How to Build in Winter (brrr)

JC: Shhhh. Don’t tell JM, but I think I might get him a Dickie’s winter suit for the giving holiday that’s coming up. Usually, he is quite disciplined about getting up on winter mornings to work on the tiny home, but on the colder days, I catch him still in bed, under the duvet, trembling at the thought of freezing in that unheated work space. Looking slick and warm in a Dickie suit just might appeal to him.

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There’s lots of advice out there that says you shouldn’t build in winter. The sun goes down earlier, cutting into precious work time. It’s hard to move with so many layers of clothes. Ice can build up or contract wood. You can’t pour concrete. The cold can adversely affect your materials. JM described the struggle with just that issue in our post on insulation,  – making sure the temperature was right for the spray foam insulation to “cure.” In cold  weather, that spray foam would not have dried properly.

But there are some things a tiny house builder can work on in the cold. Wrapping the entrance wall, for example. JM has finished the hard foam insulation of that entrance wall, and now’s the time to wrap our Tiny House o’Steel like a giant holiday gift. We’re going to use Tiger Paw, a sturdy yet breathable roofing wrap we think will be durable on the road.

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After that comes the cedar siding (at least I think we’ve decided on CEDAR. See our post about that here.) Then, of course, comes the interior – and once he starts work on the inside, he can do it in any weather, protected from the cold.

All I want is for him to get to the fun guts of the project, so we can start the job of designing the puzzle of how everything fits together.

JM: Well, I guess I know what I’m getting for this year’s Chrismukkah! I’ll admit it hasn’t been easy the past few days with single digit temps in the morning, although what Julie is mistaking for my trembling under the duvet, is actually the shudder of excitement at the thought of nailing the cedar panels to the furring strips (yes, I think we’ve decided on cedar.) So, while I’m waiting for my quilted Carhartt onesie, I’m making Sketchup models like this one to figure out how much lumber I’m actually going to need and how to distribute those furring strips.

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Sketchup model of furring strips/nailers for cedar siding

Because the plan is to install the cedar siding vertically (I like the way it looks and it’ll be easier to install in the arch), the furring strips need to run diagonally (12″ O.C.) to drain whatever moisture might build up behind the  tongue & groove panels. This, and the “air space” behind the panels is recommended by Real Cedar, some of the people who actually make the stuff. I also learned this from Laura Klement’s awesome tiny house project. Without it, the cedar risks warping as the exterior face ends up drying faster than the interior.

So, in hopefully soon-to-come milder temps (low 40s!!), you can look forward to future posts featuring me in my snazzy new coveralls nailing down some cedar siding. For me, that’ll be the best gift of all!

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