3D Tiny House Models On The Way!

3D Tiny House Model in Sketchup - Casey Friday

3D Tiny House Model in Sketchup - Casey Friday

I finally broke down and decided to learn how to use SketchUp.  I want to be able to build complete plans of our Tiny House, and I don’t feel like learning AutoCAD; so here it is – the humble beginning of our Tiny House plan!

We’re basing our house off of the Tall Man’s Tiny House layout, but we’ll really be ‘building as we go’.  We won’t be following any plans, but rather creating our own plans.

As the floor is just about done, I’ve seen that I need to have a 3D model to look at, to decide how to build the walls – and where to build them.  The 3D model I create in SketchUp will make that much, much easier for me.

If you’re nervous about trying to learn SketchUp, don’t be.  They have video tutorials, and all you really need to know how to do is make a rectangle, since just about everything in a house is based on rectangles.  Easy as crumb cake.

The Frame is Bolted to the Trailer

That’s right, bitches.  I can safely say that the hard, hard work is done.  Does that mean there won’t be any more hard work?  Absolutely not.

L-Brackets for peace of mind

L-Brackets on Tiny House Frame - Casey FridayI’ve heard of people using ridiculous amounts of added strength on their tiny houses, but I opted to use only these small L-brackets on the corners of our floor joist frame.  I did install one on every perpendicular intersection of 2×4’s.

Each L-bracket has a total of 4 screws.  I’m pretty sure the ones I bought aren’t meant for bracing this type of structure, but I only found that out while shopping for nail plates and seeing the ‘real’ L-brackets in that same section.

Is 15 carriage bolts enough?

I might have overdone it a bit here, but if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-engineering.  At first, I was thinking of bolting the frame to the trailer only in four different places, and only drilling through the wood.  After a bit of thought though, I decided to do it up right, and drill this bad boy through the steel.

My initial plan included drilling 16 holes in the steel and running 1/2″ carriage bolts through the 2×4’s and through the frame, held in with nylon lock nuts.  I was able to drill 15 holes, while killing two steel drill bits and two drills (one cordless and one corded).  Here’s that process in photos.

Monster Drill Bit for Drilling Through Steel Trailer - Casey Friday

Spade Bit for Drilling Through Wood - Casey Friday

Carriage Bolts Through Frame of Tiny House - Casey Friday

Carriage Bolts Through Trailer - Tiny House

Killed a Drill Bit by Drilling Through Steel - Casey Friday

The drill bit on top is ‘post 10 holes drilled through steel’.  Not very sharp any more.  Today, I destroyed that new-looking one on the bottom drilling 6 more holes.  I also destroyed my Hitachi corded drill.  Do they make drills rated for drilling through steel?  It was kind of fun, watching the smoke come out of the drill – in a childish, boyish way.

I have to give a big should out to my new friend Allen (Allens rock!  That means you too, KAM).  He donated 40 lbs of books and tools for the build, including two badass Makita cordless drills.  I’m sad to report that once my Hitachi drill gave out, I switched to using the drill he donated.  I killed it too!  I’ll have a word with Allen and see if it’s saveable.

You’ll also notice that I wasn’t able to get the lock nuts all the way up to the steel.  It was ridiculously hard to get them as high as they are.  (Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten lock nuts?)  It required locking a vise grip on the top half of the carriage bolt and ratcheting them up all the while.  I bent the threads a bit in that process, so I don’t think I could get them up much higher anyway, and I don’t really want that extra stress on the 2×4 frame boards.

The way they are now, they’ll keep the frame from sliding off of the trailer, and once it’s fully loaded, the house will be able to bounce up off the frame about 2″, but if we go over a bump big enough to get that sort of bounce, I think we’ve gone off of a mountain (so we have bigger things to worry about).

[box type=”note” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]It’s safe to say this house is not going anywhere (on the trailer).[/box]

Nail plates are tough work!

Nail Plates on Tiny House Frame - Casey FridayHammering these suckers on was no easy feat.  They’re quite fickle, and it’s almost as if they don’t want to go in.  Nonetheless, I installed nail plates on each side of the floor joists where a bolt was installed.

It’s not the prettiest solution, but it definitely gives me complete confidence that the frame will remain completely solid, 1/2″ drilled hole aside.

When you hammer a nail plate into place, you have to start at the top or bottom of the middle section.  Once that section gets in, you can go to town on the rest of it.  You just have to be a bit careful that you don’t damage the frame boards while you’re hammering away.

As you can see in one of the photos above, one of the beams got a bit cracked while I was installing the nail plate.  To remedy this, I’m going to install another L-bracket on the other side of that beam.  Besides that tiny mishap (and it’s not even completely cracked), I’m very happy with the strength of the frame.

What’s Next?

Now I’m ready to install flashing under the overhang areas of the frame and drop in the insulation!  It should be delivered within the next 7 days, so the floor should be COMPLETELY done very soon!

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments

Tiny House Door/Window Options

Post will be updated as quotes come in / new ideas are formed.

All quoted prices with white painted finish on interior.  Cheaper to go unfinished, most expensive to get finished (stained).

Doors

Pella Designer Series 750 Hinged Patio Door - Snap-in Shades Available

Pella Designer Series 750 Hinged Patio Door – This Pella Designer Series Hinged Patio Door can be had in a number of finishes AND comes with the option of snap-in cellular shades.

Price = $4,382 (AGH!)

Cheaper Door Option – craigslist!

craigslist French Doors with Glass

Assuming all works out with this puppy, we’ll be picking the set up on Thursday evening for $390!  Paint it lime green, grab some snap-on cellular shades, and we’re good to go!

Windows with Snap-in Shade Option

For windows, if we want the snap-in cellular shade option, we can choose from these three window choices:

Casement

Pella Designer Casement Windows - Snap-in Shades

Casement Windows – Designer Series (750) Casement Window for the kitchen area.  Perhaps on both sides of the kitchen area.

Price – 3′ x 4′ = $955.26 per window

Awning

Pella Awning Designer Windows - Snap-in Shades

Awning Windows – These awning windows aren’t as badass looking as the casement windows, but they will allow air to flow freely.

Price – 41″ x 35″ = $820.71 per window

It turns out we actually want the 4123 model, which is 41″ by 23″ – naturally – so since it’s only 65% of the surface area of the window I was quoted, I would hope it’s only 65% of the price!  That would be $533.46 per window.  I’ll find out tomorrow when I call to quote.  Here’s to hoping!

Price 41″ x 23″ (unfinished, untempered) = $702 per window, 3 week lead time

Price 41″ x 23″ (unfinished, tempered) = $775 per window, 3 week lead time

Double-Hung

Pella Double-Hung Designer Windows - Snap-in Shades

Double-Hung Windows – These could be used for the living area, assuming we want to use these instead of a wider solution.

Price – 2′ x 4′ = $933.14 per window

Windows withOUT Snap-in Shade Option

Sliding Windows

Pella Sliding Windows Impervia

Pella Impervia Sliding Windows – These could be nice with an ‘inner-hung’ top-down/bottom-up, cordless window shade.

Blinds

Blinds.com 3/8″ Double Cell Light Filtering – These can be ordered in cordless AND Top-Down/Botttom-Up configuration for a really slick looking window dressing.

Price – 2′ x 4′ = $55 (+$35 for Cordless AND Top-Down/Bottom-Up) = $90 per window

My Experience with Slabtown Customs Tiny Houses

Second Edit: As of March 2016, I have received approximately one email per month since writing this, from new customers of Slabtown who are being screwed just like I was. Although it has been four years since I wrote this, these shady business practices are very obviously still going on.

Edit: Slabtown Customs is now known as Stewart’s Lumber Wood Product

On Tuesday, 1 May 2012, I headed gleefully up to the UPS store.  I had gone to USAA earlier that day to get a cashier’s check for $7,300, and I was ready to mail it.  That magic time had finally come – Jessica and I were ordering our tiny house!

I paid something ridiculous like $28 to send the check to Slabtown Customs in Arkansas, when I could have mailed it USPS Priority for $5.  But hey, this was the 50% deposit for our tiny house!  I needed to do anything and everything necessary to get that check to the builder ASAP so our house would be built!

Before I mailed that check

Jessica and I had a couple discussions with the owner of Slabtown Customs – Scott Stewart – before we mailed off the $7,300 deposit check.  We had seen his videos on YouTube, walk-throughs of houses he built.  They looked fantastic, and the customers seemed to be happy with what they got.

We made a few basic decisions about the floorplan, but we hadn’t decided on anything big, like the exterior siding, the roof, etc.  Scott was very good with talking me through the different options to make an educated decision.  Very communicative.

After I mailed that check

I came home from the UPS store beaming, saying to Jessica, “We did it!  We took the first step toward living in a tiny house!”  We were plenty excited, but we were even more excited to hear from Scott after receiving our check.

3.5 weeks went by, and we had still heard nothing from Scott.  He became completely unresponsive.  It didn’t help matters that just days after Jessica blogged about sealing the deal, she got multiple emails from different people with unpleasant stories of working with Slabtown Customs.  I said to Jessica, “We can’t believe everything we hear on the net; let’s just wait and see, yeah?”

We waited, but we got no message saying, “Thanks for the check!” or, “I got your check, and work will begin on X date.”

Words from others

Jessica was hearing from others that Scott was as much as 1 year late on delivery of their houses.  One woman claimed to have asked for her money back, and a year after their house’s due date, she still hadn’t received it all.  We also found this forum thread.

I don’t claim to know if any of the stories we heard were true, but they certainly made us much more uncomfortable when the next ‘event’ happened.

Proof?

I called Scott to ask him if he had received the $7,300 check and what the status of the house was.  Without answering those questions, he told me how his mother was in the hospital, and he was dedicating all of his energy to taking care of her.

Cool.  I don’t really care, but good for him!  (This couldn’t have been one of the unsolicited excuses others mentioned, could it?)  He then said the he just had the ‘structure’ of our Tiny House done.  Naturally, I asked for pictures of the progress, since I didn’t feel like flying to Arkansas to look at it.  Scott told me there was really nothing to see, to which I asked, “What about the ‘structure’ you just mentioned?  Can you photograph that?”

He said he would by Monday (It was Saturday), and I went along my merry way.  When Wednesday rolled around, and I still hadn’t received any photos, I got worried.  I called him to ask what the hold-up was.

This time, he told me his father was terminal and in the hospital.  I wished him and his father well, and he said he would get the photos to me the next day.  (He later told me his father ‘got better’.  Divine Intervention!)

The Slabtown Customs Runaround

When I gave Scott a full week to send photos and received none, Jessica and I decided it was time to call off this charade.  I emailed Scott to let him know that I wanted to amicably end our professional relationship and be refunded our deposit.

Keep in mind, this was on June 1 – a month after submitting a $7,300 payment.

The only reason I wanted to cancel this deal was that Scott offered up to me that he had accomplished work on the house, yet he refused to send photographic proof of this work.  Scott kept saying that he needed to “find someone else to transfer our build to”, but he never even proved there was a build to begin with.

TL;DR – The middle, sucky part

I spent from 1 June 2012 – 1 August 2012 trying to get my money back.  Scott had a whole slew of excuses ready for me.  I had to involve the Better Business Bureau and the Arkansas State Attorney General (AG) to get real results.  The Arkansas AG was my real savior, though.

Each time I sent an email to Scott stating, “You still haven’t sent photos, so I have no proof you’ve even purchased any materials,” he would respond with, “If you want photos, I’ll send them.”  He never did.

I then put together a 17-page, bulletproof document, I don’t know what the AG investigator did, but he worked his magic, and convinced Scott to refund us our deposit.

Lessons Learned

I don’t trust anyone anymore.  Well, it’s not that bad, but pretty close.  As soon as anyone – whom I’m paying for a job – starts to make me think they don’t have my best interests at heart, I fire them.  Whether that means firing Home Depot or firing Bob’s Insulation Service (there’s no way I’d ever use a service with such a name), I don’t put up with less than stellar business any more.  I just don’t have to.

My personal advice is to not do business with Slabtown Customs.  They have absolutely put out some products that made happy customers in the past, but that’s not the case presently.

I told Scott at the beginning of our communication that my main goal was to get this house built as quickly as possible.  I didn’t mind that there were internet rumors of his failure to deliver, as long as he didn’t waste my time.  He wasted exactly three months of my time, and I’m now building our tiny house by myself.

Aside

If anyone would like to see the 17-page document I put together in my defense (to get my deposit back), shoot me an email and I’ll give you the download link.  If you are personally having issues with Slabtown Customs or Scott as a builder, I’d highly suggest you contact the Arkansas State Attorney General.

Tiny House Update – Insulation

Owens Corning Foamular Insulation

I know, I know – it’s been forever since you’ve heard anything about our Tiny House.  Not to fear, internet, for I come bearing news.

Insulation has been purchased.

That’s right, I ordered the insulation, and it should be in town within a week or two (via Home Depot).  We are finally winding down from the initial Tiny House situation we started with on this journey.  Don’t worry, when I am 100% sure it’s completely over, you’ll be getting the full scoop on it.

The minimum order for a pallet of the insulation is 64 sheets, and based on rough calculation, I think that’ll be almost exactly what we need for the whole house.  It’s a bit of a relief to think that we don’t have to worry about insulation again after this gets delivered!

Next Steps

The next thing I’ll be doing is permanently attaching the floor joists to the trailer frame.  I would explain how I’m going to do this, but I’d rather just take pictures/videos, so that’s what I’ll do.  I’m going to attach the floor joists in about 16 different locations to the frame, so it should be unbelievably solid.

Have I mentioned that our trailer has 2 7k lb axles?  BOSS.