1. Choosing Plans
|the floor plan for my house|
Here is my builder's photo blog where you find a lot of tips on chemical-free modifications such as sequestering pipes, building a floor without plywood etc.
2. A Builder who Understands Chemical Sensitivities
I can't even imagine building with someone who did not have experience with natural building as well as a complete buy-in to the idea. The amount of time it would take a conventional builder to learn about non-toxic building would not make this a financially wise decision. It would also add a lot more work to your side and a lot more stress. Some tiny house builders I recommend are Jim from Tiny Green Cabins (MN, USA), Swanson Associates (TX, USA), Safeshelters (CA, USA).
3. Trailer Weight
|the beginning of my house|
4. Metal v. Wood
|my poplar frame, should have used|
cedar or maple
If you can afford it consider Timbersil for the framing, it is an excellent material that solves the usual problems of wood and metal.
5. Mobile Home v. Travel Trailer Registration
|MgO walls going in|
You can easily get certified as a travel trailer in BC (Ubuilt Travel Trailer is the specific designation) and this will also cause a lot of confusion at ICBC). You must find out the requirement before building, though there are not many requirements, i.e. one is the height, and another is a light on the back. There is an inspection sheet that is filled out at a mechanic that is certified to do this. Please make sure you do get the checklist for travel trailer before you build. It does have to be able to be moved so there are requirements for having it on the road. Then you take that sheet to ICBC and hope that someone there figures it out (took me 5 trips to ICBC in total). You can then get house insurance as a mobile home or as a travel trailer.
The requirements for a mobile home are much more thorough (if you are a mobile home certified builder) and must be contemplated before building. For example, with travel trailer certification, there was no requirement about grey water and black water tanks (and it turned out we did not need those tanks at all). No rules about composting toilets. There is a silver seal electrical inspection that you can choose to do if you plan on parking it somewhere legal.
If you are having someone in the US build it get them the checklist for your province though it will likely be the same as the requirements in the US. You can import a travel trailer which is a bit of paperwork and might involve you going down to the border to do the paperwork.
6. Choosing Materials
|Poplar wood on the interior too (should have used maple)|
Factor in another couple of months to order samples and test materials for your own sensitivities. If you get sick easily, this will be a long and protracted stage as you find out what you can't tolerate by getting sick over and over. There needs to be time for recovery between testing. Definitely err on the side of caution as your sensitivities will increase once in a clean environment. It was a happy mistake that the finishing was left to me after delivery. the testing of wood stains/sealers/paints/tiles/tile sealers/shower materials has been a very long process and it has been much easier to do this slowly over time. Materials that I didn't react to when testing but now do include: cotton batt insulation (if you react to new clothing you will react to that), MgO board (I am on the fence about it - a couple extremely sensitive people have said there is a slight reaction to it) and I have become much more sensitive to all paints and wood glues.
7. Time to Offgass
|the view from my kitchen|
Separate posts on tiny house systems, composting toilet and grey water, custom non-toxic shower...