I knew it would happen. I was sure I wasn’t any more special than all the other people before me who built their tiny house in 4 times the amount of time they had hoped it would take. But I couldn’t work out why. In all the documentaries I’d watched they didn’t really explain why. I thought that an excessive amount of planning and research would help. Maybe it did a little bit but I still find that I am well behind schedule. But I am beginning to see why, so I thought I’d share my observations with you.
You don’t know what you don’t know. And no one else knows what you don’t know because you have a unique set of skills different to anyone else who has never built a tiny house before. Mostly you don’t realise what it is you are going to need to work out till you are trying to work it out and wondering why it’s not very easy. That’s your sign that you need to talk to someone who knows something about that. The good news is that every time that happens, your unique set of skills are about to increase by one
Lack of confidence in your plans. If you have plans, that is. Chances are you didn’t have an architect draw your plans. More likely you taught yourself how to use sketch-up and you did the best you could, given your limited understanding of framing principles. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not rocket science. But be prepared for a whole lot of “Oh, that might not be right. Maybe I should check my plan. No, that’s not going to work. Oh, but if I do it like that, it should work. Now I must remember the plan is not accurate now…”
Learning takes time. I keep getting told that if I had 2 chippies working on it, the framing would be done in 1-2 days, tops. That makes me feel bad when I am on week 3 of framing. But I decided not to hire people to build this for me – I wanted to learn how to do it myself. So I am learning, not with someone next to me all the time telling me the correct way to do it. Mostly with a few words of advice and a whole lot of trial and error (and often some urgent phone calls). Nothing wrong with all this – its a great experience! But it adds time to the process.
Using your body all day is tiring. Especially, if like me, you spent your working days in front of a computer before building. Damn, that was easy. Everything will hurt. Probably because you are not even using the right technique. I have had so many of those moments where someone who knows what they are doing tells me “if you do it this way, it will be way more efficient”. Efficient also means less taxing on the body. Add that to hot weather (yes, I am building in the Australian summer when most days are over 30 degrees C) and you will run out of steam earlier than you would have liked to. But you will get fitter over time. Building a tiny house is great way to lose weight and get a tan!
Project management also requires time. There are some jobs you need to do at a desk, in front of the computer. I’ve brought my laptop out to the site thinking I can do stuff on a break. But all I want to do on a break is rest and think about how to go about the next thing I am going to do. I look ahead to the weather forecast and when it looks wet or stinking hot I plan a day that allows me time at home in the air-conditioning to call suppliers, work out an order, change the plans, work on my budget. Tell yourself it’s a well-earned day off
You can’t predict the weather. It's an El Nino year so even the forecasters don’t really know. It will either be really wet or really hot. So far it's been both, and until I have a roof, they both equate to lost time. See number 5.
I hope this is not depressing any budding tiny house builders out there. You have to remember that if you are choosing to build yourself, you probably wanted to learn how to build a house. Learn, you will! But it’s a journey so if it takes longer, just remember that your amazing experience of how you decided to build a tiny house once, gets extended too! None of these are reasons not to start. They are reasons to get started and to look forward to many fun lessons along the way. If I can do it, you can too.