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  • Writer's pictureJim Martin

Grampa, I've Seen That Tiny House Before!

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

One of the first new neighbors we met in Vermont was Ken.


After that first snowstorm I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Ken and I went out around the same time to shovel our driveways. This kind of thing is a common occurrence in the Northeast. A lot of chatting takes place while leaning on snow shovels. Ken is a lovely man who's lived and worked as a machinist in our town for most of his life. He is now 82 and lives with his wife across the street. And, yes, Ken still shovels his own snow at the age of 82. He's setting the bar pretty high for the rest of us.


As a side note, our new Vermont town is part of what for many years was called "Precision Valley." During the mid-1800's, towns along the Connecticut River from Springfield, Vermont down to Hartford, Connecticut became known for harnessing the power of the river to run huge milling machines producing all kinds of precision goods. In the early to mid 1900's, especially around the time of the Second World War, the Vermont machine tool industry became known for the precision parts it delivered to the war effort. This contribution was so significant that during WWII, our little town of Springfield, Vermont was seventh on a list of potential bombing targets monitored by the US government.


Our neighbor Ken trained into this industry in the aftermath of the war.

A hydro-powered machine tool factory in Precision Valley circa 1900

Ken and I had several conversations over the course of our winter snow removal duties. At one point as we were leaning on our shovels taking a break, we had the following conversation:


Ken: You know, my grandson was here visiting last weekend.


Jim: That's so nice. Did you have a good visit?


Ken: We did! And you know, at one point he said, "Hey, Grampa, I've seen that Tiny House before."


Jim: [Assuming he couldn't have meant the exact same Tiny House.] Yeah, you see them all over the place these days, we just saw one in New Hampshire last weekend.


Ken: That's not what I mean, what he was saying was that he's seen your Tiny House before.


Jim: How is that possible?


Ken: Well, he and his family live in Lake Anna, Virginia. And he told me he has a friend who lives in Fredericksburg. Periodically, he'd drive to his friend's neighborhood to visit. Over the course of several months, he noticed a Tiny House being built behind a fence in that neighborhood.

What Ken's grandson saw

Ken: Then, he told me, one day it was just gone. And then it reappeared here!


Jim: [Thinking: would that it had been that easy.] Wow! What are the chances that he would find that same Tiny House parked across the street from his grampa's house?!?


Ken: [just smiles at me]

 

As the weather started to improve and the plywood sheathing and Tyvek had been repaired (and more of the big house painting and shelf-building projects were finished), it was time to start thinking seriously about siding the Tiny House.


We decided to go with an engineered wood siding product called L.P. SmartSide. We were introduced to this product by a couple of YouTuber brothers who build custom houses in N. Carolina. I've mentioned them before: Perkins Builder Brothers. Here's their YouTube channel. And here's a 15 minute episode where they are installing L.P. SmartSide. We've learned a ton from these guys over the last couple of years.


Where you choose to start the siding process is an important decision. Since I was new at this, I wanted to "learn" on the side of the Tiny House that faced away from the street. Another consideration with clapboard-style siding, is that you want all the "courses" or rows of siding to land at the same level, even as you go around corners. The visual lines are just much cleaner that way. So, after some discussion and some head scratching, Jenna and I started the process on the "back" of the Tiny House. And located that first row of siding at a level that looked like it would align correctly on all sides of the house. Also, as with any feature of the house that is designed to shed water, you start and the bottom and work your way up.

Corner boards and first two rows of siding are in!

Those green clamps you see in the photo are awesome. They are called Geckos. They clamp on to the previous row of siding and position the next course with the correct "reveal". So, you just cut the next board to length, slide it in to the Geckos, and nail it off. Once you get going, it works really well!


Generally the window trim is assembled to minimize the possibility of water infiltration. You can see the bottom trim piece sits inside the left and right side pieces. The top piece will span to the outer edges of the two side pieces, then a piece of metal flashing will cover that top trim piece to shed any water that manages to get behind the siding.


The installation specs for L.P. SmartSide require a 3/16" gap anywhere a piece of siding meets a corner board, a piece of window trim, or another piece of siding. This is so the caulking has a gap to sit in, and to leave room for the siding to expand and contract from season to season. We followed those specs pretty carefully and caulked all the gaps as we went with a product called Big Stretch, also something we learned about from the Perkins Builder Brothers.


At this point, Jenna was working the chop saw like a boss.


And up we went! (Also, as a lifelong Red Sox fan, it's super fun to be listening to the Sox while working--even during the 2023 season which was not awesome.)

So satisfying!


Next we'll move around to the left side.


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