As promised, a brief recap on what's been happening since my last real blog post, back in November 2020 when I was two months into building my tiny house. I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow description of the build - the highs, the lows, the new words I learned! (For that, and LOTS of pics, head to my No Impact Girl page on Facebook.)
First, DIY building is completely all-consuming. And kinda thrilling for that. I've never experienced anything like it. It challenges you on every level: mental, physical, emotional, logistical, relational, creative...
Being my first build, everything was new and interesting. The learning curve was so steep it was almost vertical. Every day I was doing something I'd never done before, learning about things I'd never thought about before, learning about myself and, yes, learning new words I'd never even heard before (like "shim" and "round bastard").
Here are 7 more things I learned from building the tiny:Repetition rests your mind. When you've been making dozens of decisions a day, for months, spending four days on your knees with a belt-sander (sanding the hardwood flooring) is noisy bliss (ear muffs help). I loved being able to focus on this one job, think about one thing for a while. Another job I enjoyed was punching nails: using a hammer, a nail-punch and wood putty to hide hundreds of nails in the plywood panels on the ceiling and internal walls. It was slow, repetitive work and I loved it.
2. You get to know a lot - for a while. I'm not sure if this is a DIY thing or just because I'm a curious person, but a few months into the build I felt like the Rain Man of tiny houses, or my tiny house anyway. I knew everything about every element of it, every material we used, where it came from, the pros and cons of various cladding, insulation, paint and flooring options. It was all so fascinating to me and I was neck-deep in it all, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else in my life. (I can probably still tell you the dimensions of each one of my 13 windows...).
3. Every house has its own timeline. Professional builders can build a tiny house in three months. That was never going to happen for us, and it didn't have to - we had no deadline, which let the project go at its own pace. And we were lucky; Covid created material shortages at Bunnings and other suppliers, but we started early enough that there were no big delays.
As for the budget, I'd aimed for about $60,000, but I had no idea what anything cost before we started and I ended up splurging on a few items - such as my gas-strut window ($2300) and the stairs, which we outsourced to a furniture maker (about $6500). So my final spend was just under $80,000, which I was happy with.
4. I love making things! Two of the lovely things that happened to me during this project were that I learned lots of practical new skills, and I gained the confidence to have a go at making things.
5. A tiny house is still a house. This was one of the big lessons of this build. Tiny houses might be small and relatively unregulated - which gives you the rare opportunity to build your own home - but they still have all the bits that any house has: from framing and cladding to windows, lights and plumbing, depending on where you want it to be on the rustic-luxe spectrum.
6. Building is creative! I never realised how much creative problem-solving happens on a building site. Every. Single. Day. Even when you have skills, every build presents unique problems or issues to deal with. And experienced builders are always thinking ahead, so that what they're working on now will fit with what they'll be working on in four days' or weeks' time.
7. Moving in before completion is a good idea. It sounds counterintuitive, but moving in before my house was finished - when I still had to climb a builder's ladder to my bed loft and I was using milk crates for furniture - was really helpful. I got to see how I used the space, how my body wanted to move between tasks, where I wanted to put things - which informed our last decisions.