Bodega Tiny House Shell Nearly Complete

Yes I’m keyword stuffing my title :).  The weather this weekend was decent although I did lose about 4 hours or so to a rain shower.  Had it not been for the rain, I would have been able to finish the second coat of paint.

There is not a lot of new things to show this weekend since I was mostly painting and caulking.  My goal is to get the shell 100% complete and have the yard seeded with grass by June 1.  I’m on track to meet that goal.  I have about 4 hours of painting, flashing to install on the slab insulation, installation of the battery box, and about 20 yards of loam to spread.  I think all these things can be completed next weekend with a bit of time to spare.

Here’s a video tour for this weeks installment:

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Another pretty decent weekend for bodega building.  There was a bit of rain saturday morning but nothing too bad.  I managed to finish all but one piece of siding, build screens for the porch, and fill the dumpster.

With rain in the forecast, I got a jump on the siding by working late (with lights) Friday night.  I managed to get about half the siding above the deck installed.  I thought the siding around the octagon window would be tough but it was not.

The technique that worked the best was to cut each piece a bit long and lay it in place on the Solo Siders and then mark it with the speed square.  I used the dewalt jigsaw to make cuts so I didn’t have to lug the big saw up to the porch roof.

With all but one piece installed, I began caulking all the siding joints per the manufacturers instructions.  Frankly, this is a real pain in the ass!  The best I can suggest is to be very careful squeezing caulk into the joints and then smooth it with your finger.  Have plenty of rags and a place to wipe off the excess caulk.

I picked DAP Dynaflex 230 since it has a 50 year rating and is seems to dry really soft and squishy.  It does shrink quite a bit, so I expect to walk around and do some touch up in some places.

To make custom screens you need screen material, aluminum channels, rubber cord, and plastic corners.  You will also need a special roller tool that costs about ten bucks.  Lowes sells all these things and has quite a selection of colors etc.  The one question I had was on the diameter of the rubber cord.  It comes in various sizes and the Lowes guy had no idea what size to use.  I picked out .160 and .140 diameters.  In my opinion, the .140 worked better as it put less tension on the screen.

You start by cutting the aluminum channels to 1.5 inches less than the width of your window.  I used the carbide blade on my chop saw and got excellent cuts.  With all the channels cut you assemble the screen by pressing in the plastic corners.  Before adding screen, make sure the frame fits in your window….trim if needed.


Attaching the screen requires a bit of technique and patience.  I start with enough screen to overlap by an inch or two on all sides.  You then roll in the rubber cord on 2 sides.  The remaining two sides is where things get tricky.  pull too tight and you deform the channels, too loose and the screen flaps around.  I had to play around a bit to get the right feel.  After the screen is installed, trim the excess with a sharp knife.  If you did it right the screen will stay flat and the sides won’t be warped.

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The screens are held in place by 3/4 by 1/2 inch wood trim strips cut to size.  I pre-drilled 3 holes per strip and installed trim screws in the holes.  If I ever need to repair the screen it should come right out.

Dumpster Diving
I rented a 15 cubic yard dumpster for 10 days at a cost of $300.  I lots of foam insulation and roofing debris to cart away.  There was no way I was going to make 4 trips to the dump to get rid of the stuff.

I used the tractor to load some of it which resulted in a lot of wasted space so I ended up in the dumpster rearranging things to allow more crap to fit.  If you do this be sure and look out for nails so you don’t end up at the doctor’s office.

Next Up
I want the outside 100% complete before I begin inside work.  I still need to put the second coat of paint on.  The foam around the slab needs to be covered with something so it is not pink.  I also want to seed the grass so I can remove my hay bales which were required by conservation.  Next weekend I will spend my time putting on the finishing touches.

My goal is to begin indoor work by June 1.  Have Insulation done by the middle of June.  Prep work for interior walls complete by June 30.  Install interior walls on July 4th weekend and finish up by the middle of July.  The bathroom tile/shower will take the rest of July.  Flooring will require at least 2 weekends in August.  From there I expect 2 weekends of odds and ends.  That means a September move in date give or take.

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Lightning Protection for PV Systems

This morning I woke to a huge thunderstorm moving thru.  As I lay there listening to the thunder rumble, I began thinking that the roof of my XS house is constructed from 2×4’s and half inch plywood.  If a nearby tree gets hit any large branch is probably coming thru the roof.  I decided to go downstairs to sleep with the dog just in case.

At one point I saw a flash of light and heard a “pop” from someplace.  I decided to hit the main power disconnect…just in case.  A few minutes the same pop came back and I smelled “electronics”.  At that point I realized that my DSL modem was getting “hits” from the phone lines.  Of course it was too late my DSL modem was toast.  Growing up I remember our old phone would go “ding” for close lightning hits.  Not having a land line for the past 10 years I forgot about that.

I called Apu from Verizon and he said he will be sending me a new modem in two days (at no cost BTW…Good job Verizon).  When I left the house this morning it seemed like the phone line was not functioning.  I wonder if it will fix itself or if I may need to have someone visit me for service.

What about my PV panels?

This got me thinking that I should really add some surge protection to my PV panels and electrical box.  The wires from my panels are about 150 feet long and are strung up in trees and go all over the place…not very lightning proof I would say.

This morning I ordered a surge suppressor model MNSPD-115 from Midnight Solar.  Problem with surge protection is that there is a lot of bullshit floating around.  The bottom line with surge protection is that if God wants to take your DSL modem to heaven its going no matter how much surge protection you use.  Surge protection helps with nearby strikes that are conducted to your electronics through power lines or phone lines.

How does surge protection work?

In non-technical terms a surge suppressor is a very fast switch that closes when it sees too much voltage.  It is illustrated by this diagram:

Rodney the rodent when he is not eating propane tank hoses sits around and watches the voltage coming from your PV panels.  In the morning it starts out at a few volts and slowly rises to about 15 volts in full sunlight.  This pattern of voltage rising and falling each day is normal, so Rodney ignores it.

One day a thunderstorm comes along and sends a 500 volt spike down the PV wires heading towards your beloved PC.  Rodney swings into action and closes the switch which diverts this spike to your ground stake.  After the spike passes, Rodney opens the switch and your PC is safe (unless its a Windows machine).

If the spike was very large, then Rodney faithfully closes the switch.  Unfortunately the  switch melts down and Rodney winds up with a new job at the local chinese take out.  If the spike lasted long enough, then some of it would make it into your PC.  You then get to buy a new surge suppressor and PC (don’t worry its gone to a better place).

Where the manufacturer bullshit comes into play is how large of a spike Rodneys switch can handle before it melts down.  Sometimes Rodney costs too much and the manufacturer replaces him with Delmar who works, but not very fast or can’t read the volt meter very well due to poor eyesight.

Why did I pick this model?

MIdnight is the only company that has a video showing their product being tested in a real lab.  The video is on the product page.  Midnight has a very good reputation and based on the reading I have done seems to be the best for this kind of thing.