Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Monthly archive for October 2012

Tiny Houses For Families

Over the years I received a lot of comments and emails saying that Tiny Houses aren’t practical, “how am I supposed to fit my whole family in 150 square feet”, etc.  At this point I should disclose that I do have a bias to Tiny Houses for one or two people as I am currently not married and have no children.  However, to understand this I would point out that Tiny Houses have no definition.  They don’t have a dictated size, form, shape, color, etc.  What does this mean?  A Tiny House is what you want it to be; it is this flexibility that draws people to us, that opens doors and minds to what could be.

The answer is that the Tiny Houses that are 100-200 square feet aren’t designed for families.  A Tiny House for a family might be 1,000 square feet, but it isn’t about the number, it is more a factor using space efficiently and reasonably to suit your life style needs.  I always tell people to consider the square footage per person living there, if they are insistent about the number.

The truth is, that Tiny Houses of 100-200 square feet isn’t a magical number, that has been divined by some deep insight or other means.    In fact the size of the trailer often dictates the size of the house, so in a way, it’s quite arbitrary.   To this point,  Tiny Houses don’t have to be built on a trailer either, because there is no true definition of Tiny Houses.

Today even the definition of a family is being challenged, it is no longer the traditional family unit that is being considered a family.  Couple that with the fact that Tiny House is whatever you want it to be and we begin to see that the Tiny House Movement as a very flexible thing that morphs to your needs, not what someone else tells you it needs to be.


Some Families in Tiny House Links:


Your Turn!

  • What do you think about raising children in a Tiny House?

Craftsman Tiny House

I found this house over at Tiny House Listings and I really liked the interior wood work.  I have been gradually warming up to the doors on the side of Tiny Houses, though I wonder about having the doors open inwards, in a small space, I could see it being very restrictive in terms of where you can place chairs etc.    This house is actually for sale for $24,700 and the builder described the house:

This 8 foot by 20 foot eco-friendly smart home could be perfect for student housing, a Backyard Studio, Mother-in-Law or Rental Cottage, home office, portable business or vacation cabin. This unit features a 7×6 sleeping loft. Considered an “RV” this house can be located in your driveway, backyard, vacant land, RV park, campground or driven anywhere you want to go (per local zoning laws.) Furnished with conduit for electrical with options for water, sewer and LP gas for a kitchenette, toilet and shower. Other options include solar panels for off-grid living and a detachable utility trailer for easy waste water disposal and fresh water refill. Can also be outfitted for standard RV type utility hook-ups.

You can find more info here and all photos are from them too:  click here


Your Turn!

  • Do you like Tiny Houses with doors on the side like this one or doors off the back like a tumbleweed?

Tiny House Builder Interviews

Recently I have been ravenously reading other Tiny House building blogs as part of my preparation to build my own Tiny House.  Along the way I have been fortunate to talk with a lot of people who have been building or living in Tiny Houses which I was able to learn a good deal from.  So today I wanted to share some of what I learned and give a shout out to some awesome people!

Rowdy Kittens – Tammy Stroble and Logan Smith

I have know Tammy and Logan for a while now and I always gain some great insights from this amazing couple.  One thing that struck me from my conversation with them this time was their comment how larger traditional homes are “made for other people”.  With traditional homes many people are concerned with resale value and having your home generalized to potential buyers.  Tammy and Logan’s pointed this out and said to me this house is for you, so design it that way.

MiniMotives – Macy Miller

I really love the work Macy is doing over at her website, I found it very informative and she has a great links section.  From our conversation I have been able to glean some insights into building codes and where we might take Tiny Houses in the future. We talked about how DIY builders of Tiny Houses are a good thing and at times, not so good.  Another thing that municipalities are very concerned and focused on is sewage.  Tiny Houses often use composting toilets or other alternatives to the standard grid tied flush toilet.  After some reflection I can understand this as a big issue.  Here in most parts of North America we benefit from a lot of attention paid to our water management and sewer management.  This leads to better water quality, huge impacts in terms of health and disease control and  mitigating damage that water causes.  It’s not perfect here by a long shot, but this infrastructure saves countless lives.

Big Lake – Tiny House  – Erin and Pete

These two are building the exact same house I plan to build and I was able to glean some building tips and other considerations from them.  The first was making sure your trailer was properly fitted to your house weight.  From trailer shopping I discovered that you can often get a trailer rated for 10,000 lbs for about $200-$300 more.  The downside to this is that it often means you raise your trailer deck height about 2-3″, but you have a beast of a trailer that can take it, so you sleep better at night.

Tiny R(e)volution – Andrew

I found Andrew’s website  and really liked his philosophy on a lot of things.  As he put’s it, they are building “cash on the barrel” which is something I admire.  Some of the practicality of how Andrew is doing things brings a lot of perspective to this process.  He has a lot of great videos and I have watched each one several times!

120 Square Feet – Laura and Matt

Laura and Matt built a great little house in the mountains of NC, right near where I used to live and have so many fond memories.  I learned a lot of construction specifics and they are good motivators in taking on this endeavor.  What I like about their house is they setup a solar system that powers everything.  I still find it amazing that couples can swing such a small space, but these two not only live in the house together, they work from home together.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses – Steve and Jay

I was excited when I received my plans from Tumbleweed and these guys have been able to give me a lot of nitty gritty details on the build.  Windows were a tricky thing because the type they recommended just were phased out.  They helped me figure out the alternative and I am excited to get started!

So a big thanks to all those above and many others who helped me along as this journey starts!



Ordering Windows

This past week I have been busy ordering the windows and the trailer.  The windows will take 4 weeks to be delivered.  It has been a lot more involved than I ever thought possible.  Even with house plans, which meant I know all the dimensions needed, there are a lot of choices to be made when it comes to the trailer, but especially with the windows!

With windows you have to decide on the style, the way the open (if they open), metal/vinyl/wood/mixed, what kind of hand crank, what color is the crank, choose from one of the 10 options for screens, but then match the screen to the screen frame color!

So for those of you who are interested in the details here is the details on the windows. Please note window sizes are approximate:

  • 4 windows: 20″ x 30″ ($321 each)
  • 2 windows: 24″ x 24″ ($279 each)
  • 2 windows: 22″ x 40″ ($460 each)
  • 4 windows: 15″ x 40″ ($177 each)
  • 1 Skylight: 21″ x 27″ ($428)

Grand total for windows and everything (taxes, flashing, etc.):  $3,962.65

That price tag might seem like a lot to many, but anyone who has purchased windows will let you know that it is an expensive proposition.  Many people use stock window sizes or windows found on craig’s list or the Re-store to save money.  While I really like the idea of re-purposing old items, you often cannot find windows that are tempered which is really important if you are building your Tiny House on wheels.  While the house goes down the road, you want it to be able to withstand the bumps in the road.  Here is a video attesting the to strength of tempered glass.

All the windows are made by Jeld-Wen and are Low-e Tempered glass, double pane and filled with Argon.  The windows are all awning style so that you can still have them open when it is raining (to compensate for small eves).  They are natural wood on the inside and metal clad on the outside (mesa red).  I chose the hide away cranks and just went with the standard metal color that they use because it saved about $800 on the whole order.

The sky light made by Velux, which is one of the biggest manufactures of skylights and I got a standard size.  This was a simple choice because they don’t give a lot of options.  You really choose size, deck mount (what I choose) or curb mount, and whether it opens ($428) or is fixed ($189).  I decided to spring for the one that opens with a crank because it is the window that is at the highest point of my house, so I wanted to be able to vent hot air out.

  • Builder’s Tip: Be sure to read up on how to properly flash a window.  Windows and doors are the most vulnerable spots on a house for the water to seep in.

10 Tips for Potential Tiny House Dwellers!

When we began designing La Casita we knew we needed to think seriously about space management. I remember wishing there were more blogs dedicated to advice on designing and living in a tiny house, not just constructing one. Now I’m living the tiny life and I want to provide useful advice to those out there embarking on this exciting endeavor. Here are a few suggestions from our experience and what influenced us in our design and build. While each tip may not be useful or of interest to you, I hope it helps to inspire and assist in your tiny house design, build and overall living experience.

1. Create a visual of the size space you wish to live in. Have fun with it! Try building a cardboard version of what you want and play around with what you think is best for your lifestyle! Cedric and I took painters tape to our bedroom floor in our rental apartment to figure out just how small we could live. Creating a visual will give you a much better picture of the physical space and how much of that space you truly need.

2. Identify your needs. What are your specific requirements for a good life? Do you love to entertain? If so plan your kitchen and living space accordingly. Do you work from home? Make sure to create an appropriate office space. For us, good life means good food! We love to cook so we made sure La Casita had a kitchen that could accommodate our need to make delicious meals!

3. Windows windows everywhere! When you live in a small dwelling windows make all the difference. They open up cramped areas allowing natural lighting to extend an opening effect. Without sufficient windows you’ll end up feeling like you live in a box creating a claustrophobic experience. Only warning: make sure you place them logically in to your design or you might end up with a funny looking exterior that creates an unbalanced look.

4. Don’t forget storage! Look at what you own, decide what’s important to you and plan, plan, plan for it in your design. Not only will this allow you to organize your space more readily once you move in, you’ll also notice how open your space can feel with the right amount of organization. We did not design storage in to La Casita and it has caused a lot of headaches for us. As we’ve come to find out, it’s easy to feel cluttered in a tiny house and I will never again underestimate the enjoyment of an organized space.

5. Travel! Explore! Find other small space dwellings and visit! Go camping for awhile and find out what you really need to be comfortable and happy. Cedric and I volunteered on organic farms for nearly a year and had the opportunity to live in yurts, studio apartments, tents and even travel vans! It allowed us to achieve a better design and helped us to figure out what it was we truly desired and required in our living space.

6. Take a cue from theater design! Visual boards are essential elements to the staging, costuming and acting aspect of any production. Create your own visual boards to assist and inspire your design. Be creative! Come up with any and all design ideas that you want to consider in your home. Whether you use old fashioned board and glue or websites such as Pinterest you’ll find that having created these visuals will help sustain enthusiasm in your design and build. We taped magazine cut outs all around the house during construction to inspire design and map out specific areas. It helped inspire us and keep us visually motivated.

7. Connect! Find other blogs, attend workshops, and contact fellow tiny house builders and dwellers. Ask their opinions and perhaps they’ll even give you a tour of their home (beer bribery has also been known to work wonders at achieving access to tiny house tours). In our experience, the tiny house community is friendly and helpful. Most people want to share their experiences and help out fellow soon-to-be tiny house dwellers.

8. Create a check-list. This will help you to organize the building process and make it easier to realize specific goals. It can seem overwhelming at first but ultimately it will help drive your construction. A list gives you a realistic idea of the amount of work you have to do plus it’s super satisfying when you can look at a goal and check it off! Anything you can do to keep motivated is very important to the designing and building process. For a fantastic example, check out Ryan’s for his tiny house build!

9. Call in help! Organize work days and ask your friends to come out and help you at appropriate stages of construction. It’s a refreshing and fun way to fuel a build, especially after months of construction by your lonesome self. Cedric and I had a Saturday Roof Raising Event and invited friends to join because not only was it a community experience, we also believe that the positive energy our friends lent to the building of La Casita transformed it from a house to a home. We can look at many parts of our home and give thanks to the help our friends provided in creating such a beautiful space.10. Have fun! Enjoy the process and though frustrations will come up, as they do in any project, keep positive. It’s not always easy to stay motivated over the course of months it takes to build a tiny house but remember that the end product is all yours and having a cozy, safe space to come home to is the ultimate reward!


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