Warning: Oversize blog post ahead!
Last week I told you about my unexpected purchase of a cabin called Tiny. If you haven’t already, you might want to read that post in order to marvel at the sheer fiscal recklessness of ChrissyB. In the same vein try this post, and this one, about other unplanned and daring purchases, and get a taste for what the Forbearing Husband has to put up with.
Enough about that. I’m generally very sensible. The sort of person who checks twice that power points aren’t live before messing around with wiring, and always wears her riding helmet. Great, now we’ve got that out of the way… would you like to see Tiny? Thought so. Look!
Sitting on the trailer at Waipu ready to move.
Cute, no? Well, cute is as cute does, and by the time we’d hauled our new friend 60kms or so up SH1 the Forbearing Husband wasn’t feeling the love. Here’s how it all went down.
When we bought Tiny she was based at Waipu, and we were fortunate that the person selling her knew quite a lot about moving oversized loads. He had offered in the Trade Me listing to actually deliver her within a 30km radius. Unfortunately the farmlet is outside that limit. Nevertheless, the seller (let’s call him ‘The Man From Waipu Cove’) seemed confident that with his help we could get the job done without paying professionals. At a saving of $1800 on renting a hiab that seemed like a good idea.
Tiny weighs two tonnes. She is 5.2m long, 2.5m wide, and 4m high. The plan was to jack her up on blocks and put her onto a borrowed trailer. After adding the height of the trailer, our load would be up around 4.6m. That’s a tad over the 4.3m legal hight limit on NZ roads (shhh, she’s here now, and no harm done).
Our main concern was overhead power lines. Mostly they are 5m above the ground, but that’s not guaranteed especially on small rural roads, and telecommunication lines can be lower. We live on a small rural road. Thus in the weeks between buying and moving Tiny, I became obsessed with looking at power lines as we drove along roads near the farmlet, panicking myself about how VERY low some of them looked. Full disclosure, I’ve only just kicked this habit.
The loft sleeping area has a double glazed stained glass window.
Not to worry. The Man From Waipu Cove (henceforth TMFWC) decided that if we were to get to his place at 4pm we could get Tiny settled on her trailer by 6pm. That way we could drive home in daylight, and at what we hoped would be a nice quiet time on the roads. We were doing the towing in the newly-acquired Beast, with the Forbearing Husband driving, and me riding shotgun; TMFWC was to follow us. He would be looking out for low power lines and maintaining walkie-talkie contact so that he could warn us to stop before we hit them. Confidence was high.
On the day, we arrived at the appointed time and set to jacking Tiny up. It was a fully absorbing process, and quite satisfying; a couple of two tonne hydraulic jacks lifted one end at a time, and she was gradually blocked up higher and higher until we were able to slide the trailer right underneath. Brilliant. Until we looked at the time — 9pm! Oh frak. Best get on the road then.
Away we went, and for the first 15 minutes, just enough time to get us out of Waipu itself and headed towards the main highway, all was going to plan. At every low looking line we came to we would slow down and TMFWC would talk us through “Yup, keep it slow, looking fine, okay you’re good”. It was still scary, but a sort of controlled scary. Someone was looking out for us. And then the inevitable happened.
Lifting Tiny up on blocks. The trailer is on the left of the photo ready to slide under her.
It got dark. Too dark for TMFWC to see the power lines any more. Too dark for any of us to see them. Advice from our expert mover ‘Just drive, and keep driving’. Holy cow!
So we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove very s-l-o-w-l-y. Once out on the highway things were better in one way — underground power lines, yo — but speed was our enemy. If we got up over 70kmph Tiny started swinging around and fishtailing as if she was going to throw herself right off the trailer. Even though Forbearing Husband was pulling over when he could, and driving at a crawl when it was safe for people to pass, we were still officially holding up traffic. At one stage a police car drew up alongside and we all held our breath waiting for the siren. Then, after a second or two, the long arm of the law accelerated away. The Forbearing Husband and I (at the pointy end), and TMFWC (over the walkie-talkie), all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Ready to roll! We taped the top triangular window in case it cracked en route.
Making our way off SH1 and along the final segments of rural road towards our house presented more challenges. The road is winding and hilly. As we negotiated a tight bend on one particularly steep section, TMFW, who was still trucking along just behind us, feared that if we ran out of grunt Tiny would pull us backwards. Fortunately The Beast has staying power and a manual gearbox, and we swept up that hill (forever known to us now as ‘Tiny House Hill’) without breaking a sweat.
In a way the worst part of the whole trip was the 8km section before home, where I knew for sure (remember those obsessive observations?), there were some very low power lines. There was nothing to do though but to follow TMFWC’s earlier advice ‘Just drive, and keep driving’. Forbearing Husband drove, and I tried to mentally lift power lines in the places where I knew they were lowest. We didn’t hit a single power line, and I’ve since added telekinesis to my resume.
Tiny in her new spot at the farmlet. She just fits right in.
Well, we finally got home at midnight, and by the time we’d shoe-horned Tiny into her new situation between CEDARS house and the top paddock (here’s the farmlet map for orientation purposes) it was close to 2am. After returning the borrowed trailer, and offering profuse thanks to TMFWC (we delivered him some more tangible tokens of our gratitude later that week) we fell into bed. It was all worth it to me though for the view from the kitchen window next morning.
There was Tiny, nestled between a tree fern and a willow, and looking all the world as if she’d been settled there for years. The Forbearing Husband even forgave me just a bit for that hellish trip when he saw how pretty she looked. As mentioned in my last post though, he did make me promise faithfully that we would never have to move a tiny house again. In fact he went a step further — he said that if ever I even contemplated such a thing he would …
Tiny, ready to welcome visitors. The unattractive tape on the top window has since been removed.
… pay whatever it takes to get the professionals to do it. Have I mentioned before that the man’s a saint?
What’s the scariest load you’ve ever moved?