Yes, we ARE still building the tiny house

I’d be lying if I said I was excited to write this post….my expectation of where we’d be in our build a week before Thanksgiving was, as you can imagine, FAR ahead of our current reality. That being said, I am somehow still hopeful that we will make our mid-February deadline when our current lease ends. However, that will only happen if we get outside help. If this build has taught me anything it is to recognize that I have limits and need to be more aware of them.

The main reason we are so far behind and why I’ve been dreading writing this post? The siding. This has been the single most frustrating aspect of the build and a huge source of procrastination. Back in the spring when the house was still in Middletown and I was trying to get it ready to move, my mom and I oiled all of the cedar in between preparing for my brother’s college graduation. The day we were heading out of town to go to the graduation, we put a final coat of oil on the cedar and then went inside to get ready to leave. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a good enough job protecting the freshly-oiled cedar from the harsh sun,  and the oil congealed into this horrible glue-like substance on the surface of the wood. I had no choice but to begin putting on the messed up cedar, as I wanted to have at least a few rows secured before the house moved. This meant I knew the cedar had to be redone or it wouldn’t be weather proof like it needed to be.

Who wants to continue working on a project when you know you have to backtrack a month’s worth of work just to fix all of the mistakes you made?? Nobody, that’s who. The fact that we knew every piece of cedar we put on the house had to be sanded down to bare wood and then oiled with six coats of tung oil was nearly debilitating. I wanted NOTHING to do with the house for months. After all of the hurry up to get it road-ready for the move from Middletown to Portland, and then the stress and setbacks that happened with the move, I just wanted nothing but to be as far away from the house as possible.

After taking some time away from the build to clear our heads and regain the energy it was going to take to finish the siding, we finally started again in September. Tish went through and had to countersink each finish nail with a nail set so that the orbital sander did not catch on any of them. We got some help with the sanding (which had to be done BY HAND and then again with an orbital sander), and then Tish and I cleaned all of the sawdust off the cedar and prepped it to be oiled. We weren’t going to take any chances getting the oiling right this time, so in order to keep it out of the sunlight until it was completely soaked in and dried, I spent 3 (4?) days oiling from 7pm (sunset) to midnight. I found a decent rhythm, had good music playing and did my best to forget about the constant pain and soreness in my shoulders. The result: the cedar looks great….or so I’m told. I still look at it with disdain and really don’t like the way the exterior of the house looks. Tish assures me that will subside once I’ve had enough time to get over all the setbacks and shoulder-breaking work that I endured trying to make the cedar look good.

I still feel a bit unmotivated; I am tired of looking at and working on the outside of the house. We are nearly done with the exterior; all we have left is to attach two more pieces of corner trim and then we need to rebuild the doors of the utility shed and hang them (I’ll save that disaster for another post). But the siding has literally taken us since May when I put the first coats of oil on the boards and began attaching them to the house. For better or worse, I am just over it.

With all that said, as much as I dreadied writing an update about the siding, looking back through the pictures and seeing how “far” we’ve come was pretty great. Even if we are moving at a snail’s pace, at least we are still moving forward….right?? The pictures below span the entire siding process, up until now. I’ll do a separate post showing the trim and shed, which I guess technically counts as the exterior so it isn’t done yet, sigh.

Last week we roughed all of the main plumbing lines, which was pretty great. It was nice to see some forward movement INSIDE the house, since our focus has been on the exterior since we started building. We just ordered our Ecotemp tankless water heater and shower stall, both of which should be here by the end of the week, which means we can finish up the plumbing.

Going back to the realization of my limits, we have decided to hire someone to build new doors for our shed and hang them. I know a skilled person will need a fraction of the time it would take me to make doors that will keep our shed weather-proof. We are also going to have the guy that helped me put in the water lines come back to help me with the drains, shower stall, and water heater.

In the meantime, I am researching electricity and attempting to map our electrical plan. My hope is that we will have new shed doors (and a waterproof shed), plumbing roughed in and electrical wires run/connected by early December. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

(so as to not spend anymore time talking about the stupid siding)…..Here is a brief list of the steps you’ll see in the photos:

Feb: the siding was delivered much to our excitement, naturally I propped it up to get a feel for what it would look like on the house


  • With the help of my wonderful mom, I put three coats of tung oil on all of the cedar board
  • My dad and his buddy helped me put up the corrugated metal siding and begin the cedar siding. We managed to get 3-4 rows on the low side of the house and about 1/4 of the high side of the house done. My dad cut all of the boards for the “short” section on the high wall, but we ran out of time and had to button up the house to get it ready for the move.


  • The house was moved to Portland.
  • Our motivation to get the rest of the siding lasted about 1 month – we put up the rest of the cedar boards on the low wall and began the corrugated metal “stripe” that would go across the middle of the wall. We ran out of materials and had to order more.


  • While we waited for the materials, we continued working on the high wall. We put up the rest of the cedar, vented the roof and put the trim around the door.
  • We realized how much work it was going to be to sand down all of the cedar, and decided to take a break



  • I finished venting the roof
  • We changed the design of the siding on the low wall, we chose to make the entire top half of the wall corrugated metal instead of just a “stripe” of it. We lost a lot of money in the extra materials we ordered but no longer needed, but it saved us some peace of mind knowing there was less cedar to sand/re-oil
  • Tish countersunk every nail in each cedar board
  • I (with some hired help) sanded down all of the cedar
  • I spend 7pm-midnight for 3 (or 4?) nights applying 6 coats of oil to every cedar board

Let us know what you think (good and bad!) about the look of the house!


4 Replies to “Yes, we ARE still building the tiny house”

  1. You’re in Portland, OR? We’re in MN so we can’t assist but we’d love to.
    Your place looks obscenely awesome. “As good as your legs” my cheerful husband adds (lol). I can’t believe you were going to finish the outside any other way. I will add you chose the labor intensive tung oil treatment so it was a bit difficult to feel sorry for you. On that note there was also Iceland….. 😉

  2. Thank you for being so real in this post. I am also building my tiny house right now, and am just about ready to start the siding. I am not nearly as far along in this process as I had hoped to be, and it helps a bit to know that I’m not alone in my struggles. Your siding looks great! Can I ask you where you ordered the cedar from?

    1. Hi Lynne –
      You are definitely not alone! This entire process has been a roller coaster of emotions for us, and hearing that we aren’t alone in this is a great feeling too — so thank you for sharing! We ordered the cedar from Home Depot, mostly because we are using their credit program to pay for some of the house so we try to get our high cost materials there! Are you thinking of doing cedar as well?

  3. I understand the frustration… I am also no where near where I wanted to be and had to step back and not work on my mobile home for a little while due to set backs.

    But I am glad things are moving forward (even if it is slow progress, remember progress is still progress) and that you can recognize the progress when looking at the pictures. Keep your head up thankyour lucky stars each day and blast some Green Day and let Billie motivate you on days your motivation has left the vicinity.

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