Insulation in the big, little house

This is a home upgrade post and not related to tiny houses but to give a heads up on how cheap and easy it is to have insulation blown in.  Who knew?

In my little house in Hamilton my second floor studio is always hot in the summer.  Really hot.  I had always assumed that this was because there is a wall of South East facing windows and despite my having blinds up, a lot of heat enters this way.

Very late last summer I salvaged a nice old maple door from a reno around the corner from me and I decided to repurpose the curtains from the closet door in order to block some of the light and heat that was still getting in.  While perched on the step ladder I put my hand on the ceiling and it was SO HOT that it could almost burn…

I moved the ladder around the entire second floor and felt the ceiling and this little area about 2×2 feet was the only area that seemed to be hot like that… so I put it to the back of my mind.

Then we had a cold snap last week and my studio was the coldest room in the house.  I did some on line research and decided that getting it blown in was the least invasive method.  I also learned that sometimes companies have put in dangerous insulations into homes and thus I wanted to go with a company that would use either fibreglass or mineral wool insulation.  Then I called around about getting an insulation expert in to have a look at it and throw in some insulation.

When I did this, I found that most companies charge $0.75/square foot to bring the insulation up from R15 to R 60 which was REALLY surprising.  So what I thought would probably be a job that would cost us about 2K it would fall under $500 for our 450 square foot roof including GST; however, I also found that many companies have a minimum charge of $500 for coming.  I settled on a company that uses fibreglass and also that did NOT have a minimum charge.  I don’t mind paying for work to be done, really I don’t… but I don’t like the idea of paying for something I am not getting.

The owner of the small company came promptly at 10:00 am just as he said he would.  His staff of one, who happens to be  his mom worked quiet, clean and well together.   The job took a full hour less than he said it would.  They were only two hours in and out and in that time he built up the attic entry, baffled the roof and reported that the insulation was not properly installed just in one location… the hot spot on my studio ceiling.  He fixed that, and also explained that for a 1970’s house we had a reasonable amount of insulation: R30.  They blew in the insulation, showed us up into the attic (note this is not easy to see for short portly people like me), then he closed up the ceiling door and left for another job in Cambridge.  Now my R30 attic is about R65 or R70 and the area over my studio is now in good shape too.

Not just the price, the minimal disruption, or the speed of the job was surprising.  What was really surprising is that there was really no mess either.  I had envisioned a layer of fibreglass fluff covering every place they went through, but there were only VERY few tiny little fluff balls.  I mean very little, less than 1/8th of a cup in little fluff balls (that I think came off of Louis when he exited the roof entry).  We did a quick vacuum through incase there was stuff we could not see, in order to protect little dog paws from fibreglass.  That was the end of it.

Due to the fact that I have already done the looking around and I am very happy with the job he did, I am going to pass on his details.  The little company is Boland Home Insulation 519 803 4620.   Any of you who live within an hour or so from Guelph Ontario who who think you could benefit from a little insulation of your own feel free to tell him that Laura sent you.  He won’t know about my blog, so for him I will simply be the artist, customer who has a lot of little dogs.

Now… unlike any other time, I am really looking forward to a cold snap so we can see if there is a big difference in the temperature of the house.  For me, I already think it feels more even, but I am not sure… really… if this is my hopeful tendency creeping in… or reality.

Here is my small house, earlier in the fall.

Just under 450 square feet per floor this little house is now going to be a lot warmer, in winter and cool in summer.  The big window upstairs is my studio.  :-D   Note: The apple trees are new this year and replace two ornamental plums that came with the house.  Sadly they had plum tree cancer.  I tried to save them but they were far too far gone when we got the house.  We got about a half bushel of apples from the two trees this year.  A very big and nice surprise!  <3

Just under 450 square feet per floor this little house is now going to be a lot warmer, in winter and cool in summer. The big window upstairs is my studio. :-D
Note: The apple trees are new this year and replace two ornamental plums that came with the house. Sadly they had plum tree cancer. I tried to save them but they were far too far gone when we got the house. We got about a half bushel of apples from the two trees this year. A very big and nice surprise! <3

Categories: Insulation, Renovation, Upgrade | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

An Environmental Wonder!

Here are some stats on why tiny houses are fantastic energy savers.  What this does not take into account is the HUGE reduction in additional building materials (outside of lumber) and the huge reduction in STUFF needed to fill the house.

I don’t cool THO and will being next year in burning wood scraps in my mini 12.  Because I was not there this year I cannot do the carbon footprint for 2014, but in 2013 it was 1.1 carbon tons – however with 10 acres of untouched forest we contribute back far more than we could ever use even with having two houses.  Our forest, I estimate covers the foot print for 10 normal homes plus our own footprint.

Thanks to Tiny House Build for creating this info graphic

Thanks to Tiny House Build for creating this info graphic

Categories: Environmentalism, Erazim Kohák, Forest | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

In and Around My House: Fall 2014

After moving everything from the most Southern cupboard on the West wall of Tiny House Ontario, I tidied the house up a bit and took a look around.  You know, like most houses things are somewhat fluid in a tiny house too.  Things move, and sometimes things are even replaced.  This year, I have not been there too much but even so there are changes.  I thought it was time to update the images from home.

The West Window is the most decorated in THO. also it is where I put things like the little flower pot heater and candles and even the small propane heater from time to time.  Recently, my son did a dumpster dive for me at the countertop manufacturer and got this great piece of 1.5 inch thick marble so now the window sill won't get damaged by damp and wax.

The West Window is the most decorated in THO. also it is where I put things like the little flower pot heater and candles and even the small propane heater from time to time. Recently, my son did a dumpster dive for me at the countertop manufacturer and got this great piece of 1.5 inch thick marble so now the window sill won’t get damaged by damp and wax.  The little heater, is by the way, great at this time of year to keep the place warm after it is already heated up.  The Pumpkin is a size appropriate holiday decoration and thanks Guillaume for putting that out for us!  <3

Out the North Window Guillaume's house is being built.

Out the North Window Guillaume’s house is being built.  A little candle holder in the window casts nice light, and adds a little warmth too.  This is not new.  My son won it with a bunch of other things in a raffle at a fund raiser, about ten years ago and gave it to us. 

The chair got a hand made afghan from my cousin Nora.  I love hand made things and think this looks and feels wonderful on the old chair.

The chair got moved and it also got a hand made afghan from my cousin Nora. I love hand made things and think this looks and feels wonderful on the old chair.   You will also notice that I have a new butane cook top.  It works well, but unfortunately it sets off my fire alarm, so… I have to use it outside which kind of defeats the purpose.  It will be nice to have a wood stove so that during the cold months I can use this to cook on.   *** See the orbs in this photo?

Another wonderful and appreciated hand made afghan from cousin Nora.  They cover the sofa nicely to keep dirtily little paw prints at bay and they can also be used as a cover.  Please note the beautiful work of art in the corner, by the Australian artist Asta Lander.  I grew up with swans and really love this piece.

The sofa is in a new spot and it has a wonderful and appreciated hand made afghan from cousin Nora. These cover the furniture nicely, and to keep dirtily little paw prints at bay.   Too, they can also be used as a cover. Please note the beautiful work of art in the corner, by the Australian artist Asta Lander. I grew up with swans and really love this piece.  The shelves are slightly more full because the shelves on the other side have been removed.

The door to the stone patio at the North and the door to the in-house.

The door to the stone patio at the North and the door to the in-house.  Also the stairs going up.  This is a busy corner with a lot of functions!

A bit of a rainy day here - I left the ground level  rain barrel connected so that Guillaume can use the water until it gets too cold.  He will soon have to drain it and tip the barrel for the winter.  Still hoping he gets his roof on before freeze.

A bit of a rainy day here – I left the ground level rain barrel connected so that Guillaume can use the water until it gets too cold. He will soon have to drain it and tip the barrel for the winter. Still hoping he gets his roof on before freeze.

Categories: Home, Interior, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Cutting Holes and Other Stuff You Don’t Plan For

I have a plan to make a little less than two square feet addition to Tiny House Ontario. 22 x 8 inches plus a 22x 5 inch space where there is currently wall will become part of the footprint. It is an absurd amount of work to add such a very tiny 242 square inch additional space, but I think that the outcome will be totally worth the work. The great thing is that this will not actually add anything to the square footage of the house because the addition is a “dog box” that will stick out from the house on the West wall and this dog box will eventually become an enclosed stone chimney. I understand that just like outhouses, chimneys do not count in the square footage in my township, so the “dog box” is a short term coverable solution which will be worked on weather permitting after the dog box goes in.

The fact is that I have to make an addition. I had not included a wood stove in my original plan, but after having used a propane stove to heat, one thing I can say for certain that in a cold climate with a tiny well insulated space like THO, it is a terrible heat source. I really hate the dampness of it and it really is time to upgrade. Once the “dog box” is in place, it will be home to the Mini 12 Grey Stove that I purchased a year ago in December. Too, because the best plan is not always the easiest, the only way I can see to do this and still have a comfortable room is to locate the stove to go in the location of existing cupboards on the West wall in the Southern corner.

I also have another good reason for burning wood.  We live on ten acres of forest and my stove will give me viable repurpose for wood branch debris.

I have been at the house and I have already started the renovation. First, I had to remove all the stuff; I went through everything and purchased a few plastic containers and found that everything is essential, fits neatly in two thirds of the space that I had been using.  Second, I removed and relocated the cupboard doors so that the new plastic storage bins are neatly hidden away. Third, I cut out and removed all the build in shelves.  The nice thing is that the propane heater fits now neatly in the alcove and will stay here until I can do the rest of the job.

Relocated closed cupboard and new plastic tool bins

Relocated closed cupboard and new plastic tool bins

The truth is, there is still MUCH to be done. The wall boards have to be removed.  Then the framing has to be cut out and  reinforcements have to be put in place.   Then the wall needs to have a 22x 60 inch hole cut through, straight to the great outdoors. After this a tiny 27 x 11 inch cement pad has to be poured and cured and the teeny tiny dog box addition has to be built.  Then it will have to be roofed , then the entire thing will need to be sheathed, and steel has to be added to it in order to keep it dry.

After this is done there is insulation to add, and then a deck needs to be added for the stove to sit on. This tiny addition and the existing 9 inch deep alcove will then need to be covered in cement board and then this will need to be covered with something fireproof and attractive.  I am thinking 1.5 inch thick marble remnants might be the option I go with, because I can get these for free from a counter top maker’s dumpster that is close to my house.

Planned "dog box" addition to THO

Planned “dog box” addition to THO

I had hoped to start removing the wall boards and get the reinforcement boards up this week, but a trip to the doctor yesterday brings me some less than stellar news. I need another operation. I will be cut hipbone to hipbone and up to my belly button in a big upside-down capitol T, so they can rid me of tumors. Too the doctor biopsied me again yesterday even though so far it has been nothing malignant. Tomorrow I go for a barium swallow test too, yum yum. The end result is doc says no work for me now, and nothing for 6 to 8 weeks afterward either.  Sadly, despite the fact that I was feeling pretty good and getting things done again until my appointment yesterday, today I feel like I have been dragged through a grinder.

But, there is good news!   They will be chopping me opened on December 2nd so it will be over with soon enough and Doc thinks I will sufficiently recovered by the end of January that I should be good to go.

The crummy news is that February in Canada is not a good time of year to cure cement, nor to cut a hole in a house, so still no stove.

You know folks, I am sick of being sick; however I am glad to have a plan and to have the space in the wall cleared for when I am ready to go.  Too, I have to say, despite the fact that the house is not moving forward much this year, it is holding up really well and looking great.

The dog box addition is to go in on the wall between the window and the door to the cloth porch.   This dog box will eventually become enclosed by a stone chimney.

The dog box addition is to go in on the wall between the window and the door to the cloth porch.
This dog box will eventually become enclosed by a stone chimney.

Categories: Health, Laura Moreland, Off Grid, Ontario, Simple living, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario | 5 Comments

Nathan Cirillo’s Son

October 31 2014 UPDATE:  Here is a scan of the receipt for the donation to the Nathan Cirillo Trust fund.  I collected $345. of which Paypal takes 3.5%.  I had wanted to donate $50 because I got a matching funds pledge from a friend, and then I added what was missing so we would have a nice round $400. donation in total.

I am sorry the electronic receipt does not give more information but the person at the bank said to show her card and if anyone had questions, they are free to call her.  I told her I was from Tiny House Ontario and she had heard of it, so I think she will remember without trouble that the donation was made in cash.

Thank you again to all those who donated here or elsewhere for little Marcus.  <3 <3 <3

We did a good thing here folks!  <3

Here is the receipt to show that funds were deposited into the trust account for Marcus.

Here is the receipt to show that funds were deposited into the trust account for Marcus.

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October 29 2014 UPDATE: Please do not donate to my fundraiser.  The family of Nathan Cirillo asked (in his obituary) that any donations please be made to the Nathan Cirillo Trust at TD bank.  In keeping with the family wishes I have transferred the funds that were donated to my account so that I can access them to bring the funds, plus my own donation to the TD Bank.  I will be posting the stamped receipt for this deposit as soon as the funds arrive to me.

PLEASE NOTE: With Paypal this can take as long as long as 5 business days but according to Paypal I should have these funds by November the 5th at the latest.

Thank you to all of you who donated, here, there or anywhere, for this little fellow.

<3 Laura

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October 25 2014 UPDATE: There are, I have since found out, other places that are taking donations.  There is, for example, a trust account at TD Bank, called the Nathan Cirillo Trust.  If you feel more comfortable donating to them, please do so. I would like to see every Canadian who can spare it, donate a dollar.  If you can spare a little more, I am sure it will be appreciated.

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I had a look around the internet this morning and noticed that there are no funding campaigns that are specifically for the five year old son of Nathan Cirillo, who was recently murdered at the War Memorial in Ottawa Ontario. Like Nathan I was a single parent myself and should my life had been taken, I would hope that others would be willing to assist my child with his future. I chose to use the You Caring site to do this because they do not take any money for themselves. If you are interested in donating something for this little fellow’s future, please donate here.

If people do fund this campaign, I will put all funds in trust for his education and hope that some day he might want to build a tiny house of his own.  Nathan and Marcus

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | Tags: | 2 Comments

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