Some Asshole Ratted Me Out


Thats right someone who has an issue with the local building inspector wrote to the state anonymously it seems. They seem to think that my house is illegal under the MA building codes.  This blog post is an effort to prove that notion incorrect.

Whats Required:

Proper foundation..I use a shallow frost protected slab.

One room of 150 square feet.

The 150 square foot room can be the area used for a kitchen and for sleeping.

The 150 square foot room must have no dimension less than 7ft.

The house must have 2 doors one being at least 36 inches wide, the other can be 32.

The bathroom can be of any size and dimension but must meet allow for clearances mandated in the plumbing code.

Habitable rooms must have ceilings of 84 inches.

Electric and plumbing per MA code.

Insulation which I exceed the minimum R values by double or more.

The “Loft”

My loft area is NOT considered habitable area as it does not meet the ceiling height requirements.  That makes it a large storage area where I keep clothes, bulk foodstuffs etc etc.  I have been known to sleep up there from time to time but I would not consider it a bedroom. Sleeping downstairs is cooler in both summer and winter as the heat tends to collect there… an attic space….which it is.  The building code does allow for ladders to access attic areas.


Let this be a lesson to the tiny house community. This incident is making me think about a move to northern NH.

TinyHomeBuilding on the Survival Podcast

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Wanted to post a hello to listeners of the Survival Podcast that came here after hearing the show.  I’ve included some links for things mentioned during the show.  They are not affiliate links or anything just informational.

How to build a tiny house in 383 pics – link to Google, let them provide the bandwidth 😉

Tiny House Entertainment System – the projector system I use to watch TV.  Uses only 18 watts!

Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT charge controller – awesome charge controller at a good price

Sun Pumps DC SDS series pumps – DC pump that uses less than 48 watts and provides 230ft lift

Honda EU2000i Generator – Check out my review on the EU2000 on my Youtube channel (please subscribe while you are there)

More to come…





Catrike Trail: Tiny Transportation for a Tiny House

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This past Memorial day weekend I visited a bike shop in the small MA town/village? of Turners Falls.  The nice folks at Basically Bicycles let me try out a recumbent trike.  After a few minutes doing figure 8’s in the parking lot I decided that I wanted one.  The advantage recumbent trikes have is comfort.  No more numb hands, stiff neck, or sore butt!  I picked out the Catrike Trail model.

In the short term I want to get my “bicycle legs” back and do some fairly serious riding.  Long term I will add an electric motor and build a solar powered charging station.  It will make a very nice platform for short trips to the market.


My little Chevy Spark is not what I would call an optimum vehicle for transporting bikes of any variety.  With the rear seats folded down, passenger seat folded forward, and all the hatchback stuff removed I can barely wedge my full size mountain bike in there (with front tire removed).

The trike is too wide for the hatchback because GM in their “infinite wisdom” decided that rear speaker placement is more important than hatchback width.  The plastic mounts for the rear speakers intrude about an inch on either side making it impossible to put the trike in…so I removed them.

Each speaker mount is held on with 3 phillips head screws and comes off with very little effort.  With the speakers removed the trike fits perfectly!  The rear tire goes between the seats and sits on top a strategically placed cardboard box (I’ll make something better).  When placed correctly my shoulders don’t hit the bike when I am driving and I can shift without bumping the bikes rear tire.


 Speakers intrude about an inch on each side


 Speaker removed…was pretty easy and reversible when I sell the car


Speakers removed.

 View with the speaker removed




Trike all tucked inside the car…no disassembly required!


Road Test

I visited the rail trail in Ayer MA for the maiden voyage of about 16 miles (dependant on my legs).  I drove about 10ft and realized something was wrong as the chain and rear deralier were all twisted up in a bad way.  Not 100% sure what happened but I think I bent the rear derailer putting the bike in the car.  When I started pedaling the misaligned chain bent things even more.  Not a good way to get started!

After a bit of cursing and some help from Tim I managed to “unbend” things enough to get a ride in.  Later that night I sat on the porch with vice grips and a straight edge to get things bent back to more or less normal.

The ride went well although it does exercise different muscles and I felt like I was riding in slow motion….especially up hills.  As I ride more it seems like i’m getting faster and my legs are getting used to the different pedaling position.


If you get a trike you need bike shoes period!  There is a phenomenon known as “leg suck” where your foot slips off the pedal and in the best case you get bashed on your calf by the bike frame.  In the worst case your ankle gets sucked under the bike and possibly broken.  I outfitted the bike with the very grippy pedals used on my mountain bike while a new pair of bike shoes came in the mail.  One of my rides I got whacked pretty good in the calf and won’t go for a serious ride without bike shoes firmly clipped to the pedals.  Oh yes, be sure to set the tension on your pedals to “max”….no reason not to.


Overall I’m very happy with the trike.  At the time of this writing I have well over 100 miles and the bike has performed flawlessly.  It did take a few rides to get the legs used to the different pedaling position.  Last weekend I completed a 25 mile ride and other than my legs nothing else was sore…thats a win in my book. Overall I’m pretty happy with this purchase.

Planting Day!


Planting weekend started with a shipment of trees from Stark Bros nursery. A nicely packed box contained bare root apple, cherry, peach, almond, and raspberries ready to plant. The instructions say to soak the trees in a bucket for 4-6 hours prior to planting so I set them out and began digging holes.

I learned a couple of things as part of the hole digging process. First, thank god I have a backhoe to dig holes! Second, the soil under my garden is pretty poor its a good thing I bought so much compost. Last, the water table is not that far down. The roots of the trees with a bit of growth can easily get to a source of underground water. At the same time the soil is well-drained so the roots wont be sitting in water….reminds me of a self watering container used in container gardening.


Since none of the soil was very good I made the executive decision to dig really big holes and use the soil I brought in for planting. This may not be optimal as the roots will need to get used to the native topsoil at some point. I think it’s better than trying to grow them in soil that barely supports weeds. I used about a half yard of soil per hole which should be enough to get the tree established.


I didn’t want the deer coming in and munching on the delicate branches of my new trees. So I started work on the top part of my fencing. My fencing system is made using steel (green) posts that are 8ft and 5ft tall driven in every 10ft. The soil is rocky so some of them went in a bit crooked. A small trench was dug around the perimeter so the bottom of the fence can be folded into an “L” and buried.  This will keep small animals like rabbits from digging under it.  I found 36″ tall chicken wire on sale at tractor supply so I went with it.


Even Ajax is capable of hopping a 3ft tall fence a deer wouldn’t think twice, so I needed to add additional height. I do this by stringing wires at regular intervals up the posts. A spool of 350ft only costs $9. It’s a very inexpensive way to make an 8ft tall fence. In the pics you see the tensioning devices I use to make the wire tight. They only cost $3 each and do a really nice job. In the future I may need to add an electrified wire to the fence to keep the coons from stealing my corn. The same wire can be used along with some cheap plastic insulators.  I will be attaching some white cloth streamers to give the deer a visual clue that there is a fence.


I fashioned a couple of simple gates from 2×2 pressure treated wood with chicken wire attached.  The rough edges of the chicken wire are covered with a piece of 2×2 that I ripped in half lengthwise.  At this point the gates are pretty crooked but I will adjust the posts they are attached to and get them straightened out.  Also need to install a latching mechanism…something more high tech than string from a hay bale.


Wrap Up

Planted so far: apples, peaches, cherries, almonds, asparagus, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, snap peas, bush peas, cherry tomatoes, early tomatoes, peppers, radishes, onions, fingerling potatoes.

Still left to plant: cucumbers, sunflowers, more tomatoes, pumpkins

Lots of cleanup work to do and also need to get a system set up for watering the plants….probably a sprinkler. I don’t have electricity or gravity working for me. I do have lots of water close by so I’ll figure something out.

Garden progress

The garden is progressing nicely.  I was able to get an area 33x25ft cleaned up enough so that it is ready to plant.

This area was full of small trees and bushes which made preparation pretty tough.  In addition to having a ton of roots and sod to shake out and remove I had tons of rocks.  I would make a pass with the tiller and then follow it up with a 5 gallon bucket which would be full of rocks.  My tiller does a path 10 inches wide.  Thats about 40-50 buckets of rocks removed by hand!  Sadly there are more rocks in there.

With the beds de-rocked I added a generous layer of compost and tilled out some paths.  My tiller naturally pushes the dirt to each side so I could string a line and follow it with the tiller.  A flat bottomed shovel is used to scoop out anything left behind.

Strawberry Hill

There is an old telephone pole left behind with a mound of sand holding it up.  I took all the hay from my silt barriers and covered the mound with rotted hay.  This weekend I put a good layer of compost over the hay.  I will plant my strawberry plants on this mound and probably some grape vines that will use the fence as a trellis.

Whats left?

I have some asparagus and potato sitting in a box that need to be planted.  I need a permanent bed for the asparagus that is out of the way so I began preparing that with the tractor.  My potatoes will use some towers made from composite decking I have in my scrap pile (blog post to come).

This week I expect Stark Bros to ship out 10 fruit trees (apple, peach, cherry).  Next weekend will be tree planting!


Garden Progress Report

This weekend the weather was awful.  I was not able to do any soil work but I did manage to remove my siltation fencing and finish the greenhouse.  Friday I received 24 yards of really nice compost from a local farm.

My strawberry plants, asparagus, and potato plants are in.  I have my fruit trees on order and should be here next week.  This week I really need to get the soil prep finished.  Crazy getting so much ready for planting season.

Garden project for my tiny house

Have been a little burned out blogging so I stopped for a short while. Its the end of winter here and not much has been going on anyway.  All that has changed now that most (not all) of the snow is gone.  I’m starting work on my garden this spring this is the first progress report.

I need an area to grow veggies, fruit trees, and berries.  I also need an area to start seedlings since my house does not get much sun.  The area in my pics is about 80×40.  I will be hauling in topsoil so I need to limit the area for veggies to what my budget will allow.

The greenhouse is built from construction scraps from my house build plus a fair number of 2×2 pressure treated boards.  The roof is Tuftex available at Lowes and the walls are a material called Solexx which is an insulated greenhouse material.

More pics in a week or so…

How to build a tiny house in 383 pictures




Every picture that I took during the build is contained in this collection.  If you view this as a slide show I added captions to most of them describing whats going on and giving useful tips.  You can use this link to view all my albums which may be easier than viewing them here on the blog.  I have them organized in one mega album (below) and then in smaller topical albums (on Google) depending on your needs.


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Tiny House Off Grid Refrigerator Project

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