Monday, December 31, 2012

Hobo Seen Moving House on Wheels

The transition from hoboing to modern, "civilized" home dwelling has been a gradual and ongoing process.  On November 1st, I handed over the cash and accepted the deed to my property on the impoverished Southside of Richmond.  The local convenience store did not have any champagne, so I celebrated with the "Champagne of Beers" instead:

This was the first step in the transition to tiny house life- moving from the streets to a regular parking spot that I actually legally owned.  The first night there in the back of my truck was pretty warm (40 ounces of High Life provides good insulation!), but November seemed determined to disprove global warming and I was forced to reevaluate my sleeping quarters.  I did own a 1400 square foot house, but to be truthful, I was a little creeped out by the thought of sleeping in a 1920s vintage structure that could probably be rented for horror movie sets.  But after one night of sleeping in its balmy 34 degree quarters on a luxurious 2-inch cot mattress instead of a flimsy foam pad, I was ready to commit to being "home-bound".

Its hard to feel like you're actually living in a home though when the light switches fail to illuminate at night and the furnace hasn't seen a drop of oil in years.  I was anxious to get electricity and water (keys to the modern age, right?), but the quote I received was going to be over $6,000 to lay water and electric lines 100 feet underground.  And that was factoring in me digging the trench!

So, over the next several weeks I kept warm in the evenings by digging, foot by foot.  Finally, sometime after Thanksgiving, I found an electrician that would install the 30-amp receptacle for my tiny house and a couple 15-amp GFCI receptacles for $1100, a price I could live with.

Around the same time, I manned up enough to enter the extensive but very cramped crawl space under the big house in search of my water inlet.  After getting stuck several times and wiggling through much dust and animal droppings, I returned to the entrance where I noticed a thin black pipe connected to a section of copper that was then connected to CPVC that appeared to be going up into the bathroom wall.  I had found a similar section of black plastic pipe while digging my trench.  Slicing into it with a pair of pipe cutters confirmed that I had indeed found my water line.  No need to hire a plumber!  After a trip to Lowes and a Saturday afternoon, I had a functioning water spigot ready for my tiny house to hook up to!

Thus, it was about time for my tiny home to take its first trip down the road.  I scheduled a pick-up rental from the guys over at Commercial Enterprise and got to work on trimming branches from the willow oak at Betty's to give my house enough clearance to exit her backyard.  On the second Saturday in December, my dad and younger brother, John, came down to Chester to assist.  We hitched it up, attached the license plate, and off we went, rolling through the suburbs to the big city!

I love trailering (yes, that was part of the motivation for building a house on wheels), and this structure was a dream to tow, but I'll shut-up and just let the pictures tell the story.  I will say that most of the suburbanites out driving paid little attention to it and seemed to block the tiny house from their vision.  As I approached my neighborhood though, I saw a grizzly-bearded old timer with a brown bagged liquor bottle in his left hand look up, spot a house rolling towards him, and start grinning and nodding his head in agreement!

Hitching Up

Winner of the license plate contest: Eric K.!

Maneuvering in the tight back yard

Squeezing my house around Betty's

Will it make it?!


On the road!

Waiting for Dad and John to catch up

Road trip!

Turning into the alleyway

Sneaking behind my neighbors' houses

On site!

Maneuvering into position

 Am I completely transitioned from the hobo life to home dwelling?  No, far from it.  I just hooked up the gas yesterday, took my first HOT SHOWER!, and am still working on shelving, keeping my water lines from freezing, and building stairs, etc.  As a lot of people have pointed out, tiny life is very different from how most live.  It blends modern conveniences such as electricity and running water with old time chores such as disposing of waste and hand washing dishes.  Its not for everyone, but for this hobo, its just dandy :)