The Blue Caddisfly

profileIMG_2068I’m sure you have two questions: what is a microhouse and what in the world is a caddisfly?! I’ll get to the microhouse in a second.

A caddisfly is one of my favorite things from the natural world.  It’s an insect that as an adult is moth-like.  As larvae, they live under water in cases that I think resemble sleeping bags.

They make these cases of pebbles, sand, twigs and take their home with them!  Seems like a perfect name not only for my current lifestyle of being on the move but also for the basis for my house… Well, really, a microhouse.  Let’s just be clear, I have very little construction skills.  In no way could I have taken this task on by myself.

I had lots of help from generous friends and family, especially my Dad.  I was more like the apprentice under my Dad’s tutelage.  My Dad and I began building the caddisfly in the fall of 2011.  I first bought a dual axle trailer.  We built a base of 2×6’s and bolted that to the trailer, which is the biggest difference between it and “normal” houses with foundations.  The house was framed up just like a tiny house with windows, a loft and an angled roof.  This was a little beyond my Dad and I and so a couple of friends framed up the house as part of a barter (they framed up the house and I house/animal sat for one and gave a veggie share to the other).

The finished size was 8 feet wide, 28 feet long and 13 and a half feet high from ground to roof (these are to road restrictions). A layer of 1 inch foam was added to the outside and covered with house wrap.   Bright blue metal siding was added after all the windows were put in.  We got it sided in time to move in the spring of 2012.  It was moved to Wrenshall where I farmed and ran my CSA.  Slowly throughout the summer, the bathroom and entry way walls were added.

We hadn’t put in the big window because we were afraid it might crack in the move.  That was put in over the summer, too.  Then electricity was hooked up.  It was an exciting day when I could flip a switch and a light went on!! It turned out that another move was in the stars so in the fall, the house was moved to my friends’ place in Saginaw where it sits today!  Over the winter, cabinets were put in; insulation, ceiling and wall coverings added.  I have a compost toilet and plumbing will eventually be added.  I do a lot of cooking and baking so I decided on a full size oven.  It feels a bit oversized but will be great to have.  A friend of mine built my kitchen cabinets and a pantry was just added.  All my appliances are on propane- oven, heater and refrigerator.   The next things on the ever-growing list are:  trim around windows and walls, build shelves in the bathroom, and living room bookcases.  In the spring I’d like to build a freestanding porch in front of the microhouse.

I haven’t chosen a floor covering.  It would need to be lightweight, able to withstand constant wear and be cheap!  A tall order indeed.  Many of my materials were bought second-hand or salvaged.  So some of these future projects can be done with the stack of wood that is taking up loft space. The plan is to stay where I’m at for a while.  How long that will be I’m not sure.  Hopefully I’ll be able to buy land in 5 years.  The great thing is that I won’t need to look for land with a house.  I’ve got one that can up and move!  A self-contained caddisfly.