When it All Starts Coming Together: Weeks 16 - 17
And just like that, it all started to come together.
The subfloor project seemed like an odyssey. Cutting, fitting, and framing the joist pattern; cutting, fitting, and spray-foaming insulation; cutting, fitting, and securing plywood. When it was all complete, the space immediately felt different. The foundation was laid and there we stood, and walked, freely across the level (sub)floor. This was the gateway to the rest of the project.
Alhen did immense research and comparison of techniques to use in building the subfloor. He created a dense joist pattern that would accommodate smaller squares of insulation but that would provide a sturdier foundation for the whole house. He chose T&G (tongue-and-groove) subfloor OSB (oriented strand board) that in theory would've been a breeze. However, we did not account for the difficulty we'd experience in snuggly fitting the tongue-and-groove in such a small space. The boards that only needed a single cut weren't such the problem as adequately accommodating the wheel wells.
Never undervalue the generosity of friends! In a pinch, we realized we needed a jigsaw to re-cut a piece of OSB already in place (under the steel lip that runs the length of the bus on either side) but not even close to fitting the wheel well. Our friend Matt Sterling at Sterling Contracting Company lent us his, no doubt reflecting on what an interesting journey we're on, having built his own tiny house. With the jigsaw, Alhen was able to fix the inaccurate measurements, which just so happened to be mine, and finish the subfloor properly.
After finishing the floor, we began prepping the walls and ceiling for their eventual insulation - if we could ever secure it. We chose polystyrene for the floor for a variety of reasons we'll soon expound on, but for the walls and ceiling, we were determined to find wool. In between shifts cutting and adhering radiant barrier to the bare metal inside, we scoured Google (and repeatedly pestered Home Depot and Lowe's) for a reliable and not outrageously overpriced source for wool, denim, or other insulation source. This was a largely fruitless search, as alternative insulation still isn't totally mainstream. It's often restricted to large quantity orders (like 700 pieces!) or exists in the very common R-ratings of R13, 19, 30. For a couple working with approximately seven feet of interior width for our entire house, we're trying to conserve inches and thick insulation is simply out of the question.
Eventually, Alhen sourced a rated R8 denim insulation by Bonded Logic, measuring in at exactly two inches wide. This is perfect. But, of course, not sold directly to consumers and only available to distributors who then sell to retailers and contractors in enormous quantities. We started getting pretty discouraged, considering other options in case our timeline started to slip away from us. Diligence paid off, though, and Alhen connected with the ladies at CaraGreen, an independent building materials distributor who took our request and have begun working on making it a reality! We're still working on the details, but we have our fingers crossed.
With insulation in the works and a layout ready to grace the floors, our minds (and wallets) have turned to bigger projects. Budgeting for a project like this could be the most difficult and flexible math I've ever done, but when your only option if you want to avoid carrying a black water tank is a $1,000 toilet, you simply have to chalk it up to living the dream. And so, we present to you, our Stage 1 Appliances List. These are the items, some exact and some still in the vetting process, that we're outfitting our bus with to get it livable by the end of the year.
Qualifications for LIve-ability: Stay warm in the winter, pets + people safe and sound, Resources to eat - drink - sleep - clean - toilet, bus that runs
Stage One Appliances List
We may not have the chance to purchase the full kit, but we intend to be fully off-grid in the future and will start as soon as we're able.
Each of these appliances requires additional pieces, but these are the flagship components of a live-aboard slow rolling home.
What do you think - could you live with a Yeti for a fridge and a composting toilet? While we intend there's going to be a lot to adjust to, tending a wood burning stove as our fiery heat source sounds like an additional chore worth taking on.