The Tiny Housing Crisis: Part I

When I hear the words “housing crisis” the first thing that comes to my mind is how millions of middle class Americans nearly lost their retirement in the near economic meltdown of 2008. With the Dow hovering at record levels … Continue reading

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Moving Day… er… Days… ok .. Week

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So, our original plan was to move the house on Monday, April 1st, but we couldn’t quite get the kitchen in and the trailer legal for travel by that day. It seems like a simple enough enterprise…. rent a truck, hitch up, and go… but things are a little more complicated when you plan on hauling a 6000 pound structure made chiefly of wood and glass down the road. Temporary shear bracing is added, windows are removed or boarded up, and modular units are slid over the floor to balance the weight of the load.  You spend several hours troubleshooting to discover a ground in your trailer wiring went bad before you make the 2 minute fix. Arguments are had with insurance underwriters as to whether or not a policy should be written for us for the value of the load we plan to transport; routes need to be walked with a stick to make sure that we have our 13’5″ clearance… and then you have to rent a truck … which it turns out… you can’t.

As we learned, renting a Truck to haul a Trailer is a bit of an enterprise. Penske and San Mateo Rentals do not allow towing with their vehicles; neither does Hengehold for that matter, which is where you go to BUY a work truck in the bay area. Home Depot welds a pin in the receiver of their trucks to prevent people from using them to tow. It turns out that U-haul welds 2″ hitch balls on their entire fleet of Box Vans which would otherwise be capable of towing our house… this is done to prevent theft of receivers and hitch balls. If only we could attach the 2 5/16″ ball needed for our trailer, Uhaul would be the perfect choice. If you are shopping for a trailer for your tiny house… a 2″ coupler on your trailer will make renting transport much easier (if you aren’t planning on buying a truck) since the largest rental fleet in America has 2″ balls permanently attached. Also, U-haul sells their box trucks used, and those too are permanently equipped with 2″ hitches. For this reason, I predict that future tiny house companies, as well as agencies who provide short to medium term emergency housing, will design and build their trailers with 2″ hitches. My digression makes a long story longer.

So we pushed the date back to April 8th, Which was the day that we discovered all of these interesting facts about renting a truck. Paul offered us use of his F-350 to do the job, though, but I was really hesitant because the truck is not equipped with an electric brake controller for the trailer… typically I have little respect for the law, which states that my load needed to be equipped with brakes… but in this case… a desire to stop without being pushed into the middle of the intersection or down a hill far outweighed my disdain for the laws of man… prudence and safety take precedent.

So I was under Paul’s truck inspecting the wiring and making a shopping list for what I needed to install a brake controller when I was interrupted by a customer of WHBS needing assistance. I was pretty short with him in explaining that I wasn’t on the clock and was pushed too far to the limit to be able to talk… I feel bad whenever I have to tell someone to “bugger off, I’m busy” … but this time I felt particularly bad because I was less than pleasant about it and the gentleman has spent hours with me over the last year just shooting the breeze about the project and has been a valuable source of information for me. Raymond is a mech-eng and we spent quite a bit of time talking about designing and building collapsible stepladders and a latter for our sleeping loft … also .. he is a rather enthusiastic and sociable person who always seems to be in a good mood. So after I crawled out from under Pauls truck I found him on the warehouse floor and offered an apology … explaining that I was under a lot of pressure, and was unduly rude.

So Raymond asks “Gee… is there anything I can do to help?”

To which I answered “Not unless you got a Super Duty truck and want to tow a tiny house down El Camino this afternoon”

So he says “Yeah… I got a super diesel outside with a dualie.. I’m busy today, but you can borrow the truck and tow it yourself if you want”

(Can you believe it!? Much Gratitude, Raymond – who, ironically, has traveled through North Dakota many times – you totally saved the day!)

Turns out the truck is exactly like our trailer… as large as something can possibly be built without becoming a commercial vehicle.

We had to take a ride back down to A&B in Redwood City to pick up a 7 round to 7 flat adapter for the trailer… but that was way cheaper and faster than buying and installing a brake controller for Paul’s truck… also .. it was really cool to go back down to where it all started. Candace and I reflected on how excited and eager we had been to buy that trailer 14 months ago…

The {Revised} American Dream

and then we reflected on how haggard, stressed, and exhausted we were on the 8th….

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This lifted our spirits as we returned to the warehouse with everything we needed to move.

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And then it got windy… really windy. Everyone told us not to go. We listened… reluctantly.. and spent the night in the house in the alley. By 3pm on Tuesday the wind had died down, the trailer was hitched up, the lights were all working, and traffic was light. We left the warehouse. Thanks for the awesome footage, Paul! We laugh along with you every time we watch it!

The Truck purred like a kitten and pulled like an ox. I got the house up to 40 miles an hour in the Dip underneath Hillsdale Blvd and began to feel some pitching so I eased off before yaw or roll joined the party…. I guess I need more positive tounge weight before I try to pull her at 45.

I wasn’t surprised by the waves, honks, stares, and even pointing that occurred… what surprised me was the people who didn’t seem to notice at all. I guess people are too busy driving to notice that they are in traffic with a house… hell, some people are too busy driving to even notice that there is other traffic on the road at all. Just keep looking forward… don’t look over… you might see a guy driving a house smiling and waving at you.

The route was 9th to Delaware to 25th to El Camino to Redwood City.. and then 5th to Bay to Kayanye to Flynn. I would like to end with a list of feelings and emotions I experienced during the hour drive.. this list is in no particular order… I seemed to feel all of these things all at once with incredible intensity during the entire trip.

Sheer Terror, Fulfillment, Empowered, Powerless, Gratitude, Hopelessness, Love, Fear, Nausia, Awkward, Graceful, Strong, Unstoppable, Paranoid.

I felt held by a spiritual power that I can only describe as being carried.

And I felt Candace behind me the entire time (and ready on stand-by with her walkie-talkie).

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Cork Floor & More

Finally! Photos of the cork floor. I promised those over a month + ago! I apologize for the delay; it’s been a wild ride!

Without further ado…

 

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Oooohh…. Aahhhh. What do you think? I love it. Aaron is very protective of it. I am happy to report that I was not the first person to drop something sharp or heavy onto it’s surface. I was sad for him, but relieved it wasn’t me. Is that bad??

The past couple months have been pretty full finishing up as much as we could on the house for the party and the upcoming move. So, as you may (or not) have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much, which is sad as I had some great momentum after Tammy’s Writing in the Digital Age class in February.  But I’ve received some wonderful feedback from those reading the blog and appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. Over the past few months, I’ve come to really enjoy it… even if I don’t do it as often as I’d like.

What have we been filling the hours of our days with (the 16 hours days, you ask)? Aaron laid the cork flooring, started creating shelves for the kitchen, refinished the redwood door (side door) & installed the antique window in it – it’s beautiful! He installed the water heater, rewired the electrical box, built our individual closets, and the utility closet, which is one of my favorite features in the house.  The clothes closet walls are actually made out of closet doors, hinges still attached. Our friend, Jan, built and installed shelving in the utility closet and painted the inside of the side door. I made (well, it was more of an experiment in re-fab) and hung curtains on 1/2″ dowels and got started on the cushion cover to sit on top of the cedar chest. I look forward to tiling the counter top for the stove this weekend. I must get the rest of the curtains up before moving day!

Aaron, with help from Eddie, moved the house onto the street for the House Warming Party, which is where it sat for a week as we recovered from all the excitement and long days of projects. In order to protect our home as it sat on the street, we got our first taste of actually living in it. We’ll just say it was… a fun (& exhausting) week.  We were both quite relieved when it was back home in the alley. Where to next?? We’ll be rolling out of town soon… more details to come!

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