“Look at her, isn’t she beautiful?” they all say passing by but once they get to know her, they face a disappointing reality. Inside she is an empty shell, a hollow skeleton. She likely needs years of work, totaling in the thousands of dollars to become truly whole, self sufficient, move-in-ready.
But damn… she looks good.
Over the past few months the exterior of the 160House has undergone dramatic cosmetic surgery. We flashed the tires, installed vents, sided all four walls, caulked in the trim and windows, and sided and roofed the “rabbit hutch.” All there is left to do is attach the hutch doors and paint the front door an obnoxiously cute canary yellow.
The 160House’ makeover happened just in time for her very first celebrity visitors. My friend Chelsea, an old Sea Scout buddy, is considering making a horrible mistake and wanted to come see what my mistake looked like.
She brought with her Renee Randau McLaughlin and Hillarie Kaczetow, organizers for the San Jose TinyFest. Hillarie is also the builder and resident of Tiny Hell on Wheels (and proud mom to Crusher, the tiny pig!!!). While Crusher rooted for acorns at the foot of my parent’s old oak tree, we stood in the doorway of the house and enthusiastically swapped successes and set-backs. Renee and Hillarie were full of praise, helpful hints, and sympathetic anecdotes. Chelsea did not seem at all deterred from making the worst decision of her young life.
Those glitter counter tops though!
This was my first time kicking it with real tiny house people, and it was truly energizing. It made me want to get more involved in the tiny house community, if for nothing else than to use the successes of my peers as envy based fuel for powering through the remainder of my build.
So thank you to Chelsea and friends for coming to visit for the big tour and letting me show off my most beloved and resented child!
Other thanks this month go to Mio Metals in Petaluma for their well crafted custom flashing pieces we used on the wheel wells and as always to my dad for his skills, time, and mentorship.
Tune in next month to watch me play “Why the Fuck Did I Put this Wire Here 6 Months Ago?”
In September I chose to stain my siding using a blend of vinegar and steel wool. I was so proud of my swift decisive action that on the first Friday of October I declared that “I was the best decision maker of all time this month!” I then proceeded to spend the rest of the month agonizing over this decision.
On my first October work day, I applied a top coat of transparent stain to the wood. First off, I would like to have a discussion with the manufacturer of this product over the meaning of words like “clear” and “transparent.”
I’d like to clear some things up here about what words mean.
I thought that maybe it would dry clear (purple glue sticks had taught me this was possible) so I tested it on a few boards. It did not dry clear at all but instead turned my gray stains a distinct burnt orange.
What’s more, when I looked at all my boards after having let them sit for a week, I saw that they were wildly different colors and not just between boards but within the boards. Overall they had settled into a deep redwood color, not at all the cool gray I had hoped for originally. I didn’t hate how they looked but they didn’t look like I wanted my house to look.
I call this the steelhead board.
Logical response: That’s cool. I’ll just paint over them.
Actual response: If I paint over these boards I am a failure who has wasted an entire month’s worth of work days. I better waste all of this month’s work days worrying about it just to be sure.
So that’s why there’s no first of November post.
Good news though! This month I am back on track and have real progress to report!
Once I decided to paint my boards instead of sticking with my stain, I had another daunting decision to make. What color? Or I guess just which shade…
I battled indecision and quickly settled on the middle shade. It’s called Chrome.
My dad set up a way better work station than my brain had come up with for my solo painting. Instead of using saw horses to paint three boards at a time and transferring them to ladders to dry, we used an elaborate series of ladders to paint almost all the boards at one time.
We decided to spray instead of roll the boards and it went so fast. It took three short days to get all the boards painted with primer, first coat, and second coat!
And I got to wear this super cute suit!
Forever the icon.
Next I paint my trim, prep the boards, and start installing
One last piece of exciting news is that I dropped a day at one of my jobs so now I have double the tiny house time!
OK, it’s thank you time! Thank you to my dad for his superior painting strategies, to the guys at the paint stores for answering my many many questions, and to my wonderful friends and family for putting up with my tiny house related worries, especially Jonni, who knows there is no stress that cannot be cured by sushi and fried potatoes.
I feel like this month’s update is a little scattered. Let’s blame the eclipse. I mean everyone lost their minds over it so why not? Let’s start with…
We got the trim almost entirely finished, except for a little bit around the door where I still need to flash the wheel well.
I also went on another siding quest. This time I called ahead and got someone on the phone who swore they actually had the materials. Still, there was always the chance that after 40 minutes in traffic, it could all turn out to be a filthy lie so I had to make sure the trip was worth it this time.
Let’s just say I made a little side quest to a certain bright green, misleadingly named Puerto Rican restaurant on the way… you know the one. If you are thinking, “This is a construction blog, why is she writing about some restaurant?” Then you have clearly never been to Sol Food, your life is sad, and I am sorry.
Image from 4feet2mouths blog
Image from Sunset magazine
Image from some guy named Phillip Woodrow’s Foodspotting profile
When I finally arrived at the store with a belly full of limeade and camarones criollos, I made my way apprehensively to the lumber aisle, sure that I would find only an empty space and a note reading “F you Katelynn!” where the promised boards should have been. But when I reached the siding section, there it was, actual siding! My siding! I piled nearly 50 boards onto my cart, most of which were in great condition, and carefully guided my towering load to check out.
I almost made it out without being on the receiving end of any mildly condescending comments about my presence in the lumber aisle. If you have ever been a young woman in a floral shirt and ballet flats just trying to buy some construction materials, you know this is a true miracle. However, it was not the day for acts of God and as I approached the counter a man cocked his head and said, “Ha! You building a whole house there?”
I said, “Yes.” He said nothing.
The glee I got from this small moment of triumph over the patriarchy lasted only minutes until the woman behind the counter said, “Your total today will be half of your monthly income.” After breathing through my heart attack, I handed over my debit card and thought of all the camarones criollos and garlic plantains I could have bought with $1058.37 (seriously… it’s a really good restaurant).
On the bright side, I now have enough boards to really get started on this siding adventure! This coming month, I can stain the boards and maybe even start to side my house! I have decided to do a graywash, and am experimenting with a natural method that uses vinegar and steel wool to artificially age boards.
I watched a couple of YouTube videos which showed this simple method working in moments. I was skeptical but thought I would test it out. All it takes is vinegar, steel wool, and a jar.
I poured the vinegar over the steel wool, covered it most of the way up with tin foil so that gas could escape but dust wouldn’t get it, and let it sit on a shelf for two days.
At the end of two days it looked like this.
I dipped a piece of sample wood in, pulled it out, and left it out overnight. Supposedly you only have to wait a couple minutes for results but I didn’t have two minutes. I had important reading in bed and falling asleep to do.
Ok, so that last process picture is really awful but look how well it worked!
Now I need to decide if I want to do this natural stain and then coat it with a protective layer of transparent exterior wood stain or if I want to skip the YouTube life hack altogether and go straight for a semi-transparent gray exterior wood stain. There is a lot to consider. The second method would protect my siding better in the long run, and also I am not entirely sure that painting my boards with what is essentially rust and acid isn’t damaging the wood… but it looks so good!
I know all of you will be on the edge of your seats this whole month, waiting to find out what I decide!
Thank you to my dad for loaning me his truck and taking the lead on getting the house trimmed, thank you to the San Rafael Home Depot for actually having more than 8 screwed up boards this time, thank you to Sol Food for making life worth living, thank you to YouTube DIYers Chad Cole (video below!) and DIY Pete for their advice on ageing wood with vinegar and steel wool, and thank you for keeping up with my tiny house memoirs!
All I want to do is hang out by Chad’s koi pond and listen to him talk about stuff. Is it just me?
I finally sucked it up and decided to buy what seems to be the only unprimed cedar shiplap siding available in the Bay. The closest Home Depot that had some in stock was an hour of traffic away. I called ahead to make sure they really had the boards but after 10 minutes on hold, I gave up. The website claimed that they had 50 of the 70 boards I needed so it seemed worth the risk of wasted time. I borrowed the truck and went on a mission.
It did not work out…
Annoyed selfies in home depot.
I bought the 8 damaged boards they actually had in stock at 70% off and hauled them back. This seems to be how siding purchases will go until I have what I need. My dad also made a Home Depot run and came back with about a dozen damaged boards. (He only got 50% off. I guess I’m just cuter).
In the mean time, we are preparing by putting up the last of the housing paper/flashing and trimming the windows and door!
That task has taken up most of this month’s work time but we did get one other thing done. We mounted my water heater in the back. It’s not even hooked up and it turns out it’s actually going to be a pain in the ass to install but even tacking it up felt like a big moment. This was the first “thing” that has gone into the house. It’s not part of my house’s skeleton, it’s guts, you know?
That’s it for July but I want to say that it feels so good to be making steady progress on the house. I feel like every month I have at least some small victory to report. There was a time at the end of last year when I looked at the house and genuinely thought “I will never finish this.” I hadn’t been working on it in months, I couldn’t see when I would find the time to pick back up, and honestly folks I was going through some sh**.
In this dark time in 160House history, I came across a blog post that struck really close to home (I recommend that anyone considering building a tiny house read it). The author writes, “People say: “Oh, you’ve come so far! You’re so close to finishing!” No, we really, really aren’t. We’ve been “so close” to finishing nearly every month for the last two and a half years.”
Sometimes I still feel this way. Building a tiny house is not a tiny endeavor. It’s the biggest, craziest, possibly stupidest thing I’ve ever done, and honestly, I know it’s still possible that I won’t finish. But right now it feels like I will. So I am just going to keep putting in the time when I can and making my slow and steady progress and maybe eventually I can retire in my little house on wheels.
Thank yous are short this month. Just a big thank you to my dad for going on this long, slow journey with me, even when you’re grumpy and would rather be fixing your truck. And thank you for reading! The good news for my loyal readers is this blog may be around for years to come! 😉
I spent a lot of time this month wandering around hardware stores and lumber yards pricing out cedar siding. What I discovered is that it’s really freaking expensive.
I remembered a design element I had seen in other builds. They used wood siding most of the way up their walls and then switched to another material towards the top. By implementing this simple but appealing design I realized I could save at least a few hundred dollars.
So here’s the thing, I could tell you everything that happened in May but it would be a short story. In fact, here is what that post would look like:
I reparked the trailer again, I installed some more wiring, and I priced out siding.
Instead of ending there, I thought I would tell a different story, the story of how I designed (and continue to design) the 160House.
Phase 1: Convertible Everything
When I first started to dream up the house, I had all sorts of elaborate plans. It looked a lot like this bullshit…
My original few layouts had tables converting into beds and stairs doubling as dressers. It sacrificed no amenities. The exterior was just as bad. I had lofty dreams of awkwardly placed balconies and impractical rooftop terraces.
Phase 2: Keep it simple, Stupid.
My tiny house plans were starting to resemble Fred and Carrie’s Microhouse. There were even a couple iterations with a bathtub. A BATHTUB! (If your curious, it extended underneath the kitchen counter).
I reevaluated. One of my favorite parts of designing the 160House has been taking a deeper look at what is important to me. In a very literal sense it has brought to my attention how much space specific activities take up in my life.
An example: I had been envisioning myself writing my novel in a tiny nook and hosting dinner parties at my family sized dining table but I hate working in cramped spaces and I have never in my quarter century on this planet cooked dinner for my friends. The tiny house wasn’t going to suddenly transform me into a socialite who invites her peers for philosophy and souffle, and I wasn’t going to be happy shoved into a little corner every time I had some creativity to squeeze out. The answer: A big ass desk.
If you want a feel for the inside of the house, watch the video below. I came across it when my entire YouTube suggestion page consisted of tiny house tour videos. The major differences are my shed style roof and my loft over the office space instead of the kitchen area.
Phase 3: You can’t afford that
Now back to my siding dilemma. I simplified the design but was determined not to compromise on aesthetics or quality. Unfortunately, buying nice things is expensive. So, just like this week when I added a new element to my siding plans to cut down on costs, many of my final design decisions have been based on budget.
I don’t have all the windows I once imagined and not all of them are operable, my skylight is not a perfect 4×4 square, the heater is going to be a simple split unit and not one of those cool looking wall mounts where you can see the flames, and the kitchen sink won’t be a classic farmhouse basin but just a big ass metal tub my mother found for $5 at an estate sale.
To Be Continued…
I am sure there will be many more compromises and days spent shaking my head as I flip back and forth between Lowe’s website and my bank statement but so far I have made it through every dilemma with a decision I feel confident about.
Thank yous! Thank you to my friend Andrew who made digital renderings of some of my plans. Sorry I changed the design afterwards! Thank you to my dad for his patience as I deliberate, redeliberate, and obsess my way through this project. And thank you for taking the time to stay caught up on my Tiny House adventures.
“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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
This whole post has felt very negative so here, a few positive things that came from the Butter and Eggs Debacle:
Planning for the parade motivated me to finish my roof.
The inside of my house will be much easier to work in now that it’s clean.
I learned new life skills for towing and tire maintenance.
I formed valuable relationships with the good people at O’Reilly Autoparts.
I know that my house won’t fall apart when I tow it (but trees and powerlines…)
I got a deep sense of pride and happiness watching people point and stare.
I can totally guilt the Rebuilding Together board of directors into helping me bust out my siding now.
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!
One of my first visions of me in my tiny home, way back when the 160House was just an exciting thought and not a three ton monster taking over my life and my parents’ yard, was of me in a loft below a wide open skylight. As I developed my ideas and changed the design time and again, the skylight over my bed through which I would gaze at stars and crawl with a friend to clink beers on the roof, remained a non-negotiable feature.
I wanted it big and I wanted it bad.
Well it turns out that big skylights are expensive, like really expensive. A company called Velux essentially has a monopoly on operable, residential skylights and the price for the 4×4 hatch skylight I had in mind was going to be at least $1200.
I compromised. Right before I bought a 2×4, I found a 3×4 for $800. Still more than I had wanted to spend but I think worth it. Except that it doesn’t come with the installation kit, which is another 300 flippin dollars!!! So ok, it turned out to be a pretty expensive feature.
BUT IT IS SO PRETTY!
I couldn’t wait to install. I am not ashamed to say that sometimes I went out to the house just to look at it and giggle. Unfortunately, I had to wait a bit because of something called rain but when the sky cleared it was time!
Just one problem… I am pretty sure Velux writes their instructions to be as confusing as possible. Watch this old classic clip to get a sample of the Velux instructional experience.
There were no words on Velux’s instructions so I took the liberty of writing some for them.
Step 1: This is a skylight.
Step 2: This arrow points to something important and these ones going in opposite directions are just to be silly.
Step 3: You’ve broken the skylight.
Step 4: Jk, it was supposed to do that.
Step 5: Here is a picture of an installed skylight to motivate you.
Eventually each of us had figured out half of the instructions and after doggedly defending our own interpretations, we realized that we both had separate but critical pieces of the puzzle. We put those somewhat literal puzzle pieces together and made one whole installed roof window.
Sadly, I can’t yet spend my days escaping to my loft to look at the sky, not just because that whole area is covered in sawdust and nails but because the rainy season is not quite over so I had to re-tarp the roof. However, the tarp is blue so if I imagine real hard I can pretend it’s the sky!
The Tiny Home Experience
In other news, I went to a Homes Show at the local fairgrounds with my buddy Ejay to look at the tiny houses and steal ideas. Confession time… this was actually my first time inside of a fully constructed tiny home! Don’t worry, I haven’t changed my mind, in fact I am even more excited now after getting a feel for the space, seeing some of my own ideas in action, and getting some new ideas in the process! It was super fun and lookatthistinysinkIwantit!
Thank you time! Thank you to my dad for laughing with me throughout the skylight installation process. Thank you Ejay for being my homes show buddy! And NO THANK YOU to Velux for your monopolizing, price gouging, lousy instruction ways (But you do make beautiful products to be fair. I love my skylight so I’m not that mad).
Next time on the 160House blog: Katelynn does electrical and loves it!
The 160House has officially taken over my life. It occupies most of my days off, about half of my waking thoughts, many of my day to day conversations, and it has become almost the sole topic of my dreams. I have dreamed that I built my house in a tree, that I went away and my dad built three more houses just like it to sell, that I died before I could finish the house, that my coworkers came and did a bunch of work for me, and my personal favorite that I was watching a horror movie about a haunted tiny house (Go ahead and try to tell me that’s not a hilariously good idea. Someone please call Fred and Carrie.)
It’s good though. It’s a project worth obsessing over and my obsession has started to pay off. As evidence, I present to you the progress I have made since my last post:
The windows are cut out!
The roof is on!
The house is wrapped!
Much reclaimed wood has been refurbished!
Both lofts and my internal wall are framed!
And thanks once more to my friends the Ongaros and their on-going remodel, the 160House now has a front door that I paid nothing but infinite gratitude for.
As each day my dad and I completed a step that made the 160House feel more whole, I began to feel a sense of accomplishment that I had not been able to access before. I began to feel like the house would actually be finished someday.
Of course it can’t all be big steps every day and the frustration and tedium of detail work quickly caught up with me. After weeks of big deal days I came face to face with THE BLOCKS.
Let me explain, I am going to be putting up sheet rock on my walls but the sheet rock needs to have something to attach to below and above my lofts so I have to put in what is called blocking. It fits between the studs and gives the sheet rock something to attach to as well as helping to prevent the spread of fires. So kind of important but not very interesting.
The second I started working on this, I immediately sunk into misery. It felt like a sudden halt to real progress. That combined with cracking boards, my total crap ability to take accurate measurement, how hard I struggled to hold the blocks in place while wielding an unwieldy nail gun in tight spaces, and the necessity of climbing down to reposition the ladder between every set of blocks quickly made this my least favorite activity I have engaged in so far during the 160House construction.
I admit I let my frustration get the better of me for a couple days. I was turning out frankly shameful work. So shameful that I never took any pictures. Here are some visual representations which you may interpret as you like.
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
People with tilted heads looking at crooked art gallery painting
I ended up having to recut a lot of the wood, twice actually, and then having to take out and reinstall many of the blocks I had already put in. One afternoon I was so miserable that I could hardly get myself to move. The mopier I got, the worse I felt about being mopey until I really didn’t know how I would power through.
But then something switched on in my brain. Who knows why this sudden change hit me, I would like to believe it’s because I was determined to get back to enjoying myself, but for one reason or another I suddenly reengaged with the work. I realized I just needed a better system. I set up a piece of plywood on the loft to use as my workspace so I didn’t have to move up and down the ladder so much, I predrilled the blocks to stop the wood splitting, and I switched over to a palm nailer so I could have more control and fit better into small spaces.
And suddenly things were going great again. I was back into it, enjoying the work and feeling accomplished again.
On President’s Day afternoon I finished all of the loft blocking. I’m sure there is more blocking in my future but in Katelynn v. The Blocks: Round 1, I came out victorious!
Thank you so much as always to my dad. Thank you again to the Ongaro family for my beautiful front door and again for the wood from their kitchen remodel which is what we just refurbished! And thanks as always to you Reader for following along.
In early October I began to make what felt like my first real progress on the house. I had a stack of lumber delivered to my house and it was time to start framing.
It seemed as if this stage would be quick and easy. In one afternoon, my father and I busted out one of the long walls and laid out most of the second.
The next morning my parents left to go gallivanting across the United States in their own tiny home/recreational trailer, leaving me to complete the second wall on my own. I was excited. As much as I love working with and learning from my father, I was eager to prove my own capabilities. My last words as my parents pulled away in their truck was “When you get back I will have this frame done and the walls up!” And I truly believed it.
If it took us both a quarter of an afternoon to build one wall, then I decided it would take me a full day to finish the one we had already started. I fully anticipated being able to gather a party to raise walls by the following week.
But I knew after the very first afternoon that this was going to be a longer endeavor than I anticipated. For that afternoon and several afternoons after, I pulled more nails than I left in… by a lot.
For my dear readers to understand the magnitude of my struggle, I am presenting to you all a list of mistakes you can make while framing, a list which has been thoroughly tested and not at all approved by yours truly!
Ways to F *** Up While Framing
You can nail the wrong piece
You can nail the right piece in the wrong place
You can nail the right piece in the right place in the wrong order
You can nail the right piece in the right place in the right order but not have checked to make sure it was level with the piece it was attached to
You can nail in the right piece in the right place in the right order and have made sure it was level only to discover that the board was more twisted than you realized and won’t nail in correctly on the other end
You can try to leverage this twisted piece in to place and look up to realize that you have now leveraged it out of place on the opposite end
After double checking for right pieces, places, order, levelness, and twistedness, you can finally have an entire section of wall together and realize that you cut a piece slightly too short
Alternatively, you can nearly complete a section and realize it was all measured all wrong in the first place.
Now that you’re angry, you can drive that stupid nail in so hard it cracks the lumber.
Or you can drive a nail in at the wrong angle and bend it to hell.
Or even better you can miss the nail entirely and slam that hate fueled hammer right into your thumb and forefinger.
Now while you’re furious about your bent nails and your cracked lumber and your possibly broken fingers, you can jam your crowbar in with far too much fervor and further crack the piece you’re trying to remove and every piece in the vicinity.
You can repeat these mistakes over and over and over again until it takes you an entire month of working tirelessly on every day off and some mornings before your night job to complete something that you thought would take one little 8 hour work day to knock out.
There are my mistakes. I hope this inspires you to go out and cuss at your own projects.
When I decided to take on the 160House I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I did think that my glowing intelligence and positive attitude would make for a quick learning curve. After spending four weeks making and remaking mistakes and practicing my most colorful language skills, I now know that I am going to have to ride this out on pure stubbornness. No matter. I have plenty of that.
Things did eventually pick up. After 4 work days of absolute struggle, I finally started to leave in more nails than I pulled and I stopped having to yell at the wood so much. Eventually I did finish that wall and was ready to gather friends for a good old fashioned barn raising.
The Raising of the Wall
Many heroes showed up at my house that hope-filled Wednesday. My sister and little nephew came to cheerlead and take photos, and my friends Kurt, Ejay, Kate, and my partner Joe came to do the heavy lifting. Together we heaved the surprisingly heavy wall over to the trailer and set it down. An end piece cracked off and fell to the ground. Bad omens (or workmanship but let’s say omens).
After attaching a new piece where the other had fallen, we had to strategize. First, problem was that it appeared that the wall, when lifted, would collide with one of the trees beside the trailer. The second problem was that if we pushed the wall any closer to the edge, there wouldn’t be any room for it to slip and it could fall off of the trailer.
We ended up pulling several wooden saw horses to the side of the trailer and lifting the wall on top of those. The plan was to drag the wall back to the trailer and then prop it up quickly by attaching a piece of wood to the tree and wall. (My quickly rejected suggestion was that we attach boards to the trailer as stoppers and just try lifting it to see if it would actually hit the tree. Remember this because I will briefly gloat about it later)
The plan at first seemed to be working. With a little will power and grunting, we got the thing upright, but as quickly as we got it up, things started to go horribly wrong. One of the saw horses began to sink into the ground, tipping backwards. The bottom of the wall started to slip out, causing the top to tip back down towards us. Panic ensued as we simultaneously reconciled with our own mortalities and refused to relinquish our delicate holds on life. We used our superhuman, near death experience strength to keep from being crushed, setting the wall back where we started.
For some reason, everyone wanted to go home after I almost killed them.
I probably should have felt more disappointed but mostly I was just thankful that nobody had been hurt and proud of myself and my friends for trying.
The Raising of the Wall Take 2
My dad came home the next day and was nice about not mocking me for my overzealous declaration.
A few days after he returned, just the two of us used a pulley system to get the first wall up. It took about an hour and there were no near death experiences. (For the record, I would like to say that we put a board down to keep the wall from sliding and that the wall didn’t even come close to hitting the tree when we lifted it so I am smart and everyone should listen to everything I say. See, I told you there would be brief gloating).
It was just one wall but it’s my wall. I made it and I lifted it, all with the help of my amazingly supportive friends and family. I am so proud of myself and thankful for my community.
So THANK YOU to my Dad for being my teacher and making things look so damn easy, to my Mom for photographing our framing day, to my sister Andra for photographing our wall raising day, to my nephew Carter for being our adorable wall raising mascot, and thank you infinitely to my friends Ejay, Kurt, and Kate and my wonderful partner Joe for their time, hard work, and misplaced trust. This would not be possible without all of your love, support, and efforts.
OK, here is my LONG overdue update, and it’s not even going to bring you all the way up to date but I wanted to announce that the 160 House has a subfloor!
Way back when in late May, I had drawn up a frame plan and purchased all the materials to build a subfloor, which is basically just a floor before you make it pretty with polished wood or tiles or carpet. I spent a couple of mornings cutting lumber to the correct measurements and then I was ready to finally for real begin the 160House build!
On a fine Wednesday afternoon we built the frame, attached waterproof fiberglass panels to the bottom, and with the help of my dad’s friend and employee Martin, managed to lift the entire frame and sink it into the base of the trailer.
Then in early June, my dear friend Saul and former Cal Sailing team Skipper came up to visit and help out with the house. In between trivia games and outstanding burritos and with the guidance of my father we were able to insulate the floor and build a platform on which you can stand!
It felt amazing to get the first real work done on the house. It’s not quite move in time yet but now I can stand on the floor of my future home and really start to visualize a life in that space.
In other news, more materials have trickled down my way. My friend’s family was remodeling their kitchen and offered to let me raid their used lumber, a family friend Mary gave me some wooden ceiling panels and (I think this one is really cool) used shelves from my old high school library, and between my mother at estate sales and my dad at swap meets, I have amassed a small collection of important detail pieces like lights, hangers, tiles, a shower head, and cabinet doors.
ALSO I have finished the final design! In my next post (which I plan to have up sooner than 3 months from now.. haha) I will show you my drawings and the fantastic 3D renderings done by my friend Andrew.
Thank you for following and thank you so much as always to my family and to Martin, Saul, the Ongaro Family, Mary, and Andrew for their kindness and contributions. I could not do this alone!