The first house I ever built is a working experiment. The purpose was not only to create refuge and shelter. In addition to creating a suburban sanctuary, I desperately wanted to learn new skills to apply throughout my life. I’m glad I did.
I’m poised now. I’m ready.
At no point did I think that my little 8’x12′ structure would be my final home. It’s a lily pad. I’m paused upon it; waiting for my next leap. I have long been obsessed with alternative dwellings – and finding the right design for every imaginable circumstance. It is unfortunate that experimentation in this realm is so expensive, because otherwise I would have box trucks, vans, tiny houses, and shacks spread far and wide across the land. Each would be adorned with smart and simple interiors designed to sustain life indefinitely or as-needed. I would have a string of vacation homes tucked in every corner throughout the United States and beyond. I would allow good people to visit my lands whenever they’d like, and I’d hope that only good people found out.
With a wealth of free land and structures to visit, a semi-nomadic lifestyle would be easy. I can think of nothing healthier than getting the hell out of here, no matter where “here” is, as long as you’ve been there for awhile. When I leave my area for a time, I return rejuvenated with a fresh perspective on myself and the space I occupy. With more places to go, I would go more often. CouchSurfing.com is fantastic, but a key under the doormat would be an invincible invitation.
It’s probably the people who have nothing who assume they are the most generous. I recognize that it is easy for me to offer everything when I have almost nothing to offer.
A Tiny House can be an onerous drain on materials and resources. A simplification for some is still a challenging investment for others. Tiny Houses are cute as a button, and I want to see them continue to become a norm. But my heart has another idea. Box trucks are cheap once they need expensive repairs. A box truck can contain an enormous amount of space and provide the perfect platform for conversion to a full-time home. The roof and walls already exist! I can hardly think of a better canvas to begin to paint a cozy home. Do you have an active imagination? Then you can see this too.
Vans. I have lived in a van for months at a time; more than a year in total. Almost nobody understands the satisfaction gleaned from opening the side doors each morning to a burst of the outside. There is great satisfaction in weathering a storm as you drift off to sleep – with a roof that will never in 100 years leak. I have long dreamt of permanent parking. I have longed for a place to park my van home forever – on the outskirts of a cute little town, or on a forgotten lot inside the city. I have parked in one place for weeks, but always eventually you must move. Usually sooner than later, and in practice, every day is better.
I can imagine almost no greater joy than the freedom to permanently install a box truck or van on a reasonably-located lot of land. I would bury four posts three feet deep in cement. Cross beams would span the posts, and the vehicle would be supported a foot or so off the ground. With the sleepy old vehicle level and at rest, the next chapter would begin. The interior would be gutted. In the case of a van, even the driver and passenger seats could be removed. Wood flooring? A raised roof? The finished interior would be the choice of the beholder. In the case of a box truck, the cab would make a lovely front porch. I’ve imagined myself as the captain at the helm – perched in the glass bubble of the cab during a storm or blizzard. I sit there almost steamy warm from the drop of propane providing the heat. I listen to music. I listen to audiobooks. I put my feet up and read, or eat breakfast and brush the crumbs onto the floor. Years pass as I sip coffee and wonder that I’m alive.
None of this might happen. In America, we live in houses – not cars. If you think that tiny houses have hurdles of zoning and code, then consider the almost universal illegality of living in a car. In certain private settings, an installation such as described would be possible. The challenge is in the details. One certain fact is that securing a loan would prove nearly impossible.
I get lost in romantic fantasy. I must always remind myself what is real. I have another recipe. I know a way to live well, and if it is inside your reach, it is something to consider. More than a simple consideration, this is my plan. This is what Kristin and I intend to do. The year 2015 in my mind is synonymous with the following vision.
I need a place where I am free to create and improve. I want space that is mine with no undue restrictions. I have a covenant with Mother Earth, and our business together will be no nevermind of naysayers. To paint the picture more clearly, let me describe my dreams using real words.
Step one: Find a distressed property with a bit of land at a good price.
Step two: Build, move, or somehow install your personal tiny home somewhere on the property.
Step three: Rehab the main house, adding value.
Step four: Rent out the main house for an amount of money greater than the mortgage payments.
This four-step program is simplified, and it can be modified. The important point is that it is thoroughly possible – if you are motivated – to acquire some personal space at almost no long-term cost. The only major downside is that it can be quite a hurdle for some people to muster the funds and motivation to get past the initial barriers.
The plan is a good one. There is nothing overly romantic or impractical about this plan. Accessory dwelling units are common and legal. Done correctly with faith, most of us can achieve this freedom. Affordable mortgage payments can be completely covered by the rent checks, with room to spare for taxes, insurance, and the interminable unknown. In the long run, you live cheap or free while getting equity in a house that you can later keep, sell, or use as collateral for other loans to build your tiny sustainable empire.
I am taking steps toward making this a reality. Tiny steps. I am putting money in a jar. I am a romantic who could be classified as borderline insane, if not for the fact that some of my ideas eventually see light.
Talk to me.
747-444-1076 or chrisharne[at]gmail