Natalie Wade is gifted with her hands and we have the pleasure of featuring her in this week’s In the Spotlight!
Q: Please introduce yourself to our audience. Where are you located? My Name is Natalie Wade, I was born and raised In Brooklyn NY, but moved out to the Bay Area about 13 years ago.
Q: What inspired you to build a Tiny House? Is tiny living more of a dream or necessity for you? I was literally just about to purchase a house when I was browsing Craigslist and saw a tiny house for sale for $75k. So I shifted my goal from purchasing a conventional house to purchasing this tiny home. After doing some research and laying in bed one night I asked myself “Why in the world would I purchase this tiny house when I could build one myself and for waaay cheaper?” I was so excited I couldn’t sleep for a week. Literally! Owning my own home has always been a dream of mine, but more than that BUILDING my own home was the ultimate goal, since I was very little I would do layouts of how I wanted my home to look, reading magazines on interior design and architecture.
Q: Is there anything from your youth growing up or family experience that may have also played a role in your decision to live tiny? I was on the bus one day and a gentlemen was reading the magazine Architecture Digest. I was intrigued by it and he asked ‘Would you like to have it?” I assume because I was breathing down his neck trying to see the pictures and ever since then I have been hooked on homes and building them. I would go to Barnes & Noble’s on 65th Avenue in the City and sit on the floor and just read and look at different pictures that I would find in a variety of magazines that focused on homes and the designing process behind them. Building a home has stayed with me since that day on the bus.
Q: Describe your previous home. I have lived in a few since moving to the Bay Area. My last place was a room i was renting from a friend. It was a two bedroom apartment and the owner was never there, so technically I was renting the whole apartment for the price of one room.
Q: What concerns, if any, did you have in/with your decision to go tiny? The main concern was wondering could I really build this thing and then could I really live in a tiny home comfortably? I am always into something, so folks that know me know from week to week I could possibly always be working on something new. Even still I thought about what others would say to the idea. Some would good, some not so good and some were neutral.
Q: How did you resolve those concerns? I am a carpenter by trade and have built and worked on many homes from foundation to roof before, but normally alongside other people that could assist if I needed help. This was my first time doing a home from ground up all by myself. So I was a bit nervous, to say the least. But after I got started and realized that the tiny house community was sooooo helpful with all the questions I would ask and seeing how my network of fellow construction workers was also eager to help with my questions and concerns it made the project more relaxing and enjoyable.
Q: How did your family and friends receive your decision to go tiny? One friend in particular thought I was completely crazy and out of my mind. When he visited me, just after I put the sub-floor on the trailer, he just stood on top of it and shook his head. It wasn’t until later when the tiny home started to take shape that he revealed to be what he was thinking in the beginning. Then I have a another close friend whose opinion I really valued who also thought I was making the wrong move and who insisted on telling me to just purchase a house already built. Again, once seeing my determination he too came around and began to help when I needed and became a tiny believer. Even saying how he wanted to build a tiny house too.
Q: How did you handle those people who may have had concerns? I knew that this was what I wanted to do, so despite one person in a particular that didn’t approve I moved on forward and never looked back. After seeing how dedicated I was to the project he actually came around to it and even helped me when I needed it at times.
Q: Who designed your tiny home and how did you determine the design for your tiny house? I designed my tiny home. I would use the app Houzz and other interior design magazines and room by room choose the color scheme I wanted and thought about the layout and how I wanted it to flow.
Q: How long did it take to begin to build once you’d made the decision to go tiny? I built two tiny homes in the last two years and each one took me 4 to 5 months to build. I thought it was a bit long, but working a full time job along with other responsibilities is what did it.
Q: What was involved in building it? I did multiple drawings on draft paper of what I wanted the layout to be; even building the fire place, how to install countertops, making sure the foundation was safe. (that was my biggest fear, having that sucker fall off the trailer ROTF.) Just taking each step as I was taught to
Q: What challenges did you run into? Plumbing was my biggest challenge. I had seen rough in plumbing done, but doing it on a trailer and making it go how I wanted it to go was not working for me. I found myself crying one day under the trailer because I could not get the plumbing to fit and go the way I had envisioned it to go. So I took a few hours off and let my brain cool down and lo and behold while attempting to take a nap, I figured it out. That was when I realized there is absolutely nothing that the human brain cannot do, you can literally figure anything out, as long as you really want to.
Q: What was your process for simplifying your life and getting rid of your excess possessions? How’d the process feel? I love throwing stuff out, lol. I think its very liberating. The more you have the more you have to worry about. The less you have the more you get to really live and enjoy life more.
Q: Why do you think more POC haven’t joined or may be reluctant to join the TH/Tiny Living Movement? I am not to sure why people of color aren’t really into the tiny house movement. It could be because they are probably struggling to stay above water as it is and don’t have the time nor funds to get into it. Also where to place it, family members or friends of other races are often more likely to have the property to allow a tiny house dweller to place it on their land, whereas POC may not have access to additional help with placement or funds.
Q: Where do you see the tiny house movement going? Where do you see the movement going for people of color? I think its growing and will be the norm eventually. People these days just don’t want to keep paying the high price of rent or having a mortgage just to feel successful. Now you can own your own home, be debt free and really enjoy life. I do think there is still a problem that needs to be solved though around the movement; placement of the tiny homes. So many people want to go tiny but where to put them is what prevents them. As far as people of color, I honestly don’t see it growing as fast as it has with other races. Lack of resources, the help needed and finances all play a part. But again even if we had all the access, where to place it and being welcome in certain neighborhoods could be an issue.
Q: Do you have any additional comments, maybe advice for future tiny home owners/builders or dreamers? I say if you want to do it, GO FOR IT!! Don’t let anything stop you.
We’d like to thank Natalie for allowing us to showcase her In the Spotlight, check out additional pictures from her tiny houses here: Natalie Wade’s Tiny Houses!