Ryan’s Legal Tiny House in Rutherford County NC

Well, it took about four months of solid work to build this house but it’s done. We pulled permits and passed the final inspection last Monday. Now waiting for Duke electric to hook up cables and install the meter and I can check all systems and the well water connections for leaks. The main house is a 16 x 16 footprint that sets on nine cylindrical pillars tied to concrete pads in the earth. As the photos show there is additional wrap around porches on three sides. New materials were used for the entire construction and almost everything was bought at either Lowes or Home Depot. As it sits it cost under $40,000 including some labor. (I worked for food since we were building it for my good friend and stepson Ryan).

Things we learned: we had problems with the drain test since they wanted to pressure test the drain system. The PVC pipe has printed all over it, “not for pressure”! We found that those plastic glues in test caps blew leaks too easily. And the screw in red metal ones with the rubber seals can come blasting off without any notice with just 5 lbs of pressure and do serious damage to whatever it hits as it flies through the air. I started researching the pressure test method and found that at least one plumber had been hit in the head requiring 7 stitches. We would find three leaks, fix them all just to have a new leak spring. After failing and fooling with the drain for three weeks (seriously! We screwed with it for three weeks) we finally just filled the entire system with water right up to the highest vent pipe and left it set and no water leaked out. Passed the test! Good to go!

The second area we had trouble with was the ceiling insulation. We needed R38 but couldn’t get it so we got twice as much R19 and doubled it up. I’ve never heard of this but the inspector told us we couldn’t have the paper in the middle of the insulation. So we had to rip it all out and turn the top layer paper side up! We couldn’t get an explanation as to why it had to be this way but we did it the way they told us and we passed that inspection.

The third area of trouble was electrical. Sooooo many codes have changed for residential. The last house I built the ground wire had to connect to the bar in the main breaker panel and run outside to two 8 foot rods driven into the ground six feet apart. Now it has to be connected to the meter box instead and must be in conduit to the ground (ground meaning dirt) even though it was eight feet back under a low deck.

The reasoning for this is weed whackers. Also, connected to this wire on the outside of the house close to the meter box there needs to be a grounding bar for stuff like telephone, cable, etc. Also, it is mandatory that there are outlets outside on the front of the house and the back of the house AND they need to be GFI AND tamper resistant, AND weather resistant, AND in waterproof boxes with waterproof covers AND they CANNOT be on a switch inside the house. Another new code since my last house is that the refrigerator must be on a GFI tamper proof outlet now.

The bummer about this is that if you’re away from home for the weekend and there is a lightning storm and the GFI throws all of the food in the refrigerator will go bad. All kitchen (including garbage disposal outlet), all bathroom and laundry room outlets now must be GFI weather resistant and tamper resistant and ALL outlets at home MUST be tamper resistant. Also, any 110-volt breakers that go to any system inside the house that is not a GFI system must be on the new style breaker where both the black and white wires go to the breaker and the coiled white wire on the breaker runs to the bar in the panel now.

These breakers (GE) are about $45 each. The regular style breakers can be used for GFI systems and outdoor systems. Also if you are on a well system, there must be an electric shutoff at the well. This can be as simple as a plug and receptacle that can be disconnected. Generally, the lever on the pressure switch can serve this function. (Just like on your air compressor)

Guest post by John Wadman

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