Progress update: trailer, systems design, indoor build space & materials quotes

The past couple of weeks have been very busy, though I haven’t started building yet. Here’s what’s happened in Tiny Project land:



3′ extension to back of trailer

I visited Mac-Lander in Milton, IA to see my trailer as it was being constructed and to discuss a few options to complete it with my desired modifications. We decided on the addition of 3 feet of steel frame off the rear of the trailer so that the lights can be moved to the back and will not be covered by a cantilevered porch overhang. They will also be adding some custom brackets (as discussed here) to help secure the subfloor to the trailer, by bolting it on from both the sides and bottom. 5 brackets (with vertical tabs for bolting through the side) will be added in front of the wheels, and 3 behind, on each side of the trailer.

The trailer is a beast! It’s very sturdy, and will be a perfect foundation for my tiny house. I wish I had thought to take a picture while I was there so I could show the unfinished welded frame. It was very fun to witness some of the process … and all the work it takes to make one of these from scratch.

My trailer should be done sometime this week — then I’ll really have to get moving on getting all of my materials so I can start building right away!

Systems Design


Systems diagram in progress – with trailer frame overay

I’m currently working with Gary Bute of Clear Lighting & Electrical Design to design my electrical, plumbing and propane systems. Gary has very generously donated his time to consult on these systems and draw up some accurate diagrams for where and how plumbing and wiring will be installed throughout the house. He has already influenced my plans in many great ways, with invaluable insight into the construction process, lighting issues, and optimal placement of plumbing or wiring, including moving much of it into the sub-floor rather than the walls. Thank you Gary!

Indoor Construction Space

So far I’ve met with one local company in attempts to barter for use of an indoor warehouse space. I was originally planning to build the entire thing outdoors, but now I’m realizing how nice it would be to have a level, dry floor to work on (until I get the shell finished and can move it home for all the interior work). Just to have space on a cement floor to assemble the wall framing, will, in itself, save a lot of time and headache. Stay tuned to see if this works out!

Framing Sketches

Sketch of South wall framing

Sketch of South wall framing

I’ve been slowly refining some floor and wall framing sketches over time as I gradually figure out how I will go about building things — and my window sizes have shifted a bit for various reasons. This will be an ongoing process and will only be finalized once I have the windows ordered, and really only once I have them on hand to rough fit as I frame the walls. To be honest, I still have some major decisions to make such as: Can I get away with 24″ OC 2×4 framing for the walls? Do I need to 16″ OC for the subfloor, loft floor and roof rafters? Do I need to frame the subfloor with 2×6’s to make more room for plumbing AND insulation? Can I use 4×4’s for the loft? Or do I need 2×6’s for the loft and roof, since technically a 2×4 can’t span the 8 foot width? Every inch of headroom counts in a house this tiny, so even the 2 inches needed for 2×6 instead of 2×4 seems like a lot to give up.

Building Materials

It’s been harder than I expected to generate a materials list and get materials packages/quotes put together by some local building supply companies. In addition to my own shortcomings in trying to put together a complete materials list (having never done this before and no real reference to start from), the spring building season has started so everyone is insanely busy meeting customer demand right now. I’m working on getting quotes for all the right materials in this coming week.

Though I will inevitably buy some materials from my nearest Big Box store (Menards is closest), I’m hoping to get reasonably priced quotes from other retailers, so I can support local business when possible. I’m currently talking with Green Building Supply here in Fairfield, Carrol Lumber in Ottumwa, Gilcrest/Jewett with locations throughout Iowa, and will be pricing items at the Ottumwa Mendars as well.

A big factor in overall cost of materials are my windows. With 10 windows in my design, it will be more costly for me than in most tiny house builds. Windows are a discussion all to themselves, so I’ve dedicated a whole post to factors pertaining to window decisions.


Author: Alek Lisefski