Tag Archives: sustainable

Tiny House in your backyard? Help a friend in need!

Hello again!

It’s evening and I just spent a while going through all of the tiny house blog posts around the internet that I had missed in my tiny hiatus. I think I’m hungry for something new. Something really game changing. Anyone got any links to cool things they’ve seen lately? Be picky, I want to be inspired.

I got my wisdom teeth out last week and holy shit is that an awful experience. I still can’t eat food and my mouth still hurts like a bitch! How long does it take to recover usually? I’m on day 7 and am quite done with all this wisdom teeth nonsense. Now that I’ve had it done I’m pretty sure it’s all a hoax and a scam – your body definitely wants to keep those little guys INSIDE! I haven’t been able to move or read for a week. Ugh. Like I said when I first woke up from anesthesia, “What a bullshit!” (I have this moment – along with many other funny ones from after the procedure – on tape).

Anyway enough about me! I have some important news to share with you all on behalf of my friend Dave.

Dave and I met at Deek’s summer fun time Tiny House Summer Camp 2 years ago. Then he moved to Worcester (where I live) to build his tiny house! Then he stayed. Then he moved out of the city. For the past few months, he’s been living in a little backyard, but it’s time for a big change!

Dave lives in a nice tiny house that he built himself (I’ve seen it, it’s wonderful). He is looking for a new place to live in his tiny house. Are you interested? Would you like a nice person living in a neat little house to live in your backyard or on your land?

I can vouch for Dave being good company and totally not a nuisance. He is ideally looking to park his tiny house in New England somewhere, preferably Massachusetts, but he seems pretty flexible.

Please enjoy the two lovely photos of his house below. If you or someone you know are interested in having a tiny home on your property somehow, please get in touch with him!
You can also contact me and I’ll put you in touch, but probably emailing him is easiest.
Here’s his email address:
dave@st.germa.in

 

Cute porch! Even cuter house!

Cute porch! Even cuter house!

Off grid! Solar panels! "Bling bling".

Off grid! Solar panels! “Bling bling”.

Okay, one last thing. I learned how to set up coupon codes in my store just for you guys :) As I mentioned in my last post, I am raising money to complete the COMET by selling items in my Etsy shop Planet Queen Vintage. Every dollar you spend goes to the COMET, helping me to buy some final things like exterior paint, some photovoltaic components, and a few other things. Of course, you can always donate to the COMET over at the Donate page, but why not get something awesome and vintage in return to remind you of your incredible contribution? So, for you guys my amazing and supportive readers, you all get 15% off any purchase using the coupon code COMETCAMPER at checkout. Go use that coupon code! Do it! Thank you all you are amazing. Don’t forget, it’s COMETCAMPER  at checkout!
So if you find this blog entertaining, useful, helpful, or just kinda weird please consider getting something really cool from www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com. Thank you! I am sincerely grateful for all of you readers and you all inspire me and make me happy.

Thanks for reading and please get in touch with Dave at dave@st.germa.in if you can help him find a place to live! Thank you!

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I love my tiny house.

Okay, okay, so I know I’m still trying to catch up the blog with the progress in a chronological and step-by-step fashion – but I can’t help it. I love my little house (even though it’s unfinished) and I want to share what it looks like with you all at this point! So let’s look into the future-present at the most recent photos of the COMET. Give me your feedback in the comments! We’ll get back to the progress updates later – unfortunately this did not all happen overnight :)

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I'm in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

I’m in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

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Step into my office...

Step into my office…

Humanure Deposit Receptacle - With Urine Diverting Action

Humanure Deposit Receptacle – With Urine Diverting Action

My new, very modest, closet.

My new, very modest, closet.

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If my cat were in the camper that's the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

If my cat were in the camper that’s the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

The couch in the back is also my bed – it folds down/pulls out to be quite comfortable (awesome fabric from Sew Fine Fabrics on Etsy). You can see the Marmoleum click flooring that I used (courtesy of GreenBuildingSupply.com) and the turquoise Marmoleum sheet good countertops (which everyone mistakes for being original – which means I picked the right color!). At first I thought all the colors were a little much, but I like them now. It fits my style. I’m happy with my little fold-down desk area in the back, made out of salvaged 1950′s cracked ice Formica. We used scrap Marmoleum from the countertops to make the bathroom floor, and some panels of cork flooring from the ReStore for the kick-plates in there. The rounded piece of the counter folds up and down too, which has come in handy!

Oh, and I just updated the PHOTOS page too, with these pictures. I updated a few other pages too – check out the new “SUSTAINABILITY” page under the “ABOUT THE PROJECT” header.

Well, it’s not finished, but it’s quite homey, and I love it. I had to share. Thanks for reading!!

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Framing and Insulating the New Floor

Here I am again, trying to get us up to speed with where the COMET’s at now. This is from the Summer, so bear with me while the next few posts catch us up to the COMET’s current loveliness.

We left off where we had replaced some of the rotten framing in the walls and on the floor, and here you can see how we re-framed and insulated the floor. As I mentioned before, the entire rear half of the trailer had been demolished by carpenter ants, so we just started from scratch back there.

 

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This is how we re-framed the floor, with 2 x 4s where there had been 2 by’s. The lumber framing crosses over the steel frame of the trailer.

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New cross-members, tow-nailed in, for extra support. I wanted this floor to be much sturdier than the original one, which was merely stapled together.

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Those white dots on the pink aluminum sheet are where I caulked where the staples used to be. It’s not necessarily better to be airtight in the floor, because if any water does leak in from above, you want it to be able to escape and not pool in the floor (which will cause rot). But I didn’t want any water to come up from underneath the trailer during travel, so I sealed off the holes where the staples used to be.

 

INSULATION:

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This is the UltraTouch Denim insulation. What a joy to work with. So easy to use and you don’t have to wear a hazmat suit or worry about getting all itchy like with fiberglass. Thank you GreenBuildingSupply.com for donating the UltraTouch!

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Installation was a breeze. I either used the razor knife to cut the batts down to size, or just tore it to the right size with my hands.

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That’s the little part near the door that needed replacing. I think that spot to the left of the doorway is a very common place to find water damage/rotted wood.

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And finally, we cut a new sub floor out of plywood and laid it down. Everything fit nicely. Under the back hatch, you can see a 2 x 6 on top of the plywood. That is the beginning of the framing for the rear wall, which you’ll see in the next post. Those two bolts that stick up out of the 2 x 6 at about 1/3 and 2/3 across are coming up from underneath the chassis. They are holding the metal trailer frame to the wooden camper frame.

Stay tuned for more progress! Hopefully soon we can have a grand unveiling of the finished interior! As always, thanks for reading :)

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Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Like I said, lot’s of catching up to do!

I’ve got to go back to 5 weeks ago and bring you all up to speed on the progress of the COMET. She was a MESS before we went to Tiny House Summer Camp, but if you saw the article on Deek’s website, you saw some pictures of what she looks more like now – less of a mess.
Anyway, here’s the first installment of catching up the website to where the COMET stands now.

BEFORE:

Some serious demolition. After stepping around the back and almost falling through the trailer floor onto the pavement 3 feet below, we decided to replace EVERYTHING. This demolition was made 10 times easier by the use of the SoniCrafter, using the plunge-cut blade to remove rotten wood to where it was solid again.

We cleaned out all of the wood-dust (used to be framing) and insulation from the floor. Under the floor, above the chassis, is a layer of sheet metal for protection. Everything had been destroyed by the termites/carpenter ants and water damage.

Daylight is never a good thing!

The photos above show where we removed the original rotted out 1 x 1 (yes, 1 x 1) framing from that rear of the trailer to halfway under the door frame. We had to remove up to the next joist after the wood became solid, so that we could have something to screw the new subfloor into. We removed the floor framing, then, using the SoniCrafter, we cut the wall studs at a line 5.5 inches above the metal trailer frame. We decided to replace the old 1 x 1 framing with a big 2 x 6, hence the 5.5″ height.

Spongey floor spots, be gone!

AFTER:

The solution was to replace the rotten frame piece with a 2 x 6, so that we were rebuilding the trailer better than it was originally built.

 

This 2 x 6 is the length of the beam we just removed and is marked to be notched out for the framing around the door frame, which we wanted to save.

We knocked it into place with a few hammer swings and it fit like a charm.

We ended up shimming a bit of this, but it fit nicely for the most part, and we didn’t have to rebuild the door frame!

Bolting the new frame piece to the chassis. The 2 x 6 is notched so the drill bit would reach the top, because it wasn’t 5.5″ long.

Somehow Matt was less excited about the new framing than I was. Thanks for the relentless help and support, could not have done this without him!

 

View from interior, all bolted in down the line.

Sistering on some new floor studs/joists.

Reframing around the wheel-well for the new subfloor.

I was a happy camper by the end of this little part of it. Next, we re-framed the entire back, raised the rear bed up 6  extra inches, re-insulated with the denim insulation, and more! More pictures of that part soon.

Oh, and all the lumber I used is FSC certified :)

As always, thanks for reading!

If you like the blog and would like to help me continue working on the COMET, please consider making a small donation over at the DONATE page of this site :) Thanks!!

 

 

 

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Tiny House Summer Camp with Derek Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.com!

It’s official!!

I’m SUPER EXCITED to be a speaker at Derek Diedricksen‘s tiny house design/build weekend workshop this summer. Deek just announced the workshop last week, and there are very few spots open, so sign up fast!! It’s going to be called “Tiny House Summer Camp”, and it’s taking place the weekend of July 6-9 at Derek’s home-built cabin in Vermont. The weekend will be full of tiny house tours, solar cooking, camping out, tiny house building. designing, idea swapping, and geeking out about all things tiny. As a participant you get to sleep in a cabin, a treehouse, a tiny house, or something else cool that will be at the workshop (depending on what state The COMET is in, I might be able to accommodate a few campers!) The COMET will be coming with me to the workshop, and I’m going to be showing it off (mid-construction) and bringing along lots of interesting sustainable building materials and other things. I’ll be showing off my free and recycled finds that will be going into The COMET, explaining why vintage campers make great tiny houses,  talking about how to save $$ in your tiny house by having an entirely DC photovoltaic solar electric system like The COMET, and more!

Other speakers at the workshop include WILLIAM ROCKHILL of Bear Creek Carpentry, who builds Tiny Houses for Tumbleweed, TRISTAN & LIBBY and their WHITTLED DOWN CARAVAN (an amazing vardo/caravan they towed from New Mexico to Massachusetts with a little sedan!), Derek’s own HICKSHAW CABIN, and more!

There will be a bunch of tiny dwellings in one space, and it’s sure to be quite an experience!

Right now there is a special early-bird price of $399 for the 3-4 day weekend, which includes some meals and lots of tiny stuff. If you want to register, email Derek at kidcedar at gmail dot com and head over to relaxshacks.com to find out more about the workshop.

 

 

Also, I’ve been working on getting The COMET concept across using words and pictures, and here are some early attempts. I’m working on an all-explaining infographic that combines everything The COMET is all about, but it’s not finished yet! Coming soon :) I have a couple more infographics in the works, one with price tags on the big-ticket systems items and one that highlights the “green” materials being used in The COMET. All in time!

If you have any cool ideas for infographics relating to The COMET or tiny houses, let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Cheap Green RV Living Resource

Good Morning!

I have been a big fan of the website cheaprvliving.com for a long time now. It is full of really useful information from Vandwellers and Fulltimers who have been living the alternative, mobile lifestyle for a long time, in everything from minivans to school buses. I really appreciate the no-frills attitude of the site and the vans/RVs/camper conversions that they feature. They have simple ideas about simple living.

I just recently discovered that cheaprvliving.com launched a sister site, called Cheap GREEN RV Living, and it’s all about how to live more sustainably in a camper, bus, converted van, or car. There are lots of ideas for off-grid alternative energy systems, boondocking tips and tricks, and how to respect the planet while living more freely. Some of the articles on CheapGreenRVLiving.com talk about how to pare down your possessions, some talk about the logistics of using the toilet, and others give detailed step by step instructions for installing a PV system on your van’s roof. My favorite page is the product reviews page. This guy is super honest and has actually used all of the products he reviews, so I found this article really useful.

Anyway, check out both sites if you haven’t already, you won’t be disappointed!

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COMET Update – Documenting Progress

Well, the weather has been steadily improving here in Massachusetts, and I’m getting really excited about “breaking ground” in the COMET. I’ll be moving her away from her factory parking lot home to my house where I can work on her. Soon I’ll be peeling back the walls to see what surprises wait for me there (most likely a rotten wood surprise). Then I’ll be testing the electricity and looking at the wiring to figure out how to best implement my totally DC solar system, while fixing up the tow wiring/lights.

This may be a little premature, since nothing has really been set in stone yet, but I’m VERY excited and honored because Derek Diedricksen, fellow MA tiny house guy and artist (check out relaxshacks.com) asked me to bring the COMET to his summer Tiny House Workshop this year, and give a little talk about the project and show it’s progress. It’ll be great for people to be able to feel the space and see my work in progress: a behind the scenes sort of thing. The fact that I’m going to be towing the COMET around while it’s being worked on makes me think I should work backwards: design and repaint the exterior first, then work on the inside. I want to have a really eye-catching and informational exterior design so that people know what the project is all about, and maybe put the website on the side so people can find more info about it. Anyway, more details on the COMET’s live appearances this summer will follow.

This past week I have been reflecting on the progress of The COMET so far, putting together a very large and detailed presentation about what I’ve done in the last few months. There’s so much research behind the scenes, behind every blog post. It’s so interesting to look back on my preliminary project ideas, my first grant proposals, and other material from a few years ago, when the COMET was just a dream, and then look at how much progress I have made in terms of the concept and what the project really means and needs to accomplish. It’s also amazing to see how much my knowledge of sustainable sciences, materials, and systems has increased and grown from a general interest to a real understanding.

One thing that I have been thinking about in particular is the pros and cons of using newly manufactured “eco-products” versus recycled and repurposed materials, which may not be “eco” per-se, but would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. In my mind, it is better to use an existing material (reused, recycled, or just leftovers) than purchase something brand new, because no matter how sustainable the new product is, it has to be manufactured using some form of energy, it has to use fuel to travel, etc. I think instead of using as many “eco-friendly” products as possible in The COMET, I am going to focus on the repurposing and recycling of existing materials, and whatever I can’t find used, replace with eco-friendly new. I’ve been thinking of innovative ways to re-use things that I already have in order to make what is currently missing in the COMET.

This post was really scattered, but I just wanted to give you all a general update :) Thank you to everyone who has been reading along and following the progress of The COMET. Contact me with any feedback you may have or ideas you think I should be incorporating into the project!

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Yestermorrow Design/Build School – first workshop this week!

I realized that I hadn’t written a post about the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, and that I should introduce you all to the place since I have my first class there this coming Sunday. Yestermorrow School is a design/build school that focuses on hands-on teaching and sustainable building practices. They offer workshops that range from 2 days to 4 weeks (and they have a sustainable building semester program with UMass Amherst). Topics range from Green building materials, woodworking, and tiny house building workshops, to architectural design and drawing courses and stained glass making workshops. I found out about them last year and when I read their “Philosophy” statement I was SO HAPPY to find a place that shared my values exactly. All last semester I had been talking about closing the gap between designers and builders, and wasn’t really getting any support in doing that. So I left my college for some time to attend Yestermorrow for the next year, through their Sustainable Design/Build Certificate program. Basically with the certificate program (and they offer certificates in other subjects too)  you choose a handful of week-long, 3-week long, and weekend workshops from a long list of amazing classes. I chose the certificate over the semester program because of the flexibility and that way I could work on The COMET at the same time. I’ve heard the workshops are really intense and totally awesome, and that a 3 week workshop feels like an entire semester. I’m about to find out!

Anyway, here’s their philosophy you you know what I mean:

“Yestermorrow’s courses are specifically designed to demystify the designing and building processes using hands-on, experiential learning to teach students the art and wisdom of good design and the skill and savvy of enduring craftsmanship as a single, integrated process.

This creative process offers students unique insight into the oftentimes disparate worlds of the architect and the builder. Architects are routinely trained without any building experience that might inform their designs, and builders are trained to execute without a sense of the overarching purpose or design of the project.

Combining design and building offers numerous advantages and promotes the creation of intentional and inspired buildings and communities that enhance our world. From the professional design/builder to the do-it-yourself design/build homeowner, every designer should know how to build and every builder should know how to design. This philosophy sets Yestermorrow apart from other educational institutions.”

There you have it. I was in love!

Anyway, this coming Sunday I go up to VT for my first workshop – a 5-day intensive called “Solar Electric Design and Installation”. Just in time, too, because I just bought 3 solar panels! I specifically chose workshops that would help me with the skills associated with designing/building/making the COMET. Once I take this workshop, I’ll be able to install my own photovoltaic system, and show you all how I did it step by step!

Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you should check out this video of the tiny house that the Semester program just built/finished. It is gorgeous!! (see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5mD3iwOb2w)

I encourage you to check out the Yestermorrow website and browse through their courses to get an idea of how awesome the place is. When you attend a class there, you can either stay in the main building, stay in a cabin, or just camp out. I’m really excited! Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to stay in the COMET when I’m up there!

 

Also, on the topic of workshops, I just signed up for the recently announced Tumbleweed Tiny House building workshop in Boston on May 19th and 20th, with Jay Schafer and fellow Massachusetts tiny house guy Deek Diedricksen. I’m really looking forward to it. Personally, I think the Tumbleweed houses are a little too traditional for my style (what can I say – I like recycling junk and using used materials!), but I’m looking forward to building one! Is anyone else planning on going to the Boston Tumbleweed workshop?

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I thought this was funny…

Check out this little comic commenting on sustainability…

 

 

uh-oh!

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Marmoleum mock-ups

I love the Marmoleum natural linoleum flooring. It comes in tiles and planks, and the Marmoleum Click series is a great floating floor that is perfect for DIYers. Old campers usually have some sort of linoleum flooring (probably asbestos, too), so using the new, green Marmoleum linoleum seems like a good nod to the past. Today I worked up some really rough mock-ups of some Marmoleum planks/tiles on the floor of The COMET. I was working in stripes, and will probably try some sort of zig-zig or checkerboard variation at some point too. I also have that dark hardwood flooring I found for free that I am trying to incorporate in some way, but I only have 20 sq. ft. of that and the entire floor is 50 sq. ft. I am thinking about maybe using the hardwood up front and the Marmoleum in the kitchen and the back, but we’ll see!

Anyway, I thought I’d share! Let me know which combination is your favorite in the comments! There are tons more colors available, these are just the ones that stood out to me.

In the showroom at G Green Design Center in Mashpee, the Lime color was my favorite (the model directly above this text). But in the models, I really like the light blue color with the white (which is actually called “Barbados”….fancy!).

What may end up happening is I’ll find a remnant and won’t be picky about color at all!

 

 

 

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