From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three
Yesterday I was orienting a new nurse and was lucky enough to have another RN working as a tech, so I had free time to get some boss type stuff done. While I was updating some machines in the lab I overheard their conversation about the houses they own and/or are trying to buy. It was all about media rooms, granite countertops, game rooms, new floor tiles, 4000sqft, in-law suites, five bathrooms, hardwood floors, covered patios, etc etc. They’re all things that are pretty accurate descriptors of our own house and houses we’ve dreamed about in the not-so-distant past, actually, but something struck me as I listed to their respective wish lists: I don’t want any of those things. Not any more anyway, or at the very least not right now.
I loved the look of incredulity that crossed their faces when I told them we want to build about a 200sqft house on a trailer to tow to Colorado for a few years, then around the country, and then finally to rest on some land in Washington State somewhere. They did relax a bit when I said we eventually wanted to build a “real” house for us and my father to live in, but even explaining that the plan we want is just 1421sqft elicited gasps of disbelief. I went on to explain that after our son was born in 2011 we had basically abandoned the top floor of our house since all the kiddo-friendly stuff was downstairs, so we are already essentially living in 1600sqft. Then when we sell our house and move in with my father we’ll be occupying the 2 largest bedrooms full-time (both of which are en suite with 2 closets, so basically dual master bedrooms) and sharing the living, dining, and kitchen of a 2338sqft house (much of which is lost to the irritatingly wasteful hallways of the ranch house design popular in the 1980s when the house was built). After both of those downsizes, I posed, what’s losing another thousand or so sqft for the chance to be mortgage and property tax free, not to mention virtually utility bill free as well?
They both mumbled noncommittal “Ehhh, yeah, okays” and head nod/bobs to that last point, because face it, no one likes paying mortgages or taxes. No. One. But then the questions flowed.
“What about when mommy and daddy want to have a little adult time? How are you going to do that in such a small space.” Quietly, I replied. Plus, we plan to build triangular closets on the foot of the loft that would allow a little door to be added for privacy.
“Are you really going to haul it with your car?” It’s rated for 4500lbs (Ford Flex Limited AWD), and for the moment we’re just going Point A to Point B. When we decide to go crosscountry we would get a “real” truck. And you do know that Europeans haul loaded RV trailers with VW Golfs, right?
“Does that mean you’ be stuck in RV parks the whole time? Ugh.” Well, we plan to make ours able to handle the pressurized water supplies and electrical outlets at RV sites, as well as have off-the-grid features like a composting toilet and an alcohol stove. We’re even looking at a small solar panel for power. We’d be covered no matter where we go.
The composting toilet part raised some eyebrows until I asked if they’d ever gone backpacking or at the very least primitive tent camping. It took a second, but the look of recognition of the correlation between compost toilets and primitive camping sunk in finally. “Composting is cleaner. Trust me,” I replied.
After all was said and done they both still thought I was nuts (one asked why we didn’t just get an RV, to which I replied, “Why spend $60k+ on something we have essentially zero say in designing when we can use reclaimed materials and build exactly what we want for less than half that? Plus, RVs are ugly!”), but I came to a totally different conclusion:
I am resolved.
When we set out to build our house in 2008 (yes, right at the apex of the housing bubble that left our builder bankrupt and our house technically unfinished and overpriced about $25k) I made the statement that I didn’t want to build a starter house that we would then grow out of and have to sell in five years. Hence the reason we went with 3193sqft with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, game room, den, media room, formal dining, breakfast, living, kitchen, and attached 2-car garage. Well, we officially took possession on April 1, 2009 (and yes, after everything we went through trying to get the house to be livable as the market spiraled and our contractors dropped off like flies, we kept waiting for them to shout, “APRIL FOOLS!” as we signed our paperwork), so this April will be five years. Yeah, so much for outgrowing it. Now we want to build a house smaller than our master bathroom! How’s that for a radical divergence from the quintessential 5-year plan?! 😉
Needless to say, when I got home I had another surprise waiting for me. Well, it wasn’t a “thing” surprise (though coming home to a clean kitchen was certainly appreciated as the hubby is a notorious use-every-dish-in-the-house-until-they’re-all-dirty-before-cleaning type cook), but it was two different conversations we had. The first was about selling the two firearms we “must have” after we found out I was pregnant (hubby dearest went on a home safety kick around that time… yeesh!), which I have zero problem with since I hate guns any way. I had agreed to the shotgun only because I knew if I couldn’t get it loaded in time I could at least pump it to scare most people off (it’s a universally known sound that’s quite effective at deterring home invasions per my cop buddies) or use it as a bat to beat the crap out of someone if I had to, but I still hate having it in the house. The other was a replica of some popular old western-style 6-shooter (not the Colt; barrel is way too long) that he picked up on a whim apparently, and neither of them have ever been fired. Pointless to own in my opinion, and hubby pointed out that they’re definitely not safe to have in such close quarters as a tiny house with a young child around. Done and done. Good riddance to them both. He did, however, request we get a taser instead. Fine, whatever. At least it’s non-lethal 99.99% of the time. Hey, if some fool breaks into my house who happens to have a heart condition and I zap him with the taser and he croaks…. well, that’s his bad luck. Just saying.
Anyway, all violent weapons talk aside (and for the better frankly…), the thing that REALLY surprised me was Brandy’s decision to sell off all his beloved action figures and comic book collection. Even more surprising: me trying to talk him out of it! Well, not completely, but at least to reconsider selling ALL of it since 1) RAD would probably enjoy playing with some of it and 2) if I’ve learned anything about tossing possessions it’s that if it’s something I’m passionate about I should always find a way to keep at least some part of it. I’ve moved so many times in my life that I can’t count any more, and along the way I lost things that were precious to me to one degree or another. I’d hate for him to sell everything off and regret it later, particularly considering that every time we’ve ever had the discussion about his “collections” he has always told me he would never get rid of it because most of them are irreplaceable and he considers them to be tiny works of art like mini sculptures, thus his reason for also banning our son from playing with them up to this point.
And then boom! Now he’s talking about selling them all off because he doesn’t want them languishing in storage somewhere where they could be damaged by the Texas heat and not enjoyed as they’re meant to me. Frankly, they aren’t enjoyed as they’re meant to be in my opinion, because they’re toys – not statues. Toys are meant to be played with, but I digress. I suggested he keep them at my dad’s air-conditioned house until we settle into a site-built house where he could display them again, but he didn’t jump at that offer like I thought he would. Yes, I know I’m actually encouraging him to keep them – AND display them – despite nearly a decade of derision toward them and the amount of space they take up, but I just couldn’t stop myself. He sounded so determined to do it and yet so depressed to say it. Kinda made me feel bad for ever having given him grief over them in the first place, honestly.
Anyway, Great Toy Debate aside, I was happy to hear Brandy really putting out ideas on downsizing our stuff beyond, “If you’re going to buy that you have to get rid of the old ones,” when I was looking at birch wood kitchen utensils and biodegradable bamboo dishware for RAD on Zulily. Duh! That’s why I was looking at them in the first place – to get rid of the crappy plastic junk we still have (and use regularly) from when we were first married and totally broke. That’s beside the point, though. My point is that he’s actively thinking about ridding himself (and us all) of material possessions that were sacred to him just a few months ago. That, my friends, is a HUGE step for him and a big encouragement to me since I, too, have too much stuff to even count (and next to none of it is sacred or even used much honestly).
So, here we both are. Resolved to living the tiny life one step (or a few boxfuls of useless crap discarded) at a time!
Oh, and I saw this article on Yahoo today that made me smile: