Now that we are midway through our build, I wanted to share some advice and “lessons learned” for future homebuilders.
You will make a huge mess. Your workbench/tool storage area will be utter chaos. Your entire yard/driveway will be a construction zone (a HUGE thanks to Nate’s mom!) Even your clothes will get ruined. We found it helpful to regularly “deep clean” the work zone to clear away debris and unneeded tools.
Cook meals beforehand. We once made the mistake about not thinking ahead for meals and then being too hungry, cranky, and exhausted to make food. Misery! After that, we learned to prepare hearty, “heat-and-serve” meals in advance of our workday. This strategy has helped us immensely in our productivity and happiness.
Having the right tools helps. Most of the tools we had lying around worked fine. Still, there were a few instances when a new or specialty tool would’ve been beneficial. In some cases we were able to make do: our problem of a lack of saw horses was solved with an arrangement of trash cans, pallets, and kitty litter containers!
It takes two (or more)! Most projects required both of us (or us plus an experienced helper) to accomplish. I recommend having a helper every now and then, if you can, for those particularly tedious or finicky tasks. But besides physical help, we got ideas from talking with others and reading about people’s experiences online. We are grateful for everyone who has helped us directly and indirectly!
Storage is under-appreciated. We are lucky to have access to a basement and shed for storing tools and materials (plus whatever we can cram into the half-finished tiny house). However, we still find ourselves wishing we had more storage space at the construction site! Storage is especially important if hunting for bargain-priced materials in advance which need to be stored in a dry place until they can be used.
Done is better than perfect. Our mantra soon became, “just do it because once it’s done we won’t really care or notice it again!” You can always change aesthetics later.
Plan for the weather… Have a few projects in mind that can be accomplished either outside or inside in case you don’t feel up for working long hours in the heat, cold, or rain.
…but take time off in winter. It’s awful trying to build in -6 degree windchill. I know from experience (and soon realized that making brownies was a much better use of my time in those conditions). We worked through the winter because progress feels good. But you know what also feels good? Not getting frostbite. Fighting the cold and misery was often counterproductive, so I’d recommend just giving yourself a break in the worst weeks of winter. Take time off to plan, research, order materials, save up, and just recharge.
Despite the many challenges of homebuilding, the victories are sweet: our loft walls are finally up! It feels like a cozy little treehouse and I love it already 😀