The Base and Beyond

Regrettably, this Amish barn-raising did not happen in our back garden.

Instead, we used our much-beloved miter saw to fashion larch timbers into a bespoke insulated base upon which we could assemble our glorious shed.

The story goes that you can build your tiny house directly onto a paving slab base, but, ever the fans of overengineering things and making our lives unnecessarily difficult, we didn’t do that.

The timber base you can see above is supported by adjustable plastic feet spaced fifty centimeters apart. These were an added expense of roughly £70, but it is essential for the long and happy life of your cabin that the base is absolutely level in all planes. You can find an excellent guide on the construction of a base for your cabin here.

The model of tiny house we decided on is a traditional cabin, which means that the entirety of the structural support and load bearing takes place around the external walls of the building; there are no hanging floor joists to support the construction as you might have in a traditional brick house.


We found reclaimed celotex insulation boards from here and paid £1,300 for thirty-six 100mm boards. As is the case for many tiny houses, our desire to have the most sustainable home we can with the lowest ongoing resource use means that super-insulating is a top priority. The 100mm boards far surpass the building regulation requirements for residential dwellings, although we won’t be able to make the impressive PassivHaus design standard on this build, it is an ambition for future projects.

Our tiny house is going to have a much higher energy efficiency rating than our brick house. 

We celebrate when the first board is successfully installed in the only way Millenials know how. A selfie.


Once the insulation boards were all tucked into their respective nooks, we filled the (many, many) gaps with expanding foam. I am notoriously incapable of identifying straight lines which does not bode well for a construction project.

The work described above took us roughly twenty hours. Squeezing in these hours between both of our full-time jobs, recording a blues album, filming a documentary, running the first of many WRDTP (White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership) Women in Academia events through @Women_in_Academia, and setting up the CIC OpHouse with Rebecca Carr from Kaizen Arts Agency to spearhead the first Council-backed tiny house development in York, meant that this twenty-hour endeavour took place over about a month.

But you can’t rush art. Especially when you don’t know how to cut in a straight line.