Friday, September 9, 2016

(Sep 5) 3 Yr Anniversary and 1st Boarder

As Labor Day weekend rolled around, we were flooded with memories of our build. This would mark the 3 year anniversary of the weekend that we first started working on the house. I must say, I was pretty pleased with the weather (92°) this weekend compared to 3 years ago when it was over 100°. We've come a long way and are enjoying a lull in the work load. We did get most of the metal roofing put on the storage building this weekend but most of the activity this week had nothing to do with our house, but primarily getting a site ready to accommodate our 1st Tiny House tenant. More on that in a moment. Here are some photos recapping our journey over the past 3 years.

Location picked and started clearing.  That's me in the background cutting down trees and brush.  I'd cut and Kim would clear.

After clearing the spot we marked it for the foundation.

Foundation built and decking started

Deck on and frame built.

Sheathing, roof and windows installed 

Finished product!  Woo Hoo!!

I must say, I can feel 3 years of construction in my bones every morning when I get out of bed! lol It's been incredibly fun but a lot of work. I'm really happy to move to another phase where most of our work goes into improving the landscape. I am not a meticulous landscaper. I will never have, nor do I want the manicured urban yard. I don't even own a working lawn mower at this time. I would gladly put up a "Nature Preserve" sign in my yard in Arlington if given the option. That said, I like the "natural" look of woods and meadows. I try to keep a small path cleared to the back of our property here but I definitely don't go out of my way to manicure the forest. The fact that most of the property is covered in huge Oaks and Elms aids me in my desire for a life spent doing something other than riding around on a mower (as some of my neighbors do) for many hours each week. Things just don't grow in the shade like they do in a meadow and that's a good thing. :)

We made a big decision this month, to allow others in the Tiny House community to move out to our property under a rental agreement. We had agreed in the past to let a friend use our acreage to build his Tiny but we wrestled with the idea of someone living here with us permanently. We broke that ground this weekend when a friend that we met through our Tiny House group here in North Texas was faced with eviction from the location that she had been staying at for the summer. Demere O'Dell has now joined us here in the forest and we couldn't be happier! She's personable and polite and funny and we got a solid warm fuzzy impression that she will be a responsible and fun neighbor.

She came out to view the property the weekend before and make sure she could stomach the hour+ long drive back to Dallas to work every day. She agreed the land was gorgeous and seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of living a more peaceful life in a remote and heavily wooded forest. :) We made plans to transition her residence over the upcoming holiday weekend. Welcome, Demere! We're thrilled to have you here!

Our first task was to provide access to the property for a 14' tall vehicle. Hmmm. We ended up bringing out 4 truckloads of road base and shoveling it out along the 750' heavily treed driveway in doses to smooth out the rough spots. Truly didn't take long, about an hour per load including drive time. It's just exhausting when the temps are in the 95°-106° range as it was earlier this month. We also trimmed back a number of limbs that would potentially scratch/damage the Tiny on its journey.

Next task was to establish a hookup for her 240v/50amp electric service. I decided that to be fair, I would need to measure her electric use, rather than guess each month. I bought and installed a double pole breaker, an RV-style outlet as well as a meter base and meter and did all of the wiring with the appropriate gauge wires. As you may or may not know, 240v service is achieved by providing (2) 120v hot wires accompanied by a single neutral and a single ground. The (2) hot wires must also be in phase with one another. They must come from opposite feed sides of your breaker box. Each side of your breaker box has a line (120v) from the service company coming to it. These are always live and come straight from the meter. When combined, their voltages double to 240v. It's not enough though to just have (2) 120v lines though. They need to compliment each other by working together. If you had (2) 120v breakers that were hooked up to the same feed from the service company, it would typically not work in a 240v appliance since they are considered out-of-phase. There's probably a more complicated explanation of how it all works together but that all you're going to get from me today! lol Anyway, this new life that we lead out here provides me the opportunity to learn something new nearly every day. :) Gotta love it!

I checked around to find a simple meter but no one had one in stock on the day that I needed it. At ~$70, it wasn't going to be a huge expense, just an inconvenience to have to wait on one to be shipped in. I called around and was super pleased to find a source that had a mechanical meter (as opposed to the new smart meters) that I was offered for free! :) It wasn't going to need to be compliant with the latest building codes or report back to the mother ship (elecdtric company) and besides, I love watching the wheel spin around with use! I miss that with the new meters although I love being able to log in and look at my usage every day. I cleaned it up a bit and reset the meter to zero. Just like new and good to go!

New electric meter for our new renter! 

The outlet is called a 14-50R and it was a pain in the butt to wire but it was much cheaper (about $80 including the meter base and meter!) than the $850+ that an electrician wanted to charge me to provide and install them! Choke! :) I love living in an area where permits and inspections are not required. That said, I read over technical notes for over an hour to make sure that I had a safe/sound plan. I spent 3 hours driving and shopping for the supplies and it took me 2 hours to install and test. A good investment of my time!

Demere had not been able to use her newly installed mini-split AC since she didn't have access to 240v service at her previous location. She was thrilled (as I was) that it and all of the other electrical features in her Tiny fired right up when we plugged it in. The bad news was that about an hour later, her new AC unit started leaking water inside her house. :( The installer had not been able to test it at its previous location and there was a problem with the drain line that we could not resolve on the spot. Her quiet cool nights would have to wait another couple of days. We loaned her a regular window unit AC until her AC guy can get out to fix the problem. Hey! It's a nice ride through the countryside to get here! Right? :) At least she gets to enjoy the cool. Its just not nearly as quiet. Hopefully he will get it resolved soon.

Kim spent a good amount of time clearing brush and weed eating the area that would be the new home for The Little Fish as Demere has named her. I cleared the front of the property of the chest-high weeds so that she wouldn't be afraid to pull into our driveway. :) When they arrived, we all took a final walk down the drive and voiced opinions about any potential problems and bottlenecks. An entourage of helpers had come in tow and everyone would have a job to do to make sure this went over without any injuries to the house or its carbon based caretakers. Thanks to Mark, Cory, Rob & Robert as well as Demere's daughter and granddaughter for all of their help!

Parking the Tiny took a couple of hours to manuever into just the right position, level and get some last minute brush trimming done. It is so darn cute now, sitting there in the woods, glowing softly among the cricket chirps and coyote howls. Life is good! :)

Here's Demere and her caravan driving down our road

Pulling down the driveway to its cozy spot in the woods  :)

The good news was that we got all of it done without any major hick ups. We brought out our gas grill and made a mound of grilled burgers, hot dogs and brats. There was very little talking for the next 30 minutes. Sadly, I missed this opportunity to take a group photo and document all of the helpers' presence. You were all appreciated!!

On a note about nature. This spring saw our first major invasion by wild hogs. They were here on the property on and off for a couple of months, rooting up our road as well as the open woods. We hardly saw a deer for this period and stopped putting out corn in fear that we were just encouraging the hogs to stick around. The swine have long since moved on and now it appears the deer are back in full force. Here are a couple of videos that our trail camera captured behind our house this week. :) First time we've seen spotted fawn here. It was pure pleasure. :)

Click here logo to see it full-sized

Click here to see it full-sized

Click here to see if full-sized


  1. What a very nice post. Thank you so much for your kind words. You guys are the best!

  2. What a lovely idea to open your property to other tiny home dwellers. We too live in the woods and our pocket size lawn grows lovely weeds. But no wild pigs.