SHED’s Maiden Voyage

 

I am not sure which is more stressful: rushing a midnight deadline to evacuate all of your belongings from one rented location and get them into another, or hook your house and all of your belongings to a truck and pull it down the road.

Either way, we have done both in the last 3 weeks and this post is about the latter of the two experiences. After 14 months in the belly of the barn, it was time to extract our tiny house and transport it over 20 miles for the very first time.


 

The ‘Birth’:

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Now there are a few unique factors at play here: You may or may not remember that we built SHED taller than the barn rafters. That’s right…on jacks, SHED stands 13’-4.5.” The underside of the barn rafters are exactly 13’-0”…on a good day. In July our build was approaching the 13’-0’ height and we had to decide whether to move it outside or continue working under cover and figure it out later.

“we’ll get ‘er done. Don’t worry” Dave assured us, and we continued to build inside the barn.

Also, we framed our house with 2×3 lumber, a decision not really explored in tiny houses on wheels and therefore we did not have any precedents to learn from or previous successes to comfort us; or their failures to dissuade us for that matter.  None-the-less, after much research, we were confident in the science behind the decision and our ability to execute it well. You can learn all about our 2×3 framing and the resultant benefits (including reduced weight and increased thermal performance) in THIS POST.

Those factors were not going to change the fact that today was the day to get our THOW out of the Barn and across town and the anxiety was amplified by the fact that we had already been living in SHED for two weeks. We were no longer trying to transport a tiny house shell, we were moving our home, and all of our belongings.

The strategy was simple. Let some air out of the tires in order to get the high point of the THOW to drop. Combine that with the 2” of sag thanks to our house weight on the springs and we should be able to sneak under the rafters and out of the barn.

All things considered, the plan went pretty smoothly, until Dave’s truck finally exited the barn, dropped 6 inches down onto the dirt driveway in turn raising the peak of our tiny house back up, too high to clear the last rafter. Samantha tried to contain bouts of anxiety induced nausea and I ran around trying to help but most likely not doing much at all. Dave jumped out of the truck nearly laughing, and found some beams to throw under the truck tires to raise the truck, lower the tiny house roof ridge and complete the birth of our beloved tiny house from the large barn. “We are farmers, this is what we do for a living!” Dave, exclaimed with a chuckle, referring to the calm, on-the-fly thinking that is often required to get a task done in less than ideal circumstances.

By the way, this is Dave.

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Dave was our host while we built our tiny house. We were introduced through a mutual friend and for whatever reason he and the Harris family agreed to host our project on the spot in one of their old chicken barns, with very little insight into what the heck we were trying to build. As we drove to Portland to pick up our trailer, Dave put up lights in the barn over our work area and continued this generosity throughout our entire build, never asking for anything in return.

He regularly stopped into the barn to say hi and see how the project was coming along. At times of uncertainty he provided assurance. In times of question, he provided advice. In times of need, he provided the right tool. He brought coffee and cookies when we were cold and tired and he reminded me not to get my ‘panties in a bunch’ when I was frustrated over something. And when the time came to vacate the barn and let our tiny house out into the world, Dave was there at the helm, improvising when things got particularly tight.

We are going to miss those frequent encounters with Dave and we are not sure how to repay him, but as we continue on to the next stage of our adventure we will channel our inner Dave whenever the journey gets tough and remind ourselves…

“We’ll get ‘er done, don’t worry.”

 

And there it was, after growing, er, building SHED for 14 months in a dark safe nurturing space, our beloved THOW saw the light for the first time and the resemblance of a structure birth happening could not be ignored among our crew…from a barn, our ‘SHED’ was born.

 


 

The Transport:

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While the hard part was seemingly over, transporting our home for another 20 miles was hardly a drop in the bucket. Luckily we had an expert on hand with a capable truck and a willingness to be the first person to tow SHED. His name is Brad, he is a building designer and ½ ownership partner at Traditional Designs Inc., which makes him my boss, or just my co-worker when he introduces himself. Brad is also a volunteer ski patroller at White Pass Mountain Resort and has many years’ worth of experience pulling his 28’ RV  around and over the mountain passes of the PNW (which can approaches 10,000 lb when fully loaded).

We placed the trip permit in the rear window, hooked up and pulled SHED off the farm in an anti-climactic fashion, Samantha and I following, almost in dis-belief that a little 18 month old idea was now rolling down the road and through the country side of Eastern Washington.

Preliminary observations of its sturdy, appropriately balanced appearance were confirmed when Brad pulled off to the side of the road and said “its pulling great! Jump inside it and see how it feels.” The next few miles I experienced tiny house travel from the inside of our own home as it rolled down the backroads at 35 miles an hour. It was a smooth ride, far less violent than I had expected and the house subtly swayed as a whole, rather than racking or torqueing in any fashion that would have created cracks at the corners.

Our planned transport path conveniently went by our favorite brewery and we stopped in for an obligatory beverage to calm the nerves and celebrate the first half of transport day. Our friend Becca met up with us and upon departure became my very own film shoot get away car. The second half of our journey consisted of SHED’s calm and consistent movement through Yakima while Bec and I scrambled ahead to set up the video camera for a quick clip before doing it again… and again, in leap frog style.

 


 

The New Spot:

The first night and day at our new location was spent getting acquainted to the neighborhood dogs, and resident Stellar Jays and beautiful day light and acres of pastoral views through the many windows in our home. An evening walk through the dry pasture amplified the following morning’s surprise when we awoke to an unexpected lakefront view. The unusual amount of precipitation and warm temperatures in the mountains a full 36 hours before had finally made its way to the valley and began flooding some of the smaller tributary creeks onto the surrounding land. We monitored the water level as it slowly rose towards our home for the majority of the day before holding steady and retreating and vanishing throughout the following 3 days.

 

I am sure we will talk much more about our new spot and day to day  lives in 204 square feet in future posts so I just wanted to end this post with a reflection and a large thank you. 14 months ago we started this journey by writing the following passage as part of our very first blog entry:

As we write this on November 1st, 2014 we do not have a trailer. We do not have a place to build our tiny home. We do not have a truck or a trailer to tow a tiny home or a place to put a tiny home and our combined construction experience is relatively minuscule. Yet, here we are, about to spend the next 12-14 months building a tiny home.”

Well shoot, look at us go.

But the truth is we have made it this far thanks to the community that supports us. Whether you are a family member rooting us on from the other side of the country or a part of our PNW fr-amily tribe that helped prepare the trailer and raise walls and assemble IKEA furniture,, etc… your time, effort, and support had a profound impact. In addition, thank you to Brad H.  for pulling our brand new trailer from Portland to Yakima in his ageing 4Runner even if it meant probably shortening the life of your vehicle.  Thank you Graham and Craig who lent their trucks for material transportation countless times in the last 14 months and to Brad K. for lending his truck and expertise to safely transport SHED. Thank you to experts like Steve W. at Leading Force Energy and Design Center and Gary N. with Don Jordan Energy Systems for their consultation and expert advice. Thank you to Nate M. at Atlas & Cedar for fabricating and collaborating on some of the most beautiful parts of our home (we need to talk, there are still a few projects to do :)). Thank you to Brad Garlow for literally flying across the country  for an entire week to specifically work on some of the most important parts of SHED as our deadline approached (covered in THIS POST). Thank you to my office family who over the last 14 months and continuing through our transitional move-in period they have been nothing but supportive of this tiny idea of ours and have offered help, expertise and time off whenever it was needed. Thank you to Macy Miller (minimotives.com) for the initial bump of confidence in the fall of 2014 in a backyard in Boise, ID and also for being an important voice that continues to cultivate a positive and informed environment around the ‘movement. And finally, Thank you to Dave and Jim and Bob and the whole Harris family who graciously hosted our build on their farm.

 

 

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