Saturday is a big day. Day after tomorrow, after being separated from my tiny house Sisu for 7 months (Nov. 2016 – May 2017) John and I are moving into my tiny house as our full time residence. If you’ve seen my house (which is now “our” house, as in the marital “we,”) you know that it is a pretty darn small space. 78 square feet plus the loft. Could you share 78 square feet?
We are STUPID excited. The arrangement for parking was made over the winter – you can read about that here. We had a written agreement in place to move our tiny in May, and to be there until the fall; September or October.
We are parking inside city limits, with permission from the City of Nisswa. My (our) house and I were a known entity in Nisswa; the City of Nisswa had heard through the grapevine that I had presented to Code & Zoning in Brainerd (about 15 miles away) about tiny houses. A general overview, just educating them about them. When Nisswa heard about the presentation, they invited me to come and talk with them.
I met our host through Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity and we struck and agreement for a win/win agreement: we’d mow and give his residence a “presence” in his absence, and in exchange he wouldn’t charge us rent and we could use his washer & dryer.
I approached the City of Nisswa with a hypothetical tiny house parking question (but I’m certain my request was thinly veiled – it’s not like it was any stretch at all to figure out I was inquiring on our own behalf) knowing I already sort of had a foot in the door in that they were familiar with me and with my tiny house. The answer to my inquiry came quickly – yes, I could park, I’d just need to complete a Land Use Permit and pay a $50 fee. Done, and done. We were approved for 3 months. (If our time extends to September/October like we think it will, we will need to reapply.)
Then a slight wrench was thrown in the plans when our Host arrived back from his extended trip early. As in about 5-6 months early. There was a week or so while we were waiting to connect with him (he was out of the country) where we wondered if we would still be invited to park in his yard, but on his end the offer never wavered – we were still welcomed.
By way of background, when John and I connected he was living in a rental house in Brainerd. As much as I disliked moving out of my tiny (and moving into his rental with him) I loved him more, and the situation was complicated by winter, my parents, and his teenaged son. “It’s a season,” I told myself, and I gathered my clothing and locked the door of Sisu behind me.
Knowing that we were going to be moving into our tiny house in the spring, John and I spent the winter purging possessions. I knew spring wold be hectic and I wanted to be ahead of the purging game come May. I am so grateful for all the work we did in those dark winter months!
March came and John was training for a 50K race, and had a mishap and broke his leg rather badly. It was a setback not only for him and his running, but of our plans as well. He was planning to come to Earth Day Texas to help me exhibit but also to tour the 13 houses on display to get ideas for the larger tiny house that we are designing. And then to accompany me on the road trip back to Minnesota with the house.
April and May 2017 arrived and were extremely busy preparing for my work at the Tiny House Conference in Portland and the tiny house village at Earth Day Texas in Dallas. After those events and another exhibition in Garland, Texas, I hitched up Sisu and brought her back to Minnesota. For the first time since the previous fall, I had all of my possessions in one zip code. I set about moving out of the tiny house, and bringing all of my possessions into the rental. This served two purposes: The house would be empty allowing me to do some minor construction “tweaks” before we moved into it together, and it also gave us another opportunity for purging: For the first time ever, all of our possessions were co-mingled under one roof. Although it was sad to be emptying my house, it was exciting to be taking that next step in purging. : )
House projects were next. Our host took an interest in the project and offered to come and help out – consult and/or do some work. That was pretty awesome! Even though I am an optimist and a “deadline girl” I was feeling a bit of pressure.
It was during those projects that I became a little wild eyed and came up with the bright idea that Nina come in to help me do move prep. The house needed work, but also our possessions needed combining, sorting, purging and distribution and the calendar days were flipping past, marching towards our May move. Thankfully Nina was in a position where she could come and devote time to our cause, and she flew in late on Tuesday, and stayed until Sunday, when we both flew to Texas. Her to drive her car from Texas up to Washington (she and hers had just moved there and lacked a third driver to bring her car) and I to prepare for the Tiny House Jamboree.
So what was on the house list?
- Water heater diagnostics and/or replacement. My water heater had never been awesome. I had suspected it had to do with water pressure, but I couldn’t be sure. Our host came over an we re-pressurized my system, only to learn that my fresh water copper pipes had ruptured because I had failed to drain them in the winter. I even had the compressor fitting to blow the lines out – I just didn’t. Fortunately for us, our host knows how to sweat copper pipes. (Yes, I know I could have avoided the issue and if I had used Pex, but I really wanted copper lines for my fresh water and I chose it fully understanding the limitations. Call me a purist, I guess.) In the end, 6 ruptures were repaired, and the water heater apparently now has the proper water pressure, and it appears to be working beautifully.
- We also added a metal cover to the exterior mounted box that holds the water heater. The EccoTemp heater is rated for outdoor installation, but since I often wondered about the effects of rain, I decided that since it’s working again now that I would be extra nice to it and add a cover to the top! I still want to add a decorative wood piece on top, but at least the protection layer is there.
- Sanding caulking & oiling. In April 2014 when I had committed to exhibit my house for the very first time, I panicked that I was running out of time and hired two brothers to do some calling in the loft. I was running around like a crazy person and I didn’t check their work as they were underway, and I’ve regretted that each and every night that I have gone to bed in Sisu. Why? Because they didn’t wipe off the excess caulk all along the loft center ridge beam and other nearby areas. A simple damp rag could have done so much at the time, but alas it was not used. Consequently every time I’ve laid in bed and looked up at the ceiling in the last 3 years I’ve seen the crappy caulking job, had regret and my blood pressure would rise. That isn’t a good way to fall asleep every night! I’d tried hand sanding it, but the caulk had been so gooped on that it would have been a life’s work.So last week once everything (including the futon in the loft) was out, I could finally turn on an electric sander and not worry that all my stuff was going to get a coating of dust on it! First I, then Nina spent many hours sanding the loft ceiling.. Once the sander was going in there I took the opportunity to hit all the high fingerprint areas with the sander to freshen it up. I knew when I applied the Danish Oil to my ceiling and walls in 2014 that the instructions said to apply 2-3 coats. I only applied one. I just ran out of time, and didn’t fully appreciate how it protects the wood (or how thousands of people touching the surfaces really does soil them over time.) So with the sander out I hit my desk surface, the cabinet doors and the interior corners – from the “hallway” into the living room, and the door jam and the closet door. Zip zip and they looked much better! Nina then applied oil to nearly the entire house – and the house looks new again!
- Check on electrical connections. I have an irrational fear of fire, and I could not remember how the lights above the shower and kitchen had been wired. Specifically, were junction boxes used? All of my wiring is inside conduit to prevent the plastic coatings from chafing off during travel (and also to limit the EMFs). But the lights had been installed INSIDE the exhibit hall during wee hours of the morning prior to me opening my house for tour for the very first time, and I failed to snap photographs of the construction. I have long wondered about those lights – junction boxes, or not. I had to know. And so we opened up the kitchen ceiling/loft floor and had a look – all was well. Junction boxes in place, everything securely fastened and beautiful. Whew!
- That also served another purpose, namely I’ve long wanted to turn that ceiling/floor into storage. Turns out now that I see it, that storage potential isn’t as large as I had thought, and so I can take that off my wish list.
- Rehang my ceiling fan. My ceiling fan has an unusual “neck” and a lot of pressure is on the the points where it affixes to the ceiling. Somewhere in Missouri or Iowa the fan began to dangle, and I eventually took it down during my trip – with the help of some great REI employees in Des Moines, IA who really wanted to see my house. The plumber that I had had out before had given me a great idea for stabilizing it – and so our host and I set off to Home Depot with a half baked idea but came up with a really great plan! So that’s done, and it’s adjustable! (Are you starting to have the clarity that even tiny houses are never done??)
- Added a channel to hide the rope lights
- We added a urine diverter to our toilet. That required a rebuilding of the box and tweaking the lid. We still need to paint the box.
- I measured the electrical cord – it’s long enough for our new location! Yay!
- Ladder re-work: My ladder is “spindled” on a piece of galvanized pipe. I have realized over time that if I enlarged the hole for a spindle into a slot that I could gain floor space. My ladder could push back to be vertical when we’re not using it. I should have done that a long time ago, but I was … lazy.There are still more cosmetic things to do – so no judging! – but these feel HUGE! It feels so good, and I’m so grateful for the help!
What tasks still remain?
- Gray water discharge outlets: Last summer I decided to rework my plumbing a bit and cut out my gray water PVC. I have the PVC pieces to rework them to have 2 points of discharge, I just need to put them on.
- Mosquito curtains on the porch
- Buy additional RV water hose to reach our new location
- Possibly a clothes rod under the desk for John’s work clothes.
Thank you for following along with us! I promise to try to do shorter more frequent posts from now on…