Let me tell you something. Building a house, even a tiny one, is hard work.
Now, I must admit, the vast majority of this work has been on my partner's side. This was not unexpected, given that he already had all the skills to build, whereas I had barely even touched a drill in my life. But we have both felt the pressure when it came to decision making. Where do you even start?
We adore the home that we are building, but it is somewhat different from what we originally pictured. There have been some real learning curves. So, today, I thought I'd share the biggest lessons that we have learnt so far, in case there are any budding Tiny Home builders out there.
Make sure to keep reading to find out about our new video tour...
How best to utilise space
I remember when I first clocked eyes on our trailer. It seemed so small. I came into this very prepared, after watching endless Tiny Home builds on YouTube. I knew that what may seem small could radically be transformed. But I have to admit, I had my doubts.
The first step of our build was to decide the size of the separate rooms. Where could we best save space? This will differ depending on lifestyle, but for us, the kitchen and to some degree the living room, were the ones where we wanted to allocate the most space. These are the areas where we will be spending most of our time.
Along the way, we've picked up more space-saving tips, such as building plenty of storage into the stairs and raising the loft sleep areas to give us more head-room downstairs. Once we move in, I'm sure we'll find even more nifty options to pack away our possessions. It really is remarkable how little space you actually need.
Where to invest
As I work for a charity and my partner is a freelance outdoor instructor, neither of us earn the big bucks, which means our budget was always tight. However, there were some areas of the build that we felt it was important to invest in.
Our trailer was our biggest cost. We decided to buy one specifically made to build Tiny Homes on (from Tiny Eco Homes UK), rather than doing up an old farm trailer, which was our original plan. To be honest, even these second hand trailers came with a hefty price tag and as this was going to be the foundation of our home, we decided in our case we wanted something that we could securely build on a travel with. At £4,500, it was certainly an investment.
One of our other biggest expenses has been our windows and French doors. Again, we originally thought of getting these second hand. However, after a lot of research, we decided that new windows was the more sensible option. Having proper double glazing would save money in the long term. It would also make them far quicker to source and easier to fit. The right choice.
So, the overall structure of the house was important to get right, but we have saved money when it came to building the inside. Although we still wanted it to look nice, we've stuck to using simple and more budget friendly interiors, such as our worktop, sink and tiles. We've also managed to scrounge a few items for free from well-connect contractors. Befriending useful contractors is key!
How long it takes
I'm sure you are not surprised that this build is taking us longer than expected. Is it not always the way?
To be fair, the structure itself didn't take very long to put up. We had it up in under 2 weeks. This may have bolstered by partners confidence a wee bit too much, as he was convinced that the whole thing would be built by May. I was more conservative and thought July. We are now nudging into August so turns out we were both wrong!
Do not underestimate how long the apparently 'small' jobs will take. In our defence, it was our first time building a house, so there were a few errors along the way. Having to re-lay the bathroom floor tiles three times almost broke my partner. I don't think he stepped foot into the house for at least a week after that. They looked lovely in the end though...
We are now thinking it will be an autumn move in date, so watch this space!
Realistic buying options
I definitely overestimate how much we would be able to buy second hand for our home.
Going in, I had every intention of buying most materials this way. It was both environmentally and budget friendly, so seemed like a no-brainer. Again, naivety was at play here. The difficulty with a tiny home is that you are really constricted by size, so everything had to fit specific measurements, that was difficult to track down second hand. In fact, we have found that we've had to build almost everything from scratch. We are even going to build our own composting toilet!
It was also very slow going trawling through Facebook Marketplace. We managed a couple of items, and I am sure we will be able to a few more wee things, but I certainly spent far more money in B&Q than I originally intended.
Can't be perfect
This was probably our biggest learning curve. As is likely typical with most first time home-owners, we wanted everything to be just right. It feels like even more pressure when you're building everything from scratch. You are involved in every decision, which meant it felt like we started agonising over each nail.
Over time, and a few heated discussions, we came to realise that it was unrealistic for everything to be perfect first time. Its been a much happier build since we accepted this. As my partner always says, we can always change it further down the line. The beauty of a versatile tiny home.
We've made lots of progress in the last few weeks. The windows and doors are in, the cladding has begun and the kitchen has transformed. I will be releasing an exclusive new video tour in my newsletter, which is going to be sent out on the 2nd of August, so make sure you're subscribed.
Until next time...