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This is the second post in a series about the building of my tiny house. To read from the start, go here.
Unfortunately just as the clean up was done, I was hit by a series of personal disasters: a major health complication requiring multiple hospital visits, an huge loss that launched me into 18 months of severe grief, and a boss who suddenly disappeared, meaning I never got paid the $3000 I had earnt on a contract, which I had planned to live on while I built my home. This all set me back a bit, but eventually I landed on my feet, $3k poorer, grief-stricken, and in rather dodgy shape, physically.
In addition to this, I had also split up with my boyfriend, David. The project had always been my project, not his, and our break up simply meant I wouldn't have his encouragement as I built. But I admit to feeling a little nervous about embarking on it entirely solo. Happily, a friend of mine, Andrew, who lived interstate, told me he wanted to build his own house someday, knew nothing about building, and wanted to help me out so that he could make all the mistakes on my house, not his. He came down for three weeks, and together we put up the frame for my house. He taught me how to use a level and other basic building tools.
Before his arrival, I borrowed my parents' van and went shopping - for weeks! It felt weird to go spending all that money, but I soon got used to handing over great wads of cash for second hand building supplies. I came to know the cheapest salvage yards in Melbourne, and returned to them over and over, loading up the van with windows, roofing iron, a potbelly stove, a front door, floor boards, guttering, taps and light switches.
My brother had a shed that he no longer used, and came round with a friend to help me erect it. I now had a place to store all my materials, and to eat lunch during the rainy winter days. I had planned to build during warm weather, but thanks to my various setbacks, it was now autumn.
The three weeks with Andrew were immensely satisfying, as we worked fast, and by the time he left, the entire house had taken shape. We put the roof on (I sat on the ridge and drilled while Andrew passed up pieces of iron and shouted directions to me), installed the windows I'd found from an old church, and nailed the front door into place.
Andrew took this photo of me laying the bluestone bricks that formed the based of the mud walls.
On his last day, my parents called in to check on our progress, and were gobsmacked. My mum had been telling people that I was building a shed in the backyard. Suddenly she had to update her language: I was building a church. Although I'm not even slightly religious, I believe our ancestors had a wonderful eye for aesthetics of buildings - the proportions, roof pitches and classic placement of windows and doors make for a visual feast, and I wanted to capture that wisdom in my own design: classic proportions. With the gothic-arched stained-glass windows I had found, the look was complete.
Read the next post about my house.