Here are some final shots of the interior of Refuge House. It was always the plan to send it off as an open space, and we are finally there. It is possible she will return to us for some interior work over next winter, but equally possible that she will stay as she is, or that her owners will slowly add to the interior over time.


Either way when she left the driveway we felt very proud.

If you have been following the blog you will know that all the woods used, even the construction lumber was locally milled and Nova Scotian grown. To top this off we installed a beautiful Dutch door made of local white oak and built by Tony Chaplik of the Lunenburg Furniture Company.


This has been a wonderful project and it has been a joy to work with such beautiful wood. We hope Refuge House brings years of peace and happiness to her owners.

After taking a few days to relax (and split wood for next winter) we will be switch gears and start work on the trailer that has arrived for our next build. More on this coming soon!

Also thanks to all the people (hundreds, really!) who came out last Sunday for our open house. It was such fun meeting lots of tiny shelter enthusiasts, the movement is definitely catching on here, and it was great for people to be able to see three tiny houses in the same place!

Here's a picture before we started for the day, we were so busy we forgot to take pictures during the event itself! (oops)


More soon as the next build begins -

James, Dawn and Jennifer

AuthorFull Moon
Categories2015-DB03, blog

The exterior siding is done, and it looks fantastic. It has two coats of hemp oil, and the colour is deep, and changes with the light. The interior lofts are coming along ( all local ash) and the interior window trim is being made. 

The roof should go on this weekend, if the weather co-operates.

The next build: the trailer is being manufactures and galvanized and should be delivered in 10 days or so. This one is different again, a full time live-in and spacious 28 feet long. We are really excited to see this one take shape!

Don't forget our Open House on June 6th. Details in my last post - but we will remind you again, don't worry!

Here are some pictures of the exterior all done...


Well, not all done, the small door on the back of the house is being built, of local oak, and should be ready for installation in the next week or so. It is going to be a dutch door, so cute!


AuthorFull Moon
Categories2015-DB03, blog

We are finally having spring and summer all rolled into one, with temperatures as high as 20 today, and still a bit of snow melting in the woods. The koi have come out of hibernation in the pond and the first daffodils are about to flower. I think we can safely say winter is over, and also say that it was one long, cold, snowy one!

The siding is going up, and it looks amazing. 


The interior is a fantastic contrast with light wood everywhere.


In other news - save the date Saturday June 6th, from 10am - 4pm, we will be having an open house, at Amos Wood (944 Hwy 325, Blockhouse NS). There will be three of our tiny houses there, and we will be happy to show you around, answer your questions and talk tiny houses. 

We are close to booked up for this year, and if you are interested in a tiny house for delivery in the spring of 2016 now is the time to start talking to us!

AuthorFull Moon

First, an apology for not posting for so long, but we have had no internet for two weeks. When you have rural wireless internet, a long driveway and more snow than you know what to do with - well it takes a while to get a repair person. But we are back in business now....


shou sugi ban... what is this you may ask?

It is an ancient Japanese wood preserving technique. Translated it means ' the burning (or charring) or Japanese cypress'. It is also sometimes called yakisugi. Sugi is the term for Japanese cypress, or cedar. This technique preserves the wood, makes it fire retardant (really!) and looks beautiful. Under different names a similar technique is used in Finland, and apparently Wales, and probably other places as well.

We are using white cedar as a siding material for Refuge House.

In this post I will take you through this amazing process, and we will also be making an instructional video which we will post on vimeo next week.

First, the white cedar.


Add fire, char, it seems counter-intuitive to do this to wood, but it doesn't just burn up, it chars and gets an alligator skin  pattern along with making a crackling noise when it is just right.


Once the boards are charred then dirty work begins. This definitely wants to be done outside, in a place that can get filthy. Be prepared because you will also look like a chimney sweep. Taking a scrub brush you brush the charred wood off the boards. Do not do this near any clean boards, wear a dust mask, and use elbow grease. The good news is the soot washes off easily!


Next step, after brushing, is rinsing down with water, and then letting the boards dry.


The last step, once the boards are dry is applying an oil to help preserve the wood, stop it drying out, and to enhance the colour. Refuge House will be oiled using hemp oil, but you could use tung oil, the traditional oil is rosewood, and we have heard you could use safflower, too. In the picture below the left half has been oiled the right left without so you can see the difference.


I'm not going to lie - this is a time consuming process! But if preserving without the use of chemicals is important then this is a wonderful idea. The finished product is gorgeous, fire retardant and does not have to be maintained.

We are also starting to put up the ceiling inside, it is a beautiful locally cut and milled clear spruce, so stay tuned for more pictures.


AuthorFull Moon
Categories2015-DB03, blog

So, the crazy winter storms keep rolling through, and we keep shoveling and building. We have moved on to the next steps, and the house is really starting to take shape.

Windows and doors were cut out, and covered with temporary plastic ones.


The spruce beams are installed, these will support the loft and they look beautiful in the space.


The exterior has been wrapped in Typar and strapping applied. We have finished all the interior and ceiling insulation, and the windows and doors have been delivered.


All the finish woods are being milled up this week so we will soon be putting up siding and making the inside look amazing with some beautiful clear (no knots) local spruce that was cut last year and is drying in the kiln as we speak. The outside siding is going to be a surprise and will be the subject of its very own blog post - so stay tuned.

Hopefully the worst of the snow is over, and it does feel like there is a hint of spring in the air (even with all the snow on the ground)!

AuthorFull Moon
Categoriesblog, 2015-DB03

We have had a snowy winter, so we had prepared the wall sections and curved roof trusses in the shop (that was in the last blog post), and were waiting for a 3-4 day stretch of good weather to get things up. The skies cleared on Wednesday, and we got our friend Hans Dee to come help - the four of us set to work. It was very cold, but we did it!

Most of the wall sections had been prepared already, and these went up quite quickly, with a few bits (over the wheel wells) needing to be built and fitted as we went.


Next we got the roof trusses up, and the weather reports started talking about a major snow storm on the way.


We debated covering everything with tarps, but at the end of the day decided we would be a lot happier if we could get plywood up. It was a long, cold couple of days but by 6pm on Saturday we had plywood on the walls and the curved roof and had the roof covered with Nova Seal.


We could not have pulled this off without all of us working longs hours, and a big thanks to Hans who was a crucial element! It was totally worth it as we got a lot of snow on Sunday, maybe as much as two feet. The curved roof shed snow beautifully, the low angle roof on the shop we had to shovel off after the storm.

Next step will be to cut out the doors and windows and finish up some interior framing details.

Here's a completely gratuitous picture of one of the dogs (this is Freida) on the path between the house and the wood shop.

AuthorFull Moon
Categories2015-DB03, blog

In the past week we have had two good snow storms with lots of blowing snow and a pinch of frozen rain for good measure. Any time we were not shoveling, thinking about shoveling or re-shoveling, we were working in the shop.


We have framed up almost all the wall sections, made and notched the post and beams needed, (note: this is not a post and beam tiny house, there are just a few beams and some in-wall posts to support them), and we have made all the curved roof trusses. All of this has taken quite a bit of time, and now the components are all stacked in the shop  and we are waiting for a break in the weather. Dawn, who knows about such things, says Mercury is in retrograde until Wednesday at which point it will shift and hopefully bring more settled weather.

 notching the beams

notching the beams

 laying out the walls

laying out the walls

 trusses and posts in the shop

trusses and posts in the shop

When we get a bit of nice weather there will be a flurry of activity - and we should be able to get the walls up and roof system on in a couple of days and everything sheathed in a couple of more days. All of this sounds vaguely optimistic, but this time of year calls for a bit of optimism!

Just for the record the shop does not usually look like this, but we have moved everything to the side so we can have the floor space to work and then we are piling components wherever we have space - it is getting crowded in there.


Finally, last Sunday we were invited to the Transition Bay seminar on off-grid living. Our shop is off-grid, we live off-grid, a lot of our tiny houses are off-grid and off-grid people seem to dig tiny houses, so it was a good fit and a good lecture with over 100 people. For more information about all the cool things Transition Bay is doing click here.

 at the off-grid workshop

at the off-grid workshop

We will update as we get the walls up and the roof on, here's to sunny days!

AuthorFull Moon

It's all about the layering here in Nova Scotia.

We have our 24ft, galvanized custom trailer - that's exciting.
The first job is to get the floor (our foundation) insulated.
Please keep in mind we are building for Canadian winters, so we take our insulation and cold protection seriously!

The cross pieces are 3" 'I' beams. These 'I' beams give us a lip on each side and on this lip we attach puck board, caulked in place with exterior caulk/adhesive. This is all held down by strips of milled hemlock that are wedged under the upper lip of the 'I' beam. Puck board is used here to line the inside of hockey rinks and is just about as indestructible as can be. It wont rust, wont break in the cold, and is impervious to bugs or critters trying to get in from below. This makes it perfect for the underside of the trailer. With this all in place there are no exposed spaces on the underside.


After we install the puck board we work our way up, first a layer of 1.5" SM ridged foam with all the joints and edges sealed with expansion foam. On top of that another layer of 1.5" foam making sure all the joints on the lower level are overlapped. This brings us flush with the top of our 'I' beam. Finally a last layer of 1" ridged foam that sits within the space of our floor system. This last layer is hugely important as it gives us a thermal break between the steel of the trailer and out eventual floor.


On top of all the insulation we have a 3/4" ply layer, which is the underfloor for our finished floor which will be installed later. In this tiny shelter the floor is going to be locally grown and milled Ash.
All this gives us a floor with a R-value of 20, plus it gives us multiple layers for draft protection, vapor barrier, and thermal break from the steel trailer. This system would be overkill if you were building in a warmer climate, but is worth the extra time and money for our winters!


Last step - leveling the trailer using our new handy laser level!


Next step is framing the walls, and on the snowy days working in the shop on the curved roof trusses.

AuthorFull Moon

Well, the temperature has dropped to -10 so we thought it would be a good time to get going on the new build, Refuge House.

This one will be on a custom 24ft galvanized trailer, will be a full live-in, 4 season, and will even have some really cool secret hiding spaces built in. (Of course we can't talk about those!)

One of the cool things about this shelter is that all the lumber going into it for framing, interior, and exterior finishes will come from local Nova Scotia forests. Our sheet goods ( plywood) will still be off the rack, but having everything else cut and milled locally is really exciting.

 First load of Hemlock for framing.

First load of Hemlock for framing.

Since we are just starting here are a couple of pictures of the super little model that Norbert Windt did for us. There may be a couple of small window and door changes, but it gives you the idea.

As you can see the roof is going to curved, a first for us, so that should prove and exciting challenge.


Above is an exterior view, below a shot with the roof and side wall removed to expose the interior.


The plastic toad was sitting in the workshop, and well, it seemed funny at the time.


We have started on the foundation and insulation in the trailer and will post about that next week.

AuthorFull Moon