• Beth Hoffman

Tiny House Adventures


It is great to visit the farm. But visiting and living somewhere are two different things entirely. And while I love my in-laws, I crave a bit of space while there. I want to know what it will feel like to really live on a farm in rural Iowa. To have our own little space, where the stuff is mine and if I make a mess, I can clean it up when I want.

So, a tiny house is in order. Not our "forever" home, but a place where we can sleep, eat some toast and make some coffee. A place where there is air conditioning if I want it, but none if I don't.


We decided to convert an old shed into our while-on-the-farm home. It was way cheaper than building a frame ourselves, or ordering one of the many tiny pre-fab houses online. But it was full of crap, years and years of miscellanea tossed into a shed and left for the spiders and bugs. We cleaned it out about a year ago, John's dad freaking out all the while as people do when someone else starts throwing away your "crap." What if he needed that set of coveralls from 1980 with the stuffing coming out? Or his tax papers from 1987?

Several trips to the dump later we started out by raising some of the rafters and putting in good windows. We left other rafters to later make a sleeping loft. Then suddenly our trip was over and all we were left with was an old shed with nice windows.


This year when we arrived a whole new crew of dead bugs had set up camp. We re-shop vac-ed and finished the insulation. I caulked every little opening, and John framed the place so that we could put up drywall.


After the drywall (and the mud and tape fiasco) we then salvaged materials from the Old Hogeland House, John's grandfather's childhood home. The beautiful two story house has sadly crumbled over the years because of a family dispute, but much of the wood and trim was still usable for our needs.


We pried off the shingles and other whole pieces of wood and hauled it all back to the house. I pried the nails of of each and every piece, and power washed the lot. Then it all sat out in the sun to dry.


After the paint dried, we used the siding from the old house as ceiling and put the lintels up over the windows. Salvaged tim went into the window sills too.


Lastly we put in the floor - by far the easiest part of the whole 4 week long process. Although it does look like a snapped in, faux-wood floor, it will be easy to clean and if we hate it we can simply unsnap the whole thing and put in a different floor.


Unfortunately the house is not done. We ran out of time to deal with the little loft, the upstairs windows, the closets. And the "bathroom" too is a big question. I like the idea of "pee-cycling" if we can do it odor free (it is a farm after all and plants need fertilizer).

But we did actually get to sleep in it. (Note: this picture of John was before we moved the inflatable mattress in for the night - we did not sleep on the floor!) It was comfortable and bug free, and with some curtains, I will gain the little bit of privacy I need.


In rereading this, the whole thing sounds like it happened seamlessly and quickly. It did not. It took a shit ton of time and a lot of creativity. There were arguments. But that is how it goes. Life has this way of not actually being as romantic as a blog post might make it sound. But somehow it is also vastly more rewarding.


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