Subfloors, or, Starting At The Bottom And Working Your Way Up

Here I sit on July 26th-or-7th publishing a post on quote-unquote Getting Started which can not seem right to me what with the past three months or more spent planning out each crucial step of the way of how we would build our tiny house. The plans are ever-evolving however, and the precipe where which we now stand and face the real actual constructing of the project is one of transformation, in the time that is Now, where what once were called “ideas” are now becoming “things” and the realization of said former-imaginings is what feels like to me to be a new entity – put in motion once, and yet now moving more and more of its own accord. For as we have never built anything of this size or scale or significance (or maybe the word is cruciality) – there is only the witness of the project and also the imagination of where it will go next. 


Charlotte will help design her own room when the time comes for that in maybe a month or more. It sounds like, from discussions thus far, that her room might take on a “tree fort” motif, but that’s entirely up to her, and there is still some time to decide. 


In our time in Guelph, which is now incredibly nearing six weeks (Kat and I had previously spent the past 7.5 months travelling and only once staying in a single place for more than a month), we have been blessed with meeting so many people who share interest in our project and an enthusiasm to help out, either with work or with donations.


Mike and Mary-Kate with Backyard Bok Boks were our introduction to Guelph, and have been so wonderful to connect us with many others throughout the City. Simon and Eva and everybody at the Diyode Community Workshop have been great, and after our subfloor is complete, we will actually be relocating our project to Diyode where we aim to be fully finished before the 1st of November.


We were mentioned in the Transition Guelph newsletter, thanks to Kelly and Jess, and by the next day, CBC and the Guelph Tribune were contacting us. Within a couple more days, The Guelph Mercury called as well, and soon after CTV was pulling their van in the parking lot for a TV interview. It can’t be stopped if on occasion all substance is stripped from a lengthy interview here or there, reducing us talking heads to one or two half-second sound bytes of no real significance, but hey, I think it was Gore Vidal who said, ‘Never pass up the opportunity to have sex or appear on television’. 


Some of our friends turned up to help build the subfloor frame, which we are creating out of 2×4’s. The trailer’s frame is 3.5 inches in height, the same as a 2×4, so we have reduced significant weight off our project by deciding against 2×6’s or anything wider. Each 2×4 is supported beneath by a steel crossbeam, and we will drill pilot holes vertically in more than 40 places, then drive lag screws up from beneath, to bring the wooden frame tight to the steel crossbars. There will also be 10 lag bolts, five per side, fastening horizontally the perimeter wood to the chassis. 


Handel stopped by one day to help with the framing, and the next day our friends Jim and Elda came out from Kitchener to help. A woman named Melissa dropped off three bags of Roxul insulation, and our good friend Tanis has offered some maple hard wood flooring! When the time finally came to move the project over to Diyode, a friend and neighbour Nate towed it over with his F-350, which was greatly appreciated.


No ‘Thank-You’ checklist would be complete without mentioning our new friend Mike Barber who has been of utmost support in hooking us up with tons of salvage for all aspects of our build. Just to name a few things, all of our flooring insulation, vapour barrier, and insulating tape has been donated to us for free by Mike, and so early into our build we are already left wondering how we can ever repay his ongoing generosity. Thanks Mike!


Metal Supermarkets dropped off our 20GA steel sheets to line the bed of our trailer. These will prevent our wood subfloor from being exposed, but in order to protect the steel, we have painted TremClad on the interior side to prevent rusting, and a much nastier product called rubberizing paint which is basically like tar. This product was recommended to us, and we had never used it before, so we had no idea how terrible a substance it was until we cracked open a can. Its application was messy at best, the fumes toxic. It took about half a week to fully dry. However, aside from spending considerably more money on, say, aluminum, which will not oxidize and rust, the rubberizing paint job is thankfully over with, which cost about $100 and a few days of horrible tar fumes, but will protect the steel, add a bit of extra insulation to the belly of our trailer, and we saved us a couple hundred bucks buying steel versus aluminum. I should say that steel is rather heavy, and much of our build will come down to Weight-Versus-Strength decisions. In this case we went this steel because it is stronger and it was also cheaper (a factor which sort of tips the scales when other considerations are not already making up our minds for us). 


Stay tuned for a full update regarding the subfloor build in its entirety! 


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