Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

Living Large in Tiny Houses Graphic

Love Ablan believes in tiny houses so wholeheartedly that she relocated to Portland, Oregon – Capital of the Tiny House Universe – so that she could get involved in the tiny house movement. Over the past couple years she’s put her writing and photography talent to good use, spreading the word about living in small spaces. She recently published and article in the November 2014 issue of Unite4:Good Magazine, entitled Living Large in Tiny Houses. I’m honored she included me in this story. Here’s a snippet. You can click on the link below the excerpt to read the whole article.

Living Large in Tiny Houses TextClick to read the rest of Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

Posted in Things Challenge, tiny house | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lucky Penny’s Maiden Voyage

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed up to ask how the move went. The tiny has landed. I repeat. The tiny has landed. Everything went according to plan and the Lucky Penny has Come (Simply) Home

10387224_10105245055917830_316295343464841875_nOn Monday morning my build buddy Laura Klement arrived before dawn to pick up me and the tiny house mover. The tiny house mover is a power dolly that has helped many tiny houses in Portland nestle into their spots. We weren’t sure we would need it to wrangle the Lucky Penny out of her parking spot at Green Anchors but we didn’t want to need it and not have it, so we brought it along.

Once we arrived at Green Anchors we secured things inside the tiny house, using scrap pieces of rigid foam to pad the tansu. We tucked the stairs inside. Then we strapped My Flip-Up Front Porch into its traveling position. We hooked two ratchet straps to each other and passed them through the kitchen windows then closed the windows, exited the house, flipped up the porch, and joined the two pieces of ratchet strap and cinched them tightly. We put chucks in front and back of the wheels and lowered the tiny house from its jacked-up position onto its wheels. The final detail was screwing a piece of blocking into the windowsill of the arched window to ensure that the arched window would stay closed.

When Morgan from Gerlock Towing arrived he assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get the Lucky Penny out of her spot. So we hefted the tiny house mover back into Laura’s car and then filled in the space around it with tools and supplies while we were waiting for Morgan to get the house secured to his truck.

The move itself went quite smoothly. We went the long way to avoid hauling the tiny house up Baltimore Street but it was just fine on the more gradual slope. After that, it was nearly a straight shot from Green Anchors to Simply Home Community. Laura and I followed behind in her car and we got a kick out of watching people’s reactions. There were definitely a few double takes but it was amazing how few people actually noticed. It made me realize I should be paying more attention when I’m out walking. Otherwise you may never know when a tiny house is cruising down the road past you! Of course, it may be that tiny houses are becoming so ubiquitous in Portland, Oregon – tiny house capital of the universe – that people don’t bat an eye anymore!

In either case, Morgan helped get the Lucky Penny off the street and backed into the spot between the house and the garage before he headed out again. Then we hauled the tiny house mover out of the back of Laura’s car and Tony navigated the Lucky Penny into her spot with the help of spotters all around. I was lucky my landies were having a work party and stopped to help my little house get tucked between the big house and the greenery that separates my house from The Rustic, the next tiny house over. Hooray for community (and people who are already familiar with tiny houses and their quirks!)

There’s a lot of work left to do before I’m ready to shift my belongings from my room in The Big House to the Lucky Penny. But I’m already enthralled by the way being tucked in the garden has made for awesome views. I think we’ll really like it here!

Posted in tiny house, vardo | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming (Simply) Home

friends gather for the Lucky Penny Open House

friends gather for the Lucky Penny Open House

It’s no use trying to get back to sleep. I’m wide awake before dawn, just as I was three years ago when My Tiny House Adventure Began. Only this time the tiny house I’m moving is my own. In just a few short hours we’ll secure My Flip-Up Front Porch into transportation mode, hitch it up to one of Gerlock Towing’s big rigs, and the Lucky Penny will hit the road for the first time. 
My tiny house is not yet finished, but the time has come to move the Lucky Penny to Simply Home Community. Simply Home is a tiny house community in Portland, Oregon where I’m living with a handful of fabulous people, all dedicated to intentional living. It’s actually very much like My Vision for Tiny Cohousing. There is a big house with bedrooms, a huge living room, a dining room, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a basement for laundry and storage. And in the yard there are (soon-to-be) four little houses, which serve as detached bedrooms. We all share the big house but a few of us have our own space via the tiny houses.

I moved into the big house at Simply Home Community in August, just after I finished teaching the two-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to my Home Sweet Pea at Pod 49. It’s a great little house and I love the neighborhood and the neighbors there. But it was also exciting to be making a move towards a long-time dream of Tiny House Community.

Before moving to Simply Home Community I’d lived alone for more than three years. First in my big house (832 square feet). Then in a 15 foot long travel trailer. Then in Brittany Yunker’s tiny house Bayside Bungalow. Then an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) called Granny’s Garden Cottage. Then in a 12-foot diameter yurt. And then in Sweet Pea, another tiny house on wheels. I’ve loved having a wee house all to myself. So I’ll admit I was a little nervous about living with other people again.

But it’s been wonderful! It’s nice to have other people to come home to. It’s nice getting to know their friends and family. It’s nice having that sense of being in on something together. I’ve enjoyed participating in community workdays, movie nights, and potlucks. Even our weekly house meetings are fun – which is no surprise considering the group of people! And nothing beats getting a text message right before hopping on my bike to head home after work that says “I hope you’re hungry because I just made a ton of soup!” I look forward to this winter when we are settled in and we can start up our supper club.

I do wish the Lucky Penny was completely ready for me to move into it. But as those who joined me on Friday for my Lucky Penny Open House can attest, I’m now on the home stretch.

(A quick thank you to everyone who came out for the Lucky Penny Open House. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be surrounded by people I love – many of whom are tiny housers themselves – as I prepared my house and myself for the imminent move! I had fun staging the house with candles, my spice rack, and the copper canisters I found on my Tiny House Treasure Hunt. But the highlight for sure was when I flipped up the porch and we dedicated my little house. I couldn’t bring myself to smash a bottle of champagne on any part of my house so instead we poured sweet wine over the tongue of the trailer. I started out by officially naming the house and then one-by-one my friends stepped forward to say a few words about what they hope for me and my house. It was a perfect send-off!)

My goal is to make the Lucky Penny functional by the end of October so that Raffi and I can shift our belongings there and switch into Phase 3: Make it Beautiful. (Fortunately, plumbing isn’t going to be a pre-requisite of livability since I can use the big house for cooking and bathing. I do plan to install plumbing because I want that flexibility for the future, but I don’t have the hurry I would have if I were moving the Lucky Penny somewhere that I need to be self-sufficient. In fact, none of the little houses have bathing facilities right now because we all shower in the big house or at the gym!)

I’m going to miss building at Green Anchors. It was the perfect place for my build buddy Laura Klement and I to build our little houses. I’ll miss the views of the St. John’s Bridge. I’ll miss those precious evenings we rewarded ourselves with a beer or a milkshake down at the river. I’ll miss my neighbors (like Rory who helped me build My Flip-Up Front Porch. And, of course, I’ll miss the ability to spread out and stain a bazillion shingles or make a racket as late (or as early) as I’d like. But as the days get shorter, it will be really nice to just pop outside to work on my house. (Besides, I have plans to build other little houses at Green Anchors. Stay tuned for more on that! I look forward to hatching my schemes…)

I’m horribly backlogged on blogging, but I do have more to share about my process. Those stories will unfold in good time. For now, I’m staying focused on the next steps: electrical, built-ins, and trim.

Wish us luck with the big move today!

Posted in tiny house, vardo | Leave a comment

Lucky Penny Open House

2014-09-13 19.39.39This summer, with the help of lots of friends, I’ve been building myself a tiny house on wheels called The Lucky Penny. It’s time for my little house to make her public debut so we can show off our handiwork before she moves to her new parking spot in a tiny house community. (The house isn’t done yet, so I’ll continue working on it afterwards, but you’ll get the big idea anyhow!)

If you’re in the Portland area on Friday, October 10th from 3-8pm, please swing on by the Lucky Penny Open House at Green Anchors (8940 N Bradford Street*) to see the house and wish us well before her maiden voyage to Simply Home Community.

And, of course, if you feel like lending a hand this weekend as one of my Tiny House Helpers, please let me know which day and time you can join us. I’ll be hosting my last big work parties for The Lucky Penny at Green Anchors on Saturday, Oct 4 and Sunday, Oct 5 from 8AM to 6PM.


* The location is a little tricky to get to the first time. The site is called Green Anchors (8940 N Bradford Street) and it’s located almost right under the St. John’s bridge. Here’s how to get there: from St. John’s, take Baltimore down the hill towards Cathedral Park. When you get to the bottom of the hill the entrance to Cathedral Park will be directly in front of you. Turn right and there will be an orange and blue building on your right. Stay left and go along the railroad tracks. Just when you think you’ve done something very wrong you’ll see the gate to the left that says Vintage Boats. Turn in there and drive (or bike or walk) until you see the purple tiny house on the left. That’s the tiny house cluster and my trailer is right there.

Posted in tiny house | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Copper Penny Roof

Lucky Penny roof with old skylights

Lucky Penny roof with old skylights

Portland greeted the arrival of autumn with the return of the rain. So as I’ve fallen asleep and woken up to the rain the past couple days, I’ve been feeling especially grateful the Lucky Penny has her roof.

Back in June a wonderful crew of Tiny House Helpers assisted with Sheathing My Vardo Roof. We coated the sheathing with two layers of R-Guard Cat 5. Two weeks later I left town for several weeks to travel and teach the Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. My goal had been to get dried-in before I took a break from my tiny house build and fortunately, I succeeded. My time away gave me plenty of chances for Musings on My Vardo Roof Box.

But, of course, my roof wasn’t really finished yet. So at the end of August Fred Nordgren from Taylor Metal Products delivered my custom metal roof panels – in copper penny color, of course. He managed to do the snaplock panels for me, which I prefer to the batten and T-panel system, but he said it was a stretch. So I’ll plan to do the next curved roof at a slightly shallower curve. It will still be plenty dramatic!

Over Labor Day Weekend, Tim Bancke and his crew, Jeremy and Shaine, installed my metal roof. I was out of town for the weekend so it was really exciting to receive the photos from Tim and return to see my beautiful roof in place. My roof is, shall we say, complicated –which at one point resulted in me resorting to Plan F: Take 2 – so there were a couple little flashing details we still had to work out.

Fortunately, it was great working with Fred and Tim who came out to take a look at my house in early August and then worked up quotes for me and kept me posted about the fabrication and installation schedules. They’ve tag-teamed other curved tiny house roofs for Katy Anderson (who built Dee Williams’ vardo) and Anita’s tiny house Lilypad (which turned out be-a-u-ti-fully – and you can read more about the Finishing Touches!)

Lucky Penny curved snaplock roof

Lucky Penny curved snaplock roof

If you’re in the market for a metal tiny house roof, please get in touch with Fred – and tell him Lina sent you! (If you’re not doing curved roof, Taylor Metal is still a great option. Laura got her roof panels from Taylor and, badass that she is, installed the panels herself, which you can read about in her post The Hat.) And, if you can get onto his busy schedule, I definitely encourage you to have Tim do your installation. (If your roof is complicated, it’s worth the wait to have the pros do it right!) Tim and his crew say they enjoy doing tiny house roofs because they’re interesting little projects.

So this past Saturday Tim and his crew returned to finalize the details. They cut curved flashing from copper penny sheet metal to cover up the curved rafters at the front and back of the house. They tucked a bit more flashing under the eave flashing to cover the Eave Caps for My Vardo Roof. And they installed a flashing extender around my skylight box before installing My Custom Skylight from Mark at Natural Light Skylight Co. It’s lovely and I can’t wait to get my hammock hung up to admire the rain, stars, and clouds!

The point of a roof is to protect the house from the rain, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that mine is beautiful, too!

Posted in building, design, tiny house, vardo | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doing Life

beach time with my sister and one of our best friends

I’ve been doing life. And I haven’t been making the time to post about it.

This summer, Life involved a five-week break from building The Lucky Penny. First I took a long weekend to make My Annual Pilgrimage to the Oregon Country Fair. Next I headed to Vermont to teach a 2-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. Then I headed to Seattle, my hometown, to catch up with one of my sisters, my best friend from high school, and several other old friends.

This is the little life.

And it’s a good one. So I won’t apologize for a moment for living my life instead of talking about it. But considering how many of you have asked me for an update in the past week, I suppose I probably should have said something.

The quick version is this:

  • class photo inside Katie’s Tiny House

    I’ve moved into The Big House in tiny house community where I’ll be bringing The Lucky Penny once it’s complete

  • I’ve helped my friend Ben who is finishing up his tiny house (and will also be moving it to this great little tiny house community!)
  • I’ve built My Front Porch (which is already much better than a Shrinky-Dink Porch and solves the problem of Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street)
  • I’ve been working on Fancy Shingles
  • I’m planning Tiny House Work Parties all through September to get as much done on the Lucky Penny as I can before the rains return
  • I’ll be hosting a Tiny Open House in early October to thank My Tiny House Helpers and show off The Lucky Penny (in whatever state of completeness she is at that point!)

minstrels at the Oregon Country Fair

In retrospect, I realize it probably would have been a good idea to officially take the month of August off from blogging. After all, I knew that things would get busy once I resumed construction of The Lucky Penny while simultaneously ramping up to full-time work as the Living Building Coordinator for the Breathe Building. I might have imagined that blogging would be a good thing to set aside for a few weeks. But, alas, hindsight is 20-20.

Chances are, you were out there having fun and didn’t miss me anyhow. You were Doing Life, too, right? (If not, get out there and have some fun in the sun!)

On the other hand, those of you who have been following along for a while probably know that me not posting doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not writing. After all, writing is one of the best ways I know to process my experiences. So stay tuned for some backlogged blog posts to appear in the coming weeks! Meanwhile, Happy Summer!

Posted in design, tiny house | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tiny House Shingles

Front Shingles

front shingles on Lucky Penny – almost done!

It was another gorgeous August weekend in Portland. Perfect for working on my tiny house. I spent it running errands, helping with a work party at Simply Home Community, and playing with siding and shingles for The Lucky Penny.

On Saturday Ashley Lane was my right hand woman. In the morning she helped me pick up my tansu, a beautiful Japanese storage cabinet that I’ll use in my little house. And in the afternoon we hung shingles on the front of my house. I met Ashley Lane in a PAD Tiny House Basics workshop and then got to know much better when she took the Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow this summer. Next summer she and her partner plan to build their own little house (inspired by the Minim House at Boneyard Studios). On Sunday Hanah came to lend me a hand. She and her sister are both interested in building their own tiny houses, so it was fun to hear about her tiny house dreams.

It’s been fun to work alongside so many Tiny House Helpers this summer who have either built their own wee homes or plan to. It was also nice to work solo for part of the weekend. I’ve hosted so many work parties that it was nice to have a few hours all to myself to figure out next steps and savor the sensations of building at Green Anchors on a beautiful summer day.

door over the tongue, before porch

first row of circles an accent rather than the norm

When I worked on my Tiny House Trim & Siding back in June I put up my first row of half rounds and arrows to make circles with my shingles. I was thinking about doing this the whole way up, but I decided it would be overkill. So instead I decided to make the rounds an accent by alternating them with rows of raked shingles. I think the effect is quite lovely!

Now that My Flip-Up Front Porch is done, we were able to position the ladders right on it for shingle hanging. How convenient! Hanging shingles (especially when you’re jigging out for A Beautiful Arched Door and My Arched Rafters) takes some puzzling. And I do enjoy puzzle piecing it together. I like the way I can feel that part of my brain working hard. But it’s sure nice to be on the straights and just slip into the meditative practice of staining and hanging shingles!  (By the way, we’re staining all six sides of each shingles before installing them because they will be less likely to cup and warp and they should hold up much longer this way. It takes forever, but hopefully they’ll last forever, too!)

We didn’t quite finish the shingles on the front of the house and, of course, there are three more sides of the house to shingle. But let me assure you, it’s really rewarding to see my house begin to look like I’ve envisioned it!

Posted in building, design, tiny house, vardo | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My Flip-Up Front Porch

ta da! my front porch!

ta da! my front porch!

After taking a break from The Lucky Penny for a few weeks because I was Doing Life, it felt good to get back to building this weekend. On Friday I helped Ben who has been building his tiny house at ADX. You can see his progress at Ben Builds a Tiny House. Ben is on the home stretch so he rallied a bunch of people – including Dee Williams, Angela Ramseyer, and Derin Williams – to help him out this weekend. I got to help with siding on the front of his house and finishing out his wheel well boxes. It’s coming along nicely and I’m so excited that Ben and I will be neighbors soon at our Tiny Cohousing Community, Simply Home!

On Saturday I worked on my front porch. As many of you know from my post Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street, I have been planning for years to build my little house so that the porch is over the tongue of the trailer. This way whenever I back my tiny house into a new driveway (and just about any other parking spot) my front door will greet the street. I also didn’t want a Shrinky-Dink Porch. It has to be substantial enough that I could actually use it.

It’s been awkward climbing into and out of my little house without a porch for the past couple months because I’ve had to clamber up over the tongue. It seemed high time to get my front porch built. Now that I have, I wish I’d done it sooner. But, as usual, there is an order of operations. I wanted to have My Arched Door in and my Siding on so I could arrange the details of attaching my porch since it will flip-up for transport.

I used a Getaround truck to pick up my supplies and got to work. My build buddy Laura was around this morning and she’s at a pause point on her own tiny house build so she helped me construct the frame for my porch with 2x2s. Then I laid out 1x4s and 1x6s over it, alternating them to create a little visual interest. I attached the decking to the frame with star drive decking screws. I added additional framing as necessary to strengthen the frame. It’s certainly not as beefy as it could be, but then again, I don’t really need it to be. I plan to sit on my porch plenty and I plan to put My Chiller: A Natural Refrigerator out there in the cool months, but I’ll probably host my dance parties just a few steps away in the great outdoors.

When I was done attaching the planks I had scraggle-toothed edge to my porch. And since this is The Lucky Penny and I’m obsessed with curves, I wasn’t done yet. So Laura helped me hold a piece of lath against the edge of the porch in a lovely arc. We marked this on the boards and I used a jigsaw to cut the ends of the boards. Then I added supports in both corners so that my porch is ready for the hoards of people who have registered for PAD’s Tiny House Mixer at Green Anchors on Thursday.

The porch isn’t quite done yet. I plan to add a fascia board around the edge to hide the hitch. I still need to stain the wood. And, of course, I need to add my hinges so that it will flip up for transport. But all-in-all, it was a good day’s work and it was fun to sit on my porch this evening to celebrate!

Posted in building, design, tiny house, vardo | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Musings on My Vardo Roof Box

Skylight box went up the third day of my build, getting dried in took over a month!

Skylight box went up the third day of my build, getting dried in took over a month!

Today I met with Fred at Taylor Metal Products and Tim Bancke, the roofer who recently completed the beautiful curved roof for Lilypad, a tiny house currently under construction for my friend Anita by Walt Quade of Small Home Oregon. I did the concept design work with Anita and the half-curved roof was my big idea so I’m thrilled it’s turned out so nicely! You can read all about it over at Once Upon a Lilypad!)

Although I admire folks like Ben Campbell and my build buddy Laura Klement who installed their metal roofs themselves, I’ve decided to let the pros handle mine. I knew that my vardo’s roof would be a design-build challenge, but I am enamored with curved roofs, so I decided it would be worth it. Now that I’ve finished Sheathing My Vardo Roof, I do still think my curved roof was worth it, but I would have done a few things differently. (For the full list, check out my forthcoming blog post ALL The Mistakes.)

I’ve found myself drawn to curved roofs for as long as I can remember. Street cars. Gypsy wagons. Sheepherders wagons. Barrel vaulted ceilings. To me this shape means freedom, whimsy, and exploration.

I adore the lovely curved roofs on little houses like Ben Campbell‘s vardo and Caboose at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel. And I’ve been especially inspired by the exposed beautiful arched laminated rafters made by talented craftspeople like Katy Anderson who created PAD’s vardo and John who built Big Maroon on the back of a 1949 Federal truck. Exposed rafters remind me of ribs and there’s something about that structure that really appeals to me. I decided I wanted a curved roof, too, even though I knew it would take longer and cost more.

I knew as I was Building My Arched Rafters and Planing My Curved Rafters and then creating my Rafter Tales and finally Rafter Raising, that by exposing my rafters I’d be creating a roof system that would stretch my building skills and my budget. But I also knew I’d love it.

I took it a step farther by adding the skylight box. The shape was inspired by the mollycroft roofs of gypsy wagons of yore and by my friend John Labovitz’s tiny house truck Polymecca. I’ve never seen anyone put skylights on the top of the monitor like I’ve designed, but I’m enthralled with the idea.

I’m less enthusiastic about the amount of time it took to get my complex roof dried in! Once I’d created my Floorbox (and then reworked it with the help of Patrick Sughrue of Structures Northwest), My SIPS Wall Raising only took an hour and a half! The next day we completed My Tiny House Air Barrier. Because of supply issues, being rained out, and making a couple trips out of town because I was, well, Doing Life, it took over a month before my roof was dried in. That means I had to untarp it and tarp it back up again each time I worked on the house! (Mind you I did have the assistance of many Tiny House Helpers.) I ended up on Plan F: Take 2. During this time I was so anxious I didn’t sleep well.

It seems the roof is both my house’s crowning glory and it’s Achilles heel. So I’ve been thinking of ways I could have avoided (or at least reduced) the anxiety.

What I’ve decided is that I should have built my tiny house roof (and floor for that matter!) out of SIPs, just like I did with My SIPs Walls. I didn’t do a SIPs roof for one big reason: SIPs are flat and my roof is not. But I’ve come up with two possible ways to do it.

First, I could have done a curved SIP roof. Talking to Patrick Sughrue of Structures Northwest, I’ve learned that it is possible to have a curved roof built as a SIP. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have my whole house put together in just 1 day?! There’s only one factory Patrick knows of that can do a curved SIP on the Best Coast (did I say that?! er, I mean West Coast!) It’s also a fairly wasteful process because you start out with a big block of foam and carve out the curve, which produces a whole lot of material you don’t need. Also, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a curve with as tight a radius as the one I’ve got. However, I’m not sure that it has to be so curved. In fact, I’ve learned from roofers today that the snaplock panels which we’re hoping to use on my house work best with a radius of 10 ft or greater. My roof has a radius of approximately 8 feet, so it will be a stretch to use this system. Maybe it would be okay to have a shallower curve after all. Especially if I could get the house dried in in a weekend instead of a month!

This winter Patrick and I will be working on a Vardo kit made out of SIPs so that folks who love the vardo shape can get their shell built in a weekend! If you’re interested, please let us know!

However, this curved SIP roof wouldn’t have worked with exposed rafters like I have. As I learned while Making Ends Meet, getting those two curves the same is a challenge. On the other hand, I could have done faux exposed rafters on the inside. I plan to try it on the next vardo I build. Besides, my skylight box would have been a challenge anyway. So here’s the other option I came up with:

I could have had a set of long 1 foot wide SIP panels fabricated which would have sat on top of my exposed rafters on either side of the skylight box. Shorter 1 foot wide panels would go on either end of the skylight box at the front and back of the house. I would have put the rafters up as I did. I figure I could go through the same process of Ceiling Up My Vardo Roof with beadboard panels or I could install this material from the inside afterwards. Either way, instead of building the roof box, which required Eave Caps and Plan F and resulted in my first (and hopefully-but-I-doubt-it-last) melt down, I would have put the SIPs on top and attached them to the rafters. Then my roof would be both insulated and sheathed in one fail swoop. There would be triangular gaps at the top of the roof where the panels come together, so this area would be spray foamed and then cut back and covered with a flashing. The whole roof would then be ready for waterproofing and roofing.

Mind you, I’m not entirely sure either of these systems would work. Although theoretically they’d be fine, I’d have to try them to be sure. The design I’ve come up with for my vardo roof does seem to be working and maybe it’s the best way to do it. If you have done either of these alternate systems or if you decide to try it now after reading about it, please report back. As I’ve noted in another (forthcoming) blog post, My Mistakes Manifesto, I believe sharing our mistakes is even more important than sharing our successes because we can learn so much from other people’s mistakes! Also, if you have other ideas for creating an insulated and air-sealed vardo roof (especially with exposed rafters and a skylight monitor), please share them in the comments!

Posted in building, design, tiny house | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in tiny house | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments