As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been struggling lately with what I want. Recently (like within the past few days) I’ve come to terms with some issues I have with my own self-esteem and need for validation. My previous blog about personae detailed that issue, and my constant changing of my mind based on the opinions (or perceived opinions) of others.
I decided to stop worrying about how other people see me, and start focusing more on what I want.
Yesterday I had a bit of a argument with myself. My computer has been acting a bit sub-par. After some investigating and reddit-ing, I determined that I need a new graphics card. This is what spawned the argument. See, right now I want a tiny house, but I have yet to see a tiny house with a full desk top computer set-up in it. So I had been thinking that I would have no choice but to give up my desktop for a laptop when it came time to get a tiny house. I told myself that was okay.
Lately though, I’ve had my doubts.
So, to help figure out what I want in life, in my house, in my future, what I want to do and how I want to spend my time, I thought I’d make a list. A list of things I want. Once I’ve made the list, I’ll go through and see if any things don’t play nice with others.
- A tiny house. Something like The Elm here.
- A desktop computer with either 1 large flatscreen monitor or 2 smaller ones.
- A desk big enough for my computer, my drawing tablet, and crafting needs.
- A table that can seat 4-6? when needed but perhaps folds up or something to be good for just 1 person most of the time.
- Electricity enough to run AC during the summer to keep it cold.
- High speed internet, good enough for gaming, streaming videos, downloading.
- Running water/hot water for showers and sink. (toilet can be composting, I’m good with that).
- Tow-able/travel-able so I can go between Maine and GA.
- Someplace to put my cat’s litter box so it wont be visible or in the way or stink the place up.
- Light enough to be towed by a pick up truck, and low enough to get under any wires that might be sagging below the required height.
Okay. So here are the things that don’t work together. In order to be large enough to have the space I want for crafting, having my parents or friends over for dinner, having a desktop gaming computer, etc, it needs to be larger. The bigger the house is, the harder it is to tow. The harder it is to tow, the less it can be moved, and the more likely that I’d have to pay someone else to do it. Also, if I want good power, running water, and electricity, it needs to pretty much stay put.
So basically, the smaller and more mobile I want it to be, the more luxuries I need to give up. Still, size-wise I could do everything I want in less than 300SF. At 100SF or less it will be very easy to tow, it could be towed by a standard pickup truck, I could potentially tow it myself, but I wouldn’t have room for anything beyond little kitchen, sleeping loft, and maybe a bench seat. No desk, no table. The larger it gets, the heavier it gets. By 300SF we’re looking at 15k pounds and needing a one ton pickup to pull it. It wouldn’t be something I could do myself.
Now, if I wanted to just do away with the wheels and build a small house on land, that would open up a fair amount of options. I’d have access to all amenities and luxuries I want. But zoning/coding laws would require I have a minimum square footage that would probably be a LOT larger than I want. (the bigger it is, the more expensive it will be to build). I’m not sure the minimum square footage in the area I live in, but I’m guessing it is at least 800sf.
Let’s add to my list, things I would like, but am willing to not have:
- My own land. Let’s face it, I’d love enough acres to someday have a horse.
- A swimming pool
- Outdoor space, like a porch or fire pit or something. And room for a fairy garden.
- A place to put my telescope and leave it up.
Looks like some of my lesser wants all stem from wanting an actual plot of land. However, I do really really want too be able to just pick up and move my house to Maine should I ever decide to go home, and I do want to—someday.
So, it looks like for me I need to make some very important decisions between some details that just will not mesh.
I can have an easily-tow-able tiny house, —OR— I can have one big enough to have all my luxury wants.
I can have a tiny house on wheels that can be moved —OR— I can build a small permanent house on my on plot of land
I can make compromises. I could make a large enough tiny house that it can be moved, professionally, with something like a semi, for several thousand dollars. If I went this route I’d have to find a permanent place for it, and it could only be moved if/when I decided to return to Maine for good.
On the other hand, new building codes were recently passed for small dwellings not on wheels. The original reason for building tiny houses on wheels was to get past zoning and building codes. But now that may not be necessary in a couple of years.
So, I could potentially start saving up now to buy a plot of land straight out. And by the time I saved up to buy my land, the codes might be passed in my area so that I could build something very small on my own plot of land.
I am reminded now, for example, of the original small house I wanted. I had found these plans online, and begin researching what it might cost to build this adorable little home. Which is a little over 700sf.
However, one still must think of cost. One reason that appeared to me about the tiny houses was the cost to build them. A rough estimate from a housing calculator, using the lowest possible grade of everything, showed the above 700sf house costing about $100,000 to build. Now, by housing standards that isn’t insane. My plan was to do the actual building of my tiny house myself, cutting the labor costs. If I subtract the labor costs of the 700sf I’m still left with about $70,000. But lets face it, whether I go with the tiny house or a large 600-700sf house, I’ll need some professional help. Regardless, the less than 300sf tiny house I’d build mostly myself would still be under $20,000 to build. I was hoping for less than $15,000 to build.
I’ve already got a near $70k student loan debt that I will be paying for the rest of my life. I’ve got a decent job now but how long will it last? What if I were to lose it? If I’ve got $400 a month student loan and maybe conservatively $600 a month mortgage (that doesn’t include utilities) we’re looking at a MUST have of at least $1500 a month to stay afloat. If I were to lose my job and wasn’t able to get a new one that paid just as well… I’d be in some serious trouble.
But… if my house is already paid for, and I don’t have a mortgage…. I’d basically be able to get by making almost minimum wage at part time. Almost every penny would go to student loans, but I’m fairly confident I’d be able to get a full time job making at least a bit more than minimum wage.
Which is why I want a house small enough that I can build it almost entirely myself with as much reclaimed material as possible.
So what do I really want? If I were to say I really wanted a 500sf tiny house on like a plot of land, we’re looking at At LEAST $10k for the land alone. Than at least $60-$70k for materials and maybe another $10k for professional help with plumbing and wiring, I’d have to get a well dug and a septic put in. Right now if I save every penny every month I could save up enough for land in about a year. Then I could work on the building over time. It would mean living at home for another maybe 5 years. Am I prepared to live at home until I’m almost 40?
There are so many variables. What I’m willing to sacrifice, what I don’t want to sacrifice. I could go down to 400sf, or even 300sf. I could always add additions later as I can afford it.
I think, if I really think about it, if I really give it some thought, all of the things that I really want to have in a home, means I’d need someplace permanent. The new zoning codes wont be taken into affect in my area until 2019. By then I can have purchased land, and saved up almost $10k to start building with.
I think for now it’s best to let these thoughts stew for a while. I can’t do anything today. I can’t do anything until I’ve paid off my credit card (which if I am diligent I can do in 6 months), and until I’ve saved up about $10k. So, around summer of next year will be when I decide… do I put the $10k I’ll have saved up to buying land, or to building a tiny house on wheels?
I guess we’ll see in about a year and a half…