Wrapping up the old year, toasting in the new

end view fascia almost installed

Current state of Naj Haus – January 2014.

Song of ice and fire

Okay, I know I’m really late to the party but as I was killing time in the airport on my way home from my fourth stint of building my tiny house, I picked up a copy of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The series, as most of you know, is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and this seemed rather appropriate for the last three weeks. Although Oregon was fortunate to miss out on the extreme weather of the “polar vortex” hitting most of the country, we did get temps down in the 20s and each day was a dance of trying to keep the barn warm enough to apply stains and other building materials, but not too hot to work.

So pour yourself a cup of mulled wine, throw another log on the fire, and listen to the epic saga of this last build stint:  Continue reading

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Autumnal sheathing: slowing down, buttoning up, closing in

final roof sheathed front

It’s starting to look like a house!

I’ve now finished my third building stint. This was a particularly reflective trip. Last time it had been hot summer and now it was definitely fall, cold and crisp. As I drove up, leaving the unseasonably high Bay Area temps behind, it felt more than ever like I was going home.

It was also a time of solo building and quietude, which was nice given that I have now gone beyond my plans and am figuring things out as I go. This involves a lot of pondering, which would likely drive others crazy waiting for me to decide the next step. Building is a lot like playing 3D chess. You need to visualize how things will come together many steps down the line. It’s incredibly challenging. I love that about it.

On top of this, I was contending with my heights phobia so I moved at the speed of a sloth while on the scaffolding and perched on the ledge mounted on the roof. As a result, I made very little obvious progress but I feel good about what did get done. There were a myriad of details that had to happen before I could sheathe the roof: blocking, hurricane ties and strapping, framing and sheathing the gable ends, laying in the outriggers and flying rafters, figuring out my house “ears”, caulking the blocking, and framing the skylights – and of course they all took longer than I expected. I also continued to do research; tried (and failed) to procure more green building materials; ordered my gas heater, stove top and ventilation fan; and dealt with returning a load of moldy sheathing. Oh, and celebrated Thanksgiving in the midst of all that with my dear family!

I want to send a big thank you out to my parents for making sure I stayed warm and for making me wonderful hot meals at the end of each day. Really appreciated. 🙂

Here is the month in pictures:   Continue reading

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“Raise high the roofbeams, carpenters!”

looking up

Slow but sure progress…

I just completed my second stint of building my tiny house and it’s very exciting to see it start to take shape. (See the Blood, Sweat & Tears and Doing Justice to Complexity posts for how the first stint went).

As most of you know, I’m currently living in Berkeley but am building at my parents’ place in Oregon. This means I am building in concentrated chunks of time, with one to two months off in between. There are pros and cons to this approach. There’s a lot of pressure to get as much done as I can while I’m there, so it can be exhausting building day after day. Despite this, I hate to leave it for so long when I’m done. On the flip side, it forces me to take a break and gives me time to step back and rethink things, and to be better prepared for the next stint. I do wish I lived closer, though.

Here are the last few weeks in pictures:   Continue reading

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Floor construction: what lurks beneath

finished floor 2

Naj Haus subfloor – doesn’t look like much…

Now that I’m about to leave to build my roof, maybe it’s time I caught up on how I constructed my floor! The three big take-away thoughts I had on the floor were:

  1. Floors look deceptively simple, but they encompass nearly every aspect of building the entire house.
  2. Because of #1, they are a good training ground for learning most of the skills you will need later on.
  3. Because of #2, the floor will probably take waaaaaay longer than you think.

But I should insert a caveat here – my floor was perhaps more complex than most due to a) the way I decided to integrate the house and the trailer, b) my choice of insulation, and c) my perhaps neurotic concerns about moisture and mold. The following walks through why I made the choices I did and then documents how I went about creating my floor.

(Note: this is all pretty technical and matter of fact; if you want to read about all my agonies and ecstasies during this time, see my Blood, Sweat and Tears… post!)

Continue reading

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Doing justice to complexity: a love affair with a tiny house



I Cannot Find My Tiny
for Dean Young

In the age of horses, everyone was
born with their own tiny pony to protect.
It was a large responsibility and they
felt themselves crumpling under the weight of it.
To keep their ponies safe, the people
carried them deep inside of their chest cavities.
They called them Tiny.
Everywhere, people ran wild across the prairies and
then they would remember their Tiny and crumple.
And then gallop once more and then again
they would crumple. The sound of the crumpling
was very pleasing, but the rest of it was not.
The landscape looked like a western,
all of the people either galloping free like the cowboys
or else crumpled in little mounds like dead Indians.
In their Tinies, they knew what was missing.
They were very insecure.
If I were there now, I’d say, “I feel funny.”
I’d say, “Please, let’s go for a trot.” I’d say, 
“Just let me into your ribcage.”
And you’d whinny at me.
That is, if I even knew where to find you.

~ Rebecca Bridge

I came across this poem a couple years ago, long before I had ever heard of tiny houses. I was looking for something meaningful in my life and was taken with it’s longing and evocativeness, it’s raw, tender passion.

During the twelve hour drive back to California, I had a lot of time to reflect back on my first month of construction. While tiny houses and simplicity are often uttered in the same breath, I learned there isn’t much that’s simple about the building of a tiny house.



Recalling the poem, I realized that building a house is a lot like growing a relationship…

Continue reading

Categories: construction, thoughts on tiny | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

Blood, sweat, tears, blueberries & the most awesome three walls ever…


Naj Haus taking shape!

This is an epic post to try to catch up on what I’ve been doing the last couple weeks, since I have woefully neglected the blog. I have two more weeks of building before I return to California, at which point I will do some more technical posts on the floor and wall framing. This will hopefully tide you over until then.


June 18-19: Limping to Hood River, Oregon

Here’s some advice: even if they say you’ll bounce back in a couple days, don’t have surgery three days before you leave to start building your tiny house. For the week following, I was feverish, in pain, and bleeding and, for a good two weeks, limp as an amoeba. I ended up delaying my departure by a day and even so, it took me seven hours to pack and load since I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than a milk jug. I would move two things and have to rest. Thankfully my friend Lisa stopped by and helped me with the heavier items. I made it as far as Weed, CA, staying awake all night in a creepy hotel room listening to the roar of the truck generators outside my window, hoping no one would break into my car since I didn’t even have the strength to bring my backpack in.

The next day was better. I realized that packing for four weeks, plus all my camping gear that lives in my car, I pretty much had everything I needed to live. I felt light and mobile; there wasn’t much more I would be adding to my tiny house. As if to underscore this, Dad sent me a photo a neighbor had taken of a tiny house that was passing through Hood River as it crisscrossed the country. I immediately recognized it as the Quest for Powder tiny house I had seen in a video Dee showed the first PAD workshop I attended last November. That seemed like a good sign.  Continue reading

Categories: construction, PAD | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

The eagle has landed: the trailer comes home to roost

Iron Eagle Trailers

Now things are starting to get real. Last weekend I picked up my trailer and delivered it to my parents’ garage, where I will start my build this summer. Lots of excitement around that, as well as some nervousness and a funny sort of limbo feeling since it’s still a little ways off. I’m also realizing just how much research and final design work I need to do in the next few months!

Since I’ve found it very helpful to read about other tiny houser experiences, I thought I’d pass on what I learned about buying and towing a tiny house trailer. Continue reading

Categories: construction | Tags: , | 33 Comments

Gulp…I ordered my trailer!!

As any tiny houser knows, ordering the trailer is a big deal because:

1. It’s a significant outlay of cash. Along with windows and roof (depending on how you go), it’s one of the most expensive items in a tiny house.

2. Even though I won’t start building until this summer, this is the equivalent to breaking ground and pouring the foundation of a regular house (I ordered it now because the manufacturer gets busy as summer approaches, plus I needed some exact measurements to finish my designs).

3. I’m now locked into the length (16′).

4. And most importantly, I’ve now taken the first real, committed step toward my future tiny house!
Continue reading

Categories: construction, PAD | Tags: | 5 Comments

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