Well of course we knew designing and building a small custom home AND trailer was going to be quite an undertaking, but here we are! I thought it would be interesting to talk about our doubts, struggles and what we’ve enjoyed most thus far.
– Where we started –
In the beginning we were a little scared of being judged about our want to live a tiny life in a country where “bigger, better, best” is the common frame of mind. It almost stopped us from actually following through and doing it! Our family wouldn’t get it, people would think we are weird, what if we dont know what we’re doing, where will we put it?! All of these thoughts (and more) went through our minds and a lot of them were true haha.
When we finally told our families we got some mixed reactions. A couple of them were excited for us and thought it was a fantastic idea, some just laughed and said “of course you guys are gonna build a tiny house”, others were more skeptical asking “are you sure that’s what you want?”, “Can you guys really live in such a small space?”, “What about your dog, will there be room for him?” and “I don’t know if you guys will be happy doing that.” For a minute it was a little discouraging, although the concerns came from a loving place.
Our first apartment was 500sqft and for the last year we have been living in a family members spare room. Trying to find a rental with a large dog, no matter how well behaved, also has been extremely challenging in the past. Moving into the tiny house will be an adjustment for sure, but it will be more then we’ve had and it will be all ours. We can’t wait. Im writing about this because I’ve seen others who are currently or who want to live tiny express fears of judgement, some have even contacted me asking about my experience. Since we’ve begun building all of our family has been extremely supportive, learned more about the movement and are now excited to be a part of the process!
– “Phase One – research, planning and design” – took us roughly 2 months. Luckily, we had been following the tiny house movement for a few years already and we did have an idea of what our needs would be from the get go. Size was the first decision, we had toured a couple of the Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and came to find they were just a bit smaller then we wanted for long term living (about 150sqft compared to 200 in our design). The possibility of adding another family member in the future somewhat dictated this decision. We were a little nervous since we hadn’t really seen any tiny houses that were 28ft in length. Most commonly found trailers, and hence tiny houses, are 16/18/20ft long. Although, some of the pioneer tiny housers first builds were on a 12ft trailer. Talk about true minimalists.
Coming up with a layout and discovering ways to work multi use areas into the design was a lot of fun! You have to get very creative in a small space. Carving out an area for our 70lb dog, finding space for a small closet, and making sure we had plenty of storage in the kitchen were big priorities. Figuring out a rough budget was somewhat stressful and will dictate our timeline tremendously as well.
During the research phase we also came across articles, videos and blogs about zero impact living and other tiny housers. This really opened our eyes to a different community and lifestyle. It made us question our priorities, current level of waste and our future. We’ve found more then we were looking for and its kind of perfectly what we wanted without really knowing it when we started.
– “Phase Two – the trailer build” – With about two weeks left in this phase of the build reality of everything is really sinking in. Originally, we didn’t want to spend more then $3,000 on the trailer. As we researched more about how the trailer is truly the foundation of your home and got more specific price quotes on the steel, axles, wheels etc. we came to find around $4,500 was a more realistic budget. This was sort of a bummer! In the end we are still saving thousands by building it ourselves, it won’t throw off our overall budget of $15-20k and we are getting exactly what we want.
In conclusion, our experience thus far is pretty much what we anticipated. People will always have their opinions and suggestions, good, bad or neutral. Things tend to cost a little more then you originally think they might. We’ve had interruptions and minor delays, mostly due to family, time limitations and making a mistake here or there (tack welding the wrong pieces together early in our trailer construction for example). We’ve also had a blast spending time working on the trailer together, learning and taking the opportunity to improve on our communication. It’s definitely been an adventure and we cannot wait to see the trailer all finished up and get started on the real project, our home!