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From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

Why we REALLY chose a Tumbleweed Amish Barn Raiser vs. scratch building

I still see lots of posts and comments going around the interwebs of people complaining that some tiny houses are too big, too expensive, or too intricate to be considered a “true” tiny house, and I recently reposted an article on our FB page about it with my $0.02 on the subject. Since we ourselves are spending $15,900.00 just for the trailer and shell of our house (courtesy of the Bank of Dad with full payback at 3% interest TYVM!), I feel it bears repeating that everyone’s tiny home decisions are theirs and theirs alone! Before anyone starts the “that’s too expensive, why would you spend that on just the shell, I could build the whole house for that, etc etc ad nauseum” arguments, allow me to clarify why, for us, $15,900 is a MINUSCULE price to pay considering the nightmarish alternatives I imagine regularly.

As I’m sure everyone has realized by now, most people don’t do a lot of traveling with their tiny house-on-a-trailer. Most build close to their final location or, at the very least, have the house moved shortly after completion to its permanent (or semi-permanent) destination. They build their homes with all the same love and care they would any other home they want and may or many not use experts for certain portions of their builds as well. They often reclaim materials for various portions of both the inner and outer facades (something we definitely hope to do as well), and many of them report spending full-time hours working tirelessly on their house to have it completed in just a few shorts months (average seems to be about 4-5mo). Bully for them!! Their houses are fantastically beautiful, unique (even if they used mass-produced plans, as we essentially are), and loved by them and tiny house admirers the world over. They may have even spent under $20k – trailer and all – to create their tiny house, and the time taken to choose everything to their specific taste is evident in the details. They likely, however, didn’t pay labor to anyone (including themselves for obvious reasons), and that fact alone saved them thousands of dollars without even blinking. Yes, these houses are truly masterpieces, each and every one of them, and we are envious of them, I assure you.

Our situation, however, is pretty different from the story of many of the tiny houses already in existence. We actually plan to do extensive traveling around the US and (hopefully) Canada after we spend about a year in Colorado for my job, and with me working 2 jobs and Brandy being a full-time student and stay-at-home-dad to R.A.D we simply don’t have the envious luxury of spending 8-hr days working on our tiny house. I also have a recurring nightmare of our house sliding off the trailer as we pull it up a steep hill in our travels, so the peace of mind that comes with having a professional tiny house builder secure the house to the trailer is worth its weight in gold, jewels, and naming rights to our 2nd born! We would LOVE to reclaim as many materials for our house as possible, but sourcing them takes time on the web and time driving to the pickup locations – and time is a precious commodity in short supply for us. We also have to consider the needs of our growing child in our build, so we will be doing a fair amount of customizing the interior layout to suit both our current needs and ones we foresee in the near future. This will necessitate taking even more time to work out exactly what goes where, which then takes more time away from the physical build itself.

In (not so) short, we are more than willing to pay a professional builder roughly the same price many people may spend in just materials to have our house framed and, most importantly, properly secured to the trailer, thus greatly reducing our actual build time and the likelihood my nightmare of our house crushing a car behind us will come true. Yes, a large portion of that cost is just labor, but again – we’re paying skilled craftsmen to do what they do best! There’s a saying that goes something to the effect of, “You can’t put a price on peace of mind,” and I agree with that whole heartedly. You also can’t put a price on safety, and having the most critical portion of our house crafted by professional builders affords a much higher level of safety for traveling and, with that, the peace of mind that comes with knowing it was done right.

So, go forth unto your own tiny house adventures remembering this one simple phrase:

How you would build a tiny house is how ~YOU~ would build a tiny house.


3 comments on “Why we REALLY chose a Tumbleweed Amish Barn Raiser vs. scratch building

  1. Pingback: Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere… | TinyHouse43

  2. Carey
    November 12, 2014

    Amen to that!! I have been thinking about building a Tumbleweed for many years, but honestly–I’m not sure I would ever finish. I’m also leery of heights and I’m short of labor. No five person full-time crew for me! So the idea of having the shell built, with a complete roof no less, makes me very very happy.

    I’d like to travel with it too. I’ve thought about an RV, but most have no insulation and almost all are U.G.L.Y. My dream is to live a few months in all parts of the U.S. over the course of a few years. I might even skip the truck and pay someone to move it to a new city 2-3 times a year.

    I’d really like to learn to do the wiring and plumbing myself. And I love the idea of being able to design the interior from scratch.

    Two thumbs up for your decision!

    • meg & brandy - TH43
      December 17, 2014

      I agree completely about most RVs, though some folks have done AMAZING things with retro classic trailers that I could only dream of making work. I think it just depends on one’s preferences and needs at the end of the day, and for us a TH is the way to go even if it is significantly heavier than any RV would be. Thankfully there have been many people who’ve gone before us on the tiny house adventure, and those brilliant people continue to share their experiences along the way. Part of the reason I started this very blog was to help keep us on track with progress (I call it my “accountabil-a-buddy”), and if our trials and errors can help others learn along the way, well that’s just all the better!

      We don’t have other helpers either (though we’ve wrangled help with watching the munchkin from my dad most days, and my in-laws have pitched in on a couple projects, too), but we remind ourselves daily that we WILL do it even if it’s not being done quickly. While that has its own pitfalls, too (namely that I start stressing and overthinking things when my hands get idle and my brain is left to its own devices), the main thing for us has just been to take it one project at a time, one hiccup at a time, and try not to let the overall gravitas of such an undertaking weigh us down. It IS getting done, though not nearly as quickly as we’d like. Of course. 😉

      For a single person to DIY a tiny house would certainly take more time and effort, but if you’re realistic with yourself about those two things, how much money you can spend, and how much space you REALLY need for just you, then you should be able to come up with a suitable solution. Stick to it! I’ve NEVER been good with follow-through on my million-and-one projects over the year, so this is a monstrously important achievement for us to even have reached this point. You can do it if you really want to, and if you really want to you’ll make it happen! Good luck, and thanks for following along with us!! 🙂 -Meg

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