Walls and Roofs

As I mentioned here, we were fortunate to have some lovely pals come and help us start off the walls. This was especially useful for moral support, as the cabin was essentially a very heavy, very ambitious Ikea click-together affair.

In truth, we still have one piece left over. A massive five-metre timbre which we are hoping is not of structural significance.

There are many forms of tiny house; £6,000 DIY trailer-based builds,  high-end bespoke professional models, tiny Hobbit homes under the ground, and more traditional tiny spaces on permanent foundations. Because we were building in our back garden in the suburbs of York, we wanted something that would blend in well with garden-type constructions in order to maximise our chances that our project would be approved by planning permission. For this reason, a summer house or cabin as we grandiosely like to call it, was the best option for us.

The building does not have residential status so we can’t live in it. We are lucky that we have a brick house to live in and can use the tiny house as an experiment to see how we feel about spending time in a 30M-square shed. As is the case for many people in the tiny house community, the small build will ironically be much better insulated and more suitable for habitation than many of the conventional houses on the market today.

Participants in my own and in other’s research have spoken of the injustice of being forbidden to live in a tiny house that has been constructed in accordance with, or surpassing, national building standards due to planning permission, zoning laws, and technicalities regarding use of land. When I inquired to the council as to why they would be unwilling to grant residential status to the cabin, I was informed that the ‘utilities’ would detrimentally affect the neighbouring properties. This was despite the cabin being entirely off-grid with no plumbing, electrical inputs, or gas connections. I did not inquire further.

A change.org petition calling on legislators to reassess the legality of tiny homes has garnered 20,000 signatures. The petition identifies many of the core concerns voiced elsewhere in the tiny community, namely that the housing crisis is worsening rather than improving and that people should be granted the ability to live in the type of homes that they want to.

Our cabin has a minimum of 100mm insulation board enveloping it from top to toe. This will far surpass the r-rating of our home.

Attaching the roof boards demanded quite the spectacle of acrobatics, as well as mallet-wielding Thorliness, but we prevailed. As you can see in the picture below, I am standing on a board over some slats on the mezzanine level. The floorboards there were not nailed down, which meant that a wrong step would see me plunging three metres to the floor below, not likely to my death but certainly to my deep shame and embarrassment.

What you are unlikely to be able to see in the photo above is the furrow of my consternated brow and the unbecomming sheen of terror-induced sweat on my face.

Historically, this is the furthest up any ladder I had ever been. Three steps.

The sense of satisfaction, and dare I say, smugness, that you can enjoy when you have built something like a house with your own hands is difficult to equal.  Each splinter, blood blister, and broken nail serves as a reminder that you have tried hard at something, and have been bludgeoned along the way. This evokes a strange pride that I have yet to encounter elsewhere. Doing it in a team seems to be a big part of the pleasure of it all for me, like making music or putting on a show – it’s the togetherness of working on a shared job that you really care about which feels great.

Maybe we are obsessed with proving that we existed as a way to numb the terror of the inevitability of death. If we are lucky, this tiny house will outlive us. People who we have never met and maybe are not even born yet might sit in the same place we are pictured above. Something about this is edifying. Or narcissistic.

I always love to hear from my readers so please get in touch and let me know what you think about tiny houses or thanatophobia.