After almost two years of living on half a construction site, it’s finally time to go: now I get to live on a real construction site for a while! This however needs some preparation
Why an annex?
People who like to live in a Tiny House rarely want to build a big house then, do they? Yes and no. I bought a Tiny House with the original house of not quite 21m2, but due to the conditions of the house and the building regulations, I had almost no choice but to include an extension. Thus, I have in the final expansion in about 28m2 living space and 5 m2 storage room. So still about as much space as I had in my 1-room garconniere in Vienna.
The original house I bought not quite two years ago was planned as a modular house, but only with the two original modules that could be taken apart and reassembled. Any further expansion was not planned. Accordingly, so several tasks were necessary to prepare for the addition.
Before anything else could be added to the side of a house, the entire facade had to be unscrewed. At first, I thought that I would only have to remove everything from the two side parts, because that’s the only place where it would be built. Thought. One of the many naive thinking errors I have run into as a layman, and still will….
The house is everywhere where there is no window or door, insulated with straw. And this straw insulation is of course not completed exactly where the new part will be built on. So we had to unscrew the entire larch board facade to see where we needed to build away from the wall and how much. Yay!
And guess who likes to stay under facade boards and build nests? Wasps! What was exciting, however, was that many of the wasps had not built a nest at all, but were simply staying under the facade. It was also very fascinating to observe how relaxed they were. During the entire unscrewing of the facade, we were not stung once. I guess there are calmer and more aggressive wasps. Or I was very lucky.
Filling straw insulation into the wall is an exciting thing. You have complete bales that are heavily compressed and stuffed between two wooden boards. certainly not an easy task. But not to be compared to getting these bales, which by now have no tapes holding everything together, back out of the wall. To describe it as chaotic is a slight understatement.
Pieces of straw are flying everywhere. It smells like a stable. And at some point you feel like a scarecrow. But at the same time, it’s very exciting to see how dense such straw bales really are in a straw-insulated wall And how much more space all that straw takes up when it’s suddenly no longer so compressed.
We were also able to see where there were probably leaked in the roof after all. So it wasn’t such a bad idea to make this addition to fix all these little bugs.
Even though only the sides were to be added, I didn’t want to take any risks with the roof and have any patchwork. In addition, the roof of the existing building was not insulated, and has already given me the second quite unbearable summer. Therefore, I had decided to remove the existing roof – i.e. the EPDM foil and back ventilation -, to insulate it properly, and then to build a new roof over the entire building.
To do this, of course, the roof – that is, at least everything except the solid wood panels – had to be disassembled. And right on the first evening after the roof was exposed, and we had not immediately covered it with the industrial tarpaulin (thank you weather report!) suddenly and completely unexpectedly came a heavy shower, which caused it to drip into the interior, and I was up until 2 o’clock in the morning on the roof, under the then nevertheless stretched tarpaulin, mopping up the water and laying the roof halfway dry… but that’s a story in itself…
The connection points
Only after the facade and the insulation had finally been removed were we able to see more precisely how the connection between the existing building and the extension had to be. This required a lot of fiddling around, since both the roof and the floor now had parts “in the way” so that we could simply add a wall. It was really worth its weight in gold to have a handyman – who is also a specialist, of course – on board who thought through all the details.
My little house had become my retreat, my safe place over the last two years. But after that week of intense preparation, of screwing and disassembling, I could observe how much the exposed outer skin of my house felt, even to me personally, so similar to the time I lost so much weight after one of my workouts that I suddenly felt very exposed and vulnerable.
It took me a few days, if not weeks, after that to get used to living in such an exposed house.
In the process, I had noticed that I was really grateful that the next step of the addition was to happen only after some time had passed.