Hope everyone had a great holiday season. I definitely did. Despite being sick, I managed to spend plenty of time with friends and family and as a bonus I got all geared up on Christmas day. New hammer, new square, new knife, new tape measure, and a brand new work belt to hold it all together!
I admit I have mixed emotions right now. A year ago I had just gotten back from four months of wandering through South America, pretending not to be trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I came back with plans but they all ended up hinging on one little thing, the 160House. 365 days ago I was sure that 365 days from then I would have my tiny house finished and could use it to cheaply move to the East Bay and get a job at a non-profit. Yet today, I am still living in my home town and working in a restaurant, and I’m not living in a tiny house.
At the same time, though I didn’t get where I meant to this year, it was still a good one and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been up to. I am volunteering with a non-profit, I made a ridiculous amount of incredible new friends and connections, I met my wonderful partner, and while I am not living in the 160House, I could if I wanted to! I’ve got four walls and a roof (kind of). I have made shelter!
Work in Progress
Over the past couple of months I made a lot of progress. After getting the first wall up, there was still the matter of getting the other enormous wall over to the trailer. My friend Adam came to help me and my dad out. Somehow the three of us managed to shift the wall up on its side and scoot-slide it over alongside the trailer, then we used the pulley system to lift it up on to the trailer where we could maneuver it into place.
After that, things started happening quickly. We built and erected the last two walls over the course of a couple afternoons, re-leveled the trailer, fixed a few framing mistakes (not all mine!), straightened out walls, put up plywood siding, and cut and placed the rafters.
In large part this quick progress is because my father-mentor is around again, meaning there is a professional eye back on the project and an extra set of hands.
But it is also because I have made a much deeper commitment to working on the house, setting aside specific time every week to build. People keep asking me when I plan to finish the house and the answer is I have no idea and I have abandoned the need to set a specific time frame. My new philosophy is that if I keep working regularly, it will get done when it’s ready to be done. So I can’t tell you when I plan to wrap things up but I can tell you what I plan to accomplish next Tuesday (getting the plywood sheeting on the roof).
Rainy Days and Dirty Hands
Our progress has not come without struggle though. For one thing, the year I decide to build a house is the year that California decides it should get back to being rainy and cold. Before we started on the roof, I was laying down plastic every time it rained, then having to carefully direct the water off of the trailer and set up enormous drying fans when the sun came out. Things became a little easier once we were able to get a temporary roof in place but it’s been a pain to reassemble and disassemble every time we get back to work.
There was also the great caulking debacle of 2015, when we glued up the plywood siding and got so much adhesive on our hands that three days later I almost had to call in to work. After scrubbing my hands with regular soap, volcano soap, gojo, nail polish remover,mineral spirits, and gasoline, the winning solution was borax, the rough side of a sponge, and more than an hour of combined scrubbing time (I had to split up the sessions because my hands would start the tingle and burn).
I have decided that my dad and I should not be allowed to work on projects together. Really, we are a mess. Every morning we start the day by running in and out of the house grabbing items we forgot until we are finally ready to start 30 minutes after whenever we had meant to. We then go through our day to a symphony of angry curses directed towards inanimate objects, playing a constant game of “Where is my _____” until sunset when we step back and are amazed we have actually gotten something done.
So I guess at least in my case it’s true: We do become our parents.
These last 8 weeks have been rewarding and exciting. With the structure enclosed now, I have been able to get a sense of what the 160House will feel like to live in and am becoming more confident with the design elements I decided on. I can’t wait to keep updating you all on this journey. Thanks as always for reading!
Thank you to Adam for his help getting the second wall up, we could not have done it without you. Thank you again to the Ongaro family for their used materials, some of the wood from your old kitchen has been making its way into my roof. And of course thank you Dad, for molding me into a mini-version of yourself. I can’t think of a better adult to turn in to.