Most tiny house blog posts I’m like TL;DR, get to the photos.
And I know I’m not alone in this, so I’ve generously peppered my words here with photos of MASSIVE progress, courtesy of my husband.
When I’m feeling discouraged, I hit up Instagram (my account is here!) and scroll through the tiny house hashtag. I see how far we’ve come when I see people just pulling an empty flatbed into their driveways, or people just scribbling ideas on paper. I mean, look at our house!
This was but a twinkle in our eyes three years ago! Two years ago this week, this was a an empty flatbed in a generously borrowed driveway.
I also see a good amount of people on Instagram re-posting photos of other people’s tiny houses (like our friend Macy’s; her gorgeous, modern tiny house is a popular one) and writing “This is my dream! Oh I want one of these!”. This is my completely non-evidence-based opinion: 99% of the people posting that will never, ever build a tiny house. Because tiny house building is hard. fucking. work.
I get it. The houses are so twee looking on all the blogs, and much like a movie, you can skip ahead to the happy ending. The people talking about their insanely low living costs, photos of cats snuggling in a sunbeam in a cozy loft, the brags about 20-minutes of deep cleaning a diminutive space once a week – these are all things that intrigue people and inspire people to want a “simpler life.” What most people don’t choose to write about and even more people don’t choose to read are the “simple” 1000+ hours of building. Of teaching yourself every little step and then getting out in the 98 degree heat to go do that little step. Day after day after day. Of getting into the house and realizing you don’t have all the parts you need. The million trips to Lowe’s, the contractors who never call back, the orders that are cancelled. This is not to mention all of the hours worked to pay for those materials.
If I’m making it sound like hell: good. I want to balance out the people who post “TA-DA!!!!” reveal photos, the people who make it seem like electrical work for a complete newbie takes one brief weekend.
Someone on a financial forum told me that 18 months sounded like an excessively long time to be building a tiny house. I told him this seemed the average amount of time, at least for people blogging about their builds. The guy wrote back that he was estimating “three weekends” for his own build. I typed: “Definitely blog about it! We all have a lot to learn from you!” all the while shaking my head and laughing from behind my keyboard.
But I’m not saying all this work isn’t worth it. So while I want to pop the hope bubbles of doe-eyed dreamers, I also don’t want other people looking at our life and thinking: “Wow, why are they doing this? What a terrible thing to put yourself through. Life should be easier.” All good things, all things worth having – wonderful marriages, financial security, being a great cook – take work. This is the burden of being human: if someone told you that they would hand you, tomorrow, your ideal life, with no effort required by you; you would be enamoured of it for a few weeks before the emptiness and boredom set in and you started setting new goals.
The good people over at Rebel Heart recently (and very publicly) lost what they’d worked so hard for: their sailboat home and a dream of sailing around the world with their young children. Eric wrote a beautiful post about that dream, the one they lived for two years. I completely resonated with his words, particularly this part:
“…what made those two years possible was the decade before it. It was acquiring a lot of sea time. Buying a boat. Paying down debt. Long hours in the office. Getting my commercial license. Many, many hours of physical labor.
Those were not sexy years. They do not capture the eye with pictures of amazing sunsets or tropical paradises. But the reality for most of us is that if you want to achieve something you need to put some serious time in at the grindstone to get there.”
Meredith Gersten posted a wonderful Vince Lombardi quote last week:
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”
He made it there one small decision, one small action at a time. Over and over and over again.