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On a roll with my nesting projects, the refridgerator always seemed to be constantly running. I fear the lack of proper heat venting may have shortened the life of our mini-fridge, but nothing’s gone wrong with it just yet, fingers crossed.

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Ripping out even more wood that has plagued my nest for 3 years, the upper part of the fridge can now breath properly. Hopefully this next summer, the fridge will stay a little cooler.

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Before the heat-wave heats again, I’ll find some sort of neat looking wooden grate to put over this gap.

Fun times,

Tomas

After 3 years of using a hanging drawer system from IKEA, it’s lop-sided hanging finally prompted me to do something about it.

I couldn’t find anything that fit our criteria for being narrow and large enough to hold our selected items, so I bought some plywood and constructed a simple shelf to fit our needs.

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Some sketching and planning

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Audrey caught me in the act

After getting all the cuts finished, I assembled all the pieces to make sure it all fit as intended.

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Althought not sanded, stained, and sealed, it all came together just as planned.

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Slide it into the closet with the bins in place and all is ready to go. As soon as the weather warms up a bit, we’ll give it some finishing touches.

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I couldn’t find a shelf that fit these boxes the same way as I build, nor had a “leg” that I could trim to sit over the wheel well box. Now we both have extra closet hanging space and more effectively use the limited space we have left.

Fun times with custom furniture!

-Tomas

“Ugh, I can smell the toilet again”

I don’t know what other people eat so their poop doesn’t smell, but in our house, we have to outwardly vent the toilet otherwise our home will begin to accumulate an aroma that is not entirely pleasant.

We do the best we can to keep the stink at bay, and most days it’s not an issue at all. But, lately our house has this lingering hint of outhouse that needed to be addressed.

Although the fan on our toilet had been doing an OK job of keeping the stinks at bay, it didn’t seem to be helping at all. It was time to get “handy” with a screwdriver.

Somehow, a very fine mist of sawdust had worked its way up the toilet vent and was causing some blockage.

Dirty Fan Filter

 

 

 

After running the filter under the tap for a few minutes, the dust washed out and we were back in business.

OR SO I THOUGHT.

One of the leads had broken off the AC adapter plug in the vent mount.

Broken Wiring

Luckily, I’m just skillful enough with a soldering-iron to get this AC flowing.

Humming fan, lack of “aroma”, and we were back in “doing our business”.

Happy Days.

 

Another 6 weeks, another propane tank.

Why won’t the Acme nut screw in?

Oh. That plastic thing broke.

Broken Acme Nut

Bought a pig-tail at one hardware store, the one pigtaill they had in stock and it wasn’t the right size nor did they have an adapter to make it fit.

Calling and visiting 5 more places, they either didn’t have any idea of what our needs were or they just didn’t have the proper part in stock.

Well, after calling around town and trying to get a new “pig tail”, we finally met someone at Hometown Hearth & Grill that understood our propane-dilemma. Although Acme nuts are easy to replace by hand, we would be regularly plagued by broken plastic ring thingies. Brass is stronger than plastic, duh.

Brass Fitting

Although a wrench will be required every time we needed to swap tanks, the brass fitting would hold up better in the long run, a run we hope will last many more years.

We’re on week 3 with no running water.

Portland recently had a very cold spell that froze our water heater causing the internal coils to burst. We came home from a Tiny House Mixer one night when temperatures finally rose above freezing to find water gushing out of the water heater. So we shut off the water supply, went through a bit of homeowner shock and depression, and assessed how we were going to fix this. Our plumbing is currently set up so that all running water goes through the water heater; with it out of commission, so is the water flow to our sink and shower.

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It didn’t help that our builders installed an INDOOR water heater outside our house. They assured us they followed protocols for installing a water heater that was supposed to be outdoors (they told us this during the time we still trusted them). It was the reason why we have a dead spot in the corner of the “L” kitchen; we attempted to design the kitchen to contain the water heater indoors, but the builders said, it has to be outdoors.  This is the model that broke. It states clearly on the website “indoor tankless water heater”. And that “I” in the model name? Yep, you guessed it: INDOOR. Not that we need more evidence, but add this to the many reasons why we would not recommend Tiny Smart House Llc as builders.

It has been stressful to shop for a water heater when you really need one. We want to take our time, do research, not make an impulsive (expensive) purchase, and we want to purchase a product that will work in our climate. Plumbers have (shockingly) given estimates from $2,000-$3,000 to replace and install a water heater. Ecotemp, the company that makes our current, broken water heater, offered a discount on a new outdoor model, but they were honest and said their products work best in Florida and Hawaii and even their outdoor models don’t withstand freezing temperatures well.

We were close to upgrading to the RV-550 which we’ve heard rave reviews about and could probably retro-fit into the house by cutting out a hole and using the ‘dead’ corner space, but the $1200 purchase price scared me away. There’s even a cool youtube video on how to install.

In the end, we decided to go with a water heater our friends and tiny house neighbors have which got them through the cold snap with no problems. The Rinnai V53E ordered from here for $600 (inc shipping). We’ve learned that exterior water heaters have an internal heating system to keep the coils from freezing and breaking. This won’t prevent the hoses coming in/out of the heater from freezing, we’ll still have to winterize those, but it would keep the internal coils from breaking. The water heater won’t ship until late next week due to the holidays so until then we’re patiently (okay not so patiently) waiting for our new one to arrive.

In the mean time, we’re buying gallon jugs of drinking water and filling up empties with hose water to boil and use to wash dishes. I’m showering at the gym and Tomas is relying on friends to lend a shower. It has been inconvenient and costly, but my money’s on 2014 to be a fresh start with fewer home repairs!

We’ll update with the installation process!

Update: In a moment of genius inspiration, YouTube searching, and one Home Depot trip we now have running (cold) water! Tomas saved the day when he came up with the idea to install a “copper push-fit end stop” to keep the water from flowing into the ‘hot’ section of the water heater. Who’s ready for a cold shower!!

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Cheers and happy holidays to all!

Audrey

Although we are now in the house for 13 months, we finally had our first real snow accumulation!

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The city has been going through a cold spell along with the rest of the country, but we didn’t seem to get it as bad as other cities.

This snow-day just so happen to be my day off and the day I wanted to try a different heater to combat the frost.

Home Depot employees were brave enough to get to the store before the shoppers and have coffee and heaters ready for us unprepared squirrels.

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Most of the snow was gone by mid-day, but not before giving Mr B a chance to experience the white stuff. He was not a happy kitty.

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Nearing the end of 2013 and just breaching our first year in the tiny house, we’ve come to realize that although the house is wrapped in R-13 rated pink insulation and seems to be blocking drafts quite well, it does get cold a bit easy.

For the most part, we’ve been able to keep warm by using a low power convection heater by Envi for most of the day and a Vornado  when we wanted a bit more heat in the lower part of the house. Unfortunately, we are still running the entire house off of a standard household outlet that is limited to 15 amps at any one time. Since the temperatures dipped below 28F, running either heater on Medium setting just isn’t keeping us quite warm enough. The house doesn’t seem to want to get over 55F. That’s just too chilly for our comfort.

We started to notice a few deficiencies in our insulation. We had to add a couple of missing strips of foam near the cat door, filled a few gaps in the corner of the french door that was never opened.

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We also purchased some cedar lattice along with some contractor grade plastic sheeting to close off the crawl space and limit the heat loss by wind. We also wrapped the entire length of hose in foam pipe insulation. The instant water heater got dressed in bubble-wrap, and all the windows covered in additional plastic.  The floor was also getting quite chilly and proved too much for bushy socks, so we purchased rugs to help fend off the chill.

The house is still a bit chilly at 58F, and although the outside temperatures are going up a bit, but we have already started thinking ahead to purchasing a propane-fired marine-grade furnace to battle the next cold snap.

Going through some old journals to scan and toss, I found an old paragraph from 2008:

“I pondered what my life would be like if I lived devoid of all these electronics and entertainment so readily available. I have seen plans on the internet for very small houses of 150-square feet or so, if I had a wife, could I make it work in such a small space? Where would I build? How would I fund it? Could I still be the role I desire? Without a big mortgage, I could afford a small studio space in the city to pursue my creativity. If I lived in a two-bedroom apartment I might still be distracted by the everyday minutia of household chores and access to books.”

This entry was dated Saturday, August 9, 2008. I had just recently walked from a ludicrously paying tech-support job that left me feeling so bored and empty. I was trying to build a new phase in my life and do something different. The last 5 years or so have been so different.  A special someone in my life, a tiny house, and working on something different for a living.

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Much of what I wanted to become in life has come to be, including living with the most awesome woman in the world.

-Tomas

After the exciting whirlwind tour back in June, we took a break from any home-improvement work.

However, August is slated as our “FIX ALL THE THINGS” month.

Today, we started with the awning. It leaked whenever it rained and didn’t really sit all that well since it was attached to the deck and the house. This did not bode well for long term survival of the house. The screws that kept the awning attached to the deck were self-tapping and stripped the wood every time we had to move it around.

My good friend and doppleganger, Ed, helped me out with this two-man task.

First we removed the awning from the house. Removed all the screws from the polycarbonate sheets, then applied silicon glue between the sheets to form a seal.

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then applied glue to each screw and extra hold to add a bit more water-tightness.

I couldn’t find angle-brackets that were the size I needed, so we some door hinges to make some supports that attached directly to the house.

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Now we don’t have to worry about the awning moving every time we walk on the deck or if the ground is uneven.

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The only bummer now is that we won’t know if the water-tightness has improved until we get some good rains.

Thanks for the help Ed!

-Tomas

I’ve been borrowing a Martin Backpacker Guitar from a friend for a few months, so I thought it was time to make a good place to store it. It’s smaller than a regular guitar but I like the sound better than a ukelele, been wanting to learn to play it for many years, and it fits into the house perfectly. Even Audrey, reluctant at first, really likes how it looks in our living nook.

I didn’t even look anywhere for a solution to hang the guitar as these tool hanging hooks are at every hardware store, everywhere. A quick Google search reveals I’m not the only one with this idea.

Bought two hooks for $1.50 each at our local neighborhood hardware store.

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Used a silicone band to keep the guitar neck from falling over. Tension on the neck is very minimal as it doesn’t take much to keep the instrument upright.

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Four screws later, it’s all done. It was a very cheap way to mount the guitar for easy access, keep it out of the way, decorate the room a little, and makes us happy.

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Cheers!