Saturday, November 29, 2014

Second lesson learned...

Learning lots of things here. First, there is now running hot and cold water in my house. That was just waiting on the power being on around the clock so no pipes could freeze. Anyway, after having the whole house run successfully off the battery bank for the last day, we filled up the water tank, ran the antifreeze out of the lines, filled the hot water heater, and everything works.

 What I learned was, when you start your water pump for the first time, check all your faucets first and be sure they are in the off position. What did I do? Umm... not that. First I turned on the sink, waiting to turn on the shower as I had it stacked full of stuff just to get it out of the way since I'm not done unpacking. So as everything starts running and all the air bubbles leave the kitchen sink, I went back outside to take a look at our setup for pouring water from jugs into the house inside the tank. After a minute, it occurred to me that I could hear the water pump still running. And that seemed odd because it's only supposed to run when a faucet is on. And I had turned the sink off. Remember that I said I had the shower stacked full of stuff? And apparently in the process of pilling all that stuff in there, I'd accidentally turned the shower to on. When I was inside and waiting for the bubbles to leave the kitchen sink, I didn't notice because there was still air in that line. But while outside, the water worked the whole way through and I returned to find water running all over the floor and heading into the kitchen. Now my shower drain seems to work just fine. Unless I've piled my shower full of stuff up to the shower head...

What was stacked in my shower? Oh just all my hanging clothes (dresses, skirts, shirts), all my towels and washcloths, and a few other things that don't soak up water so easily. So now my whole house is filled with things hanging up to dry. I planned to have space to hang my laundry, but I did not plan to ever wash all of my clothing at the same time! So I tried to spread everything out as much as possible, and hopefully it will all be dry in the morning. Oh well, there are worse things than spilled water, but I'd still have preferred not to have to clean that all up. One more lesson learned, and hopefully I'll never do that again.

Friday, November 28, 2014

First dinner here

So my pantry is stuffed, my little fridge and freezer are crammed and I cooked the first meal here in Fy Nyth. I got a photo while I was cooking but forgot to take one after we started eating. Seth came over and we had the first fish tacos I'd ever made.

 Meal plans are still revolving around using up the food I had stored when I found out we were going to have to move out of the last place I rented. There I had a large garage as my pantry so I bought everything in bulk and normally stored about 6 months worth of food. (That was a guess, but since we've been eating out of that storage with just the addition of fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, etc for 4 months now, and I still have a very full pantry here, I think the guess was pretty close.) There were huge shelves, two refrigerators, and a chest freezer. So, I'll try to finish cooking all of that stuff up and then will have to restrain myself and not buy whole cases of things at a time.

Oh yeah, and the batteries are hooked up so now there is power around the clock without having to run my generator! More about that tomorrow...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My first night in my new house

This is my first night in my new home! Bye bye hotel. I'm glad I had a warm place to live and keep my stuff for two months while waiting on my house to be built. I won't miss the noisy intersection right outside, the funky odor I could never quite get out of the room, the smokers from neighboring rooms I'd smell all the time, the very noisy woman (who would among other things have phone calls with her boyfriend around midnight with him on speaker phone turned up loud enough I could hear his whole side of the conversation, not to mention her very loud voice) who shared a wall with my room and was never able to take a soft step anywhere. I could swear she stomped everywhere she walked, and I was beside her. I feel really sorry for the folks below her room. So anyway, I'm glad I could stay but am not sorry to go.

 Now I am cozily tucked in the woods, disconnected from the grid and loving having an independent home all of my own. My little generator is merrily running everything until the final pieces of the solar system arrive, hopefully tomorrow. I do have wireless internet thanks to the cell companies, hence my ability to post this. My composting toilet is doing a fabulous job of doing it's thing and being easy to ignore. My home is warm and bright.

It's warm outside tonight as well, still just above freezing and it's getting close to midnight. The snow is compacting but we'll have more soon.  The mountains here are already reporting close to 100 inches this winter. There are boxes everywhere, and cupboards need some serious organizing. The fabric for the curtains is hanging in a few windows, but needs to be sewn into said curtains. The cushions for the custom built corner couch and the fabric to cover them are in my van. 

There's a mountain lion somewhere nearby unless someone was successful in shooting him today. We'll hope he's not sitting on my porch in the morning. Tomorrow there will be a run back to town to pick up the last few items from my hotel room and the packages I am waiting on. Then just more work on getting settled in here. Maybe baking some cookies and making fish tacos? My house is empty of prepared food, but has a stuffed pantry!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We almost have power!

The first holes drilled through my brand new walls. This is the inside and outside of where power will come into the battery bank from the solar panel and generator if needed. The batteries are here, and they are huge! Hopefully they do a good job and last a really long time. There will be a small couch built in this corner to contain my batteries, charger, controller, inverter, etc. and provide a comfy nook for relaxing or reading.

We are getting very close to having power all set up, running, and the heating triple backed up. I've very thankful for the knowledgeable help I've had with setting this up and don't think I could have done it on my own. Now we just need some cables and connectors to arrive that are in the mail. Kinda makes me wish there  wasn't a holiday this week, so we could get them a little faster. Either way, I'll be living there full time by Friday. Almost the only things not moved in at this point are my houseplants which need it to stay nice and cozy to survive. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mostly Moved In!

...Or at least most of my stuff is in the house now. Much of it still need some organization. The last few things we are planning to move tomorrow. As soon as it's consistently warm in there, the house plants will follow, adding some color to the current scheme of brown on brown on brown. Once I make them, the curtains should add some color as well. Maybe a shade of blue? Though I like keeping most things really neutral. And I still think I want to paint some of the walls white. Though I love natural wood, as you can see, I have an awful lot of it right now and I think some white would brighten things up and add light. Though with 15 windows in my place, there might be enough light already.

Sneek Peak Inside!

Things are starting to come together. Stuff is being moved in, coat hooks are up, table and chairs are assembled, etc. Many more photos to follow...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

First Lesson Learned

First thing that didn't go as expected, and I was expecting some things to do just that, relates to heating. The joys of moving into an off grid home in the middle of winter. I do not recommend this. I'd advise you to pick a nice mild time of year, preferable with long hours of daylight so you have plenty of time to be sure everything works well, before you really need it to. Of course, that's not what I did.

 I learned that one should not plan on being fine without electricity for a length of time while you get your solar setup hooked up, if your propane heater and stove both need electricity to ignite. I thought no electricity would be fine for a while as I have plenty of oil lamps, lantern, etc for light and refrigeration is really no problem when it's super cold outside. But since it's super cold, I was planning on using the propane heater, for sure, around the clock. However I was unaware that the model I got (I am assuming there are versions for which this is not true) would not start at all without power running to it for the ignition.

 So, my little generator has been working hard while I've been over there moving stuff in and getting settled. I am not however actually living in my house until we get the heat set up to work consistently. The batteries are the only major missing part of the system right now. They are still in the mail but will hopefully arrive on Monday. The generator, solar panels, inverter, charge controller, etc. are all present already, so with some help from a knowledgeable friend, hopefully that setup will happen rapidly and maybe I can actually start living there with heat by Monday or Tuesday.

So, if you ignore my advice to not start a project like this in the winter, at least know that you should investigate every carefully if something you think runs on propane also needs electricity to start. Hopefully in a few months I'll know everything I should have know before I started!

Friday, November 21, 2014

She's Here!!!

She's here! Thankfully Fy Nyth arrived today in excellent condition despite the long drive and winter weather. A big thanks to Tumbleweed and all the guys at The Shed Yard for all your hard work. Now for hooking up power and moving in....

Local news, huge propane explosion!

This just happened this afternoon within view of the windows of my hotel room where I've been living. I guess I won't be filling my house's propane tanks there anytime soon though I had just stopped by the other day to arrange doing just that. Thankfully, it seems no one was seriously injured.

There are several reports on it if anyone's interested in our local news.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is My Tiny House Too Expensive?

I think he made some good points in this post below. And these are among the reasons why I am very ok with what I paid to have someone do all the work on my house for me. (Aside from the fact that it would be way cooler to be able to say I built it myself!)

My house works out to costing around $342 per square foot. That's really high compared to a big house which one site told me was an average of $88.95 per square foot for an average 2400 square foot home here in WY, but fine with me. That price includes everything except for small furnishing and some furniture. Much of the furniture is built in, as are all the appliances. I still have all the appliances a big house would have, many of them are just smaller. If you're into backpacking, you will know that making things smaller is not usually cheaper, but much more expensive. It makes sense to me that the same it true for appliances. 

Mine is also built and insulated with the area I live in mind. In the northwest corner of WY, it's cold and very snowy for much of the year. As of today, the mountain around here have already received 52 inches of snow this year and it's been below zero for most of the last week. If you live somewhere totally different, the money spent on insulation, roof strength that will hold up a lot of snow, etc may be a total waste. It's not for me.

Time is not free for me either. As I said, I think it would be really cool to say I built it myself. I think I could learn how. But I don't know how to build a house right now. I need a house right now (See this post for more of that story). I don't have a place to build it or the tools requires. And it's easier for me to work and earn the money to pay someone else right now. If I had more free time (or wanted to spend less of my free time backpacking/skiing/fishing) and less money, I'd try to build it myself. Not that I have tons of money, I just think for me in my particular situation, my time/money is better spent this way. This is certainly not true for everyone, and other in my same situation might choose to do the opposite for their own reasons too. But these are some of the reasons I don't think my house was overpriced. You're welcome to think I'm wrong of course, but you don't have to buy one if that's your opinion.

In my case, it also lets me continue to live and work in the Jackson, WY area which is where I want to be and have a good job. Small condos with no land sell for over $400,000 here. (The one I was renting for the last 3 year did just that making me homeless and leading to my buying a tiny house) The average rental here right now with multiple room mates, seems to be about $1000 per bedroom. So having my own space, not to mention owning it and being able to take it with me if I move, is a huge deal. At those rental rates, in seven years I would have paid enough to buy my tiny house anyway. And I've already lived in the area for that long so now I'm kinda wishing I'd done this 7 years ago. So, for me, the price seems like a good deal.

And did I mention that instead of having a standard house built for the average person, I get one totally customized for me? Including custom cabinetry etc? I think I got a very good deal for $342 per square foot. Does that mean I think your house is junk if you built it yourself for less than $1000 total? Nope. I just think it wouldn't accomplish what I want in a house. I paid almost $400 for a 1 pound 9 oz tent which I've now used for several years for two people and plan to continue to use for many more. The light weight is great with the many miles it's covered especially since my best friend has a shoulder injury that limits the weight he can carry when we backpack. That tent does what I want, so it's a great deal for me. You and many others probably don't want my tent, but I hope your house fits you and your needs as well as my tent, and I hope my house, will fit mine.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nearing Completion!

She has a roof and completed siding now! And should be totally finished in a few days and here by the end of the week.

Front door looking in, and below, the interior spray foam insulation.

Indoor walls and window frames being finished out. Taken from the main room looking back toward the kitchen and bathroom.

The shop where she'll be finished and remain until delivery at the end of this week!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tiny House Bed

Tiny house bed is awaiting the house! Thanks to some serious vacuum packing, my brand new full size mattress is currently in this fairly small roll. Should be great to use right on my loft floor, and comfy, since I purchased the firmest mattress I could find and my back is most happy with a pretty firm sleeping surface. We'll find out soon if it was a good choice. I don't love Ikea for everything, but they seem to have a winner with this mattress and no one else makes something similar and anywhere close the same price range. Since it just me, I decided a full size mattress should be plenty large enough and I'd rather have the extra space for other things, though I could get a much bigger bed in my loft if I choose to.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My house is going up!

I just received the first photos of my house being built from the guys doing the building. They are the crew from The Shed Yard, working for Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. It should be complete in less than a week, and delivered by next Friday. Can't wait! Though I do wish it wasn't below zero while I settle in to the off grid lifestyle. It's been in the negative teens here the last few days and is snowing like crazy right now.

This was prepping the trailer bed that is the foundation and a closeup of the insulation and vapor barrier that will help keep me cosy.

Walls are taking shape!

Full side view and the interior wiring. 

Siding starting to creep up the exterior.

View from the rear of the house, and below, looking inside from the front door.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why A Tiny House?

My move to a tiny house was instigated by a phone call informing me and my long time room mate Beth that the house we'd rented for the previous three years was for sale. We had hoped to live there for many more years, but about a week after that first phone call, the house was sold to a couple who planned to move in, not as we had hoped, someone who would continue to rent the place, so we were about to be homeless. 

Housing is always tight in a place like Jackson, WY just because so many people want to live here and there is so little space to build, due to the vast amounts of protected open space such as national parks, national forest, and BLM lands. Of course, these protected spaces are precisely why we all want to live here. This past year it has become worse than ever with many people living in hotels, camping, or living out of their car full time. Literally, one day the paper had over 6 pages of help wanted adds, and only 7 places for rent.

When I suddenly joined the crowd of those trying to find a place to live, it hit home just how hard this was going to be if I wanted to stay in the area and stay within my income. I looked at multiple houses for rent as soon as they were listed, and none of them were ideal, and most of them would have required a commitment of close to 100% of my income in the winter months. (I wait tables and earn more in the summer when there are many more tourists in the area.) None of this seemed like a good idea, and I still did not want to leave the area.

So I started to seriously think about moving into my car or a small RV full time. Then I remembered a post I'd seen a long time ago about a tiny house, and thought maybe I should check that idea out. Within about 6 weeks from then, I decided to go for it, found a builder, designed my house, obtained financing, sold most of my belongings and moved into a hotel where I am now waiting for my finished house to arrive.

I really like the idea of mobility. I think I like the tiny house concept better then buying a nice normal house attached to the ground here, even if I could afford one, which I can't. This might be silly, but I've found that my home is closely tied to security and stress for me. I realized this when I found I'd have to move (very different than the other times in my life when I moved by my choice) and had no idea if I could really find anything. I really like my space, tidiness, having things/colors arranged in a way that is peaceful to me, etc. All of that being up in the air is hugely stressful, so I'm really liking the ability to settle in and only have to move the house if something changes, not move out of the house. And being able to take it with me if I should choose to move elsewhere is huge. This is probably the main reason I'm excited about joining the tiny house movement. There are others too, but I'll probably have a post about them some other time.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Right now I live here

For the last 6 weeks, I and all my stuff have been living in this little hotel room. Not the most ideal, but not too bad of a spot to wait for the completion of my tiny house. Should be done and ready to move into in just over two more weeks!