How a Tiny House Project Delayed our Cycling Expedition

Before we can head out on our around-the-world cycling expedition, we need to finish building the exterior envelope of our Tiny House on a trailer, which we plan on living in when we return from our travels.    Building our tiny home has been just one part of our larger dream – a dream of learning to live more sustainably, clearing the “clutter” from our lives, and creating more space for endeavors and people that are important to us.

[To find out why we’re building “tiny” read this page.  To catch up on our Tiny House blog entries to date and subscribe to our Tiny House feed go here.]

Aren’t you supposed to be cycling right now?!?

We’ve had several folks recently ask us why we’re building the tiny house RIGHT NOW….weren’t we supposed to leave in April on an around-the-world cycling expedition?   Oh yeah, that trip…..the one we’ve been planning for a few years now, the one we quit our jobs for?  Are we just using this Tiny House project as a way to procrastinate leaving?

The truth is, although we would love to have life follow our very well-laid plans, it refuses to even look at our meticulously scheduled calendar and it rarely follows our rules!  Our “plan” was to build our Tiny House last summer and fall but several things delayed us getting our trailer by, oh, six to eight months.  We had given life a two month lee-way in this project but it even squandered that away – the nerve!

The Cause of the Delay(s)

We couldn’t have foreseen that the first welder we hired to construct our trailer would blatantly lie to us, over several months time, telling us he was making progress on the build.  It was only when we felt our backs were against the wall and we told him we would be picking up whatever he had built to date to hand over to another welder to finish that we found out he hadn’t even purchased the parts to start the build!  Being mid-July, we were crest-fallen.  We knew it would take a minimum of another week to find and review our design with another welder, and another 4-6 weeks for the new welder to build our trailer – we wouldn’t get our trailer till the middle to end of August!  Was that enough time to build our Tiny House?  Well, we thought it would be tight but that we could make it happen.

But then we hit our second bump in the road.  The second welder we hired took about 7 weeks to build the trailer, but unfortunately he didn’t follow the design specs we had given him, so the wheel well ended up in space that had been planned as the bathroom.   Another big disappointment.  But we worked through it and he agreed to add to the trailer and we re-designed our interior plans.  Once everything was negotiated and built, it was October when we parked the trailer in its current location!!

The third big delay in our building process was that we quickly realized that the trailer frame was out of level, and the problem was amplified by the additions the welder made to the original trailer.  This required us to build and level wood framing up abve the steel frame, so that we had a level paying field on which to build the rest of our house- a meticulous and frustrating thing to have to do.

Mother Nature’s Wake up Calls

Then Vermont’s winter settled in with record-breaking snowfalls.  Although we took the opportunity offered us indoors to wrap up plans for our cycling trip and to focus on the envelope, energy efficiency and design of the tiny house, we were nervous.   How were we going to build the house and still leave on April 1st, 2011?

Spring rolled around with it’s own record-breaking rainfall, eliminating days at a time from our build schedule.  (By the way, anyone else, other than Bill McKibben, notice the connection between the extreme weather instances we’re experiencing and climate change?)

Reality set in.

We had piles of supplies in our yard – reclaimed lumber, reclaimed maple boards for flooring, redwood to be used for the siding.  We discussed shelving the Tiny House build till after we returned from our cycling gig but decided that we didn’t want to sell or give up all the great recycled goods we had collected over the prior two years for our tiny house and we didn’t have any place to store them while we were away.  So, we decided to carry on and at least get the exterior shell up and weather-tight.

Never Underestimate the Power of Baby Steps

Which leads us to where we are today.   We’re working on an extremely tight schedule, the weather is being uncooperative, and the anxiety-laden days laced with hard physical labor are putting some serious stress on our relationship (as well as those who are helping us build).  However, we’re taking one small step at a time, one foot in front of the other, just like we have every day for the last few years, to overcome obstacles to success.  Our goal at this point is to pay attention to the items on the to-do list, and to check off one small task, then another, and another….until we look up and see our house built!  That, and to remember we’re a team and to be nice to each other.  🙂

The Silver Lining

Although we have the Tiny House interior floor plans well laid out in our minds and on paper, we’re realizing that not finishing the interior before we leave may be a blessing in disguise.  As we travel on our bicycles, we’re planning to visit transition towns, sustainable communities, and villages throughout the world that are actively dealing with sustainable building and resource allocation issues.  We’re sure to learn a lot from the people in these communities, things that aren’t common practice or that we haven’t even thought of yet in our own community.  It makes sense for us to take in that valuable information and to, upon our return, implement smart  ideas into the interior design of our home.

What’s your story?

What about others out there currently in the midst of planning or building — are you experiencing delays, stress, or other obstacles?  How do handle them?  What advice would you offer future DIYers and builders?

2 comments to How a Tiny House Project Delayed our Cycling Expedition

  • Virginia Reyes

    I’m actually building my tiny home next summer and seeing your story and experience really has helped me see all of the before work I need to do. I was actually really surprised that you overall building design is so similar to the one I already had sketched out:) I swear I just found you guys yesterday lol. But it has really been amazing to see how you Tiny Home is coming together and I can’t wait to see the new insights you guys come back with from your travels:)

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