Tiny House Work Parties: Barn Raisings for the Tiny House Community

Raising the roof of a tiny house

Next month we have a couple of tiny house work parties coming up – click here for dates and information. “Work party” might sound like an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, but we use the term for a reason. The “work” is learning how to build, and taking on the intellectual and physical challenge of constructing something made to last. The “party” is what happens when you work with a group of people who share your passion, discover how quickly that group can plow through a big job, and feel energized by the progress.

But you don’t have to just take our word for it. We can also show you a video of a recent building workshop that’s very similar to a work party, and take a lesson or two from some famous work party animals: The Amish.

The Work: Hands-On Tiny House Construction Basics

Even people who don’t work with power tools have probably heard the carpenter’s mantra of “Measure twice, cut once.” Work parties are like the first measurement of your own tiny house. Try building first with direction and supervision, and you’ll be way better off when you start on your own house. And our experienced instructors make sure that the house you work on doesn’t suffer from the learning curve, either. Take a look at this amazing video of the Casa Pequena Build Workshop our pals at Shelterwise put together and we helped out with:

In just two days, this group put together the entire exterior of a top notch tiny house, and had a pretty rocking time doing it.

The number one reason we arrange work parties (sometimes called “build parties”) are that there are a lot of people out there who want to build their own tiny house, but want to get some first-hand construction experience first. Construction isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not something you just dive into with zero preparation. Our work parties are for people who want to forge ahead on their own house eventually, but want to make sure they’re doing it correctly. Everyone has different levels of experience – it’s okay if you’re not a contractor. Maybe you didn’t even take high school shop class. We create a safe space for people to learn skills that are new to them, and apply those skills to the construction issues specific to tiny houses. Even if you did take shop class, they probably didn’t teach that.

The Party: A Barn Raising for the Modern Age

Tiny house work parties have a lot in common with traditional Amish barn raisings. If you don’t think we can learn a thing or two about how to party from the Amish, consider this: they created an event that people like attending, yet builds an entire barn at the same time! When a family in the community needs a new barn, the entire community comes together to help build and raise the barn. How is it a party? Because it connects the community over one common goal, strengthens their relationships, and makes them all feel supported. While it’s one family’s barn today, everyone participating knows that the community would pitch in just the same for them if they were the ones in need.

One Amishman tells AmishAmerica.com, “We look forward to raisings….There are so many helping, no one has to work too hard. We get in a good visit.” The Lehman’s Country Life blog describes a barn raising as “a social celebration that strengthened the bonds in the community.”

Amish barn raising
Barn raisings: still in fashion! Photo: Red Legacy

That’s what else comes out of these work parties. You work right next to people who are there for the same reason you are: to build their tiny house dream into reality, one nail at a time. As you connect with them along the way, you realize these same people could be helping you build your own house in the not too distant future. You watch the house come together and discover how quickly an enthusiastic group can turn a pile of lumber into a visible part of someone’s future home. You can see the contagious excitement of the person whose house you’re building, and you can share in it, now clearly picturing your own future work party and your own future house.

Let the Work Partying Begin

While the Amish are born into their community, the tiny house community has to pull itself together. That’s one of the things we love most about our Tiny House Basics Workshops and our work parties and build parties: we get to bring tiny house lovers out of the woodwork and connect them with one another. Building these community ties is vital – enthusiasm is catchy, and knowing people on the same journey that you’re on will propel you forward. Helping someone else kickstart their house might be just what you need to kickstart your own.

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