Living Offgrid Affordably 14: Enough Rest, Onward Ho

Reader Contribution by Jeff Chaney
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After finally getting this building under roof last time in Put The Lid On This Box, I discovered I had left out one very important detail. Getting older and dealing with Alzheimer’s is no fun, ha!

The Ondura roofing material I used was supplied with ring-shank nails for installation. I decided to use screws around the perimeter of the sheets, the nails for the interior of the sheets. In our area, we had experienced higher than normal winds in recent years. Lots of friends and family had shingles blowing loose or completely off, so I figured perimeter screws would minimize this problem. To date, I have had none of these troubles. I’m not sure what wind load rating this method yields, but I like it.

We now moved on to the gable ends. I started with the loft floor gable end, since it would be the easiest to position. This wall would take the form of a large triangle, so for ease of installation, I constructed it in two triangle sections.

Of the eight windows I had purchased before construction began, I still had the two best ones. Since they were of quality, double pane design, I thought they would save the most energy by using them in the loft. Costing only $5 each, I was seeking maximum benefit. They were placed side by side in the center of the gable end wall.

I assembled the two triangle sections on the loft floor, then stood them up into position, made sure they were plumb, then bolted them together and into place. One down, one to go.

The front gable end was more difficult to deal with because of the cathedral ceiling in the front of the building. I purchased two decent quality double pane windows from Lowe’s, similar to the other two loft windows, then proceeded to build the two triangle wall sections on the main floor.

Now I needed help. I recruited three friends to assist, then we heaved the first triangle section (half wall) into position. When it was secured, we went up with the second half. Everything fit pretty well, I had to lightly hammer the second section into place, a snug fit. This exercise was slightly dangerous, working from scaffolding. Safety must come first at all times!

When I built the ground floor front walls, a hole was left in the center of the entire wall to accommodate an eight foot sliding glass patio door. The existing view was in this direction, so a patio door seemed appropriate. I built the door header extra beefy for ample support. After the gable end wall was in place above it, I installed the patio door. Utilizing the “bible,” this step was a piece of cake.

The shell of the building is now complete. I pondered whether to apply a house wrap at this time, but decided against it because this is a storage building, after all. I did not intend to “live” in it beyond completion since there would be no room, and disassembly would need to be as simple as possible. This was not a house, yet.

As I continued to work on the acreage to prepare a homesite across the road, I wanted to make the storage building as comfortable as possible. I also thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to test some ideas I had for the permanent house. The “cooler box” was a resounding success, as was the wood stove and kitchen stove (uh, grill). This approach developed in to a vicious cycle!

I decided to locate a “bathroom” next to the cooler box. My builder friend had given me a four foot wide sink with matching mirror that had been removed from a motel room remodel. I installed the sink against the cooler box wall, then created a recess for it by placing a wall even with the sink front, extending toward the center of the building. This action resulted in a recess for the “bathroom” sink, allowed for shelves on the sink side, and made room for some pantry shelves on the opposite side next to the cooler box door. I purchased a neo-angle (5 sided) shower stall, then installed it in the northwest corner of the bath.

In the northeast corner, I installed a composting toilet. All of my research indicated that this particular toilet, a SunMar Excell non-electric model, should be ideal for the experiment at hand. It was also the least expensive. I included a 4 inch muffin fan in the vent pipe to eliminate any odors. This fan only draws one tenth of an amp, 12 volt d/c, so I could let it run 24/7 with no problems. Now having “facilities” was absolutely wonderful!

The bathroom interior wall, as well as the kitchen interior wall, were left un-insulated and unfinished, the stud cavities to be used for storage shelves. In this small building, storage room was at a premium.

After describing all of the interior wall and stairway placements in the last few articles, I’m sure you are thoroughly confused by now. To help remedy this, I have included a floor plan drawing to clarify the details. Not being a professional writer, accurate descriptions are quite difficult. There may also be items in the floor plan that have not been discussed, yet. (That darned Alzheimer’s!) But, one thing I always remember is to reuse and recycle any and everything, when possible.

All photos by Jeff & Kathy Chaney

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