Juniper Rising

Within the time frame Donovan estimated (2 weeks), Juniper’s walls went up, curved rafters were secured on top, plywood was fastened to the roof, and the Mento (from Pro Clima International) vapor-open weather barrier was attached to seal it from the elements. He completed the window framing shortly thereafter. It’s amazing to see Donovan’s dream and his hours of planning and designing come alive. Of course, I haven’t been involved much in this phase, so I describe it as all magically coming together, when the truth is, it took many long, hot, sweaty, grimy, head-scratching, body-wrenching days to get this thing up. We are eternally grateful for the skills of Donovan’s dad, Ed, who helped Donovan frame the house in, and his co-worker, Walter, who helped make and hang the rafters. It was such a joy to involve people who find the project fun and engaging.

At the bare trailer stage, depending on the angle and the lighting, the house-to-be appeared intermittently large and small. When the walls went up, it looked massive, and when the curved rafters were installed, it seemed–dare I say–sacred. Standing beneath it looking up was like gazing at the dome of a cathedral. With each addition, it gains more character.


Strips of Gutex on top of the rafters (above) and foam on the headers (below) break the thermal bridging, so heat/energy won’t move down through the rafters and into the house–very important in our hot climate.




Mento Plus, the black vapor-open weather barrier shown above, and Tescon Vana, the blue air-sealing tape, are products that support passive house methodology, designed to create an air-tight envelope, which, combined with well-insulating materials, greatly lower the demands of energy to heat and cool the house.

In the weeks of its erection, delivery trucks came to drop off the goods that will adorn the house, including pallets of Gutex and a big crate of windows. Donovan asked the Colorado window company, Alpen, if there was a way to reduce plastic packaging in the delivery (the window we purchased previously was shipped in many layers of disposable plastic wrap), so they sent the windows in a crate, separated by cardboard and sheets of foam that can be reused for packing other goods–a method that also saved him $300. The catch was that when they arrived he had to learn on the spot how to use the forklift he borrowed because no one else was on the farm to operate it! I was so glad not to be there for that learning curve.

On the evening we checked the condition of the windows, a couple neighbors dropped by to see what we were up to. One had a light to help us finish in the dark. The other supplied stories of when he was building his Tiny House. So our late job turned into a social event on the site of the build. Such is life in our quasi-community.

It’s aliiiiiive!

The next task on the physical plane is attaching the Gutex (the insulative weather barrier) and battens to the walls. Additionally, Donovan has to figure out all the systems—electrical should be a cinch for this master electrician, but integrating photovoltaic panels with the option to be grid-tied is a fairly new realm. Also, he wants to use rainwater catchment for his water needs, and he’ll get professional assistance when designing the plumbing. In the meantime, the Pilgrim-Browns are milling locally sourced Juniper (also known as Eastern Red Cedar) for siding, right here on The Farm! (I can hear them planing the boards as I write this!)

Beautiful, local Juniper, the namesake of Donovan’s Tiny House

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