Monthly Archives: December 2016

Late summer – now: updates and reflections

Hi folks, this will probably be my last post on this blog site – using wordpress has been increasingly frustrating and I haven’t been able to upload more than a few photos this time around, so if you want to see more photos, look on facebook or email me. I will let you know if I create a new blog.

It’s been over two years since I started building my little home and I find myself talking less and less about it. When the subject arises, I tend to first criticize the tiny house movement. Why? Because the more I learn about minimalism, tiny houses, and the simplicity or environmentally friendly lifestyle movement, the more I realize just how diverse these movements are: not very.

Minimalism and tiny houses have become trendy, and arguably, a form of appropriation. When did it become cool to live with just 100 possessions or in the tiniest house possible? Why aren’t slums or tiny apartments or homeless people romanticized the same way tiny houses or living-with-less are? When did simple lifestyle become something that could be bought and sold?

Yes, I love that this new trend is lowering people’s carbon footprints, especially folks who might not otherwise be eager to change their ways, but trends can change. I’m also beginning to believe that individualism is a big contributor to our consumptive lifestyles and that breaching the fear of each other and making efforts to share and build community could do more for the environment (and each other for that matter) than continuing to live independently but just smaller.

This all being said, I still believe in the tiny house movement (the more humble, value-influenced, and need-based version) and hope regulators will begin to recognize small-scale houses as appropriate and legal dwellings. I still feel compelled to complete my own tiny home (duh) for many of the same reasons I started with and more. I am incredibly grateful for the skills I’ve gained through this process as well as the confidence I’ve built and the connections I’ve made and look forward to continuing to challenge myself to grow in these areas.

I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped in the last months, but I am very pleased with the progress I have made.

After I got my siding from Erich, my dad and I made the corner trims and, with quite a lot of frustration and wrangling, successfully screwed warped corner trims onto likely un-square corners. Some of my windows were missing trim, so I made some – with technical suggestions from Sam: I learned some new vocabulary including “kerf” which is a general term for a cut into wood. In this case the kerf, a long incision running along the bottom of the trim – is intended to keep water from getting to the side of the house.

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I got a lot of help from my Aunt Sarah and my mom to fill screw holes then sand and paint all the trim. With multiple coats, dry time, and some uneasy heights, this took a few days to finish.

Many of the suggestions I received from Sam could fall under his own category of “suspenders and a belt” – essentially, back-up protection. In regards to my siding, he suggested that I prime the backs of the boards, caulk the top edges where they meet the roof trim, and use a product called Cedar Breather to create air space behind the siding. This way, if water did get behind the siding, it would a) run down the protected backs, and/ or b) have ample air circulation to dry out.

Late in the summer, I did a work trade with Alice and Dunan – who were on a field-study semester from Hampshire farming Wally and Juanita Nelson’s Bean Patch. I went up there and helped lay down cardboard on the footpaths between the veggie rows one day and a couple weeks later, they came to Ashfield with their friend Johnny to help me with my siding. Alice, Johnny, and my mom prepped and primed the backs of the siding while my dad and Dunan worked on putting up the Cedar Breather and I screwed in the siding. It was my biggest work party yet and I soon learned – after primer was applied to the wrong side of some siding – that I need to just supervise and give instructions on what I want done and how I want things to look. Whoops! Constantly learning.

Since then – at the end of the summer and during my October break, I attached some siding on three sides and have selected and numbered all the rest of the siding that needs to go up. My mom generously primed all of the backs when I went back to Hampshire after my October break – primer wouldn’t dry well in the cold – and my dad re-stacked the remaining siding so it will be safe over the winter. Now I’m home for winter break until late January, so I’m hoping to make some more progress. However, cutting the siding to fit perfectly against trim and around windows has proven very tricky and a slow moving process. More to come sometime, eventually! 🙂 Love and good wishes to all for the New Year!