well gosh it's been a while - but we've busy finishing Tiny Tiger Retreat, getting the boat in the water, and introducing more bees to the property.

Tiny Tiger has been a super project, and the first one we've done where didn't meet the client until a few weeks ago! We have been email pen pals for the last year and it's been a fantastic experience. It takes a lot of trust and a certain leap of faith to do everything on line but we are really happy with how it has turned out and when we met it was like meeting an old friend!

Here are few pictures, and you can go to the gallery page for even more.

Tiny Tiger will be leaving for a new home soon, and the trailer for our next build (AirForce1) arrives on Friday, so we will post on that build starting next week.

As we wait impatiently for spring (we got more snow last night and that's not funny!), and work on the little details of Tiny Tiger's interior we thought it would be a good time to introduce our next build. This one will be on a 24ft goose neck trailer. (Yes, one of James' wish list items!)

The design work is about 90% done, undoubtedly some details will change, and the colours are not set in stone, but it is close.

The raised sleeping area means no loft, and we have raised the floor in the kitchen and bath end to provide access to utilities from outside and create under floor storage and a guest bed. This is a fantastic use of space, not shown is the amazingly clever table that will drop down from the ceiling when needed. (James is working on this!) The building will begin towards the end of May, so there is plenty of time to work out the details.

 

Thanks to Kay Ennis for her great sketch-up work, and to Wayne and Stefanie from Linkletter's Welding Ltd who undertook the design of the goose neck especially for this build.

As for the name - the client is in the Air Force, so obviously we started to use this as our working name, then much to our delight she, too, had been thinking of this as a name - well it was obviously meant to be!

We build our tiny shelters in three phases. At the end of phase 1 it looks finished from the outside but the inside is empty. At the end of phase 2 the walls. ceiling, and floors are in, with all the insulation, in-wall electrical, and the plumbing roughed in. Then phase 3 - the cabinetry, trim and details all the way to finished. Today we wrapped up phase 2 for Tiny Tiger with the last of the plumbing work done.

Here are the two water tanks - the freshwater one installed next to the panel that will hold all the components for the solar system with batteries below. The grey water tank installed next to the Precision Temp on demand hot water heater in the bathroom.

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Everything looks so tidy and neat - and most of their work will be hidden by the cabinetry so we just wanted to let people see what a great job Kuno from Green Lizard does with the electric and photovoltaics, and Mark, Wade and Robert from Dalton Jodrey Plumbing for all their plumbing work. We say it every time but it really is great to work with people who are great at their jobs and are always ready to help us, listen to our crazy ideas, improve on them, and then make them a reality.

Next week we will start on the cabinetry, trim and finishing details. How about that cork flooring, it feels great underfoot.

Posted
AuthorFull Moon

We have been very busy, and at this stage of the build things really take giant steps.

The insulation is done - for this we fill the wall cavities with fiberglass insulation and then add a layer of rigid foam insulation that tightens up the gaps and adds a thermal break.

Over Christmas we prepped all the wall wood - this involves getting the workshop nice and warm with a big fire in the wood stove, sanding everything, then painting (ceiling) or applying a clear finish (walls). We try to get two coats on before installation and then do the final coat in place.

James doesn't like working in lofts so we put the ceiling boards in first, then built the loft and the bathroom wall, followed by installation of wall boards. We are about 90% done now.

Kuno (our solar guru) has been in to install some of the wiring for the PV system. Below is a picture of the custom made electronics centre that will house both ac and dc breaker panels, the charge controller, the inverter, and all the fusing. All of this, plus the battery bank will be contained in custom cabinetry. Kuno is amazing - how he can create such an efficient 'mechanical room' in such a small space always wows us.

Our next step is finishing the walls, then we will start on trim around the door and windows. We are waiting for the flooring to arrive, and then that will be installed.

The dogs like to hang out in the tiny house and keep an eye on things - here's Loki doing a quality control inspection.

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AuthorFull Moon

It got really cold last week - wind chills down to -30C - and that makes us glad we are working inside with the wood-stove keeping the workshop cozy. We are back at work on Tiny Tiger, the ceiling is insulated and we are getting the loft and supporting walls placed and ready. Then we will put up the painted pine ceiling, stay tuned for pictures of that.

We are looking forward to getting TTR insulated and the wood stove installed, then we will be working on the interior details.

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We will be posting an end of year blog next week - until then have a happy holiday if you celebrate, if not, be happy anyway!

Posted
AuthorFull Moon

As many of you, our adoring public, know we live in an off-grid house and build our tiny shelters from an off- grid workshop. In addition we have built several off-grid tiny houses, including our current build Tiny Tiger, so while we are not experts we do know a good bit about solar power. Here are some thoughts that may, or may not, be useful.

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The first point to repeat is we are not solar experts. We have some knowledge, but when it really comes down to designing and installing a photovoltaic system you need a specialist! In our area that specialist is Kuno Kuenzle of Green Lizard , and without him we'd be lost.

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With photovoltaic systems (PV systems) there are two basic set ups. One is a grid-tie where your house is still attached to the power grid and your PV system helps run your meter backwards so you are not getting as big a power bill. You can also have a hybrid system where you are attched to the grid but also have a small battery bank for times the grid is down. This gives you a bit of autonomy but you are still dependent on the grid.

In our case we take a different path in that we are not attached to the grid at all. (No power lines come to our house or workshop at all). This means we have to have a larger battery bank for storing our electricity and a back up generator should we need to top up the batteries. Our battery bank gives us on average 5 days of autonomy - meaning it holds 5 days of our average power consumption for both our house and workshop. This is generated by a 2000 watt array with power stored in a 35k watt battery bank wired for 24v. Our house is wired in standard 110v and to a visitor seems normal in that we do not read by candle light, or need to make toast over an open fire. The small differences are that we heat our water with an on-demand propane system, cook with gas, and do not have a clothes dryer. Our primary heat source is a wood kachelofen.

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When sizing a PV system you do a load calculation - which determines how much power you use on an average day so you can build a system that meets those needs.The first thing you learn is that anytime you use electricity to produce heat (hot water, electric heat, clothes dryer) you use tons of power so these are usually the first things to be eliminated. To be honest, if you have wood heat it's easy to dry clothes inside and an on-demand hot water system is much more efficient than keeping water hot all day for your evening shower. AS for our workshop, it's not huge but we do have all the necessary tools, but all 110v ones. This isn't a huge commercial shop with big machines running all day long.

We also build off- grid tiny houses. These have the same basic design except because of the space constraints it cannot have a huge battery bank. For the most part we keep the systems simple and try to run as many things direct from 12v as possible, including lighting, refrigeration, and water pump. In addition we put in a small inverter that will create 110v power for small appliances, computers etc. For hot water we stick with on-demand propane, with a special unit designed for small spaces.

Alot of people ask about putting the solar panels on the roof, but our preference is to do a mobile ground mounted rack that is easy to move, easy to clear of snow and simple to orient towards solar south. For our current build we have a 825 watt array, 11k watt battery bank wired in 12v. This is designed to meet the clients needs and hold 4-5 days of power. There is also a charging input plug that would allow for hooking up to a power cord should one be available or a small portable generator and the batteries could be topped up this way if it's necessary.

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It is true that when living and working off the grid one needs to be more aware of electricity, but to us that's a benefit not a drawback. We are all so used to flicking a switch, having everything powered up all the time, forgetting to turn things off that we forget that this power is being generated somewhere! There is no better feeling than when building a tiny house you stop and realize all the power that went into construction,  that all the tools and machines used were powered directly by the sun!

Posted
AuthorFull Moon

We are taking a couple of weeks to help some friends work on their small (but not tiny) house before winter sets in. This is the first time in years that we are doing something other than building tiny houses - and as with any break from routine it gives us time to reflect on life.

So why do we build tiny houses? Well, for us it's about design and craftsmanship. Our work is custom and we strive to create beautiful, interesting, and inspiring spaces. Beauty, intent and craftsmanship affect people - they walk in and it feels good, they touch a detail, they want to linger. This is missing in so much of our busy, mass produced, and always about the bottom line lives. We are not going to save the world building tiny houses (we wish we could), but we can create a space that for someone is a sanctuary - and that's a step in the right direction.

On top of all that philosophical stuff we get to spend the day working together - which means we spend the day laughing.

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We are looking forward to getting back to Tiny Tiger and starting to work on the interior, we'll keep you posted!

 

Fall is here, t-shirts have been replaced with sweaters, the garlic is planted for next year, and we finished the shingling on Tiny Tiger. Then the roof went on - 

Kuno, from Green Lizard Energy, is doing the electrical rough-in now, and then we can move inside. The plumbers will be here after he is finished, then we start insulating, getting the walls and ceiling up, and doing the interior woodwork. It's certainly exciting knowing that we will be working inside this winter!

Jamie just got back from Bermuda where he was teaching at an Aikido seminar - so here's a gratuitous palm tree that makes me jealous!

Until today we have been having the best shingling weather and we've made great progress. As soon as we are finished shingling we will get the roof on and be able to move inside before it gets too cold.

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We have a build time available in the spring of 2017 if you are interested in a gorgeous tiny house... give us a call or email.

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Here is a tiny house that was shingled three years ago; it's weathering beautifully and will go a lovely silver-grey over time. Tiny Tiger Retreat is modeled on this one, so it's nice to have Harmony House here this winter ( while the owner travels in warmer climes) to look at as we go.

The walls got boarded in...

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and then wrapped up like a gift in Tyvek

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The doors and windows are being delivered, and then the shingles and the roof will go on.

 

ALSO.... please look at the for sale page as we have a lovely tiny house "Space" that is ready to tow away. We do not build ready to go ones very often, so here's your chance to have a delightful guest room, home office, painting studio...

ALSO - we have a gap in the schedule for a build starting in the spring of 2017 - so if you are ready to build the tiny house you have always wanted give James a call on 902 277 0862 and we can start the design process with you.