Building My Very Own Tiny Home

I have been homeless for 6 (six!) months. I live in my mini van. Thing is, there is a housing crisis in Los Angeles. Housing is absurdly expensive and not-at-all plentiful. In addition, getting a legit, salaried job is hard. You need more than just ambition and a bachelor’s degree.

In order to live as prosperously as I can during this insane time of my life, I took a few weeks and spent several dozen hours renovating my mini van, converting it into a full-fledged tiny home. It was a project I desperately needed to do, because even though I had kept everything clean and tidy and well-organized prior to making these changes, there were so so so many things in my car-home that could have been a lot better. I was lucky enough to temporarily stay with a friend so I could work on these renovations.

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First, I took everything out of my car. Which was literally everything I own… I had already been living in it for 4 months by the time I decided to do this crazy project. I parked in a Home Depot parking lot and took this photo. The space is approximately 3′ 6″ wide x 6′ long.
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Inside Home Depot, I bought all of the wood I would use for this project. This picture doesn’t properly convey the massive amount of wood I purchased. That is a huge amount of wood. Each of those boards was nearly twice my height.
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And because those boards of wood were so massive, when I loaded them into my car, they couldn’t fit. Every plank was too long. It would have been really dangerous to try to drive back to my friend’s house and get to work. So that meant…
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…I would have to cut the wood down right there in the parking lot. Thankfully, I also bought a saw and a tape measure while at Home Depot. All this just so I could shut the back door all the way. I regularly referred to the saw as “Saw Gerrara” because Star Wars Rogue One was about to come out, and I am a huge nerd with no carpentry skills.

 

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I had never sawed thick wood before, and it took me 3-4 hours. Day turned to night.
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Eventually I was able to fit all the wood into my car.
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Stupidly, I made these permanent nicks in the back bumper of my car, while sawing. Saws are sharp.
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On a new day, Saw Gerrera and I got right to work. I didn’t have a proper workbench or wood shop to use, so I just leaned the wood sheets upright against my car.
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After considerable hard work, I bought this little guy from the clearance section of Walmart because I fucking earned it. Best 50 cent purchase ever.
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Also at Walmart, I bought some stuff. From left to right, there is a carpet, a bunch of hinges and locks for the furniture (I’ll explain more on that later), curtains and curtain rods, and 2 dressers that I’d have to assemble myself. I don’t know why I thought that a blue carpet would go well with red curtains; I really just wanted a splash of color in the place and figured that would do it.
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I began building the frame of the tiny home. You can already tell how bad I am at carpentry.
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After a certain amount of sawing and screwing-in nails, I got these very painful red marks on my hand. Hand blisters? They hurt a lot and took weeks to heal.
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When it would get too dark out to keep working, I’d go inside and work on the furniture.
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I decided to use door hinges as a means of connecting the dressers to the floor of the home. If I ever tried to drive around without these large pieces of furniture being nailed down, they’d go tumbling and probably break a window or something. So this was a really important step.
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A new day of measuring and laying down the floor. You can see that I did an absolutely terrible job with the saw. But it turned out stable in the end, which was all I cared about.
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I still had a ton of wood leftover so I piled it up in the car…
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…and placed it in the nearest dumpster. This particular dumpster was already full so I just laid my trash on top of everything that was already in there.
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Then it was time to install the curtains!
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The first splash of much-needed color.
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Hey, remember that tall 4-drawer dresser I assembled? It didn’t fit. Here it is on its side, about to be transported by me to the dumpster. I think I made 3 or 4 trips to that dumpster during this project.
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Thankfully, the smaller dresser did fit, as did my nifty treasure chest, next to it. I also installed the carpet. There are ropes across the drawers of the dresser because, in motion, those doors would be flung out if they weren’t restrained by something.
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In order to make the carpet fit, I had to cut it up into chunks, and it made a big mess.
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I nailed some baskets into the walls to use as shelves, and put some more storage containers along the wall, and bam! Tiny home completed. I have plenty of room for everything I own, it’s extremely well-organized, and I have more room to move around, and to sleep.

So there you have it. That’s my tiny home. I have been living with these renovations for a month now, and it has made my life supremely easier and better. However, homelessness is still extremely stressful. I still have to be stealthy to avoid having the cops called on me by frightened neighborhood folks. I still have to pee in a bottle, and find a good opportunity to dispose of my piss later. There is still no electricity or running water, which are awful things to have to live without. I still have to spend a lot of time on the street, and in LA, the other homeless people here are crazy. Like, a violent and scary kind of crazy. I have been threatened, and seen homeless people threaten each other, on an almost daily basis. So I really need to get out of homelessness. It’s not safe. It’s not comfortable. It’s extremely unnerving and risky. But at least the horrible, painful, slow process of reaching a better life has become a little bit more bearable now that I have a much more genuine tiny home.

 

 

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