Posts Tagged With: tiny house on wheels

Bathroom Sink

I was in need of a compact bathroom sink that did not exist. The only one that came close was a tiny IKEA design, but it only came in one color — white porcelain. This is not what I was looking for.


Face frame and sides

Since my Dad is an expert woodworker, and always up to a new challenge, I talked him into helping me build a black walnut vanity.   The design measures 18″ tall, 19″ wide, 10″ deep with a 6″ deep sink. Just large enough to wash hands, shave over, or brush teeth.


Initial clamp up


Sink basin is added

Below the sink is a small amount of storage area.


Taped off for multiple coats of epoxy


Epoxied, oiled and drain installed

The inside of the sink basin is also epoxied to remain waterproof while the rest of the outside is oiled.


Look at that curly walnut!

Now that the shower panels are installed I can mount the bathroom sink.


Vanity mounted in place


A beautiful addition to the bathroom

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Shower & Soaking Tub

When designing the shower for Arborion I knew I wanted a tub for multiple reasons. The first was to be able to soak in a bath. The Japanese often make use of small soaking tubs such as this. I also wanted a backup to washing clothes at a laundry mat. This tub would provide that utility if needed. A tub also provides more assurance that the water from a shower leaves through the drain instead of being held back by the low lip of a shower pan.


Tub parts stained and drying in the sun

The tub is constructed from marine grade fir plywood and maple. These pieces were stained dark on the faces that would be seen. The bottom of the tub was built up with an additional layer of maple and shaped by sanding a gradual slope to the drain location.


Tub assembled


Tub epoxied with several coats to keep it watertight


Tub installed with drain


Marine grade plywood wall substrate


Applying the Max-metal to shower wall surfaces starting with the ceiling

It took me months to locate a suitable material for the waterproof surface in the shower. Although, just about the time I was ready for the material I found a local supplier.

I did not have confidence in thin plastic liners or tile so I went a different route. This material goes by Dibond or Max-metal. It is two layers of aluminum with a core of poly ethylene. It can be cut easily enough so using it in a custom sized shower was not a problem. It is waterproof and will not corrode. It is also lightweight and durable.


Max-metal aluminum panels glued to plywood substrate

I chose a brushed aluminum surface which looks great in such a small space. Now all that is left is to use silicone in the corners and install the shower head and faucet.


All that is missing now is a bit of walnut trim

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Propane & Water Hookup

This step of the build has been a long time coming. I saw it as the last big unknowns. With all the new disciplines I had to learn to construct Arborion, I felt completing the water and propane hookups were the final hurdles to overcome.

Piping water and propane into a wooden tiny house is serious business. I wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing to the final detail before tackling this myself. The last thing I wanted was to flood Arborion or burn it to the ground.

Several tips I’ll offer to anyone attempting this for the first time.

  • Take your time to learn all you can
  • Make sure you feel confident in your knowledge before proceeding
  • Ask questions of other professionals
  • Invest in the best systems, piping and fittings you can afford
  • Continuous pipe runs are better than multiple fitting (especially within the wall or floor where you can not access it easily)
  • Don’t give up in the face of setbacks

I used HomeFlex piping for the propane and Uponor ProPEX (compression fittings) for all water lines. There are no fitting inside the walls with the exception of the shower. This means a separate run for each hot and cold water lines (total of 6 lines) and propane lines (total of 2 lines).

Previous Related Post: Learning Curves and Flexible Pipes


Running hot and cold water


Propane cook top


Functioning kitchen

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Kitchen Counter Tops

These kitchen cabinets have been in need of beautiful black walnut countertops for some time now. Here’s how my Dad and I made that happen.


Kitchen cabinets ready for countertops

It all starts with careful measurements and a cardboard template. The gas range and sink are located along with faucet and knobs.

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Cardboard template for the countertop

We used a generous amount of marine grade epoxy and clamped up the strips of walnut to cure.


Strips of walnut are epoxied and clamped together

The countertop for the pantry cabinet is also complete. Now it’s time to transfer the final dimensions using the templates.


Template used to mark out the countertops

Using a router and straightedge, the edges of the countertops are trimmed.


Trimming with a router and guide

Marine grade epoxy is applied in coats on both sides to seal out moisture.


Countertop sealed with epoxy

The epoxy is sanded down to a satin finish. Drop in cutting board will cover the sink and add more counter space.


Countertop with drop in cutting board

The finished counter tops fit nicely. I oiled with with several coats of bee’s wax and linseed oil until the walnut looked beautiful.


Countertops in place and oiled

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I’ve got the POWER!

The days of running an extension cord out of the main house in order to power Arborion are over. Its wonderful to be able to run the air conditioner with the turn of a knob or turn on the lights at the press of a switch.

The tiny house is supplied power through an RV style 30 amp receiver located under the utility annex. I installed a RV receptacle nearby fed from the main house and connected the two with hardy 10 gauge extension cable.


30 amp twist lock receiver

The circuit panel was a challenge to get into position with all the wires feeding from different angles. In the end, it just took a large measure of patience and sweat. Mostly patience.


Tight fit!


All tidy and buttoned up

Arborion feels ‘alive’ now that it has that warm glow.


Looking mighty cozy

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Mysterious Leak

Last Wednesday I drove home from work during a fierce thunder storm. I was wondering how Arborion was doing since I had left the windows open on either end to allow for a little airflow while I was gone for the day. These particular windows are below a one foot overhang so they are fairly protected from the weather, except when it is windy. I was nervous because this storm was gusting heavily from the south as it plowed through.

I arrived home safely glad to be out of the traffic and dashed from my big house through the rain and standing water to the cozy tiny house and jumped inside trying to let as little water in as I could. I was pretty wet at this point, but there was cardboard on the floor to catch the drips.

I checked the interior and closed the windows. And that’s when I saw water all over the window casing beside the door. It appeared that it was the result of the rain being blown in through the previously open window, but I caught sight of a trickle of water from the top of the window frame. I opened the door and stood on the front landing and checked outside on top of the window, but that was well protected under the foot overhang directly above.

I jumped back inside, shut the door, and calmed myself. I tried to think about this as clearly as I could. I figured the water was making it’s way through the siding, then the storm guard, the plywood sheathing, and the waterproof closed cell spray foam insulation in order to find it’s way to the top of the window frame.

At this time the wind shifted and the rain came in from the north. I noticed that water was beginning to seep past one end of the threshold under the door. The rain was now blowing directly at the porch landing and front door. I grabbed a towel and mopped it up and  left it along the length of the threshold to hold back water. Then turned my attention back to the window frame leak.

The leak was much slower now. Barely a drip. This was a clue that the leak was on the south side of something as it all but stopped once the wind shifted. I then saw that the interior maple wall was dark along a seam directly above the window. I marked it with painter’s tape and followed the ‘line’ vertically up until I saw that it lined up with the south side of the awning window up in the storage loft. That was the moment when I knew I had it right. Rain must be getting in around the awning window in the loft.

I had never noticed this issue in the past even during many days of rain, but this was no ordinary storm. This was a wind driven thunder storm coming from just the right angle. Once I got over the shock, I was glad to have been there to witness the leak and identify the problem before it got any worse. I also recognize that if the weather had not been as fierce, or if I had not gone out into Arborion at that time then I may not have found this leak and it may have resulted in a bigger problem down the road.

The next day I carefully removed the window and added a generous dose of caulking to the window frame. I also recaulked around the threshold. Withing twenty-four hours I experienced another serious rain storm and I’m happy to report that it appears the window and threshold are both properly sealed. No more leaks.

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Loft Storage

Much has happened since my last post. We have been busy finalizing designs and building the cabinets for Arborion. The first of these cabinets were ‘foot lockers’ for loft storage. I call them foot lockers because they are one foot high by one foot deep and used for storage. They also create a nice shelf just below the gable windows.

Foot locker frame and pieces

They are constructed from solid maple stock for the face frames and cleats, along with 1/2″ maple plywood. There is also a 1/2″ walnut plywood top on each.

Assembled and clamped up

There is a center partition for reinforcement which compliment a pair of bi-pass sliding doors.

Ready to transport and install

Storage loft locker

Sleeping loft locker


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Hardwood Flooring

I was so certain I was going to use bamboo flooring in the tiny house. That was until I researched the color and texture options in conjunction with the weight of the better brands. Of the bamboo choices I had access to, the better constructed ones were too heavy to use throughout Arborion. It was going to be over 800 pounds to cover the subfloor and the lofts. Plus the colors and textures were not exactly what Carrie and I were envisioning.


Flooring ready to install

We did however, find the perfect flooring at Lumber Liquidators. It was the right dark color to tie in the bronze window frames and outlets. It was the right hand-scraped texture to feel worn in. It also was constructed from red oak and poplar plywood which gives a hard surface with a light weight and very stable core. And finally this beautiful flooring was on sale.


First couple of courses to set us straight


Flooring is looking good


Lofts get fancy flooring as well.


Sleeping loft decked out with flooring

It took about 2-1/2 days to install. Much of that time was dialing in the finish nailer to give of the best results. The process went smoothly and was a lot of fun picking out which floor boards go where.


Scout approves

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Weathering the Storm

As Hurricane Matthew moved northward up the eastern coast of Florida, we prepared for the storm. Forecasts predicted a category 4 with sustained winds in excess of 100 mph. After securing the main house with storm shutters my Dad helped me to strap down Arborion.

As tough as this tiny house is built I did not want to take any chances. We removed the AC unit from the dormer window so it could be shut up tight.


AC unit removed form dormer window

Next we used earth anchors at each corner of the trailer and attached them to the trailer frame with steel cord and saddle clamps.


Earth anchors


Securely attached to the trailer frame


Steel cord and double saddle clamps

And finally I let out some of the air from the tires to keep the trailer from “bouncing” in the wind. This placed more of the weight on the jack stands.

Arborion withstood the hurricane force winds without damage and for that I am very grateful.

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