Build update – Dec 2019

the.semitrailer.project

day 258  : :  blog post 012

Long-overdue, this little update is a compilation of clips I’ve shot over time bringing us to nearly current-day. I’ve been side-tracked for the last 3 weeks acquiring and setting up a second semi-trailer for us to live in which might merit a short video soon, but I hope that all future clips will be build updates as we start getting into the meat of this build. This video covers some exciting changes so, enjoy!

A day in the life

the.semitrailer.project

day 220  : :  blog post 011

This should be the start of more activity out of me as there are a few changes taking place around here. First I thought I’d embark on a little look at a typical day in our tent village as we are nearing a change to our living arrangements. This is a bit of a humorous and informative geek-out if you are interested in off-grid living, just curious what living in a tent set-up for 5 months looks like or you know me and want to see my cherubic face for awhile 😛

Long, long way to go

the.semitrailer.project

day 188  : :  blog post 010

Ugh, I cannot believe that I am 188 days into this adventure and I feel like so little has been achieved. This experience has been more daunting, complex and self-confidence-diminishing than I expected it would be, even despite my initial fears that this would actually be the case. Part of it is inexperience, sure, but also daily tent life, our location, my own mental state and the scale of the project all factor in. This might take years to complete at this rate!

I know right off the bat that some of these things are finally-crafted excuses that I have bought into, but when muddled together in a stew of depression, the crappy state of the world and a meandering aimlessness of life’s direction – well, you get the ingredients for a frustrating journey. My “excuses” I suppose would be: laziness, fear of failure, lack of tools/knowledge/materials/plan and perhaps the complexities of compromise. These are undoubtably normal complaints given that we are noobie builders living in a rural area with perfectionist tendencies. However, my brain has a tendency of being the culprit for complication whether it is that I feel unmotivated or tangled up with how to approach problems or just down in general. Part of me is profoundly disappointed when I waste time that could be spent building, but another part of me will resist being pushed into moving faster and end up resulting in a stalemate of inactivity or frustration.

It might sound like this blog is dedicated to justifying my struggles – and maybe it is to a degree (so feel free to bail out on further reading if you want) – but I think it’s just the reality setting in that building your own home in a foreign environment while living in a challenging way is never going to be a walk in the park. The people around us where we live have been terrific at helping, offering advice and being friendly faces that we have enjoyed getting to know. However, I would offer this as fair warning to anyone who is about to embark on this type of journey: expect it to be especially challenging if you change too many life aspects at once, and, are not of completely sound mind. Let’s break down some of the challenges:

Inexperience

Fairly obvious: I have limited building experience and when problems come up, I have to research every little detail, ask for help or slowly (glacially) work through it until I have a solution.

Fear of failure

Hand-in-hand with inexperience is this bastard of a problem. Not to solely blame Heidi, but there have been numerous comments about the expectation of getting into the finished home quickly and with a very high quality finish. Making it look great is a priority but if it were just me, I’d settle for rough n’ rustic. So I approach every situation with fear that I am making the right decision as everything cascades through the early decisions you make. And especially when lots of money is at stake.

Tent-life

Not to be taken lightly, there are things that pop up daily that can take a half hour or 3 hours of your time. There are disruptive weather events that can blow (pun intended) half a week with prep –> enduring –> aftermath. It could be energy issues, insects, leaks/repairs, challenging work conditions, temperature or simply chores like chopping/collecting wood and dealing with composting toilets and such.

Location

From the standpoint of collecting resources and connecting with friends in Adelaide, this one is a big time-suck too. Going to Bunnings or a salvage yard is a minimum 1.5 hour excursion but usually ends up being a half-day outing as we might throw in groceries or other errands in there. Of course, I have limited supplies on-site so if I forget an item, it’s not just a quick skip over to the local shop. Trips to Adelaide are multi-day affairs. I enjoy the serenity and natural beauty that our current home offers, but the travel might get to me in the long run.

Mental State

I’ll leave the last two big ones for last; to put it bluntly, I’ve been depressed for the better part of the past 5 or more years. That has ranged from just de-motivating daily life all the way to suicidal thoughts. The item below (Life Direction) plays into this significantly but so does the state of the country/world, veganism, loneliness, indifference and the blessing/curse of social media. Often I can just batch all my troublesome thoughts as “humanity”. It certainly leaves me each day on a knife’s edge of whether or not I will be easily derailed from being productive.

Life Direction

Almost there! Thanks for sticking with me through this downer blog post! My last struggle is where I am going in life and why should I care. I have amassed the cruel set of skills otherwise known as “the Jack-of-all-trades, expert-of-none” – all the things I have spent significant time getting good at are really just mediocre efforts at best. Worst of all, I lack that “passion” for anything in particular these days. I am searching for what gets me excited, and while there are a few possible interests, the motivation and desire needed to achieve them is laughably distant and therefore effectively unachievable.

Probably am sharing too much 🤔, but maybe this post is more about getting some thoughts out there rather than being uplifting to read. I’ll return to tiny house stuff now…

In terms of building progress, Heidi will probably say that I am being too hard on myself. In the last 5 weeks, Heidi and I have:

  • refined our house design a number of times
  • researched and ordered all the doors and windows
  • worked out an electrical plan
  • made a time schedule
  • assembled materials
  • weather-sealed the roof
  • built some ceiling panels
  • also sold a car and bought a new one

which seems like a few achievements, but I think that it could have been done in a fraction of the time. The trouble is that I can be veered off-course quite quickly when I hit a road-block and then waste hours over-thinking a solution. Maybe that’s all part of the process, I don’t know.

If I want to end this blog on a good note, I can say that:

  • I have to stop comparing to other people doing the same thing
  • live more in the moment
  • enjoy the process and make mistakes so that I feel like I’m allowed to learn
  • wind back my expectations from faultless to just good-enough.

Realistically, I am not going to solve my “humanity” or “life’s passion” problems overnight, but with any luck, I’ll turn a corner where the house itself will become motivating to get done when I see it starting to come together. But it’s a chicken and egg thing as I need to put in the hard yards to get to that corner-turn but I’m not sure where that motivation will come from.

Thanks for sticking through all that, Reader. ☺️👍

Heidi at fire

Starting the build

the.semitrailer.project

day 141  : :  blog post 009

Three videos in one day! Who is this video-making madman? Well, enjoy this final clip that shows off the start of the tiny house build in all its glory.

(This will be part of the documenting of our journey that I intend to do through the various steps of our temporary accomodation, design, organising and build phases of the experience.)

 

Weathering winter storms

the.semitrailer.project

day 141  : :  blog post 008

Here’s a quick video post for our tiny house project. This will be part of the documenting of our journey that I intend to do through the various steps of our temporary accomodation, design, organising and build phases of the experience.

This brief video gives viewers a sense of what it’s like to endure a wild South Australian winter storm while living in a tent! Stay tuned for our next video where we finally dive into the start of our tiny house build! 😀

Why are we on this journey?

the.semitrailer.project

day 141  : :  blog post 007

A video post for our tiny house project. This will be part of the documenting of our journey that I intend to do through the various steps of our temporary accomodation, design, organising and build phases of the experience.

This video looks back at our move from our comfy apartment unit and why we chose to live in a tent and build our tiny house on wheels.

Wind, stars and focus

the.semitrailer.project

day 123  : :  blog post 006

I’m sitting at the pub typing this. It has become my weekly respite and reward for both escaping the winter of tent-living and as a treat while Heidi is in the city and I have been stuck working on the property. It is also one of the few times in the week where I can have a cold beer because yes – after nearly two months – I still don’t have a fridge in order to keep my own beers cold. Or anything else cold. Well, except that the WORLD is cold (read: winter).

The fridge thing hasn’t been a huge issue due to that fact about it being winter that I just shared. You can actually manage to keep an amazing amount of stuff cool enough not to die of salmonella poisoning when the outside temperature dips down to 3 or 4 degrees most nights and you don’t keep things for more than a couple of days. We shop frequently, eat lots of fresh veg (I don’t think meat and dairy eaters would be able to cope) or tinned beans, etc and only really have to do without things like dips or spreads plus any other long-term stuff like frozen goods.

Of course, the reason for having to live like this is a long series of stuff-ups with solar inverters that has literally dragged on for over a month. Short version: I was sent the wrong one (24V instead of 12V), changed my set-up to accomodate it, then the inverter didn’t work anyway, got bounced around by the retailer until they (an eBay store, *sigh*) finally replaced it, then they forgot to send it, it subsequently went out of stock, they refunded me at last, then I had to buy a new one and have been waiting for it to be delivered. Whew! Next week, with any luck, I will have my solar system running 100% and can write my blogs in my tent with the battery charging, lights a-blazing, stereo pumping, fridge a-chillin’, cold beers a-flowin’.

Things are settling into place otherwise with only one Interruptus Massif of late: wind. Not from too many beans (though there’s that too: Heidi and I went through a 4-bean mix phase and the 4-bean mix went through us too! I digress…) but rather from naughty, naughty cold winter fronts rolling through and wanting to rearrange our tents.

Twice so far we have had 80-100+ km/h gusts rip through on cold, wet days and nights combined with walls of sand and dust. In both instances there was a tremendous amount of profanity along with torn tents, multiple snapped guy lines at regular intervals, water ingress, sand ingress, items being hurled onto the floor of the tent, emergency bell tent collapsing… all supplied with the requisite violent canvas buckling and flapping. The first time I was stuck alone for awhile as Heidi was in the city and I was literally running from disaster to another for hours, all the while the tent was trying to jump into the nearest tree.

LRG_DSC06206Luckily the extreme wind is the exception not the rule. But it is a generally windy place, unfortunately. However, when it does get calm and clear, there is something entirely magical when the sun goes down and the inky black sky reveals a blanket of jewels. The stars here are a real treat and highlight. Before we had running water in the tent, I would pay a visit to a nearby bush to brush my teeth each night, just staring up the entire time looking at The Great Rift (that dark streak across the sky through the Milky Way) which is all completely invisible in the city. Shooting stars, dazzling planets, satellites and often colourful moon phases fill the sky while the vacuum-like silence allows you to focus at its beauty undisturbed by the noisy modern world. Even if I need to make a middle-of-the-night visit to another lucky bush for some bladder relief, my grogginess is quickly sharpened up as the impact of the glistening sky grabs my attention for a few extra moments before shuffling back to bed.

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Moving on from tent village set-up and the rebuilding/tweaking from wind damage has been trickier than expected. Once the immediate challenges of setting up our temporary home had mostly been sorted, I found it hard to switch gears and engage with a new and much more imposing challenge: building a house. My focus has been wavering a fair amount along with my own mental struggles playing a part as they have been the past few years. It’s easy to get caught up with daily activities and distractions of tent living, compounded by short winter daylight and general desires to hibernate rather than embark on an epic project. I’m also a poor starter: whether it is a work project or a personal hobby, I am a terrific procrastinator.

Gentle prods from the other folks in our community have helped get my engine going and this week, at long last, work began on the tiny house. It is not glamorous by any means and in some ways it is a tough way to begin: tear out the aluminium floors from the trailer so that we can start building on a bare base. These floors are warped and heavily-used, a haphazard matrix of welding patchwork, rivets, screws and decaying fibreglass underneath. However, there is a strong motivation now to get past this first test, in order to see the blank canvas and begin our creation. I’m looking forward to sharpening my focus and waking up each day with purpose. It’ll be a long road, but hopefully the start of an exciting journey!

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