Building the Tiniest Tiny House

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I think one of the most interesting things to people about my road trip is the tiny house I’m traveling in.  But, it’s so darn small, I think it’s more accurate to call it a micro house (which is a term initially coined by a DC Park Ranger  named Jason, who I met at the Washington Monument). Anyway, go ahead, sit back, and get comfortable because I’m going to tell you all about it.

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Building a cabin on my truck was the first idea I had, but I pondered others before settling on it; especially after some friends slightly discouraged the idea as being realistic.  I considered getting an RV, a van, and at one point I was almost 100% on getting a motorcycle with a custom built “cargo” sidecar to haul my cat, dog, and supplies. Crazy, I know.

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I skipped the van because they’re ugly, bad on gas, and I just didn’t want to live in a van.  I skipped the RV because not only would I have had to buy one, but they’re expensive and labor intensive to maintain, are worse on gas than a van, plus, they don’t fit into normal parking spaces.  I passed on the motorcycle since logistically it would have been difficult and of course, miserable in bad weather.  Since I already had a truck, a supply of wood, an idea, and just so happen to be a decent carpenter, I figured the best thing was to go with my first idea.  I took the path of least resistance.

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I started building October 1st.  I had no blueprints other than what I visualized in my head, and one very rough sketch I made for the basic structure.  I began by removing the bed from the truck frame, then built a “foundation.”  From there, I built things just like a normal house, with 2×4 studs & nails.

IMG_20150921_145807So, the walls went up… and after lots of measurements here, lots of cuts there, and some head scratching, you could see things were starting to take shape and really look like something.  At least 80% of the house is made from recycled material that I had on hand.  I spent maybe $400 on new supplies, like duct tape, spray foam, clapboards, and reinforced suspension to compensate for extra weight.

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Inside, there’s a bed and bench with storage beneath.  There’s shelving for clothes, hooks for hanging things, and even a spot for the litter box. There’s one skylight, two windows at the back, and a window in each of the “French” doors. Each side has a screened bay window. There’s one other sliding window at the front that connects the cab to the house, which the animals can use to come and go, and if necessary, I can fit through too.  The windows all have curtains and I have an oriental carpet for the floor.  No detail was ignored; it was designed with comfort in mind and to really look and feel like a real home. The rear half of the roof even pops up to allow standing room. Outside, there’s a small “backyard” with astroturf which is covered by an eave, and the step up to the back door is made from two old skateboards.  The whole thing is insulated and totally water tight. It also fits in any normal parking space and most parking garages, which was a very important and intended aspect of the design from the very beginning.

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My Mom helped a little bit with painting, applying polyurethane to the exterior, and, occasionally holding one end of a board while I nailed the other. She wanted to do more, but I’m such a perfectionist I wouldn’t let her do anything else!  Otherwise, I did all the work entirely by myself.  Even though there’s still a few details to touch up, it was road ready by November 1st.  So, it took me one month, which included quite a few 12 hour days, and a few rain days where nothing got done.  At first, I did NOT think it would take me so long, but I think I finished it in pretty good time.  I tried hard not to rush, yet at the same time I did have a deadline to meet, so there were many tasks where I had to decide whether to be meticulous and go slow, or, just get it done fast.

 

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I’ve now been living out of it for just over a month, and I love it.  It’s definitely been a huge magnet for attention, even before I left Maine. Most people’s faces light up instantly if they catch a glimpse of me driving by, and I see a lot of people snapping pictures when I’m going down the road. Kids are of course, among the most excited to see it, especially up close.  I definitely don’t blame anyone.  If it was someone else who had it and not me, I’d be equally curious and interested to see it and ask about it. So, that’s the story, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the virtual tour. And as always, thank you for reading!

 

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Me, my Dog, my Cat, a Tiny House, and my First Cross Country Road Trip

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Greetings,

I hope you find yourself doing well.  My name is Joseph Chavez.  I usually go by “Joe” for short, and a few friends sometimes call me “Chavez,” “Joseppi,” or just, “Seppi”.  I’m originally from Maine, and I recently embarked on a cross country road trip which is something I’ve never done before, and it’s the main reason for creating this blog. The reason for my road trip is to visit my Dad in California as well as his side of the family, most of who live in El Paso, Texas.  It’s been about 15 years since I last visited them.  There are many other bonuses to the journey, such as having the opportunity to explore my country, meet people, and enjoy warm weather for the winter.

Much like my trip has been so far, the blog will be an evolving, especially in it’s infancy. As things move along and gain momentum, it will all become more flui.
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What else should you know? Well… as the title says, my dog (Luke) and my cat (Suzy) are trusty companions on the adventure, and before I left Maine, I spent my last month building the tiniest of tiny houses onto the back of my pickup truck. It has a bed, a bench, some shelving, and that’s it. No shower, sink, or stove; but with the help of friends, family, couchsurfing.com, and friendly acquaintances along the way, those things are easy to come by.

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The only other thing I think I should say is that before I left Maine, I had an apartment with a roommate and pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck doing the same old thing… not really going anywhere.  For the longest time I had this feeling deep down that I wanted to just leave to see new and different things and people. But, as we all do, I had excuses like, “I have a job” and “can’t get time off,” or, “I don’t have enough money,” on top of just putting the idea itself off and not seeing it as a possibility in my immediate future. It always seemed like it was a long way away from happening. I knew I didn’t want to be in an apartment anymore, and I didn’t want to be in Maine for the coming winter, and, eventually I realized that such an adventure was actually within my grasp provided I did the work and preparation. I guess the biggest factor was making a resolute decision. It also helps that I’m young, relatively, (I’m 30) don’t have any kids, wife, mortgage, or school to worry about. Everything else seemed to come together after that. I saved what money I could, built a tiny house, loaded it with supplies, and like an urban space capsule, I had a successful launch on the 3rd of November, 2015.
I’m a little fresh with the whole blogging thing, and there’s a lot to think about… Obviously I’ll figure it out as I go. I just hope that people enjoy reading about my journey and/or can get something out of what I write. I’ll do my best to consistently incorporate all of the following:
• Authenticity
• Originality
• Lots of pictures

I know this post might be longer than most “experts” would recommend, but, this is my first one ever, not to mention, the very first one for this blog, so, I just wanted to make sure I gave a thorough opening as to the who, what, why, and how. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll come back to see how things are progressing.