Get comfortable but not TOO comfortable with your tools and work surroundings. When a project requires repeated cuts for identical parts – making the same cut 20 times, one’s mind can wander to that “date night”, lunch, a recent conversation, or that beer after work.
Never walk away from a tool while it is running and always wait for the blade to come to a complete stop before reaching for cut-offs near the blade. And never stand in line with the blade as when making rip cuts at the table saw; if the board kicks back, it is coming straight at you. Also, never place your pushing hand in direct line with the cutting motion, regardless of the tool.
Tug the plug!
When not in use or during blade changes, unplug the tool, or if the tool has a safety tab – remove it from the on/off switch. This prevents you and shop visitors (young and old) from accidentally turning on a tool.
The same principle applies to pneumatic tools; when adding fasteners to a nailer always disconnect the air hose first. And always, always keep your hand away from the area to be nailed by at least 24”. I have had a gun slip which fired a nail into my hand when I was in a hurry and not focused. The head of the nail was in the web between the thumb and fingers with the point coming out the other side of the palm. Luckily, I did not hit any bone and the Dr was able to clamp on a vise grip and pull it out in ER.
And finally, when working even a moderate height, pay attention to where you are standing and what you are standing on. Make doubly sure that you are safe. I was standing on a 2×12 x 8’ and thought to myself after looking at the surroundings, I would be safe.
I failed to notice the spike knot in the center of the board and seconds later was on the ground with a severely dislocated and shattered ankle. After a ride to the ER and surgery, and about 3 months of recovery, I was able to walk again. Although the steel plates holding the ankle together made it less able to respond to terrain changes.
Stay alert – Stay unhurt!
I really like the idea of using welded steel framing for a tiny house on wheels but have some concerns. How durable is the house after being moved a time or two? Attaching sheathing (interior / exterior) will be done via something like screws – how secure are those screws after the house has been moved a few times? (If i put a screw into wood then the length of the screw has contact with the wood. If i put a screw into a metal stud then only a short section of the screw has contact and that contact will work loose with movement of the structure).
One of the main differences in wood vs steel is that steel is not subject to the drying out or swelling to moisture conditions. This drying and swelling is what allows a wood screw to loosen up and back its way out of walls, hinges, and other connections. Even a screw of 2″ that is fully imbedded in a wood stud will loosen up just from being still on a foundation.
To solve this issue, some builders use a pneumatic gun with barbed nails in an attempt to lock the fastener and sheathing to the framing. In tests, the screw appears to have more holding power considering shear and double sided pullout.
In wood a #8 screw has 90lbs of shear and 168lbs of pullout.
However in steel framing a #8 screw has 103 lbs of shear and 204 lbs of two sided pullout.
In framing we use the self tapping course thread screw as all joints and connections are welded, which tends to often weld the screw in place also. Our supplier was concerned that while the screw would hold up for vibration and strength in a steel frame, he felt better when we suggested welding all joints also.
In the finishing we use a smaller self tapping screw that is fine threaded because the fine thread holds tighter with very little loosening up. We also use the impact screw gun to drive the screws in wood finish products deeper and that also increases the “hold” power of the screw. The screws also have a higher rating of hardness to minimize twisting the head and shaft apart. Fine threads in screws will hold any material to a steel 16 gauge steel stud or stronger. And steel being an inert material has stable properties and does not shrink of expand from moisture or humidity like wood
Do the screws loosen up over time from vibration. We have not encountered this in our experience even with our 1st tiny house that built 6 years ago travels between Minnesota and Texas twice a year without this happening.
Thanks for the question
Ravenlore Tiny House Sketchup Images
Good plans and details create a good experience in tiny house building. Some builders say they can build from a standard sketchup rendering/picture. While we can also, we find it easier and less costly to resolve issues on paper than in production.
With Sketchup Pro, we can turn off and on different layers to see how everything is coming together. This particular plan we can turn off the wall and paneling sheathings to “work or adjust” the framing details. The last picture of the loft, we simply turned off the shingles, roof deck, rafter, and paneling at loft to show a picture of loft area. Sketchup Pro also allows us to slice the plan for different views and with the lastest app just released we can also set up the pesky details for architectural required drawings with an easy peasy click.
Some of the products going into Nicki’s Ravenlore Tiny House;
3D Printed Architectural scale model
This model of a tiny cabin was modeled in SketchUp by Marcus of www.denali3ddesign.com and 3D printed in Full Color Sandstone via Shapeways. Original cabin concept by Tiny Green Cabins.
Marcus has also been tutoring us to speed up our learning curve.
When we build a tiny house, we will be printing a miniature model for each owner to have.
To see the full story of this tiny model click here
Marcus is also writing a book about Sketchup Pro and 3D printing where this tiny wee house will be part of the it.
The next model we will be printing will be the Ravenlore.
And after the Ravenlore is done, we will be printing out the Sunkist Tiny House
One of the first pieces of advice I received when starting Tiny Green Cabins was from Jay Shafer. Jay said “keep it simple” when asked about designing and building tiny houses.
When I was 10 years old, to earn some extra money, I grew crops for the small grocery stores in Marinette, Wisconsin. One was called “Sunkists” and was on Main Street just down from city hall and across from Wards Department Store. The police department was right next door to Wards. Sunkist wanted his peas early so they would bring in customers from other stores in the area to shop at his instead.
After some discussions, I planned out how to make that happen; they would have to be planted the last week of March. The snow was generally melted by then and the top 5” of soil was tillable. The last week of March, I tilled and planted the seeds. The earlier peas should fetch a better price from the stores as they would stock early and sell quickly. One year, I planted March 22 and we had a 2” snow fall that night. Those peas made it to the stores the last week of June. Today, I would be shoveling snow and using ice picks to loosen the frozen ground to get them in. Times are changing…
Thus, I have learned from those experiences that we have to do what has to be done to achieve our end goal. I have seen each spring, a list of new businesses or people that are trying to sell tiny houses and they seem to be following Jay Shafers’ strategy, “keep it simple!”
As a friend of mine says,
They are the difference between…
and ho-hum average.”
We have chosen NOT to keep it simple and chosen a different path. We are constantly evolving and changing things up a bit.
We are specialists in building tiny homes for folks with chemical and environmental sensitivities, and the reason we are specialists is because we have built many of them. We’ve LEARNED what works and MOST IMPORTANTLY what does not work in building tiny chemical free tiny houses that are healthy to live in.
IN OUR MIND, when we see a builder using a steel or aluminum panels for a shower surround only to resort to caulking for the joints seems to compromise the chemical free house.
To see a breathable wall system with air infiltration barriers, inside and out, shows lack of experience and knowledge about how to build a breathable wall system.
To have some of reputation comment negatively about steel framing, shows again lack of knowledge or interest of building outside the box or of improved building techniques. Steel studs are stronger, truer, lighter, and healthier than ANY wood product and they are a sustainable product. Insulation, R-value, as a result of “bridging” can be eliminated with sound building practices.
When I was building homes, I specialized in larger homes and Mc-Mansions, because each day and each house was different. One large builder even signed a contract with my employer to lock my crew up for years as a designated specialist for his homes only. The designers and architects were always trying to add pop, sizzle, curb appeal, pizzazz, and new features to their homes. I enjoyed the challenges and enjoy designing and building some of those features into a tiny house. That is what we love to do.
If you want a simple tiny house, there are a lot of tiny house builders out there that will do it simply and cheaply. It seems each spring brings up a crop of new builders and people that build tiny houses than there are flowers spouting and blooming in open meadows.
If what you really want is character, style, pop, sizzle, appeal, consider these examples;
Drop us an email and let’s see what we can create together.
The road less traveled
Over the last few years, we have seen tiny house builder start-ups and seen some of their efforts littered on Craiglist, Tiny House Listings, or listed on blogs about tiny houses, as well as on Facebook pages.
The tiny house movement simply put is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. And this movement has created a lot of cottage businesses related to the tiny house movement. In the movement you find the purist, the DIY person, the back yard mechanic, the wannabe builder, project manager, and the builder; all with their wanting a sense of community, to be around or associated with like-minded folks.
“a person who has very strong ideas about what is correct or acceptable and who usually opposes changes to traditional methods and practices”
The purist is a person that downsizes for many reason of austerity, ecological, simplifying, and often feel that they and others must build the tiny houses themselves for as small an investments as possible. This group searches out the best deals, recycled products, pallets and does all the work for themselves.
“the activity of doing or making something (as in woodworking or home repair) without professional training or assistance; broadly : an activity in which one does something oneself or on one’s own initiative”
The DIY is a person that downsizes for many reasons and often feel that they must build the tiny houses themselves just for the joy of creating and being able to look back and say, “I built that” His costs may also range from $47 to $166 per sqft foot and more. S/he cost will often exceed this range in they will make changes because they want something different and this more costly.
I have noticed that just about anyone that can pick up a hammer thinks of themselves at least as a DIY individual. I developed a lot of my skill sets from the many projects I did over the years; remodeling 3 homes, building 1, and often learning new skills because of the attitude, “I can do that!” So, the following song is one of my favorites, as I started many projects with just a tiny idea and would see it morph into a huge project that was really fun and creative to do. It gave me a sense of pride when done. This tune by Johnny Cash is for all the DIY and Purist tiny house people out there.
Back Yard Mechanic;
A worker who is skilled in the use of tools, machines, equipment, etc.
The back yard mechanic often works outside the rules, carries little to no insurance, offers no guarantees/warranties on workmanship or products. He often works on the project in his spare time, evenings, and weekends and does not carry or maintain a license. He may or may not have training to fulfil the crafts involved and will often “wing it” The risk side is definitely on the buyer and should trigger a “buyer beware” warning.
And one can find some great companies and groups have started a thriving business in their garage; Amazon, Apple, Intel, Disney, Google, Harley Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, Lotus Cars, Maglit are just a few that have made it big.
I added this group as some build tiny houses with marketing, websites, and social media much like a builder, and yet have not made the commitment to take it to the next level. They often are trying to earn a living, put food on the table and are willing and boast about undercutting competition by thousands of dollars. They, of course, turn it around that they can save you thousands of dollars. But more often than not, they are attempting to work at a livable wage standard. They often work with a handshake or verbal agreement.
The PM has the primary responsibility of planning a particular construction job and overseeing its progress along the way. A construction project manager sets up the estimates, the budgets and the construction timetable for the client and develops the construction strategy. He selects the subcontractors and workers, and provides required explanations for the builders and other professionals associated with the project. When delays or problems occur – as they always do – the construction manager is the project’s first responder, ready to make the changes required to move the project past the issue.
In a tiny house, the project manager would represent the client throughout the project, estimate the budgets, set the schedule, retain the craftsman and sub contractors to build the tiny house. Often with a project manager, there is a budget set and a fee for the project management services. Some may refer to this as a cost+ contract or a type of AAIA contractual agreement.
a person or group who builds, especially one who contracts for and supervises the construction or repair of buildings.
They are the professional with often years of training in their craft and related venues. The builder provides a product/building to the consumer with all the associated, known and unknown risks involved, via a written contractual agreement. Our definition of a builder is one the meets the insurance requirements and a sustainable business model.
The insurance premiums impact the costs of a tiny house or any home in direct proportion to gross revenue. The liability package runs 12%, workers comp is 11% of wages paid out, theft insurance and risk insurance. Everything being equal, one could expect to pay 20% to 25% more for a tiny house purchased through the builder than a back yard mechanic and wannabe builder.
But are things really equal? Not really.
The wages are large factor as the lower 4 levels either pay themselves nothing, nada, zippo or often pay themselves a low wage. We recently saw a wannabe say his labor rate is $12 per hour as he links it to liable wage, whereas a reputable builder will often be paying more…. a lot more.
In public policy, a living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic. This is not necessarily the same as subsistence, which refers to a biological minimum, though the two terms are commonly confused. These needs include shelter (housing) and other incidentals such as clothing and nutrition. And yet it is not the wage of someone that has a skill set of tools or knowledge to build a tiny house.
For instance on the average a livable wage;
In California a livable wage is $12.34 for a person of one and for a person with a child it is $25.27. For a construction trades person the average wage is $23.55
In Minnesota a livable wage is $ 9.69 for a person of one and for a person with a child it is $20.64. For a construction trades person the average wage is $23.80
In New york a livable wage is $12.75 for a person of one and for a person with a child it is $24.69. For a construction trades person the average wage is $23.99
In South Carolina a livable wage is $ 8.72 for a person of one and for a person with a child it is $16.98. For a construction trades person the average wage is $15.48
California may be upwards of $40 to $50 an hour, in the Midwest $25 to $40 an hour for craftsman plus labor burden. This labor burden number is often 50% to 150% higher than the gross hourly wage. As costs are often used as the basis for pricing services or products, this is why it is so critical to obtain an in-depth understanding of the true cost of an employee.
The builder also tries to price with a net profit of 2% to 5%, this profit is often what the builder uses as seed money for developing new products and expansion.
You will notice net is highlighted and underlined. It is not the gross profit as gross profit has all the cost associated with the project and running the business.
We have seen companies fail mostly for not understanding the costs of labor burden as well as not understanding what their overhead really entails.
“In business, overhead or overhead expense refers to an ongoing expense of operating a business; it is also known as an “operating expense”. Examples include rent, gas, electricity, and labor burden. The term overhead is usually used when grouping expenses that are necessary to the continued functioning of the business but cannot be immediately associated with the products or services being offered (i.e., do not directly generate profits). Closely related accounting concepts are fixed costs and variable costs as well as indirect costs and direct costs.
Overhead expenses are all costs on the income statement except for direct labor, direct materials, and direct expenses. Overhead expenses include accounting fees, advertising, insurance, interest, legal fees, labor burden, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel expenditures, and utilities.”
A reader commented recently; “Seems some companies are out to get rich off a concept that is based on a way of living with minimum (even minimum money). “
This reader is obviously making a comparison that a purist = DIY = a builder. They are also missing the fact that a livable wage in New York is 46% higher than South Carolina. We are getting used to getting “slammed” by others about our pricing structure or taking advantage of others. Seems it is one of the road hazards we have encountered from time to time along this road less frequently traveled. Our opinion remains the same, we provide a quality built tiny house fairly priced.
There are associated risks at each level for buying from the purist through the builder levels and most of the risks involve consumer being at risk. And this is by far the biggest difference in the levels, as the builder takes on the majority of risks to protect and provide a product promised to the consumer, while the lower levels often is a trade-off for savings vs. risk.
And within all of these communities, you will find subcultures and sub-communities….and each with their own set of values and rules that are acceptable to them.
JoAnn, a friend of mine, made this comment,
“Last night I caught the movie about the founding of FB and thought how many different sets of rules there are. One of the benefits of a small community was that you knew what the rules are/were. Those who went to a much larger community and the various schools all had many sets of rules. No big revelation, but something that I’d not thought of so much previously. Multiply that times worldwide communities and it might be overwhelming if we were given that all at one time”
Given that, in the tiny house movement, there are many smaller communities and all feel that their rules should be the ones used as the “model” of the movement.
But in truth, it seems unfair to compare a purist against a backyard mechanic or a wannabe builder against a builder. The tiny house movement is about people downsizing and desiring to be more conscious of their lifestyle and expenses. There are many roads to achieve their goals and some would rather buy a turnkey unit rather and use their time for other things rather try to build one. And some take great pride in knowing they did it themselves, by their self, and they should be proud of their accomplishment.
A typical tiny house, if there is such a thing, is about 120 sqft and Tumbleweed Homes website notes that the typical material costs would be around 20K. Some take great pride in material costs being 5-10k or less. And they should feel proud for accomplishing this feat as it is not an easy task and involves a lot of time to find those “deals.”
The purist per square foot cost could start at $40 per square foot while the builder turnkey price would range from $205 to $ 485 per square foot for a turnkey tiny house. Using Tumbleweeds figures this could range from $47 to $166 per square foot for material alone.
RVs can start at $100 per square foot and I have seen custom ones (Spacecraft RV) top out at over $478 per square foot. We built a custom RV that came in around $500 per square foot as it had a lot of backup systems and stainless steel water tanks meant to take the RV off the grid for extended periods of time.
Tiny Houses turnkey built by a manufacturer can start at $200 per square foot and run up to $500 per square foot.
Larger custom built turnkey fish houses seem to range from $209 to $350 per square foot.
The chart below consists of numbers for different scenarios for tiny houses and RV’s. The 1st 3 are examples of DIY material only and should give those something to think on for a tiny house material costs. Minimotives and Tiny r(E)volution numbers are spot on as they kept accurate records and do not contain labor. The numbers should provide you a basis to benchmark what material costs are possible.
All the numbers are based on websites published information and unknown specifications. Do your research diligently folks.
Special thanks to Macy Miller from Minimotives and Drew Odom from Tiny r(E)volution for the DIY number examples
We can live as the early humans did or we can live in a quality built turnkey tiny house. The choice is yours and yours alone. What’s your choice?
If you desire more information on purchasing a tiny house that is priced fairly and by YOUR specifications, please drop Jim an email at email@example.com
A new tiny house design from Tiny Green Cabins. This tiny house would be perfect for a back yard cottage to be used as a guest cottage, artist studio, hobby room or play room for the kiddos. It is 8′ x 16′ with a ceiling height at the main floor of 7′.
A Readers asks; “How do you make your sawhorses?”
You can make a pair from five 2 x 4 x8 cut into six 32-in. lengths and eight 26-1/4-in. lengths. Screw the 32-in. pieces into I-beam shapes and attach the legs to the I-beams with 3-in. screws. These screws, along with the upper edge of the I-beam, stabilize the legs. And when you need another workbench, just screw a piece of plywood on the sawhorses and you’ll have a stable table. By screwing the pieces together, it becomes easy to change the part, especially the top I beam member.
Another readers asks; ” What is your pricing on slide-outs?”
An 11 ft by 34 ½” slide-out adds about 350 pounds of weight to a tiny house for each slide-out. A 6-10 ft. module costs approximately $7,900. A 10-13 ft module would be around $9,850, and a unit over 13 feet would be approximately $1,000 per lineal foot. In this picture, there are 2 slide-outs, the master bedroom would cost about $ 7, 900 while the living room/dinette slide-out would cost about $9,850.00. This does not include a roll out canopy over the slide-out.
You just bought a tiny, green cabin.
It sounds like the first line in a children’s book, but it’s actually a lesser- known, higher-tech housing option.
Essentially, it is a very small house built on wheels.
It’s road-worthy. It’s a trailer. It’s a RV.
But it looks like a house, feels like a house and has all the amenities of a house, from a full-size sink and shower to a washer and dryer.
It’s built like a house and will last a lifetime, unlike those RV’s!
It has an incinerating toilet which burns waste into dry, sterile ash.
I will never have to pack a U-haul again to move!
It’s built like a fortress!