Porta-Home Construction, Part 1: Building Is Underway!

February 13, 2017

Construction on the porta home is underway!


That means we’ll be done soon, right?


Well, not exactly. Because before we can build, we must experiment. Such is the nature of construction a completely original prototype.


 Above: This brief video shows some of the "boxes" we've inserted into the space to view how each panel interacts--and how I interact with the space once it's full of stuff. So far, so good.


My team and I are tracing out the floor of the unit in cardboard, measuring the dimensions to triple-check the measurements created by our architect, Tada. What may seem like a waste of time is actually a vital step, as our months of storing the unit in the San Fernando Valley’s hottest months taught us just how malleable the unit’s walls are. A design flaw, right? Not really. The PolyJohn We’ll Care III was designed for decades of durability, enduring a variety of conditions and thousands of miles of road travel, the engineers of the structure designed the walls to flex with the changing conditions. Brilliant for the porta potty. Challenging for us.


We have some ideas for how to bolster the construction. But we want to test some out first, determining exactly how the cheapest, most convenient materials puzzle into the interior before settling on the final design and materials. It’ll take us a little extra time, but it’ll be worth it.


Above: An example of the obstacles of prototype building, this box was created according to a miscommunication between the builder and I, reminding me I have much to improve on with articulating my vision to fabrication experts!



Our builder, Shawn, is leading the charge on this front, taking this stage of Phase I construction by the horns. Over the first few days we’ve already endured some frustrating hours in the warehouse, discovering measurements of angles have changed over the course of an afternoon and learning the challenges of communicating flexible floor plans. Or, in plain English, improving my inarticulate construction vernacular. Or, in plainer English, I’m really dumb at talking building.


Fortunately, this type of trial-and-error strategy is being supported by our funder. It has to be supported. No one has tried this before. Plenty of builders scoffed when I told them I planned to retrofit a porta potty into a tiny home. Some declined, others said I was downright stupid. (Partially true, but beside the point.) Those who ended up joining my team understood but embraced the challenges. They’re my resident geniuses. Because genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. And no one sweats more than me.




Regardless, the initial stage of the build has been a success. Not because it's been perfect, but because it's been effective. We won't be making these same mistakes twice. And if we're blessed enough to replicate this unit, we'll be twice as efficient.


Stay tuned for more progress! Up next: the fascinating world of insulation...





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Los Angeles, CA 90064

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