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  • Writer's pictureJessica Morgan McAtee

Tiny Home Life with Murphy

"Whatever can go wrong will go wrong" is a simplified version of an adage known as Murphy's Law. As an Enneagram 7 personality type, I am eternal optimist and wouldn't say it's quite that extreme...but it's not all smooth sailing either.

Even I know that.

Since we first began the planning stages of our Tiny House (named Frontier), events have been going outside of our blueprint. Each and every time we have had to regather our thoughts and move to plan B, C, D and sometimes X.

I write this post not to be a Debbie Downer, complainer or party pooper, but to share the reality of any worthwhile undertaking and the deluge of complications that go along with it. If you aren't running into obstacles, you may be playing it too safe.

Live a little and don't get too serious about it. Research shows that solving riddles in a productive way is part of what brings us meaningful life satisfaction.

Our challenges (euphemism for problems) along the way have included: inclement weather, delayed material deliveries, time crunches, design snags, personal preferences (mine vs. his), leaks, breaks and space limitations.

I will spare you the brunt of the details, but in this post I will share some of the recent issues that have occurred this summer as we moved in.

The truck couldn't pull Frontier

We were planning to borrow a truck to bring her from her original building place to our newly purchased property. The truck belonged to a family member who had helped Kelly with other tasks along the way. This "challenge" was a bit of a godsend because just days before we planned to haul the 10,000 lbs of Frontier, the truck visited the property pulling a much lighter trailer and couldn't get up the steep driveway. This red flag alerted the owner that his transmission needed work, but it also cued us to hire professional movers. $500 later we were glad this solution preceded any major problem, but we weren't expecting the extra fee.

$1500 in permit fees

Speaking of fees, we also had to pay the local building department a hefty fee in order to do the site work necessary. This too came as a surprise but we had no option but to comply.

Bugs ate our table

Most of Frontier is skillfully hand-crafted and that is part of why it took so long to complete her. Kelly's dad wanted to help and he kindly offered to make our dining table and cutting board out of precious wood that Grandpa, who has passed, had in his workshop. They are gorgeous and we stored them in the workshop over the winter. When we arrived this year, we were vexed to find that some sort of insect had bored holes in both. We weren't sure what the bugs were but we needed to eradicate them before bringing them inside our house. We didn't want to use chemicals because it's our table! We couldn't soak them in water because the wood would be damaged. Diatomaceous earth wouldn't do the trick either. We opted to burn the suckers out, but we didn't have an oven big he built a solar oven. Eventually we cooked them for several hours at a minimum of 140 degrees (which is how wood is heat treated). Problem solved...eventually!

Internet is non-existent

This issue is still not resolved. I am currently writing at another location with internet. We got (what we thought was) a great deal from AT&T. They had a military discount and everything. Only problem is, we don't get service at our remote location. He has experimented with an antennae, a booster and all sorts of other geeky solutions, but as of yet, we have no luck. We are looking for an affordable option that we can place on sleep mode since we don't use the property year round.

Heater needs electricity upgrade

On the bright side, our property came with a decent driveway, a septic system, a well and electricity on site. This saved us lots of time. Yet, the existing electric receptacles are only 120v and the built-in wall heater he installed runs on 240v. We had designed and built Frontier years before purchasing a lot to move her to. In time, we can upgrade the electricity, but for now, this Floridian gal has to keep warm in Oregon with a space heater that awkwardly sits in the living room and burns up valuable space. At least it's warm!

Exorbitant backsplash quote

When contemplating a light-weight, simple and modern back-splash for the kitchen and bath, we decided on glass. You cut large sheets to size, paint the back of them with your color of choice, and hang them. I found the idea on Pinterest and we had practiced on a few pieces to make sure we liked the look of it. Buying the glass was a different story. We received a quote from a small local glass store and it was over $900! What?? So, we have yet to fully resolve this but we believe we will be using plexi-glass instead, which is not heat resistant, so will require another solution behind the stove. I will keep you posted on this ongoing project.

Range was delayed then difficult

We got an adorable small scale range from Lowes. I love everything about it. It has four burners, an oven and a broiler. It even has a window. So adorbs! But, delivery of it was long delayed and so we didn't have it for the beginning of the time we were here. This was only a minor inconvenience compared to some of the other issues, but it was still a bother. Plus, when it finally arrived, the directions were poor and propane conversion was way more difficult than it should have been. But, now all is well and I love cooking on it.

Sensitive Smoke alarm

This is what it is, and better a touchy one than a dead-beat. Yet, anytime I cook with the range or the air-fryer, the smoke alarm sounds. It is quite close (it's a Tiny kitchen) and this is the reason. It's not my cooking! So, whenever it sounds we immediately open the front door which is also near it and the fresh air quiets her down. Also, we can press the reset button.

Apocalyptic Moth Invasion

From a lepidopterist stand-point this isn't all that bad. In fact, it is interesting. Since we are out in the boondocks, there is virtually no artificial light. The moonlight illuminates the house at night and it's lovely. However, that means that any lights we turn on confuse the moths. They become disoriented and land in droves on our large 6'x6' windows at night. The challenge is that our front door is also glass, and we have a porch light just outside of it. If we aren't careful to turn off the light and the indoor kitchen light before opening the door at night, all sorts of moths fly in. I can't let them die so I have to catch and release them all. It's a chore.

Hot Water heater is junk

This is the grand finale for today's obstacles and it's a doozie. We had purchased and installed a propane instant hot water heater. We will never do that again. It is so finicky that we can barely get our water hot enough to take a warm shower. The igniter is not the issue. We have called for tech support several times and get the run-around repeatedly. Their solutions are not practical without physically wrecking the system and we don't even think they have the problem identified. Online reviews echo our issues, and so we will replace it in the future with a tanked one. Yet, that requires that electric upgrade I mentioned above. For now, it's usable but definitely not great.


Why did I make such a gloomy post? I just wanted to share that even though we are "living our dream" there are still daily difficulties and headaches. Every day brings work to be done and every day is another chance to be grateful for what IS working in our lives.

Don't get discouraged. Don't give up.

We make plans, but they often are not the ultimate solution, only the start. The map is not the territory. If you are meeting opposition, you are in good company.

Meet the challenge head on,

Jessica Morgan McAtee

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