Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tiny House Build=Tiny Mental Breakdowns.

I'm pretty much a solid, hardworking, regular type guy with scars and stories for each of them. I don't cry when I watch Hugh Grant movies and I only get misty when I watch Hugh Jackman movies. I tell you this because when I say that this project can be so overwhelming you want to just stay in bed and drink warm milk you understand where I'm coming from.

I've spoken to a lot of the people who've built and live in tiny houses and for the most part they all say the same thing and I know this post doesn't tell you anything useful like how to lay your flooring but I promise this is important to know so that when it happens to you you know it's ok.

I've only really been building for a week and even though I have a fully structural house after two days and getting a lot of stuff done for one guy... I still get frustrated it's going so slow. Before you yell at me and tell me I'm being unreasonable, I know and I tell myself that all the time but no matter how hard you try you'll hit that wall eventually.

Today what set me off was that damned ice and water shield I was putting on my roof. It's so STICKY! When you're working by yourself and you've trying to get two really sticky things apart while not getting your hands stuck to them only to then hit your head REALLY hard on your well built tends to put you in a mood.

Here's some tips I have for your tiny mental health:

  • Start early and get into the habit of getting out the door as quick as you can.
    • Eat breakfast, nothing kills the momentum faster than a rumbling stomach.
    • To get out the door fast and also eat breakfast, consider eating breakfast at the build site. That way you get your bearings and can look at your house and start the mental checklist while your eating
  • If you can, work with somebody. Working along can be hard, dangerous, and lonely.
    • If you can't work with somebody, crank that music, or talk radio. 
    • Don't listen to podcasts or anything you're too interested in or else you'll be waiting to run that saw until the commercial break.
  • Take breaks!
    • On a break try and distract your mind and rest your body.
    • Drink plenty of water. Not soda, or anything else. Water is the key. I drink a bottle of water at every break. It also works for me as a timer, the time it takes me to finish my bottle is about one break.
    • I play iPhone games but you might like to make a phone call, watch the clouds, or do some stretches. Free your mind from the worries of the build for just a little bit.
  • Keep a checklist
    • I use Wunderlist on my phone but I also like just writing things on my house with my construction pencil.
    • Lists help you keep on track but also see your progress.
    • Start with a general list like: Trailer prep, floor framing, walls, roof, siding, windows, doors, and interior. Then when each of those things get closer expand the next list to include all the little things that need to happen. This way you can see the big picture without drowning in future details before you need to think about them.
  • Take pictures
    • This helps me prove to myself that I did something that day.
    • Make it something you do at the start of each break or when you want to capture something important. This is going to be the baby book for your house.
  • Take a day off when you need it.
    • Even if your day off is going to the lumber yard or shopping for doors. Make it fun and treat yourself to ice cream or kale chips or whatever it is that vegans eat.
Builders, tiny house people, what are some of your tricks to staying sane, Please leave them in the comments because I need them!

No house photos of the tiny house today so instead I'll give you a photo of a tiny car I took that makes my Mini Cooper look like a Hummer. 


  1. Hey Joe, thanks for the info on building a tiny home. I am in the planning stages of my tiny home build, and will start when the snow is gone in the spring. I will be following your blog for more great pics and insight.

  2. great advice, you have learned much already.

  3. Great informative blog. I think checking your car wheels & tires regularly is important because wheels & tires requires a proper maintenance.

    high tech rubber & nylon wheels

  4. Hi. I just found your blog. I'm a tiny house dreamer, living in the deep south just like you (Gulfport, formerly New Orleans). I used to do historic renovations of Nola homes so I love seeing all of your cypress, reclaimed pine, etc. Also, my last car was a cooper S so we seem to have more than one similarity :) Keep blogging. I'm really enjoying the house, and your experiences. - Neely

    1. Thanks Neely,
      I think you'd also enjoy my buddy Art's blog over at He's in Louisiana and uses cypress is his house is beautiful.

  5. Joe! Starting on my tiny cabin this weekend, framing out the base/floor joists with pressure treated. Your list is Johnny-On-The-Spot (Joey-On-The-Spot?). Before this project I've helped a buddy of mine repair and rebuild his cabin floor and re-roof it as well. Having a full stomach, a list, and proper breaks, are all key things to the process. I'm checking out your blog today (and dilly dallying about updating mine), and I'm impressed with your project.

    Cheers brother!

  6. Hey there :) I'm planning out my tiny house, and even in the AutoCAD and daydreams phase, it seems like trying to eat a whale with a teaspoon. My whole family is in construction and I literally grew up on construction sites, so I thought I had a solid foundation of knowledge to draw from. Hoo Boy, I was wrong. There is so very much to learn. This weekend I'm up to my eyes in plumbing schematics.

    Anyway, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, and starting to wonder if I'd actually bitten off more than I could chew. It's gorgeous out - the first real weekend of autumn here in Austin, so I went and toured garden stores to check out plants that might travel well and ask about any unused pallets. I came up empty on the pallet front, but I met someone who has land they might let me set up on, and just spending time among all that greenery really helped. I don't know where you're building - if you're alone, I imagine it's pretty well out, but still if you're considering setting up some landscaping, taking some time to (literally) stop and smell the flowers really really helps.

    Good luck to you guys!