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10 Must Have Tools For Building Your Tiny House

Anyone who’s worked on a serious construction project knows how important it is to have the right tools. It can mean the difference between endless swearing and frustration – and sitting back with a beer and admiring your handiwork in the evening. We spent some time rounding up the best tools for the job – tools that will save you time, frustration, and most importantly, help you build a better home.

Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer

Why you need it

Naturally you’ll be doing a lot of nailing, and swinging a hammer can get old real fast. This is probably one of the best investments you can make in order to save time and energy.

The important stuff

  • 18-volt cordless lithium ion battery stores plenty of power
  • No need for an air compressor, CO2 cartridge, or cord
  • Up to 700 nails in one charge
  • Delivers 18-gauge nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inch length

Compared to similar tools like the nailers by DeWalt and Rigid, this one is much smaller and easier to handle. Ryobi has been making a name for themselves over the past decade and continually improving their products. This one is no exception.

Best online price: $330.30

Ryobi Cordless BRAD NAILER 18GA Model P320

Ryobi 18-Volt Li-ion Drill + Saw Combo

Why you need it

Now that you’ve got a nailer, complete your collection of basic building tools with Ryobi’s rechargeable drill/saw package. Now you can handle 90% of your construction tasks without breaking a sweat!

The important stuff

  • Compact 18-volt lithium-ion battery works with both drill and saw
  • Included dual chemistry charger is compatible with many other Li-ion batteries
  • Drill has 24-position clutch and 2-speed gear box for varied torques and speeds
  • ½-inch keyless chuck with spindle lock makes changing bits quick & easy
  • Ergonomically designed circular saw with left-side blade for better visibility

Light weight but high performance, with a battery that lasts and lasts, these are two more quality tools from Ryobi. With a powerful, versatile drill and an easy-to-handle saw that makes quick work of 2×4s, this combo is what you’ll reach for whenever you need to make a cut or bore a hole. The battery recharges in just 60 minutes.

Ryobi 18-Volt Li-ion Drill Saw Combo

Best online price: $89.58

Ryobi 18-Volt One+ Lithium-Ion Starter Kit (2-Tool)

Bostitch Mini Impact Nailer

Why you need it

How are you going to drive a nail if you don’t have room to swing a hammer? You’ll find yourself in any number of tight spots when you’re putting together a tiny house, but Bostitch’s tiny nailer can squeeze into all of them.

The important stuff

  • One-pound nailer that fits in the palm of your hand
  • 360° swivel air fitting lets you position it anywhere you need to
  • Insulating rubber grip reduces vibration while front exhaust directs air away from you
  • Compatible with standard bulk finish, framing and timber nails

Bostitch makes one of the smallest, best and cheapest impact nailers around. It’s great for putting in joist hangers, it’s a godsend for places where swinging a hammer would be impossible or just too uncomfortable (directly overhead, for example), and it’s so easy to use that you may end up retiring your old-school hammer to the toolbox for good.

Bostitch Mini Impact Nailer

Best online price: $32.89

BOSTITCH PN50 Mini Impact Nailer

Makita Random Orbit Sander

Why you need it

Using a sanding block is time-consuming and tiresome even if you’re just building a table or a cabinet. Now imagine finishing an entire tiny house like that.

The important stuff

  • Big 1/8” random orbits at 12,000 orbits per minute sand wood quickly and smoothly
  • Uses 5-inch hook-and-loop abrasive disks for quick changes
  • Self-contained through-the-pad dust collection system with dust bag included
  • Highly durable, with rubber-sealed switch and oversized ball bearing

Makita’s powerful 3-amp sander stands head and shoulders above the competition for ease of operation and fast, non-marking sanding action. There are cheaper sanders, but this one will last a lifetime. The attached dust bag is great for keeping the air clear in small spaces, but if you need to you can hook the unit up to a vacuum cleaner for even better dust removal.

Makita 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Best online price: $69

Makita BO5030K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Ryobi Miter Saw with Laser

Why you need it

You’ll need a good miter saw for easily cutting accurate angles both when you’re framing your tiny house and putting in molding. And while Ryobi’s cordless circular saw is great for as-needed use onsite, you’ll want a more powerful plug-in saw for higher volume cutting operations. Plus it makes cutting exact angles a breeze. Remember, measure twice, cut once!

The important stuff

  • Heavy-duty 9-amp motor spins 7¼” up to 5,800 RPM for effortless cuts
  • Exactline laser alignment system shows exactly where the cut will go
  • 9 ball detent stops at 0 and ± 15, 22.5, 31.6 and 45 degrees
  • Handles 2×4s and 3½ inch crosscuts

Another quality saw from Ryobi. The laser guide is bright, dead-on, and shows up on all visible surfaces of the piece you’re sawing. Despite its power, this compact saw takes up just 2 cubic feet of space – a definite plus when you’re working (or living) in a tiny house.

Ryobi Miter Saw

Price: $69.44

Factory Reconditioned Ryobi ZRTS1143L 7-1/4” Miter Saw with Laser Green

Makita Compact Router

Why you need it

Your tiny house is going to have cabinets, right? Kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, storage cabinets… Making them will involve some serious joinery, and to do that efficiently you need a router to create rabbets, dados and dovetails. You can also use it for decorative effects.

The important stuff

  • Powerful 1¼ horsepower aluminum motor with variable 10,000 – 30,000 RPM operation
  • Soft start so it won’t jerk in your hands and ruin the piece when you turn it on
  • Easy depth adjustments with quick release cam lock and rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment
  • Electronic speed control keeps speed uniform as you cut

This solidly built router is the top choice of professional woodworkers looking for something compact. It’s comfortable to hold, relatively quiet, and has a soft start feature, so it’s a great choice for beginners as well. Powerful enough to handle anything you throw at it and durable enough that you’ll still be doing projects with it years after you move into your tiny house.

Makita compact router

Price: $139.22

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

HomeRight Fine Finish Paint Sprayer

Why you need it

A sloppy paint job can make a perfectly well-built house look like amateur hour, but if you’re just building one tiny one you don’t want to invest in bulky, expensive professional house painting gear. HomeRight’s small, self-contained residential sprayer is a great alternative.

The important stuff

  • Makes it easy to achieve a smooth, even finish on painted surfaces. No more brush marks!
  • Variable flow rate with three adjustable spray patterns so you can use it for practically any painting application
  • Operates at low pressure for precise control and reduced over-spray
  • Easy clean up – just a few minutes

HomeRight’s sprayer is very popular with DIYers for its high-quality finishes, ease of use and low price. It’s everything you need for a professional looking paint job in one small package – you don’t have to buy (or mess with) an air compressor or additional hoses. It works with latex, acrylics, and enamels and has no trouble handling poly/top coats and specialty paints.

HomeRight sprayer

 

Best online price: $61.08

HomeRight C800766 Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer

Bosch Compact Laser Measure

Why you need it

As a DIY builder you can’t count on always having a helper around to hold the other end of a tape measure. This ultra-tiny laser measure gives you an accurate distance at the touch of a button – and you don’t have to go an inch out of your way.

The important stuff

  • Precision laser technology with 1/8-inch accuracy up to 50 feet
  • Square base allows easy measurement at any angle
  • Just 4 inches long
  • Simple one-button operation

This is Bosch’s smallest, least expensive laser measure, but it’s still a quality product, and its 50-foot range is plenty for a tiny house. It displays a continuous measurement, and its capture feature lets you save one distance and then go on to take another. The minuscule size and square shape lets you measure from just about anywhere at any angle.

Bosch Compact Laser Measure

Best price: $29.88

Bosch GLM 15 Compact Laser Measure, 50-Feet

Bosch Laser Square

Why you need it

You’ll love this for any task that requires straight lines or right angles, and there are a lot of those when you’re building a tiny house. Think about marking studs, hanging cabinets, flooring, and putting in countertops and appliances, and you’ll see how useful a laser square can be.

The important stuff

  • Projects a pair of perpendicular laser lines up to 30 feet on any surface
  • Alignment guide allows for incremental 5-degree turns
  • Good accuracy of ½ inch at 30 feet
  • Comes with non-marking adhesive so you can attach it to vertical surfaces

Again, a general contractor would probably buy a larger and more capable device, but for the short distances in a tiny house this is really all you need. This model wins respect for its bright laser (which is easily visible even in full daylight) and its true-to-square alignment. It has two built-in bubble levels for accurate positioning.

Bosch Laser Square

Best online price: $28.99

Bosch GTL2 Laser Square

Irwin Wire Stripper

Why you need it

A lot of people find doing the wiring to be one of the most tedious parts of tiny house construction. Having a good tool for stripping, crimping and cutting can remove a lot of the frustration and fatigue.

The important stuff

  • Strips wire from 10-24 AWG; crimps 10-22 AWG insulated/non-insulated
  • Self-adjusting mechanism plus swivel knob for micro-adjusts
  • Includes wire cutter
  • No-slip ergonomic grips let you work for hours without discomfort

If you’ve done any wiring before you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is with this tool. It adjusts automatically so you don’t have to worry about the gauge of the wire – just grip and strip – and has an adjustable stopper so you get the same strip length each time. Good for crimping and cutting too, and the comfortable grips make the whole process a lot less painful.

Irwin Wire Stripper

Best online price: $19.99

Irwin Vise-Grip Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper, 8”, 2078300

Bonus: Beer

Why you need it

No matter how many tools you have, the inevitable hiccup will arise in your building plans. Before, during, or after construction, there’s always a place for a cold brew. Plus it’s a great way to bribe your friends to help you!

The important stuff

  • Stick with a lower alcohol session type beer. Those 8.9% alcohol double IPAs will NOT do your coordination any favors.
  • Everything in moderation. Enjoy a brew with lunch, or for a mid-afternoon snack. Don’t get plastered and start firing nails as target practice.
  • Get enough to share.

There you have it! Do you have any recommendations for “must have” tools that you used to complete your build? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Aug 16, 2016 / by / in ,
Aneides’ cozy Carolina holds a home office, massive storage & a bathtub in just 24 feet

Aneides Tiny Homes is a new Asheville, North Carolina, company founded by Greg Sours, a second-generation homebuilder from the Shenandoah Valley. This is their first build, the 192-square-foot Carolina.

The floor plan emphasizes storage space over leg room – there are two large closets, plus storage in the stairs and under the couch – and the dark stained wood contributes to the cozy feeling. If you’d prefer things a little lighter, Aneides has also done a similarly laid out but slightly smaller house called the Shaker using blonde wood to brighten up the interior.

The kitchen has a big U-shaped counter and appliances built into an impressive bank of cabinets.

Beyond it is the surprisingly large bathroom, which has a full-sized bathtub and (again) lots of cabinet space.

Greg even managed to fit in a perfectly respectable home office!

At the top of the stairs there’s a sleeping loft with a queen bed; it’s kept semi-private by a low wall that holds a 32-inch flat screen TV. In the ceiling above the bed is a hatch that can be opened for ventilation or stargazing.

No word on how much a finished home sells for, but you can buy the complete blueprints for $350.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 20, 2017 / by / in
Kvale Hytte: a tiny house for Microsoft millionaires

At 1,000 square feet, the Kvale Hytte cottage is bigger than most of the houses we feature here – and at well over half a million dollars when it sold in 2015, it’s the most expensive we’ve ever looked at. Now, lovely and luxurious as it is (and don’t worry, we’ll get to the photos soon), the high valuation owes at least as much to the location as it does to the building. This is on a private lot inside Conover Commons Cottages, an exclusive community of similar homes surrounded by five acres of protected woodland between Kirkland and Redmond, Washington. Locals confirm that the price isn’t out of line for that area, and developer The Cottage Company had no trouble selling every unit when they completed the cottages back in 2004. (You can sign up here to be notified when any come on the market.)

Surrounded by an old-fashioned split-rail fence, the Kvale Hytte floats among the flowers and trees of a lush garden landscape.

There’s a large covered front porch from which to enjoy the pleasant views.

The expansive main room is opened up even more by a sky-high ceiling and lots of natural light.

Off to the side is a big kitchen with both a bar island and a breakfast nook.

The master bedroom looks out onto the woods in back.

Upstairs, you pass a study desk on your way to a guest/kids’ bedroom.

There’s a smaller back porch as well.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 19, 2017 / by / in
Wheel Pad THOW helps new wheelchair users through the transition

Life-changing injuries are never part of the plan, and houses are not in general very wheelchair accessible. That goes double for tiny houses, of course – think lofts, ladders and cramped bathrooms. But after a disabling accident, adding a handicapped-friendly tiny to the yard could be a lot easier than retrofitting an existing residence. There have been a few accessible tiny homes already, like the studio37 prefab and most notably NextDoor Housing’s Drop Home, and now there’s another one: the Wheel Pad.

It’s basically a simplified THOW whose floor area is divided between a sleeping/living area and a giant bathroom able to accommodate a wheelchair. There are no kitchen facilities, because the Wheel Pad is conceptualized as a temporary living solution for new wheelchair users who will have assistance from family or friends while making the transition. In fact, there’s a provision to connect the unit to a larger house to make that easier.

 

The prototype Wheel Pad in the photos is called the Norwich Model after Vermont military college Norwich University, whose students and professors helped out with the build. It was designed by Joseph Cincotta of LineSync Architecture and will be made available free to area residents in need (an application can be found here).

Future units will be marketed by a company called Wheel Pad L3C for sale at $50,000 or lease at $1,500 per month. They hope to help out wounded veterans and other newly disabled people while also benefiting the southern Vermont economy by providing jobs at an employee owned factory.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 18, 2017 / by / in ,
A comfortable park model houseboat from an experienced RV builder

The Flo-Lodge was an aluminum framed houseboat built for a few years in the early 2000s by Athens Park Homes, a Texas-based maker of park model RVs and modular houses. There are still a number of them floating around (on encapsulated foam), such as this 400-square-foot 2007 model currently for sale in Far Rockaway, Queens, at $59,000.

A big covered deck provides a place for sitting, socializing and enjoying the sea breeze.

When the weather’s less agreeable, there’s also plenty of space inside the attractively wood covered living room – and R19 inside the walls to guarantee comfortable temperatures.

A serviceable kitchenette is located outside the bedroom and bathroom.

Sliding glass doors in the private bedroom let in the sunlight – and let you out onto a small balcony.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 17, 2017 / by / in
See how Earthship concepts gave this CA couple a beautiful, passive home for under $10K

Taylor and Steph’s 560-square-foot DIY home is an Earthship – i.e., it’s based on the principles espoused by architect Mike Reynolds of Earthship Biotecture, chiefly passive heating/cooling and use of reclaimed/recycled materials in construction. The couple spent a year familiarizing themselves with Earthship concepts and techniques before starting the build on lent land in the in the Santa Cruz Mountains, living in a yurt during the year it took to gather all the materials and put up the house.

It’s set into a south-facing hillside, so the east, west, and north walls are buried for better thermal performance and the floor’s actually dirt (sealed with hemp oil).

Of course, the south wall is mostly windows.

The wood is all redwood, mostly from old barns and fences, although Taylor and Steph did harvest a couple of live trees from the property for posts and beams.

Whatever the source, it’s a beautiful wood, and a perfect embodiment of the rustic California coast style they were aiming for.

Everything else was either free, found or secondhand, so they were able to complete the build for under $10,000.

 

Having lived in the house for three years now, Taylor and Steph are preparing to publish a photobook about their experiences with Earthship construction and living – $35 will reserve your copy on Kickstarter.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 15, 2017 / by / in
A vintage brick tiny in the Tucson Mountains

This little house in the Tucson Mountains celebrated its 60th birthday recently, but it’s been so well maintained and so tastefully upgraded that you could easily mistake it for a new build consciously attempting a vintage style. The combo of knotty wood with exposed brick walls is classic, and the sliding glass doors and huge window really open it up to the three acres of scrub land around it and the mountain views beyond. The 330-square-foot house is currently listed on Estately for $140,000, and has already attracted a full-price offer; the seller suggests building a larger house on the property, but look at these pictures and ask yourself – why bother?

A partially covered wraparound brick patio makes a pleasant space to enjoy the desert air.

Much of the house is devoted to a spacious bedroom/living room area.

The kitchen, meanwhile, is probably small enough to fit in a THOW.

The bathroom’s plenty big enough, though, and nicely decorated as well.

There’s even an outdoor hot tub!

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 14, 2017 / by / in
Intellectual Tiny Home

This 40-foot shipping container house is the Intellectual Tiny Home, designed by Maggie Hartje at Revival Designs, named for the exterior paint color, and now for sale at $62,000 in Longmont, Colorado. The wood bolted onto the side is cedar, meant to enable a green wall, a picnic table, or shelf space.

Through the smart-lock-equipped double French doors the container has been left open except for the bathroom and a bedroom alcove at one end. Flooring is bamboo, again except for the bathroom, which is tiled. There’s an electric fireplace in the middle living room section.

The kitchen includes all the major appliances other than an oven – a full-sized refrigerator, induction stove, microwave and dishwasher.

A washer/dryer sits unobtrusively under the wide bathroom counter.

The bedroom fits a queen bed and space to store clothes.

Jan 7, 2017 / by / in
Hale Iki: an unassumingly lovely Hawaiian vacation rental

Mark and Lucretia Worster have only been renting out their Hale Iki tiny house for a few weeks now, but they got some great advance publicity with an appearance on Tiny House Hunters. It’s easy to see why HGTV picked their house for the show: not only is Hale Iki located in a fern-filled Hawaiian rainforest just a few miles from an active volcano, it also boasts relaxed but indisputably luxurious tropical styling, a huge lanai to complement its 240 square feet of interior area, and conveniences and comforts like a chiminea fireplace and a gas grill. Despite being completely off-grid, Hale Iki also has a big refrigerator (solar) and a flush toilet (water catchment).

 hale-iki-1

The kitchen includes a full-size gas oven and a sink, albeit not a whole lot of counter space.

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The fridge is conveniently located just across the bathroom door.

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The bathroom itself is quite small, holding just a shower stall and the aforementioned toilet, but it’s nicely finished in grey tile.

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The bed at the other end of the house is a comfortable queen size surrounded by windows that let in the morning light and look out on a jungle of ferns and ohia trees.

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And staying here costs less than you’d think – at least for now. Mark and Lucretia are currently offering an introductory rate of just $115 per night, and they accept single-night and last-minute bookings too. You can make a reservation directly or on Airbnb or VRBO.

Jan 6, 2017 / by / in
Brevard’s MINIstry of Magic makes glam livable (& affordable!)

With an entire loft dedicated to shoes, makeup and clothes, a customized primping area and a full-length mirror, Genna Poletti’s MINIstry of Magic Tiny House has to be the glammest THOW we’ve ever seen. And it’s not just glam, it’s a Brevard – so you know it’s got a thoughtfully designed, ultra-livable interior and a reasonable price tag to go with all that style. In fact, Genna did a lot of the design herself, cherry picking elements from some of her favorite tiny houses from blogs and Instagram, with the Music City Tiny House serving as her primary inspiration. But she gladly accepted Brevard’s input on putting it all together, as well as their suggestions for practical additions like kitchen shelving.

ministry-of-magic-1

Aside from the loft dressing room, Genna’s top requirements included a bathtub long enough to stretch her legs in, a couch long enough to accommodate overnight guests, a king-sized bed for her own sleeping comfort, a full-size oven with four burners on top, a big dining table, and a sliding barn door to the bathroom. And guess what? Brevard made fitting them all into a sub-200-square-foot THOW look easy. Plus an apartment-scale fridge inside the storage stairs and a fully automatic washer/dryer unit in the bathroom. All for $55,000. Brevard’s always been good, and they just seem to keep getting better…

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Genna filled out the MINIstry of Magic with accessories from Ikea and Target and decorated it with original artwork (in the relatively few places she could find windowless wall space) and trinkets from her travels to Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia. To see it all, be sure to watch the video tour she gives with her twin sister Alexa.

h/t Tiny House Talk

Jan 5, 2017 / by / in
Matt and Kelsey’s two-bedroom tiny

Merriam-Webster calls arm’s length “a distance discouraging personal contact or familiarity,” but connotations aside, arm’s length isn’t really all that far – and you’d think a couple planning to live in a tiny house together would be looking forward to the more literal interpretation of the term. Turns out that for Matt and Kelsey it’s a little bit of both. They’re all set to enjoy the intimacy and closeness of tiny house living – but they’ll be doing it from separate loft bedrooms on either end of their new 300-square-foot wheeled home. (Less startlingly, they’ll also have separate work desks that pull out from the storage stairs leading to Kelsey’s bedroom.) The house debuted on FYI’s Tiny House Nation and obviously presented some unaccustomed challenges for the design team. Besides the requirement for two full-size sleeping lofts, Kelsey needed stairs due to back issues. That does take up space, but since that space also contains the desk, a coat closet, and other storage, it’s at least a multifunctional one. Fold-outs have also been used for the table and seating in the small, self-contained living room. The kitchen in the middle is small but (except for the lack of overhead cabinets) functionally adequate, with under-counter placement of a small convection oven and mini-fridge saving countertop space. In fact, the only part of the house that’s truly cramped is the bathroom, where a washer/dryer competes for real estate with the toilet, sink, shower stall – and whoever’s trying to use those facilities at the moment.

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h/t Tiny House Talk

Dec 31, 2016 / by / in