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Tiny House Lumber Calculation: Living in Lumber

Helicopter Lumberer

The lumber yard delivered our wood for free, but before they did we wondered, “Should we go and inspect every piece of wood and pick up the lumber?” Our answer was yes…until we decided no.  Because we’d have the option to return pieces of wood, we felt like it wasn’t necessary to inspect everything. As the lumber yard clerk assured me, “We don’t sell wood to have it returned.” That being said–horror lumber delivery stories are out there.

Figuring Out the Count

I used our Tiny Tack House plans to make adjustments and estimate all of the lumber that we’d need. Their plans list the amount of boards and sizes that you’d need, but we have changed a few things and our trailer/floor will be a different size (22 x 8.5 ft), so it was a little work to figure everything out. Obviously, it’s smart to add a few boards on to your total estimate, anticipating miscalculations and warped wood. Lumber yards could lend you a hand figuring everything out, too.

So many minute changes.
So many minute changes.

For our planned 22 x 8.5 ft trailer and house, our final lumber count was the following:

Lumber Cost

Construction phases and wood original estimates (these changed):

Wood Ballparking
Wood Ballparking

Zip System Contemplation

Sheathing Options: OSB, Zip Panels, Plywood
Sheathing Options: OSB, Zip Panels, Plywood

We considered using the Zip System for our wall and roof sheathing; it would have been $330 more up front. Although more expensive, people claim the system actually saves you money and time from wrapping your house. We will spend $150 on Grace: Ice and Shield roofing underlayment and $120 on our house-wrap. This means we’ll only save around $60, but yes, it will take more work to install the underlayment and house-wrap; however, we’ll ultimately have better roof protection; the Zip System claims to eliminate felt paper whereas we’ll have a strong sticky underlayment.

Zip Panel Cost

Toxicity, Zips, and Regrets

Although Oriented Strand Board (OSB/Zip Panels) are generally cheaper and structurally as durable as plywood, they have more glues that off-gas, so more formaldehyde would be seeping into your house.  This was the main reason we chose the less but still “formaldehydy” plywood. Although plywood is not perfect, it does handle moisture a lot better than OSB. Tiny House Builder Ryan Mitchell chose the Zip System for his house, so check out his reasoning here. Upon further discovery, I have found non-formaldehyde plywood by Purebond and other companies. Thankfully, less toxicity is becoming more popular.

Save to Splurge

Instead of buying 4x4s (expensive), we will be sistering 2x4s for stud uprights (putting two together with screws) and creating glulams for the subfloor’s perimeter (two 2x4s and a strip of plywood glued and screwed together). This saved us $180. We used this money to splurge and instead of using 2x4s for the loft beams, we’ll have beautiful 4×4 cedar beams ($250 more). What will your save to splurge ratio be?

Doug from Liverpool Lumber

Doug from Liverpool Lumber

The delivery of our lumber was an emotional stew; throw in excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and disbelief and you get these tiny house builders. Our house was truly in motion! Was our preparation enough? Is everything figured out? It doesn’t matter–time to build.

Why did you put me up here? I need to poop.
“This is all the wood? Wait, why did you put me up here? I need to poop.” Charlotte

Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations:

  • Thank the tiny house gods I added ten extra 2x4x8s and a few 2x4x12s. We used them all and miss-cut a few.
  • Quite a few warped boards, but we found a place for them.
  • Had to buy another cedar beam for $78. Ouch.
Categories: Building, Design

Tiny House: Cook Stove Options

Ideally, a wood cook stove should be your cooking range as discussed in The Winter=Heating Design Time. What’s more efficient than a single unit that cooks as well as heats your house and hot water? Nada. So, why even bother with another post about cooking options? Well, well, well, what about cooking in the summer? Did you even think about how you’re going to bake? What about other renewable energy source stoves?

Winter Wood Cooking, Summer Wood Cooking

We initially were planning on having an EcoZoom stove and the Kimberly stove in our tiny house. We thought we’d need the extra cooking space in the winter, but we decided that would be overkill exhaust piping, so we’re planning to rig up some type of flat-plate to increase our cooking surface on the Kimberly. This may be a disadvantage of the Kimberly; The Little Cod has a place for two burners–something we’re definitely going to need to replicate somehow on our stove. For summer options, we’re still considering an EcoZoom to cook outside. They’re still awesome and affordable units, and they run on twigs–I love things that run on twigs.

EcoZoom Stoves
EcoZoom Plancha: $350 and EcoZoom Versa $110

Baking Adapter

For wood cook stoves, The Baker’s Salute Oven adapter seems to be a great option by Lehman’s. It does need to be close to your stove or at least close enough to get over 250 degrees, so it might be tricky maintaining your stove’s cooking surface with this unit. Also, you’ll have to have the right size stove pipes for compatibility.

The Baker’s Salute Oven adapter: $540

Sun Summer Baking and Cod Oven Dreams

<img class="wp-image-683 size-full" src="http://www.oneidatrail.com/app/uploads/2014/07/cob-oven like it.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ srcset=”http://www.oneidatrail.com/app/uploads/2014/07/cob-oven.jpg 500w, http://www.oneidatrail.com/app/uploads/2014/07/cob-oven-300×225.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px” />
Homemade Cob Oven by Cob Workshops

We’d love to create and build a cob oven for our future farm homestead. Although this would cover our baking and pizza cooking needs, it’s a down-the-road option. In the meantime, we’re looking to use a Solar Oven.

Solar Oven and Hot Pot Panel Cooker
Solar Oven and Hot Pot Panel Cooker

Heating for Alcoholics

Kai and Sheila from 2cycle2gether.com have found a wonderful alternative to a propane stove: The European Marine Air: Origo 6000 Oven with Stove. Being powered by a renewable source and having less toxic combustion gases makes this stove a sweet option. Visit Kai’s very detailed writeup on the unit here.

MARINE AIR: Origo 6000 Oven With Stove
MARINE AIR: Origo 6000 Oven With Stove

Resources:

 

Categories: Design, Energy, Food

Tiny House Heating Design: The Winter = Heating Design Time

Thermostat Power Struggles

Fantasizing about your heating system comes naturally in a Syracuse winter. Living in an awful steel framed modular split ranch, we are constantly reminded of poor insulation and heating needless square footage. This scenario sets us up nicely to argue over that little waist high 2 in. x 2 in. white box on the wall, the thermostat.  How do couples reconcile comfort and erroneous fuel consumption? An efficient building envelope and heating system are an excellent start.

Common Winter Quotes: Chris

  • “How many layers do you have on?”
  • “You’re in bed! You don’t need to heat the whole house!”
  • “You don’t even have long johns on. I wear a pair everyday!”
  • “Did you just turn up the thermostat? Honey, it’s fine in here.”

Common Winter Quotes: Michelle

  • “It’s freezing in here. My feet and nose are cold.”
  • “Are you cold?”
  • BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. “It’s only 62 degrees in here!”

The Northeast Heating Option Winner

For the Northeast, the resiliency and self-reliance of an efficient wood stove is unmatched. Like Ben Falk, I attest that everyone should have a wood cook stove in their house. If efficient, it’s a single system that provides your house with heating, hot water, and a cooking range.

Kitchen Queen: Wood Cook Stove
Kitchen Queen: Wood Cook Stove

When considering a unit, looking at the whole picture is important. Will the unit last multiple generations? Is the fuel source renewable? Does my system rely on forces I can’t control? What are my costs and bills? How much energy does it cost to create these systems (embodied energy)? Are my system’s components recyclable? Does it fit into a tiny house? Here is a quick general breakdown of three systems for heating, hot water, and cooking:

Wood Cook StoveTypical HouseSuper Efficient Solar
$3000-4000$8,000$20,000 + PV panel cost
RenewablesFossil FuelRenewables
A little laborConvenientConvenient
Wood Cost or Self HarvestElectric & Gas BillsNo Bills
Indoor Air Quality Safety RequiredIndoor Air Quality Safety RequiredExcellent Indoor Air Quality
100-Year Plus *depends20 Year Out-Dated System30-40 Year System
Very Low Embodied EnergyMiddle-High Embodied EnergyVery High Embodied Energy

When looking at options, you can’t beat the simplicity, durability, user-friendliness, and cost of a wood cook stove.  Knowing that a wood cook stove is our most resilient choice, what’s the next step? Finding a tiny one!

Love at First Singe

What better place to look for an efficient wood stove than the finalists from the Wood Stove Decathlon by The Alliance for Green Heat. Although a lot of awesome international and national options, The Kimberly Wood Stove by the American Roger Lehet won my heart. His stove is two feet tall and 10 inches wide, engineered to last, looks sleek, and super efficient with a cooking top. This puppy can get an eight hour burn out of a pressed log, and you can heat your house with twigs during the day. Twigs or a half cord of wood is our estimated heating cost–amazing. Roger is currently developing a hot water heating attachment for it, too.

Kimberly Stove by Unforgettable Fire, LLC.
Kimberly Stove by Unforgettable Fire, LLC.

The Price of Love

Love always has a price, right? The Kimberly retails at $3800; however, the payback and future savings is immediate using pellet stove exhaust pipe and the lower cost of heating your house for decades.  Passion and quality trumped our startup budget; I needed to have this stove!

“Shits and Giggles” Turn into Action

For shits and giggles, Chris types in “Kimberly Stove” on Ebay. Low and behold–there one is!  A young couple is shying away from their RV life for their anticipated newborn, so they’re selling their just purchased stove. With zero liquid income, Michelle and Chris use some credit and start to post Chris’ car on craigslist for sale. Trading fossil fuel hoarders for fossil fuel purgers are the best trades. After a fierce auction battle (not really), we purchased the Kimberly for $2700. Fantastic. Now we have a trailer and wood stove–I think our order of operations is skewed.

Runner Up: The Little Cod

The Little Cod: To Cycle Together's Choice
The Little Cod: To Cycle Together’s Choice

A lot of tiny house dwellers like our new tiny house friend and advisor Rowan and 2cycle2ether’s Kai invested in one of these puppies.  Kai has a nice write up on his stove choice–here. It’s efficient, small, and very affordable. These are currently priced around $1050. $1600 for an enameled one.

Honorable Mentions + Electric Options/Backup

Shipmate: Model 211
Shipmate: Model 211: $2700-4020
<img class="wp-image-442 size-full" src="http://www.oneidatrail.com/app/uploads/2014/07/hobbit_stove online lipitor.jpg” alt=”The Hobbit Stove” width=”317″ height=”425″ />
The Hobbit Stove: $900-1000 if you can find it in US.

Electric is an extremely inefficient way to create heat; however, there are some new technologies that are less irrational when it comes to the idea. Also, tiny houses have the benefit of heating a small space, so it’s less crazy.

Envi Electric Heater
Envi Electric Heater: 450watts: Potential Option for Wood Stove Backup: $140
electric heater panel
Econo-Heat 603: 400W Wall Panel Heater: Even lower energy backup heating panel.
Climate Right: A/C and Heating 700-1200watts
Climate Right: A/C and Heating 700-1200watts: $500

The reins are ours,

Chris

Resources:

 

Categories: Design, Energy, Permaculture