Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tiny's New Home

After a months-long lapse in blog posting, we're back!  There have been a lot of uncertainties in the last few months, but finally the tiny house has a forever home.

I'm probably going to burst a lot of bubbles here, but knowing what we know now, I'm not sure we would have built the tiny house.  Without a doubt, we LOVE our house, are proud of our creation, and learned so much about building and planning (i.e. do more planning).  However, making a tiny house on a trailer into permanent residence is SO much more complicated than building a small permitted house on a foundation.  When we began our tiny house project we thought we'd be moving it around a lot more, and designed it accordingly.  It was to have a composting toilet (Kenny is not-so-secretly relieved that didn't happen!), solar panels, and a grey water system, and the complicated hip roof in front was designed for less wind resistance while towing.  We had money and time to start building something, but no location to live, so a tiny house on wheels seemed like the perfect solution.  Our house is so special and personal to us, and to live in ones own creation is truly rewarding.

With lots of family help, we were able to acquire a piece of vacant agricultural land south of Albuquerque.  We spent the summer doing ridiculous amounts of clean-up (removing gigantic overgrown elms, trash, goat pens, fences, and millions of little rusty bits of bailing wire), and installing utilities (a septic system, a drinking well, and running electric lines).  We were upfront with zoning about our tiny house, and the guy for our area was very supportive. However the building permit department gave us some pretty vehement "no-way's!", and forced us to our last resort back-up plan. The house is now an "RV", and we have a permit to live in our "RV" while we.... (sigh)... build another house.  This is something we wanted to do eventually, but on our own timeline.  Our next house (a modestly-sized but by no means "tiny" adobe) will still take years to build, and we will live in the tiny house in the meantime.  Look out for in the coming months and years.

Not fun

Zoning and permitting is definitely the biggest pitfall of the "tiny house movement." There are hundreds of blogs, articles, and documentaries about tiny houses on wheels and the benefits of a simple and downsized lifestyle, but a closer inspection reveals that the vast majority of these are either people living "under the radar" (i.e. parked in a friend's backyard with no sewer or waste water hookups), or those who use their tiny house for guest accommodations in their own backyard.  Very few people are able to legally make their tiny house a permanent residence, and many of those who do simply live in rural areas where zoning and code enforcement is lax or nonexistent.  There is nothing wrong with choosing that sort of lifestyle (we just did it for a year!), but it is definitely not synonymous with simplicity.  And although things are changing a bit in more progressive places like Portland, tiny houses are VERY far from "mainstream" in the eyes of most building inspectors.

Because of their small proportions, I am certain ALL tiny houses fail to comply with certain building codes (window and door egress requirements are difficult to meet, as are, ironically, insulation requirements mandated by new energy efficiency codes). Tiny houses cannot be mobile homes, either, unless engineered and built by a licensed mobile home manufacturer.  Tiny houses CAN be considered RV's, though there are many restrictions to living in an RV long-term.  Often you'll read about tiny houses falling into a "legal grey area," but really its pretty clear: they aren't buildings, they aren't mobile homes, they might be RV's, and the easiest way to live in one is to just do it and hope you don't get caught.

So, back to our situation.... We are living in our house, but because it is an RV we can only legally do so temporarily.  Not ideal, but it allows us to live on and improve our land, and be hooked up to legit utilities.  

With all that figured out, we FINALLY MOVED THE HOUSE!  It was a sixteen mile trek across town without incident.  We moved all our stuff out of the house, threw some brake lights and turn signals on the back (the 12" cantilever obscured the trailer's original ones), hooked her up to The Global Warmer, and took it down Broadway at sunrise. We installed a real-life flushing toilet, did all the awful plumbing under the trailer to connect to the septic, cleaned behind the stove and fridge (yes, those places get disgusting in tiny houses too!) and plan to finish some other little odds and ends eventually.  It feels GREAT to be on our own land, and being able to pee and wash dishes in our own home feels like magic!  The DeLapp-Fredrickson homestead is coming along nicely, and we hope to have a "big tiny open house" and housewarming party soon.

The house staged and ready to get on the road.  Much taller than its almost 200-year-old terrone adobe neighbor!

 The Global Warmer

On the road!

At home at last!  We stayed in my folks Airstream for a few weeks to get some more work done at the site.  Our house feels huge in comparison!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Ladder!

For MONTHS now, without fail, every single person who walks into our house looks up at the loft and first asks, "Hey, how do you get up there?"  Then we point to the entirely inadequate four foot step ladder that we'd hide in the bathroom during the day, and precariously use to slide up into the loft at night.  Well, no more!  We now have a functional, beautiful ladder that goes ALL THE WAY to the loft!  Built with strong walnut and ash, grip tape, and flush bolts to hold it in place during use, it is an astronomical improvement.  When we're downstairs for the day we stow it up in the loft.

We also did a little talk about our house at Kenny's alma mater, St. John's College in Santa Fe, and took some nice photos of the house (in clean and tidy form).

The finished shower 

The bringer of dirt

Also, our house was recently featured on  Our dog is so famous!