Many of you may remember me talking about my mentor role with South Lenoir High School in an effort to build a tiny house on wheels with their construction trades program. Called the Tiny Blue Devil we are building a 20′ Elm (plans courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company) on a custom fabricated trailer built locally by HH Farm Supply / Triple C Trailers. Once completed the tiny house on wheels will feature lap siding donated by LP SmartSide, roofing courtesy of ONDUVILLA, a mini-split unit generously donated by ClimateRight, and more! Since we picked up the trailer just before Thanksgiving we have had a number of hurdles we had to jump to ease into build mode.
- Thanksgiving Vacation or Fall Break. One thing I had forgotten about when beginning a project with a school is that there are class period times to consider, break schedules, lunch periods, exams, etc. Just when I had some materials together and was ready to start the subfloor we came up on Thanksgiving break. That took us out of schedule and had me reevaluate the timing of everything.
- Building Code. Many of you remember that Lenoir County is where we lived in our tiny house on wheels from 2010 – 2013. The county was so progressive (although they didn’t realize it) and so accommodating. We had to work WITH them though and this project has been no different. Due to some building codes we have had to modify the Elm 20′ plans and rethink the design just a bit. For instance, our subfloor is now constructed of 2″x6″ joists instead of 2″x4″, in order to allow for R19 (as opposed to R13, which I first figured on) insulation. Waiting on clearance from a number of legislative personnel put us behind almost 3 weeks.
- Christmas Vacation. Have you ever tried to keep students motivated up until Christmas break? It is difficult. Lots of field trips, make-up periods, students out of school, etc. really clogs the calendar. Frank Emory and I (Frank is a Construction Trades Instructor and the foreman of the project) decided we would be best served to really start building after the holidays.
- Snow and Ice. Eastern North Carolina bore the brunt of the deep freeze in early 2017. Schools were closed and classes were cancelled. You can’t build without builders and while only delayed by two days, it seemed like an eternity before we would get underway.
Things certainly started looking up though on Tuesday Jan. 10. I met Frank at the high school at 9am and his crew of advanced students was ready to start. In fact, they were already cutting the subfloor framing (most lumber courtesy of Blizzard Building Supply in Kinston, NC) . Frank had taught them the difference between miter joint and a butt joint and they determined it would be better to frame the subfloor with miter. I thought the choice was a good one and with 5 young men and 1 young lady, the Tiny Blue Devil started to take shape.
Monday is federal holiday so school is out. We will start back up on Tuesday though securing the sheet metal (donated by Noland Bath and Idea Center) to the subfloor framing, adding in the insulation batting, and securing the subfloor to the trailer via the threaded rods welded on. By Friday framing of the walls will have begun and the house will visibly start to take shape.
Serving 9,200 students in 17 schools, Lenoir County Public Schools focuses on connecting each student to a prosperous future through partnerships with families and the community, while educating in an ever-changing world.