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Tiny house progress so far

Most tiny houses are on wheels, ours won't be. Here's the 3 meter x 10 meter spot where it'll go.

A post all about the tiny house! I’ve been meaning to write more about the project, but so much else has been going on that it hasn’t been top of mind. Plus, without building materials to do some of the more impressive stuff like framing and, well, building, what we’ve been working on seems boring to me. And muddy. But when I mentioned to a friend that I’d built a rock staircase over the weekend she said, “I want to see it!” So below is a bit about that and more.

As mentioned previously, Covid and NZ’s lockdowns for the past few months have wrecked havoc on the supply chain for pretty much everything. Building materials included. Getting things to the island is hard enough as it is, but the only supplier on island recently told us the list of timber we want won’t be available until after Christmas. There might be some magical other way to locate timber and get it here on the ferry, but so far we haven’t discovered it. So here we are, ready to put on our tool belts but with nothing to actually build with. Turns out, there is actually a TON of work to do that has nothing to do with a hammer. Although we imagined building the house itself and then working in the infrastructure around it, we’ve decided to do the opposite. And there are lots of benefits to doing it this way anyway. So, here's what we're up to.

Our landscape and infrastructure plan so far.

Our water tank, taller than I am.
Water Tank

We purchased a 6000 litre water tank here on the island. With the spot for it cleared and levelled, Isaac and the boys brought a trailer full of sand up from the beach and built a giant sandbox platform for it to sit on. He then wound piping through the forest down to the main house where water is collected off the rooftops of the existing structures on the property. We can pump water up from there and fill up the tank. We’ll need water to mix concrete up at the site, so this is a big win to have finished this!

Picking up hay to mulch on our newly planted grass.

Putting down grass seed under a layer of hay in the rain. Muddy work.

After excavation and clearing was done, a weeklong rainstorm blew in and turned everything to a mucky mess. I was eager to get grass seed down, both to capitalise on the rains for germination, and also to do away with the mud as soon as possible. Once we have grass established, the kids will be able to play on the site more (they love the mud for five minutes and then complain when it clumps to their boots and they can’t walk). So, grass would mean Isaac and I will be able to work side by side while the kids play rather than switching off like we do now.

My eagerness for grass had me slipping and sliding around in the mud to sprinkle seed on the steepest hillside of the site today. We purchased several bales of hay from the farmers next door and I spread that across the soil to keep the grass seed from washing away. (a great tip from my father-in-law!) There isn’t much top soil, but I’m hopeful that the grass will find a way.

Rock walls , steps, paths

When we laid metal (fancy name for rocks, apparently) on the driveway, the digger driver picked out the biggest rocks and dotted them around the property in piles to be used for other projects. We’ve got a few staircases to build for the landscaping, as well as a retaining wall behind the house. With no timber available, we’ll use – you guessed it – rocks. I spent yet another muddy day in the rain cutting steps into the bank leading to our future veggie garden and fitting heavy rocks in as steps. The mud was actually helpful – the rocks went in easily and I could push mud into the cracks between them. I’m pretty proud of the steps actually. I finally feel like I’ve built something!

A ledge where we'll put raised garden beds.
Veggie Garden

We cleared a ledge in the steep hillside below the house where we can put a few raised garden beds. I haven’t worked out the design of them yet, nor have I figured out how we’ll build them without timber (we may just have to wait), but I can’t wait to get started. A muddy pile of topsoil we saved from the excavation is just waiting to be dropped into a future garden bed.

Foundation posts, ready to be cut.

We did manage to get a stack of timber foundation posts of various sizes, which was a win. With careful cuts to each, we can just manage to get the number of posts we need (with a little left over too). Our digger driver can bore the holes and help with the concrete, so as soon as this rain dries up we want to be ready. That means we’ve got to get a truly accurate string line up and mark where to dig each posthole. This is the first of many technical steps to come, and we’ve got to get it right. But once those foundation posts are in, it’ll feel that much more real. I can’t wait.

Until next time!

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