Yet again, a huge part of my life can be attributed to this seemingly unimportant, passing conversation I had with my brother some years ago. The last was my Wwoofing experience. Which turned out to be one of the most amazing, life changing three months of my life. This time around I’m jumping into the rabbit hole of the tiny house world. My brother got really excited about tiny houses and alternative structures a few years back and, as he is wont to do, sat me down and introduced me to his latest obsession. I didn’t think much of them again until this past year.
Since the commencement of my independent life (eighteen, moving away from home) my collection of things has been getting smaller and smaller, simpler and simpler. This, I think, can be attributed to multiple factors.
In part to moving almost yearly for the past six years. Anyone who has ever moved knows how much it sucks condensing all of your belongings into boxes and carrying them from a house to a truck, from a truck to a house, and then releasing them again from their boxes. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Each time I’ve gotten rid of a little more. Let go and freed myself from a few more possessions.
Another contributor to my minimizing has been traveling. When you live for six months carrying around the same forty pounds of things on your back, you start to realize just how much you really need. And how much you really don’t.
Here at the Indecisive Chocolate Factory I spend almost no time in my room. I sleep in there about three nights a week, and I store my clothes there. That’s about it. Otherwise I sleep on the couch, read on the couch, cook in the kitchen, dance on the porch, pack up and go on trips in the car. I began thinking it was really unnecessary to even have a room. I kept saying how I really don’t need much space, and all of a sudden tiny houses crept back into my mind. Then I saw Dee William’s TED talk. And then it was certain. And now it’s happening.
To be honest, a few months after deciding I was going to build my own tiny house, I had a small freakout session. Why was I building a house, when what I really wanted to do was go travel indefinitely? Buy a one way ticket to whoknowswhere in Asia and set out with no dates to keep and no return in sight. But I realized I do want a home. A small, nonintrusive, inexcessive home. A place that can be filled with my life when I am here, and be waiting for me when I return from elsewhere. When I arrived back from my first Wwoofing trip, I had no home. I spent a few weeks at each of my previous residences: my parents’ house, with ex-roommates in Orlando, with ex-roommates in Gainesville…and while that was fun, it felt strange to have no place that was mine. I always considered myself to be a woman of many homes; I have lots of loving friends who unhesitatingly let me crash with them when I want to see their faces. I have a lot of places where I can go and it feels like I’m with family. But there’s something that’s just not quite home about all of those places.
So I want a place where I don’t have to keep my clothes in my backpack, and where I can spend every second of the day reading if I want, where I can walk around in my now-elasticless tie-dye boxers (actually I do that pretty much anywhere), and only have a milkshake for dinner, where I can sing endlessly without being a nuisance.
And I want a place that can move. I am still not a settled person. Perhaps I never will be. So it’s important to me to also have a home with wheels, or a rudder, or wings, or whatever will take me to new places.
Not going into debt is also a lifetime goal of mine. I’ve never been in debt, but I know a lot of people who have an infinity of loans to pay off, and I don’t want any part of that. Not spending the next thirty years paying off a mortgage sounds great to me. But building a two hundredish square foot house, out of pocket, with my own hands? Now that I can go for.
A tiny house isn’t going to solve all of my problems and fulfill all of my dreams for the rest of my life. But it is a pretty darn good match for my style of living.
Which is why I’m going for it, full sails ahead. It just so happens that I’m staying in one place for a fairly decent amount of time (for me), and I have a consistent income, as well as a job that is flexible enough for me to take enough time off each week for construction purposes, and I have an awesome family who is willing to come out and help me, oh, and landlord/neighbor/friends who are supportive of the project.
Perhaps going with all of those Wwoof hosts who were building their dream houses in Ireland, rather than going with a goat farm would have given me more practical experience. But hey, I wouldn’t exchange my experience with those goats for anything. From what I’ve read, most tiny housers have no building experience. And additionally no connections to people who are willing/able to just pick up and go help them for however many months. Fortunately, I do. Perhaps the fact that my parents built their own house, a guest house, a playhouse, various skateboard ramps, mailboxes, a chicken coop, and who knows what other random things makes me a little (lot) more confident in actually being able to make this happen. I think if I didn’t have my parents on board with the project I would have given up and just moved on. But while it seems like an overwhelming endeavor to someone who doesn’t have much of the necessary experience, I do feel like it’ll all work out. Here’s to hoping.
All of that said, I’m taking a page out of Amanda Palmer’s book, (or TED talk, as it were.) The Art of Asking. I’ve done all sorts of research on tiny houses and construction and appliances, etc, I’m spending over an hour each day scouring craigslist for materials, and I’m saving my money up day by day. But this would be a sad, and less exciting adventure if I did it all by myself. Part of what I love about the tiny house community is the fact that while you have this small, independent structure, you also see all of this interaction with the community around them. So many people use big house showers, ovens, back yards, whatever. And I think that’s so cool. The world could use a better balance of independence versus dependence, an interdependence if you will. Tiny house communities are one way I see that concept thriving.
Anyways, I digress, my point is: I could definitely use a lot of help from the people around me. I have almost no experience with the majority of things I’ll be doing. Welders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, builders, architects, painters, whatever. I would happily use an army or a circus of help.
Materials, too. For all of the simplicity and minimalism I claim, there are an awful lot of bits and bobs to this structure. Everyone I know (myself currently included) have things sitting around that they don’t use, and will likely never use. I’m happy to adopt all of that abandoned, unappreciated stuff in the world. Wood, nails, compact fridge, kitchen sink, windows, and you know any double axle eighteen foot trailers you have hanging out in your closet. The list of things I need for the house is literally longer than the list of things I own (and I do have a list). If you have things you want to sell, if you have things you want to give: contact me. I’m in the market for all the things.
Likewise, if you want to learn about building or tiny houses feel free to come join the process. Learn from my mistakes, or learn from my innovations (or more like my copying/adapting of other people’s innovations), if anything, learn from the experience of watching and/or doing.