From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three
I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging much. There are about a half-dozen reasons for that which can pretty much all be summed up as “no time.” I’ve been active on FB and Instagram simply because they’re super easy platforms, but this post needs long form to accurately record all the details I’m about to unload. What details, you ask? Why, it’s the ever-growing laundry list of items that must be completed before we move to Colorado in a time frame that is ever-shrinking with a plan that is becoming ever-so-convoluted by outside influences unrelated to the tiny house itself.
Phew! Suddenly I feel like I’m singing a new verse from “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from Pirates of Penzance. I’ve information veg-e-tab-le, an-i-mal, and min-e-ral… and tiny house! 😉
Okay, all kidding aside, I really am starting to freak out a bit. My new job has added a whole new layer of complications to an already packed schedule that sees me leaving for Colorado in 6 weeks and 3 days, and more or less renders me unable to help Brandy finish up some VERY integral tasks that must be completed before the house itself hits the road. While finishing the building of the house itself is an obviously necessary task (and one that I’m further limited from assisting with because I’m still working full-time hours), the real challenge is going to be having the house weighed, photographed, inspected, and retitled as either an RV Travel Trailer or Homemade Travel Trailer depending on which version of the paperwork the county tax office decides to accept. As if gathering all the necessary documents together (and even filling them out correctly – they read like 1980s stereo instructions!) isn’t complicated enough, I’m not entirely certain I’ll physically be in Texas to help Brandy perform all the necessary tasks and, worse, translate all this to the county clerk in a manner that results in a change of title from Flat Bed Trailer to Travel Trailer.
He’s not an idiot by any stretch of the imagination (just ask him about particle physics and string theory if you want to simultaneously have your mind blown and bored to tears all in the same conversation), but my own limited grasp on all the ins and outs of this experimental re-titling process leaves me unable to adequately explain it to him to where he could then talk his way through getting the county clerks to make this all happen. It’s a bad case of the game “Telephone Operator” just waiting to happen, and in my regularly occurring nightmares of late it ends with them denying ALL titles and condemning the tiny house to the trash heap. Unreasonable expectation on my part? Yes, but then the human brain does a marvelous job of convincing itself the common cold is the next bubonic plague when we feel like hammered dog poo for a few days in a row each winter. At this point my brain is on overload just trying to figure out how to fit in full-time working with tiny house building with a new certification class I must have before I leave Texas with seeing my child for more than 5 minutes in passing with packing for Colorado (twice) with… you get the point. Like I said: lots to do, little time to do it.
On getting the trailer retitled, I pulled up my post from last year with all the info I found out from the Denton County Tax Office then. I’ve pulled the following forms together as instructed by the very nice Clerk who was working that day, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping she’ll be there when we go again this year. These are all from www.TxDMV.gov:
Form 130-U Application for Texas Title (we were told to bring the flat bed title with us to exchange for a new RV Travel Trailer title this year if all goes well)
Form VTR-270 Statement of Physical Inspection (we have to take the house to an RV store somewhere to have it inspected as though it’s already an RV Travel Trailer)
Form VTR-141 “Travel Trailer” or “Park Model Trailer” Verification (this is where it gets dicey because the trailer itself has a VIN but the “House trailer-type” portions are “Homemade”)
I’m also going to have Form VTR-305-A completed and ready – Prescribed Form for Statement of Fact for Ownership of Homemade/Shopmade Trailer, Semitrailer, or Travel Trailer – because the “house trailer-type” portion of our tiny house IS homemade to a certain extent. The trailer frame/chassis itself was professionally manufactured, and the “house trailer-type” wood framing was done professionally, which should fall under the portion of the form that states, “OR was built to my specification by the individual or entity listed below,” while the rest of the “house trailer-type” work was done at home by us. The part that gets confusing for registering as a “Homemade Travel Trailer” is the fact that the trailer chassis itself has a VIN registered as a Flat Bed already. That’s where having the WHOLE “house trailer-type” re-titled as some version of a Travel Trailer with either the existing VIN or a new VIN becomes complicated. We have no real way of knowing if or which version they will allow if either at all. It’s the not knowing that’s so dang hard. Ugh.
Worst case scenario is that we will have to pay the late fees to re-register the whole thing as a Flat Bed Trailer – it expires 7/31/15, and since we plan to re-title it we decided we’d wait and do all that at once – and then hope we can find some kind of insurance to cover the house itself, which would then just be classified as a “load” on a Flat Bed Trailer. That’s exactly what we’re hoping to avoid, and that’s why I REEEEEEALLY hope the woman I spoke with last year (and naturally I didn’t get her name, BUT I’m excellent with faces) will be working and will remember me and our “really cool” tiny house. She’s the one that pointed me in the direction of all the aforementioned forms and suggested using professional electricians and plumbers (we had that designed by a pro, so hopefully that counts!) as a way to show the house is a real RV Travel Trailer and acceptable to be titled as such. More importantly, though, I’m just hoping I can actually be here in Texas to help re-explain all this to whomever ends up helping us this year. In my dream last night, Brandy was having me FaceTime with the Clerk, which I’ll gladly do if they’ll let me and I have no other choice. I just don’t know if that would even be allowed. There’s that not knowing issues again…
My remaining time in Texas is already being stretched very thin between my work commitments and my new job requirements. I keep telling myself that once all this craziness is done and over with we’ll all be together living in our kick ass tiny house in a new state getting ready to enjoy a really white winter together. The problem comes when I stop and think about all the work still left to do on the tiny house alone when compared to the amount of time we’ll actually have to get it all done. I also still don’t know precisely when we’ll actually get the house moved from Texas to Colorado since I’m at the mercy of my new bosses and their scheduling needs of me, but I will say we’re aiming for the first full week of October to make the trek. We need a bare minimum of 3 days (1 day for me to make it back to Texas, 2 days of actual travel with the tiny house), but we’re hoping the 5-day window I suggested will be accepted. That would have me leaving CO on 10/3, us leaving Texas 10/4, and a final arrival and set-up date of 10/7 at the latest. Then I’d go right back to work the next day. Just thinking of all that makes me short of breath, but we can make it work. We have to.
In the meantime, though, here are the biggest projects left to complete before the house can even be considered an “RV Travel Trailer” by State standards. The “i-dot, t-cross” stuff will have to come later as time allows. They’re more or less in order of most urgent to least:
Electrical outlets and lights installed, all other electrical components connected, all power tested, system inspected/signed off by an Electrician if possible
Plumbing lines run and connected to city/gravity inlet, connected to water heater and fresh water tank, system pressure tested, wine barrel bathtub to be created and installed, gray water pipes to be added below trailer, whole system inspected/signed off by a Plumber if possible – includes attaching propane tank to water heater for testing
Closed cell spray foam insulation applied roughly 8/12 (all electrical and plumbing must be completed before this can happen)
Interior wall, ceiling coverings applied (JetBoard, some mixed wood flooring, reclaimed pressed tin, etc)
Interior walls to be installed, including additional bracing/headers for three sliding doors
Loft extension of about 5′ x 24′ added to allow easier access to loft from stairs
Custom kitchen cabinets built including fridge cabinet that includes platform/enclosure over the fresh water tank and space for water lines/pump, custom counter cut and installed
Custom stairs to be added (need to get measurements and contact Bear Creek Carpentry for specs for us to build here)Flooring to be laid (if enough reclaimed available we’ll use that or otherwise buy new)
Custom platforms for sofa and nook cedar chest to be built and installed, bed platform for R.A.D’s room installed, closet shelves to be created
Kimberly stove to be ordered, custom platform to be built for final install including vent through trailer floor
Nature’s Head to be installed including vent through floor or wall
Smoke/CO detectors installed, 2nd fire extinguisher installed
Any remaining exterior detail work such as caulking windows, adding extra waterproofing/stains to wood, creating/installing shutters on tongue-side windows, etc
Checking trailer tires for problems and adding air as needed, reinstalling license plate holder, checking all lights for functionality, etc
There’s most definitely more to do than this list, but these are the primary tasks heavily simplified in most cases. So very much to do in such a short time, and none of that even includes the finish work, like trimming around interior windows, sealing the wood of the windows frames, installing curtains, installing any additional cabinetry we decide on, changing out the front door to the permanent one that still needs to be modified to fit and have the stained glass added, and about two dozen other details I can think of off the top of my head. The house will be “done” as far as an inspector is concerned (we hope!!), but it will definitely not be “complete” by our standards. Life has just repeatedly gotten in the way over the last year, and that’s just left us scrambling a bit. Somewhere in there we have to keep the smidget safely occupied, be it at school or with family, and that’s yet another reason me leaving in 6 weeks is going to complicate matters further.
R.A.D is an adventurous little wiggle worm these days, and he can’t be trusted to just chill in his sandbox while MaMa and DaDa work in the tiny house with frequent checks and ALWAYS in ear shot like he could last summer. He’s got to have constant visual supervision now, which is many ways is awesome (he WANTS us to play with him now vs. just be nearby), but it means once again only one of us is really working on the house at a time. I don’t think I’ve got the time to vet a true carpenter/handyman to help Brandy out, and I don’t really want to pawn the munchkin off on my dad all the time because he’s got his own life and commitments. My mother-in-law has been coming to take R.A.D to the zoo or out to eat occasionally and even watched him overnight a few times, but they live an hour away from us – not exactly an easy drive for them or us. At this point I think our best bet is likely to have R.A.D in school 5 days a week again, but I know that wears him (and Brandy, who makes R.A.D’s lunch each day) out after a while. If I could take a 1-mo hiatus from work, believe me I would do it. Then we could get everything done and the munchkin would be able to be home with us more, but I’m not seeing any other way. Gah. Like I said… soooooo little time….
Anyway, I could go on for days about how much I have to do and how little time there is (for me at least, since I’m stuck at work so much) to get it all done, and that’s not even counting all the downsizing we have to do (again) on our clothes and other effects. At the end of the day (well, end of next month really) we’ll have to make it all work. And it will. Sorta. I think. It better. lol
Back to work… I’m studying for yet another nursing certification I need for my new job. Oi….
Oh, and P.S…. we’re wimping out (partially) on our really cool surprise for the top of the tongue-end of the house. After seeing how much the frequent travel of Tiny House Giant Journey has altered the wood on the tongue-end of their house and knowing how fragile certain parts of our “masthead” are or could be, we’re thinking we’ll install an exterior light there instead. We’re trying to work out a way to install the “masthead” on the front of the house in the larger gable instead, but at the very least it’ll reside in the house on the wall. It’s too kick ass not to use somewhere!