I came across TinyHouse43 while researching Tiny House workshops. I wanted to look at what was out there, in the way of Teaching / Building Weekends to see if we could add to the mix. There were a couple companies I found, but the one thing I noticed was the lack of hands-on experience. Actually, it would be impossible to teach someone how to build a house in a weekend, but it would be possible to teach them how to safely and confidently use the tools needed to do that. Shiny Tiny Weekend Workshops are now in the mix, and we will keep you posted 😉
Meg runs the social part of TinyHouse43 and was kind enough to answer 3 questions I had for her. They are a family of 3 that has chosen to downsize from a 3193SF home to a just under 200SF Tiny Home on Wheels. See Meg’s post about that here. They plan to travel across the US for a year or so, leaving from Texas and then end up in Washington State, where they hope to buy land and then build a new small home while living in the THOW. What an unforgettable experience for RAD, Meg & Brandy’s cute little boy! Let’s get to the first 2 questions! The last one will come mid week in Part 3.
1) Why did you and your family decide to downsize and take this THOW journey?
Meg~ There are many reasons we are making the change, and they all relate to our desire to relocate from Texas to Washington state. I’ve wanted to live in WA since I was a teenager in love with Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder (don’t judge! lol). I never had set foot in the state until Brandy and I spent our 5th anniversary in 2010 visiting Seattle, Vancouver, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula. It was that trip that sealed it for us both – the fact that the hottest it got was 77 degrees… in August…. and it was 108 in Texas…. SOLD! – and little by little we started researching areas to live, where we’d work, whether we wanted to be in Seattle proper or out a ways on some acreage.
The month before my mom was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually claimed her life, she and I were looking at land and figuring out how much each of us could sell our houses for so we could jointly buy a large plot and build the family compound we’d always half-joked about. Seventeen months later, though, she was gone and I was crushed to the core of my soul. After that I knew I couldn’t be in Texas any more and thankfully Brandy felt the exact same way. Washington was still pulling just as hard, but we knew without my mom around to persuade him, my dad was going to be a MUCH harder sell. He’s comfy in his house, has lots of amazing neighbors and friends nearby, and he isn’t a fan of overcast days.
The idea for the THOW came when we thought if we spent a year in Colorado – the closest thing to Washington State we can get to and still be back in Texas within a day’s drive – my dad would have time to really think things over and make his decision. You know, the old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” trick. But we realized that no matter his decision, it was time for us to stop making decisions based on other people’s feelings and needs. We wanted to stay nearby for grandkids, and I’m SO glad we were in Texas when R.A.D was born for my mom’s sake, but it was time for a change.
We wanted to take advantage of our house being on wheels and traveling the country while R.A.D is young enough to not have to report to school regularly. I’ve always wanted to take a year-long road trip around the country in an Airstream after I saw the movie “Mask” (though their trip was going to be on motorcycles), so this is fulfilling another teenage dream of mine! It doesn’t hurt that we now have a munchkin in tow that we want to share the world with. We thought we’d try to work in all 48 Lower States for a truly unique tiny house roadschooling adventure. He won’t quite be four years old when we head out, but with enough photos and some journaling, he’ll still have a lifetime of memories!
Meg~ As I mentioned, traveling across the country was my teenage dream, but Brandy’s has always been to build his own house from scratch. That sounds lovely and all, but the reality is that we just don’t have the time to really start from scratch. Having Tumbleweed create all the framing gave us a HUGE head start (in the neighborhood of 200 hours) on the build, and it gave me GREAT peace of mind knowing professional tiny house builders did all the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer frame itself. I used to have recurring nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer going through Raton Pass in New Mexico (or any steep hilly area, really), but knowing that part was done professionally erased my fears. If we already owned land and had a place to build from the trailer up we might have gone that route, but even then, just the fact I work 2 nursing jobs, Brandy is in school full-time, and we have a toddler to look after makes the scratch-built house seem more pipe-dream than reality. While spending the extra money on the pro framing put us scraping for the rest of the funds right off the bat (that, and about a dozen unforeseen issues with moving out of our Big House last July), the peace of mind and head start on the build itself was worth its weight in gold – even if we didn’t really get started until almost 4 months after picking it up!
Thanks so much Meg! To all of our friends that are seriously thinking of downsizing ~ read all the above carefully. This is certainly a realistic look at what it takes, and it is not easy. But the satisfaction you will get from the accomplishment is well worth the hard effort. It will take you twice as long and cost twice as much as you plan for, but if you know that going in, it’s no big surprise. We recommend everyone go visit TinyHouse43 and stay up to date with Meg, Brandy, & Lil’ RAD 😉
Cheers and share like crazy!