Designing and Building a Tiny House, and Everything In Between. 

Ribbons, Sails 

& Dandelion Fluff

May 2020 –

Building a Shelter

Steel Frames & Cladding

Apr 20 – Jul 19

Doors & Windows

The Beginnings of a ‘Tiny’ Project

Apr 19 – Aug 17

Succulents & Raspberries;

A First Foray into Gardening.

Oct 17 – Apr 15

Windows

The Halfway Point ~ Windows

After what seems a very long time, (because it was a very long time), all six window sashes have been cut and fitted, with rabbets for the glass routered. The remaining window panes have been ordered and one sash has even been stained and glazed. Progress is being made, even if in apparent slow motion. Except the funny thing is that these windows weren’t actually all that difficult and weren’t all that time-consuming to make. In fact, if one took out all the times they were sidelined, I think it would equate to approximately one month of work, beginning to end. Yet, I am my own worst enemy and to those of you out there who have ever enquired after my progress, you may justly suppose that I have been working on them for half a decade.

You see, for quite a while it was the task that I would prattle off every time a well-meaning family, friend or work colleague would ask ‘Fiona, how is that charming tiny house of your’s going? Nearly finished?’ ‘Ah, well actually, I am just about to build the windows! Isn’t that wretchedly exciting?’For there is no denying that this sounds far more impressive than ‘Uh, um, alright? Yeaaaa I’m afraid the house is not nearly finished… and well uh no, we haven’t started the frame yet.’However, like most aspects of this project, the windows were postponed and delayed and unavoidably made me a liar. For me to only now declare ‘Family! Friends! Let’s rejoice for the windows are half way done!’would reasonably give any of these individuals pause as they mentally do the math and conclude that they must have misheard,’Silly me, I thought she said she was building a tiny house, but she must have said SKYSCRAPER! Yes, I see now, those bad boys do have a fair few windows, what a champ!’Happily no one, bar myself and probably my parents, truly gives two hoots if I take the entire century to build this thing. No doubt social conversation would probably become a little dry as I reached the 30th year, but the plumbing scheduled for year 32 could only lead to the most dazzling of discussions.

Yet for now, I am content that the windows are finally tangible and yesterday I had a good play, testing locations and heights. With each confirmed measurement, the blurred vision that is my house, becomes a little clearer, revealing new details, like the location of a reading lamp, (important for power plans), or the height and design of the desk. It is all well and good to have a Sketch-up drawing but it is nothing like shaping the spaces with the real deal.

When I began planning these windows, the reading and viewing material available was limited, and though I would never argue that my sashes are on level with professionally built ones, I plan to soon share a detailing my process thus far for inspiration or reference. They have been, for most of the time, a pleasure to make, and I do believe they have saved me in both cost and weight, though at the risk of boiling or freezing to death due to a lack of insulated glass? Who knows. But I am getting ahead of myself, glazing is not scheduled until 2024.

After what seems a very long time, (because it was a very long time), all six window sashes have been cut and fitted, with rabbets for the glass routered. The remaining window panes have been ordered and one sash has even been stained and glazed. Progress is being made, even if in apparent slow motion. Except the funny thing is that these windows weren’t actually all that difficult and weren’t all that time-consuming to make. In fact, if one took out all the times they were sidelined, I think it would equate to approximately one month of work, beginning to end. Yet, I am my own worst enemy and to those of you out there who have ever enquired after my progress, you may justly suppose that I have been working on them for half a decade.

You see, for quite a while it was the task that I would prattle off every time a well-meaning family, friend or work colleague would ask ‘Fiona, how is that charming tiny house of your’s going? Nearly finished?’  ‘Ah, well actually, I am just about to build the windows! Isn’t that wretchedly exciting?’ For there is no denying that this sounds far more impressive than ‘Uh, um, alright? Yeaaaa I’m afraid the house is not nearly finished… and well uh no, we haven’t started the frame yet.’ However, like most aspects of this project, the windows were postponed and delayed and unavoidably made me a liar. For me to only now declare ‘Family! Friends! Let’s rejoice for the windows are half way done!’ would reasonably give any of these individuals pause as they mentally do the math and conclude that they must have misheard, ‘Silly me, I thought she said she was building a tiny house, but she must have said SKYSCRAPER! Yes, I see now, those bad boys do have a fair few windows, what a champ!’ Happily no one, bar myself and probably my parents, truly gives two hoots if I take the entire century to build this thing. No doubt social conversation would probably become a little dry as I reached the 30th year, but the plumbing scheduled for year 32 could only lead to the most dazzling of discussions.

Yet for now, I am content that the windows are finally tangible and yesterday I had a good play, testing locations and heights. With each confirmed measurement, the blurred vision that is my house, becomes a little clearer, revealing new details, like the location of a reading lamp, (important for power plans), or the height and design of the desk. It is all well and good to have a Sketch-up drawing but it is nothing like shaping the spaces with the real deal.

When I began planning these windows, the reading and viewing material available was limited, and though I would never argue that my sashes are on level with professionally built ones, I plan to soon share a detailing my process thus far for inspiration or reference. They have been, for most of the time, a pleasure to make, and I do believe they have saved me in both cost and weight, though at the risk of boiling or freezing to death due to a lack of insulated glass? Who knows. But I am getting ahead of myself, glazing is not scheduled until 2024.

 

Six Windows
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The bottom right corner window was treated as my mockup and so has been victim of some maybe-too-orange stain. I glazed it with 4mm glass pretty successfully, though the drying time of the putty bordered on four weeks and there was a minor incident involving a leaking shed roof. It goes without saying that this window is far from perfect, but it has been relegated to the bathroom at the end of the house so the poor putty job shouldn't be too noticeable. 
Windows in place
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It's difficult to see, but there is a faint purple chalk line marking out the borders of the house. Clockwise from the bottom: Bathroom casement / Double casement above kitchen prep counter / Single casement above the desk. An awning window above the couch and another awning above the kitchen sink. 
Double Casement
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This is a pairing of two windows, which sit along the front wall of the house, above the kitchen counter. I am quite excited for these two, as I think they will present a lovely view.
Bathroom Window
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The bathroom window is rather oversized as I ended up with a free pane of glass when I ordered the pane for the desk window. I had ordered raw edges, but they had polished them, and so cut a secondary piece when the mistake had been realised. When I came to collect the sheet, they offered me the spare free of charge. Naturally, I didn't refuse. This did mean that one of the windows had to be resized to fit the glass, and initially, I was thinking the lounge one. However, this one I wanted to be landscape, and the dimensions of the pane were too squat for such orientation. It was suggested for the bathroom but I was hesitant about the lack of privacy a large window may present. That said the other windows had already been cut and I didn't want to waste the sheet. I tested it with greater height, but it looked bizarre and threatened to hit the roof line. I then remembered a tiny house I had once visited, with a window that expanded the back wall, shelved with indoor plants. I placed a few plants on the sill and was impressed with the effect. With an extended window sill, such large plants could certainly provide something of a screen. 
Lounge WindowBELOW
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This will actually be more in line with the left end,  but I was propping it up with clamps. The height is just about right though. 

Let’s just say I will be terribly glad once the windows are done and dusted- the whole process has been long and tiring and we haven’t even built one yet! That said progress is being made so let me bring you up to speed.

So, due to a slight misunderstanding, the building of the windows has dragged out considerably longer than anticipated. Naively I had planned to have them done and dusted by September, however, it is now the last week of August and I have 1 sash measured & cut and a handful of bridle join practice pieces.

This delay predominantly stemmed from the choice of timber. We had read that Western Red Cedar was the ideal timber for windows due to its tiny weight and solid durability and therefore sought a quote from a local timber yard. To our disappointment, it was incredibly expensive. Considering the fact that we are complete amateurs and that the budget isn’t overly generous, it was with reluctance that we had to say no to the cedar and began looking for alternatives. I will just pause a moment and say that there really aren’t many resources for building your own windows so when you have a question or face a problem there isn’t a whole lot to turn to- if there was we probably wouldn’t have investigated our second choice- Merbau.

Don’t get me wrong Merbau is a nice timber- it’s impressibly durable and a very popular choice for decking. Being hardwood, it was going to undoubtly be heavier than the cedar, but on paper it didn’t sound too bad at 2.6 kg a metre, I mean I have never held a window before so it seemed reasonable enough. That said we knew it was 3-4 times heavier than the Western Red Cedar so it was with some trepidation that we ordered a sample 8 metres of the wood- enough to build a medium window, and a wee extra for testing. A week or so later, the timber was ready for pickup. Supplied in lengths of 3 metres it immediately became apparent that Merbau is heavy.  Most of the windows clock in around 3 metres of timber and holding the 8kg length I could feel this would be a problem. That said, I had eight metres to burn so began to have a play.

IMG_3759

Being a novice woodworker I had only ever really worked with pine and ply. Merbau is a hardwood and I will just say that it is beautiful to work with. True, this could just be because I have never used nice timber before but it felt reassuringly solid and cut easily enough with my new Japanese saw; (more on that another day). That said, after a couple of practise corner joints, it became clear that the weight was just too great- a deal breaker when it comes to a Tiny House.

Growing a tad frustrated and disheartened, it was as I was researching alternatives when I took another look at the Western Red Cedar quote- 25 metres of 30mm x 140mm.
… 140mm? uh, that’s a terribly solid sash. It was then that I realised we had asked for a quote for the window frames, not the sash. No wonder it was so darn expensive. A bit more research and it turned out Bunnings had some 67 x 30mm Western Red Cedar – close to the dimensions we were looking at, and thankfully it was half the cost of the original quote. It was without hesitation that we ordered a sample.

Where the Merbau was solid and assuring, the cedar felt like a piece of balsa wood. It is incredibly light- light enough that one could throw a piece a 3-metre length into the air and catch it, but be sure to catch it because it bangs up like anything. That has been a struggle as I have been playing with it this last week- but otherwise it’s nice enough to work with (I will go into the joinery another day) and supposedly is durable, strong and recommended for outdoor use. I am a bit sceptical but hopefully, a complete window will settle these doubts.

IMG_3790

What is Tempered Glass?

When researching windows for tiny homes, tempered glass is a term which you will immediately come across. Heat treated, or chemically treated, tempered glass is nicknamed ‘safety glass’ for its ability to fracture into small blunt pieces.
[You are likely familiar with its broken form if you live in an area with sheltered glass bus stops. Or rather, did live in an area with sheltered glass bus stops. Before the footpath sparkled with pretty, fractured chunks of glass.]

It is is quoted as being four times stronger than annealed glass (‘normal’ glass) – an excellent selling point when considering the transportation of your tiny home.

Heated to an industry standard of 620 degrees Celsius, then air blasted to cool during a process called ‘quenching,’ the glass cools from the outside surface to the center, leaving the center in tension and the outer surface in compression.
Though this means little to me, it apparently creates a glass of such strength, that it gives even your parents enough peace of mind that they install it in their kitchen door on the off chance that a tickling war escalates once more. (True story.)

However, despite the glowing attributes, in typical fashion, there is debate over whether tempered glass is indeed necessary. The pros and cons are listed on many a website, and opinions range from ‘must have’ to ‘forget about it.’
Purchasing tempered glass windows will certainly increase your cost, and finding recycled tempered windows is apparently very difficult. Fortunately for me it’s early days, so I can sit on such decisions a while longer.
Though truth be told, before I can even make that call, I must remember that tempered glass is just one of the many considerations around windows. I haven’t even touched on other glass options, let alone style, frame material, energy efficiency ratings, or ventilation.

All in good time.