And so it begins, not with a bang but with a flurry of design...
Our build is underway at last, we've signed the letter of agreement with our amazing builder, Michael Pearce of Carbon Vudu! Wednesday we went shopping and got the "belly board" metal for the underneath of the trailer's floor, like the bottom shell of a tortoise.
It's hard to define when a build begins. There's the obvious point when the first piece of material is attached to the trailer, but in our case many months of design and materials sourcing preceded that point. And there have been many important moments in the project -- getting the trailer, buying windows and doors, finding our builder.
In our case, our design has reached the final stage and we're ready to build, starting with the floor of course! We're calling this the start of our build since it's the first structural materials purchase (besides the trailer of course!), starting the process of turning the design into reality. It's a big moment for our little project, and it gives us pause.
We would never have made it this far without the help and support of friends, relatives, and new friends we've made in the many businesspeople we deal with and the many places we've stayed along the way. With very few exceptions we've been treated fairly and even more, with friendship and kindness, by the people who are helping us realize our dream.
We're grateful every day for your assistance, as they say it takes a village to build a tiny house. Thank you all, and we’re off!
Where on earth have we been?
So a lot of people ask us, "Hey, Bernice & Walt, how's that tiny house build going? You must be almost done by now, right?" We've had to dodge the question a bit because frankly, not a whole lot was happening to bring our little house into the real world. We got mixed up with a shady contractor last winter. Trusting souls that we are, it took us a while to realize they weren't producing anything but aggravation. They cost us a little money and a lot of time, the bottom line is we're about 5 months behind our original schedule getting started.
But don't despair...
nomadiCasita: Episode III A New Hope
The nomadiCasita project is back on track! Maybe it's living so near to Phoenix that's allowed us to rise repeatedly from our ashes.
Our original designer, Lina Menard of Niche Consulting was wonderful to work with and really helped us refine our design, but she was unable to continue and do the build of the house due to schedule constraints. Our second designer/builders were the aforementioned shady characters, so now we're doing another reboot for Episode III. If at first you don't succeed...
We've teamed up with designer and architect Michael Pearce of Carbon Vudu (also see him on Facebook). He's been a breath of fresh air, moving the project further in a few short weeks than it had gone all year. Michael has taken our preliminary design drawings and worked with us to make many of the final decisions and define details of placement of everything -- doors, windows, furniture, storage, all the pieces that make up the whole house. This was then turned into a set of engineering drawings -- Trailer Plan, Floor Plan, and Right & Left Elevations, and also Mechanical, Plumbing, and Electrical Plans. We're now putting these schematic drawings out for bid to builders. In the next two weeks we'll make decisions on who'll work with us for the build and what the schedule will be. Our current target is to complete the build by Halloween — trick or treat!
Our trailer came in a few weeks back, and on April 5th we drove the Smart car from Casa Grande down I-10 to Tucson Trailer to inspect it. It's a bit harrowing to drive little Smart for so long on such a fast stretch of road with gusty winds, but with Bernice at the helm we made it in good shape. We'll be glad to be carrying Smart on the trailer when we travel cross country!
Houston, the Smart Car has landed!
After climbing around and looking at the trailer, it was time for the big test — the reason we had braved windy I-10 in that tiny little carlet. We were going to drive Smart up on the trailer for the first time, just as we will do many times on the road.
Ground Control to Major Bernice
This time it was Glamorous Glennis piloting the X-1... the crowd holds its breath as Bernice is pulled safely from the cockpit, errr... Smart car. She's safe! That's one small step for a woman, one giant leap for nomadiKind.
The car will sit a bit off center to the passenger side to give the driver more room to exit after parking. Pat used the opportunity to mark the positions of the wheels. After we left they installed tie-down strips for securing the Smart during travel (as well as leveling jacks on the rear corners and a retractable exit step).
The Woman who fell to Earth
All good things must come to an end. Finally it was time for the distaff member of Team nomadiCasita to leave the deck of the trailer and return to terra firma. With a final adjustment of the ramps, she retraced her trajectory and achieved the goal of landing a woman on the trailer and returning her safely to the earth (to coin a phrase).
But Wait, there's More!
We inspected the trailer further before returning to Casa Grande, Here are some final pictures of this and that, for all the trailer geeks out there (you know who you are). The black metal thing sitting on the wooden trailer bed is the retractable step they later welded onto the edge of the trailer where Bernice stepped out. This will commemorate her first footprints on a new world, as well as giving future drivers a handy way to get down from the trailer.
Happy Trails, to You
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Pat and the gang at Tucson Trailer for all their help getting us set up with our amazing trailer when we knew very little about them to start with. The trailer came in customized just as we'd planned, and they installed the add-ons quickly. Now, to get it delivered to the (new) build site! But that, gentle reader, is a story for another day...
'So,' Alice asked politely, 'what's the past tense of "downsizing"?'
Here we are on the eve of our move to Casa Grande, a junction city ⅔ of the way to our build site. Casa Grande means Big House, a funny contrast to our project! We're going to be living in an RV trailer smaller than nomadiCasita, so our intensive downsizing will come in handy right away. We've been downsizing for two years and have shed so many things we can't remember them all. We're fitting into a footprint almost an order of magnitude smaller than the house we rented in Asheville.
In the end, we found it was not our things that made us happy — it was each other, and our freedom.
We seem to get happier, to feel lighter, the more possessions we re-home and the more memories we digitize. We look forward to the coziness of the trailer, reminiscent of our RV trek from Asheville to Tucson. Moving is not the big production it once was. We'll be putting everything in a 15' U-Haul truck, and a good part of that is materials and tools for the build.
If you're of a certain age, you remember the astronauts in the space race moving to be near Cape Canaveral to undergo final preparation for their launch. We sort of feel that way, moving to an exotic place (for us!) — an RV resort in sunny (you betcha!) Casa Grande to undergo final preparations for our launch in early summer. Very exciting, and we really feel like we're on our way!
We're thrilled to announce that we've signed on with Lina Menard of Niche Consulting to have her produce the final design for our tiny house, and then plan and supervise the build.