Off and Running!

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

It’s been a while since my last blog. I am now in full build mode! But to backtrack a little, in my last blog I was begging for a generous land owner to lend me a space to build. It took a few weeks, but I am pleased to say that the universe responded to that plea in the form of Wayne, who I now think of as my fairy god-father. Wayne has a property exactly where I had hoped to build, is an ex-builder and has built 2 tiny houses himself. The space itself is perfect and as soon as we met, I jumped on-board and Dad and I were out clearing the space, mowing and moving stuff in no time. I was hoping to get hold of the trailer within a week or 2, but I ended up with about a month before I got the trailer. This was my first mental challenge.

I say mental challenge because although it was actually a very productive time, I was chomping at the bit to pick up a tool and see my dream start to take shape. I was itching to get going but with nothing to build on I was left to ponder my plans. So I got back on the Sketch-Up wagon and kept building virtually. I found a window manufacturer and ordered my windows & doors, I shopped around for building supplies, I shopped around for work clothes that actually fit me (not many work boots around for my tiny feet!), I looked at kitchen sinks and researched small appliances in Australia. I am quite sure this time saved me a lot of money – the additional work I did in Sketch-Up surfaced some design issues which changed the windows and doors, I began to realise the critical path to the inside layout, and I had time to talk to lots of people about various aspects – builders, carpenters, welders, HVAC experts etc. I also had time to create a project plan. It keeps changing order, but it is very helpful in determining when I have to order certain things.

One thing I did learn during this time is to be prepared for the experts to have conflicting opinions. I guess I went into this thinking that there was only one way to build this house, and I’d just ask friends about which way that would be. When they start telling you different things, it’s easy to get stressed about it all. I’ve worked out that the important thing is what people think you shouldn’t do – and focus on understanding that. There are many ways to implement a solution so ask around for sure, but go with the solution that resonates with you and don’t get too stressed about it all. As one of my builder friends pointed out – I’m just building a shed really 😊

The trailer was manufactured by Lime Creek Tiny House Trailers, just outside of Melbourne, so Dad and I drove down to collect it. The collection went smoothly, and despite being built to carry 4.5 tonnes it towed pretty well empty. I had planned to register the trailer as an camper trailer – simply because I thought it would be easiest to register without a tiny house (and maybe to avoid a conversation with an authority about what it is, exactly, that I am trying to register) but after a few difficulties I have since abandoned that idea. In NSW, if a trailer is rated to carry over 2 tonnes then it is deemed a heavy trailer and then you also need to have the vehicle inspected that will tow it, full laden. As mine is rated to carry 4.5 tonnes, I would have had to provide a vehicle able to tow 4.5 tonnes. I don’t have one of those, and don’t intend to buy myself a tow truck so that was the end of that. I don’t think this will be a big deal as I am intending to get a tow truck to tow it whenever it is moved, and it doesn’t need to be registered for that. I am intending the first move to be to Victoria so maybe their requirements for registration might be easier.

So, the trailer made it to the build site! Final measurements were taken and the flashing aluminium was ordered. I am learning all sorts of things in this stage! First lesson is that midday in the Australian summer is a really bad time to be working on aluminium sheeting – holy moly. I’ll look like I’m 80 before I finish. My site is outdoors so I have borrowed a fold up marquee to give me some shade. It’s a bit of a pain to set up and then pack up later, but it is a life-saver. You just can’t work in the direct sun when it’s 35 degrees.Wayne found a bar fridge for the shed and this is another life-saver. The ability to have an ice-cold drink when you think you can’t handle the heat anymore allows you to take a rest and keep going. I also thought I would struggle doing a lot of things by myself but so far it’s ok. My dad is an expert at building by himself so he has loads of tips on how to move and handle big awkward things by yourself. It’s slower but at least I still make progress.

The thing that stresses me out most is wondering if I am doing things in the right order – have I forgotten to take something into account – am I about to make an expensive/time-consuming/irreversible mistake? The answer is maybe. But I really try to tackle one problem at a time. I talk to a few different people about the approach for the next bit, or the problem on the horizon that I have yet to tackle. So far I am having a lot of fun. Dad is teaching me all the basics, and Wayne comes out and gives me great tips and tricks, and often comes out with exactly the right tool for the job. I am loving the journey, and trying to keep the anxieties at bay. After all, its just a shed, right?

P.S. I am much quicker at uploading regular progress pics to Facebook, so if haven’t subscribed yet here is a link to my Facebook page.

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