moving a tiny house

Home Is (Still) Where Your House Is

Raffi's New View One of the perks of living in a tiny house on wheels is the ability to have a change of scenery. But I’ve gotta say, I’ve felt a little topsy –turvy in my house the past couple days!

On Sunday morning The Lucky Penny went on A Tiny Move for a Tiny House. The layout has remained exactly the same, of course, but my house was rotated 180 degrees from how it was in my previous spot. So it’s strange that I now turn west to walk through My Arched Door and east to curl up on My Pull-Out Bed! It's not that I'm getting lost in 100 square feet, but things do feel a little backwards!

I imagine that most people wouldn’t be as disoriented as I am in my own darn house, but I’ve always associated my relative directions and the cardinal directions. It all started when I was four years old and my babysitter attempted to teach me the difference between my left and right hands. We were heading west on a walk to the park and I immediately began confusing left and right with north and south. So I got very disoriented about right and left remaining relative to my body when we were turned around and headed east while walking home. Fortunately, I got it sorted out over the years, but most days it’s still easier for me to point west than it is for me to remember which side of my body is the lefthand side!

Oak Tree through Skylight

I went through as similar period of disorientation the first time I moved a tiny house. After six months of living in Bayside Bungalow, we moved the tiny house a few blocks away and oriented it 180 degrees differently. Fortunately, I’m discovering now, as I did then, that Home is Where Your House Is.

And I love my house in its new spot! It’s also now oriented for how I originally designed the house. My bed is to the east, making it easy to wake with the sun. The porch is to the west so I can enjoy sunset skies. And the kitchen is to the south so I can enjoy sunshine on my face while making lunch or I’m doing my dishes. (Also, the sun now can’t shine on my food jars and degrade the contents. I was never particularly worried about this since I eat through my dry food fairly quickly, but it’s not ideal for the sun to be beaming right on it!)

This orientation and location have a few other advantages, too:

  • Serenity via Door Window

    The Lucky Penny is now closer to Karin’s house Serenity so we can say hi from our porches.

  • I have a big beautiful oak tree overhead, which will block summer sun from blazing through my skylight.
  • I’ll get more winter sun through my south window than I did when I was tucked just north of The Big House.
  • I have a great view of the community from my southern window, so I can see people coming and going.
  • I am more nestled into the garden so I’ll be more observant of it.

Thank goodness home, is (still) where your house is!

A Tiny Move for My Tiny House

moving tiny houses sometimes requires superhero strength! Today during our Simply Home Community Work Party, we moved my tiny house, The Lucky Penny, from its original spot, tucked between The Rustic and The Big House to another location on the property.

I had already secured things inside before our work party began. This process involved:

  • bungee-cording my tansu drawers shut,
  • setting my dish rack and toaster oven safely out of harm's way,
  • removing heavy items from the upper cupboards and tucking them into My Teeny, Tiny Tub with my towels packed around them,
  • popping my half-pint jars into the drawers of My Plug-and-Play Kitchen, and
  • nestling the copper canisters I found on my Tiny House Treasure Hunt into the space between the mattress and the wall

Maneuvering

During the work party we started out by clearing the new space and setting aside the storage totes I keep under my house. Aline and Lindsey pruned the pear and plum trees on either side of my new spot and cleared away the brush. Then we flipped up My Flip-Up Front Porch and hooked the tongue of My Custom Vardo Trailer to the tiny house mover - a power dolly that has moved many a tiny house at this point.

I was going to captain the move, but I wasn’t big enough. Really and truly. I don’t have the weight to keep the power dolly on the ground! So Tony did the maneuvering for the tiny move for my tiny house. Isha, Jake, and I spotted the front and sides of the house while Tony pulled the house out from its spot and got it pointed down the path.

Stuck In a Rut

All was going pretty well until we hit The Hiccup. (In my experience, it’s not uncommon to encounter The Hiccup when you’re moving a tiny house on a piece of property!) In this case, The Hiccup was that one of the wheels got caught in a sinkhole where the soil was loose. The whole house pitched to one side, the wheel spinning in place. The jack on one corner was nearly touching the ground and the house was so tilted to the north that all my kitchen drawers were wide open. (Fortunately, the kitchen drawers all have stops so they couldn’t actually fall out!) We were literally stuck in a rut!

We took a brief break to fortify with burritos from the place around the corner. Just then, Karin returned from a work party at Good Life Medicine Center and pointed us to The Other bottle jack. It took us nearly an hour of minuscule tweaks to jack The Lucky Penny up high enough to wedge concrete chunks underneath and get traction. Fortunately, we worked well together as a team and we managed to get the house oriented properly in its new spot just as our first guests were arriving for our monthly Tiny House Community Tour. Karin helped me level the house enough that the drawers would stay shut so people could come inside to look at her. There will still be some details to sort out as I settle into my new spot, but so far I’m glad Home is (Still) Where Your Heart Is.

Lucky Penny’s Maiden Voyage

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed up to ask how the move went. The tiny has landed. I repeat. The tiny has landed. Everything went according to plan and The Lucky Penny has Come (Simply) Home. 10387224_10105245055917830_316295343464841875_nOn Monday morning my build buddy Laura Klement arrived before dawn to pick up me and the tiny house mover. The tiny house mover is a power dolly that has helped many tiny houses in Portland nestle into their spots. We weren’t sure we would need it to wrangle The Lucky Penny out of her parking spot at Green Anchors but we didn’t want to need it and not have it, so we brought it along.

Once we arrived at Green Anchors we secured things inside the tiny house, using scrap pieces of rigid foam to pad the tansu. We tucked the stairs inside. Then we strapped My Flip-Up Front Porch into its traveling position. We hooked two ratchet straps to each other and passed them through the kitchen windows then closed the windows, exited the house, flipped up the porch, and joined the two pieces of ratchet strap and cinched them tightly. We put chucks in front and back of the wheels and lowered the tiny house from its jacked-up position onto its wheels. The final detail was screwing a piece of blocking into the windowsill of the arched window to ensure that the arched window would stay closed.

When Morgan from Gerlock Towing arrived he assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get The Lucky Penny out of her spot. So we hefted the tiny house mover back into Laura’s car and then filled in the space around it with tools and supplies while we were waiting for Morgan to get the house secured to his truck.

The move itself went quite smoothly. We went the long way to avoid hauling the tiny house up Baltimore Street but it was just fine on the more gradual slope. After that, it was nearly a straight shot from Green Anchors to Simply Home Community. Laura and I followed behind in her car and we got a kick out of watching people’s reactions. There were definitely a few double takes but it was amazing how few people actually noticed. It made me realize I should be paying more attention when I’m out walking. Otherwise you may never know when a tiny house is cruising down the road past you! Of course, it may be that tiny houses are becoming so ubiquitous in Portland, Oregon – tiny house capital of the universe – that people don’t bat an eye anymore!

In either case, Morgan helped get The Lucky Penny off the street and backed into the spot between the house and the garage before he headed out again. Then we hauled the tiny house mover out of the back of Laura’s car and Tony navigated the Lucky Penny into her spot with the help of spotters all around. I was lucky my landies were having a work party and stopped to help my little house get tucked between the big house and the greenery that separates my house from The Rustic, the next tiny house over. Hooray for community (and people who are already familiar with tiny houses and their quirks!)

There’s a lot of work left to do before I’m ready to shift my belongings from my room in The Big House to The Lucky Penny. But I’m already enthralled by the way being tucked in the garden has made for awesome views. I think we’ll really like it here!

Tiny House on the Road

We moved the tiny house I’ve lived in the past 10 months back up to Olympia today and tucked it into its spot near the old apple tree. The Bayside Bungalow is once again truly bayside and it’s available as a rental for people who want to try out tiny house living. Of course, it’s also a nice vacation rental for folks who just want a sweet spot to stay in Olympia, WA, too.

Brittany and Dylan arrived in Portland yesterday afternoon so they could make sure the little house was ready to roll again. We picked up a flatbed F550 truck from family-owned Lewis Rents on Stark for a 24-hour rental from 4pm on Friday to 4pm on Saturday. Then we checked tire pressure on all four tires and zip-tied the shutters closed so they would protect the windows during transport. We unhooked the utilities: the water supply hose, the electrical cord, the greywater system, and the propane tank. We also removed the stairs and tucked them inside with the spare trailer tire. Then we headed over to Logan and Tammy’s place for a fantastic dinner and great conversation. It was hard to leave, but we knew we’d need to get an early start in the morning.

First thing this morning we hooked the trailer up to the truck and Brittany expertly backed it out of its parking spot. We did a quick double-check to make sure everything looked okay and then we hit the road, tiny house in tow. Brittany drove the massive truck and I copiloted while Dylan followed us in the chase vehicle. We took it easy, going between 50 and 55 mph most of the way, and stopped at the rest stops to check the tire temperature and lug nuts. It was fun lining up with all the semi trucks and gasoline trucks. The whole house is smaller than one of those trucks! I wonder how long it would take the tiny house to use that much energy. (On that note, I checked my Kill-A-Watt meter when I unplugged the electrical cord and was pleased to discover I had used 72 killowatt hours in the past 87 days. That’s less than 1 KWH per day. The average American uses 10-11 KWHs per day!)

We’d been pretty nervous on the trip down to Portland since it was the tiny house’s first highway trip, so it was white knuckles whole way. On this return trip to Olympia we were all more confident that everything would be okay so we had a good time watching for other people’s reactions. We were surprised by how many people driving along didn’t even notice the tiny house going down the highway, but we got a few amusing reactions. One older fella waved and gave us two thumbs up. A little girl riding in a backwards car seat stared at us with her mouth gaping. And a guy riding shotgun in a big freight truck turned all the way around to watch us go by. Dylan took a little video footage of the process and Brittany’s sister even stood on one of the overpasses in Olympia to tape us going by. Hopefully there will be a video forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Brittany and her friend Steve backed the tiny house into its spot and we got blocks around the tires. Brittany will be back this week to get the tiny house ready for its first guests. Once the house was settled we headed to Dylan and Brittany’s for a tour of their amazing garden. We also visited Brittany’s friend Neil who is a woodworker. He’s building a tiny house right now, too, so we got to take a sneak peek. You can see it, too, by visiting Neil's Tiny Homes on Facebook. I especially loved the arched roof so I asked Neil if he’ll consider letting me commission him to build the rafters for the arched roof for my vardo. I think it would be pretty cool to learn to do it myself, but Neil has the tools and the knowledge to do it elegantly and roofs are one of those things you want to get right. Check out his website Wooden Concept for more information about this tiny house and Neil’s other work.

After a tasty brunch with Dylan and Brittany at Fish Tale, I drove the F550 pick up truck back down to the rental shop in Portland. Then I took the bus home to my new house. This evening I did a bit of unpacking but I think I’m going to hit the hay early. It was a big day for us and the tiny house!

Savoring the Tiny House

Tiny House & Hammock A year ago I decided to rent a tiny house. We moved Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow to Portland at the end of September last year, just before I started my first quarter studying urban planning at Portland State University. I figured it would be an economically-savvy and environmentally-friendly housing choice for my first year of graduate school. Living in a tiny house would enable me to decide whether I could realistically live in less than 200 square feet. Furthermore, it would inform my design choices if I decided to build a tiny house of my own.

We’ll be moving Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow back to Olympia this Saturday. So this week I’m savoring the tiny house. I’m enjoying the dappled light through the lilac trees while I’m curled up with my kindle on the window seat, I’m appreciating the tiny, efficient kitchen while cooking meals, and I’m relishing the view of the stars from the skylight of the sleeping loft.

I’m also reminding myself what I will do differently in my own tiny house now that I’m convinced I want to build a tiny house of my own. The top three changes I would make are these:

1)   I’ll design my tiny house with a larger porch (see Shrinky-Dink Porch for an explanation).

2)   I’ll spring for an on-demand propane water heater. (Since I had to wait 20 minutes for the 4-gallon tank to heat up once I flipped the switch I often ran out of time to actually do the dishes, which meant I’d wasted that energy.)

3)   I’ll use the Envi wall-mounted electric heater instead of an oil radiator or a propane boat heater.  (See Top 10 Reasons to Pick Envi Heater Over Propane Marine Heater)

Ten months of tiny house living have also convinced me that a wee abode perfectly suited to me can be even smaller than 121 square feet. My latest design for my own tiny house is a gypsy wagon (also known as a vardo) built on a 14-foot long trailer. I think about it every day as I go about my daily activities in this tiny house. I’m looking forward to scouting for materials this year and building my tiny house next summer. Meanwhile, I will use everything I’ve learned about simple living in my future housing arrangements. For the rest of the summer I’ll be living in a garden cottage (also known as an Accessory Dwelling Unit) on the same block as Cully Grove, where I’m building tiny houses. For next school year I’m considering a more urban version of the Little Life with a studio apartment in a more walkable neighborhood and a shorter commute to campus.

I’m extremely grateful I had the opportunity to test out the Little Life before committing to it. Once we get the tiny house back to Olympia Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow will be available for rental by the night, weekend, or week so that other people can test out tiny house living. There don’t seem to be many other opportunities to rent a tiny house, so if you’re interested, please do get in touch with Brittany. Her reservation calendar is filling up quickly!