I left for Brazil just as everything started happening on the lot. I promised I wouldn’t disappear for a month but try and stay engaged in the project while here. Thus, I write this from a hammock in rural Northeast Brazil where we’re staying with an amazing community leader and learning about the Xukuru’s fight to regain their territory here in Brazil. While feeling grateful for the opportunity to be here, I’m also sad that I’m missing out on all the work that is being done on the lot. Fortunately, Tony and Brian have been keeping me updated via photos, email and Skype.
Here’s a recent update I received from Tony about the past week:
What a week! We took delivery of the shipping container on Monday, we’ve set most of the fence posts and Brian and Jay picked up their trailers on Friday. We should have the fencing up by the end of next week and, hopefully, we’ll have your house on the lot in about a week. You’re not gonna recognize the place when you get back!
It took some doing to get the trailers on the lot, but everything went well and we learned a lot about the logistics of moving and siting them. Once they are built up, it’s going to be even trickier to move them around. There’s not enough room in the alley to back them all the way into place with a truck. We ended up situating them by hand. We’re going to look into getting some type of hand dolly for future use. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up renting a small tractor to move them on and off the lot. One nice thing about the lot is that the yard slopes down perfectly to meet the back of the trailer. You’ll probably be able to step out of your back door directly onto the grass without stairs.
Brian and I have spoken to a lot of people passing through the alley and the feedback we’re getting is very positive. People are excited about the garden beds and curious about tiny houses. I know you feel like you’re missing out, but a lot of what we’ve been doing is dirty, sweaty grunt work. The good news is that we should be ready for the fun part of designing and building out the interior of yours when you get back.
Check out the photos below – they’ve really made progress, and I’m excited to get back and start working on this project again!
One of the most common questions we are asked is how did we set up the electricity in our tiny house. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not that familiar with all the technical aspects of our system so here is what we said about it on our blog:
“We designed the solar for our cabin by first minimizing our needs - energy hogs like electric stoves, fridges, washer / dryer, air conditioning, water heaters, microwaves and such were ruled out. Our system provides lights, small fans, and plugs for small appliances. When we need to run construction tools or other items with large power needs, we use a portable generator. The generator can also recharge the batteries if we need it to.”
We both work from our tiny house. I use a laptop computer which probably draws the most power. Matt is able to do most of his work from a tablet which uses a lot less energy to run.
We don’t have a traditional refrigeration system. We did find a great invention called the Coleman Stirling Engine Cooler that was used by long haul truckers and boaters. Coleman doesn’t make them any more. Even at its coldest setting it draws very little power. We don’t use it as our primary cooling source, however. We set it on freeze and put ice packs inside which we then transfer to a regular cooler. We also changed the way we buy and eat food. We bought into a CSA and we make frequent trips to the farmer’s market to get fresher ingredients that we use faster.
We also didn’t install the recommended propane fueled boat heater in our tiny house. We live in the southern Appalachian Mountains and during the summer it will never get cold enough to need it. For now, we don’t plan to live in our tiny house over the winter months because we’ll take that time to travel and see family in other parts of the country.
Next time, I’ll share our water systems and how we have a pressurized shower without any indoor plumbing.
This week, Derek "Deek" Diedricksen shares another tiny house thrift tip. Derek is the king of space-saving and as a parent, he knows how to make the most of space in kids rooms! Check out Deek in person at his Boston Workshop.
I'm Alex Pino and I presented at the Tumbleweed Miami Tiny House Workshop about minimalist living. Every Monday please join me for a new post about minimalism with practical tips and strategies to create a less cluttered life. After you read this post, you'll get to grasp some of the ideas that I shared and how you can put them into practice today and experience real results.
Most of you already know you want to simplify your life. You want less clutter, stuff, square footage, and overall just more freedom. The question is, where are you in regards to that right now? How much stuff do you have to get rid of now. I was surprised yet relieved when I found out that some of the people who were attending the workshop came from a family of hoarders and that they had tons of work to do before they could ever consider themselves “simple” or even “minimalist”.
What's really stopping you from getting rid of your clutter?
Most of us know that we want simpler lives already we just haven't gotten ourselves to take action towards it yet, but why not? Could it be that giving ourselves a powerful enough reason to start is harder than actually doing it? I think so. One way to overcome this is to dig deep within yourself and figure out why the heck you really want this freedom that you're looking for. Freedom itself is just way too general. So let's get more specific.
Do you want to move into a tiny house because you want to change your career, hate your job, don't like where you live, are frustrated with corrupt corporations, or maybe just because you just want to spend more time with the people in your life? Take your time with this because only something this meaningful will give you the power to separate yourself from your stuff. I believe that these are the “juicy” ideas that give you the drive to part with your unimportant stuff and keep it that way.
This is also the driving force that will get you to build your home and make this dream of yours a reality... step by step. Open up a blank word document on your computer right now and make ten bullet points then list some exciting goals you have, which you haven't yet achieved. Goals that excite you.
Here are five of my own exciting goals which help drive me towards “minimalism”, yours might be different:
To travel throughout the United States
To build and live in a mortgage-free tiny house
To enjoy fun times with my niece and nephews
To live out of a backpack and travel around for 3 months
To inspire and help other people who want to simplify and live more passionately
Do you see how these goals I have for myself might create a little leverage for me? For example, if I want to help other people simplify, I should do it myself, too. I might like having three computers right now, but will that get me the excitement to live out of a backpack and travel for several months? Nope. So I've got work to do, too!
Common mindsets that will not serve you when simplifying
Here are some of the common mindsets that I've found which have kept people like you and me from freeing ourselves from our clutter:
“I might need this [widget] later and I paid good money for it in [year].”
“This was my grandfather's first television, and he was in the Cold War.”
“These are worth $3 each on eBay and I have 100 of them.”
“My storage unit is packed from the floor to the roof, where do I even begin?”
Notice the difference between these bullet points (excuses) and the ones above (goals). Everyone has excuses because they're easy to create. Choose to focus on goals instead because they give you the mental power to move forward instead of one step forward, and two steps back, like some folks do (including myself at times).