Micro cottage

Wants and needs

So…it’s been a while since I last blogged. I know.
It’s been interesting around here.

So my plans to build a vardo? Yeah, they’ve been put on hold.
It’s quite simple, really: I need the money I’ve saved for something else.
I need a new car.
No, no, for the last time it’s not my car that broke! It’s my dad’s car; so with finances tight all around I made the decision to give Mom and Dad my old car and get myself the new one I’ve been promising myself I’d get for…5 years now. Just a bit longer now.
In the meantime, we’ve made the whole 4 working adults, 2 working vehicles thing work. Mom and Michael take the truck and Dad and I take my car. I drop Dad off at a bus stop and then pick him after we’ve both finished work.
There is, of course, a lot that could go wrong with our plan. What if a car breaks down? What if I get mandated at work?
But so far, everything is working out okay. I’ve been able to make use of my new Netflix mobile account while I wait for Dad each day. I kinda really like that! If things keep on going smoothly (please, please, dear God please), I should be able to get a new car within the month.

My own place can wait. It’s not the worst thing in the world to be patient just a little bit longer; basically next summer/early fall instead of next spring for the vardo.
Well, actually that’s another change. I’ve sort of decided against a vardo on the grounds that the free building expertise I have at my disposal is limited and probably not up to a curved roof. A sloped roof I know I can do and for much cheaper than curved rafters. So, I’m now looking at something more resembling a tradition shed-like structure. Still mounted on a trailer: that’s one part of the dream I’m unwilling to give up.
I’ve been doing my research again and this time I’ve arrived at www.relaxshacks.com instead of a Don Vardo. The style is still very much me…but “me” on a level that I am comfortable building on my own. There’s the dream and dream you can achieve. I never thought I’d learn to be a realist!

Wants vs needs, right? I want a detached structure of my own. I need a new car. My plan was vardo then car, now it’s car then shack. Ah, life.
I’m learning that flexibility is great skill indeed. Life is never going to go exactly to our plans; so we might as well learn to roll with the punches with as much grace as we can muster.

Categories: Micro cottage, ordinary life | 2 Comments

Vardo update #1

So, it’s payday. About time, too!
Life is a funny thing, sometimes…like when you announce to all and sundry via the internet that you are going to be working overtime and saving like crazy so you can afford to build a vardo/Gypsy wagon and your car breaks down the following week and you get a nasty cold the week after that.
Yep. That’s just my luck. Last Friday, I took my brother to see Guardians of the Galaxy (good movie, by the way) and on our way home, the stick that shifts gears pulled out of its console by a couple inches. It’s not shifting gears anymore, obviously.
I didn’t have enough money to get it fixed until payday, so my car has just been sitting in the driveway and I’ve been catching rides into work with dad.
Can’t work much overtime when you have to be picked up at a certain time; but apparently by that time I’d worked enough overtime to induce a state of exhaustion, crippling both my immune system and my cheerful demeanor. The reason I’m blogging at this exact moment is that I’m home sick with a nasty cold. Fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, bleary eyes: I’ve got it all. According to my loving family, I look as bad as I complain I feel. Yuck. I’ve been gargling with salt water, sucking on cough drops and gulping down criminally over-steeped and under-sweetened green tea like there’s no tomorrow.
To anyone caught in the wake of my frustration and lack of filter: I’m really sorry. It’s been a bad couple weeks. Hopefully I can get my car fixed, my health improved and my attitude adjusted over the next two days. I hate calling in sick. I hate working sick even more. I promise you, I feel like I’m dying right now.

Anyways, woes aside, here’s the progress report.
In two weeks, I worked 96.5 hours. For reference, I usually work between 75 and 80 hours. 16.5 hours of overtime, with all the shift diff, bonuses and OT pay rate that comes with it = $500 extra to put back for vardo construction (assuming I’m not going to have to dip into that for car repairs). My target amount is $5,000 before the start of construction.
So, in the first two weeks, I earned 10% of my target amount. If I could keep up that pace, I’d be done with the financing phase in 4.5 months or nine more paychecks. Yeah…I don’t think that’s going to happen. For the sake of my well being and my fellow man, I’m probably going to have to slow down just a hair.
Let’s shoot for an April construction, shall we? That gives me almost 8 months and 17 pay periods to earn the remaining 90%. That means I’ll have to shoot for earning $265 extra each pay period…about half what I worked/earned this time. Only 8-9 hours of over time every two weeks? I think I can do that!
Without killing myself or anyone else around me, that is.

Categories: Micro cottage, ordinary life | 2 Comments


So I want to build a tiny house. I’ve answered “Why a tiny house”, but another good question is “Why build?”

I could buy a finished house from Tumbleweed or Hornby Island Caravans.
I could buy and renovate an RV.
Why build?

A few reasons:
1) New RVs and pre-made tiny houses cost quite a pretty penny. Try around the range of $30,000–$50,000.
At my current rate of income and savings…that’s years of overtime. Or years of debt. Eh….not what I want. I want something soon and I want something fairly cheap. I’m not exactly planning on spending the rest of my life in a tiny house: this is a for-now solution while I save for something more permanent. A stop-gap or a stepping stone, if you would. Same as living at home, but with just a bit more…independence, I guess. My own roof. I guess at heart, I’m a symbolism kinda girl.
2) Renovated a used RV is a popular option for what I want…but if I’m going to spend that much time, effort and money on it, I think I’d rather just design my own. Build a space that is truly me, inside and out.
3) Building my own is a scary prospect. I’ve never done anything like it.
It’s absolutely terrifying…so why wouldn’t I do it? There’s a good kind of terror, a rush of life as you do something completely new. If I can build my own dwelling, no matter how small, what else can I do?

So, I’m building.

What kind of DIY tiny house?
If there’s one design I’ve kept coming back to in my years of haunting tiny house sites, it’s this. The vardo. Inspired by the wagons of itinerant Roma, or gypsies, the vardo is loft-less, really small and comparatively light-weight. This vardo, the Don Vardo by Portland Alternative Dwellings, is actually the one I’m planning to build. I’ll be buying the 12 foot plans
Unlike some tiny houses, it’s not meant to be used as a full-time structure such as we think of houses…at least, not by itself. It’s more of a guest-room/home office kind of deal. Committing to this design, instead of a more “traditional” tiny house, like a Tumbleweed house, means spending more time in the main house…hey, that’s rather what I need! Like I said, not planning on living out the rest of my days there. Stepping stone; personalized stepping stone.
Now, for some design ideas! More pictures of the basic Don Vardo. These are of the 8 foot vardo, not the 12 foot version.













Here are some inspirations from other sources:
The “Hobbit Hutch
While I’m not so fond if the blue exterior, I love the shutters and the interior layout and colors.
Paleotool’s vardo.
An instructables construction guide of Paleotool’s vardo.
A little more rustic than I personally like, but the details are exquisite! I’m looking for something with a little more insulation, though…
Kintala’s vardo. A very historically accurate vardo! Details galore!
Hornby Island Caravans. So many good ideas! I love how open these spaces seem, even though they are actually quite small, as opposed to the often cluttered and cramped tiny houses.
Baldwin Gypsy Caravan: I love how thoroughly he documents the construction process.
Daphne’s Caravans: a treasure-trove of vardo information. I love how expansive the vardo culture is. It makes sense, I suppose: vardos have a longer history than most tiny houses.
A video of vardo construction. Extremely helpful resource!

Other assorted ideas:
Love the bump-out window!

















Here’s an exterior color scheme I like. Just imagine these colors on the vardo:






Categories: Micro cottage | 2 Comments


I still live in my parents’ home.
That’s right: I’ve never moved out. Hear me out before you judge, please. It’s not quite what you might think. It’s not that I’m “a failure to launch” or that I’m lazy free-loader or am scared to get out on my own; I’ve made a conscious choice for very good and important adult reasons. Reasons I’m not going to go into right now, but they are good reasons, I promise. I didn’t just never move out; it was a conscious and deliberate choice. And I’m happy with my choices and my life and we’ve made it work. It’s rather less like living under my parent’s roof and more like I’m sharing a house with three other adults.
But I’m getting to the point where I need just a little more space. It’d be nice to have, for lack of a better term, my own roof. My own little space that’s just mine. What’s a girl to do?

Enter tiny houses.
For years, I’ve followed tiny house blogs and websites. I love the idea of living in a small space, but, for many reasons, I’ve never really made any steps towards realizing this idea. There’s always been something else going on, something else that I wanted. A tiny house of my own just kept getting pushed back into a corner of my mind. Well, that’s changing. I’m taking out my pipe dreams and dusting them off; they’ll be solid under the sun and not just mist in my mind. Yikes.

Why a tiny house?
As a child, I always thought it would be cool to live in a house on wheels…I love reading stories about wandering folk and gypsies. Mobile housing really fired my imagination.
As an adult, I have a deep-seated aversion to debt. And traditional housing is ridiculously expensive…almost impossible to achieve when you only make ten bucks an hour and don’t want to have a massive load of debt.
My imagination and bohemian tendencies and my limited sense of practicality are coming together in a project: I’m going to build myself a tiny house. I already have the perfect set-up for tiny house living: land to live on with, understanding and supportive landlords (hey Mom and Dad!). I’m single, don’t have kids, and have a few very good reasons for staying really close to home.

So, I’m going to building myself a tiny house. The expense is going to come exclusively out of bonuses and overtime and maybe tax refunds (I still have quite a bit left from last year’s return). I’m not going to use my core paychecks…that is, what I would make if I only work my scheduled shifts. That money is still going to be funneled into usual expenses and savings. This is a strictly extra-curricular, to mix my metaphors hopelessly. I might be the richest girl in the graveyard, but at least I’ll have something to show for it.
So, stay tuned for more crazy adventures! I’ll be document the whole experience here on this blog: how many hours I work, the total cost, the building process. It might take me a while because of this self-imposed financial limitation, but it’ll be interesting I’m sure!
It’s me, after all. Boring just isn’t an option.

Categories: Micro cottage | 5 Comments

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