Joining the Tiny House Movement… almost there!

The tiny house movement is more than just living in a small home (generally considered to be a space less than 400 square feet), it’s an architectural, social and environmentally conscious movement – it’s the ultimate lifestyle choice if you have the minimalist mindset.

A tiny house is either stationary and built on a foundation or it moveable and is built wheels. Many are taking a crack at building their own and it’s incredible to see, that is the way to really keep costs down! On shows like Living Big in a Tiny House you get to see the amazingly creative ideas that people are coming up with!

The tiny house movement is really a unique community and I love how the Vancouver Island based tiny home builder Rewild Homes has built a really great site with tons of resources including BC Land Listings for those looking for a place to park their homes (we have space on our land if you’re interested! Check out this link and if you want to apply fill out an application form here).

Whether you are trying to find a place to park your tiny house on wheels … or if you are planning to build a tiny home with a foundation – it is important to do your research. Many municipalities do not allow it and it can be a real challenge to get permits to build. It’s a bit mind blowing to think that even if you own your property you may not be permitted to build a tiny house on it… wow!

We got incredibly lucky with our piece of property as there are (currently) no zoning restrictions in place that would limit our ability to build a smaller than usual home. Even so, we had to spend a lot of time talking to the local permit office and insurance companies to make our plans understood and accepted. Hopefully if people get a little more vocal the laws will begin to relax and become more flexible…

We chose Nomad Micro Homes because they are architecturally beautiful, they are sustainably built and because they are affordable. Another reason is that the design is adaptable for a variety of needs and this was very important to us.

My post in November showed the concrete footings poured and power/water lines buried. Also, the first shipment of two of the three cubes that will make up our home and guest suite were delivered. Then came a) snow and b) the holiday season. Patience, this is my mantra!

Now we have an amazing power/water pump ‘shack’. It is steel clad which is really important in this environment where forest fires are a real threat. Seeing this structure in place was an exciting day for us, to see something physically built on our property!

Even though we have chosen to have our home on a foundation and will build some outbuildings such as a cold storage and perhaps a work-out space, our home itself is about 340 square feet with two sleeping lofts. We are both passionate about living with a minimal amount of “things” so we do our best to make very conscious purchases. I think our main weakness is books and we have quite a few between us!

Now that the second shipment arrived, the suite can now be framed up. Once it’s at the same stage as the main home then all of the finishing work will progress with both. The final push!!

Adapting to the new norm

In my last post I shared thoughts on how being adaptable can help us to navigate through stressful times and how learning to be ok with change can help us to be calm and respond to situations despite the fear or uncertainty that we may feel. To seek out solutions instead of focusing on what is wrong.  We may even find that we learn how to thrive during times such as these.

The way that we carry out almost every activity in our daily life has changed in such a short period of time, and just the other day I encountered a new one. Our bank appraiser came by the property to asses the progress made on our home in order that funds from my construction loan may be released to me. He let us know ahead of time that because of the COVID-19 situation, he is only permitted to perform drive-by viewings from the road, he can’t actually drive or step onto the property.

When he arrived, we spoke to him from across the road and he instructed us on what photographs he’d need to see in order for him to complete his report. Below are some of the photos we took and you’ll see a lot of work has taken place in the past month. The siding is completed, the windows are in, the roof on and soffits installed. Last week the electricians made a lot of progress and this week I believe the plumber is coming in. Then begins the fun stuff like drywall!

Adaptability and embracing change has been my friend throughout the length of this project and we still have several months to go. So many delays and moving timelines to manage along with the tedious and often stressful task of juggling finances. The money aspect is one which has forced us to re-evaluate the original plan again and again … and yet again. Sure there is stress within this process and yes I have shed tears of frustration at times wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. However I truly believe that with each requirement to change we have come to the most incredible way forward and I don’t think we would have got here without everything “negative” and “challenging” that has happened along the way!

We are very fortunate to have a property outside the ALC which allows us to be creative and to play with lots of different possibilities. The part of the property that is down the hill and through the cedar forest from where we are building the Nomads is a big beautiful open field. Some of our ideas have been to find a partner to build a boutique micro-brewery. Another was to build a really cool house on stilts like the Sol-Duc. We also thought about building several live/work studio homes for people in the area, or a business centre for the local community.

And then… COVID-19 came along and here we now are at the end of March in a Brave New World, the strangest of days. So within a few weeks and with all the uncertainty surrounding everyone and everything, all of the plans that we had considered got thrown out the window and we had to re-evaluate our plan.

One morning, about a week ago, while I was doing my idea machine “workout” I had the seed of a thought which, while later brainstorming it with Steve, germinated into something fabulous – the idea to marry my love of tiny homes with my interest in permaculture gardening together to build something for ourselves and for the greater community. The plan to invite between 3 – 5 experienced permaculture designers/ farmers who will park their own off-grid tiny home on wheels on our property began coming together.

lower field

Then the question became… how? How do we reach out to find these people? Where to begin? Well, about a year ago I had joined the Young Agrarians organization and while I hadn’t been actively participating I did remember that they have a B.C. Land Matching Program so I started by reaching out to them. The other part of this plan involved reaching out to ReWild Homes, a builder of tiny home on wheels located on Vancouver Island. They have a resources page which includes a lands listing for tiny home owners to find a place to park their homes. I’ve connected with two amazing human beings who are helping me to make this dream a reality!

The vision and plan is to bring like minded people together to build a model or blueprint for sustainable living. We must change the way we live, it has become so apparent in these last few months that we must not, for the sake of this planet, continue being consumer focused and that we need to take control of our local food sources – to become more self sufficient.

We human beings are only stewards of this land, we don’t “own” it, we are only temporarily taking care of it for the next generation as well as for all of the creatures great and and small that share the land with us. It’s shocking – in a horrible but also good way – to see the beneficial affects of the slow down of industry is having on our planet. Blue skies and clear waters in places around the globe where this hasn’t been the case for as long as local residents can remember.

I believe it behoves us to take this global life altering situation that we’ve found ourselves in and make a change for the better – however that might look for you. To go back to the way things were just doesn’t, in my mind, seem to be an option! If you were to change just one thing, what would it be?

I’ll get off my soap box now but leave you this a final note: if you, or someone you know, is a farmer (particularly versed in permaculture) who wants to participate in realizing this vision I have for our Winlaw property, you will share in the harvest, sell at an onsite weekly market and have the opportunity to run workshops and lectures on the property to demonstrate the value and importance of permaculture gardening. If you are interested in participating in any way with this project please feel free to reach out, send me an email at info@ravens-perch.local.