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what type of tiny home should i build?  RSS feed

 
daniel petersen
Posts: 12
Location: coastal british columbia, canada
books duck tiny house
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hey folks! i have to leave my rental home (which is sad), but i have the opportunity to build my own tiny home on a friend's land (score!). i am thinking under 150 sq feet, maybe 100 sq feet and as simple as possible. i need to start building in a month or two. so what kind of tiny home should i build? i have lots of sheep fleece for insulation, but i would have to buy lumber in order to build a stick frame and it's the wrong time of year to build a cob house (i think?). would buying lumber to build my own permanent yurt be cheaper than buying lumber for a stick frame? what about a hay bale cabin? or is it the wrong time of year to build with bales? i am considering borrowing an old rv so i can wait and build with cob and/or bales in the summer...or maybe i will build a yurt with wooden siding. anyway, i have a few choices for sites, one being on solid rock in the sun and the others being beneath maple trees (less solar, but waaay more privacy). i definitely wouldn't put cob in the shade, but other than that, i dunno! i love natural buildings, but i've never tried building them. the most building i've done is building stick frame duck house and greenhouse. anyway, please shower me with your suggestions and with general awesomeness! cuz you folks are awesome! thanks!!!
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2253
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
79
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What kind of siding desires and resources do you have? How much timber (even small roundwood) do you have access to? How accessible is clay, and sand and straw?
Do you have a preference for earthen or wood floors?
How long-term are you looking for this house to be?

Even though I understand coastal BC has mild winters, I would go for the borrowed RV to give yourself some time to make plans instead of rushing into a construction method. If spring/summer is warmer and dryer, that would be a better time to start building anyway, unless you are using all wood materials.

How wet is the ground at different times of the year? If it gets soggy, you might want to go for the rock base to avoid significant foundation work, and rely on orientation and hedge-type screening for privacy. If you can find a good spot under the south side of maple trees, you could get summer shade and winter sun - the best of both worlds. (Maybe you would want to prune low branches for roof clearances.)

If you decide to do a wood frame (even infilled with cob or strawbales), cutting trees over the next couple of months would be ideal.
 
daniel petersen
Posts: 12
Location: coastal british columbia, canada
books duck tiny house
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thanks for the reply, glenn! i don't really have any siding i can access for free, so i would have to buy it or build with earth. i can spend a few thousand dollars all together, but i won't have to pay for labor, which will help. i'm not sure yet if i will have access to much timber, though probably a bit. if i harvest timber, how long do i need to wait for it to cure? my understanding is that greenwood isn't ideal for building with, but i don't know from personal experience. clay, sand, and straw are accessible (i'd bring them onsite from nearby). i've wanted an earthen floor for as long as i've known of their existence, but i am feeling leery of building one this time around as i will be building with a friend or two in my time off from work. i guess that means i'm leery of cob, too, but i DO love cob and earthen floors, so maybe i can make that work if i can take all spring and summer. and i will see if i have access to some timber. thanks again! you've given me a lot to think about!

[edited to add] actually, i have another question! is it remotely realistic for two inexperienced cobbers to build a simple 100s sq foot cob house in one spring-summer while they also work almost full time elsewhere? not including finishing the inside or doing anything fancy? thanks!!! cuz i am utterly in love with cob, so...yeah.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Posts: 2253
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
79
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Trees cut during winter have less sap than at any other time, so would have the least shrinkage issues. Medieval timber-frame buildings were generally built with green wood as it was easier to work; the members after assembly would hold each other in place to minimize distortion (but they were not concerned with perfectly flat and square planes). Roundwood is perfectly capable of making sturdy structures - it is actually stronger per square inch than sawn wood, though it loses efficiency in joist/rafter use due to not being deep and narrow. But for a 12' x 12' roof on posts, it would be quick, cheap and easy, especially if you are happy with a slightly undulating organic shape.

For any sort of strawbale or cob walls, putting the roof up on a basic wood frame makes the work easier and better since you can keep in-process walls from being rained on. For cob, I would go for a hip roof and low walls to minimize the amount of heavy work. The posts would likely be buried in the walls and not visible, unless you wanted to see them. Deep overhangs are necessary to protect the cob from too much rain. You would need considerable random stone and gravel to make a damp-resistant base. One big truckload of coarse stone/gravel would be plenty for a structure the size you want.

The time required partly depends on how far you have to go to get the clay and what kind of equipment you can get to help. A backhoe (and dumptruck if it is more than a few hundred yards away) will make clay acquisition easy. Given the clay, sand and straw on site, I think a pair of sturdy workers could probably put up a small cob building in a couple-few months of after-work labor. I haven't built anything of cob on that scale yet to have a closer sense than that. It would also depend on the characteristics of your clay.
 
Tyrr Vangeel
Posts: 43
Location: Mol, Belgium
1
chicken dog forest garden
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I have no real experience building with round wood (except a castle when I was about 10years of age) en similar with Q. rubra, aka American oak in our area and considered an invasive alien species.
However, if it behaves similar to 'our' oak, the Q Robur, you do not want to cure it before using it. Try hamering a nail into granit, it's about as easy
Other species will handle different!

When starting with round wood, I would look at Ben Law for some inspiration.

One 'revisit' from Grand Designs, the original was from season 3, but I do not find it online any where to stream.

Also, 'Mastercrafts' from BBC. This link will sent you to the first episode of "green wood".
It will off course not teach you all the skills required, but give a sneak view for what is possible and some tips on 'how to'.

Personally, I'm looking at a not so tiny Celtic Round house (round wood timber framed) but with straw bale walls and some crazy stuff with corten steel in the roof to house my farming business. Problem is that I do not have a spare m² to put it on at the moment :p
 
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