#13 Ten Things I Learned from Building This Tiny House

After a year of planning, renovation, sweat, and tears, this barn is finally complete! We put it on Airbnb and it’s available for booking now. 

Ten things I learned about building this tiny house almost from scratch:

  1. Have a detailed plan: Plan ahead with a specific layout. I made a 3D model of what it should look like at the beginning of the project to explain to the city inspector what I am trying to achieve.  also helped the contractors to quote me for what needs to be done. If I were to do it again, I would also sketch out where the outlets and lights should be to save time communicating to contractors what needs to be done.
  2. Always interview at least 3 contractors for the same job. Ask them to quote you with line-by-line detail. If they can’t tell you the details, explain what materials to use, or how long it would take, I would not use them no matter how cheap they are.
  3. Don’t cheap out and hire unprofessional contractors. I had a bad experience with a contractor who quoted me very low on an insulation foam spray. I waited for 6 weeks and followed up 20+ times and ended up going with someone else. The second person who charged a reasonable amount was fast, professional, and cleaned up after himself. I should have gone with him in the first place and not cheap out.
  4. Know that there will be hiccups if it is your first time. Everything is solvable under the sun. Someone would have encountered it one way or another. Keep looking, keep asking, keep learning. Don’t give up.
  5. Ask yourself if you really need some of these decorations. Does it have ROI (return on investment)? Can I do without it? Can I make it for cheaper? Ultimately, it is a business, and the numbers ($$$) have to make sense.
  6. Keep track of everything you spent and what you spent so you can estimate better next time.
  7. Ask for help and bring people on the journey. They love to be part of something and feel the achievement. I have a friend who’s helped me out many times when I needed tools or his truck to transport something. Those people are the fairy-god-mothers of my life 🙂 Thank you, Robby!
  8. Having the right tool is VERY important. I am frugal to a fault sometimes. I tried to mix concrete with a power tool + a paint mixer because I didn’t want to purchase another tool to only mix concrete and never use it again. Needless to say, that didn’t go very well. I ended up borrowing my friend’s concrete mixing tool and finished pouring the concrete. 
  9. Be creative and try new things.  I searched up and down Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram on how to install railings, and I never got a good answer from it. Most of what I found were railings for decks, or they are made of metal, or professionally installed (with no details how it was installed). I eventually made a version of the railing first and found it unstable, and then I tried another version that worked better. 
  10. Find friends who have similar hobbies! Finding local friends who have similar hobbies and swap stories and experiences. I didn’t meet friends that are passionate about renovations until towards the end of my renovation. And I am so glad I did because there are so many small tips they gave me that were helpful. Just knowing I am not alone was a big encouragement for me to carry on and finish the tiny house!

Cheers to another project under the belt! 

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