Why not??

So, this entry is a bit off-topic, but I feel that it is pertinent nonetheless. (Also, I’m currently working on the roof framing, so it’ll be a few more days until I get a good post up on that section, thanks to the ceaseless rain).

I decided to build this tiny house after much research. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it…I worried about my ability, my resources, my complete lack of experience in building anything, let alone a house. But after 2 years of “studying” online, I decided that I needed to either let it go or get down to it. Obviously, I got down to it. This is not to say that I haven’t encountered problems along the way, or that certain stages of the build haven’t seemed overwhelmingly daunting. But I’ve done them. And yes, I have had help. But I’m proud to say that, for the most part, I have built this house. Not my brother, not my friends, not my uncle…I have built this house. I am not trying to diminish the fact that I have had help on this house. Who wouldn’t need help? No contractor heads out to build a structure on their own, and why would I? But here’s where the difference becomes irritating:

I am a woman. OH GOD NO, A WOMAN BUILDING? Yes. It’s horrifying. And apparently it is beyond anyone’s comprehension. I decided to write this particular entry after yet another incident at a home improvement store…one of MANY I have encountered since starting this project.

Yesterday, I purchased about 30 rafter ties, a box of heavy-duty specialized screws, and 1 tarp. The casual conversation at the checkout played out as follows:

Cashier: “how’s your day?”

Me: “Good, thanks”

Cashier: “Aww. You doing some painting, then?”

Me: “….Uh…building, actually.”

Relatively benign, until you realize that the cashier focused on the single tarp I was purchasing over the 30 rafter ties. Which ring up as “rafter ties.” Oh, yeah. Those must’ve been for someone else, as I am only capable of painting. I realize that the cashier wasn’t trying to be rude, but instead was programmed to ignore the sawdust covering my clothes, the legitimate building supplies, and the commercial builder’s credit card due to my gender. Yes. Just painting. Probably in pink, too.

This is one of many small (but startling, nonetheless) incidents of this sort that I’ve encountered since I began the build. Those who have seen the house under construction (me on a ladder, sweating and hammering away) either assume I’m helping the landowner build his structure (I correct them) or they believe that he’s building it for me, with minimal help from my end (“you’re doing this yourself? Oh, you have ‘help.’ Ohhhhh. Ok!”) This assumption that I could in no way, shape, or form build this house on my own is truly bothersome. If I were male, I know that these questions wouldn’t arise, and if they did, my confirmation of building a house on my own would be met with admiration rather than confusion. So, here’s the point of this post…

Do you want to do something? Are you, due to your gender, age, ability, finances, etc, not one who would normally be considered able to do that something? Yes? Well then, GET BUSY DOING IT. Seriously. Ask yourself “why not?” If you can come up with an answer that is not related to your own mental blocks, then reconsider. But otherwise, ignore the voice that tells you you’ve never done it before, you’ll screw it up, that’s a guy’s job, you’re not strong enough, you’re not smart enough, etc. Just go do what you want. Seriously, please, do it.  And if you get scared (you will) or question yourself (which is unavoidable), remember this: No contractor was born knowing how to build. No photographer was born genetically predisposed to better handle a Canon than you. And very few tiny house builders arrive at the build site with a degree in architecture and inherent knowledge of all that goes into building. Ask for help. Welcome that help. But don’t let that diminish your role in the process. If I can do this, why can’t you? Really…why not?

So, get to building. And when the guy in Home Depot chuckles at you for the hundredth time and asks (yet again) what you’re building today, tell him it’s still a house…but not for your dollies. If he’s anything like the guy at the store I frequent, that’ll shut him up pretty quickly.

(Aside: Again…thank you to ALL who have helped/are helping me in this journey. Who wouldn’t want help? Without you (Dan, Tammy, Yfke, Chris, etc) this house would be much less awesome and much more frustrating than it is now, not to mention much less finished. So please know that I consider you all integral parts of this awesome part of my life, and wouldn’t want to do this without you! You’re all welcome to crash in the tiny house any time…but probably not all at the same time…you know. “Tiny” house and all!)

 

Really. Go build, you strong-ass person. You can do it. 🙂

roofrafters2

 

Julie

 

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About wanderingartemis

Full time indecisive grad student, new owner of tiny house trailer, awkward conversationalist, vagabond wannabe, sort-of anarchist, seeker of eternal adventure

3 responses to “Why not??”

  1. Jackie Neufeld says :

    Thanks for the 2X4 to the head!

    I sat next to you at the session in Raleigh and since then tiny houses have been on my mind. Constantly. But, who would build it for me? I’m obviously not a carpenter, builder or even strong enough.

    DUH! Of course I am. Plus I have my partner and daughter to help me. Thanks for the much needed reminder that I am capable.

    Can’t wait for more updates on your progress!

    • wanderingartemis says :

      Jackie,

      This is so awesome! YES! Get out and build! I’ve been lucky enough to have a few friends to help with the SERIOUSLY heavy/awkward tasks, but for the most part, I’ve done the majority of the work on my own. It surprised me, really. I’ve only used a power drill, and it took me a bit to get used to the crazy array of power tools. I have messed up, and then learned from it. But considering that my only experience to this point was building a (horrible) shelf, I think it’s safe to say that, if you’re willing to be stubborn and push through, you can do anything! Go build! Keep me updated!

  2. Kris Eilers says :

    Thanks for your honest commentary on how it usually is for women who are building. I encounter these types of experiences over and over, and to be honest it is the reason why it is hard to accept help from anyone, especially a man. It almost seems to disqualify us from actually achieving the status of building something by ourselves, even though men almost all get help from their partners or friends. Some things are more than twice as difficult to do when building (handling full sheets of plywood while on a ladder, etc.), and most need help with these tasks! I expect more women will venture out and do this when they keep seeing other women doing it.
    And some encouragement to all readers: Even when being harassed or belittled it does not take away what we have done in the end! Thanks for your grit and inspiration!

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