Sunday, March 31, 2013

Style Awakening??

I'm researching window design today - surfing around on Houzz, pinning photos onto my Pinterest windows board.  And all of a sudden I realize - most of the window styles I'm drawn to are very simple, very clean, very .... modern

Except for when I was college-aged, I've always liked clean, simple lines in furnishings.  Stickley furniture, and the Scandinavian styles.  And so today I assess that against The Gifford's style, which (to me) is craftsman.  I've lived in a few arts & crafts style houses - rent houses - with the big wooden porch columns and the wrap around porches, and I have always loved them.  But even from the beginning when I fell in love with The Gifford, the heaviness on the front of the house sort of went against my grain.  Although it is strong, and supportive looking - cozy, even - now I wonder -- is that timber over the porch too heavy for me?

I love the wood.  I love the homey coziness of the wood - it's warm.  I don't want to lose all of that.  But I do like a modern clean window style.  And with that, comes styles like this:

The corrugated metal is a little too utilitarian  for me, I think.

Love the green.  Prefer the vertical lines to horizontal.

So now I contemplate: can I keep the same original roof pitch and shape of the house, but apply a more modern exterior to it?  The interior plan and design of The Gifford strikes me as modern, and clean.  Well, maybe not modern, but clean for sure - and not overtly craftsman. 

Metal siding would also have advantages to the traveling - light weight, water resistance...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Trailer? Check!

I ordered my trailer yesterday!! Construction time is estimated to be 3-4 weeks.  I think that even Nina will agree that that seems like an eternity...

I talked with Daniel to finalize the specs, and then had a phone call with the trailer place.  They confirmed they can install the leveling and stabilizing jacks, so I'm doing that.  It will make construction a lot easier... and it had to be done, anyway, so nice to get that taken care of up front.

And then - I have to choose a color.  A color!  Who knew??  Here are my choices: Color Options

I figured they all just came in black... Of course, I want brown, the closest match to my exterior material, and that appears to be the one color that isn't offered.  So, maybe light gray?  Maybe forest green?  A tiny part of me wants Victory Red -- but I won't actually do it.  Then someone made the suggestion of the trailer matching the roof...??  But no - I'd rather the trailer just disappear I think.

Carson Trailer doesn't accept credit cards unless you are standing in their lobby - which I obviously cannot do without buying a plane ticket - so I agreed to wire funds.  I was worried the bank was going to close early on Friday for Good Friday, but I made it there in time. 

The young man helping me made the mistake (?) of asking me what I was buying.  That turned into what was I doing with a trailer?  Which turned into an entire tiny house conversation.  I said, "Okay, that's it, now I have to snap your photo, and you're going on my blog - you are much too involved now - between the wire transwer and the long conversation" - and so here we are (posted with permission,) wire transfer papers in hand:

I am such a dork.  But I'm a dork with a trailer being built just for me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Details Emerging...

I think I've found my trailer!  I contacted three companies not far from Daniel for quotes.  One got back to me quickly.  One didn't, so after a few days I called them again, and the receptionist got sort of snotty with me about how it takes a while, and how people are ahead of me.  ??  The third place, the guy wanted to help trouble shoot troubles that I didn't have, and never quite got around to giving me an estimate...

But the first place, Carson Trailers, had been Daniel's recommendation anyway.  He had done business with them before.  Anthony from Carson called me back pretty fast, and we had several subsequent email exchanges wherein he answered all of my questions.  

Here are the specs we've arrived at for my trailer - er, my house foundation:

16' length
5' heavy duty ramps
Brakes on one axle
10,000 GVW
Axle length is 84" from hub face to hub face
16" 8 lug e rated tires
break away kit and 7 way plug

I'm pretty sure I will order from him.  Daniel is doing a follow up phone call with him to clarify something and I think we are good to go.  Exciting!!

I am also going to have jacks installed on the underside of the trailer in each corner for leveling and stabilization when it isn't connected to my vehicle.  They will not be detachable - they will fold up and tuck under the trailer for travel, and be manually flipped out and adjusted when I park. I've emailed Carson Trailer about this option...

I took at stab at drafting our construction agreement - my agreement will be the the school - and sent that over for review.  I suspect the school's legal department will need to review and bless it.  I expect changes, though - so it's okay.

The next steps will be laying out a construction schedule and a budget.  Daniel is going split up the construction into segments and have the students write up a materials list and budget by segment.

Daniel says he expects interest in the project will really take off once the trailer is parked in the quad.  I am going to ask him if he wants me to have a photo and floor plan printed up to post nearby.  I have a vendor that can do that for me and I can ship them to him if he wants them...

Daniel has given me two assignments:  One, I need to figure out my window sizes and layout.  I want to modify the window plan on the construction plans so that my dog has 1-2 windows she can see out of without standing on furniture.  Windows need to be determined before the walls are framed.  Secondly, to help determine what my electrical load will be, he has me writing down every electrical item that I use this wee, and how long I use it.  It will be a rough estimate, but it's jumping off point.  I am on day two and it is already raising my awareness of what I am doing around my apartment.  Interesting...

I suggested to Daniel that we need a project name.  In the summer, he does a project called MAGIC which means, "Mentor a Girl in Construction."  Pretty cool, huh?  Stay tuned for this project's name - to be revealed soon...

What's your story?

They Say You Can't Choose Your Neighbors

But I say, "Oh yes you can, if your house is on wheels!"

As you (may) know, when I sold my house in December, I signed a 12 month lease for a nearby small apartment.  It's a temporary, transitional space until I move into my tiny house on wheels in December 2013.

Honestly I've enjoyed the transition to the apartment, which sort of surprises me.  Everything is new, I'm across the street from a ton of green space, I don't hear my neighbors through the walls, there's adequate covered parking... It's nice to not be hip deep in (voluntary) projects on an 80+ year old house and to have time to focus on my transition to tiny living.

That being said, my living room and bedroom windows face a courtyard.  And it's a beautiful one - twinkle lights, a huge fireplace, comfy furniture, grills... And - yesterday here it was 70.  And last night?  Party in the courtyard!  I was dismayed by the level of noise on a weeknight, but was able to recognize that I am a homebody and I like it quiet, and it wasn't yet 11 p.m.  I hopped on my computer to draft an upcoming blog post and practiced tolerance.  Soon after 11 however, they pushed in the chairs and rolled the coolers away.  Ahhh.  I climbed into bed, grateful for the quiet.

For about 10 minutes.  

Did I mention that most of the apartments on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors have balconies that face the courtyard?  Short story is that over the course of the next 4 hours, three different groups of folks stood around talking loudly on their balconies.  At 2:10 a.m. I finally heaved open my bedroom window in the dark and called out, "Hey you guys, you are really loud - some of us are trying to sleep."  I got a speedy apology and they settled down shortly after that.  Unfortunately there was another group after them.

I've emailed the complex; if they don't have a way to enforce quiet time, I may have to switch units.  I really don't want to do that, but I can only anticipate heavier courtyard use as Spring and Summer progress.

But when I'm in my tiny house?  [evil laughter]  I will just hitch it to my vehicle and drive away.  Now THAT will be bliss.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Toilet Options...

When I tell people about my tiny house, and their brain starts to wrap around the concept, it's not long until their thoughts lock onto the loo.  Or, as Deek says, "The number one question is about number two."  In the United States, nobody likes to talk about human waste.  It's a taboo subject - folks prefer to just pretend that doesn't happen.  Guess what?  It happens!

There is something categorically wrong with us using drinking water in our toilets when we have a fresh water shortage.  What in the world are we thinking?  And why aren't areas who have been in drought for years addressing that topic?  It's ridiculous.

In the last month, I've made myself more familiar than I ever thought I would be with toilet options.  I'm nearing the launch of my construction, and it's time to seriously consider what has to fit where.  First up are the toilet and shower pan, because they are in an enclosed space.  A finite space.  

The shower pan I'm not too concerned about - there are lots of conventional and non-conventional options there - and I've pretty much made peace with not having a bath tub.  I don't take a ton of baths, and since I hope to be mostly off the grid, my water will come from a holding tank under my house.  A bathtub requires a substantial amount of water.  So, I've let that go.  Of primary concern in the shower, though?  Adequate space to shave my legs.  Oh, you men - you laugh - but having showered and attempted to shave my legs in the shower on my niece's (lovely and oh so fun) houseboat on the Potomac in DC, I'm quite aware of the challenges in that department.  I mean, I am limber, but ... ANYWAY, the shower is a topic for another day.

And so then the toilet.  I never even considered a water-based toilet because I don't want to deal with the black water tank.  The other options I have identified are the bucket with sawdust (I see you shirking back! lol) which I affectionately call the Thunder Bucket, the composting toilet, and the incinerating toilet.  There may be others - Daniel mentioned a camp toilet but I am not sure if that is a fourth category or if it falls into one of the previous 3 categories; I need to look that up again. 

For the people who have gotten past the taboo of human waste, the off grid toilet becomes a comedic topic - humor is the great diffuser, right?  There's the Thunder Bucket, the Thunder Box, the Loveable Loo, and then the accompanying videos - oh MY.  I mean really -- oh.  my.   I've spent a few hours on YouTube, watching waterless toilet videos, and a good part of that time I've spent laughing.  Just imagine the set up.  It's two friends, one with a video camera, and then a toilet of some kind.  "Okay, so we are in my bathroom..." Just that start right there - it makes you laugh.  You just KNOW before the camera started rolling they were both just totally cracking up and rethinking the entire thing.  But onward!

The incinerator toilets were the funniest.  Without fail, all the videos I found for the Incinolet were done by men.  That's not a stretch - there is actual FIRE involved.  Yes, it reduces your poo to powder.  That's powerful.  But the extreme humor there is that nearly every guy who made these videos seemed compelled to impersonate The Great and Powerful Oz.  Ohhh, I was CRYING at my computer!  "The steel jaws yawn open wide and --  FIIIIIIIRRRRRRE."  Really - if you have time to burn (arr arr) you must Google the videos - high entertainment values.  And then the guys who try to be serious about it just end up being funnier to me.  Approximate price of the Incinolet?  $1,800.00 plus propane.

Initially I thought the incinerating toilet was what I wanted.  Until I read that the "burn cycle" for poo is 30 minutes.  And, well, most folks said it stinks.  Not a huge leap of faith to believe that, even if it does have an exhaust fan.  But a 30 minute burn cycle seemed (a) loud - although I have not confirmed that; and (b) a waste of propane (there is also an electric version.)   I don't really think there is any reason to pulverize your poo into powder.  It's a bit over the top.  I would worry all the time about burning my tiny house down.

But look how happy this woman looks - in her dress clothes, attending to her Incinolet.


Next up was the Thunder Bucket.  I've joked about this one with Tom for months.  Basically you get a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot or the like.  You affix a toilet seat (they sell them that just snap on.)  In one video that I saw, for the lid (not the seat - the lid,) you take the lid off the hinges, flip it over so that the rounded top part of the cover nests into the seat, apply some strips of foam that will create seal.  You put a heavy duty plastic bag in it (let's use black, not clear, shall we?) throw in some sawdust.  Do your business, and throw in some more sawdust on top.  Liquids, solids and TP all land in the same place.  When convenient, pull out the bag and dispose.  And how to dispose?  It depends on where you are, and how long you will be there.  If you are living someplace for a long period of time, you can actually compost that and it will turn into great soil.  (I know!  But it does!)  There is a whole book on that called Humanure Handbook.  You can get a free download here: Humanure Handbook.  If you are moving about and aren't in one place long enough to compost, I would put a twist tie on it and drop it into a big dumpster somewhere.  My issue with that is that it ends up in a landfill, in plastic.  Just like the billions of diapers that end up there every day.  My counter to that is, well, I'm sure I could find bags that decompose, and even if not, I am at least not wasting drinking water.  That ought to counter the landfill issue a little bit.  Approximate cost?  Whatever a bucket, a toilet seat, and a brick of peat moss cost.  Not much.  And you can build it into a little box if you want to improve on the bucket appearance.

This woman even painted a flower on hers:

Here's one built in...

Here's some free humor:  This person converted a wicker chair into her loo - I am laughing out loud at my desk - although I give points for creativity and comfort, if you're into that:

And so that brings me to the composting toilet.  I've done a number of comparisons, and it seems one of the better designs is the Air Head toilet.  The whole concept of the composting toilet is that it keeps the liquids and solids separate by virtue of a cleverly design bowl.  The liquids go into a jug.  The solids go into a bucket-like receptacle.  Before the first use, you put a scoop of either peat moss or coconut coir into the bucket.  You do your business, and turn a crank, which mixes it all up and the composting begins right there in the bucket.  From what I've read, it takes quite a bit of use before you have to empty the bucket, because the volume is constantly reducing.  I don't remember how often you add more peat or coir, but you do have more on hand with a scoop....  When it finally does need emptying (which I understand could be weeks) you have the same issue as the bucket with sawdust; composting, or a bag.  For the liquids, you just remove the jug and pour it out - and here you have a number of options.  You can scamper into your local gas station and pour and flush.  If you are out in the great outdoors, you can pour into the ground.  I've read that your urine is a great source of nitrogen and makes great plant fertilizer (stick with shrubs and flowers, don't head to your vegetable garden, please.)  Urine is sterile until it mixes with poo.  Consequently (I've read) there is very little odor.  But the solids bucket does have a continuous little exhaust fan that vents outdoors.  Approximate cost?  $1,000.00.  Downside?  It looks sort of large. (But the warranty -- !!  LOL)

I've ruled out the incinerating toilet.  While I've joked about the Thunder Bucket to great lengths, I'm actually considering it.  It's between the bucket and the Air Head...   I think I might start out with the bucket and see how that goes, but I'll be sure that my bathroom is large enough to accommodate the Air Head if I change my mind...

I could give you a million links to read - there are a ton of articles out there, so if you want more information, just let Google help you...

Have you used either one?  Do you have any advice for me?  

I must admit - I'm giggling. I know I am freaking out so many of my friends and family... Ahhhh ha ha ha ha  Yeah, baby, I'm choosing one of these!  LOL  At this point it doesn't even seem weird to me.  That's so scary. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Not only would it be super cool, but lately I'd be saving a ton of travel time!

I don't know what I've been so busy with, but it's been a whole week since I last posted!  Part of it was the weekend in Austin... part of it is my real job... and then, well, I've been getting together with a ton of friends!

I feel like I have a billion blog posts to write.  I'll get started on those tonight - AFTER I hang with 3 girlfriends for a couple of hours at an event.  : )  You know, priorities...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Update

Today's post is a round up of things that are going on - none of which merit their own entry...

I'm continuing to draft up the content for my website - it's a lot of writing!   I'm excited to see what it will look like when it's designed and assembled...

Last week I received a "draft" YouTube video of the presentation I gave a few weeks ago at Career Design Associates.  Have you ever watched yourself on video?  Oy.  It's uncomfortable.  And, I had no idea that it was going to be videotaped - I thought it was just an informal thing with members of my work group - so I had let my hair air dry on a dog walk, and I didn't put any make up on!  As I watched the video I realized that I was doing a lot of weird contortions with my lips (?!) while others were talking and that I looked fat.  LOL  Sigh.   The flip side is, my presentation content was decent, and in review I'm sort of surprised at how much I have learned along the way, and my breadth of knowledge about tiny living.  I'll try to focus on the positive...  I'm going to work with the videographer to edit the tape, and then I'll see if it seems beneficial to others or not.  CDA wants to publish it on YouTube... ohhh I don't know.

I did a little bit of online shopping for a trailer in the Thousand Oaks (CA) area over the weekend, without huge success.  Mostly my shortcoming was due to my learning curve.  Certainly there are trailers out there - but it took me a while to begin to ascertain what my search parameters should be to get the results I needed, and then to figure out what geographical area makes sense for purchasing.  I need to make that a priority this week!

I did another pass through my apartment for Goodwill this weekend, and did drop offs on both Saturday and Sunday.  I have two categories of items that seem daunting:  my music CDs and my photos.  Do I even care about the CDs?  I really never listen to music except at the gym.  My options seem to be doing the online Apple music storage - but I think there is an annual fee - or purchasing an external drive and copying them down.  I'm not wild about either of those options.  I'm also not wild about the 6 shoe boxes of CDs on the floor behind my couch.  As for the photos - what to do with those?  I feel as though I should scan them and save them.  But I haven't looked at them in  y e a r s  and why do I think I would ever look at them on some type of storage media?  But throwing them out seems sad.  What do you think?  The same goes for things like report cards - I have my actual report cards from kindergarten through .. high school?  I don't have kids.  Who is ever going to want to see those?  I'm pretty sure the answer is ... nobody.  Do I want them.?  That seems unlikely.  Sigh.  I need to go read a few chapters from one of my downsizing books, and then chunk all of those aforementioned items into the dumpster and not look back.

I got an email from one of the students in Thousand Oaks!  Super excited about that dialogue opening up.  I've been telling friends and acquaintances here about my partnership with Thousand Oaks and the general reaction is, "Wow!  That is sooo cool!  What a great thing!"  I think so, too.

I was out with friends on Thursday evening and I saw some former neighbors - it was old home week - fun!  One of them said he's been reading my blog - I think I was beaming.   That made me happy.  I also saw two other neighbors out, and was talking about my tiny house, and they offered that they know someone in Stephenville with a 500 acre ranch, and that they often are looking for people to stay out there to help supervise their land.  She was going to see them the next day, and was going to tell them about me.  There is a water hookup and electricity I could plug into.  It sounds dreamy.  Do you know how happy my dog would be?!  LOL  Run free! 

I realized something this weekend - I had just been talking with someone about my adventures, and then I went on a dog walk afterwards.  As I walked, I identified that I was giddy-happy.  I was practically floating down the sidewalk.  And I realized - talking about my new life is like an elixir - a potion that makes me feel so good!  I had so much energy, and I was just grinning from ear to ear....  If could bottle that I would really be on my way...

While sorting through possessions this weekend, I found a few things that I will probably want to use in my tiny house.  It's fun to be getting to the stage where I can think about the little things.

The first one is a door knocker.  I had originally purchased this a couple of years ago at Old Home Supply in Fort Worth to put on my garden gate at my house, but then had trouble figuring out exactly where I could mount it.  I think he's so cute!

I had the second item on the outside of the bathroom door at my house.  I bought this at Renaissance Festival in Minneapolis many years ago.  My friend Cole bought a matching one - I love that connection!  I don't know why, but I love this lady!  I hardly think people will have a hard time locating the bathroom in my tiny house, but she is going to go on the outside of the door anyway!

These are towel hooks for the bathroom - another thing that I took with me from my house.  I think I got them at Anthropologie.  I rarely can wear their clothing but the home side of their store is filled with enticing little things.

That's all I've got today - have a great Monday!

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Bit Deflated

I'm a little bummed today because some pieces have come together - or not, as the case may be, and I am going to have to let my custom trailer go.  It was a bummer of a decision to have to make, but basically I had to choose between the custom trailer, and my partnership with Thousand Oaks High School due to logistics.  The new plan is to purchase a trailer in California.  Thankfully Daniel has agreed to help me with that.

I guess the good news is that the trailer was still in the sketch up phase - and assembly had not begun, and the axles that James had ordered can be returned/refunded.

It's just a small set back but it's a disappointing one, because it was going to be really fun to work with James on a trailer.  Alas.  There must be a reason for the change - I just don't know what it is yet.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Bloggers

One of the many pieces of the Thousand Oaks build that I am excited about is the interaction that I will have with the students.  

When I was in school, we had a required shop class - but nothing beyond that - certainly not a construction class - that I loved.  My whole life path may have changed if I had been exposed to construction!

When I volunteer with Habitat, one of things I really enjoy is meeting the family who is going to live in the house, and asking them about their dreams for the house.  Now the shoe is on the other foot for me - I'm the one dreaming about the new house! 

I will likely fly out to LA a number of times during the build and see what's happening with my little house.  And I expect that in between times we will Skype, and there will be a lot of photos and hopefully some video taken as well.  But another piece that I am hoping for is that I really hope the students will want to be guest bloggers here.  I am so interested to hear what they think about the project, and what they hope to get out of it.  I'm excited to hear and see their ideas about design - interior and exterior - and to have that exchange about how it all fits together.

I would have been over the moon as a student to have had the opportunity to be a part of something so unusual - and from what I understand the students are excited about it.  I can't wait to hear about it from their point of view.

Along those lines, if any of you are interested in writing an entry as a guest blogger, I would love to hear from you!  Friends, family, anonymous readers... What do you see, from the outside of my adventure looking in?  Is it something you'd want to do?  What part of it either intrigues you or makes you uncomfortable?  Has reading about it here caused you to think about things in your life differently?  Do you have any questions for me?  It doesn't have to be a 7 paragraph post - make it whatever you have to say about all of this craziness...

Also -- I'm in the process of drafting content for a website that I will launch this Spring - there is so much that I want to include that it's hard to get my head around it all!  But one of the pieces I plan to have is an interactive forum for an exchange of design ideas.  Fortunately for me, my best girlfriend owns and runs a really phenomenal company that does web design and social media/marketing and she is going to design my site for me!  I just need to get her the material for it so they have a place to start.  Tag on me.

How about it?  Guest blogging anyone?  Please email me!

It's going to be AWESOME

Monday, March 11, 2013

Let's Talk about the Trailer

After talking with Daniel last week, I arranged a meeting with James this week (Monday).  I loaded up my construction plans, my notes, a slew of color photographs, and crossed three county lines to meet with James face to face.

Here are questions that were posed to me by Daniel, and questions posed to me by James...  and then the answers that surfaced after speaking with James, and having another telephone conversation with Daniel tonight.  In some cases I'll even give you the reasoning for the answer... You know I can't do that for all of them, because, well, sometimes I just know what I want.  I know.  Just try to act surprised.  And thank me for this condensed version.  It won't seem condensed but trust me, it is...

Primary Conclusion:  
I'm going with James building a custom trailer, versus buying a ready-made on the West coast and modifying it.

1)  Trailer length - 16' or 18'?  Sixteen is the answer.  One, if I am going to go tiny, then go tiny.  There was discussion of making it longer to have a larger porch, but I decided against it.  The whole world can be my porch.   Two, I am planning on towing this thing around, and well, I currently drive a Mini Cooper.  Let's not completely lose our minds.

2)  Trailer width - I still need a final number on this, but I'll not likely stray far from the standard, which is 8'6" including the wheels.

3)  I am going to build between the wheels, not over the wheels.  There are limits of how wide a trailer can be, barreling down the countryside, before you need a special permit and a special license.  Also, I want to maintain the magical proportions (or as Jay calls it, the "sacred geometry") as far as the height/width/eaves go so that it looks right.  If I go too wide at the bottom, either the eaves get shortened, or the whole kit and kaboodle (it's the kaboodle that will get you, every time) gets too wide.

4)  Much discussion is being had with regard to insulation.  Typically the insulation goes on top of the trailer joists, and then the sub floor on top of that.  James is proposing to seal it inside the trailer bed - have it blown in and sealed in, and put the floor on top of that.  There's a debate - does that save space/height inside?  And or do you lose space below the trailer?  What terrain are you anticipating - do you WANT to lose space between the road surface and the bottom of the trailer?  Sealed in it would never get wet.  With a steel bottom, there is no need for aluminum sheeting to keep rodents out.  But what if water gets in between the steel and the plywood sub floor?  Not cool.  And then there is the varied expansion - steel vs. wood, and the fasteners have to allow for that.  We must call this one as TBD.

Yes, the turban* is starting to loosen.

5)  I will not need conduits in the floor for wiring or for plumbing.

6)  Axles:  Two.  5000# capacity each, not 3500#.  Do we want regular or dropped?  Boat trailers often have dropped - they dip down in the middle to accommodate the boat hull - and then back up to the wheel centers.  (I am making no attempts whatsoever to understand how an axle that has two bends in it can rotate wheels.  No.  Attempts.)  Again, we must consider the height from the ground up.    

7)  In the realm of the trailer bottoming out - Daniel says sometimes RVs have a small tire mounted towards the back, in the center, under the RV so that in case it bottoms out, it rolls on the little tire.  How does he know these things?  One of the many mysteries of Daniel...  I have to pitch this one to James for consideration.  I have nothing to contribute other than the wonder of how crafty RV manufacturers are (-- but then I think, oh, Chevy Chase, and the RV or Breaking Bad and THEIR RV and I think, ohhh, I guess you do have to anticipate drivers doing dumb things.  That probably could be me.)

8)  The tires must be rated to carry the same weight as the axles.  There's a bit of common sense.

9)  I do not want a custom steel lip around the perimeter of the trailer to hold the siding.  It's too much of an opportunity for water to get in and sit.  We don't like water.

10)  Brakes?  Yes, definitely.  Electric or hydraulic?  TBD.

11)  Wiring - how many pins?

12)  Hitch size - we are going with the larger size - I think it is 2 5/8".  

13)  James is going to have the whole affair galvanized.

14)   Cool custom feature:  James offered to make the lights and the license plate on a removable bar so that I don't have to look at them when I am parked somewhere for a period of time.  Smart.

15) The propane tanks will live on the trailer tongue.

16)  The water reservoir can live in a variety of places - under the floor, in the floor, inside cabinetry... it's more of an interior design consideration than a trailer consideration.

17)  James is going to build a box for storage on the tongue.  Daniel points out that it will need to be removable so that it isn't in the way during construction.  Good point.

18)  Both James and Daniel agree that the standard roof structure should be plenty adequate for the hook for my yoga sling.   You can read about that nuttiness here: Upside Down  Hey!  I have this opportunity to really make this place mine and I am!  I love to be upside down, and I'll be able to do that in my living room.  No judging! 

19)  The trailer will need to be licensed and registered in Texas before it gets towed to California.  I have no idea how that happens.  "Oh Jaaaaames.....!"

What are we not thinking of?  (Tom, I'm looking at you.)

What's next?  At this point, James is going to start sketching a design for approval.  I am going to read over the construction plans in detail to see what other accommodations the trailer needs to have to accept the house.  Daniel is going to confirm his Spring Break Santa Fe Trip.  I am going to get answers from James for Daniel, and we will have a few final decisions to make.   (Time out:  I am so grateful for James and Daniel and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience!)  And then....?  TRAILER CONSTRUCTION and a road trip to Santa Fe!

Meanwhile, I realize that I have indeed a dream (living in a tiny house ) with a date (December 2013) and that it is now a goal, not a dream.  I'm breaking down my goal into steps, and that makes my goal a plan.  A plan backed by action is what will make my dreams come true.  (paraphrased from Greg S. Reid.)  But all of that to say?  I'm on the 9 month countdown to tiny.  My friend Amy came to see me tonight - she lives down the hall - and I sent her home with a houseplant under her arm.  Yeah.  It's happening.

A Place for Construction!!

I'm having to back track to catch you up. I actually wrote this on March 7th, but I just couldn't get it into post-able form. 

* * *
The workshop I attended was put on by Jay Shafer of Four Lights Tiny House Company.  One of Jay's sidekicks in the workshop was Daniel Bell, who is a high school construction teacher at Thousand Oaks High School outside of Los Angeles.  Daniel also has his own construction company.  (He and his students had built all these awesome 3-D demonstrative boards about sections of the house that we used in the classroom portion of the workshop - they were so cool!)
Daniel mentioned during a lunch at the workshop that he was looking for someone who is ready to build who would allow he and his students to build their house.  I put down my fork and looked at him and said, "Me.  That's me."  He said he was offering it to everyone in our (workshop) class and that he was interested.  Conversation moved on.  My mind, however, was spinning. 

Daniel on the workshop job site...
Fast forward a few weeks after the workshop.  I had given Daniel a couple of weeks to get settled back into reality (and I was, too) before I started pestering him.  "Daniel!  Let's talk!  Your class, my house...."  We connected by phone tonight.

He told me that his ultimate goal is to create a self sustaining construction program at his school.  (He has done that at another school.)  The kids really want to build a full scale project - they are more invested in it that way.  He also really wants them to interact the the OWNER (holy buckets that's ME!!!)  He would like me to come out a few weekends and meet them and also Skype regularly.  I believe he said there are 6 high school students, and they are so excited that they have offered to work during the summer!  Daniel isn't so sure HE wants to do that... ha ha.. you can't blame him for wanting the Summer off!  These sound like some seriously AMAZING and TALENTED students.
So then there is another piece - my trailer.  One of our Firm's clients, James*, is a steel erector.  He has offered to build a custom trailer for me.  I know it would be amazing quality, custom and cheaper than I can buy.  But - Dallas is a long ways from LA and I'd have to GET the trailer to LA.  

But as things tend to work out, there is another piece:  Daniel thinks he is going to Santa Fe over Spring Break (end of April), and has offered that if I can get the trailer to Santa Fe, he would take it from Santa Fe to LA.  Hmmm...  I mean, I could  buy a trailer on the West Coast, but I sooo love the idea of James' piece in this puzzle.  To decide, there were more questions to be answered:  How fast can James fabricate?  How much will he charge me?  How much would it cost to get it to LA - either being towed or put on a truck?

As far as the class building my house we will have some type of written agreement between probably me and the school, you know, so I don't end up with a go kart instead of a house. (!!)  For materials purchasing, we discussed a few options, but  I'll probably open an account in LA that Daniel will be a signator on - and he will let me know what purchases he is going to make prior to making them.  But these are uncharted waters, so we are still figuring out logistics.

He and his class will at least get the house weather tight.  I was worried that me wanting to be IN the house in December was going to be tight scheduling but he doesn't think so.  He thinks he can have it dried in by the end of this school year.  And if I choose to let them do the inside, he thinks he can easily have it done for me by December.  

So...!  More decisions to make.  I had initially said that I wanted to drive every nail myself - but this is such an amazing opportunity for the students - and Daniel is very persnickety about his work product so no worries there - and then I really want to be in my house when my apartment lease is up in December.  Realistically I must admit that finding the space to do construction (James graciously offered his shop but it's an hour away... that would be too much driving to say, work on it after work...) and the time to do the construction while holding down a regular job (yeah yeah yeah all of you who know me are laughing at that characterization!) would be challenging to say the least.  So I think - say YES and say THANK YOU and it's mutually beneficial to so many people - and in time I can build a second one while living in the first one.  And then I can pound every nail if I choose to.  But for now?  I am going to let it go and be apart of this great experience. And --

What another amazing chapter to my story!  FIRST being the FIRST to register for the FIRST Four Lights Tiny House Company.  Then the workshop I attended was the FIRST workshop that Daniel helped out with.  And then to have my FIRST tiny house be the FIRST house that Daniel's class builds... Pretty cool stuff.  SO.  EXCITED.

I am meeting with James about the trailer early next week, and then Daniel and I will have another conversation.

Disclaimer:  Any facts that I have misstated are my fault - my poor memory - hopefully if I've made errors Daniel will correct me... Thanks...

* There will be an entire post dedicated to James in the not so distant future.  He started out skeptical of this whole adventure, and now he's one of my biggest cheerleaders!  His mind-set has really changed and he has some great ideas he is contributing!  : )  Happy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hang on

Oh my gosh, you guys, I have so much to tell you, and so many ideas, that I think my head might explode if I don't get them out!  

Alas, I am swamped at work, and my typing is accuracy is obscenely low because of this splint on my finger, and I have a workshop all day Saturday... 

I may have to get a turban to hold my head together until Sunday.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Interior Design

Now that I have my construction plans, I am day dreaming about the interior and all the personalization I can do inside.  I loved doing that at my house, but for some reason because this new house space is so small, it's even more fun.  I'm not going to try too hard to figure that out - I guess maybe because all of the space is going to be so important.

To help me figure out design items, I made a list of storage needs, daily activities, and a shorter list of things I'll need to store elsewhere.  This is undoubtedly a list that will evolve over time.

hooks outside front door
benches on porch (affixed? probably not)
hook for leashes
hooks for keys
hook for purse

space for trash and recycle
pantry (mason jars on wall?)
spice drawer
space for toaster oven
space for small fridge
two burner stove - hang it up when not in use?
magnetic knife strip on wall
space for dishes, flatware
pull out cutting board?
dog food storage (you laugh, until you see her eat)

toilet (composting or incinerator)
towel bars/hooks

space for eating at a table?  I don't know..
space for yoga - on a mat
hook in ceiling for yoga in a sling
1-2 windows at dog's eye level
space to work on laptop
space to roll out yoga mat
space to recline with feet up for reading & TV
floor space for dog bed
wall space for heater

Seriously doesn't your back feel amazing just LOOKING at her??

cubbies (?) for items normally found on nightstand
skylights (2)
stained glass window (that can open, with a screen)
emergency egress window (skylight or stained glass window)
reading light

window screens
windows to hang stained glass windows that I own
wood interior
wood exterior
porch light
Design secret #1*
Design secret #2*
Where do those pesky propane tanks live??
Metal roof
Think about lighting..
Where does the AC unit go?

shelf for recipe boxes - see photo below!  Love those things.
cleaning supplies (including broom)
printer, office items, printer paper
paper shredder (if I have room.... maybe a gerbil?  don't they shred?  KIDDING)
hanging clothes, folded clothes. lingerie, shoes
wall hooks for clothing that's been worn but isn't ready for laundry yet (my mother is laughing now)
dirty laundry
wine rack (actually forgot until I saw the photo!)
These are wooden magazine files.  I use them to store recipes and boxes of wax paper, Ziplocs, etc


What am I forgetting?

Yes, I have secrets.  No, I'm not telling you!  Yet.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My House Plans!

I've chosen the house that I am going to build, and I've purchased the construction plans!  Let the games begin:

Here is the house - it's called The Gifford  and it is a design by Jay Shafer of Four Lights Tiny House Company out of California.  Love.



It is 112 square feet, plus the loft.  I'll build mine on wheels...

What do I love about this design?  I love the clean lines.  The abundance of windows.  The front porch.  That the bath isn't a "wet bath."  The sleeping loft with the skylights over my head.  I love the wood exterior and interior - although I can do that in any of the designs.

I'll customize the interior a little bit - I'm making a list of the activities I want to have space for and that will help me with the design.

I thought I would try to go totally off the grid, but solar isn't going to be enough for me since I'll have to have an air conditioner (Texas after all.)  But, hey, it's all right.  I've made peace with that reality.

Next up?  Find a place to do the actual construction!  SO.  EXCITED.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Need for Lists

I am a chronic list maker... and I'm getting to the point where I think I need a list of the lists that I need to make!  Does that ever happen to you? 

Lists empower me.  They give a sense of control, because I feel my work is laid out for me in an orderly fashion.  And they give a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off.  Sometimes I even add things to the list after I do them, just so I can cross them off!  Yes, I admit it...  If I can't sleep at night, sometimes it's just a matter of jotting out a list to empty my brain, and then I can go back to sleep.

Off the top of my head --

Lists I need to write:

1)  Components that I want to have on my (to be designed) website
2)  Daily activities that I do at home, to facilitate the interior design of my tiny house;*
3)  Plan of attack for lining up a place to do my construction;
4)  Tasks regarding zoning and code for tiny houses within the city limits;
5) Contacts for tiny house community locations
6)  Ideas of how I could make money if I go on the road  (Legal, moral, fulfilling - !)
7)  Make a rough materials list from my construction plans

And then I have a general list of things I want to do --
1)  Take more stuff to Goodwill.
2)  Adjust my desk space at home to make it more appealing that my couch**
3)  Teach myself to play the recorder
4)  Experiment more with essential oils to learn more about them
5) Contact my local neighborhood freebie magazine about doing an interview

I'm sure that as soon as I hit, "Publish" for this post I'll think of additional items I should have included...

And these days, I'm sporting a hot pink splint on my ring finger - due to a twisted ligament (band name alert!) and so, well, my typing speed has dropped dramatically.  Inopportune timing...

* I've chosen my house and purchased my construction plans!  I'll be posting on that soon...

**  Which I currently have on Craig's List, so perhaps that issue will resolve...

Trip in Review - Feb. 18-20th

I've been a slacker on posting... busy work week. 

So the last 3 days we helped a family build their tiny house.  So much fun!  It was very similar for me to being on a Habitat job site and it was all happy and familiar.  When we got there the floor joists were on the trailer.  We added blocking, insulation, decking.  Then we put up 4 walls, put on the house wrap, and the exterior sheathing.  

Upon arrival....

The second wall (it was really cold that day!)

When we departed... front left is the porch
We had the best time!  I have a zillion photos, but mostly great memories.

The workshop was definitely life changing for me, and affirmed all the huge changes that I have been making the last 6 months are on the path that I should be on.  I am so excited about life these days that I can hardly stay in my chair!