Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

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woodsghost
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Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by woodsghost » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:52 pm

My wife and I are planning on building a tiny house. Something on a trailer and able to be moved. I'm interested in any advice ZS has to offer, and I might need to transition some of my questions to a tiny house forum, but I want to start here.

Budget? TBD, but it would be lovely if we could keep the cost under $20,000. $30,000 is a bit of a hard limit. Looking around at what is for sale and what people who live the lifestyle seem to pay, $70,000-$120,000 seems pretty common. So we are aware of what others are doing.

Our thought is something in the range of 24x8 ft.

We are thinking of putting together a steel frame (hiring out build) on the trailer. I don't have the expertise to design this, but it looks like people in countries other than the US do this quite often?

We are thinking of doing steel siding and a steel roof. This would be for both weight and durability. We would have to hire this out and I imagine someone who builds steel homes would be the right person to get this done?

The best way I can see to insulate a build like this is spray-in insulation, and the advice I have received is to hire someone to do the insulation.

After this is where I think I have the skills to take over the build.

I am thinking of doing a solar system for electrical, and put a 12v fridge, 12v freezer, 12v lights, a 12v washer (maybe washer/dryer combo), and a 12v water pump if needed, but I'm hoping to do a gravity system for water pressure.

We would do a composting toilet system.

We are planning on a rain catchment system though I need to plan for hooking up to an external water system if that becomes available or necessary. I was thinking a 55 gallon barrel in the loft with a pump to draw water from the catchment would be a nice gravity system. We already use a Berkey for our drinking water, so we would continue that. I figure a little bleach in the catchment system every month would be wise. Where we are planning on living for the first few years the catchment would be buried.

For water heating I thought a propane on-demand heater would be best. I thought a propane oven would be the best cooking method and maybe have a propane back-up heater.

For primary heating we were thinking wood would work best.

For cooling we were mostly thinking of a combination of passive elements (house color, insulation), evaporation cooling, and run a RV AC unit (12v) or 120v window unit (inverter) when/if it gets too beastly. We tend to run hot in the summer (apartment at 85F) and a bit cooler in the winter (apartment around 65F). Also, summer cooking would mostly be outdoors.

The outdoor temps will range from -40F up to about 105F, but mostly stay between -15F and 100F.

The plan is to live this lifestyle for 2 years and the decide "are we ready for off grid living forever or do we want to live on-grid?" If we decide to live on grid, we sell the tiny house and put the money towards a regular home. If we decide to life off grid forever we put up an off grid house on some land we buy.

Further, the thought here is to buy parts and pieces for the tiny house over the next 6 months until the apartment lease expires (or we might head out sooner if the election gets weird). We would stage these pieces at my parents house, where at the end of 6 months my family would move into the basement and assemble the tiny house. My dad has a ton of experience with all aspects of building a house (but not steel houses) and I have a decent amount of house building experience (again, not with steel houses). Plus my dad has about 1,000,000 tools along with workshop space, so that would be a huge plus. My parents are very willing to let us park on their land for a few years and have actually invited us to stay as long as the grandkids are cute.

So do y'all have any advice or thoughts to add? I'm all ears. Also, throwing cold water on the plan is perfectly acceptable. The idea here is to find out if the idea has life before sinking money into it.

Thanks for any input, thoughts, and advice!
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by boskone » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:53 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:52 pm
My wife and I are planning on building a tiny house. Something on a trailer and able to be moved. I'm interested in any advice ZS has to offer, and I might need to transition some of my questions to a tiny house forum, but I want to start here.
I had some comments, but really they all boiled down to "Why not get an RV?". It'll be lighter, better-balanced, and if you watch RVtrader/craigslist/etc a bit probably around your price range. You'd also have standard connections, so it'll be easier to park or moochdock...and a trailered tiny home might not be allowed in state or national parks, so boondocking could be off the table as well.

I don't think you'll be able to readily hit your temperature targets--especially the lower ones--with anything mobile. Maybe if you skirted it when parked, and heated the underbelly; I'm not sure.

If you were building a permanent tiny house, I'd see it differently. However, with a trailer I think you're really going to have trouble beating a travel trailer for cost, quality, and design.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:18 am

I think propane is the wisest fuel to standardize on for cooking, heating and water.

I can't imagine getting a custom trailer built could beat a used one, but I haven't compared prices. Quotes are in order, but I just know what people in the US tend to like to earn for their labor vs. what people tend to charge to get rid of old stuff they want gone.

with tiny houses/RVs/schoolies I think you can beat the market price if you have a long time to collect free materials, and a good long time to do the build; as soon as any time constraints enter in thing get expensive. You can probably save a lot by buying partially completed or used (lots of people think they are up to the task but aren't, or think they are up for the lifestyle, but aren't), but of course you have to be willing to compromise on layout and overall vision if someone else started laying the bones.

Country wide craigslist searches are daunting; but its at least worth burning some time I think to passively keep an eye out for a smoking deal; and a willingness to buy a last minute plane ticket and drive something half way across the country can sometimes recoup itself in overall savings.
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by woodsghost » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:51 am

boskone wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:53 pm
woodsghost wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:52 pm
My wife and I are planning on building a tiny house. Something on a trailer and able to be moved. I'm interested in any advice ZS has to offer, and I might need to transition some of my questions to a tiny house forum, but I want to start here.
I had some comments, but really they all boiled down to "Why not get an RV?". It'll be lighter, better-balanced, and if you watch RVtrader/craigslist/etc a bit probably around your price range. You'd also have standard connections, so it'll be easier to park or moochdock...and a trailered tiny home might not be allowed in state or national parks, so boondocking could be off the table as well.

I don't think you'll be able to readily hit your temperature targets--especially the lower ones--with anything mobile. Maybe if you skirted it when parked, and heated the underbelly; I'm not sure.

If you were building a permanent tiny house, I'd see it differently. However, with a trailer I think you're really going to have trouble beating a travel trailer for cost, quality, and design.
You hit some great points. The RV won't let us do a loft. Depending on how the loft is done it can yeild 50%-100% more square footage. That is attractive. And the tiny house can be better insulated.

We were concerned about the cold too, but experiences with tiny houses in Canada, where it gets colder than in Iowa, indicate the greater issue will likely be "overheating" due to the robust heat put out by wood and the small square footage being heated. A young lady we watched from Canada experienced house temps in the 90s F and had to sleep with a window cracked open most nights. She used spray in foam insulation and a skirt. House skirts seem pretty common among Canadian tiny house dwellers.

We might have to do an RV. We will see.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by aikorob » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:04 am

Our thought is something in the range of 24x8 ft.
We are thinking of putting together a steel frame (hiring out build) on the trailer.
We are thinking of doing steel siding and a steel roof.
what are you going to pull this with..............a semi?
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by woodsghost » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:42 am

aikorob wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:04 am
Our thought is something in the range of 24x8 ft.
We are thinking of putting together a steel frame (hiring out build) on the trailer.
We are thinking of doing steel siding and a steel roof.
what are you going to pull this with..............a semi?
Good question. The idea here is not to do bullet proof steel, but to achieve a lighter weight than wood. The US tiny houses I've seen in the size range (framed and sided in wood) seem to come in around 10,000-12,000 pounds, up to 14,000 pounds. Or at least that is what the trailers are rated for.

If I'm seeing things right, Australia has tighter weight restrictions than the US and what I think I'm seeing is that Australian tiny houses use a lot of steel to reduce weight and stay under legal limits. What I'm seeing elsewhere says indeed steel framing is lighter, and I suspect (I should verify) that steel siding is lighter than wood per square foot.

Again, I'm not talking about 1/8th inch cold rolled or hardened steel. Though I'd like that for bullet resistance.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by Halfapint » Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:27 am

Wife and I have been living in a 5th wheel for 10 months. We bought new because we didn’t want the hastle of dealing with someone else’s issues. Yes you can buy an RV for a few thousand, but what’s wrong with it and how long do you have to go through and test/replace things? We looked at building a tiny house simple to you, I had a few designed sketched up and determined the cost was going to be about 50-70k. Now, what they don’t tell you is that you can’t really get loans for them. You can get personal loans, but EVERY bank or credit union will not extend you mortgage rates for building a tiny home OR a 5th wheel. One of the first questions they ask is “will this be your primary residence” if you answer yes, auto decline. So we went through an RV dealer a told them what we were doing they said we’ll handle it. Sure enough, got a great rate. We ended up getting a Grand Designs 385GK for 40k less than MSRP. It’s still like 71k of debt we didn’t want, but we are making double/triple payments on it.

Composting toilet works I don’t have one as we have a septic system (if you can build one, do it, it will seriously safe your back side in convenience. My buddy (also ZS member living in a RV) is doing composting toilet and while they are ok with it, it’s just not fun.

Heat, you said -40f? Absolutely use wood heat. We got foen to mid low +30s, this last winter and we were burning 2 1/2-3 gallons of propane heating the RV. Yes, you read that right GALLONS Per day. We weren’t going crazy that was to keep at 65. We bought a cubic mini woood stove and installed that and burned wood we were able to keep the RV at 70+ (wife is a lizard I swear) but in the 5 months we were burning wood we went rough about a cord. Remember no matter how well insulted it is. It’s going to get cold, you won’t have the thermal mass to keep things warm off radiant heat. We are about to fire up the stove in the next couple weeks just to keep it a bit warmer in here.

Electrical, go big. We have 2 batteries and were told by the dealer this should be enough to run our 12v system for a few days. The recent power outage determined that was an utter lie. I don’t need a lot of power. In fact when power went out I wouldn’t have known except that my phone stopped charging. I switched the fridge and heater from AC to propane an that was the extent of that I had to do. I never turned on the lights I used a headlamp for everything. The only thing drawing power was the water pump (I kept it off until I needed to run it because it turns on for a second every once and a while to keep system primed) and the frig. Our battery drained in 27 hours from just the propane frig. So if you’re going to have more of a load, make sure you have a big bank and a decent genset to charge them in winter.

Propane, my friend has an 80gallon tank but hasn’t gone through a winter yet. He’s on a once every month fill up. I’m trying to get him to by a bunch of small 5-7 1/2 gallon tanks just as back up. Nothing worse than going to bed, the fire goes out, and it will because you’ll want a small stove because space is limited. So you will rely on propane while you’re not there or sleeping. You’ll get used to hearing the heater kicking on while sleeping, the worst feeling ans this happened a few times, is it hearing it kick on. You’ll think it’s not that cold until your wife wakes up shivering, so you get up and realize it’s 42 inside. So you go out and swap bottles. We run five 5 gallons, two 7 1/2, and 2 25gal as emergecy back up. Start buying them now for cheap and filling them. Trust me when your off grid propane is life.

Gray water, I didn’t see anything about this in your original comment. What are you going to do with your gray water? Are you going to just have buckets and dump them? I built a gray water dump. I cut a 55gal drum length wise. Connected it end to end so I had basically 2 half barrel comedies, cut a hole somthe warer can flow through, filled with pea gravel and large rocks where the water comes in to not move the pea gravel. It’s worked like a charm. Our septic tank inon the other part of the property so we bought a 36gal transfer tank and move from the RV to there and dump.

Sorry lots of long winded answers here. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or I didn’t answer something. The move to the RV has been the best decision of our life, it’s some debt we didn’t want, but once we have this paid off, we’ll be debt free. Plus last week we had some fires that got to about a mile from us, while our nighbors were panicking, I put the 5th wheel in, and gathered our shit and put it in the storage down below, and were ready to roll if things got worse. The nighbors were trying to decide what to take. My biggest consern was how to get the second car out of there if I had to leave it.
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by woodsghost » Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:32 am

HalfaPint, THANK YOU! My wife and I will be discussing your experiences.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by ssgcmw » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:09 am

If you are looking to build, this video series is well-worth the $10, IMHO:
https://tinyhousebuild.com/photo-galler ... views/dvd/

They also have a free e-course at the site.

I met this guy at a tiny house jamboree a few years ago. He's the real deal.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by woodsghost » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:16 am

ssgcmw wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:09 am
If you are looking to build, this video series is well-worth the $10, IMHO:
https://tinyhousebuild.com/photo-galler ... views/dvd/

They also have a free e-course at the site.

I met this guy at a tiny house jamboree a few years ago. He's the real deal.
I really appreciate it. Thank you!
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by CG » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:20 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:51 am
You hit some great points. The RV won't let us do a loft. Depending on how the loft is done it can yeild 50%-100% more square footage. That is attractive. And the tiny house can be better insulated.
Actually...I ran across some with RVs with a loft. They aren't huge, but they're at least extra sleeping/storage space. Maybe from Grand Design RVs?
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by boskone » Sat Sep 19, 2020 2:35 pm

CG wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:20 pm
woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:51 am
You hit some great points. The RV won't let us do a loft. Depending on how the loft is done it can yeild 50%-100% more square footage. That is attractive. And the tiny house can be better insulated.
Actually...I ran across some with RVs with a loft. They aren't huge, but they're at least extra sleeping/storage space. Maybe from Grand Design RVs?
I don't recall seeing a Grand Design, at least in their current lineup. They're kinda my primary possible manufacturer; from what I've seen in person and online their build quality is very good.

I was curious if it were an older model, and did find this list.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by CG » Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:57 pm

boskone wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 2:35 pm
CG wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:20 pm
woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:51 am
You hit some great points. The RV won't let us do a loft. Depending on how the loft is done it can yeild 50%-100% more square footage. That is attractive. And the tiny house can be better insulated.
Actually...I ran across some with RVs with a loft. They aren't huge, but they're at least extra sleeping/storage space. Maybe from Grand Design RVs?
I don't recall seeing a Grand Design, at least in their current lineup. They're kinda my primary possible manufacturer; from what I've seen in person and online their build quality is very good.

I was curious if it were an older model, and did find this list.
I looked at a ton. It could very well have been one of those others listed. :mrgreen:
Mater tua caligas gerit!

...I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention to what I was thinking.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by boskone » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:44 pm

CG wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:57 pm
boskone wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 2:35 pm
I don't recall seeing a Grand Design, at least in their current lineup. They're kinda my primary possible manufacturer; from what I've seen in person and online their build quality is very good.

I was curious if it were an older model, and did find this list.
I looked at a ton. It could very well have been one of those others listed. :mrgreen:
LOL, my first thought was "What does an F-350 have to do with lofts?". :roll: I've been shopping trucks too much recently. And I hear ya. I have so many travel trailers bookmarked it's really kinda ridiculous.

Right now I'm kind of a pickle that the trailers I most like are really pushing the theoretical capabilities of a half-ton pickup, but I can get a brand-spankety-new half-ton for not much above the cost of a mechanically-reliable but well-worn three-quarter ton. Or a recent-ish half-ton in very good condition for well under that same 3/4's cost.

The main thing is that with almost any length RV, I'd really prefer the ease of towing of a fifth-wheel. However, the same basic floorplan in a fifth wheel will be a good 1,500-2,000 pounds heavier than a bumper-pull. Conversely, the ultra-lite fifth wheels (true ones, not "ultra-light in comparison to other heavy fifth wheels) all have shit floorplans for fulltiming.

I almost wish someone would start putting out bumper-pull travel trailer 'boxes' with a gooseneck hitch. Kinda split the different: gooseneck/fifth wheel maneuverability; but closer to bumper-pull build, price, and size.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by boskone » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:52 pm

And, actually, that latter may be a thought for woodsghost: Might look into buying a high-ceiling gooseneck box trailer as the base frame for your tiny house; it'll be heavier-duty than building on a bumper pull.

People convert box trailers to small RVs pretty often. Could probably do the same basic process, just on a somewhat larger scale.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by SCBrian » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:56 am

boskone wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:44 pm

I almost wish someone would start putting out bumper-pull travel trailer 'boxes' with a gooseneck hitch. Kinda split the different: gooseneck/fifth wheel maneuverability; but closer to bumper-pull build, price, and size.
this? :
Image
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by Halfapint » Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:39 am

CG wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:20 pm
woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:51 am
You hit some great points. The RV won't let us do a loft. Depending on how the loft is done it can yeild 50%-100% more square footage. That is attractive. And the tiny house can be better insulated.
Actually...I ran across some with RVs with a loft. They aren't huge, but they're at least extra sleeping/storage space. Maybe from Grand Design RVs?
GD doesn’t have a loft that I’m aware of we looked at one online that did I think it was something creek. It was pretty cool super tall, I’m glad we didn’t get it, it was scratchy getting this 5th wheel where we wanted it.
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by boskone » Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:03 pm

SCBrian wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:56 am
boskone wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:44 pm

I almost wish someone would start putting out bumper-pull travel trailer 'boxes' with a gooseneck hitch. Kinda split the different: gooseneck/fifth wheel maneuverability; but closer to bumper-pull build, price, and size.
this? :
Image
Not sure how that'd help here; no-one makes a gooseneck RV to start with, anymore at least, so a bumper pull to gooseneck adapter's kinda superfluous. The closest I've seen are horse trailers with a bit of living space in the front.

If you have a trailer light enough to pull anyway, just put in a gooseneck. If your trailer's heavy enough you need such a rig, you bought too small a truck for the job anyway; even if this let you mechanically pull the load, your fuel economy would get punted off a cliff and you'd wear out the motor and drivetrain much faster. And since it's $10k+ anyway, you might as well just buy the truck you need.

There's probably some corner cases where it'd be useful (maybe you have a camper shell you want to leave on), but I expect they're pretty unusual.

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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:27 pm

car haulers and other large cargo trailers have always been appealing to me for building out; but I had "vacation house/emergency BOL" in mind more than primary dwelling, so my math would be quite a bit different.

Since they are a nice perfect quadrilateral most of the time insulating with foam sheets and finishing the interior would be reasonably simple; but I think the roof is often lower than a purpose built tiny house, and of course the exterior is far less appealing which is no small thing for a primary residence.

School buses are also incredibly cheap most of the time (I know one farm that I used to work for bought one for $2300 just to rip the motor and tranny out) but conversions seem to be a bit more work; and for us tall guys they aren't necessarily viable. I've seen more than a few semi-converted buses in my area for $20k or less, with of course a wide variety of build qualities.
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by doitnstyle1 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:12 am

One thing I learned after putting together mine, was that I wish I would have designed it the other way around. Most people have the door at the back of the trailer. One problem that I didn't see with that, was that most places don't have pull throughs. So if you were to have to park it for a longer term and say a village or a park you would have to back it in leaving your door facing the back

I would have made my front entrance by the tongue had I really thought it through. So when I back it up and park it the deck comes down and is supported by the tongue and the entrance is always facing out. if you're thinking about just parking it in an open space then you don't have to worry about it.
As far as insulation goes, spray on insulation can get very expensive, and I would save it for the undercarriage. I used rock wool insulation which doesn't sag like standard fiberglass insulation. It provides pretty good insulative qualities, and as an added measure, I used reflective barrier to go on over the insulation but under the walls of the interior to help reflect some of the radiant heat back in.
To try and lighten the load, instead of using a wood tongue and groove interior, I used quarter inch smooth paneling. I used latex paint mixed in with drywall joint compound to give it a smooth finish yet elasticity as the tiny house moves down the road. Besides, every single inch counts on the inside of these things.
"All religious stuff aside, the fact is people who can't kill will always be subject to those who can." - Brad "Iceman" Colbert, Generation Kill

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RoneKiln
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by RoneKiln » Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:33 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:52 pm
We are thinking of doing steel siding and a steel roof. This would be for both weight and durability. We would have to hire this out and I imagine someone who builds steel homes would be the right person to get this done?

The outdoor temps will range from -40F up to about 105F, but mostly stay between -15F and 100F.
Steel roofing and siding is some of the easiest material to install. If you can be trusted alone and unsupervised with basic power tools, you can handle this. Watch a few YouTube videos, and take your design into the supplier you buy the materials from. They'll help you order all the correct flashing pieces and give you a nice manual for installing them.
"Seriously the most dangerous thing you are likely to do is to put salt on a Big Mac right before you eat it and to climb into your car."
--Raptor

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PistolPete
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Re: Zombie Squad: Tiny House edition?

Post by PistolPete » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:15 am

RoneKiln wrote:
Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:33 pm
Steel roofing and siding is some of the easiest material to install. If you can be trusted alone and unsupervised with basic power tools, you can handle this. Watch a few YouTube videos, and take your design into the supplier you buy the materials from. They'll help you order all the correct flashing pieces and give you a nice manual for installing them.
I'm actually putting steel roof on a shed right now and it's very straight forward. Make absolutely sure that first panel is square and the rest is easy. If it's off even a tiny bit, then you're going to have runout before you lay many panels at all. The worst part for me is having one ladder and having to move it constantly, it really adds to how long it's taking to do it.
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