Breathe

Breathe

As I shoveled the snow off my front walk, it seemed to me that I had just done this very task not so long ago.  Overnight the summer became a distant blur of sunshine,  long days, and smokey skies with power tools the constant soundtrack playing in the background.  Even though the trees still bear witness to the colors of fall, winter is officially here and with it brings a much needed pit stop on the trek to tiny.  It was just about this time last year that I began to seriously think about this project and the reasons why I should take this trek ,and I have had to circle back around those thoughts plenty of times this summer on those days that I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

My life these last few weeks has been driven by the weather and the noticeably shorter days.  I have enough money and energy invested into this little house that not getting dried in would be a financial disaster and the last scenario I wanted to play out would be having to tear down and redo because the North Idaho driven rain and snow had seeped into every corner of my little house on wheels. It wasn’t easy to blaze over to the job site after spending 8 hours in a hot, busy kitchen teaching teenagers how to knead bread or make gnocchi, but that’s what I did.  The three prominent men in my life continually showed up for me, being those extra hands that made the days work possible and safe.

The progress seemed slow, but we all look at what we accomplished with baby steps and are amazed.  If anyone is considering a project of this scope with the learning curve we had, here is a snapshot of what it takes.

November 2016 – design phase
Memorial Day – We pick up the trailer in Oregon

 

Late July 2017 I begin building the floor system.

 

The month of August I learn how to frame walls.

 

Mid-September we raise the walls.
Late September was spent sheathing.

 

Big blue tarp saves the project from days of hard rain.
October 2017 – Roof rafters go up.

At this point the weather is becoming a serious motivator.  There is still roof sheathing, ice and water shield, sub fascia and fascia, windows, a door, housewrap and the metal roof to go on.  I was thankful that I had purchased materials far in advance and had them ready to go. Late October to the first week of November…

Priming fascia boards in my garage.
Starting to feel like a little house with lots of light.
Feeling encouraged that I just might make it!
Many hands make light work, wrapping the best gift ever.

We made it! The next day we had 8″ of snow.

I’ve learned that I really don’t want to do rough framing again, that installing windows and the metal roof were relatively easy and highly rewarding.  I learned that hanging doors is tricky, especially when your out of square and that having friends who know how to fix that can save your day.  I learned that renting scaffolding is money well spent and that running power tools for days on end can create an annoying case of carpal tunnel.  But mostly I am grateful that outside of splinters and bruises, no one got hurt making my little dream happen.

I won’t be at the little house day after day for a while, but am already thinking about electrical and plumbing and have decided this not a phase I want to DIY.  I’ll do the layout and planning and bring in the professionals for the install. Spring will bring siding and I can begin the interior finish work with the hope that this time next year I am lighting a fire in my little wood stove and curling up with a book and a cup of tea.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time …

Hillary D.

 

Coveting in a Tiny World

Coveting in a Tiny World

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.

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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!

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One of the smaller houses.

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.

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10′ Wide

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.

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Early morning Trek to Tiny work.

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.

Hillary D.

Building Season

Building Season

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity Prayer

With “Snowmageddon 2017” it seems as though the building season will never arrive and I am anxious to get moving.  Every drip, drip from the roof and sounds of running water in the street remind me that this too shall pass.  My building site currently looks like this …

It is painfully obvious that it will be awhile before a trailer can be pulled on to the site and the shop is operational. Not to mention the challenges that the tiny house will face with big winters!  I look at those pictures and think about how the snow will come off my roof, my front door and the need for a sturdy awning of some sort, and water…always thinking about water, particularly frozen water.

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Scenic 7B has been awfully frosty.

I have selected a trailer!  Iron Eagle Trailers in Oregon manufacture trailers specifically for tiny houses.  Little things like recessed crossmembers, axles positioned significantly forward to carry the load of a tiny house, stronger, lighter and they’ll make free tweaks to accommodate your house design.  The cost for this foundation of my future home comes in under $5000 and I can pick it up in Bend, Oregon which is an easy days drive.

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The Trek to Tiny begins here!

There is a Google SketchUp model of my trailer created by Tiny Nest Project that will allow me to start accurately placing my framing and I now know exactly where the wheel wells will fall in my design.  Thank you Kiva and Jake for making this model available!  If you’ve never used SketchUp, it is relatively easy to learn, is FREE, and fun to use.  I’ve got a cabinet I want to incorporate into my kitchen and this program allows me to accurately place this piece into the design and see in 3D how it will work.  When I was in design school we did most our work on a drafting table and changes were tedious, technology certainly has its wonderful moments.

I spend a considerable amount of time watching YouTube videos, another amazing resource of information.  In addition to Tiny Nest I’ve watched all of Derek Howlett’s videos on the Life Inside a Box channel.  This young kid documented his entire tiny house build and it really phenomenal.  He and his wife are homesteading on 40 acres in Arizona and have quite the gig going on out in the desert.  I also love Ana White, she and her husband build beautiful tiny houses and her creative furniture designs are downright awesome.  Not only is she a bad ass builder in Alaska, she makes her designs available for free … how sweet is that!

Now I patiently wait for dry ground and slip slide my way through our frozen landscape on my Trek to Tiny.

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Beautiful sunrise on Lake Pend Oreille

Hope you all feel loved on this Valentines Day and everyday …

Hillary D.