One month ago, we parked our house in its new location. This past weekend, we finally moved in.
We’d already hooked up the water and propane, so spent the weekend plugging in to the main house and setting up our internet — both of which required hundreds of feet of cables and some trench digging. All you do is plug in, and you’re set! It’s so easy! I read this over and over again on tiny house blogs, as if you’re simply plugging in a really big toy into a power outlet. Unless you live on a tidy, straightforward plot of land where everything you need is immediately surrounding your little house, it’s not that simple.
So, we’re nearly settled, except for one thing: we never planned on plugging into the grid. Our solar installation is still up in the air, and we’re working with a local company to finalize our setup. This pending solar stuff aside, all is well, and it’s great to be moved in. And I’m learning about our house’s quirks as we go, which has been interesting so far.
Our location is beautiful: we’re renting a plot of land overlooking a pasture. The plot is surrounded by trees, yet it also gets a lot of sun in some spots. The ground was leveled for us, and there’s enough room along the sunny side, overlooking the view, for a pair of outdoor chairs and a table. But the pad isn’t entirely flat, so we used concrete blocks and Anderson levelers to raise one side of the house. Our trailer is as level as we can make it given the equipment we have, but it’s still slightly off. I can’t feel it, although Nick can feel it when we’re sleeping in the loft.
This created another challenge: our graywater pipe runs flat, underneath our trailer, and when we first connected a disposal pipe, the water didn’t travel far — it was trying to flow uphill given the slope. So, we dug a trench to the edge of our plot (about 15 feet long) and laid a pipe down the hill, buried it, and successfully got water to drain. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works.
Our shower stall is about 31 x 31 inches, and we’re using a tension rod to hang a curtain. The shower head was placed on the wall opposite the curtain, and it faces outward, not down, and is fixed in place. The stream will spray everywhere if the curtain isn’t in place. And the first time Nick showered, the rod and curtain fell mid-shower. (We bought a better rod!)
We’ve got an Eccotemp tankless water heater, and the first time I showered with hot water, I discovered how long it takes for it to kick in: about 20-30+ seconds. Watching our water usage is one of the most important things while in this house: we can’t afford to waste that amount — not on this property, and not anywhere, really. So, we’ll collect and save the water in a bucket as it heats up, which we can pour into our Berkey water filter, or use to soak dishes or hand-wash a small laundry load.
Oh, and an item for my Things I Learned file: when you turn the water off after it’s heated, even for a moment, to put the bucket down and jump into the shower, you have to wait for it to warm up again. (Yes, I have a lot to learn about water heaters.)
The water temperature unexpectedly changes from hot to cold, and it’s not always consistent, so we might need to fiddle with the heater settings. But overall, our shower does the job, and I’m a big fan of our Bricor showerhead, which is low-flow (1.25 GPM) but feels really powerful.
The wood shavings
Right now, we’re using aspen shavings as our cover material for our compost bucket toilet, as it was all we could find this first time around. (We bought a massive bag from a pet supply and feed store.) We also bought a metal scooper. So, I sometimes feel like a cat when I’m in the bathroom. I remember my cat, Striper, when she used to leave a trail of litter bits, which got stuck to her paws. Similarly, there are wood shavings scattered randomly across our floor, because of scooping it out of the container, or refilling the container outside and bringing it back in. I think I’ll have to get used to it — it’s like potpourri. At least it smells good.
The sleeping loft
The loft area is fairly spacious: it’s 105″ long and 78″ wide. We can fit a king-size mattress, but the entrance into the loft can only accommodate a twin (the height is 42″ high). We can fit a foldable or futon-style mattress through, but I’ve been sleeping on the same mattress since my college years — I think it’s finally time to sleep on something nice. We found a light, 10″-thick mattress we like at a local shop that sells them at half-price, so we’ll buy two twin XLs — equal to a king — instead.
We have many new friends and neighbors: primarily lizards, cows, squirrels, and deer. But the little flies that come inside the house are really annoying: they might be so tiny that they’re able to push through our window screens. They already seem to be part of the house, and if we got rid of all of them, there would be more tomorrow. So, we may have to live peacefully with them.
As for the spiders? Nick doesn’t seem to have many phobias, but I’ve discovered over time that he has a big fear of spiders. They don’t bother me as much as other things, but of course I’d want to keep them out of the house if we can avoid it. A number of cobwebs have formed inside and out — it’s something we may have to get used to.
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We’ve only been tiny house residents for a handful of days — these are initial observations in this short time of getting to know the house and introducing ourselves to things we’ve never done before, from refilling our wood shavings container, to extending a telescopic ladder each time we need to access “upstairs,” to moving items around in order to reach something.
None of these tasks are tedious, but they’ve added a completely new layer of to dos to our day, and it’s interesting to see how my daily priorities and tasks are shifting. Suddenly, there’s no time for aimless internetting.
I find myself moving about more often — and taking more shorter breaks during the work day — than before. And if you know my general work habits over the past several years of working from home, these changes are positive.
I’m a bit disoriented and out of my element, but also quite curious and excited about the things I can learn from living in this space, on this land, and about myself. I’m also relieved and happy that we really did it and we’re finally in here.