TINY HOME . . . BIG MISTAKES
(and How to Avoid Them!)
Want to stay up to date with the newest engineering, design, construction, and safety issues of Tiny Homes?
Tired of seeing the same old designs, the rehashed orphans of ancient ideas, distracting discussions of basic personal decorating choices disguising an alarming lack of imagination?
Then you’ve found exactly the right place, at exactly the right time!
But the first order of business is to catch up, to find out what the latest gigantic leaps and bounds have brought to the marketplace
of the burgeoning Tiny Home industry, EXCLUSIVELY with
RAGSDALE TINY HOMES!
Beginning with this article, we will be presenting frequent postings on our new website/blog, (www.tinyragsdalehomes.com) that will make available to you the latest imaginative Tiny Home design, engineering and safety ideas that will save you money and make you Ting Home experience the absolute best available in today’s market!
As a lifelong inventor, designer, artist and imagineer, combined with his deep and broad experience as a builder of luxury residences, gifted woodworker, automotive fabricator, boat builder, expert plumber as well as an expert with water at the molecular level, our founder and daily “hands-on”
owner, Larry Jay Oistad, brings to this moment in time, in the TINY HOME industry - his unique combination of not only his experience, but decades of successful execution of his unique vision.
As a result, he can build just about anything, and fortunately for all of us, from employees to vendors to, the owners of his final products, it’s always without the sugar coating of false promises, and without the tired parade of vanilla solutions that become the weapons of mass distraction, in a market that too often is more concerned with grandiose promises then with the delivery of promised solutions.
It has been said that:
“the most dangerous man in the world - is the man who does not know - what he does not know” -
particularly if he is behind the wheel of an underpowered TINY HOUSE tow-vehicle, pulling an incorrectly engineered trailer, topped by a poorly designed and constructed house of any size!
Here is how it often starts . . . and, too frequently ends.
The flames of an active interest in TINY HOMES catches fire, and many DIY’ers will enter the market by first attending a weekend seminar, and maybe coming away with a “workbook”, and perhaps a training manual, and even a DVD!
They then take the next step, buy a trailer, sometimes new (though often dangerously under-engineered for a Tiny House), or just as often, previously used, (as in for an RV or mobile-home, from the classifieds, or off of Craig’s List, and then order a set of plans that they believe they can successfully execute to bring their dream of a TINY HOUSE to a safe and durable completion.
After months of attempting to build their Tiny Home with the aid of Google, YouTube videos, their treasured “workbook”, notes, and the DVD from their 3 day “How To” DIY Tiny House seminar, they are near completion.
It’s unfortunately highly likely that the best of intentions have failed to prevent many mistakes, along the way, some even potentially life threatening.
Some of these mistakes were never discussed and won’t be until they attempt to head down the road at super-highway speeds. Others were overt, visible, and were mentioned in their personal new DIY TINY HOME blog, but later ignored, as they moved on to bigger mistakes, painted over, and forgotten. When they complete their TINY HOME, they’re ecstatic. (For a while.)
All of a sudden, they’ve become experts! And then publish their own DIY TINY HOME E book, telling others how to build their TINY HOME.
Unfortunately, many of their errors are not corrected and, in many cases, there was a better method or procedure for accomplishing a particular task. I commend them for their efforts and decision to push back on the fear factor. However, reality may, in fact, condemn them for perpetuating, through teaching their own inadequate DIY methodologies, travel down a very dangerous road!
Our goal in the coming days is to remove, for once and for all, the antiquated blinders of yesterday, and bring you along with us into the age of advanced engineering, design, and construction of Tiny Homes, to bring an enduring clarity to the dawning of an entirely new era of enlightenment in the execution of “the build”, which changes the basic concept of the Tiny Home - which for the first time in the history of the movement, will open the doors wide to the consideration of these homes as no longer really “tiny”!
For this reason, many will call the radical changes and design efficiencies we bring to these homes the dawning of the age of TINY HOME enlightenment.
A tall order, backed by both tremendous talent and proven production. Said another way - “Excellence of Aim, and Excellence of Execution”!
Exactly how our proprietary engineering design and construction methodology works for us as we continue building today’s unique new TINY HOMES will be the subject of our next installment!
After 5 years of R&D, developing specific systems to improve TINY HOME structures, we will introduce them to you, in conjunction with upcoming presentation of our next three TINY HOME builds!
END OF CURRENT REVISION -
YET TO BE REVISED REMAINS BELOW
Our methodology is founded on a brand new hybrid technology - VMMA which stands for VARIABLE MODULAR METAL ARCHITECTURE.
What is VMMA VARIABLE MODULAR METAL ARCHITECTURE?
Well, I’m glad you asked that question.
To date, there have been basically three methods for building a tiny home on a trailer. All have grown out of a completely different breed of housing - the standard American single family home built on a foundation in or on the ground, a great design for a home that’s never going to move. A few other methods exist, however, we’ll speak to those later.
1). Wood construction, “one stick at a time”: Most are using a more conventional method while some, but not many, are using advanced framing techniques. Nails and screws are used and lots of 2X4’s, OSB (chip board), and cedar siding. OSB (oriented strand board) aka chip board, aka flake board seems to be the sheathing of choice for most builders and DIY persons. Why? Because it nails quickly and easily, but more importantly - it’s cheap. You can buy it at any Home Depot or Lowes. After Hurricane Andrew, in Florida, in 1992, OSB was banned as a roofing sheathing.
Why? Intolerance to moisture, added waxes and resins made from chemical adhesives, edges swelling, and that swelling telegraphing, and weakening other members.
If wet, whether it be on a roof or wall, moisture can lead to mold contamination.
Then there is the Phenol-Formaldehyde (PF) toxicity problem. Although (PF) emits lower levels of Formaldehyde, it does contain Polymeric Disphenylmethane Diisochyanate - according to OSHA 29 cfr 1910.1200.
I know that this is boring. I had to get some caffeine myself.
In conclusion, using OSB as a subfloor is disturbing to me because moisture is prone to make its way into the trailer cavity from condensate or air gaps.
Additionally, all those wood 2X4’s used in typical TINY HOME construction (ask ANY Tiny Home builder just how many 2X4’s he uses?) including all kinds of studs, blocking, bracing, and headers, cause huge thermal bridging issues with the insulation. Thermal bridging defeats conventional insulation in building envelopes by allowing energy, hot or cold, to “bridge” the surrounding insulation, and transfer to or from the living spaces - not good!
For more information on insulation, stay tuned. To top it off, let’s talk briefly about the cantilevered roof and floor sections with massive sandwiched horizontal headers to support the weight. There is no insulation except for the small “R” value of the wood itself. Wood was never meant to be used for movable structures. Time has proven that. When was the last time that you saw a wood RV, car, truck, big truck, airplane, train, spacecraft, etc.? It’s been a while. Jay Shaffer is considered to the “Grandfather” of tiny homes. He built his first th with all wood construction. Back then, years ago, no one moved their tiny. Basically, it was built, parked, and then moved one more time years later. Now, years later, the th industry has evolved…..bigger is better. Let’s build it longer, let’s cantilever the upper section beyond the perimeter of the th trailer, let’s add a storage shed on the rear, let’s add a bump our over the trailer tongue. Oh, and I forgot slide outs….let’s add two. Some tiny homes look like wood clad Recreational Travel Trailers. Some I like, some I don’t like…it’s your choice. . Anyway, the statistics have shown that the average age of a th person has moved up from thirty something to 50 something….and most are women. With Millennials starting to enter the th community,
Suddenly there is another need for a more nimble, lighter, better insulated th. Words like “ Digital Nomads” and “ present day Gypsies “ are considered to be cool and let’s not forget the need to stay connected with electronic gadgetry, solar, wind generators, USB ports, and faster internet capability.
2). Wood SIP Structural Insulated Panels: Basically, panels are built like a sandwich, usually with closed cell foam in the center and OSB wood skins. Sips are very strong, well-insulated, but heavy. If I were building on the ground, I would insist on these only with formaldehyde –free plywood skins, not OSB. The build goes up quick; many helpers are needed to manage the weight of the panels, especially the roof sections. Since the wood skins are glued to pre-fabricated rigid foam blocks such as a 4x8 size, R 4.5 is possible as this foam is not as dense as foam poured wet between the skins like on MIPs(to be discussed next). There are still wood studs inside the panel, resulting in thermal bridging. I could continue with wood Sips, but they bore me. Let’s move on.
2). Framecad aka Volstrukt aka individual metal studs: This method is where lightweight thin gauge metal studs are formed out of cold rolled steel. They are usually held together with self-taping screws; however, some weld their studs. A very large percentage of th builders are DIY people. They chose this because they want to save money, mostly the labor. Most DIY people and builders find it necessary to let the fabricator build the skeleton for them. It’s seems a little complicated and the price charged is reasonable. With that being said, any time to let someone do the labor for you, that savings is not passed on. So, after paying for the structure already assembled, off you go to whatever destination you came from. You are in for a surprise after you leave because the friction of the wind blowing in and around the individual studs feels like you are pulling a kite. Anyway, when you get to your destination, park and level your tiny for the build, you can’t help but notice that the framework is flimsy when pushed or leaned in to. This is because this system doesn’t gain its strength until wood sheathing is added to both sides like two slices of bread. Before the inside piece of bread (wood sheathing) is added, spray in foam is usually the insulation of choice. Cumulatively, all of this creates a structure that is strong, but is it really light? Well, if you weigh a single metal stud as compared to a single wood 2x4, then the answer is that there is a significant difference in weight, however, when you add the multiple metal studs installed vertically, horizontally, diagonally, those stacked together, and the trusses, added to the interior and exterior wood sheathing, the weight savings is questionable. For example: If this were a wood stick tiny house, wood sheathing wouldn’t be compulsory on the inside. After the installation of insulation which limits you to a spray in technique, if you want to get the insulation all around each individual stud and support, then your interior cladding can go right over the interior studs, however, with lightweight metal studs, most add the sheathing for rigidity and for racking. FYI Metal studs are 9 times more conductive than wood studs. Only wrapping with insulation each metal surface will mitigate the thermal bridging. We have provided an image of a product called Aerogel Thermablok. This product can be attached to a wood stud, but, more importantly, a metal stud to reduce thermal bridging. Although this product is new, we use this on the top and bottom of our trailer cross members as well as filling our cross members with closed cell foam. Thermal bridging can be reduced 35% or more if this product is used. Also, here is a side note. Reception for internet or radio signals is bad enough in a th, but with the metal system, you will need a high powered internet booster.
3). Now, we’re on the home stretch. After 5 years of R&D, developing systems to improve th structures, we are now ready to introduce VMMA Variable Metal Modular Architecture. We are now building three tiny homes. In our opinion and, we are prejudiced, this system is the future for tiny home construction. Time has proven that wood construction was never intended for movable structures on a trailer. Back in the day, over a hundred years ago, wood was used for horse drawn carriages. As time went on, wood was used on the earlier recreational vehicles. Moisture, mildew, splitting wood, and strength, while maintaining a lighter weight structure, are now a thing of the past. A few years ago when Jay Shaffer build the first th, his vision was to have a structure that could be moved but not often. After all, who wants to pick up and move all the time? However, times have changed, people have changed, and just about everything has changed. Where the average age was once 30 something, now its fifty something. No longer are wheat grass shots, Lean Cuisine, and assuming a Yoga position in the loft mandatory…lol. Now we have baby boomers, Vets, people with disabilities, and families with small children moving into tiny houses. Tiny homes aren’t so tiny anymore. The most durable and sustainable product in the world is metal. Metal is almost 100% recyclable. It is stronger, straighter, and can resist just about anything. The biggest misconception about using metal as the structure is that the final product will not look the same. This could not be further from the truth. It’s fully customizable, available in regular steel, galvanized steel, and T 6061 Aluminum alloy. There seems to be a movement in the th industry where interested buyers are looking for lighter, more nimble, better insulated, and much lighter tiny homes. Today, we have modern day gypsies’ aka digital nomads, operating from their home office computers. By choice, they no longer have to live at the same address for 15 or more years. Some are Millennials, while others are retired baby boomers. With VMMA, the trailer and the structure are made of metal. Both are joined together with welding and the final product is a uni-body….both become one. This is the same way most vehicles are made today. Body components are welded, bolted, or riveted together and the sum of all the parts represent great strength and reduced weight. Our first prototype has been welded as we search for an “end forming machine.” Our next build will be assembled with our simple slip fittings, secured with # 14 self tapping screws. The idea for “VMMA” came from the strong reliable ocean container. Containers have no load bearing walls and the real strength comes from the (4) corners and the upper and lower support beams. Basically, we reverse engineered a container and created a lighter interpretation of the same thing, only suitable for a movable structure. Here is how it works. We have attached some examples. The base module for our system is the same for every tiny house. For Example: 24’ th trailer and a 24’ base module. The difference is that you can add a 4’ module to the front and a 4’ module to the rear, but the trailer is still 24’ long. A 24’ module with one front module is 28’. If you decide to add another module to the rear, the th is now 32’. Because our method is module, these extensions, adding to the length, can be added pre-build or post build years later. Now, as you needs for square footage increase, more square footage can be added rather than selling and buying a larger th. Now, let’s take this a step further. You can equip our base module with the same front or rear or both module extensions and have them telescopically move in and out after parking. Now, you have the opportunity to travel down the road in a shorter towable footprint, while experiencing more space when parked with the push of a button. In addition to the base module, we have created “ Hats ”. What are hats? I’m glad you asked. We have created hats, representing the 10 most popular room designs. After you select a hat, it’s placed on top of the base module. Then other pre-fabricated modules such as dormers, wood decks, overhead roof protection, sheds, etc. can be added. Because there are no load bearing walls like on most tiny homes, windows can be added post build as good deals are found on Craigslist, etc. Integrated within and on the exterior of our base module are seamless MIP panels. Metal insulated panels, or MIP’s are stud less and offer the most “R” value in our industry. Mip’s can be stainless steel, galvalume steel, and aluminum alloy skins. Normally, even with prior building experience, a builder will choose to build a tiny home with moderate building difficulty. On a 1-10, perhaps a 6 or 7. Well, our first th build, coming out the R&D stage, is an 11. Yes, this is one of the most advanced th’s in the World, perhaps the most advanced. You will see features that have never been seen before. I have attached a video as well as actual build photos here on our business fb. Fasten your seatbelt as we haven’t even touched the surface with features that are awesome. Ciao, Larry Jay Ps…. Who is M Ragsdale III ?