Compromises: free insulation vs. salty broth.

Subfloor: complete.

Whenever I have a question about how to do something right – how many screws, what kind insulation is best – I search for answers on the internet and fall into a deep pit of forums. We all know what “too many cooks” will do to the broth. Internet forums manifest 1,000 cooks every time.

I’m heavily inspired and influenced by the work of Derek Diedricksen. He is a voice of reason in the world of small-structure construction. About a month ago, I got a huge bag of discarded fiberglass insulation out of a dumpster in Philadelphia. Today was the day that I had to decide what insulation is going to go into my floors. Free is good, but I’m also planning to have the house for a long time. I don’t want to sacrifice long-term comfort and efficiency to save fifty bucks in the short-term. I want to do it right, but what is the real “right?”

So what should I do? If you listen to the squawk-y experience of professional forum-posters, the only way to insulate the floor is with lots of expensive foam. You need spray foam, or lots of expensive sheets of foam. It’s unclear what will happen if you do not use a mountain of foam products, but I wouldn’t rule out death. None of these people understand how much money I DO NOT HAVE. Americans are famous spenders. We talk loud and we spit our tobaccy on the ground.

What would Deek do? Derek Diedricksen is much too busy using wine bottles to get more sunlight – he doesn’t have time to fart around with internet forums. He’s busy using the front-loading door from a washing machine as a window. To sum it up, the message – as I receive it, personally – is to build fun structures instead of becoming a clown-slave to OCD.

So, I used fiberglass insulation. It was forty-five bucks for the exact right stuff in the exact right amount. It’s in budget. The dumpstered stuff will be used in another project. I think I struck a good balance of quality and price. If I had even less money, I would have gladly just used the dumpstered stuff. Projects are easier if we don’t build mental obstacles between a hammer and an answer.




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2 responses to “Compromises: free insulation vs. salty broth.

  1. You exhibit a remarkable ability to transform dreams into reality. I first stumbled across your path many years ago while primitive-web-surfing the subject of van-dwelling; later, you were portrayed as a character of signifigance on “Crazy Guy On A Bike” as you rode your “hooptdy-bike” across America…then, in that strange six-degrees thing the Universe does I started following Nicholas Carman (who I discovered by way of jaquie phelan) and there you were again: wrenching in Key West (one of my decades-long hideouts until I found this secret pirate cove where now I dwell).

    I am probably older than your parents, but in my own bizzaro reality I am but a youth. I am excited and empowered as I watch you build a fort in your parent’s backyard. Under any other circumstances that would be a cynical statement but not anymore; it is the pattern followed by the pioneers (the newlyweds would get a corner of the family farm) and also because I just really want to see this all work out. Good for you, Chris, good for you.

    Good for you. An archaic phrase of questionable origin but this says I:

    Good for you.


    • sandwichbear

      Gee, thanks, Tim – you make me sound busy and adventurous. It’s high praise to someone who sometimes feels like he’s building a fort in his parents’ backyard. I appreciate your perspective: the newlyweds used to get a corner of the family farm. Yes, it’s closer to that tradition in which I’m trying to build the small-tall house. It’s in the tradition of generations of family helping to bolster the next. In our country we are losing or lacking the traditions of large multi-generational families. Sometimes it’s nice to pool the resources of a village.

      I’m hoping that in my time on this property I am able to foster somewhat of a symbiotic relationship with the folks. I can help with their projects while they let me work on mine. I don’t want to be a barnacle. But I understand as much as anybody that when you look at my project through the lens of current American norms, it looks a little bit barnacle-y. I won’t let that stop me. In my heart, I truly believe that many thousands of other Americans should consider shifting the norms to include acceptance of the idea of small houses sharing family property. A small house is a tool of empowerment. Self sufficiency never hurt a soul.

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