A Long Overdue Update

Spring has finally sprung here in the U.P. and Pete and I have been busy. Since the last blog post, which was back in November, kitchen cabinets and countertops were installed in the tiny house and we bought another piece of property.

Since the new property is probably the most surprising update, I’ll start there. Winter in the U.P. is hard; winter in the U.P. off-grid is even harder. Particularly trying to start a generator in the howling wind when it’s -20 degrees outside. It’s bad enough when the generator doesn’t start on the first five pulls but then when the recoil snaps back at a high rate of speed through your already frozen fingers it’s enough to make you swear every obscenity you know and wipe the frozen tears from your eyes. And then there’s the outdoor shower! 🙂

Prior to finding and buying the property that we’ve been living on, we tried to buy a piece of property 1 mile up the road. I wrote about our land search in a previous post, “We Bought Land“. When Pete and I first looked at this original property all we had to do was drive up the driveway and we both knew instantly that we were going to make an offer. This place is definitely not for everyone. Anyone looking to purchase a “house” would not be interested in this property. While the person we purchased it from had been living here since 1997, technically there is not a house on the property. Which was fine by us, because we’ve been building our house. The property is 26 acres, with an animal barn, a pole barn, and a wood shed/chicken coop. The pole barn is half garage, half one bedroom, one bath house with partical board walls.

When we made our original offer, the seller did not accept and didn’t even bother to counter-offer. We increased our offer, and again, she was not interested, so we moved on. By the time she changed her mind and wanted to accept our second offer we were already in the process of purchasing the other property. Since that time, the seller, had lowered her asking price to less than our first offer and buying the property stared to make sense.

Our goal since we started building the tiny house and buying land has been to start a small farm. What we quickly learned when we moved the tiny house out to the property was that starting a farm was going to cost a lot of money and take a very long time. We moved the tiny house to land without power, without water, without any buildings, without fencing. We liked the idea of starting a farm from scratch but quickly realized that a farm was not in our immediate future going this route. The new property on the other hand, has everything we need to start farming right away.

Because life in the tiny house off-grid during the winter had been very challenging, we moved into the “pole house” when we closed on the property back in February. As soon as the roads are dry, we will move the tiny house to the new property, officially finish it, and move back into the tiny house. We will use the “pole house” for its bathroom, anytime we need a larger kitchen (think canning and cheesemaking), and it will be the guest house when we have company.

And, because we bought property with a barn and bad fencing, we of course, purchased a cow. A little sooner than we had planned, but when a good family dairy cow comes along you really shouldn’t hesitate. We also had been raising laying chicks for the last six weeks but on a very sad note they had a bad encounter with a weasel two nights ago and they are no more. I am making it my mission to weasel proof the coop and will not let this happen again!

Back on the tiny house front, Pete and I installed the kitchen cabinets and we hired our neighbor Randy to install our countertops. The tiny house to-do list is much shorter now and consists of trim work, sealing the tongue and groove walls and countertops, installing the rolling library ladder and range hood, purchasing a couch and putting up kitchen shelves. Once all these tasks are finished we’ll move back into the tiny house. We were also having a difficult time with condensation in the tiny house over the winter, something that is not uncommon among other tiny-housers. We will need to address this issue prior to next winter; being able to run the refrigerator off electric instead of propane should help.

Enjoy the pictures and I will try my best to be a more consistent blogger.

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Categories: Tiny House Living | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “A Long Overdue Update

  1. Thanks for the great update! Things appear to be coming together very nicely. I must say, I truly admire your strength of character! I don’t think I would be able to handle the harsh seasons you have in your part of the country, even if I was 30 years younger! Ruby is beautiful! Sorry to hear about your hens! Keep up the good work and don’t worry about your blog, you have plenty to keep you more than busy. It’s just nice to catch up when you do squeeze the time in to let us know how you are doing! I really like your light fixtures, just beautiful! Best to you guys always, Valerie

  2. Condensation is a huge and understandably annoying issue with boat life too (my current version of tiny home living). I’m sorry if this is super obvious to handy folks, but do you have more info on why it’s an issue with land-based tiny homes? Does it vary by the trailer or slab foundation methods?

    • I think for us and for many others it’s a lack of venting. We have a propane fridge kicking out heat and moisture and that moisture has nowhere to go. Our roof is not vented and we don’t have an air exchanger so the excess moisture settles on the windows.

      • Tyler

        I’ve been trying to mull over what we will need in our tiny house, if a simple bathroom exhaust fan will cut it…

      • We haven’t installed it yet, but we have a range hood exhaust fan that we will be able to run when cooking. We will also be able to run the propane fridge on electric this winter and if we need to we’ll be able to continuously run a dehumidifier now that we are no longer off grid. Hopefully those three things will solve our condensation problems.

  3. Tyler

    Doing some research yesterday, I did find that Panasonic makes a small air exchanger that does not require duct work throughout the house. It is installed exactly like a bathroom fan and looks like one as well. I am thinking this may be a good option simply because an exhaust fan is pulling air out, but if the house is pretty air tight, it likely won’t be able to pull out much given there is no air coming in to replace it….I’d be curious to search a few more blogs and see issues people have had in colder climates.

  4. rebakahbender

    Hey, I’ve been perusing your blog. I am in the planning phase myself, in Maine. Or the phase where I finally see just how much I still don’t know. If you have a spare moment, I have a few questions:
    1. What fuel did you choose to heat your house (if applicable) and why?
    2. If you use electric, are you wired for A/C, D/C, Solar, or a mix and why?
    3. What appliances will you use in your tiny house?
    4. Have you utilized any green, reclaimed, or natural processes or materials?
    5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently so far?

    I look forward to seeing more! (Also, I can relate to the odd jobs bit, my degree is in Zoology.)

    • Hi Becca,

      Congratulations on planning your tiny house! The planning phase is probably the most exciting phase. To answer your questions:

      1. We chose to heat with propane because we knew we would be off grid to start. We chose propane over wood because wood is messy and it’s very difficult to regulate the heat. We wanted to be able to set a thermostat so that we didn’t come home to a freezing house after being at work all day.

      2. We are wired for AC power and have the ability to “plug in”. We figured we would worry about getting set up with solar later.

      3. In the tiny house we have and 8 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer ( at the time we had a dairy cow and a mini fridge wasn’t going to cut it). We also have a 24″ gas oven/range.

      4. We have not used any reclaimed materials in our building. We never came across anything we wanted to use and we felt that searching for specific items was going to be a time consuming process. Instead we’ve purchased all our materials but we specifically opted for less/non-toxic options as best we could.

      5. Would we have done anything differently? We’re pretty happy with things as they are. The only things we would change is we might have gone with a different style window. The awning style seems to get ice buildup on the ledge and that has caused mold on the wood windows. It might be that awning style windows are supposed to have a larger overhang so that they are more protected. We also would have incorporated some sort of air exchange unit. Excess moisture has been a problem and being in a cold climate, we need a way to vent the house without opening it up to cold winter air.

      Good luck with your tiny house.

  5. Erica

    Hi am new to this community and husband and I are starting to really think seriously on this. My question for you since I have only briefly looked over your blog. You bought your trailer in 2012, what has been the largest hurdles as it appears you are not done with your build? Thank you. Erica in Dallas

    • Hi Erica. The biggest hurdle has been money and working 40 hour a week jobs. We’ve built as we had money so that has slowed us down from time to time. There’s only so much time and so much money and it’s easy to lose motivation. We still have to paint windows, put up trim/molding, tongue oil the interior walls, buy/install rolling library ladder, install kitchen shelves, and caulk the cedar siding. We hope to have it finished this fall. We’re also starting a small farm so the tiny house has been put in the back burner for now. Good luck if you decide to build! It’s been a great experience for us even though it’s taken so long.

  6. Erica

    Yah I totally understand about time and money. From your list of what needs to be done still it sounds like maybe you are living in it? if so at what point did you begin living in it. I love all your photos of each major project/sections of building that you have divided on your blog. that’s extremely helpful. also if you don’t mind is that outdoor shower your only shower or will you have one indoor as well? Thanks for your time. Lovely blog!

    • Hi Erica, we moved into the tiny house last summer while the interior was nowhere near completion. We were living in it until February when we bought the new piece of property. The new property has a pole barn house that we moved into because it has power and running water. We will move back into the tiny house when it’s complete; hopefully by October. We used the outdoor shower until it got cold and then got gym memberships. The new property has a shower/bathroom in the pole barn house and so we will continue to use that while living in the tiny house.

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