From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three
Okay, okay, I know… I’ve been a lazy blogger for the past few months. But, with good excuse I swear!
We are a short 5 days away from departing Texas for Colorado, and there’s still a bunch left to do before we go. Structurally we’re 99% done with the need for shutters on the tongue-side windows, two small sections of siding on the porch, a triangle of blue beadboard in the smallest front gable, and the battens reinstalled under the bump-out window. We’re also still planning to replace the porch post with another white birch pole, but we did run out of time to upgrade and hang our reclaimed front door. The temp door works fine, so when we’re back in Texas for a visit in December we’ll finish the final door and haul it back with us.
The inside is a different story, though thankfully it’s mostly cosmetic stuff. We do still need to finish the drains for the tub and sink (the sink hole is drilled but not connected, and Brandy hasn’t yet started on the tub drain), but we have running, hot water just the same. I guess we could always stuff a 5-gal bucket under the sink for a few days! Ha! We’re already planning to wait to install the Kimberly stove, though Brandy did get the JetBoard underlayment installed today. All Kimberly takes is a 2″ hole with PVC pipe through the trailer floor for air intake and a few bolts to lock it down to the floor (and connection to the previously installed chimney, of course), and she’ll be ready to go. My father-in-law completed the window bump-out interior to make a window seat for the munchkin today, and I’ve already got the quarter round trim pieces pre-painted and ready for cutting and install in his room. My main goal is to have his space totally done so at least we’re not having to shuffle his stuff around once we move. My dad was hard at work on the custom folding bed and storage/seating bench over the last few days, and I just know the little man will love them both. I got the floor trim for our ombre walls painted and installed today, and the customized kitchen cabinetry – complete with beadboard wallpaper to disguise the flat JetBoard – has been painted and partially trimmed out. I’m waiting on all the loft construction to be done before I paint the stairs, especially since the wall next to it is already showing scuffs from repeated abuse. The dry bath is ready for the Nature’s Head to be installed, though I have a bit more touchup work to do in there as well. We still need to install the ceiling fan, paint the ceiling and crown moulding (I tried to hang with the pine sheets we found with beetle kill blue staining, but it feels too busy to me – c’est la vie!), and figured out how to treat the loft floors as well. Like I said – lots of detail work to do still, but it’s getting there!
Yesterday (10/3) was an exciting day, though a tiring one, because we managed to successfully haul the house out of its year-long parking space off to have the trailer inspected and the whole thing weighed. Texas requires annual trailer inspections, just like they do with motorized vehicles, before you can pay for your annual registration. It’s a new thing for them to force the inspection to occur prior to registration (they used to be two separate events, both still required, but neither actually affecting the other per se), so we dutifully hauled our expired-tagged tiny house “flat bed trailer” to the nearest repair shop. The “flat bed” tags expired in July, but since we knew we were going to attempt to have the whole thing re-titled as an RV Travel Trailer or Homemade Travel Trailer once we finished the build, we took the calculated risk of letting them go out. The inspection went smoothly, thankfully, and while we waited for the VIN to be recorded and the $7 ticket to be written up, we gave a pair of impromptu tours to one gentleman who’s been trying to convince his wife to go tiny and another who just wanted to shock his wife via video of, “Honey, I sold the house and bought us this!.” Hopefully his missus has a sense of humor. 😉
I drove us up to Denton proper to the certified CAT scale at a local truck stop and sent Brandy in to ask about the procedure. All we got was a, “Pull up on the scale and hit the button. They’ll walk you through it.” After a couple confusing questions about reweighs and truck numbers, we clarified that we were in a private vehicle just wanting to know how much our trailer weighed. The first time through we had the truck and trailer both on the pads. I’d been told the easiest way to get a weight was to drive on with the trailer attached and then go unhitch the trailer and weigh just the truck so you can subtract the two. With that in mind, I sent Brandy back in to collect our $10.50 ticket (we have a Gross Weight of truck & trailer of 19,100lbs by the way) and explain what we were trying to do for the reweigh.
They actually suggested we just pull far enough forward that the truck wasn’t on any of the pads at all since each scale pad is an individual scale in itself and you get multiple weight numbers based on how many pads you’re sitting on. The second time around I made sure the back wheels were off the pads all together, but it occurred to me that having the trailer hitched to the truck – even without the truck on the scale itself – was still going to slightly alter the number. So, without pulling forward or detaching the chains, emergency brake cable, or even the power cable for the trailer lights, we simply set the tongue hitch down and detached the trailer from the ball only. That left the entire tongue weight on the first pad and the rest of the house and all three axels on the 2nd pad. As such, we got two separate weights totaling 10,240lbs, and the 1880lb “front axel” weight is essentially the tongue weight of the trailer. Not bad and a bit unexpected since the beetle kill pine was pretty heavy stuff. We totally expected to see a 12K+ weight, but we are thrilled to be closer to 10K than anything. It leaves us about 4600lbs of wiggle room before we hit the trailer’s max, though we plan to go nowhere near that top end. In fact, 12K sounds like a nice round max weight to us!
Now, all that said, I should point out a few specifics on the weight. Tumbleweed lists their dry weight of a 24′ house as being 10,500lbs. That means the house is empty but does have walls, floors, ceilings, lights, cabinetry, plumbing, electrical, water heater, ladder(s), lofts, doors, windows, appliances, propane &/or water tanks (if applicable), etc. It doesn’t include any furnishings (or your personal effects obviously), and with a MAX trailer Gross Weight of 15,000lbs you could potentially stuff 4500lbs of stuff into your tiny house. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that for the sake of your trailer or your tow vehicle, but the point is that you technically could max it all out. When we weighed our house, we were missing a few of the items you’d find in a finished tiny-house-to-go model from Tumbleweed, but nothing so heavy as to radically alter the total dry weight of the house. In fact, I’m betting if we installed the ceiling fan, the Nature’s Head, the refrigerator, the inner doors, the rest of the trim pieces, and the filled 20lb propane tank we’d still be at or under the 10,500b Tumbleweed dry weight. Filling up the water tank, though, would definitely put us over since 40gal of water weighs over 300lbs on its own. We won’t have time to get an updated dry weight before we leave for Colorado, but we will try to stop and get a gross weight with all our stuff inside just for our knowledge. I actually worry a bit about our Tempurpedic mattresses (suckers are DENSE) being over the tongue, but we can always shift all our other belongings toward the front door while we travel as a counterweight. We should be good and get a lighter weight mattress really, but I’ve had too many cases of muscle spasms, sciatica, and general back strains over the last couple of years to be willing to make the trade. It was an investment in my spinal health, something that must be in tip-top shape for ER nursing, and I just can’t part with the Tempurpedic. 😉
I’m working some odd hours for my last Texas shifts (7p-7a Sunday night, 3p-11p Monday, and finally 7a-7p Tuesday), so I’ll be running on empty by the time we head to the county Tax office on Wednesday morning to plead our case for a new title. I’m reeeeeally hoping the gal who helped us last year hasn’t dramatically changed her appearance or quit her job, because I’m really hoping she’ll remember our project and be willing to help. I’ve compiled a folder filled with all the documents she said we’d need, the current flat bed trailer title, the documents from Tumbleweed showing the house was professionally framed and the trailer professionally welded, all our Tiny House Systems documents with the safety data and contract details proving a professional designed our mechanical-electrical-plumbing and safety systems, the ANSI and NFPA code books for RVs, and now both the inspection and weight certificates. I also pulled the Texas Homemade Travel Trailer paperwork in case that’s the route the clerk thinks we should go, and I’ll get a ton of photos of the house as requested as well. If all else fails we’ll pay the late fees and re-register it as a flat bed trailer again, and then we’ll have to find a way to insure our “load” (aka, the house part) for our travels. I will definitely share the outcome of that adventure, good or bad, so others can learn from our experience. The lady we worked with last year really did seem hopeful it could be done (she even gave me a very specific list of items and forms we’d need to bring), and now all we can do it gather up the items and hope for the best!
We’ll spend the rest of Wednesday celebrating our little man’s 4th birthday a couple weeks early with all our local family (my dad, my in-laws, and all of Brandy’s siblings), and then my co-workers are having a little bon voyage shin dig for me at a really good burger joint by the hospital later that night. Thursday the 8th is packing day, though we’ll end up leaving a good bit behind for another pass-through when we return in December for some more followup doctor appointments for my foot, and then Friday morning we’ll head out! We’re working on arranging a stop at R.A.D’s school before we leave since he’s talked non-stop about the tiny house to his teachers and friends for a year, and we’ve promised them all a visit. Then we’ll likely swing down to my job and show the house off there briefly before heading north back to the weigh station and onward toward OKC and Wichita for the night. I’m going to attempt to arrange at least one if not two stops for brief open houses along the way, but it’ll really depend on what time we actually hit the road. Wichita is about 6hrs from us driving the actual speed limit, which we won’t be doing. As such, we’d realistically get into town around 8pm based on our estimated time of departure, which means we might wait until the morning of the 10th to attempt any kind of show-and-tell. We’re also swinging through Aurora, CO, to pick up the custom bench cushions I had made for the cedar chest and storage ottomans, and there’s a chance we’ll have another open house in the Denver area, too. We’ve been asked to have one on the 11th, so hopefully we can arrange that. Then we’d head up to Loveland in the afternoon to get settled into the RV park for the winter or, if we’re running too late, we’ll hang out at Walmart (or likely the 3rd night in a row lol) until Monday morning and then get settled.
I start with two days of orientation in Golden, CO, on the 14th before the on-site Westminster job begins on the 16th, and the little man will start his new Waldorf school then as well. Brandy will get to hang out and finish up the tiny house detail work until December when he starts back with classes again. We’ve got a place to park until 3/31/16, so after that we’ll have to find a spring and summer home. I’m hoping we can move southward a tad to be closer to both my work and R.A.D’s school, and I’m keeping my eyes and ears peeled for any leads in the Boulder, Longmont, and general NW Denver areas. Feel free to pass along any suggestions you might have for parking in those areas! We’d sure appreciate it!
I’ve been much better about using the Instagram photo uploader to share build pics of late, but I did spend a little time tonight uploading some stuff to the main website at www.tinyhouse43.com. I had to add a 2nd gallery to keep posting pics, but I discovered my laptop doesn’t have everything more recent synced with it just let. Anyway, there are about 2 dozen new photos uploaded there now, and I’ll tinker with the photos app to get the rest on as soon as possible. Once we’re ready to actually move the house I’ll take some high quality photos of the house to share, and I’m also going to keep in touch with Jenna & Guillaume of Tiny House Giant Journey (whom are also camping out in CO this winter) to have them up for a visit and video tour as they suggested recently. Depending on their timing I might cheat and make a short video tour myself, but theirs are significantly better than self-guided ones, especially since they know how to lead the conversation into design questions and answers. Stay tuned for more on that adventure. 🙂
I’m going to go on and publish this now, but I do plan to add a few photos back into it once I get the photos app cooperating. I swear, every time Apple jacks with the software I have to completely relearn how to use my computer and phone, so just bear with me. I’m clearly not as tech savvy as I used to be. lol Check back later for the updates, and thanks again for following along with us! 🙂