DIY Projects

Tiny Office – Insulation, Lighting, Drywall, and Flooring

Other posts about this project: Design Phase | Build Day | Paint & Electrical

At this point in the project I am pushing hard to get done. From the outside it looks done but there’s still lots and lots to do!

The good news, at least for my budget, is that I don’t need to hire labor. The bad news is that all of this work depends on me.


This was pretty straight-forward. You don’t have to be all that precise when putting in insulation… just cut it and staple it in. The only tricky part for this project was that we built it on 24″ studs and not standard 18″. Likewise, the ceiling joists weren’t precisely 24″ so in a couple of spots they were actually 25″ meaning I had to kind of stretch things out a little, even using some duct tape.

It was interesting how much of a difference putting in insulation made. The impact was nearly instant on both heat gain/loss and sound. So much better! 


Another “oops” (besides building on 24″ studs) was that the ceiling joists were 2×6’s and not 2×10’s. That’s really not a big deal other than for insulation and lighting. (I went with R13 in the ceiling because it wasn’t as thick when R30 would have been better.) I really wanted recessed lighting in there and it took me a while to find cans that were built for 2×6 construction. That is, until I talked to Brian, who corrected my misunderstanding on the standard 4″ recessed can from Home Depot.

Once I bought the lights it was just a matter or re-wiring what John put in the ceiling and installing. I think it took me about 3 hours total. Piece of cake. I went with all LED lighting to save on power. I’ll also swap out the standard light switch for a Wifi-enabled dimmer as soon as I pick a vendor.


Next up the drywall went in. This was a bit time consuming but not that hard. Lots of measuring and a couple of points where I needed Kristen’s help. But otherwise the drywall went in smoothly.

I watched a couple videos about using a rotary saw to easily cut out the electrical outlets and recessed lighting holes instead of using a drywall knife. I dunno. For me the drywall knife is still better. I had to do a ton of repair work when it came time to mud because the rotary saw is pretty easy to get away from you. Also, I knocked a number of power lines with the rotary saw which caused John a bunch of frustration. The one place where the rotary saw was great was the windows. Just put an uncut sheet up and cut to the window… so much faster than measuring and cutting.

Final Electrical

Once I got the drywall in I had John (our handyman) come back and install all of the outlets. Again, this was something I could have done myself but electrical was something I wanted done right and he has way more expertise than I do.

Mud & Tape

The goal of mud & tape is to join the drywall seems and do it in a way where the seems disappear. Most people hate doing it. I don’t mind doing it but I’m just not super experienced at it. There were a couple of spots where the drywall didn’t go in smooth and I was able to use the drywall compound as basically plaster to hide those issues. Again, not super hard… just time consuming.


The first round of mud took more than 24 hours to dry. (It was cold and damp in San Diego, plus there were some spots where I put it in thick) To keep things going my son Paul and I installed the laminate wood flooring.

What’s Next?

It’s finish time. I really, really need this to be done so I can start working in there. The project is now ready for paint, final trim, baseboards, and furnishings. I’ve started on this process but I’ll save the details for my next post.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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