Here We Go Again!

After much trial and tribulation, the bathhouse – the second tiny house structure that we bought off Craigslist – was delivered to the property last week. We’ve owned the sucker for months now but wanted to wait until the THOW (tiny house on wheels) had settled in to its permanent location. And even though we’re still dealing with leveling issues with her, she is where she’s going to be.

Unfortunately, the seller of the bathhouse miscalculated her height, so on the fly on the day of the move from an hour and a half south, her roof needed to be dismantled to accommodate the overpasses along the journey. (BTW, those overpasses are mostly train tracks and shoots that were used to transport sugar cane to the factories back in the day when the whole Hamakua coast was cane farm land.) She arrived dismantled, was dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the driveway, and was left with promises of a return visit by the seller for repairs and the truck driver in order to properly locate her on her piers.

This weekend we accomplished phase one: the repairing of the roof. Mike (the seller) and his buddy Smitty came and did their thing to reassemble the roof and to make some other small repairs. They were good spirited and did a nice job. Nonetheless they left us with what looks like a dilapidated structure. What I see, though, is a house in desperate need of some TLC.

I’ve always seen her as a house with great potential, while Jim, let’s just say, has humored me despite what is clearly a belief that it’s just a colossal waste of money. Whatever! That opinion just makes me all the more determined  to prove him wrong. Then again, I am no builder (she says without the false bravado), so I really have to fight my instinct to hire someone to come in and transform her, thus making his case.

First thing first, I knew if Jim was ever going to see what I see in the house, I was going to have to strip her of her identity as a one-time temporary residence for FOUR people and then, subsequently, as a maintenance shed for a school. So, while Jim was meeting with his motorcycle club cronies, I became Demo Goddess, ripping out the built-in futon structure, the workbench, the countertop, the broom holder, and the security bars across the sad, little windows. Here are some befores and some afters.

I had a total blast and was completely exhausted from swinging the hammer, ripping out lumber, and removing I don’t know how many freaking nails. Seriously, that maintenance team used nails for everything…hooks, locks, stabilizers, and door stops. The good news, though, is that the work only took about a half day, so I still got in my Sunday nap before finishing the rest. I had to borrow our neighbor’s drill to get out the balance of the stuff, since our Phillips bit broke on the first screw. I lost my motivation when it came to dismantling one of the two lofts I had intended to, but by and large my mission was accomplished.

Since Jim had the truck, I had to leave the pile of materials inside, so it’s hard to capture just how much better she looks with all the piecemealed components removed. Let’s just say it is night and day. The structure is pretty sound, and the canvas feels blank now… not like an irreparable heap of trash. Well, except for the heap of trash in the middle of the floor.

The plan is to make this little beauty into a master bedroom cottage, complete with a half bathroom, including a sink, space for the compostable toilet, and closet. We’re still planning for the outdoor shower on the main house to serve our bathing needs.

Once she is rotated 180 degrees with the door facing the ocean and placed on the piers, our to-do list includes:

  • Replacing windows
  • Adding French doors
  • Adding a wall to enclose the bathroom
  • Drywalling
  • Painting the interior and exterior
  • Installing gutters
  • Installing electrical
  • Adding plumbing for the sink (no need for water with the composting toilet)
  • Installing flooring

We love our loft bedroom in the main house, but let’s face it…we’re not going to get any younger. To be able to climb into bed without … well … climbing seems more and more like a necessity than a luxury. The options are pretty daunting as-is: 1. climb up the stairs fully dressed and then change while horizontal with a ceiling mere inches from your face, or 2. strip downstairs and then spiderman your way up, providing a decreasingly attractive – if not frightening – burlesque show for anyone unfortunate enough not to avert their eyes. Either way, it’s painful. More importantly, though, the second living space will give us much more flexibility when we both work from home. Right now, when we have calls at the same time, one of us sits in the car. Not ideal.

So, yes, this means that we have – in record time – faced the fact that living in 160 square feet isn’t ideal for us. As Jim’s sister – who has made a career out of advocating for affordable housing – has said, 400 sf is really the baseline for meeting individual spacial need. (Betsy, I tip my hat to you and your prowess.)  We always knew that we would have more space than the THOW, but I’ve surprised myself at just how relieved I feel that it will happen sooner rather than later.

Next up…windows and doors. I’ll keep you posted!


To read more about our Tiny House #1, view a gallery of that project’s progress photos, and join me in my musings, take a wander around my website


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