lessons learned

This page will change and evolve as the project progresses.

Please check back on a regular basis.

Coming out of the Home Depot a few days ago I was stopped by a man.  The interchange went something like this:

Him:  “Can I ask you a question?”

Me:  “Sure.”

Him:  “How do you get away with having personal plates on a commercial vehicle.”

Me:  “Easy, it’s not a commercial vehicle.  It’s just me and it’s my vehicle and my tools.”

Him:  “It looks like a commercial vehicle.  My brother is a state cop and he’d take your plates.”

Me:  “Really.  Well he would be making one heck of a big mistake.  I raised my kids myself, ended up homeless twice, lived in an 8×10 room for 6 years with everything I owned in storage and walking through an 18″ walking area from the bed to the door, saved for and purchased tools over a 10 year period of time, got laid off after almost eleven years, and am trying to teach myself some building skills.”

Him:  “Really?  You’re not kidding?”

Me:  “Really.”

Him:  “Good for you.  That’s awesome.  Good for you!  Sorry for the assumption.”

Experiential Learning:

Unnecessary Labor Hours Wasted – Not all windows raise and lower as a means of opening and closing.  Some open via side to side.  How do I know this?  2 small square windows wouldn’t stay up when I opened them and when we had a rain storm I noticed rain pooled inside the frames.  Further investigation revealed the drainage holes were on the side (not the bottom as should have been the case).  After removing and reinstalling the windows with the drainage holes in the proper place the windows (sliding side to side) functioned and drained properly.

02/03/2012 – Today was an expense in the learning curve chronicles.  After picking up 4 panels of 2″ rigid foam insulation (approximately $60.00) and anchoring them to my truck I headed off to the build site.  Disappointingly, only 1/2 of 2 panels remained by the time I got there.  I underestimated the power of the morning’s wind and only used 1 tie down strap, allowing the panels to snap in half and blow off the truck.  They were so light I didn’t see them take flight and was unable to recover them.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
Yesterday an article was published about this little project of mine and one of the people who took the time to look at the blog asked me if I had any additional updates, and if so, would I share them.

Since completion, my tiny house has been through a hurricane (Sandy), a blizzard, her maiden voyage out the driveway in which she was built was on the windiest day of the season and in city traffic (moving winds at roughly sustained speed of 85mph with higher gusts), and she has traveled at highway speeds for 3 hours in pouring rain. Not one creak, crack, or leak!

Tiny houses are not for everyone. They do not suit all lifestyles. For some of us however, they are the perfect answer.

One of the things that struck me in this build was the number of people who stopped by and said, “I could never do anything like that.” To them I say, “Read the entire blog. What makes you think I was designed for this, and that you are not?”

When building a tiny house you are building for a hurricane and an earthquake. Build something that you think will be stronger than what you need. Expect to mistakes and plan to fix them. Know your limits and have a plan to compensate for them. Mine is math so I made sure I had visual approaches as well as calculations. Appreciate the skills of other people along the way. Learn.

This is hard work but it is immensely satisfying. If your muscles hurt so bad they feel like they are on fire it doesn’t mean you did something wrong. If you are older, like me, it may just mean you haven’t been paying attention to your body for years and that it’s time to work it a little harder with a little more consistency. At least that was my case.

Have safety features installed. I have a carbon monoxide/smoke detector and 2 little fire extinguishers as well as lots of big windows for egress.

Don’t cut corners. Don’t rush. Measure twice and cut once.


5 responses to “lessons learned

  1. You deserve all the praise you can get. Sure you are wanting to motivate everyone that are interested that they can do this too, but you actually did it! Great job!!! A dream come true. It would be wonderful if you could blog about your first year living on your land. Is it far away from civilization? How far to drive for fresh food? I found that our children do not come often to see where we are living. Too busy, so I go to them. Do you have neighbors, made new friends? Ever wanting to write a book? Ups, now I am getting too personal. Thanks for sharing! Nicki

    • I don’t want to motivate others to do what I did. Tiny houses are not for everyone. One of the most troubling things to me over the course of this build was the number of people I met who saw themselves as different from me. I live in a Democracy. I believe in capitalism and free enterprise and supply and demand and basic humane values. For me to see people who started at a young age dependent upon the system and who at a later age thought they needed to structure themselves in a way that would allow them to again be cared for by the system was exceedingly troublesome. We all need help somewhere in life but to think in terms of building your life around that need and to make it a key focal point seems to me to be a terrible wrong done to the spirit. One should attempt to build a life as best they are able, THEIR OWN LIFE.

    • Regarding your questions about living, etc. that’s all in progress, and I still have a few moving pieces I haven’t yet nailed down. Thx for asking.

  2. How do you control the humidity inside? I know living in a small space with others while in the military we would get condensation on every thing. Mostly I noticed this in the mornings when we had been confined inside an armored vehicle for the night. The condensation from our breath would coat everything. How do you prevent this? Just a dehumidifier or more?

    • There were only a few times when condensation on the windows occurred (partly because I couldn’t afford double pane windows when I built. It happens very seldom and when it did occur I simply wiped off that window with a towel. In over a year, perhaps 2 or 3 times on 1 particular window. If I opened the same window a bit while I was cooking it probably would never have occurred.

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