Arcadia

Tiny House Realities

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Our tiny house still isn’t done. It’s getting closer every day, but it’s not finished. I wanted to take a second to write about some of the realities of this experience.

  • Everything about it has been harder than we thought. For instance, when we bought the kit for our cabin, it said it could be assembled in 2-3 days by two reasonably skilled adults. It took about… 2 months.  I don’t think we’ve said “that was easy” once in the last six months.
  • Everything costs more than you think it will. We’ve price shopped a ton and still spent so much more than we (perhaps naively) thought this was going to cost. I can’t think of a time we’ve gotten to say, “How cheap!” or “That is exactly what we’d budgeted!” this entire time.
  • No body cares about your project as much as you do. Most ridiculous experiences: the roofers took over a month to install our roof.  Our plumber put a vent pipe through the middle of what I many times explained to them was a sleeping loft. Our drywall guy has taken a over a month for a job that very clearly shouldn’t have taken longer than a week. Hiller – a huge company – messed up how much voltage the sent our mini-split (hvac alternative) and it EXPLODED (and is being rebuilt). I think the message here is: if you want something done right, do it yourself. Even if that means it will take you so, so much longer than hiring someone with more experience.
  • That said, making mistakes is bound to happen. Be forgiving of yourself and each other. One of the hardest moments of my life is when I looked at a house full of expensive siding we’d just painstakingly installed (upside down and inside-out) and realized we would have to take it all off carefully and then reinstall it.
  • Patience. Patience. Patience. Things like this take time. So many times we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back and that is the nature of this sort of project. And we’ve learned that the minute you hire someone you put your timeline in their hands. And stomping your foot doesn’t help. And crying doesn’t help.  This project has brought out the toddler in me a dozen times. I’ve complained and whined and said crap like, “that’s not fair.” I’m not proud of it.
  • We have not had the right amount of time to work on this project. It was a huge miscalculation on our parts. We thought we would get 75% or so done before Jonathan started back to work and that we would then work on it nights and weekends to finish. The reality of Jonathan’s job is such that he works 60 hours a week and has no energy to work on it at night. Since August, we have worked on the tiny house mostly during Edmond’s naps on weekends – that’s like 5 hours per weekend if we’re lucky. Family has pitched in to watch Edmond a ton, and that has been very helpful, but we have still been so limited with what time we could spend on this.

Then there’s all these times:

 

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Jonathan with the unassembled house, the day or so before assembly began.
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How we allotted two days to build the foundation and it took over a week. And 3,600 pounds of concrete…
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…that we first were mixing using a tarp, rolling the concrete in between us. And oh, Jonathan almost impaled himself on one of the wire rods we had sticking out of one of the footings.
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Windows we’d collected for months. . Only two were usable.
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A ridge beam that required five people to lift (14 feet) into place.
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Installing beams. Not easy!
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That time we asked multiple roofing companies to install the sheathing so Jonathan wouldn’t have to be up on the roof and they were all like, “pfft, no.” P.S. Doesn’t that siding look pretty? Well, it’s on upside down and backwards.

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Jonathan on some stairs we built. Before we figured out that we had to have a 3×3 landing in front of the door.

 

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This is Jonathan installing the bathroom wall. Before he had to take it out a few weeks later and reinstall it six inches to his left.

We recently re-watched the documentary Tiny, and it confirmed so much of the above. That this is just a hard process. A costly process. One not to go into if you’re not committed to it 110%. Check out tinyhouselistings.com — there are a lot of half finished tiny homes on there.

So despite these last six months beings arguably the most stressful, I’m proud that we haven’t given up. That we’ve kept working. That we took on this really hard work to make the future more secure for our family.

And that we’re. almost. done.

 

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4 thoughts on “Tiny House Realities

  1. Reblogged this on Don Mooradian and commented:
    This is written by my daughter, Rebecca, who, with her husband, Jonathan, has undertaken a big project–to build a tiny house in their backyard. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the work they have done and how proud I am that they have stuck with it. The results will be worth the effort.

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    1. So sweet, Dad! Thank you! Oh, and thanks for like, watching Edmond and giving great advice and being patient (like agreeing to make a trip to Home Depot for us, only to have me call like five different times while you were en route with different instructions only to end up changing my mind about the trip being necessary at all.) You’re a champ!

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  2. Thank you for posting this! My husband and I live in the Nashville area and started building our tiny house in July 2015, thinking it might take three months. 🙂 We finally finished the “shell” in late November, and we haven’t worked on it since due to holidays, illnesses, running a business, and just recently moving ourselves and the house a couple hours away from our original spot. You’re right that this takes extreme commitment! We’re finally ready emotionally to pick up our tools and finish this baby. Thanks for the encouraging realism!

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    1. You can finish it! I think having realistic expectations going in would have helped us so much. I remember thinking at the beginning, “This could take till January and I would be fine with that!” But then when it actually started looking like January is when it would actually get finished I felt so defeated. It seems like building something that’s “tiny” shouldn’t take long, but tiny houses have all the same components as a larger space. I think taking a break is always a good idea, and then knowing if you keep working it will get finished!

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