Trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The ride was a slight bit more claustrophobic and intense than we anticipated!
About The WUBE Life
The WUBE Life is a mother/daughter team building fantasy-themed homes on trailers: THOW. We have a 2-fold mission. The first is to provide an opportunity for a person, or small family, to actually live in their own fantasy world, and experience the magic and joy of living totally outside the box. We truly believe a magical home environment can create internal peace, lower stress and enhance creativity, and it is good for the soul to escape from the pressures of the world at the end of the day. Even better, would be working in a fantasy-home environment, if your job can accommodate that. In addition to building the tiny homes, we offer fantasy-themed products. The second mission is to spread inspiration through pursuit of our own passions. We hope others will be inspired to take the risks sometimes necessary to pursue their own mindful and joyful journey. Our motto is 'choose to be happy,' and our goals are to leave the earth a little better than when we entered it and to experience life with optimism and joy. The WUBE Life (rhymes with lovey) was officially created in 2018, although the plans and preparation began in 2015.
The plan and preparations for The WUBE Life actually began in 2015. We moved to Swannanoa, North Carolina in September 2015 to be closer to family. Housing prices in the Asheville area had sky-rocketed, and it was difficult to find an affordable property in a safe and convenient location. But in the search, we stumbled onto a new listing for a small (850 sq ft) single dwelling on 1.75 acres just off of I-40. The location couldn't be better, and the land was huge for us. The only problem was that the house was a disaster. Built in 1940, it had asbestos siding and almost non-existent insulation. The heat and air didn't work. The wiring was a fire waiting to happen. There was only one bathroom, but its toilet was sitting on the deck. Everything was a wreck.
Having never done any type of construction, it suddenly seemed overwhelming. We started with the Buncombe County permitting and inspections department, and thanks to their enormous guidance, we were able to break the process into manageable pieces -- electrical, plumbing, mechanical, building. As we began, it became evident that the house needed a lot more work than we had anticipated. There was no way to realistically turn back then, so we just began putting one foot in front of the other. We completely each section of work, passed all of the inspections and received a certificate of occupancy.
Armed with the knowledge and experience of this remodel, we had the confidence to move on to creating a studio apartment from the "mess" that had been an open detached garage. The building and inspection and permitting processes had been exciting and rewarding, and we began to realize this was something we wanted to pursue further. In order to do that, we would need an income stream. The garage was in even worse condition than the house had been. We demolished it down to the three cinder block walls, and started fresh. It took approximately four months to complete the work, and we had a friend ready to rent is as soon as we finished. It became a 370-sq ft studio apartment, complete with a full kitchen, 4-piece bath (shower, toilet, sink and stackable washer/dryer) living area and open bedroom. We again passed all inspections and received a certificate of occupancy. We then furnished it, and it became our first source of income from this building "hobby." It had been an extremely difficult learning process, physically challenging, financially draining and had filled our lives with uncertainty. But upon completion of the apartment, we were hooked. We both wanted to make this a business venture.
At around this time, we had some family issues come up that halted the business pursuit. My father was becoming more incapacitated and dependent on a wheelchair for mobility, and we thought he would need to move to the lower level of my parents' home. Their basement was a finished space, but not well-suited for them to live in, or for him to manage in a wheelchair. So we took a bit of time and remodeled it to provide a more workable and open space for them. By the time we completed this work, he was unable to continue using a wheelchair, but they at least had better living space in this lower floor than originally.
During all of this, Emily purchased my brother's house. When he died, none of us wanted his tiny and adorable home to be sold outside the family. And Emily needed a home of her own. So she bought it, thinking it was move-in ready. As it turned out, the house needed its own work. So we did some minimal necessary tasks -- new paint, new flooring, new heat/air and quite a lot of deferred maintenance. My sister-in-law had been very sick for several years, and in caring for her, my brother had relegated care for the house to the back burner. He died just a few weeks after my sister-in-law's death, and then the house sat empty for over a year.
As soon as we had the house ready for Em to move in, we immediately began the plan for having a business in construction. We had started the class earlier to obtain a contractor's license. But in the mountain of physical work surrounding us, we have not completed it, or taken the exam. And by this time, we had spent most of our money, and did not have the necessary funds on hand that are required to qualify for the license. Becoming licensed is still our plan, but the deadline has been pushed out. Without a contractor's license, we knew the only type of home we could build would be tiny houses on trailers, as these are considered RV's. This was ok for us, as we actually wanted to build on trailers, both for environmental reasons, and because we did not want to have the land investments necessary.
So, that brings us to the orgin of The WUBE Life, and our first tiny house on wheels. We had been planning the basic business for the previous two and a half years, and were ready to get the trailer and begin construction. As we started to build our marketing plan though, we felt a pang of discomfort. We would be facing a hurdle that could hurt our chances for success. There was a strong market of buyers for tiny houses. But there was also a strong and growing market of builders of tiny houses. So we've come full circle with our story. Until we had some experience and success, we felt it was too risky to try to compete with larger organizations with similar products.
We felt in our hearts that we could create a product that did not currently exist. Coincidence... or not... we happened across two wonderful television shows: HGTV Extreme Homes and Netflix The World's Most Extraordinary Homes. Although somewhat different, both series are about people who turned their rather typical homes into extreme reflections of their individual passions, or who built unique and exceptionally Un-ordinary homes. We watched episode after episode of everyday homeowners who spent thousands, and in many cases, millions of dollars for their home to mirror their obsession. From the owner-built "Interactive Toybox Home" to the "Bridge" home across a 4-story ravine to the Spaceship home, we saw example after example of people who left tradition and sensibility at the door and made their personal space - extreme space. And we instantly knew our niche. After all, we wanted to make our work reflect our passions. Why not build Un-ordinary, yet completely livable homes for the person who wants the un-ordinary, but doesn't have the time or resources to create it for themselves from scratch.
Our tiny homes on wheels would be "fantasy-themed." Now the only remaining question for our first home: Which fantasy? We had just spent 20 years bonding over Harry Potter. We went to the Barnes & Noble book release parties together, attended the midnight premieres of each movie, listened to the books on cd in the cars for hours on end. Of all the fantasies we've each loved over a lifetime, Harry Potter was always number 1. So that was decided. It was the perfect choice for another reason, which we discovered as we planned and researched and built and struggled and agonized over the details and worried over licensing and accuracy and originality. We knew the story of JK Rowling's struggles as she wrote the books and tried to get a publisher to pick up the series. It proved to be the inspiration and incentive when times were at the most difficult. We would remind ourselves that she put one foot in front of the next and kept moving forward believing in herself, until at last it all paid off. We hope that one die-hard slightly-obsessed extreme Harry Potter fan will fall in love with the house, and claim it for themselves. But if not, and even if this endeavor never pays off, it has been SO worth the effort.