandpa’s dog. When her parents and aunt inherited the family farm King came with it. He’s very nice, likes eating pine cones, and constantly sneaks up on people to lick their hands when they are not looking. A photographer for the New Your Times was out there with me yesterday… I think he found that out the hard way. Sorry about that Max.

More Pallets

I’ve found I can fit about 11 pallets at a time in the back of my truck. In fact it almost seems like Honda designed the bed of a Ridgeline to hold 11 pallets perfectly. I’m also noticing that craigslist may be not such a good place for finding pallets. The main reason is quality. A lot of the free pallets on craigslist really aren’t salvageable or are people with just a small handful of good pallets. The high price of gas also has me thinking that it makes more sense to get a full load instead of a few at a time.

My wife Julia has gotten really good at spotting pallets as we drive down the highway and has noticed a lot of busiesses with piles of pallets in their warehouse yards. I think I’ll give dialing for free pallets a try tomorrow and hit up some of the local businesses. I’ll also keep my eyes open for free pallets on craigslist but focus on people with 11 or so to give away.

The Tiny Free House Has A Foundation

After an exhaustive craigslist hunt that lasted several weeks I finally realized that the best trailer, especially for the money, was sitting under a pile of junk out behind the old flood condemned house at the family farm. I had seen this old thing back on Father’s Day but thought it was simply too far gone to use. But after finding equally dilapidated rust buckets on craigslist, that people still wanted money for, this old free trailer was looking more and more viable.

It was built by my wife’s grandpa and dad years ago out of mostly salvaged parts. It’s got a 5000 pound tongue, two axles, a very sturdy steel frame, 16″ truck wheels, and is a total fixer upper. I’m not sure exactly how much weight it can carry but I suspect it will be adequate for the tiny free house which I’m guessing will weigh less than 5000 pounds.

My first step will be to strip off all the old rotten wood, clean up the frame, throw some new paint and tires on it and make sure everything is working safely. The tires and paint will be the first real out-of-pocket expense I’ll make up by selling free stuff scavenged off craigslist and other places. Once that list of expenses and reimbursements gets long enough to be interesting I’ll post it here so you can see how I’m keeping this house free.

The trailer’s dimensions are 12′ long and 7′ 4″ wide. The frame between the wheels is 52″ wide and the tires are 30″ high. All this means is I need to alter the design to match the trailer. I’ve already figured out the rough plan and I’m drawing up a modified plan based on feedback from readers’ comments and the new size. I’ll post the design here soon.

The only other trailer related idea I’m considering is one my wife and dad both came up with separately. What if the trailer were only temporarily attached to the house and used to move the house from place to place? It could be temporarily chained down for transportation and jacks could be used to lift the house off the trailer once it was in it’s new home. Then the trailer could be used for other things. The jacks that lift the little house off the trailer could also be used to level it just like jacks on an RV.

If a little house like this were moved around a lot this would not be ideal but for those intending to move it only occasionally freeing up the trailer for other uses might be much more practical. The benefit of permanently attaching the trailer is added safety, strength, and convenience. I’ll continue to noodle over the idea and figure out if the added cost of the jacks, chain, and floor framing (potentially) offset the added value of having a utility trailer.

P.S. The story behind the “old flood condemned house” at the family farm is… was built by my wife’s great grandpa, but got caught in a flood several years back, making the house unlivable. It’s never been torn down and is now used for storage and a cat lives there.