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.

IMG_0611

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!

IMG_0941

IMG_0927

Setting up camp

the.semitrailer.project

day 110  : :  blog post 005

Another quick post introducing my second video for this 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 touches on the setting up of our temporary tent “village” with the trials of setting up in winter and technical challenges.

 

Unintentional community

the.semitrailer.project

day 095  : :  blog post 004

I’m looking forward to exploring the aspect of community living at our property’s collective. We are an organically created group who have initially come together with the common interest of building tiny houses.

But I feel that there is much more to our group as interest in tiny houses usually carry a value set along with it, such as subsistence living, low-impact low-consumerism repair-culture mindset, environmental awareness, small footprint, non-mainstream thinking driven less about finances and more about interconnectedness. I haven’t had the chance to suss all this out with our group yet but I sense (with hopeful anticipation!) that a lot of this is present.

What is interesting about this is that Heidi and I have been thinking for a decade about the idea of living in an intentional community, and here we are in an unintentional one and it looks exciting. The tiny house part is of course the feature presentation and we are delighted to be neighbours with a couple of people, Pete and Rob, who have built tiny houses already. On top of that, of the 8 people who comprise our community, all but one is building semi trailer tiny houses like us. So that’s currently 4 concurrent builds. Very cool and fortuitous!

Even though we are all coming from different parts of Adelaide with a mix of previous jobs and lingering attachments to the city, we are starting to mix, share in activities and have social gatherings. Most recently, Pete and Lyn, our “landlords” (I hesitate to use such a cold label, it’s just shorter than “land owners where we are spending time during our tiny house build” ☺️) took us all on a traditional paddlewheeler cruise on the Murray River as a form of welcome to our new community. What’s nice is that personalities are meshing on top of our common interests and near 50 year age span from oldest to youngest.

Lucy and Sammy have get stuck into doing some food growing in our semi-community garden patch. Once I get my head out of being mired in getting our so-called temporary accomodation sorted, I am looking forward to getting involved in community projects and working bees, etc. like this.

In the meantime, it’s just nice knowing that we have some exciting times ahead getting to know our group, beginning cooperatively building our respective homes, learning new skills together and from one another plus involving the wider tiny house community in what we’re doing. There’s lots of space for some weekender camp-outs and tiny house events! We just have to make sure Pete and Lyn are up for all the shenanigans that we are all brewing☺️

a cosmic leap

the.semitrailer.project

day 079  : :  blog post 003

OK, so there has been a month between blog posts. Good reason for it: the “cosmic leap”. That being: the epic gulf between living in a unit with running water, electricity when you flick a switch, a place for your poo to go when you flush, things like solid walls and so on. It’s a reasonably big deal to have to fabricate this stuff quickly in a manner that will last the better part of a year of building our tiny house without feeling like we are perpetually camping. Thus the span between blog posts: I’ve been busy dammit 😝

Not only busy, but fretting about my capabilities not only in terms of our little tent village, but what I’ll be like building a “proper” dwelling. I spend countless hours frustrated with stupid tasks like figuring out how my solar panels should be mounted or how plumbing works or what a good composting toilet should function like. Everything takes WAY longer than I feel like it should. WAY.

Added bonus: it’s winter and cold with random moments of inconvenient rain and intense wind. I’d have my frustrations no other way…pile it on!

It’s not only the time taken but my mental anguish of not knowing how some basic stuff works after many decades of being on this planet. The dumbfounded looks I got at the electrical shop when I was talking about how 12V set-ups work or what material my ground wire should be makes me feel like I’ve been living in a cave. Of course it seems like every Australian goes camping and so they all are experts at 12-volt everything, but I’m just a noob who knows how to use a camera and his computer and that’s about it so it seems.

I also made the decision not to post too much about this part of the process as I wanted this to be about building a tiny house on a semi trailer, even though my new friend Rob believes that I should be showcasing the whole experience. I can say that it is definitely not for the feint of heart and I give Heidi credit for stepping away from homely comforts and embracing living in a tent for a few months and then in a tiny house. She’s taking it slowly and occasionally shakily (we did a re-design of our sleeping set-up after a recent blustery wind storm that vibrated our bell tent too much for her liking) but is still on-board with the adventure…for now! I agree with Rob in the sense that while this adventure is a definite challenge, it is worth doing these things in life to shake ourselves awake from our routine. It is good for people to see that it is possible to break loose from convention and follow our dreams, even if they seem crazy to others.

And so I continue to shape our temporary home. It is taking longer than I hoped for but I do realise that it has to be emotionally sustainable for us to do the tiny house build, and therefore has to be comfortable enough, functional and not a hindrance on a day-to-day basis. So if getting running hot and cold water, a fuss-free toilet, warm and safe shelter and reliable power takes me a bit longer, I guess it will pay off in the coming months. And I suppose (he says, trying to convince himself) I am learning transportable skills now for the tiny house, so hopefully it’s not at all going to waste!