My camp build
2014

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2014 is my favorite year

I sleep in a tent. I draw a cartoon. I find more deals and I pound more nails.
This is an amazing year

Which is funny, because it doesn’t start out good at all. Just before Christmas I turn on the lights in the washroom and my lights start flashing. I’m all like, wha? The power goes out. Huh?

I go to the solar shed. There’s the inverter flashing “overload.” I shake my head. I turn it off. I turn it back on. Up she goes.

The next day. I turn on the lights to the washroom. Can you see where this is going?

This time the inverter doesn’t go back on. The inverter inverts no more. My solar system is hamstrung. Drat. 2014 starts out ‘spensive!

Realizing it has something to do with the GFCI and the outdoor light, both go in the garbage.

The new TBS 1600 inverter. Better temperature and voltage handling, low idle power make this a great off grid choice.
The new TBS 1600 inverter. Better temperature and voltage handling, low idle power make this a great off grid choice.
TBS to the rescue

Well, after three years of off grid solar I’ve learned a few things. One, my batteries when equalizing in the winter see voltages well in excess of 15.5v. I’ve seen over 16v. With the Ramsond I have to turn the inverter off when equalizing. With the new fridge. That’s hard to do.

I’ve also learned that my solar shed gets dang cold. Despite the insulation there’s no heat source. Eventually it cools to ambient. And when ambient is -30. Ouch, that’s cold.

Plus, I’ve noticed the Ramsond inverter uses a lot of power when idle. Something around 35 watts/hr. Multiply by 24 hours. That’s a lot of power. So I want an inverter that is tough. That has really low idle power use. And, hey why not, looks good.

Ta-da. After spending a gosh awful amount of money a beautiful TBS arrives from the Netherlands.

It is the easiest install I’ve ever done. And you should see this thing inside. Beautiful. And most important. Problem solved.

Then I realize that 12×20 is too small

I just can’t take it. I get cabin fever bad around February. Luckily my aunt in Florida takes pity on me and invites me down. I have the best month of my life. And it kick starts my summer.

Even if I did come home to this
Launching my kayak off of my deck. Now that's special.
Launching my kayak off of my deck. Now that’s special.

This too was funny. I get back to high water. Okay. Then it’s higher water. Then I’m launching my kayak  pretty much from the deck. I took this picture from the deck. You can see that the kayak is right in front of me. And the water is still rising.

Anyway. It was a very polite flood. It came up to the front door and knocked; But it didn’t come in.

For the record. The water line was a squeak above the 100 year mark. Local families said the water was the highest they have seen. And some of them have been here for 6 generations. Well, at least I know my studio is safe.

First issue when the water drops: get out of the studio
Introducing the Kodiak
Take me to the Kodiak lounge. 9x12 bedroom with 7.5 ft ceilings. Memory foam mattress with IKEA bedframe. 8x8 dressing area. Not exactly roughing it.
Take me to the Kodiak lounge. 9×12 bedroom with 7.5 ft ceilings. Memory foam mattress with IKEA bedframe. 8×8 dressing area. Not exactly roughing it.

Remember that deck that I built in two pieces. Well I turn one of the deck halves into the tent platform. This starts the most fun I’ve had without (well you know without) in bed, ever.

I love the tent. First off you’re very close to nature, but you’re warm and dry. The morning sun falls on the canvas and just lights up the room. My morning ritual becomes, go into studio, start coffee, turn on internet, make coffee, return to bed with coffee.

I know. Off grid roughing it right.

Next: A real kitchen
The studio as of summer 2014. More or less anyway.
The studio as of summer 2014. More or less anyway.

In very late 2013 I find a deal on a 5 burner gas stove. It’s got some problems, but after it sits in my laneway for six months under a tarp I get it into the studio and the stove top is working. I find a group of IKEA cabinets. Including sink and faucet and stainless counter top. I fix, swap, polish, and fiddle. Finally, a real kitchen. Not that the kitchen in the Hornet was terrible. It was great. And okay, I still need to get the oven working, but this is a huge step forward.

After basically a year without a good kitchen, and two years before that of a tiny kitchen, this is wonderful. I have running water. I have counter space. I have cupboards. Sheesh.

The studio is now the great room.
The studio is now the great room.

So the studio is now the great room. It’s a kitchen, living, hang out space.

And the studio gets a little exterior paint

If I can find the picture, ah there it is.

Okay. Ran out of paint. But. I got two sides done.
Okay. Ran out of paint. But. I got two sides done.
The washroom gets some work

Lots of finishing to do yet, but I add cabinets. I have hot water. The shower is going.  The washing machine is working. You know. More small steps for off grid man.

At 8 x 16 it's a work in progress. Still. Composting toilet, check. Hot water shower, check. Laundry facilities, check.
At 8 x 16 it’s a work in progress. Still. Composting toilet, check. Hot water shower, check. Laundry facilities, check.

And that envirolet toilet. Still working fine.

Now it’s hammer time

So fabulous summer, but once fall really bit in I realized that I needed to get going. So the winter bedroom build began. As I started this blog in 2014, the winter bedroom got quite a few posts. So I’ll let you, gentle reader, follow the posts.

 A few highlights

The idea was to build a traveling bedroom that I could tow around the property. After visiting a friends 10×12 build though, I kind of saw this as being a lot bigger and heavier than I had expected.

After a summer in the tent, I also wanted to keep the rustic cabin feel. Looking at the amount of insulation I have found on kijiji over the years, stockpiled for this build, I make a decision. Cut it down to 10×14. Reduce the wall heights.

Plan made. I start off.

Erase, sketch, modify, erase, sketch ...
Erase, sketch, modify, erase, sketch …
And begin
The frame work has begun. Posts level, frame square. Check.
The frame work has begun. Posts level, frame square. Check.

Okay. So for the next while after getting the frame started I entertain friends and family. Go fishing. Hunt ducks. But times a’passin’ and it’s time to swing hammers.

The first wall is up and the stress panel to prevent rack and ruin is ready and waiting.
The first wall is up and the stress panel to prevent rack and ruin is ready and waiting.

I start wondering what to do for siding. After some humming and hawing I go see the Amish lads at Black Lake.

Wow. Is that lumber ever a reasonable price. So instead of roofing and siding with plywood I use four plywood panels on two corners of the building for bracing and I finish the roof and the rest of the walls with 1 by 12″ boards of fresh cut pine. Smells great.

I tied the tarp down with a variety of ropes and bungie cords. Looks pretty, er, spider like?
I tied the tarp down with a variety of ropes and bungie cords. Looks pretty, er, spider like?
Happily going along with the build…
The wind tore off the tarp and the house wrap. So I took a pic before it gets wrapped up again.
The wind tore off the tarp and the house wrap. So I took a pic before it gets wrapped up again.
Insulation in progression

I’m building a “perfect wall” ala buildingscience.com. If you’re building a small/tiny house I suggest you have a look. Basically you put the insulation on the outside of the house. It works great.

Bit of a distance shot on the back wall.
Bit of a distance shot on the back wall.

I tack the insulation sheets down and then strap with 1×4. You need special long screws (50 cents each!) but it works the ticket.

Roof conundrum

So I’m going along merrily, when: ouch … now the thing about recycled materials … my 3″ insulation turns out to be 3.3″. Times 2. Plus 3/4″ strapping. Those 8″ screws aren’t biting into the wood … and seeing as the strapping not only holds the insulation down, it secures the metal roof … What to do, what to do?

After a nights rests … it’s the dado doo dah day rescue plan

Dado blade to the rescue.
Dado blade to the rescue.

After dadoing some 3/4″ deep slots into my roofing insulation the screws bite no problem.

Now ain’t that purty?
Dado cut. Strapping screwed down. The roof is ready for the ice/water layer.
Dado cut. Strapping screwed down. The roof is ready for the ice/water layer.
And it’s time for

Installing the door. The door, in keeping with the recycled theme. Is from a garage sale two years ago. End of day. $50 bucks with a nice print of birds thrown in for good measure (happy birthday Mom, yes I am that cheap).

Door came with flashing still attached. Which, with a little custom metal bending, I was able to use. Whoever put the door in did a great job. Amazing really. They hung the door from two screws at the top corners and then spray foamed. Pretty cool. So when I put the door in, I did the same. Two screws. One in each top corner and then spray foam. I had to put some foam wedges in on the lock side to take a bow out of the frame, but it’s in.

One bargain door. Turns out the glass is argon filled. Cool.
One bargain door. Turns out the glass is argon filled. Cool.
Winter comes too early

It’s a mean, nasty, ugly cold. A wet cold with winds up to 100 km an hour. -6C. Luckily the roof is wrapped. But real progress grinds to a h-h-h-h-a-l-l-t.

Roof ice/water barrier is strapped down.
Roof ice/water barrier is strapped down.

Roof felts on. Windows and door are in. Deck and entrance step in place. Time to do some interior work. With the cold, step one: heat.

This is my Mr. Buddy temporary heater. Oh. And a glass of sangria.
This is my Mr. Buddy temporary heater. Oh. And a glass of sangria.
Now to do some flooring
The boards might be frozen but they're in.
The boards might be frozen but they’re in.

This was hilarious. The boards for the floor are frozen solid. Well, that’s what a circular saw is for. And look. The bed is in. Once it defrosts it’ll be time to sleep in the chalet.

Now I just need a … break in the weather
Roofed just in time. Weather forecast for tomorrow is 10-15 cms of snow (6 to 8").
Roofed just in time. Weather forecast for tomorrow is 10-15 cms of snow (6 to 8″).

There’s a break in the weather that coincides with the roofing showing up. Luck. Plus, I get the propane direct vent heater installed. I’m set for winter.

The ceiling of the chalet will remain exposed. One of the aesthetic benefits of the perfect wall.
The ceiling of the chalet will remain exposed. One of the aesthetic benefits of the perfect wall.

Ah, now that’s the rustic look I wanted.

Sleep gentle soul and reap your dreams
A real bed. Okay, the bed frame isn't in yet, but my much beloved memory foam mattress.  Complete with clean sheets and three pillows.
A real bed. Okay, the bed frame isn’t in yet, but my much beloved memory foam mattress. Complete with clean sheets and three pillows.
One last look

Here’s a mid winter shot. The chalet is a resounding success.

Sunshine washes away the winter blues.
Sunshine washes away the winter blues.
Excited to see what happens in 2015?
Me too! Keep coming back. I’m adding all the time.

wait, missed the 2013 build season:
go to My camp build 2013

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