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  • Writer's pictureJim Martin

An Unexpected Move.

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

There is quite a story behind how long it has taken me to write this post. Part of that story has to do with the fact that I am now writing from Vermont rather than Virginia. I will relay that story in its entirety, but it's going to take me several posts to do that. So strap in, the ride will be worth it.

When last September rolled around, we were still living in Fredericksburg with no immediate plans to move. We'd just married off our youngest, and were still recovering. The tiny house was in exactly the same condition we'd left it in at the end of my last post: We. Are. Dried. In! Then, several things happened all at once. Our beloved dog Bear (you can see him in the final video of the above linked post) died unexpectedly. Around the same time I realized that, not only was I aging, but all four of my siblings and their spouses were too. We are an extraordinarily close crew on the emotional level, but I'd been living geographically far away from them all for a quarter century. Something shifted, and quickly. All of a sudden it was time to move back.

You may be thinking, "I didn't know your siblings lived in Vermont!" Well, they don't. We drew a series of concentric circles on the map starting in north-central Massachusetts (MA is where all the sibs are) and began looking at properties. More on that later.

You may also be thinking, "Properties?!? Does that mean you'll be moving into the Tiny House!?!" No, no it doesn't. At least not yet. Again, reference the above linked post to recall what shape the Tiny House is in. We're not fancy, but generally speaking we've become accustomed to things like windows. Which the Tiny House did not yet have. Or a door.

We knew we couldn't move the tiny house without windows and a door. I figured if we tried, the Tyvek would balloon out and tear off the house in huge sheets as we drove up Interstate 95. Not good. More on that later too.

So, we finally ordered some windows. And a door. Given lingering COVID delays, it was about a six to eight week wait for them. Meanwhile we spent our weekends driving up to New England to look at properties. The race was on!

We put our (big) house on the market and got a great offer right away, but the buyers wanted to close in early December! We put in an offer on a house in Vermont with closing in mid-December. You guessed it, more on that later too.

While we waited for the windows to arrive from the manufacturer, I started thinking seriously about how we were going to move this thing. Because, I don't know if I've mentioned this yet... but I've never pulled a trailer before--not even a little dump trailer, or even a UHaul trailer... and I don't own a truck.

The next post will be all about moving the Tiny House, and you won't want to miss that one. It's quite a story. But suffice it to say, due to several factors having to do with the closing on the house, the Tiny House had to be moved on Sunday, December 4, 2022--It had to leave Virginia and arrive in Vermont that same day.

Amid the flurry of preparing to sell our house and looking for new properties, I was informed by the builder's supply shop that the windows would arrive on Thursday, November 30th. Cue ticking clock sound.

It turns out that all five windows for the Tiny House fit comfortably in my Prius. I know that because rather than wait for delivery, I picked them up on Thursday afternoon. The shop said they could deliver the door the next day. Plenty of time.

I raced home in time to install the first one before the sun went down. Some new products on the market make this process easier than it was 30 years ago when we built our last house. (More on that here.) These days, companies like Huber make a stretch tape for flashing the sill of the rough opening to ensure any water is shed to the outside. It is super-sticky and stable across a wide range of temperatures.

The installation process is pretty simple. You flash the rough opening, insert the window, which should fit with about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch gap on all sides if you've made the rough opening the right size. Windows for new construction generally have a vinyl flange that sits right up against the sheathing of the house. The flange has a nail/screw hole about every 3 inches or so. You fit the window in the opening and ensure it is square (and level and plumb), then you put a construction screw in every hole around the flange.

There's a simple process for flashing the top of the window by cutting back the Tyvek, then layering it back over the top flange and taping it down with Tyvek tape. Huber also makes a flashing tape that is non-stretchy and great for taping the flange down to the Tyvek after the window is installed.

Door installation is a little more complicated. Essentially you want to be sure that the hinge side of the door is perfectly plumb. There are lots of ways to do this. My favorite is to trap shims behind my level against the door jamb like this. (Note, this is not me. I did not have a free hand to take a picture during this process!) Trap one set of shims where the top door hinge will be, and another set where the bottom hinge will be. Adjust shims until the level reads plumb. Then shoot a finish nail or two into each set of hinges. Boom, the hinge side of the door jamb is plumb. There will usually be a threshold "pan" assembly that is designed to shed any water that tries to come in around the door opening. I glued mine down with a product called Lexel.

There is more that can be said about all this, but suffice it to say that by Saturday morning, the windows and doors were installed and I had two more things to do:

  1. Screw some 1x2 strapping along all the edges and corners of the Tiny House in an effort to keep as much of the Tyvek on the structure as possible. Two of my daughters showed up to help with this, which was super fun--so fun that we took no photos!

  2. Jack the house up, remove the jack stands and lower it back down to the ground for the first time in about 3 years. This was a stressful process that I had no time to be stressed about because it simply had to happen because later that night I needed to tow the Tiny House out of the back yard (you can read about that here) so we could leave for Vermont early the next morning (you can read about that here).

Next time: The Big Move!

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