16 February 2017

How to Plumb a Tiny House

Plumbing can be a daunting proposition if you have never tried it before but like most things a bit of research and learning and anyone can do it. We have put together a how to video detailing the process which was involved for our tiny house. To simplify the concept think about it like this, liquid goes in one end and comes out the other without leaking. Of course there is a bit more to it but that is the basic concept.

In the following videos we explain:

  • What plumbing system we are using and why
  • What the different fittings do and and how to use them.
  • Show the use of the Dux plumbing system
  • Where to source your plumbing supplies from
  • How to use pipe crimpers
  • Working out pipe diameter
  • How to cut pipe with pipe cutters
  • How to reuse copper pipe fittings
  • Best way to route pipe
  • Securing fittings
  • How to install an isolating tap for your tiny house
  • How to use thread tape
  • Leak and pressure testing

We would like to thank Plumbing World Napier for their support and knowledge throughout the build.

Image result for plumbing world logoImage result for dux logo

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28 October 2016

How to Replace Glass Pane Timber Window

Broken a window? Don't worry this video will see you right. In this video we show you how to replace a glass pane in a timber window.

In this case we have very hard putty (glazing compound) left from the old pane of glass. We used a heat gun to soften the existing glazing compound. A chisel is used to scrape the glazing compound making way for the new pane. Glazing points were removed and reused. We used a water based paint primer to seal the window frame.

Heat gun used to soften existing putty on this timber window

Chisel used to clean up old glazing compound from this wooden window 

The video also talks about using oil based paint and linseed oil for sealing. We run through four techniques to apply the glazing compound and comment on each. Hope this video can help you guys with a broken pane or new install.

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26 September 2016

Taupo Couple Build and Live in 3 Meter Wide Tiny House

A Taupo couple designed and built their our tiny house where they have lived for a year. Now its time to move on so the house is for sale on Trademe. We were drawn to this 7m x 3.1m house with its open plan living and spacious feeling.

Holly and Oli were inspired to build the house after browsing through YouTube and watching a channel called Living Big In A Tiny House. They took approximately one year to build and have been living in the house for about a year. They really enjoy living in this beautiful space but now its time to move on hence the reason for selling.

The mini abode is open plan, containing a small kitchen, bathroom, living room, and loft-style bedroom. It has both a staircase and a climbing wall up to the lofts, cupboards with room for a washing machine, insulation and double glazing. They have manged to keep the house compact but somewhat similar to a traditional house with things like full size appliances and a dining table. Unlike most Tiny Homes, this sleeping loft even allows the couple to stand up!

They have taken a different approach by building 3.1 meters wide. The thought behind this is to gain extra width which makes a big difference to the space. The house is designed to be towed by a tow truck or similar by a professional. Apart from the extra cost involved all the house needs to be transported in NZ is wide load flags which is made possible using the reg'ed and warranted trailer the house sits on. The intent is the house is moved infrequently.

Bet the new owners will be stoked with this one.
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31 August 2016

How to Replace Single Glazing with Double Glazing in a Door or Window

The following post and video explains how to retro fit double glazing into a timber framed, single glazed window or door. So before we crack into it why would you want to do this? Double glazing has the following benefits:
  • Can halve heat loss through windows and doors
  • Significantly improve thermal comfort of your home
  • Reduce external noise
  • Reduce or remove condensation build up in cold weather.

For our tiny house we have chosen to double glaze all windows and doors for the reasons above. All the tiny house timber windows and doors have been sourced second hand.

A door or window can be converted to double glazing either before or after the frame has been installed in your house, the first option is easier and faster. The video below shows an example of how to do this, it took us four full days to complete one colonial style door. In NZ double glazing can be sourced from your local glass shop who will generally use either Metro or Viridian.

Without going into great written detail we will let the video of the process explain how to do it:

We will show you how to:

  1. Remove existing window or door
  2. Remove existing glass 
  3. Measure and size for new double glazing unit or Insulating glass unit (IGU)
  4. How to calculate the thickness of your IGU
  5. How to recess the windows and door to fit the new IGU
  6. How to rebuild a colonial window or door
  7. Sourcing IGUs
  8. Talk about argon filled and low e IGUs
  9. How to install IGU using the drained method. 
  10. Explain the purpose and placement of window/door drainage holes
  11. Prime the frame before installing double glazing
  12. Make and install wooden beads
  13. How to use butyl sealing tape to seal and protect from moisture 
  14. How to make and install packers to support double glazing unit
Like anything with all the information its not a hard job and very rewarding. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. Happy building! 
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08 June 2016

Tiny House Bed that Lifts Away with a Touch of a Button

We love great design - we think these guys over the ditch have it going on big time. Want to see a bed that lifts into the unused roof space at the touch of a button? Or a deck that can be assembled in two hours that almost doubles the size of the house? Check out this blog post for details....

This 18 square meter tiny house was built by a team of young Australians and is designed for a sub topical climate near Brisbane. After building this house as a prototype, the couple have created The Tiny House Company so the can make more of these beautiful houses.

Clean sight lines though the house make it feel bigger. "de-cluttered and ordered views tend to feel bigger"

Up up and away, one push of a remote button and the bed rises to the roof and is out of the way for entertaining, relaxing or whatever takes your fancy.

Exposed LVL (Laminated veneer lumber) frames at 900mm centres dictates the place of kitchen cabinets, doors and windows

The demountable deck almost doubles the floor area of the house and can set up or dismantled in a couple of hours.

Clean lines all around lead to eye creating the feeling of space

With limited width the high ceiling creates a real sense of space.

Beautiful recycled hardwood timbers have been re purposed and used as flooring and decking which creates that warm, homely feeling.

Don't believe us about the bed - check this video out.

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13 April 2016

Building a Tiny House in the Rain

How do you build a tiny house in the rain? What about in the intense sun, or wind that is so strong it feels like its going though you? Building in the elements can be very challenging. Fortunately with building mobile and tiny there are options to combat the weather. As we see it there are three options to consider:

Build your Tiny House Exposed to the Elements

Building in the rain might be fun the first time it happens but it will soon drive you crazy. The work you can do on any given day is affected by the weather, for example installing a roof in the wind is not going to be a smart idea. Some materials are not well suited to sit in the rain for periods of time and can degrade, discolour and even become unusable. This situation can also affect your morale for the build and it can be hard to draw enthusiasm when everything is soaked and cold. The benefit of choosing this method is its cheap and is sometimes the only option. A temporary trap could be used to protect while sitting. We thought about this option ourselves but realised a lot of trap or traps would be needed to cover the house. We also didn't love the idea of pulling wet cold traps off the structure everyday to work for it to start raining shortly after.

Build a Temporary Structure Over Tiny House

Building a temporary structure can protect you and your house build from the elements. This method does involve time initially designing and sourcing the materials for the structure. The time spent at the start of the build to get this right though should be able to be made up by being able to work on your house wind, rain or shine. Sourcing materials is going to cost unless you use the free variety or re purpose the materials for the tiny house or another project. For example we used and old PVC advertising hoarding that was cheap which we used to protect materials after we had finished with the temporary structure. This method also has the added benefit of keeping your tools dry which they will love. Just remember your temporary structure needs to stand up to wind, rain, sun and maybe even snow so design it well and design it for your specific environment and weather conditions. We used this method by attaching the temporary structure to and existing shed. Check out our video:

Build Tiny House in shed or workshop

This is the supreme option and if you have a choice you should do this every time. We are talking about building your tiny house in a shed or workshop environment. The benefit here is you and your tiny house are always protected from the weather elements. Having a solid level floor would be great and wheeling tables, pushing ladders around and working on the ground would be much easier on an even dry surface. Access to power and even air lines would added bonus for power and pneumatic tools. Being able to secure your new house and tools while you are offsite is excellent. Also being able to come and go and leave tools where they are half way though a job can be a time saver too. There are not many negatives with this option apart from finding a premises and maybe having to pay for it. Make sure you do your maths regarding door height and width, otherwise you may be living in a tiny house within a workshop!

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17 February 2016

How to Install an Old Wooden House Window

We looked low and high for a video how to install an old timber house window but could not find a full how too, so we made one. The video below takes you through the the following steps.

  • Cutting and sizing rough opening
  • Cutting and attaching building wrap
  • Sloped window sills and benefits 
  • Flashing rough opening to be weather tight
  • Use of tyvek UV Facade wrap and tape plus Dupont Flaxwrap NF
  • Fitting reclaimed wooden window
  • Leveling and squaring window using packers 
  • Benefits of using backing rod to fill rough opening void
  • Filling and sealing rough opening 
  • Sizing, installing and sealing window trim

Thanks to the following companies for supplying.

Quick dry undercoat
Lustacryl Gull Grey

Backing rod

UV Facade wrap 
UV Facade Flashing tape
Dupont Flaxwrap NF

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29 January 2016

NZ Tiny House that is Build like a Boat

This off the grid tiny house has been built with systems and fine craftsmanship in mind. The house is totally self-sufficient, generating its own power and collecting free water from the sky. The small wood burner takes care of space heating and also warms water using a wetback system.

Jeff Hobbs a boat builder and cabinet maker has designed and built the tiny house for a client. Jeffs expertise in these fields has come through in the build, using techniques like vacuum pressing SIPS walls and floors and using materials like epoxy. The floor is recycled kauri at 3mm thick laminated is friber glass to save weight.

Some simple ideas have really been thought about like having the washing machine outside in the unity box and designing an open but quite steep staircase to maximise space.

This home has been constructed for one of Jeff’s clients and has now been moved to it’s new home on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Check out the blog roomtomove.co.nz for more info.

Watch the video tour of the house here by Bryce at Living Big in a Tiny House.

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18 November 2015

Couple Design and Build Beautiful Tiny House with Limited Experience

Young couple Brian and Joni have designed and built a very polished tiny house with little previous construction experience. Close to their 30's they were eager to settle down in a place of their own but they did not know where their fledgling careers would take them. So they devised a solution that was unorthodox but practical, and they built a house that could go with them no matter where they ended up.

3.3m high and 2.6m wide

Large skylight over loft bed

  Storage compartments in the floor

The 22 sq meter (236 sq foot) mobile tiny house cost $50K US. “We maxed out all the assets we had. Most of our family members thought we were crazy.”  Brian says.  “I thought I would knock it out in a few months,” but the project, which the couple squeezed in around their jobs, took about a year. They married in August 2014, plan to continue living in the trailer full-time until they start a family.

The cedar-clad trailer is slightly taller at the back, giving it an angular, contemporary shape.

Structural insulated panels were used for floor, walls and roof

Inside, the dominant material is birch-veneer plywood - a modern choice, versatile enough to serve as walls, floor, ceiling, and kitchen cabinets.

Simple yet stylish kitchen with full size appliances

Large sliding-glass door and two sky lights adds natural brightness

Still room for a 55-inch flat-screen television

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04 November 2015

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Tiny House

There are many ways to build a house and many ways to build a tiny house. Most tiny houses go down the path of traditional stick frame construction due to its relatively simple construction and easy access to materials. But is this the best approach to build a floor, walls and roof? Like most things there are multiple options, each with pros and cons. One option that is a fairly new-ish approach in NZ is (SIPs) or Structural Insulated Panels. SIPs are reasonably common for tiny house construction in the States but not so much in NZ yet. Lets find out the pros and cons, look at some examples and hear what approach we have taken.

What are SIP's?

SIPs are generally referred to as panels made from a thick layer of foam (polystyrene or polyurethane) sandwiched between two layers of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or Magnesium Oxide (Mag). The result is an engineered panel that provides structural framing, insulation, and exterior sheathing in a solid, one-piece component. They can be used for many different applications, such as exterior walls, roofing, floor and foundation systems.

What are the benefits of SIPs over traditional timber construction?

  1. Better energy efficiently - because the construction method is very precise a near zero air leakage is achieved meaning no drafts. Due to zero thermal bridging your energy bills will be less, saving money over the long run.
  2. Durability - improved structure strength, great for a mobile tiny house.
  3. Speed - due to the standardized and all-in-one nature of SIPs, construction time can be less than for a frame home, as well as requiring fewer tradesmen.
  4. Cost -  Less man hours are required during the build but the material is generally more expensive. However the running cost will be less in the long term. These factors vary between countries, regional, location of building and local labor costs. As with any build a cost analysis would need to be conducted to compare. In general SIP's seems to be more cost beneficial. 

SIPs Specifications

Typical product specifications are:

Width: 300mm, 600mm, or 1,200 mm wide
Length: 2.4, 2.7, and 3 m long, with roof SIPs up to 6 m long
Thickness: 100mm-300mm
Density: 15−20 kg/m

They are not limited to these sizes as custom panels can be constructed.

Examples of SIPS tiny houses include. 

Minim Homes

Brian and Joni's Tiny House under construction

Leaf Tiny House

Monarch Tiny Homes

New Zealand SIP's Manufactures

There are a number of NZ SIPs manufacturers which include and not limited to:


Our approach to SIPS's

We think SIPs is an excellent option for building a tiny house for the reasons above. However we investigated this option for a long time and after some careful thought we decided for our budget this method wasn't for us, A do it yourself build methodology was a better fit for us and was better for green reasons.  

Cost: After getting quotes for a single level foot print approx 8m x 3m we were getting quotes in the order of $15k to install yourself. For a total house budget of $25k, this was not feasible for us. If you build you own I don't think you get the cost savings from the reduced labor time.   

Build mythology: We want to build as much of the build as possible to gain experience. Although possible to build your own SIP panels it did air on the risky side and required equipment and plenty of space to construct.  

Green : Not all but many SIP's use polystyrene for insulation and structure. We were not comfortable using in this material in our tiny house, see here for why. Having said that there are more green SIP alternatives available. 

We decided on a different approach that uses polyurethane and plywood sandwich see here. You might be thinking these are not the greenest materials, but there is always tradeoffs. Polyurethane and plywood do off gas initially and then become stable, and seem to be a much better option than polystyrene. The structure is lined inside and out reducing this risk also.

To conclude we would recommend building a tiny house or any house from SIP's if you can get the cost at the right point.
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07 October 2015

Moving / Towing a Tiny House Trailer

Whether you are choosing to build your own tiny house trailer or have one built for you, chances are you will be moving the trailer from the manufacturing point to the construction site. We designed and built our own trailer and wanted to share the experience of moving a freshly constructed, 9.5m long fabrication down a public road.

We chose to protect the tiny house trailer using galvanisation, see here. Once the trailer frame was completed and wheels and drawbar attached to was time to test the trailer. We used a private location to tow the trailer, putting it through its paces by turning, stopping and reversing and checking everything was ok. Once we were happy the trailer performance it was time to transport it to the local galvanising plant. Fortunately it was only about one kilometre down the road. For this reason we concluded it was safe to transport the trailer on its own wheels for coating. Our trailer is not designed to be road legal and even if it was its would be in no state without lights, brakes and number plate. So deciding to tow down a public road is not technically legal for this short distance we thought it would be safe. We did the following to ensure safely:

  • Planned and mapped out the route. 
  • Attached high vis to both rear corners.
  • Conducted the move at a quiet traffic time.
  • Conducted during daylight.
  • Used two persons, with one following with communication between the two.  
  • Drove sensibly leaving plenty of room for other road users. 

At this point in the build height is not an issue but the length can be. We found the trailer tracked and followed the tow vehicle very well. But we did have to be careful over gutters and dips as when the wheels drop you can run into danger of dragging underside the rear and front of the trailer into the road. We did not have any issues here as the route we chose was wide and flat.

Another option here is to use and truck or trailer to transport your trailer from A to B which would of course be legal and safe but most likely cost $ or a box of beers or two. Or many of the galvanisers offer a transport service like HB Galinvasing will pickup and drop off for a cost.

Once at the galinvaser we removed the hitch and wheels and unbolted the frame and pop on blocks ready for them to coat. Keep it off the ground keep it clean and dry and also aided in lifting for the galvinistors.

After galvanising we needed to clean up the axle stubs to refit the bearings and wheels. One slight error we made was leaving the coated trailer in the yard for a few weeks over which time it rained. This caused the stubs to start rusting which was removed but a bit of a pain and time consuming. Once we had the trailer back together we used the same procedures to transport it back to the workshop for finishing.

As we were traveling a short distance we decided not to grease the wheel bearings. We had the wheels on and off a couple of times so this saved time and money buying grease. Also it avoided the messy clean up in a gravel yard at the galvanises.

Overall the process worked well due to pre planning and communication with involved parties.

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