Hello my patient readers, thank you for hanging out while we work away at our Tiny House and I find time to write to you. Settle in, this post is a bit long but we’ve got some ground to cover. It’s been a few months since the last post and in that time we’ve
celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, had a visitor or two, and traveled to PA twice! Life doesn’t slow down so we’re just doing our best to keep up and make every day count! The past few months have gone by slow and steady. We see the time on our lease ticking away and we are aware at every moment of how we are spending our time. Mutt works outside on the Tiny House every day despite winter settling in here in Denver. I feel, some days, like we should be much farther along than we are. Then, again, I remember that this whole project is a learning process for me and the reality is that its never that easy.
The work that happened since the last post was tedious and less instantly gratifying than some of the other steps. It’s a funny part of construction that I never thought about
before, half of the stuff you do will never be seen! The work will be covered up by insulation, siding, or trim, even cabinets and flooring. It makes for tedious times during this project but, its kind of a nice thought for life. Just because it can’t be seen, doesn’t mean its not there and just as important as the parts that can be seen. The magic of the Tiny House (or life) is in every detail working together.
I am very proud of Mutt and impressed every day with his dedication to chipping away at the To-Do List. He works extremely hard and gives each process his full attention to detail and wholehearted effort. Even when each task seems to have 3 steps ahead of it, for instance the siding, he takes his time to know
or learn exactly what he needs to do and then executes it with a demand for perfection. At the end of the last post we had the framing done and Tyvek up. The next logical step was siding, but first, we had to put on the trim. Then the trim had to be primed and painted, with two coats. Still before the siding could go on, we had to pick a spot for the outdoor shower. We needed to know exactly where the shower was going so it could be plumbed and we would know where the breaks in the siding needed to be. Mutt had to make the cuts in the house and add trim to the door that opens up to hold the shower head. Simultaneously, we had to pick fixtures and make the shower come to life. Now, the house was ready for us to put siding up but, the siding itself was not quite ready.
We got our Cedar siding planks from a gentleman who had it on his house for the past 20 years. He took meticulous care of it, staining each board every 2 years to maintain its water resistance and quality. He decided to change his siding to something lower maintenance and once again, one
man’s trash became another mans treasure.
We needed to start our job with fresh boards so, each of the Cedar siding planks had to be sorted and cut to our desired length. That process was done by Mutt. Then it was my turn. Each plank needed to be sanded and then stained on the ends to make life easier when it came time to stain the rest of the siding. Not having to worry about getting stain on the trim saved us time, this time! It will be a different story in 2 years when we do it all over again 🙂 We set up a little assembly line and most of the siding went on fairly smoothly. Mutt, with a little help from me, placed each board meticulously one on top of the other starting from the bottom of each side of the house and working his way up. Finally, after the siding was on the house, it was time to be stained. Luckily for us, I have a father who has painted many houses in his days and a mother who is not afraid of a home project. I felt totally confident taking charge on the project. At first I thought my main jobs during the
build were going to be; 1) pitch in financially and 2) pick up the slack in our home lives now so Mutt could work full time and work on the TH in his free time. We learned quickly that it was not realistic to have Mutt do all of the work himself especially with our timeline. Although we have had tons of help from friends along the way, my participation in the actual build was going to be crucial in freeing up Mutt to work on other tasks.
Speaking of tons of amazing help along the way, we were extremely lucky to have a visit from Parker, Mutt’s dad, at the beginning of December. He is a skilled woodworker and has been a huge support during this project. We had hoped to be able to use his skills to help us start on the inside of the TH, building cabinets, because that is the most intimidating part of the build for Mutt. However, his visit came just in time to help us finish the siding and put the ridge on the roof. It actually worked out perfectly as tying up some loose ends with the siding was proving to be more difficult than the rest. Parker spent 5 days with us and the boys worked hard during that time. They were up with the sun and worked well past sunset each day. They spent their mornings solving problems, bouncing ideas off of each other and creating cherry paneling from the floor planks that we planned on using to make our kitchen cabinets. As soon as each day warmed up enough, they were outside working on siding, or the roof, or anything really. Mutt loved having the second set of hands and his dads knowledge to help move the process along. Mutt always says things go three times as fast when you have a second set of hands and he could not have been luckier to have such capable and skilled hands to help. I think though, most of all, he just really enjoyed working side by side with his Pops. They got to bond and do something together that they both love. They even sneaked in a quick trip to our favorite tiny cabin in the woods. It was very special for Mutt and for Parker, I’m sure a time neither of them will soon forget. Thank you for your visit Parker! It was good for the Tiny House and for the soul.
This project is of course is not without its troubles. One step in the building process had us install vents at the tops of the walls between each of the studs to insure air will circulate appropriately. There was a hick-up with the placement of the vents that went unnoticed until the job was nearly complete. We had to rip out half of them and reinstall them with
the correct spacing. This mistake cost us some time and seemed like a big deal at the time though, looking back, we are lucky that there haven’t been too many real set backs along the way-knock on wood…
Now that; the door is installed, the trim is up and painted, the siding is up and stained, the roof is finished, the awning is made and installed, the water tanks are in place and the outdoor shower is installed, I’d say the outside of the house is 99% finished. With just a few details on the roof and siding above the Bay Window needing to be finished, it was time to move the build inside. First, Mutt filled the spaces between the studs in the walls and the ceiling with several layers of insulation. This was the first step so that the house would hold heat and be warm enough for him to work in as it gets colder outside. The insulation for the house has been stored under tarps in huge piles behind our house since the beginning of this project. It was the first material we bought for the house, after the truck, and it is amazingly rewarding to see the piles disappear!!! Its one of my favorite parts really, I love seeing the whole vision come to life and to see piles of materials go away! After all, one of my main focuses is DOWNSIZING!
After the first layer of insulation was installed it was time for Mutt to figure out how to do the electrical wiring and plumbing. He has had some experience with these things but never for anything like this. We had to decide first where each light in the house was going to go. To do that our design and layout for the inside had to become more permanent and well thought out. This took us some time on CAD, the computer design program I mentioned in my last post, and lots of bouncing ideas around. We learned on a flight to PA for a wedding ((BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY HOMIES VINNY AND ABBY ON TYING THE KNOT! WE LOVE YOU GUYS!)) that the cabinets we picked up from Craigslist last fall and stored all of this time to use in our bedroom were not going to fit. After that, we realized quickly that standard sized cabinetry and materials were simply not going to work in our unique space. The game then became, we have to design and build everything from scratch. It was an exciting realization as I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy custom built…well, anything and
everything. It’s also intimidating. Cabinetry is where Mutt is least experienced and probably what he is most excited to learn about. So, we took it in stride and sketched something up on CAD so we would have as good of an idea as possible what the bedroom would look like, and went with it. Dimensions and layout of furniture and fixtures are important so decisions can be made about style, placement and, the brightness of the lighting in each area. We were able to order all of our lights off of our new favorite tool, Amazon Prime, and Mutt got the wiring done according to what we think we’ll need for lighting and power outlets. The bedroom cabinets ended up being just the first of many design details we have had to reconsider and work out along the way. I continue to relearn the lessons- go with the flow, enjoying the movement -and, -always keep yourself open to all options- in this project, and in life!
With the wiring complete and lights ordered we are set up for 12 volt LED lighting as well as mostly 12 volt outlets with the exception of 4- 110 outlets. Our Tiny House is equipped with 2-30 gallon water tanks, one will hold fresh water for showering and cooking and the other will gather our grey water. Grey water, for my friends who are unfamiliar, is just used water that comes from washing dishes and showering mostly, and occasionally, laundry, etc. We will being using all sustainable and environmentally friendly products so that our grey water will not have a negative impact on our environment and can be drained responsibly. We will have a separate 5 gallon tank with a pump under the sink for drinking water. We have a stand up shower that was recovered from an old RV and, with a HUGE THANK YOU to Parker and Ally, Mutt’s dad and step-mom, our TH will have a Natures Head composting toilet!! When we are all finished, and equipped with solar power, the Tiny House will have the ability to be completely off grid!!
We believe in living smaller and more simply. Some day we would like to own our own piece of land and live off it to provide for ourselves and our community. As Mutt and I grow closer and closer each day to completing the Tiny House, we also get closer to living our ideal lifestyle. We get one step closer to living a life supported by the land and farther from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind that our world seems obsessed with. In our dreams for our Tiny House landing spot we see a place where we can be a part of a smaller community, a place where we can have a garden and maybe even some chickens! I see a place closer to the mountains and nature and a little farther from the conveniences of the city and suburbs. Ideally I’d love to find a family who has a farm and could use some extra hands. I’d like this next step to gain us the experience and knowledge we will need before we can consider moving to the mountains or being on our own piece of land. I don’t have very much experience with gardening or raising livestock. I’ve never had a green thumb and I’ve only ever had a few encounters with animals that count as livestock. I do dabble in making my own household and beauty products, but I still rely heavily on the grocery store and other people to provide me with these items. A work trade situation would be an amazing way for me to learn, hands on, some of the skills I desire to have and will need to have to thrive in a homesteading situation.
As it stands, Mutt has an add up on Craigslist for a cabinetry mentor. He is hoping to find someone who has the skills he’ll need to learn, workshop space, and who might be willing to help him with some of the build. Really, he is looking for someone like Parker, Parker are you sure you don’t just want to move to Colorado?! I also have an add up looking for the place, just like the one I described above, to park our Tiny House. We’d like to find a place close enough to Denver that I can continue to work for the brewery I currently work for and so Mutt can continue to build contracting business. We plan to spend our first 6 to 8 months of Tiny House Living in the Front Range. We figure this way we can give the house a shake down, save some money, and get ourselves prepared to move father into the mountains in mid to late summer. We have had a few responses to our ads but nothing that seems like a good fit. We will continue to be patient in our search and are comforted by the fact that we know we can stay right where we are, with our Tiny House parked in the driveway if we really have to, to buy us some time for the right opportunity to come our way.
So, in the mean time, we keep plugging away. Mutt and I are happy to be where we are, surrounded by the support of our Denver community and always dreaming big to live a small and simple life.
Thanks for reading and being interested in our process! Sending love out to all of you and hoping that today you are living your dream! So much love, until next time!