Hi, Big Red!
While it seems like our tiny house, one Big Red by name, has existed in our heads for years, Alan and I have only just this week begun actual construction. We’ll be sharing our trials, tribulations, and probably ER visits, with you here periodically, so without further ado, a little introduction:
My name is Marie, and Alan is my husband of approximately five years; we’re both in our early 30s, we work full-time, and own one dog and two cats. Although we both grew up in the Northeast, we’ve lived in Charlotte, NC, for over six years and own a 1700-square-foot home in a quiet bedroom neighborhood. Our building site is a small side yard, roughly ten yards from our (very patient and generous) neighbor’s house. I hope they like the sound of compressors on the morning breeze, but if not, we’re willing to supply alcoholic anesthesia.
We purchased Fencl plans from the Tumbleweed company last summer after a lot of “wouldn’t it be great” and “I bet this will freak you out” kind of conversations. As with many of life’s best decisions, there was beer involved. The trailer was ordered from Kaufman Trailers last fall. While waiting for the trailer, then the welding on the trailer, Alan was purchasing used tools (compressor, nail guns, sawsall, etc) from Craigslist and Amazon while I made materials lists, estimated board-feet of lumber and plywood, and scanned the internet for FSC-approved flooring. I call this our Procrastiprepping Phase. Sure, buying an expensive trailer and ordering equally expensive windows is a financial commitment, but nothing says Point Of No Return like screwing down that first bit of floor joist.
There are so many things we did that qualified as Procrastiprepping:
- Tool comparison shopping
- Sanitation Engineering Research (i.e., toilet shopping)
- Visiting local lumber mills, without actually buying anything
- Fruitlessly searching through ReStore’s stash of windows for even one that fits any of our plans
- Ordering windows
- More fretting
- Comparing trailer leveling options
- Buying several types of jacks, followed quickly by returning most of them
- Setting up deck chairs on our empty trailer deck, drinking beer, and watching the sunset
- Painstaking scheduling tasks on a Foreman Plan, so we can equally share decision-making duties and avoid fights
- Immediately forget who’s in charge of the wall framing task and get in an intense fight over the relative merits of plywood vs. OSB for shearwalls
As this non-exhaustive list shows, we spent WAY too much time in the Procrastiprepping phase. Not to downplay the importance of planning, or even the fun of dreaming about a future tiny house, because I have a feeling that I’ll miss this stage, now that it’s over. Especially since it doesn’t involve splinters or sore knees. But no more Procrastiprepping. Last week, we Leveled:
As you can see, we have a pretty severe slope to build on, with the back of the trailer up just one and a half cinder blocks, and the front almost four blocks high. This is, unfortunately, the most level spot on our .34 acre property, so we’re working with what we’ve got. At some point, we’ll build stronger piers with more blocks to prevent shifting, but for now, it accomplishes the goals we need it to:
(I like lists, as you can tell)
- Gets the tires off the ground, to prevent the rubber from rotting
- Keeps the deck of the trailer objectively level, so our walls won’t be kerflunky (it’s a physics term)
- Gives us enough space to get underneath for attaching the floor joists to the trailer deck. We’ll draw straws for that enviable task
Another early task Alan was most insistent on (funny when you think of all the times he leaves the front door unlocked… he grew up in a small town): Theft deterrence. Not something you hear a lot about in the tiny house community. Has anyone ever heard of a stolen tiny house? How would one fence a tiny dwelling? Well, here’s a look at our high-tech security system:
MMmm, rusty chain goodness! Personally, I feel if someone goes to the trouble of bringing a truck, backing up the crazy ditch/hill that is our front yard, and taking the trailer off all those blocks with their own screw jacks, they probably thought to bring a pair of bolt cutters too. But hey, I wasn’t the Foreman on this particular task, so none of my lip!
- How do you Procrastiprep?
- What suggestions do you have for working together on a long-term project (that don’t involve elementary school group project techniques)?