Part 3 ~ Thinking Inside The Box with Meg from TinyHouse43

A real Downsizing This is part 3 with TinyHouse43 with Meg, Brandy, & Lil’ RAD. In Part 2 we asked why they decided to downsize from over 3000SF to under 200SF and why they decided to do most of the work themselves instead of buying a pre-made, finished house. In this final installment (at least for now) we ask ~
3) If you could go back in time and talk with Meg & Brandy just before your DIY journey, what advice would you give yourself? Other than “Never leave used, combustible rags in a bag, in the house”. God, that was awful! 🙁
   Tiny House Fire ~
     Meg ~ Well, what I’m actually going to advise myself is specific for us, I’ll explain how it pertains to everyone DIYing their house: more school for the boy, less school for the daddy.
What I mean by that is that we needed R.A.D to be safely occupied with supervision more often and Brandy home and homework-free to actually do more work on the THOW. As it is, our time is quite limited and far more distracted than it should be, hence the reason the fire managed to happen – we were pulled in too many directions and got distracted – no bueno! This means it has taken SIGNIFICANTLY longer to finish the exterior of the house (and it’s STILL not finished!) than it should have. We wanted to have the exterior done in December 2014 so I could spend January through March working lots of overtime to pay off all the 0% interest cards we’ve been using to finance the build (a necessary evil due to the Big House not selling last summer as planned), and then we’d spend April through the summer finishing everything up. We’re more than halfway through April 2015, and we’ve still got a good bit of stuff to do outside. That’s left us scrambling to pay stuff down and still have enough to build with. Not exactly a shining example of the low-cost tiny house image so many folks have! Between delays, goofs, and unexpected necessities, we’re strapped for both time and cash.
More importantly, though, R.A.D isn’t getting as much quality time with us because we’ve been trying to work as much as we can in the limited amount of time we’ve had when
1) we’re both home and
2) it isn’t raining (it’s pouring outside right now as a matter of fact)

Sometimes the only time we have to work is when he’s home from school and I’ve got a couple days off, so we’ve been taking him outside to play in the sandbox or climb his tree house while we work. It’s definitely not easy (or particularly safe) to try to cut and stain wood while keeping your eye on a rambunctious, curious three-year-old. Since we don’t have a bevy of local friends to help us – and really, Brandy is too picky to let anyone else work on the house anyway; I’ve tried! – we’re trying to play with the munchkin and work on the house at the same time. Not so fun for R.A.D, and far too distracting for us to be safe. R.A.D loves his school though, so having him attend even just a 3rd day per week would go a long way toward us having more attentive build time and R.A.D getting to spend more time with his friends playing and learning. If my mom were alive he’d be with her as often as she could stand it (which was pretty often!), but my dad still works and has other obligations to attend to. It’s a hard thing to build a house in the best of circumstances, but when you also have a little one to care for while doing so you can bet the difficulty level will more than double.

So, how that translates to others is this: however much money and time you THINK you need to build your tiny house, be prepared to increase it across the board by at least a third. ~ Ron interjects here “I say double it!)
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a big group of family and friends nearby to help you, it’s a guarantee you’ll have things come up you didn’t anticipate that will slow you down, cost you more, or possibly even both. If you, like us, have a young child to accommodate, we highly recommend one of two paths: either be prepared to sloooooow your build down significantly so you and your family still get to spend some quality time together -OR- get some childcare help, be it from the school, a babysitter, family, friends, etc, so you can be less distracted while building the house and your kiddo can have fun and be safe.
We’re going to all three be living in a house smaller than our big house master bathroom, so we’ll have loads of good times all together very soon. That said, we do still have to actually finish the house, and it’s hard not getting to just relax and play with him any old time he wants to. To balance that out, we’ve been going on special adventures once a month – Monster trucks in February, the circus in March, a Thomas the Tank Engine train ride yesterday – but that, too, cuts into build time. It’s a tough balance to strike, and we are certainly not knocking it out of the park. We just try to remind ourselves that it’s better to be slow and safe than fast and sloppy. We do still have certain time frame goals in mind – being ready to attend the Tiny House Jamboree being the primary one – but we are grateful that we really aren’t under any kind of pressure to meet any deadlines. That’s not something everyone building a tiny house can say, and that’s why it’s important to both be realistic in your expectations AND plan ahead as much as possible for any unexpected delays. They, like the fickle weather in Texas, are inevitable!
Thanks so much Meg for the insights! 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, especially to find the time if you have your own tiny RAD. 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 and send them Tiny wishes! 😉
PS. Make sure to follow us on Instagram. I post new pics there daily of happenings around here from the garden progress to baby birds to what the cottage looks like through the changing seasons. (Trying to get a decent pic of our wild Mink family living under a tree stump!)
Cheers and share like crazy!
Ron standing behind Shiny Tiny Mansion giving the TINY gang sign!

2 thoughts on “Part 3 ~ Thinking Inside The Box with Meg from TinyHouse43

  1. Just a quick nod to truth- construction inevitably takes longer than you planned on, costs more than you had budgeted, and presents lots of surprises.
    This is perhaps as important for the DIY builder to understand as how to use tools or how to read a set of plans.
    Life happens while you build.

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