I recently visited a certified tiny home builder who is 34 miles from my home, Portable Cedar Cabins in Spirit Lake, Idaho. Google Maps lead me to the corner of the town park, twice. Obviously needing directions I steered to the local hardware store which is where I always seem to have the most luck finding help. The old guy had his dog sleeping on the counter, a conversation starter for sure. He knew exactly who I was looking for and sent me a mile further down the road. Rounding the steep bend of the highway. you really can’t miss the 18 or so tiny homes in various stages of completion.
The site was busy with North Idaho hard-working men, hammering to music like it was summer in the 53 degree spring weather. From the size of the mud ruts, Portable Cabins build site had its share of winter with the rest of us. We stepped into the yard and was greeted by Bob, who was more than happy to answer a couple of questions, give us a some instructions and turn us loose to wander around the homes.
I had my 16yr old son with me who is a tiny house skeptic, he looks at me with eyebrows raised, smiles and says “Okaaay” whenever I pull him into my tiny house excitement. When we stepped into the first little abode, he raised his eyebrows and declared, “This is surprisingly nice!” So we climbed into lofts, opened pocket doors, checked out tiny bathroom sinks and talked about what life would feel like in each of these different small spaces. So much fun!
Making our way back to the tiny house main office I sat down with the owner Dave and shared my Trek to Tiny with him. I had noticed that ALL the homes had flush toilets and none of them had gray water tanks or holding tanks, everyone was tapping into water, power and sewer. So, we talked about off-grid builds, N.Idaho frozen winters which equates to frozen water, and small wood stoves. Dave is a big proponent of going with a 10′ wide build, and I had noticed the difference that extra 18″ provided. Then the question everyone wants to know, “How much?” He quoted me $28,000 for a 10×24 completed shell with roughed-in plumbing and electrical, and he would deliver it to me for FREE since I am local.
I started doubting the path I have put into motion, buying a trailer and attempting a DYI build with hiring local professionals as needed. The mind followed a rabbit trail … my design would be better if it was bigger, I will save myself a lot of work, I’d be doing interior work this summer, this looks easier.
After my tiny house high, a hot yoga class forced me to take a deep breath, move and sweat for an hour and gave me the clear head to think this over carefully. I pulled out my materials list and crunched numbers, I had estimated they were receiving somewhere between 7,000-10,000 for their labor and that turned out to be pretty spot on. I wrestled with the budget vs. time argument and thought about what 10,000 can buy. My camper/tiny house journal revealed a whole bunch of reasons why staying the original course means something to me, this whole thing is a trek after all.
The pull to go bigger & spend more almost got me, a little mindfulness goes a long way. My oldest son who is a smart, hardworking, and really strong man has been excited about helping his mom this summer and building a small house shell. What a learning curve we’re going to have together!
Ready to get moving.