Chase buried our water tanks last week, just before a cold front and below freezing temperatures. But it wasn’t without some close calls!
It was hard enough trying to bury and fill the tanks in the cold (lesson learned: do this type of work as far in advance, during the warmer spring/summer/fall months, as possible!).
But then we had to deal with the soil itself and it was quite a mess. The contractor who dug the hole for our tanks took Chase’s request to “make the hole as close to the tiny house as possible” to heart, and we had about a foot of clearance. So we wanted to get the tanks in asap – not just because of the coming cold but because of the integrity of the ground. The soil around us is mostly clay and we didn’t want the dirt wall to weaken and our tiny house to topple in!
We thought we’d have some time to back-fill the rest of the hole around the tank, but the weather thought otherwise. The following day it began to rain. ALL DAY LONG.
In a panic, Chase, Alex, and Mark were out in the freezing rain filling the remaining with dirt. It was a cold, muddy, wet, mess! Probably one of the worse jobs they’ve ever had to do.
“Even worse than shoveling compost?” I asked.
“Even worse!” they said. But they finished in a day, and the tiny house is now secure with no risk of toppling or sinking.
We now have 3 tanks in the ground totaling about 800 gallons of water which we are hoping will get us through the next four months. In the spring we will have a filtered rain-catch/gutter system in place, and the storage tanks can be filled that way from now on.
The next step is to make the insulated cover for the tanks and installing the spiffy hand pump, and we should be good to go for the remainder of the winter!
Chase and I are going to be moving our tiny house this October, before the winter sets in. So this month we’ve been focusing on finishing the siding, and reinforcing the structure as much as possible to roll about five miles down the road.
Things are coming together well. We have a huge mattress in the loft and a new inverter to replace the old, LOUD inverter we were initially using. There are still some small-scale painting projects inside the house that I am hoping to finish this month (painting two window sills, and staining the beams above the wood stove). Chase scored the siding we’re using from an old barn built in 1810. He’s almost done putting it on and framing everything out (pics to come!). After that the only things left to do are put a clear stain on the house and finish the porch – but that can wait until after we move.
Moving can be stressful, but I am really excited! Hopefully this will be the first and last move for our little home on wheels.
You can see my first post about the start of construction on my tiny house here.
Chase began construction on my tiny house in August of 2013. His friends Jimmy and Brian helped, and we had other friends who came to visit and help out with carpentry, insulation, and painting when they could. My former landlord donated some old wood from her 281 year old Colonial Dutch house that we used to make shelving in my kitchen. The house was finished enough for me to occupy four months later (January 2014).
Little did we know that winter would be the coldest winter on record in the northeastern United States. We had a lot of snow and temperatures remained below zero with frigid wind chills for weeks straight. Schools had to close down well beyond their allotted “snow days” for the year. And I was in my tiny house by myself for a large part of that time.
I can’t express enough the importance of good insulation and an efficient wood stove. Those two things brought me through the worst winter in memory. Our friend Carin had saved rigid foam insulation left over from a kitchen remodeling project, and with that we were able to insulate almost 90% of my tiny home!
My wood stove is from Morso – their smallest model, the Squirrel 1410 – and it was invaluable. Due to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, many of my friends who were property owners had fallen, dead trees on their land that were well seasoned – they just needed to be cut and moved. Chase and his friends cut the rounds for me, and I quickly learned how to split them, and how to bank my stove so I stayed toasty at night (and the house held the heat during the day while I was at work).
My water and electric system are very simple. Chase set up a gravity fed water system with a holding tank. At present I still use a pressure tank and pump, but I am hoping that, in the coming year, we can simplify the system even more. I’m completely off-grid. I use a compost toilet for all waste. My tiny house is run on a d/c system powered by one solar panel and, in the beginning, we used an old inverter that Chase’s friend Brian found in his shed so that I could charge a/c electronics like my phone and laptop.
The layout of my tiny house includes a back room (“guest room”) and for that winter it was the storage space for everything I’d tackle in the spring. I kept my old daybed wood frame back there and decided to put the mattress up in the sleeping loft for the winter (I’d upgrade to a larger mattress the following spring).
Winter 2013 was rough, but inside my tiny house it was nice and cozy.
Updated pictures on the finished tiny house coming soon …