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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tiny House Update: Inspection!

Alisha McDarris


The week of our tiny house inspection was an emotional and stressful one. Not only did we have the inspection to prepare for, but we had to have it weighed, totally roadworthy, and nail down transportation so we could get this thing to Austin. Plus we had scheduled a tiny housewarming at the end of the week so we could show it off to friends and family so the inside needed to be mostly complete, too. Weigh day was Wednesday, the inspection was Thursday, and the housewarming was Friday, so from Saturday I was continuously counting down hour by hour, running through all the things we had to get done. There were some late nights, speedy trips to Menards, and it was all hands on deck. Fortunately, we had an extra pair of hands for those last two weeks. After returning from Australia we convinced my parents that they needed to sign up as Help-X hosts and we thanked God for sending their first helper when we needed so much extra assistance. We couldn't have done it without Joris, a Frenchman more than happy to work for enormous slices of my mom's cheesecake.




And then on Wednesday my Grandpa passed away unexpectedly. Work on the tiny house was pretty slow that day after we got back from the scales as we pondered what our next move would be. Obviously we wouldn't be leaving for Austin on Monday like we had planned. We were glad we hadn't booked a towing company yet, but we finished out the week before heading to Florida for the memorial service. We left early Saturday morning and drove straight through, all 17 hours, and stayed for five days or so, long enough to be with family and get support from old friends.

But before we left we had a date with some scales and State Highway Patrol. With a moderate amount of trepidation we lowered the tiny house off of its jacks and blocks early Wednesday morning in preparation for its very first outing. It creaked, it moaned, we gritted our teeth once or twice, and she was on the ground, easy as. We hooked her up to my dad's work truck, a Ford F-350 diesel, and slowly moved down the driveway toward the road. There were a couple close calls with ditches making tight right turns, and one time I was sure we were going to take out a droopy power line (there might have been some pained groaning and a brief heart stutter), but we got her safe and sound and all in one piece to a grain elevator down the road where she weighed in at a cool 10,700 pounds. We were pretty happy with that as we had estimated she'd come in between 10,000-12,000. We paid all of $3 for them to punch a tag and sign off on the weight slip and were back on our way home not ten minutes later.

She had done swimmingly on her first time out but there were still a few things to do before inspection. Or so we thought. Let me just say that I very literally lost sleep over this inspection at various times during the build process, mostly while planning the siding. I was petrified we'd be a half inch over 8.5 feet and they'd make us get expensive permits and "wide load" banners. I was afraid they'd be super strict about the whole thing and we'd pay for it. Josh was still pretty nervous that morning, but I think I was too tired to be nervous. I was just ready to get it over with and be done with the whole thing. I didn't want to build anymore! But when we got to the State Highway Patrol inspection office they took a few receipts for lumber and siding material, looked at the vin number on the trailer tongue, stepped inside long enough to express their delight with the whole thing (their very first tiny house inspection), then went inside to complete paperwork. That was it. No measuring, no checking doors and windows, no inspecting the trailer, nothing. I just stared at Josh and thought, really? Really? Go figure. I was worried about all that for nothing. So it goes.

The inspection cost $53, but that will vary from state to state and county to county. The one bit of semi unfortunate news was that they wanted us to get a new vin plate to put on the actual house, not the trailer. Upon asking why, I was informed that if we were ever to cut off the tongue of the trailer and make it a more permanent residence, we wouldn't have a vin anymore. To which my response was something like, if we cut the tongue off and can't move it anymore, why would we even need a vin number? Something about it being registered as a moveable residence... Blah blah blah. Again, so it goes. But there's no registration without that vin number, and the only title we could get is one for the trailer itself, so we're stuck waiting. Which seems like all we've done the past month. We had to wait 3 weeks for the inspection, another 2 for the vin plate, 3-5 days for a towing company... The waiting is killing me!

As for the housewarming, we didn't get quite as much detail work done as we had hoped (Joris and I only finished the batten on 3/4 of one wall), but we were thrilled to show our friends and family what we had built. We just had a bit more to do when we returned from Florida. Might as well do something while we wait some more.

But for now, the tiny house is ready to hit the road and we are so ready to start life in our tiny house!

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha has been a writer and photographer forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least for more of her 20-something years than she hasn’t been those things... [Read More]

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