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Tiny House – Big Impact

Our first ThermalBuck installation in a tiny house is a big deal. And when you’re lucky enough to have a passionate do-it-yourself duo like Jesse Taylor and his father Bernard working together on the project, it becomes more than a job site, it’s a story.

Not Your Average Treehouse

Jesse’s folks retired a few years ago and moved to Vermont. Jesse had grown up working on projects with his dad. Both men are good with their hands, and Jesse – with details. 

It became a passion of Jesse’s to try to live “smaller”, to use less resources, less space, and lessen his impact on the environment. The idea of building a tiny house started to look like a really good idea. Spending time together with his dad was a large part of the inspiration behind this project. 

“I’m so fortunate to have the experience of building this with my father. I feel so blessed. The tiny house is just a byproduct of the time with him.”

They went into it knowing it would be a learning experience. There were setbacks. But watching this house develop was empowering. “I know what is inside the walls, and I can fix it,” said Taylor.

Building a tiny house is just as involved as a big house. Every element is there – plumbing, roofing, electrical work, framing, building stairs, installing windows – but it’s on a compressed level. “It’s even harder, to some degree, because you don’t have room to swing a hammer sometimes, let alone move around a ladder,” said Taylor. “But is was so worthwhile. This was the treehouse he never built me.”

Living with Less is More

One of the primary reasons Jesse Taylor built his tiny house, was to reduce his carbon footprint, to consume as few natural resources as possible. 

“We knew the house would have to be as energy -efficient as we could possibly afford,” said Jesse. That meant it had to be well insulated, and it had to be built with energy-efficient windows and doors.

But installing windows with exterior insulation isn’t easy. “We needed to bump out the rough openings to line up with the insulation, but we didn’t want to add all of that extra wood to the framing. It adds weight to the tiny house, and it needs to be as lightweight as possible to save natural resources in transport.”

ThermalBuck adds up to a lot of square footage on this little place, and makes a huge impact.”
– Jesse Taylor, Tiny House Builder 

Jesse found ThermalBuck to be the perfect solution. “Not only is it strong and lightweight, it’s preventing all of that energy loss around our windows. It adds up to a lot of square footage on this little place, and makes a huge impact.”

 

Sharing the Lessons

The tiny house movement has come a long way in the past 4-5 years. Back when they started to plan this project, there weren’t nearly as many resources online for tiny house builders.  “We wanted to share our story to save other tiny house some of the headaches we discovered along the way.” 

 “We wanted to save other tiny house builders some of the headaches we discovered along the way.”
– Jesse Taylor, Tiny House Builder 

 

DESIGN

Jesse thought purchasing plans would give him a safety net and make it all easier, but that wasn’t the case. They realized the plans were a major issue when he tried to source the windows. Windows come in standard sizes, yet the ones for the tiny house design were so unusual in shape, he contacted more than 50 manufacturers before finding one who could make them for him. The placement of the windows really makes an impact on how economical your plans are to execute. “You lose so much glass with these windows. And they were expensive. I would advise anyone – Build your house around the windows.”

“I would advise anyone – Build your house around the windows.”
– Jesse Taylor, Tiny House Builder 

The rest of the materials were simpler. Jesse used 1” EPS insulation in the trailer-between the pan and the c-channel cross members, and 1.5” EPS on top of that. “Due to the thermal bridging of the metal cross members beneath that top 1.5”, I’m not sure the insulation underneath does as much as I’d hoped. Also – by putting the 1.5” insulation and 3/4” plywood on top of that, I lost 2.25” of head height from the start- lessons learned.”

 

FRAMING & SHEATHING

One the base was finished, it was time to start framing. It’s easy to measure each of the sides of the rectangle and think it’s square – but that’s not the measurement that matters. “The most important measurement is diagonally from corner to corner,” says Jesse. The corners must be 90°, or the four walls won’t fit together properly. Guess who found this out the hard way? “My advice to anyone framing in their first tiny house would be – Don’t forget to square your walls.”

Since sheathing comes in 4 x 8 sheets, where you position the studs really matters. Whether 12” or 16” on center, the spacing needs to be easily divisible by 4 or 8 to save yourself some cuts.

 

THERMALBUCK, WINDOWS, & INSULATION

“The best video I found online was the full ThermalBuck installation video.”
– Jesse Taylor, Tiny House Builder 

Jesse had never installed a window before. But within a week, he’s installed all of them. “I was constantly scouring the internet to find a video that showed every single step. The best video I found online was just John installing ThermalBuck in the full installation video. It showed me everything I needed to know.”

 

Life in the Tiny House

Jesse continues to work on his tiny house, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about the first time he hits the road. The inaugural trip will be from Woodstock to Burlington, then he will live in the tiny house on his own piece of land while troubleshooting any issues with the composting toilet, the solar panels, the grey water – life with less. Then he plans to head to Maine, and spend most of his time living near Arcadia National Park. “The tiny house community is a great group of people. These homes bring people closer together. So many people out there are doing amazing things to reduce their impact on the environment. We want to share our experience with them, and keep learning. I believe anyone can build a tiny house. I believe you can do it.”

 

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