Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Archive for February 2013

Say Hi, Big Red

Hi, Big Red!

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While it seems like our tiny house, one Big Red by name, has existed in our heads for years, Alan and I have only just this week begun actual construction. We’ll be sharing our trials, tribulations, and probably ER visits, with you here periodically, so without further ado, a little introduction:

My name is Marie, and Alan is my husband of approximately five years; we’re both in our early 30s, we work full-time, and own one dog and two cats. Although we both grew up in the Northeast, we’ve lived in Charlotte, NC, for over six years and own a 1700-square-foot home in a quiet bedroom neighborhood. Our building site is a small side yard, roughly ten yards from our (very patient and generous) neighbor’s house. I hope they like the sound of compressors on the morning breeze, but if not, we’re willing to supply alcoholic anesthesia.

We purchased Fencl plans from the Tumbleweed company last summer after a lot of “wouldn’t it be great” and “I bet this will freak you out” kind of conversations. As with many of life’s best decisions, there was beer involved. The trailer was ordered from Kaufman Trailers last fall.  While waiting for the trailer, then the welding on the trailer, Alan was purchasing used tools (compressor, nail guns, sawsall, etc) from Craigslist and Amazon while I made materials lists, estimated board-feet of lumber and plywood, and scanned the internet for FSC-approved flooring. I call this our Procrastiprepping Phase. Sure, buying an expensive trailer and ordering equally expensive windows is a financial commitment, but nothing says Point Of No Return like screwing down that first bit of floor joist.

There are so many things we did that qualified as Procrastiprepping:

  • Tool comparison shopping
  • Fretting
  • Sanitation Engineering Research (i.e., toilet shopping)
  • Visiting local lumber mills, without actually buying anything
  • Fruitlessly searching through ReStore’s stash of windows for even one that fits any of our plans
  • Ordering windows
  • More fretting
  • Comparing trailer leveling options
  • Buying several types of jacks, followed quickly by returning most of them
  • Setting up deck chairs on our empty trailer deck, drinking beer, and watching the sunset
  • Painstaking scheduling tasks on a Foreman Plan, so we can equally share decision-making duties and avoid fights
  • Immediately forget who’s in charge of the wall framing task and get in an intense fight over the relative merits of plywood vs. OSB for shearwalls

As this non-exhaustive list shows, we spent WAY too much time in the Procrastiprepping phase. Not to downplay the importance of planning, or even the fun of dreaming about a future tiny house, because I have a feeling that I’ll miss this stage, now that it’s over. Especially since it doesn’t involve splinters or sore knees. But no more Procrastiprepping. Last week, we Leveled:

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As you can see, we have a pretty severe slope to build on, with the back of the trailer up just one and a half cinder blocks, and the front almost four blocks high. This is, unfortunately, the most level spot on our .34 acre property, so we’re working with what we’ve got. At some point, we’ll build stronger piers with more blocks to prevent shifting, but for now, it accomplishes the goals we need it to:

(I like lists, as you can tell)

  • Gets the tires off the ground, to prevent the rubber from rotting
  • Keeps the deck of the trailer objectively level, so our walls won’t be kerflunky (it’s a physics term)
  • Gives us enough space to get underneath for attaching the floor joists to the trailer deck. We’ll draw straws for that enviable task

Another early task Alan was most insistent on (funny when you think of all the times he leaves the front door unlocked… he grew up in a small town): Theft deterrence. Not something you hear a lot about in the tiny house community. Has anyone ever heard of a stolen tiny house? How would one fence a tiny dwelling? Well, here’s a look at our high-tech security system:

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MMmm, rusty chain goodness! Personally, I feel if someone goes to the trouble of bringing a truck, backing up the crazy ditch/hill that is our front yard, and taking the trailer off all those blocks with their own screw jacks, they probably thought to bring a pair of bolt cutters too. But hey, I wasn’t the Foreman on this particular task, so none of my lip!

Your Turn!

  • How do you Procrastiprep?
  • What suggestions do you have for working together on a long-term project (that don’t involve elementary school group project techniques)?

Small House For The Family

One thing I like to say when talking about tiny houses is that it is not a certain square footage that makes a tiny house a tiny house, but a reasonable square footage per occupant.  So that means that for families, a tiny house is going to be getting into the small home category and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s great!  So today I found this beautiful small house the has three bedrooms and two full baths, but still  is reasonable in terms of space and extends living to the outdoors.  The house is under a thousand square feet (not sure exactly) and was built in BC Canada.

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Via

Welcome Alan and Marie

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A few months ago I did a post about forming a Tiny House Cohort to connect with other people that were building a tiny house at the same time I was.  The idea was that we could meet up and share thoughts, problem solve and have fun through our building process.  From that post I found a couple that was building the same house as I was, at the same time, in the same city.  Not only was it great to find someone, but it further confirmed my belief that Tiny House people are awesome, and Alan and Marie defiantly verify that theory.

So please join me in welcoming Alan and Marie to the ranks of The Tiny Life.  They will be joining us and sharing their story as they build their tiny house.  Here is a little bit about them:

We’re total neophytes when it comes to building, but we have a very strong drive to live as simply and freely as possible, with as little negative impact on the planet as possible. Walk softly and carry very few sticks, (unless they’re 2x4s, in which case, always carry at least 2 extra). Alan’s works in money, and I work in market research, but our focus is on getting ourselves out of the rat race as soon as possible, and if that means living in a 130 square foot house, so be it. We’re in our early 30’s, no kids, one dog, two cats. We decided to build Big Red in 2011, bought plans in 2012, and “broke ground” in 2013.

As they post you can follow their posts specifically here:  http://www.thetinylife.com/category/alan-and-marie  They will of course show up on the regular blog so you can see them along their journey.

Tiny House Building Guide

So a while ago I introduced the “Ryan’s Tiny House” section which outlines the process of me building my tiny house, since there there hasn’t been much activity on that page except for my Tiny House Checklist.  Well I had some time to get a bunch of website work done and was able to start the Building Guide section.  You can access it by clicking “Ryan’s Tiny House” link in the menu or click here.

The guide is a chronological order of my building process that includes all the posts I have done to date on my house.  Each section has a “read more” button to get into the details.  Hope you all enjoy!

building section

Multifunctional Furniture

When designing and building a small space, functionality is vital. Each piece of furniture in our tiny house was designed, re-designed and then tweaked again before we installed anything. It took us nearly a year of living in the house to finally figure out what we thought would be the best living space we could have in La Casita. Our style throughout the house is heavily influenced by boat living. Cedric lived on his parents’ sailboat as a young child and as an adult he re-built a small sailboat and lived in the Ashley River in Charleston. His experiences in that particular tiny living community have inspired much of La Casita’s design. Our built-in furniture is a further testament of that fact.

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When drawing out our seating arrangements we knew they needed to be multi-functional, allowing for reading, eating, relaxing, working and sleeping. We were asking our living room to do quadruple duty since space is so limited in the house. Below is our bench seating. To the left we have drawers that pull out and act as a storage space/dirty laundry hamper which helps keep our entire house more orderly. Two little drawers make all the difference in a tiny house!

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Under the seating you’ll notice a small hole in the flooring. That is where a stainless steel tube fits into our floor which allows the transformation from bench to dining table. The boards mounted to the wall stabilize the table and keep it from shifting during use. We had the hardest time figuring out how to attractively stabilize the table so that it was functionally sound but also visually appealing. We also wanted to keep as much room as possible available under the table for our long legs. The pipe was left over from our kitchen counter set-up and all the wood you see in the pictures was reclaimed. It ended up costing us nothing to build which was a plus!

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We are really enjoying the use of a dining/work table!

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Sleeping on the converted bench is a bit like camping. Cedric and I have both tried it out and it’s not quite as comfortable as we would like so we will probably continue to tweak the design. We want a space where a guest could sleep comfortably and not feel quite so cramped. Lengthwise it’s fantastic but it is so narrow it makes sleeping through the night a bit challenging.

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All in all we’re pretty happy with the results of our efforts. It’s truly made our house feel more like a home. The space will continue to evolve and we’ll continue to challenge our design but that’s part of the fun of living in a tiny space. It doesn’t take much time or money to recreate it if you want to change an aspect of your design.

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Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite multi-functional tiny house design idea?
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