Taking the Weight Off My Shoulders

When I was 16 and I discovered tiny houses, I knew I wasn’t going to follow the default path and go to university or college straight out of high school. I didn’t want that anyways. I’m happy to be different when I’m doing what is right for me. But as the weather has gotten colder and I’ve gotten even more stressed about the tiny house build, I realized I’m not completely doing this in a way that fits me and my life. I did my research beforehand; I compared and contrasted dozens of builds and picked out the pieces I needed to build my own house. But I never stopped to truly take my own situation into account. I don’t live in California or Nevada. I don’t have a partner who dreamed up the house with me, did the research, and jumped in with both feet from the beginning. I don’t have any engineering, construction, electrical, or plumbing experience. I don’t have a dozen eager friends with experience in any of those fields. I don’t have the patience to hunt for bargain materials. I don’t have the anger to hassle hardware store staff for discounts. I don’t have family with years of building experience hanging around to help. All of these things are advantages other builders have had and I keep comparing myself to them. But I’m 19. I’ve never done anything this big (or expensive) in my life. I can barely budget for groceries, let alone building materials, and before last year I’d never touched a hammer.

I took this build on by myself, armed with a dream and the internet. I also carried around the assumption that everything had to be done before winter because… winter. I have been insanely stressed, all because of the self-inflicted pressure to get the house through an entire phase in four months. I neglected finishing my steps list or my timeline because I didn’t want to think about how much there was to do before the temperature dropped. I’ve been avoiding blogging and sharing my progress because I’m ashamed I’m not further along. I know how much is left to do and that knowledge has been sabotaging me every morning I try to sleep my stress away, every afternoon I tie up my work boots dejectedly, and every night when I avoid my books, my favourite pastime, because I don’t feel I deserve them. My “tiny” to-do list has been twisting at my heart every sunny day I work, every rainy day off I have, and the first time I heard the word “flurries” in the forecast.

I’m generally not a stressed person. I tend to come up with solutions to ease any stress, so I tried to do that with the build. What could I do to lessen my stress about how little time I have left? The last thing on the list in my head titled “Before Winter” is siding. Maybe I could get it installed for me? I looked into it. It would only take two days, but it would cost $1035. That’s not in the budget.

De-Stress Attempt #2:

Take things off the list.

It was simple. I finally wrote down all the steps to finish Phase 3: The Shell, and I realized that it’s not physically possible. I think on some level I knew that, but I had tried to get everything lined up and ready to go. I have all the wood I need, my windows are ordered, my door is ordered, I have my roofing, and I ordered my siding. I’ve been collecting little things like tuck tape whenever I can. But even with a friend’s offer of a garage I can sand and stain in, there’s no way I can stain all 1200 linear feet of siding – both sides – before it gets too cold to do anything, let alone finish everything else on the list. Plus I’m low on money at this point. After I accepted that I made my to-do list too long, I was able to shrink it to a compromise. I won’t get the entire shell done before winter, but I can get it closed in and ready to hibernate. I plan to have house wrap and ice and water shield on, the front door in, tarp it up tight, and put my little lovely to bed where I can keep an eye on her.

I am not a team of builders with 30 years experience, able to build a house in a matter of weeks, so I shouldn’t blame myself for not keeping pace with the construction projects I notice nearby. Now I just have to forgive myself for wasting my summer beating myself up over an impossible to-do list.

I’ll post pictures soon.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elaine Walker
    Oct 27, 2015 @ 06:05:52

    I’m so happy that you’ve reeled in your expectations! Like Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good” — we might never complete a task if we decide it has to be perfect. Be gentle with yourself – you’re an inspiration. You don’t need to complete your house quickly; try to enjoy the process and be proud of what you’ve already accomplished!


  2. Trackback: 10/27 Taking the Weight Off My Shoulders | Tiny House Community Maps, Events, Posts & Reviews
  3. Sefton
    Oct 27, 2015 @ 11:24:39

    Don’t stress yourself with timelines. Keep moving moving forward, even slowly and you will get there. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. Looking good so far!


    • Natalie
      Oct 27, 2015 @ 18:41:56

      I probably wouldn’t have stressed as much about time if it weren’t for the seasons changing, but I just have to keep working away at it! Thanks 🙂


  4. Genevieve
    Oct 27, 2015 @ 21:45:23

    Thank you so much for telling the truth about your build. I am also a solo builder and the struggle has been HUGE, and I feel like a failure so often that I can barely glimpse the dream I started out with. Some days are GREAT, some days are crap. I feel like I have come down with Sudden Onset Napping Syndrome, and Eating Really Bad Food To Punish Myself For My Failure Syndrome. But every day I strap on my steel-toe boots and my work gear and I get back into it. And hope I get further ahead than the on-rushing winter will probably allow. I wish you the best of luck with your build.


    • Natalie
      Oct 27, 2015 @ 22:19:23

      Thank you for commenting! I know how you feel. Sometimes it seems like every time I have a good build day I have a bad day, or several, right after it.
      But I keep telling myself it will all be worth it in the end, and to stop beating myself up.
      Good luck to you too, thank you!


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"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
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