At the beginning of April, we bought our barn raiser, which includes the trailer, structural walls, and roof of our house. Today, we got news that it’s finished, and is currently in Colorado, waiting to be delivered to Sonoma, California. I can’t wait to see it — I feel like I’ve adopted a child.
After expressing this, my mother suggested we throw a tiny house shower. At first I laughed — that is ridiculous, isn’t it? — but I realize I’ve been invited to or have attended a number of baby showers recently. Some couples have babies; we’re building a tiny house. Nick and I are very similar in that we don’t like calling attention to ourselves over birthdays and “life events” — whatever those may be. When we got married in a lovely and swift City Hall ceremony with my immediate family, his mum, and close friends, we also didn’t want to make a fuss. Our anniversary party at my parents’ home, one year later, has been the closest to a celebration of us since we’ve been together.
And so while I laugh at the thought of a tiny house shower, I also think about the items we need for this journey. Solar panels and batteries. A composting toilet. Windows and a door. A wood stove. A water heater. Lots and lots of wood.
Does it matter that we’d be asking for propane tanks instead of diapers?
* * *
After six weeks of looking for tenants, we found a great couple to rent our home in San Francisco. So, in addition to being (tiny) homeowners, we’re officially landlords. Things are happening.
But this process has been slow to start — and these have simply been pre steps. We’ve been doing things one at a time. First, downsizing. Second, moving out. Next, searching for tenants. And then, finalizing tiny house paperwork. I’m a pretty good multi-tasker, but it’s been overwhelming to look at the big picture.
Now that our loft is rented and our tiny house awaits us, we’re concentrating on research and planning, most recently figuring out our electricity usage each day to decide our energy setup. I realize how important and integral my laptop is to my daily life, and also think about things I need (a small fridge, a shower), items I’ll stop using but will miss (a microwave, my Sonic toothbrush), and appliances that are convenient but I’m not sure are necessary (a washing machine).
It’s been interesting figuring out want from need. Some adjustments are easy: drip coffee makers are power suckers, so we’d toss ours and use a percolator instead. Accessories like my blow dryer and curling iron might be packed up for good. Being able to wash our clothes in our home would be great, but a washing machine would not only draw a lot of power, but also take up space in our kitchen, which we could use for storage or something else. We’d like to use a combination of solar panels, electricity, and gas in our home, and have some source to generate heat, like a wood stove. One model seems pretty efficient, and you can even boil water and cook on top of it.
I want to be living in the tiny house already, but we’ve got a long way to go. We have no construction experience and will learn as we go, and it’s possible that even with our “head start” — our walls and roof already built — we may not be in our tiny house a year from now. Talking about it is one thing; doing it is another. Some people are able to work on their homes full-time; others have land on which they can park their trailer to build their house at their own pace.
We don’t have much time — primarily our weekends — nor do we have space to build freely, so we must plan carefully. We’ll set aside money to rent a warehouse-type space on the Peninsula to store it and work on it. Multiply that by twelve months, or more; our tiny house could become a big money suck if we’re not prepared. Then add the costs of building materials, appliances, tools, and more. While I’d like to look for salvaged materials for various surfaces, we’ll choose high-end products as much as possible — since the space is just 131 square feet, we’re able to splurge on better-quality materials.
So, I suppose it’s worth asking: would you attend a tiny house shower and celebrate the birth of our barn raiser?*
And on a more serious note, do we have any readers that own a farm or ranch in San Mateo County, on which we can park our trailer and work on our tiny house? We’ll pay you, of course.
*This question was only half-serious. I think.