Tag Archives: how to

A Day at the Salvage Yard

by Sarah

We are trying to salvage as many of the materials for our house as we can.  It fits with our environmental goals, and it fits with our budget!  We’ve written about salvaging our windows before, but we thought it’d be fun to take you along with us on a day of salvaging.

We’ve been to most of the main salvage yards in the Bay Area, and we really like  Whole House Building Supply in San Mateo.  We were there with Meg last Saturday, then went back with our truck on Tuesday to really spend some time, pick up Meg’s doors and our own purchases, and to film along the way.  Whole House has a great selection of lumber, as well as the doors, windows, sinks, and other items we’ve seen in other places.  They also have really fair prices, artwork made of salvaged objects, and demolition sales, where you can go to a house they are taking apart and buy things right off of it (we have yet to do that!).

We’ve also visited:

Urban Ore, Berkeley – major “eco-park” with lots of interesting stuff.

Ohmega Salvage, Berkeley – more like an antique store, inspiring but expensive.

The Away Station, Fairfax.

Heritage Salvage, Petaluma – beautiful furniture made from salvaged materials, and a small salvage materials yard we have yet to explore.

Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Santa Rosa – we got many of our windows there, lots of great stuff.

And, of course, our home away from home, Maselli’s, Petaluma, where we bought many of our tools, our strong ties, and countless extremely useful odds and ends.

And still on our list is to check out the Sonoma County Dump and Building Resources in San Francisco.   Any recommendations for more salvage opportunities in the Bay Area?

We got a great haul from Whole House including flooring, interior siding, odd pieces of finish plywood for shelving, a mirror, a couple of tiles, a few sheets of plywood in good condition, and more.

Check out our video to see inside the salvage yard and to see our purchases!


String Theory: Our Scale Model

No, not subatomic particles…ACTUAL STRING!  After reading about how helpful it would be to have a scale model, we went out and bought some poster board and box cutters at the local hobby shop with lofty ideas of gluing small pieces of foam together to make, essentially, a tiny-doll-house in the exact proportion of the Tumbleweed framing plans.  Didn’t happen.

Instead what we ended up doing, which may or may not have been more work, was framing the house in string.  Scale? 1:1.  So now we can actually step through the front door opening and feel the space around us.   I used two walls of a room and triangulated the points from the ceiling and floor using a level and a tape measure.  It’s a little bit off here and there (by no more than 4”) due to the string bending when crossed with other string, but all around pretty functional!IMG_1357 IMG_1355 IMG_1361

Making the String Model helped us with the following :

~Is the space big enough for the two sleeping lofts? Yes.

~Are the lofts big enough to sleep and sit in?  Really? We’ve modified the work loft (our second loft) with some dormers.

~Where the heck should we put our salvaged windows?

~Kitchen orientation + sizing

~Actually feeling like “We’re going to do this!”

~Easier to show friends what exactly it is that we’re doing

~Placement, orientation, and design of the bathroom, kitchen, shelves, window seat

~Appliance sizing (stove, sinks, heating, etc.) Now, every time we have a question are wondering if something will fit in the Tiny House, we step into the first floor String Model, or climb into the loft floor String Model.  Super helpful!

We are lucky to have enough indoor space in our current home to map out our entire tiny house with string, and to leave it up.  If you don’t have that much space maybe you could do it in a backyard with rope or duct tape attached to trees, buildings, or a ladder.  You could also put up a String Model for a day inside, sort out the questions you’ve been wondering about, and take it down again.

Check out our video here to see how to make your walls straight and your ceiling flat and everything else for your String Model.