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From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

Simma. Dah. Nah.

It just occurred to me that there are only 15 weeks standing between us and finishing our house if we still intend to take it to the Tiny House Jamboree  in August. More importantly than that, though, is that if I’m going to accept even a short-term transfer to Colorado, we’re going to have to be ready to go a week later no matter what since training starts the 13th of the month. Considering how long it’s taken us to even get where we are in our build, I’m thinking an act of Congress is more likely to pass than we are to be finished with our build. That said, it just needs to be livable – not necessarily “i” dotted and “t” crossed. In an attempt to help speed up the process, R.A.D will be in summer camp 5 days a week starting in June, and Brandy isn’t taking any classes for those two semesters. Even though I’ll have to work extra shifts in June (as in 12hrs every day of the week except Thursdays), hopefully the trifecta of full time child care, a homework & test-free summer for Brandy, and my overtime cash infusion will rekindle the fires of progress.

I think Jessica Friday said it best when explaining why she and her husband, Casey, decided not to finish building their tiny house after its recovery from having been stolen off their property (http://iamchesapeake.com/2015/01/why-we-wont-be-living-in-our-tiny-house/):

 “I only half-joke that the thing that makes tiny building so difficult is that there is just enough space to finally get a partial handle on whatever step of the process you are undertaking – and then that step is over. You never build up any momentum to carry the task out faster and better. Because the space is so small, it’s time to start from square one on the next step of the process before you even reap the benefits of having mastered the previous step. It’s not very satisfying to work this way. People say: “Oh, you’ve come so far! You’re so close to finishing!” No, we really, really aren’t. We’ve been “so close” to finishing nearly every month for the last two and a half years.”

Between feeling bogged down by the lack of progress and being literally bogged down by the excessive spring rains we’ve had (I’m soooo glad my dad put in concrete strips for our tires to park on!), we both admit the momentum has waned significantly of late. There is definitely background progress being made – Gary of Tiny House Systems​ is hard at work on our electrical and plumbing schematics – but the visible progress has ground nearly to a halt due to the realities of work/school obligations and an uncooperative Mother Nature. My personal frustration is particularly high because we’ve reached a point on the remaining exterior projects where I’m essentially useless – I don’t know how to use the Skil saw let alone how to calculate & cut the various angles needed to complete the dormer siding. I can’t even reach that area by ladder anyway!

All of that tension boiled over when Brandy installed the front large gable fascia boards and I realized how sloppy the edges of the DaVinci rake tiles looked all jagged and uneven along the orange tinged cedar. I was literally in tears over it and screaming at how awful and amateur it looked, and Brandy, bless him, didn’t once let his own tone or volume of voice rise. I’d just always assumed they would be straightened out with the installation of the fascia, but instead the contrast of the cedar behind it accentuated the unevenness. It was then I realized what it was like to have a toddler-like aphasia – knowing what you want to do or say but not having the capacity with which to express it properly. I just couldn’t get Brandy to understand why it bothered me so much or explain my ideas on how I thought we could fix it, which left me shrieking like a banshee in frustration. I just kept repeating, “it looks like shit,” over and over in increasingly shrill octaves. For some reason that particular discovery just damaged my calm, and I had to go storm off to the living room of my dad’s house to watch “Hook” with the munchkin to distract myself. I wished I’d had a room full of clocks (or anything!) to smash with a hammer the way Jack and Captain Hook did while venting their frustrations.

I’m trying to not get too hung up on deadlines, especially self-imposed ones like being ready for the Jamboree, but it’s becoming an increasingly difficult task. What I really need to remind myself, though, is that none of these deadlines means a damn thing if the Big House doesn’t sell by the end of July. We can’t very well move out of state and have to pay rent for tiny house parking while simultaneously reabsorbing the additional $1000/mo and all related utilities on the Big House that have been paid by our renters for the last year. Their lease ends July 31st, but they’re trying to buy themselves a small house for a June move-in because they have Baby 2.0 on the way. I know plenty of people take job transfers before their houses sell, but we simply can’t afford that and aren’t willing to be out-of-state landlords. We could still attend the Jamboree with the house even if it’s not 100% complete and regardless of the state of the Big House sale, but it would be irresponsible of us (not to mention crazy stressful) to move, even temporarily, with the weight of the Big House hanging over our heads.

And so here I am at work in the wee hours of the morning taking advantage of the downtime we usually have between 0400 and 0600. Not that Brandy is awake and working on the tiny house at this very moment, but I can’t help finding myself wishing I was home to do just that instead of being stuck at work. It’s a 100% First World problem (and a damn fortunate one to have at that), but that acknowledgement doesn’t make the feeling of uselessness subside any. It’s toxic to let myself feel that way, so I’m trying to muster the energy to go for a run after work this morning. I’ve also signed up for another 10K on Saturday with a few girls from work, so hopefully that endorphin rush will set my brain back on a more positive track. I know Brandy is feeling the pressure, too, but for once in our nearly 11 years together I’m the one doing the brooding and he’s in “crap-not-given” mode. Jessica is right – it isn’t very satisfying to work, or not work as the case may be, like this. Time to find a way to turn this frown upside down!

If you have or are in the process of building your tiny house, what’s been your biggest frustration so far? Biggest accomplishment? Let us know in the comments!

4 comments on “Simma. Dah. Nah.

  1. Jessica
    April 29, 2015

    I am laughing over here!

    So Casey (my husband) had put siding on two sides of our house. We used hardi-plank siding which is supposed to be easy but is a waking nightmare to install. It took him DAYS to do that “little bit” of siding. I’m at home, go online and realize that window trim and side trim? Should be put on FIRST, THEN you side the house. In our hundreds of hours of research, somehow both of us had missed this (a lot of haters on the internet will be like READ MORE, IDIOT, but seriously, building a house…there is always going to be SOMETHING that you don’t know). So I drive to the build site, and I run up screaming and crying and having a general panic attack about how he didn’t put the trim on first.

    Keep in mind, two sides are DONE, and he has been sweating his ass off in 100 degree Texas heat for days while I am in an air conditioned room dealing with my chronic illness. So he’s standing there, with a piece of siding in his hand, taking all of this in and saying “So do you want me to rip all of this out?” And I’m just crying and everything is awful.

    That happened a lot during the project.

    Good luck with your build, thanks for linking to me! I’ll be checking in on your progress. I’m glad to see more honest stories coming out of the TH community.

    • meg & brandy - TH43
      April 29, 2015

      Oh yes, the side (corner) trim! I realized that we were supposed to have installed that first, too, but Brandy insisted we could do it after. Thankfully it looks fine because it sticks out from the siding the same way our window trim does (which we did install first), but it’s yet another thing that someone somewhere is scoffing at us for making such a n00b DIY “mistake.” We’ve been fortunate not to receive many public tongue lashings for our plethora of “Oops” moments – quite the opposite, actually, for which we are eternally grateful! – but I know I even read our posts sometimes, smack my head, and think, “Doh! What dummies…” We are always our own worst critics, though. On the whole I’m thankful every single day that Brandy has the carpentry skills he does have, which are actually pretty close to professional grade despite having never built a house before, and the patience and perseverance to keep chugging along on the house. I’m the genius who mis-measures wood cuts and gets paint splotches on everything under the sun!

      I know others who’ve built tiny houses themselves have made mistakes – big and small – and had lousy days where they wanted to quit. Some who blog may share those stories, but many do not for personal reasons all their own. That is 100% okay and absolutely within their rights. I personally NEED to write about our journey both for the therapeutic nature of journaling and to help us both remember everything we accomplish along the way. I could just post the positive stuff, the triumphs of progress and eventual completion, but that wouldn’t be the whole picture. Hell, we almost had our house burn down because of a STUPID oversight that any professional (or even just more experienced DIYer) would likely NEVER make, and yet we shared those gory details across the interwebs. We did get a few negative comments, but on the whole the feedback was more, “oh my god, I’d have done the same thing,” than, “that’s why you should bother to read the warning labels, idiot.” I feel like we owe it both to ourselves and to anyone who chooses to follow along with us on this wild adventure (and maybe start their own tiny house DIY build) to share the bad and ugly as much as the good since there are more important lessons to be learned from our mistakes than our victories. Of course, it would be awfully nice to have more of the latter than the former, but we take what we get and do our best to learn from it!

      Likewise, thanks to both you and Casey for sharing your own tiny house journey, for better or worse. I’m saddened that you won’t get to experience living in your house after putting in so much blood, sweat, tears, and years into it, but I’m thrilled to hear you’ve both found your own happy medium with your new city life plans! I’m a big believer in the concept of the yin yang, and I strive to walk the wavy line of balance between the two halves of opposing forces. Here’s to finding your own balance in your next chapter of life and to your own willingness to share both triumphs and tragedies!

      Cheers,

      Meg

      • Jessica
        April 30, 2015

        We had people blame us for meth addicts stealing our tiny house. Then we had people blame us for being angry about it. Then we had people blame us for being stupid enough to build a tiny house. One person even took to their personal blog to call us “eco-tards” and went on a rant about how if we were so concerned with the environment, why don’t we just kill ourselves for less of a carbon footprint.

        May you never make the front page of Yahoo…

        😀

      • meg & brandy - TH43
        June 1, 2015

        Insane. Just ridiculous to think anyone but the thieves were to blame, but then the ones whining were clearly not from the deeper end of the gene pool themselves. I promised myself that we would share what we felt we could and should because it’s a great way for us and others to learn, but my tolerance for bullies is zero. I’ll just avoid reading comments all together if we ever end up on a national page of some kind, because I’m fully prepared to admit my skin isn’t all that thick. Here’s to a dramatic reduction in BS for you both and an extension of our loan of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak! 😉

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