Most of the drywall is up now, and we’re going to prime it for paint this Saturday. Steve estimates we’ll be able to move in within two weeks. We’re super excited, especially since we originally hoped to be in by the end of the summer.
Almost nothing has turned out the way we expected. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — we’ve learned a lot from this experience, and I’m honestly pretty happy with the way things have turned back. But since we write this blog, in part, so that other future homesteaders can learn from our mistakes, I’m going to reflect a bit on what could have sped up the building process. Life threw us into this process unexpectedly, but if we’d had a year or so to prepare, we could have eased the transition into homesteading and given ourselves a more solid landing.
Really, it comes down to three things: more skill, more money, and less space.
Between the two of us, Drew and I knew absolutely nothing about construction when we moved out here. After four months of building, we’ve wised up a little, but we’re still dunces compared to Steve. Neither of us took shop in high school, too focused on meeting college entrance requirements. (Are there shop classes for adults? Seriously, I could use them . . .) Although we both talked about wanting to try things like wood working, the apartments we lived in weren’t exactly full of workshop space.
So, short of going back in time and signing up for shop instead of physics, what could I have done differently? Well, if I’d started planning for this change a year ago, I would have tried to build my skills through volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. We could have learned something about building while helping the community.
Aside from our combined ignorance about things like framing walls, running wire, and hanging drywall, the other major setback to our project was a lack of funds. Drew losing his job was the initial impetus for moving out here, and building supplies are expensive. If we’d had better credit, we might have been able to qualify for a construction loan, but as it is, we ended up spacing out our trips for supplies over several months, buying 2x4s, wire, insulation, and drywall bit-by-bit, as we could afford.
If we could have done things differently, I would have tried harder to pay down debt. We could have rented out our spare room, or given in and moved to the suburbs for awhile. But that would have meant taking our dream to do this seriously, which, for whatever reason, we didn’t.
The other thing we could have done is to think small. At 14×40, our cabbage is too big to qualify as a true tiny house. But we deliberately wanted a larger size, knowing that this is going to tide us over for a few years until we build a farm-style house. Also, in a rare case of foresight, we wanted to build something that we could retire back into in our golden years, when it was time to downsize again. But if we’d opted for something that was 230 sq. ft. versus 560 sq. ft., we would most likely be done by now.
But while the wait is long (not only for us, but also for Mom and Steve, who are waiting to get their bedroom back!), the process has been good overall and what we’re building is just right for us right now, and hopefully in the future as well. I can’t lie, though. I am very ready to be moved in.