Katie’s Reflections on Tiny House Design-Build

And now, a word from our “sponsor.” Today’s guest post brought to you by Katie Tomai, a student in this summer’sTiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow and the client for the class. Thank you Katie for your perspective and the opportunity to help you make your tiny house dream a reality!

Day 9

Katie and her tiny house on the last construction day for Tiny House Design-Build

It’s been a week since the Tiny House Design-Build class ended and it still blows my mind to reflect upon how much has happened in the span of a few short weeks. Three weeks ago I had nothing concrete to show for months of planning beyond some craigslist windows and a trailer that I’d ordered (and hadn’t even picked up yet). Now I have the shell of a house- my house!- calling to me everyday. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. I literally dream about it. Every night. My life is like a sappy love song by the Backstreet Boys!

Building the house has felt like this: have you ever heard that quote about how mothers feel like mothers from day one of “Oh hey, we’re pregnant” while fathers don’t really feel like fathers until they are standing there in the delivery room, looking shell-shocked and holding the squalling, slippery bundle that is their newborn child in their arms? I am the father in this scenario.

Despite months of planning and dreaming and talking about the house, it didn’t feel real until we stood around as a class and began leveling the trailer, drilling holes, and cutting insulation for the flooring. And suddenly, it was a thing. A tangible, real, some-day-livable thing. And like many new parents, I was surrounded by a group of people who were just as thrilled about it as I was: we marveled over the framing and cooed over our assembled walls and rafters and took the countless pictures of trivial things that are the hallmark of new parents everywhere. Which isn’t to say it was all kittens and cupcakes and sunshine- just ask anyone who was there as we bent yet another drill bit trying to get holes through the trailer for the tension ties. But these challenges were small blips on the screen of an otherwise amazing two weeks of building.

The thing that I keep coming back to is how grateful I am to have had the chance to begin building with this particular group of people. They’re amazing. They filled every day with laughter, new energy, and a feeling of community so strong that I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I feel so lucky to have had the combined expertise of Lina, Paul, Lizabeth, and Patti, who were endlessly patient with our questions and who shared their years of accumulated wisdom on everything from dealing with grey water to whether or not it’s ok to iron your tool belt. (Cue the eye-rolling from Lizabeth!)

I’ve been fascinated and inspired by the people I’ve met through this project so far – and it’s only been three weeks! One of my goals in building this house was taking the first step towards creating a feeling of home and of community after years of transience. Somehow that was something that I’d imagined happening after the house was completed – so it’s an added bonus to find community being created around the house as its being built! I’ll take it as a sign of good things to come.

Looking ahead to the next few months of solo tiny house building, I imagine it’s similar to that new-parent feeling: two parts excitement intermingled with one part “Oh shit! Am I prepared for this?!” Ready or not, it’s all happening and I’ll be interested to see what learning this new adventure will bring.

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3 Responses to Katie’s Reflections on Tiny House Design-Build

  1. dawnmarie says:

    well perfect timing for me in many ways..and the analogy of having a child(which I haven’t,but I have “birthed many things in my life) to creating community , and being somewhat transient.
    I have moved 59 times in my life, many different types of housing…
    never owning a home, always secretly longing to have a home of my own but not owning that out loud.
    came across Tumbleweed house the day it showed up on yahoo some years back day
    since then I have “danced around the idea of going to a workshop,”looking into this” deeper…
    today after reading this I am going to step into exploring this for real
    thank you so much awesome by the way

    • Lina Menard says:

      Dawn Marie,

      So glad to hear this post resonated with you. I, too, have moved many times and a little house on wheels appeals to me partly because I can move on without moving out! Best wishes to you in your journey! Let me know when you’re ready for a workshop. :-)

      • dawnmarie says:

        thank you for responding
        I am such an in person person, blogging and email are great I just have so been wanting to just talk to someone (s) :) about smal space living..
        I know there are a few in Portland that I can check out but no one is around to really answer questions, etc.

        Do you ever just set up an hour time with someone and meet with them? I would love that and certainly willing to pay for your time..it is valuable
        PS I will let you know when I might be ready for a workshop

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