Monday, February 23, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Recycled Housing ... or the value of a tub

One of the aspects of building a tiny house that feels pretty unique is the difficulty in finding products and materials suited to a tiny space. The Bigger is Better construction movement in this country has left few options to those of us with a different mindset. I say in this country, because I can find the materials I'm looking for on websites based in Japan, China, and the UK - but importing anything from those places involves a higher carbon footprint. I keep hoping and trying to find suitable solutions here.

Take for example - our tub.
I really, really, really wanted a tub. High up in my priority list is someplace to chill out and unwind at the end of the day. The tub is my favorite spot. Standard American tubs leave a lot to be desired - they are long, but not quite long enough to stretch out, and with the low sides and top drain, they can never be deep enough to really soak. Also, they have a HUGE amount of surface area and I always seem to get cold before I can actually relax. What were they actually designed to do?

((If you are a tub designer, please let me know.))

So - with the 4' footprint allowed by the space I went shopping for a cheap, deep, small tub.

Enter a LOT of Craigslist searches, visits to the Re-Store, Habitat for Humanity, and Goodwill. Also, Home Depot, Lowes, Bath stores, and random Upcycle Shops.

I had ideas in mind - Trough Tubs, the Nagano by Neptune, Walk-ins, oversized sitz tubs, tubs that looked like eggs, tubs that looked like clay pots, and tubs that were made of wood.

None of them were the right fit - too big, heavy, tall, or expensive.

This went on for a while.      
             
Side note: the smaller the budget and the smaller the space, the longer it will take to find what you are looking for and the harder you'll have to work to get it. 

Eventually there was a hit on Craigslist - a fellow was doing demo of an old 50's basement bathroom and had offered up a 4' tub online for $40. It was raining, dark, and just horrible outside when I drove almost an hour to meet him. (Hello Carbon Footprint) The tub looked like it had been pulled out of a basement - caked with silicone and grungy - but I couldn't see any damage and so I said I'd go to the nearest ATM and take out the money and come back.

Once I got back to my car I realized I didn't have an ATM card with me. My credit card doesn't do cash forwarding. I had no money to pay for the tub I'd been searching so long for and finally found! 

After bribing the manager at Walgreens to no avail, making phone calls to my credit card company, Hubs, and D, and a bit of sobbing in my car watching the rain come down, D made the drive with cash in hand to the owner's house where the tub sat in the driveway. I remember pulling back into the driveway with the soft glow of the garage glinting on the porcelain like the Holy Grail.

It looked pretty sorry - dirty and covered in gunk, but I looked pretty sorry too - soaking wet and red-eyed. We made a good team. 

We made a deal with the owner and gratefully brought home the 4' tub. 

This past weekend I finally finished work on cleaning the tub. Using a razor blade I cut off the gunk and then hand sanded the remaining bits off to reveal the porcelain underneath. It took about 3 hours total of just being crouched over or on my knees scraping and sanding to get it reasonably presentable but the finished job speaks for itself. 

Was it worth it? Would it have been better to just buy a custom tub or attempt to build my own out of wood or a horse trough? I'm honestly not sure. This is the first tub I have ever owned.

The new used tub was built before I was born, it had a whole life before me, and I hope it will have a happy new life in my tiny home. I'm sore, things didn't go the way I'd hoped, but I'm happy ... and there is an appropriately sized tub in our little bathroom.

                     (before)                                                 (after)






Monday, February 16, 2015

February Photo Update!

It has been a very busy time at the Venture House this past month!

We've been working on the tiny house pretty steadily.

Things done:

  • Installed windows and doors
  • Drywall and patching
  • Straightening wires and cables in the ceiling
  • Trimming nails and sanding the ceiling
  • Painting
  • Redoing the floor
I learned how to get comfortable using a staple gun and a paint sprayer. For the ceiling we had to use plastic sheeting and protective gear like a ventilator mask and goggles. Protip - put saranwrap tight over your goggles. When the paint blasts back and gets on your goggles remove and replace the saran wrap rather than smearing the paint all over trying to clean it off! :-)

It is coming along!



There was a slight break in house work - I went to Denver, CO to see D and went to FortLauderdale, FL to explore the everglades. 
(walking the dog in Denver)

(nightwalk)

(deep muddy Everglades)

(rental car free upgrade!)

(giant lizards and birds - FL wants to kill you)

(kayaking with Garl - AWESOME)

(great day on the water)

(learning to snorkel at the marina pool)

There was also a last-minute wedding I helped with. Jimu and Anesu are an awesome couple! Anesu wanted whites and creams with pale colors to accent. She also wanted white cake with strawberries, and she is allergic to flowers so no real flowers allowed. Jimu likes the color orange and everything else was up to me. 

So - I made a bunch of white cupcakes and filled them with fresh strawberry puree. I also made a bunch of strawberry cupcakes and filled those with strawberry puree for a big double-dose of awesome strawberry power! 

In all, it cost just under $100 to feed 40 people and make the cake topper. 
Yay - Frugal wedding sweets!