Building a Modern Tiny House in Connecticut

Some thoughts on the process so far

First, thanks to my dad (Jon) for stepping in and giving this blog a second life. Before my dad picked it back up, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to make some sacrifices in order to make ProcessHouse into a reality and not just a blog. Unfortunately, one of those sacrifices was, in fact, blogging.

However, as my father and I began construction back in May, I discovered he was already taking the time to document the process—in quite some detail—in emails to my uncle. Suddenly it became apparent what I should do, so I dusted off the blog and handed it over to my dad.

One thing that I didn’t fully anticipate is how physically and emotionally draining the construction process can be. Although I look forward to long 3 day weekends of all-day building, more often than not I will need one of those days just to recharge from the other two. And forget about weekday work nights—when I do attempt these, usually I end up feeling scattered and making some sloppy mistakes.

The other interesting thing I’ve found is that the construction moves relatively fast and easy when compared with planning and decision making. Once plans are in place, it tends to be pretty smooth sailing. If you’re designing your own tiny house from scratch, you will need to plan ahead with dimensional drawings of the framing. I can’t emphasize this enough. I highly recommend a CAD application like SketchUp for this. It allows you to basically frame your house in virtual reality, so you can run into problems and fix them before any wood, metal, or other real-world (real cost) materials are involved. And once you’re done, you can easily pull your materials list and measurements from the app and start cutting everything to spec.

For this same reason, I highly recommend would-be tiny house DIYers to buy plans from a reputable tiny house builder. Unless you are already schooled in or prepared to learn quite a bit about the field of construction, building codes, and—if your plans are innovative to any degree—some basic structural engineering, you may end up with something that is either unfinished or unsafe.

However, if you are (crazy) like me and want to be the all-in-one architect/designer/builder on your tiny house (and want to do it well), be prepared for a long haul!

In addition to the many tiny house builders/bloggers who have gone before, I’m also grateful to have been able to consult with Nick, a local contractor, and Chris, my cousin, who also happens to be a structural engineer by profession and has been kind enough to give me some advice during my final stages of planning. My attempts to locate structural engineers before had came up short, all of them seeming interested in the idea but ultimately unwilling to take on such an unorthodox project. Thanks Chris!

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