Alexa, How Do You Build a House While Social Distancing?

Posted by Key2See Team on March 23, 2020

Alexa, How Do You Build a House While Social Distancing?

Episode# 4:  Now More Than Ever; Family First

In these days and weeks of fear, the unknown, and some new phrases such as “social distancing” “distance teaching” “quarantine” “COVID-19” “washing your hands” (not sure why that is a new one…. Could be how we got in this mess in the first place).  It is teaching me some things that might not be as imperative to happiness in our new home…

As I shared in episode #2 Tiny House Living: Last November, our family intentionally stripped ourselves from the comforts of the American vanilla land of 4000 square feet.  Now to add to that decision we, along with our entire human population have been quarantined and forced to restructure what is a need and what is a want…

It makes me wonder… what would I have built without this experience of tiny living for 2 plus years and the further stripping of “needs vs. wants” that I have learned from our COVID-19 Quarantine?  I wish that I could build a side-by-side house to see the differences.   

Things I have learned in quarantine:

  • I have learned to NEVER forget a teacher gift or opportunity to volunteer to help them in the classroom.
  • I have learned generational living is a HUGE bonus during quarantine. 
  • I have learned I LOVE eating in restaurants!
  • I have learned, my new house will have more designated & separated rooms, less open concept.
  • I have learned our new yard layout is as important as the house design. Getting outside in the fresh air with no option to accept a social invitation or dinner out, allows for the simple things to become so important.
  • I have remembered how to PLAY with my kids. This government mandated shut down has helped me squeeze them a little harder and engage in the daunting game of Hansen’s 2 on 2 that sat tucked away on our eminent to-do list (yes duh girls against boys).
    • 2 on 2 is our new afternoon family date and if COVID-19 gets cured tomorrow I hope this new habit sticks with us for a long while to come.
  • I have learned how to talk to my 5th grader and help her adjust to the fact that her time in elementary school may have just been cut short.
  • Zach & Papa, have helped Dane understand Snipe hunting and the importance of building a proper trap.
  • Most importantly I have learned I enjoy beating my husband at Cribbage. 

(Prediction:  An American Real Estate trend for generational living)

(2nd prediction: The “open concept” is bound to phase out and I think maybe this quarantine could push that into action)

  The Unknown “Restricted Usage Plan in Gig Harbor Forestry”


When I came to write this next chapter about the unforeseen hurdles of trying to get our building permit during the trials of “social distancing” while home schooling my children under the roof of our 620 sf tiny house…. I said bring it on county.

I left you after my last post, with having resubmitted all of our redline requests back to the county, what I didn’t realize is that we were about to find out that our property sits in:

-Gig Harbor Community Plan area and is subject to Significant Tree retention requirements (18J.15.030.F.3). A minimum of 30% of the total of all Significant Trees must be retained on site.

 Why did I not know this?  Because it wasn’t written on any title report, county overlay or disclosed to us by the seller (they didn’t know either). 

Initially I was very calm, specifically because we were NOT planning on taking out more than 30% of our trees.  Zach is from South Dakota, if he can’t pee off the back deck his life is not complete, otherwise stated; we like privacy. 

More so, what is a “significant” tree?  Here in lies our problem, in order to assure the county that we are not removing said amount of trees, we are to hire an arborist to mark each tree on our 6 acres and measure the dimension, deciding if they are considered “marketable”

This is when the stress kicked in….

  • 1.  We don’t have any marketable timber on the property, other than the big dogs we want to KEEP.
  • 2.  This process does not sound SWIFT or inexpensive, therefore adding to the so called 30-60 day “Permit Process”

I am happy to report that after 30 days of communication with the county in regard to this hurdle they have agreed that this restriction can be lifted without such report.  Thank you iPhone video and the incredible cinematography by Zach Hansen showing our staked-out house removing NO trees.


Well more unknown…. We are now fairly comfortable that our permit is just around the corner and the new question becomes, how long will COVID-19 effect contractors and suppliers?  Or will we social distance ourselves in to 6 more months of tiny living?

I will let you know once permit is in hand and we can actually push some dirt around.  In the meantime,

Please remember, someone's American Dream is being tested during this time… Help others. Family is First. Shop Local (online).  Order take-out. Support your local cleaners and degerm your bed covers. Do an online gym class.  We are all in this together people.  This too shall pass. Be NICE!

Welcome to our story! Stay tuned for more to come as we patiently wait for our permit!  It is our hope to keep you intrigued and also answer questions you might have throughout this process… or maybe just maybe make you feel not so crazy as you go through this process yourself.  Feel free to ask us anything!