Saturday, October 15, 2011

yup, i (we) started building a tiny house

It feels overdue for an update of what we've been up to since we turned in the manuscript, if anyone's out there, but there's a project that at least i for one am totally absorbed in. Last year one of my students showed me a picture of the tumbleweed houses and said she wanted to build one and wanted me to help out. I laughed andthought it was funny and intriguing, but inside i was like 'are you serious, you're gonna move into one of those?' Okay, so fast forward six months, and the New Yorker article came out and i was reading it in bed. It was a rare moment of epiphany, aided by some lovely company: It was the ideal next step for me.

There were a few considerations: 1) i loved my housemates to death but don't love my basement room, particularly in the winter, 2) I'd been building chicken coops for the past year, something i'm a little tired of, so it was like a giant chicken coop with new challenges 3) I had been trying to buy a house with friends in oakland for over a year and am convinced this is my only way towards home ownership in the bay area, and 4) After finishing the manuscript and seeing my sweetheart leave the country for a long while i had the compulsion to throw myself into a giant project. Some people do drugs, some people drink, i do really ambitious projects i suppose: an attribute and sometime flaw.

So, I designed it in August and started building on August 30th, and I've almost got the exterior buttoned up. I am using our advance from the book to finance construction, but being as thrifty as possible. I bought the trailer used, most of the lumber is salvaged, along with all of the doors and windows, and the siding is all reclaimed redwood fencing I am re-milling that were only $1 a piece!
the final design structure will have a full kitchen and bathroom, sleeping loft, living room, fireplace and eventually a porch swing.

The next steps are plumbing and electrical. What i'm really excited for is to get to the interior details and making all of the furniture custom. If you're in Oakland, stop by as i'd love to get your design feedback.

Planning on moving in December 1st and will have a tiny housewarming party: tiny food and shots!
Also, special thanks to all who have helped out so far, especially Kevin
Stay tuned for progress posts

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Photos from the Shipping Container Coop+Run and Shed Project

What fun it has been to chop in half a 20-foot shipping container with Matt and my cousin, separate the parts Roman-style with Bill from, and build out a chicken coop+run and storage shed with the hard-charging crew from In Good Company. It is nice to be out there on the farm working and talking to the neighbors--all positivity and thumb-ups.

We found some old redwood siding on craigslist and planed it down to look new again. The redwood slab outdoor work table came from Evan Shively in Marshall, Calif. Matt led a team to get the massive redwood+mesh chicken run built. The coop is now occupied.

To the shed we added double barn doors with a custom welded steel California Poppy Orange locking mechanism.

City Slicker Farms is great to work with, they are growing fresh vegetables for everybody in West Oakland. We are happy to help make fresh eggs a reality.

If you have every wanted to chop up a shipping container, I highly recommend it. Or call us! I want to do it again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

new coop: cutting and modifying a shipping container for city slicker farms

Just Fine is on site in West Oakland all week. We got commissioned to lead a workshop for City Slicker Farms building a chicken coop and shed structure with volunteers from various socially responsible companies. We're cutting up a shipping container at an angle and modifying each half. Stay tuned for updates and finish photos

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kippen House for the book

We here at Just Fine are happy to report we will be including Traci Fontyn's chicken coop "Kippen House" in our book. Traci makes them by hand in Seattle. She brought one down for Sunset magazine's annual outdoor extravaganza last weekend. The coop looked great and we brought Amelia and Florence down for the photo shoot with our photographer (who deserves a post of her own). The hens loved the coop but they weren't too thrilled with the fake sod. I cringed when they pecked at it!

Kippen House features a very smart living roof with a clever drainage system. The nesting box is a piece of Sonotube for easy removal (and nice lines). We like the colors she chose. The siding is cedar.

We are excited to have Traci onboard. If you are looking for a coop in the Pacific Northwest, give her a jingle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another coop standing

I finally completed the coop i've been working on for my house. I tend to use projects that i build for myself as experiments that i wouldn't necessarily build for other people, but i always end up learning from. This coop, with it's single column support which is anchored in concrete was a crash course in physics and engineering, both of which the 'Just Fine' team are amateurs at best. Thanks to the consultation of one of my volunteers at the Crucible, Vale Larson, who is an architect, we did the framing in such a way as to maximize sheer and minimize weight. The floor framing is completely interlocked with half lap joints with plywood on top to act as a gusset. The central column goes all the way through the coop and locks into the rafters.

In the end, it stands proud, though torsion is an issue we are trying to fix. The whole coop basically acts as a big lever, so it can twist the post a little bit. I am gonna put steel plates through bolted in the redwood post to minimize it.

In terms of experiments though, it was really satisfying. Since i was a kid, i always wanted to make a treehouse, and i never have, so this was sort of a childhood dream that was finally realized. We salvaged two windows from urban ore and used them as whole glass walls on each side, which are framed with miter joints, almost like a picture frame. I used aromatic tennessee red cedar for the siding, which is so warm and luxurious, and naturally weather resistant. The whole thing feels sort of magical, which is what i was going for.
the roof is simply a single sheet of aluminum cut and bent. the final detail was making a spiral starcase going up the column into the coop for the hens to circulate.

We're trying to figure out what to call the coop for the book: a few ideas so far: post-modern coop (get it?), coopsickle, coop on a stick. . .we're open to better ideas, there must be some out there.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Custom Pallet Chicken Coop for Novella Carpenter is Open for Occupancy

The predicted rains this week held off so yesterday Matt and I put the finishing touches on Novella Carpenter's custom Pallet Chicken Coop at Ghost Town Farm. Made almost entirely out of de-constructed shipping pallets and found materials, this hen house is a fine addition to Novella's impressive urban oasis.

Note the handsome chalkboard for tallying egg production, which doubles as a giant door to clean out the roosting area. The space underneath the cantilever is for dry storage for food, straw, etc. The big door we found at a scrap yard--we stripped the paint to expose beautiful old redwood!

With only a few hours left on the job, Novella really stepped up the snack service to an obscene level: housemade rabbit pate, delectable creamy cheese drizzled with honey, warm crusty bread, almonds, pickled green beans & radishes, and dried mangos and pineapple rings. Matt and I love snacks!

She lives well, that Novella, and hopefully her chickens will live well too in their new custom hen house. On to the next one!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Radical Chicken Coop for Ghost Town Farm

We here at Just Fine Design/Build have been busy preparing a new chicken coop for Novella Carpenter's Ghost Town Farm in West Oakland. We scrounged a bunch of tired shipping pallets, de-constructed them, planed the slats to a nice sheen, and are now using the bones to construct a massive (8' x 12') chicken palace.

Here's the coop in her infancy. The cantilevered section on the right will house the chickens' sleeping and laying quarters. An egg door will feature a chalkboard-painted surface so Novella can easily keep track of her hens' production.

In the spirit of Novella, we are scavenging what lumber and materials we can. We still need a bunch of rubble and some old corrugated metal roofing material. Anybody out there demolishing a foundation or tearing down a barn?

Novella heard through the JustFineVine how much we love snacks, so she has been keeping us well fed with rabbit sausage, goat milk and yogurt, and greens from her spacious garden. Come to Novella's Open House (Open Farm?) on February 27th, 11am-2pm, where you can try some of these delicious snacks for yourself and gaze upon our new coop (may be only partially finished if this rain doesn't let up!)

In other news, Just Fine Design/Build is taking the Twitter challenge, become our friend or buddy or whatever @JustFineDesign

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Research Mission : Mystery Winery : Yountville, Calif.

Hello faithful readers. Matt and I embarked on a research mission to sunny Yountville, Calif. last week. Thinking about Novella's coop, we came up with a design that uses de-constructed shipping pallets, covered with hardware cloth, and filled with rocks. Something like this, but smaller:

The sign at the winery's front entrance states "No Tours. No Tastings." Not to be deterred, we sweet-talked the guard into letting us wander around for "a little bit." We had the place to ourselves for 20 minutes. The main road drives straight up to this imposing structure, and you can see right through it to the dirt road that meanders through vineyards and up into the hills. It was late afternoon, the sun was out, and very peaceful. Here's Matt, taking it all in.

The sun comes through the stone walls and throws some excellent shadows.

Thanks very much to the winery that values its privacy and perhaps wishes to remain nameless. We understand you don't want a bunch of architecture geeks coming to gawk your walls. But we just had to see it! We welcome all of you to gawk at Novella's coop, which should be up and clucking by the end of February.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Modern Log Cabin Chicken Coop Now For Sale at BioFuel Oasis, Berkeley CA

Hello faithful readers! Please stop by to see our friends at the BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley. Along with their usual selection of bio-diesel, chicken feeds, bee-keeping supplies, and canning supplies, they are now featuring our latest chicken coop design, the Modern Log Cabin.

We hope to sell other chicken coop designs at the Oasis in the coming months. Word has it they will also be selling local newborn chicks in the Spring! We are lucky to have such a fine worker-owned business here in the Bay Area. Check out their over-flowing class schedule (bee-keeping, cheese-making, goats, fruit trees, gardening....)

Matt and I are embarking on our next coop, which we are building for Novella Carpenter's Ghost Town Farm in West Oakland. We are tossing around some design ideas but we know it will be a giant coop and we are trying to elegantly build the structure from used shipping pallets. Stay tuned..