Fast forward progress…

Casa Chica is actually much farther along than what my previous post hinted at, and I can think of no reason to not get caught up lickety split to the present day, so here goes…

We have walls! Four of them. And they’re beautiful. My builder, Mike, is an absolute professional and his favorite part of construction is the framing. As I mentioned previously we’re using 6″ lumber to give plenty of room for insulation. After framing up the walls and nailing them into the floor as in a house on a foundation, we decided to go further with the attachment of walls to deck by using metal ties at several points around the house. I’ve heard tell of other tiny housers doing something similar to help counteract the hurricane force winds when the house is moving down the road. Sounded like it wouldn’t hurt.

I will have two storage lofts – one over the entire bedroom area for storage of seasonal clothes, camping gear, etc., and a smaller one over the bathroom for the fresh water tank and water pump primarily. The loft decks are 2×4 framing. Mike also added a couple of 2×4 rafter ties in the “cathedral” ceiling area in the middle of the house, since the lofts are at both ends and there’s really nothing keeping the walls from spreading in the center.

In an effort to save weight we’re using 3/8-inch exterior plywood as both the exterior wall sheathing and the exterior “finish” – read: no siding. We picked a plywood with a lovely grain to it, and we’re going to do some sort of faux board-and-batten look. Since that’s it for the exterior wall, the house wrap layer went between the framing and the plywood. Vapor barrier was another big research project in the Great Condensation Debate – is tar paper or plastic enough? Should we go with a breathable Tyvek-type wrap? Or do we absolutely need to have a new-fangled “smart” material that blocks moisture when humidity is low and increases permeability when humidity is high? I was surprised by how much variation in opinion there was out there – everything from “vapor barriers don’t work and are a waste of time and money” to “you will regret not spending your whole paycheck on the best thing out there.” In the end I went the middle route with Kimberly Clark BLOCK-IT, mostly because that’s what my local mega hardware store sold (vs. Tyvek). They also had CertainTeed’s MemBrain, the “smart” material, but it was quite expensive and we decided that without overwhelming evidence that it was the absolute way to go it probably wasn’t worth the extra cash.

I got many of my windows and my front door from a fantastic surplus store just down the way a bit and their sister store about an hour away, all in new condition with stickers still stuck. I had to order my bedroom awning windows and the back door new, alas, but in total I probably paid 25% of what I would have had I bought everything new. The surplus stuff doesn’t exactly match in the trim department, either color-wise or material-wise, but a bit of paint should make no one the wiser. All of the doors and windows got installed after the exterior plywood was put on. Now it’s looking like a house!

Since my insulation of choice (see the previous post) doesn’t have a facing that can be stapled to the rafters to keep it in, Mike decided to put up the ceiling before the roof so he could lay the insulation in from the top. The ceiling and walls are 3/8″ interior grade plywood that we will finish as is.

Next, electrical wiring! Weeks and weeks were spent deciding on placement of outlets and switches, and especially on lighting. I think I’ll talk about the lighting decisions in another post. Suffice it to say here that we made enough of the decisions for Mike to be able to wire. Nothing too exciting there – we got our supplies from the local semi-mega hardware store. My dad had a box of Cutler Hammer circuit breakers, so that was the brand of breaker box we chose.

And to (finally) arrive at the current state of affairs – the walls and ceiling have been insulated now that the wiring is in, and the roof sheathing is on. Next: install the metal roof, finish the plumbing and put up the interior walls!

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