Learning to build, then building, then learning to fix our mistakes

by Sarah

So this house-building thing takes a long time.  The house may be tiny… but it still takes a long time!

After reviewing the Tumbleweed DVD this morning, we realized we’d missed a little detail… the sheathing that we’ve put up on the three walls we’ve constructed was supposed to overhang above and below the wall in order to attach to the roof and trailer’s fascia.  We made an overhang below the wall and not above.  It’s probably not that big of a deal.  As in, we won’t have to re-do those walls.  We will figure out a way to fix it, to attach small pieces of sheathing to something, to make it work.

After this little setback, and the ensuing disappointment, I reminded myself that:

1.  It’s got to be about the process and not just the destination.  Because the destination is far away, sometimes it feels very far away.

2.  We are learning how to build.  This is a useful and transferable skill.

3.  We are learning to work together.

4.  We are learning to be humble and to learn a new thing.  How often in our adult lives do we get to learn something totally new, to be complete beginners again?  Not that often.

I hesitated writing this post, because I want this website to be fun, and not to focus too much on the frustrations.  At the same time, frustration is a big part of building a tiny house if you’ve never built a house before.  I want to be honest about this.  It is hard.  It’s not obvious.  There are many little pieces and no clear and simple recipe.  Building is an art, and it’s vast.  We are sloppily finger-painting our ways towards something.  I hope it will be a house that stands straight, resists rains, and keeps us warm.

I did feel encouraged when I ran through those four points, though, reminding myself of all the ways we are learning and growing, even when the external progress on the house appears so slow.

Also encouraging, we’ve had company this week!  Joseph’s brother Adam stayed with us for the past ten days and it was so fun to have another person to build with.  Since we left our Sonoma build site, it’s just been the two of us (and sometimes only Joseph!).  Having Adam here reminded us of how fun and energizing it is to do things with other people!

Here are some photos of our build progress.

Building the latest wall
Building the latest wall


Adam and Joseph cutting the plywood to fit around the wheel well.
Adam and Joseph cutting the plywood to fit around the wheel well.




We've got three walls!
We’ve got three walls!

13 thoughts on “Learning to build, then building, then learning to fix our mistakes

  1. Gotta say, loves, from out here it looks like the house is coming along with great rapidity–I mean not so long ago it was a dream and a conversation, a pile of books–and even less time ago it was string in a guest house and dry erase marker on a glass sliding door, and even less long ago.. you get the idea. It’s tremendously exciting to see your progress–and I know, the bird’s eye view has nothing on the muscle-learning and the frustrations and the puzzles, but I just thought I’d put it out there–you are making something where there was nothing and that’s tremendous and it hasn’t even been a year (has it?).

    1. Dear Amy, Thank you for your perspective, your help zooming out. It’s true! Not long ago we were hanging out in your living room brainstorming how to but our hearts and dreams into a website name! And you are right – we are making something! We got our trailer in July so, much less than a year of actually building. It’s not happening the way we thought it would… but really all those ideas were made up. It’s happening the way it’s happening. And that’s fine too. Can’t wait to see you here soon!! Love, Sarah

  2. Your house looks great! Just to keep things in perspective, it’s not often that a house is built by only two people! Most houses have crews (and bosses telling them what to do!). I love this: “We are learning to be humble and to learn a new thing. How often in our adult lives do we get to learn something totally new, to be complete beginners again? Not that often.” That takes so much courage! Way to go, Sarah and Joseph!

    1. Querida Allison, thank you! Thanks for reminding us that what we are doing is not supposed to be easy! It’s usually a professional project, and a big project… so of course we have a lot to learn. Thanks for your encouragement and helping keep up our spirits. Love, Sarah

  3. Think like a raindrop. Always find a way to the ground and not a rest (puddle/leak)
    on the way down and away from the foundation. Just sayi’n. Looks good. Insulation/ventalation choices are important too…enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Shannon! We’ve got four walls now – yeah 🙂 ! We think they will be worth all the trouble… for all of the lessons we’re learning, and ’cause they’ll shelter us someday. And lovely Tiny Home music! Thank you! Fun!

  4. You two are doing great! I suspect that your attitude towards the build will continue to steadily transcend all of your doubts. Your an inspiration to all of us who are still saving for our own builds. Conservatively…I won’t even begin my build until this spring, still saving for the blasted trailer! Worth it though, just watching from the sidelines is enough to convince me.

    1. Thank you, Joe! It is amazing how much we are changing and growing by apprenticing ourselves to this building process. Yes, it is a big commitment and requires savings – we hope you’ll get to start your build soon! We do believe it’s worth it!

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