Vacation!

We’re leaving for our annual trip today, with our new trailer 🙂 First, family BBQ in Quebec, then camping at a festival in Ontario.

I won’t be posting for the next couple of weeks. Instead, I’ll be reading my pile of books. I have a few books I’ve been meaning to read, plus a stack of tiny house related books. Ta ta for now!

Keep dreaming.

 

 

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All Done

A few weeks back, I wrote this post: https://lovelylittledream.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/another-building-project/

Now, here’s the finished project:

To be honest, I didn’t really help. Dad wouldn’t let me use any tools (until the skill saw the other day) so I didn’t do much. Mum and Dad took it on as their own project, but I helped now and then and painted a bit.

At least with my tiny house I’ll be the one in charge.

Small Start

Our old wooden trailer kind of fell apart, and Dad’s been meaning to cut up the pieces for a fire. Scrap wood is perfect to practice on, so Dad taught me the basics of using a skill saw. It’s heavy for my skinny arms, but overall it’s kinda fun. And picking up a tool makes me feel that much more capable. Even if it’s just a small start.

I’m a book person. I don’t do a lot of hands-on stuff, but I think that all I need is practice. I actually really liked shop class in high school, better than sewing anyway! I loved the technical drawings because I was good at them and I like being exact. When it came to actually building stuff, there was a figure-it-out-for-yourself attitude, which was really intimidating for me. I like to know the specific steps I need to follow. With the tiny house, I still have to figure out the steps for myself, but I have time on my own to do my research. That’s less stressful than having 40 minutes to take a stab at building a mini-catapult. I’m definitely the slow and steady type.

Speaking of steps, I mentioned in my last post that I’m going to write up a list of every single step I can think of for the build, and make sure I research anything I’m not sure about. If I think about building an entire house, mostly by myself, it’s daunting. When it’s broken down into little pieces, it’s doable.

I think that knowing yourself is important when you undertake a big project. I know that I like lists and that I procrastinate and that I need specific steps to follow. I’m not afraid to try new things. I think I manage frustration pretty well. I’m relatively patient when things take longer than expected (traffic jams don’t phase me – I’ll get there when I get there). I’m a problem solver. I like planning ahead and I’m organized. But I have trouble motivating myself to start. It’s good to be aware of these types of things as you build. Building a house is a huge deal, and you want to think about as many factors as you can. That way, you can push through your bad habits because you realize when you’re doing them, and you can appreciate when your good qualities make things easier.

Walls vs Weather

As I’ve been researching, one of the things I’ve found that I need to learn more about is weatherproofing.

If you break house building down to the basics, it seems pretty simple. I’m basically going to be building a wooden box. A giant wooden box, compared to a jewelry box or something. Then, since I’ll be living in it, add a bit of insulation to keep warm in the winter. Next, something around the outside to keep rain and snow out. That’s where it gets very complicated! There seem to be a lot of steps and layers that nobody’s really clear about. And unlike other parts of the build that are either inconsequential if you do them differently (like cosmetic choices) or there’s really only one way to do them, if I mess up the exterior I’ll be screwed. Water is evil when it comes to building a house. I’m worried that I’ll mess up and the problems will be unseen in my walls. I don’t want my house to end up like our old trailer, all rotten, so I’ll need something to protect it.

I’ve been going back and forth between two types of sheathing: the usual OSB/plywood and house wrap OR the zip system. For the 1st option, I’ll have to choose between OSB and plywood – I’m not really sure if it’s important. Then I’ll need to wrap the house with a huge roll of plastic stuff, staple it up, and make sure the seams overlap. With the 2nd choice, the wood already has a water seal on it so all I need to do is tape the seams. Oh, and pay more. The zip system is supposed to seal better, but it’s more expensive (I think). Some contractors swear by the zip system, others stick with what they know. Should I go with the time-tested, tried and true method, or rely on something new that could be better? Decisions, decisions.

Then, there’s a rain screen. From what I understand, this is basically just vertical pieces of wood that keep the siding off of the sheathing so that any water that gets behind the siding will slide down and out the bottom. Apparently you also need something at the bottom of the rain screen that keeps bugs and things and from getting in, but that also lets water out.

Don’t even get me started on the roof! It gets more difficult too, because I actually want to have livable “attic” space.

And there are also vapour barriers. Every source says a different thing! On the inside, on the outside, both, neither, facing this way, facing that way, permeable, not permeable! And none of what I’ve read explains exactly what they do or what they’re for! I’ve still got a lot of reading to do.

There are a bunch of odd little things in house building that I’ve never heard of. I think learning to build a house is a great thing, because most people don’t know how. Our society is so specialized; we’re like factory workers who only know how to make one part of the final product. I suppose we do work together, but I want to be capable all on my own. I like knowing things other people don’t, I’m snobbish like that, but also, I want to learn what I can so that if/when an apocalypse happens, I won’t die of something stupid because I didn’t know how to do something. Humans these days (in first world countries) are really quite helpless and pathetic. We (generally) don’t know how to hunt, which plants are poisonous, how to make our own clothes, or how to build our own shelter. I don’t want to be like that. Rain screens are kind of a useless place to start, because I’ll die of starvation before my walls rot, but I might as well start somewhere!

I’ll have to make a very detailed list of every possible step of the build, and make sure I understand every bit. The project doesn’t seem all that daunting when I break it all down to things as simple as “cut this piece of wood to this length”. Then one more tiny step, and the next step, and the next, and the next. That’s manageable. A tiny house built in tiny steps, how fitting.

Doubts

I generally don’t tell people that I’m planning on building a tiny house. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, so I’m just going to avoid telling people until I have something tangible to show them.

However, since I don’t tell people I have this grand plan to build my own house, they keep asking me what I’m going to do with my future. I’m taking a gap year, I’m not going to school right away, I’m not sure what I want to do yet, I’m just saving money. All true.

One of my coworkers was asking me what I was going to do about school and the future. She mentioned that I’d have to find a place to live. I said, with a sneaky smile, “I’m just going to build my own house!” She laughed.

Some people tell me I should travel, and oh, how I would love to. I have money saved, but it’s for the tiny house. I can’t afford to travel while I’m saving to build a house, no matter how small the house is. I kind of just want to travel aimlessly and work odd jobs. I don’t care about being successful. I just want to be happy. But I need stability, and not knowing what’s next wouldn’t work for me.

On another note, my dad’s been posted to Ottawa (he’s in the military). My sister still has two years of high school left, and packing up, selling the house, and leaving in two months would be a stress on all of us, so Dad’s going to go alone. We’ll probably be without him for two years, and then Steph (my sister) and I will be off on our own. It sucks. Dad was supposed to help me with the build, but that won’t be happening. At least, since we’re not moving, I’ve haven’t lost my building space.

Last night I was talking to one of my oldest friends, Liam, who lives in Ontario. If we moved to Ottawa, I’d be able to see him regularly. If I gave up the tiny house dream, I’d be free to go back to Ontario, to travel, to spend money on whatever I like instead of trying to save every cent – I could get my own car! But I’d also be lost. As much as I love Ontario, I’m becoming a Nova Scotia girl. Liam always insists that Ontario is better and around the time of my trip to Toronto, he was saying Toronto has everything Halifax does, and more. But then I said, “The ocean. That’s what Halifax has that Toronto doesn’t.” I love this little province, even if the capital is tiny compared to Toronto. I don’t mind being small town. I can eat at restaurants where I know the owner and shop at tiny, amazing little businesses. I can jump in my car and be at a rocky beach in time for sunset. I can drive across the province to the ocean in an hour and a half. I just want to be free to go where I please while still having a place of my own to come home to. And that’s what my tiny house will be. I don’t want to live in a crappy apartments where I can’t paint the walls. So I’ll be patient. Ontario can wait. When my tiny house is done, I can go where I want.

I was having doubts about building a tiny house. Reading warnings about issues with codes, wondering what to do about water, missing the province I grew up in, stressing about where to get the money, and wanting to travel and spend money on life instead of saving for what feels like a faraway dream. I’ve been planning this for a little over a year. That’s not a lot, but also, it is. I’ve put more thought and effort into this dream than I have into any of the job ideas I’ve written under “What I want to be when I grow up” over the years. I might not know for sure what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I do know that I want to live in a tiny house that I’ve built, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll deal with all the problems that come my way one at a time.

The future is scary. Especially since I’m doing something different than anyone else I know. But I’ve always been one to face my fears.

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Quotes

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris