Butter, Eggs, and Broken Windows

“Can your truck tow a tiny house?” I laughed. No one else did.

In horror, I realized that my off handed, half-brag joke had become an offering. “I mean, it’s really big and it doesn’t have any siding,” I tried to back track but the board was undeterred.

“The truck can tow it,” said the executive director, “and we fix homes so it makes sense that it’s unfinished.”

It was decided. I was out of non-lazy reasons to say no, and the 160House would be the Rebuilding Together float in the Petaluma Butter and Egg Days Parade.

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We are serious about our eggs and dairy products…

Since my last post, I mostly spent my work days preparing the house, clearing debris from in and around it, scouring the floor for sharp objects, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning windows, and relocating spiders.

Look at it!!!

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Look how freaking clean it is!

The day before the parade the Butter and Eggs committee (renamed the Beer, Butter, and Eggs committee because hey, I was on it) met to clear the last of the debris around the house and tow it downtown.

Because nothing can ever be simple with the 160House, this became a complicated three hour ordeal. In a single afternoon I became a regular at the local auto-parts store, returning three times to fetch the proper tow ball, electrical hookups, and flat tire repair equipment (I have no idea how my trailer got a flat when it wasn’t even resting on its tires). Finally, we did get the house hitched and ready.

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My baby girl on a hot date with a classic car.

Another board member towed the trailer downtown and I left slightly after the truck so it took me a moment to catch up. Every turn I made, I could see where the house had been. Under every tree was a murder scene of broken branches and fallen leaves, and I caught up just in time to see us take out a phone line (I feel no remorse. My house is street legal. Hang your lines higher PG&E!).

The whole way downtown, heads turned and fingers pointed. I was pretty impressed with myself. I had built that massive, tree destroying, phone line snapping, attention grabbing trailer.

It had been a lot of work but it was worth it to support an organization I care about.

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Not her best side.

Then the above picture was sent to our executive director. “It’s really big and it doesn’t have any siding,” she texted back, “I don’t think we should use it.”

Rejection.

In the morning I went downtown to retrieve my house and tried not to think about the many hours of progress I had lost that month. On the way back we managed not to take out anymore power lines, and we almost made it without incident but just as we made the final turn, a tree took its just revenge. A branch slapped into one of my top windows, shattering the glass and the last of my good humor. “$200,” I involuntarily muttered.

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I gathered the broken pieces of custom window from the street, patted my gal and told her she was beautiful no matter what anybody said, and then we headed back to the parade. The rest of the day was great and was probably a lot less stressful than it would have been with the house in tow. We got the truck decorated, threw cute kids in the back, and handed out old t-shirts from wheel barrels. Afterwards I celebrated in true Butter and Egg Days fashion, by day drinking with people I went to high school with.

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Photo by Tyler Chartier

A couple days later, we got the tiny house back in her spot and leveled up, another all day ordeal, and a day later a neighbor hosting an open house begged us to move it. I didn’t have to be there for the second move. My dad towed it with a friend while I was at work. But still, more labor undone.

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Back where she belongs… briefly.

This whole post has felt very negative so here, a few positive things that came from the Butter and Eggs Debacle:

  1. Planning for the parade motivated me to finish my roof.
  2. The inside of my house will be much easier to work in now that it’s clean.
  3. I learned new life skills for towing and tire maintenance.
  4. I formed valuable relationships with the good people at O’Reilly Autoparts.
  5. I know that my house won’t fall apart when I tow it (but trees and powerlines…)
  6. I got a deep sense of pride and happiness watching people point and stare.
  7. I can totally guilt the Rebuilding Together board of directors into helping me bust out my siding now.
positive thinking
You too can stand in a field of wheat.

Thank you to my dad for putting up with all this crap. Thank you to everyone who smiled and pointed when they saw my house. Thank you to the guys at the autoparts store for their humor and guidance. Thank you to all you cool kids who came back to town for our hometown holiday, caught me on my way back to my car, and talked me into drowning my tiny house sorrows in cheap bottles of PBR. It was great catching up after all these years! And thank you everyone at Rebuilding Together Petaluma for offering to fix my window for me, for helping me put up my siding (really so kind of you to offer with no pressure from me at all…), and for mobilizing over 600 volunteers to repair more than 50 homes and non-profit facilities in Petaluma every year! Seriously, you’re worth the hassle! And thank you Reader, for being excited enough about this project to follow my blog. I will try to have some real progress for you next month!

I Bought a Trailer!

Today I made my first and hopefully biggest investment towards the OneSixty House when I ordered a custom built trailer from Iron Eagle Trailers in Portland, Oregon. There is no going back now. Soon I will have a several thousand dollar, several thousand pound purchase sitting in my yard.

Look at that sexy trailer...
Look at that sexy prototype…

Also, because I am buying my trailer from Portland, get ready for Portlandia references on every trailer post. Sorry not sorry.

Deal with it
Deal with it

I had originally planned to buy used and modify but realized quickly that this was not a good plan for me. After a couple weeks of researching, checking out trailers, and calling custom shops to get estimates on modification costs, all the evidence indicated that I was about to spend months of my life searching for something with no guarantee that when I actually made a purchase it would be the right one. I decided that the time I would save and the peace of mind I would get from knowing my trailer was being built by experts was worth the extra money. Plus, the Portland cell phone guy has a good point.

after you pay for it

A fellow member of the tiny house community referred me to Iron Eagle Trailers and I am so glad she did. They have a series of trailers specifically designed to serve as the foundations of tiny houses on wheels and their tiny home trailer expert Rob always clearly and quickly answered any questions I had during the decision making process. I feel confident that I have chosen a trustworthy company.

The completion is estimated at 6 weeks from now which means I will be able to go pick it up mid-March. The estimate they gave me was March 19! I guess I’m taking a road trip to Portland! Bummer.

Oh sh*** its that Katelynn coming into town?
Oh sh*** is that Katelynn coming into town?

Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me towards this huge step. To my mother and father for keeping their eyes open for used trailers, to Maggie for referring me to her helpful cousin Pepper, to Pepper for referring me to Iron Eagle, and to Rob and the rest of the crew at Iron Eagle in Portland for making this stage of my tiny house journey easy.

Now to start some serious designing…

Like deciding where to put the bird on it...
Like deciding where to put a bird on it…

A Tiny Statement of Intent

I want to share something exciting with my friends, family, and network. I have decided to build my own home! Actually, I have decided to build my own tiny home. Yes, those little cabins on trailers which have been flooding your social media feeds: I am making one!

Real adults aren't afraid to build houses and color with crayons.
Real adults aren’t afraid to build houses and color with crayons.

I will be using this blog to share my progress and resources with loved ones and other members of the ever growing tiny home community!

Let me quickly run you through the what, where, when, why, and hows of my project!

What?

My little house will be a lot like any other house. It will have a bathroom, office space, kitchen, lounge area, room for guests to stay, and a place for me to sleep. The only difference is that mine will be mobile and will have a footprint of only 160 square feet! The entire structure will be built on top of an 8′ by 20′ trailer and measure 14′ from ground to the tip of the roof.

Where?

I will be constructing the little house in the backyard of my Sonoma County home and sourcing as many of my materials from Northern California as possible!

When?

Starting now! I am already in the process of designing, budgeting, and searching for a trailer.  I plan to finish the project by Summer.

Why?

There are many aspects of building a tiny home on a trailer that appeal to me: mobility, a low environmental impact, the opportunity to design my own living space, the confidence that comes from planning and executing such a big project. But one reason looms above all others…

IT’S CHEAP! The estimated cost of building a 160sqft tiny home on a trailer is $10-15,000. With savings from rent in California, this project will pay for itself within two years of use! With all the money I save, imagine all the extra travelling I can do!

How?

One answer is “With my own bare hands, dammit!” but the real answer is with a lot of hard work, will power, and the help of my many talented friends. I admit it… I NEED HELP! I cannot do this alone.

I have already been surprised and uplifted by the unanimous reactions of enthusiasm and support from everyone I have shared my plans with. So thank you to those who have already offered their hands, advice, and blessings. I know that when the OneSixty House is complete it will not only be my perfect living space but also a tangible representation of my beautiful, supportive community.