Excuse Me

June and early July were busy times for me. The space I had to work on the house was widdled down by weddings, family and old friends visiting from out of state and out of country, and 4th of July festivities. This was, of course, on top of my two jobs and very important social life. As proof of my busyness I present to you this album. I call it “Excuses.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

However! Despite limited time, I still managed to get in enough work for a real update!

Last month we left our heroine hunting down cedar siding at an affordable price. Well, I found some siding at a rate I guess some would call affordable but unfortunately it does not come in the right length! I had been hoping for unbroken lines on the sides of the house but it looks like I will have to get over it and settle for staggered siding.

As of now, I am not over it, and as part of my sulking process I have been delaying the purchase. Sadly, this means that this month’s update does not include exciting pictures of the house starting to look like a house.

Instead, the last 4 weeks turned out to be the month of utilities. I finished running and stapling pretty much all of the electrical lines.

Satisfying af. (Full confession, these picture are actually not from this month but I did do more electrical recently and I hadn’t posted about it yet so I don’t feel bad…)

My dad and I ran all the PEX tubing for my plumbing.

All hot water all the time.

I bought a water heater and some shower controls.

And we built this nifty box on the back of the house for my water heater and some extra storage.

This is where I’ll keep my rabbits.

That concludes my quick update. I had to write this blog in just a short hour and a half. For reasons why see “Excuses” above. 

Thank you always and forever to my dad for his mentorship, thank you to all of my incredible friends and family who made the past few weeks so hectic and wonderful, and thank you for reading.

It has recently come to my attention that some people do in fact read this blog. Two whole people approached me this past month to tell me they enjoyed my tiny house adventures and they knew too much to have just read the Cliff Notes. Maybe those are my only two readers but whatever the case thank you, thank you both, or thank you all. Your attention and support motivate me to stick with this project on days I would rather be making excuses.

Raise the Roof

Alright, I have a very good excuse for not posting in a while… I wasn’t working on the house. But seriously, as I scrolled back through my blog today, I realized that my scheduled release for this post will be exactly one year after my last one. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

I’m going to give myself a little break. I got a nifty job at a non-profit and kept my restaurant job and have been working 6 days a week for a year now. Throw that in with a move and some tumultuous life events and you get roughly 9 months of stalled progress on the 160House.

I picked back up though and am back to making steady progress. Now for the good stuff!

The 160House has a roof! A real roof! It holds out rain and everything! Check it out!

Photo Mar 29, 4 24 13 PM
Wanna party on my roof? Because it’s type EDM!

Of course, nothing can ever be quick and easy so there were plenty of adventures on the way.  As usual, I probably pulled as many screws as I put in, extra parts had to be ordered, creativity had to be used.

However, the biggest pain in the ass was that f***ing skylight.

Let me explain, it turns out Velux does not make flashing (waterproofing) for metal roofs that fit the fancy roof window I was so excited about 365 days ago. So I ended up ordering a Frankenstein kit, bits and pieces of various flashing that I could hobble together into a functional seal.

Now, let’s revisit my last post for a moment. I was a tad bit frustrated with the Velux instructions, I believe I said that I was…

“pretty sure Velux writes their instructions to be as confusing as possible”

Well, we thought ONE Velux manual was fun to navigate… so imagine our joy when all of a sudden we had SEVEN!

Photo Jan 31, 11 36 45 AM
WTF Velux

After deciphering seven manuals made of nonsense…

Photo Jan 31, 5 24 20 PM

watching and rewatching and watching again the following instructional video from the 1970s(?) that made me feel like I was in gym class and we were about to start talking about my body…

And hours on the phone with technical service having conversations that went like this…

Me: Hi, the instructions say to nail the side flashing to my skylight but my skylight is made of metal and plastic.

Technical Service Rep Dwayne: You nail the piece to the wood.

Me: My skylight is made of metal and plastic. There is no wood.

Dwayne: Look on the side of your skylight and you will see wood.

Me: The side of my skylight is made of metal and plastic.

Dwayne: What did you attach the brackets to?

Me: Factory pre-drilled holes in the metal and plastic.

Dwayne: So not into wood..?

I was beyond frustrated.

It was then that my mentor and father stopped and dropped a wisdom bomb. He told me to quit following instructions. He told me that in the 40 years he has worked as a general contractor he has made a lot of mistakes, probably more than most, but in the time it takes another professional to deliberate and do an exacting job, he can have a project screwed up, fixed, and already be halfway through his next mistake. I admit I may have scoffed and rolled my eyes in the moment but shortly after, you know what I did?

I burned all seven instruction manuals as part of a ritual sacrifice to the Grecian god of Chaos, reported the Velux EDM Metal Roof Flashing instructional video to YouTube for sexual content, and blocked Dwayne’s number. I was going rogue.

I treated the remaining pieces like a puzzle and using my big honking smart gal brain, I managed to make a skylight that doesn’t funnel water into my sleeping space when it rains!

Photo Mar 18, 11 15 59 AM
This is not a good picture but it’s the one I’ve got so I don’t wanna hear it.

With the skylight finished, we could put the final touches on the roof.

I am so happy to finally be making progress on the house again and as part of my commitment to make sure another 12 months don’t go by before you hear from me again, I am committing to a regularly scheduled blog post every first Friday!

One last exciting bit of news before I sign off: the 160House is going to be in the Petaluma Butter and Egg Days parade as part of a float for Rebuilding Together Petaluma! Check it out if you’re in the area! (BTW, if you click the RTP link, I want you to know that I made that website. #bragging)

What is this diabolical machine turning cows into bicycles and wine?

Now thank yous: Thank you to my Dad, as always, for once more braving Velux instructions with me and for giving me the some of the best sage Dad advice I never asked for. And thank you to… I guess Dwayne. Even though he thought I couldn’t tell the difference between wood and metal, he still spent a couple hours trying to solve the puzzle of the Frankenstein kit with me. And thank YOU for reading or at least skimming and for still being interested in this project a year later. Maybe by next year I’ll have siding!

New Year, New House

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!

Geared Up!

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!

Look! There’s a building on my trailer!

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.

Shameless plug for a talented friend: Click here to check out Adam and his band on facebook! Or go catch one of his shows at the Roaring Donkey in Petaluma!

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.

DSCN6272 - Edited
I know this only sort of fits into my narrative here but I wanted to show how we leveraged the walls into place. I thought it looked cool…


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.

It’s much easier to build a tiny pool than a tiny house

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).

Hello, my name is Katelynn and I will be touching your food tonight…

Father Daughter 

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.

DSCN6269 - Edited
Don’t worry, I’m embarrassed for us.

Thank Yous!

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.