Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Monthly archive for August 2015

5 Things I Got Totally Wrong About Tiny Houses

Having been involved with tiny houses for over 6 years now, having built my own tiny house, and now living in it, I’ve realized something: I got a few things really wrong. Some were assumptions I made about living in them, some of them were about the lifestyle, and some of them were about building them. So here are 5 things I got totally wrong.

i-was-wrong

1. I thought it was about the house, it’s not

When I first started with tiny houses, I was in love with the house, the design, the materials, and all the appointments. Now that I’m living in my house I realize that was so wrong; it has absolutely nothing to do with the house. It has everything to do with the lifestyle. The truth is, a tiny house is just another thing you buy, under the guise of breaking away from consumerism. But the break is not from the diminutive dwelling, it is in the mental separation from conspicuous consumption.

2. I thought I couldn’t buy things

Long before I found myself in the tiny house realm I was a big consumer. I loved gadgets and tech. Once I started going down the path of tiny houses I thought that portion of my life – and somewhat, my identity as a nerd – needed to come to a close, but I was all right with that because the benefits outweighed the “costs”. But then I realized it wasn’t that I couldn’t have the things I wanted, I just needed to be more intentional about them; in reality, I’m able have the things I want more readily because I have the cash to buy them.

3. I thought money worries would be a thing of the past

I crunched the numbers, made spreadsheets, and had a budget, all things pointed to me not really having to worry about money. The truth is that my tolerance for how close I was running to zero just changed. Before a tiny house if I had less than $2,000 in the bank I’d be nervous. Now that I live in a tiny house that anxiety hasn’t gone away, it’s just at a different level.

These days I freak out when my bank account drops below $20,000. I know what some of you are thinking, “$20,000! that’s a ton of money, you have nothing to worry about!” and 3 years ago I’d be in the same place, but it somehow is still just as real, just as scary; I can’t quite explain why, but the truth is that angst will never go away.

4. I thought my tiny house would be perpetually neat and tidy, just like all the tiny house photos

AHAHAHAHHAA! Boy was I wrong! There are many times my house is very tidy, but there are times it gets way out of control. I always keep a clean house, it just isn’t always neat. The truth is your tiny house will go from tidy to way out of control in about 5 seconds flat because it’s so small. It’s not that you’re a messy or dirty person, but if you put a single thing down, it starts to add up quickly due to the small space you’re living in. The other day I walked into my house, dropped my work bag, my gym bag and took of my shoes… it looked like a bomb had gone off and I had to move stuff out of the way just to open my closet to drop my keys and wallet.

5. I thought I’d be done building

When you build a tiny house, you’ll never be done. There will always be a few things that you want to improve, to try, to fix, etc. That is not to say that your house won’t be livable, you’ll most likely move in and keep doing things. There will always be a board to fix, some more trim to add, or a new shelf to build into a nook. Another part of this is you’ve suddenly acquired a new skill set – woodworking – and even though most of us are still newbies to it, you don’t go out and build a whole house if you aren’t one who likes building things. I’m really excited about the prospect of starting some smaller woodworking projects that I get to flex my fine woodworking skills with.

Putting A Tiny House On Jack Stands

I wanted to do an updated post today on an older topic that I briefly touched on in this post, but have since had some lessons learned. A tiny house is a very heavy thing, and my tiny house is around 6,500 pounds. Having your tiny house mounted on jack stands is very important for a number of reasons:

  1. You can more easily level your trailer to make building things square and plumb
  2. You can avoid tire shock from your trailer resting on the wheels in one spot
  3. Walking in your house will be more stable
  4. You can remove your wheels from the hubs to dissuade theft

 

jack-stands-tiny-houseInitially, I had put my tiny house on jack stands that were seated on a gravel bed, with a paver on top which I leveled with sand. This didn’t go so well. The pavers kept cracking and I had to replace them several times. It was obvious that the pavers weren’t going to be a good option. I knew wood was an option, but I was worried that even with treated wood, they’d eventually degrade, mold and rot – not something that you want in your foundation.

This picture is of the cracking pavers and you can see the wood on top that I added as a stop gap as I came up with plan B; it was bad enough that even the board started cracking. I decided to upgrade the foundation and put in cement footings right next the current stands so I could quickly move the jack stands.

If I were to do it all over again, I would have installed a concrete slab with self leveling concrete, and built in some drain lines into the slab. It would be a simple affair to roll the house onto it, set all my jack stands to the same setting and it would be instantly level.

As I mentioned, I decided to put in the footing just in the spots I wanted to seat the jack stands. With just a quick hole in each corner plus some high PSI Quikrete, I had my footings. I let the footing sit for a while to cure and harden up, then carefully jacked up the house with a bottle jack. On the rear of the trailer I had to add these cement footings to gain more elevation because there is a slight slope to the ground. So the front of the trailer (the back of the house) is just on jack stands, but the rear is on blocks. The footings were about $7 and gave me an additional 8 inches of height.

jack stand tiny houseHere is the new setup.  It’s hard to tell in this photo, but under that footing block there is a hole filled with high PSI Quikrete. Getting your tiny house seated on the jack stands is really hard work; it takes some serious elbow grease and you have to be really careful.

My house weighs in at 6,500 lbs and if a stand tips, or if a support plate slips, there is nothing you can do other than get out of the way and watch it fall.  I really don’t like lifting the house alone because I’m afraid that if something were to happen, my arm would be trapped and I would either pass out from shock or couldn’t reach my phone to call for help. It stresses me out.

So the lesson learned is to take the time to install serious footings that your jack stands can sit on. Make sure the stands are perfectly level and the base they are sitting on is level and sound.

 

 

[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-slide-open-holder"]
[class*="-slide-open-holder"]
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-body"]
[class*="-slide-open-holder"]
[class*="-slide-open-holder"]