That is to say we broke ground today. Todd the excavator brought out his giant drill known as an auger and put some holes in the earth that another gent later came by and filled with concrete. Between those events I did a lot of shoveling, post-hole digging, leveling, marking, bending rebar, and talking to inspectors and neighbors. Oh and having an epic life and death battle with a nest of wasps who happened to be living in my dirt. I got stung. I got mad, so I used the only tool handy which was a flame thrower to lay waste to the home they had so skillfully dug. I hate to be at odds with nature, but the wasps have got to go. We are making way for a new home!
“It’s a traditional Japanese method of treating wood siding…” has been a mantra as we explain it to everyone who passes by or wants to know what we are doing. Turns out there are a few barns in Kentucky that utilize the charring of wood in the same way, to preserve wood and resist rot and insects. In actuality, it is a lot of fun with fire. It’s like one hot coat of paint that will last the life of the house. The paintbrush, in this case, is a torch. Lent to us by expert roofer Chris Moore, it is just a flame thrower that hooks up to a propane tank that allowed us to get the job done fast. The traditional way would have involved binding boards into groups of three and lighting a fire in the triangular space between. Our method saved a lot of time bringing modern convenience to an ancient way of making wood long lasting. It is beautiful too. That’s the point.
This is the plan for our little abode. It is basically one large room with two corners dedicated to privacy, one wet and the other dry. On the other side a 10 cubic foot refrigerator and small round sink will not take up too much room as the cooking space will share with the living space. We will have a small oven and just two burners on a super-efficient, induction cook-top. In the bath we will have a tiny sink and a soaker tub. (priorities) Sleeping will occur officially in the corner, but the area above the bath could function as a loft. (If only it were legal) Good thing we are rebels.
Other orthographics forthcoming…
We stopped by the lot to see if any progress had been made digging the trench for the sewer and water taps. Rain forecasts have been welcome for the farmers, but unfortunately the rain is just in time to slow our start. As the rain stopped, I took a closer look at an old apple tree on the lot that is really more of a bush. We’ll have to do a good bit of soil restoration including removing a lot of compacted gravel and loosening up the clay underneath before we plant our own apple trees. Planting sunflowers for a couple of summers before investing in the fruit trees may be a good strategy!
After weeks of waiting and some last minute revisions, we resubmitted plans Monday and were finally able to pick up our permit from the Building Department today. Revisions to relocate the tiny house to the back of the lot were necessary, unfortunately, because of a zoning law that does not allow accessory structures to be placed at the front of the lot, even with a 25 ft. setback. Alex quickly shifted the plans to now include the tiny house at the back nestled between a large white pine and the neighbor’s wooded backyard. The drawback is that the tiny house will be very close to the larger house once it is built, but with a reconfiguration of the windows there should still be enough privacy for both buildings. For now, we’re excited to have signed permits in hand and set off running! With only a month to build our tiny house, it’s a sprint race for sure!
Orchard House in its name is a hope for what is to come. Our long narrow lot in Yellow Springs, Ohio includes an old garage and is surrounded by historic farmhouse style architecture. With efficient planning there will be space for half a dozen fruit trees, raised garden beds, and chickens interspersed between a tiny house and eventually a moderate size Passive House. In its early stages this blog is an opportunity to share our experience building phase one of the Orchard House property, the “tiny house”. The definition of “tiny house” is debated, but generally it’s a home that provides everything necessary without excess. For us 320 sq. ft. should do. Now that we’ve arrived in Yellow Springs from Denver and are settling into our summer rental, we are waiting with fingers crossed for the building permit from the county building department. With only six weeks to build our “tiny house” we are eager to get started as soon as possible!