We have taken a 18′ by 32′ building which has been many things in it’s life, including an office, a school, a tavern, a railroad station, and now we are turning it into a 5 bed 1 1/2 bath house. The original building was build sometime between the end of the civil war and 1900. We believe we have evidence of it being established as early as 1865. We originally bought the property strictly for the 20+ year old mature fruit trees which has never had any chemicals used on them.
We later were turned onto the “Tiny House” movement, where people were turning spaces as little as 90 sq feet into homes. One of the best and well edited/produced videos I have found was from Kirsten Dirksen. Check out her YouTube channel. After doing some research this looked like an interesting challenge. Because of the structure of the building we were met with some challenges. As we demolished the existing office building guts, we took great time to salvage as much as we possibly could to reuse, and reduce costs. This was NO easy feat as the guy who built the office 30 years ago was an engineering madman. 32 nails in one 2×4. 9 nails in corners of walls that is 9 in the top and 9 in the bottom of studs. This guy built it to last through a tornado, followed by a nuclear blast. The original builders put up double brick walls which is a challenge in itself. We think the roof was replaced at some point as it is newer construction than the foundation and walls.
This is a learning process for us. Old buildings cannot be build into or onto the same way you would with new construction. You have to tie old methods with new methods and still meet codes. We had to run completely new electrical, new water, repair mortar, seal foundation. We had to run a new water main from the street. New kitchen counters (steal of a deal, 1950’s era steel kitchen cabinets we will be refinishing, granted we had to remove for the previous owner). We priced kitchen cabinets and $500-$2500 was out of our price range. We found ours on Craigslist for considerably less than the lowest price we could find elsewhere. With all the renovations and repairs we are doing the majority ourselves, and on a beyond shoestring budget. Do you know how much windows that will fit the openings from a building of that era cost? 80″x34″. We looked at pricing and would almost have to be custom ordered. That is until we found Habitat for Humanity Restore. 3 windows, that open, double pane, $209 total. One window that size was going to cost around $400-500. There is one downtown, and another in Lafayette. The is NOT one in Avon despite the website says. We picked up an old fashioned antique double deep well cast iron sink, normally $300+, we got it for $60. From bay windows to tile you can find it. Problem is you need to know measurements, and it is not like a big box stores. They are limited in what they have, and things turnover fast. Sometimes in minutes.
We have been videoing and taking pictures along the way. Sorry for the rough video and lighting. It was my first video of the project and we have been getting better.
Updates as of 7-27-2014, a little better. Now we only worked for a total of probably 10 days over a 30 day period., and some of those days were only 4-5 hrs. The tiny house is a little over an hour away from our current home. But there is a lot of work completed, and still a lot of work to be done.
Both videos have narration of what we are looking at, and talking about things, but it was not scripted, and frankly I like the music better. As we progress I will do better now that we made the decision to publish. We decided to publish to encourage others that you can do this too. When the project is done, this home will be 100% free and clear. No mortgage, no building renovation debt, and 100% ours. (well property is never truly yours, just fail to pay taxes and watch Uncle Sam come take all that you paid for away).