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Archive for June 2013

Four Years Of The Tiny Life

Today marks the 4th year that The Tiny Life has been in existence and I am floored at where we’ve been and how far we have come.  The moment it clicked for me was when I first stood in a tiny house, it was a random park in Philadelphia that we had converged upon to get to stand in this very tiny space.  While it was a small space, I remember standing inside that tiny house with 8 other people for hours talking about tiny houses.  It was something that most people had never heard of and I just came upon, but there I was.

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I left the tiny house later that day feeling so energized about the potential life that I could live in a tiny house.  Life had thrown me for a loop at that point and it gave me moments to reflect on where I wanted to go from there.  I realized that tiny houses circumvented a lot of the pitfalls I’d faced, relived a lot of the worries I had and would allow me to focus on things I felt were important.  So I thought I’d start a blog to catalog my design ideas for my own tiny house, the rest was history.  We’ve had millions come to The Tiny Life and I am overwhelmed at how the movement has grown and all the amazing people that are in it.

This year has been marked with me getting to meet a lot of other people in the movement, particularly other bloggers.  It has been a blast and really inspiring to see what others are doing and how many of them are doing things in the movement.  The number of tiny houses I have seen recently has exploded and so has the number of people that follow the movement.

This past year also was when I started building my own tiny house which has been a ton of fun and literally a dream of mine come true.  I should be done in a few months and I can’t wait to move into my tiny house!

So thanks for reading, we here at The Tiny Life hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have!

 

Vermont Tiny House

Vermont has quite the tiny house scene. Only two weeks after moving up here we came across our friend KJ’s tiny house and heard about several more! Back in SC, we were pretty much the only tiny house folks that we knew about but it seems Vermonters have had tiny house fever for some time! Today I want to share this wonderful tiny house that our friend built and currently occupies with her bull mastiff!

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The house currently lives on a farm and sits on a 8 1/2 x 16 foot trailer with two bumpouts that serve as storage and sleeping space. She has a hard wired, 20 amp circuit that allows her to hook to a breaker box in the barn next door and although she has a clawfoot tub she recently bought, she does not having running water in the house.

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While taking a permaculture course, KJ was exploring a less toxic, less material based lifestyle. She was living in yurt in Vermont and realized that it was not the best living situation through the long winters. It took a lot of wood to heat it and keep it warm for one person so she nixed the idea of buying a yurt. She became especially interested in gypsy wagons and began researching other small living alternatives, such as school bus renovation, back in 2008. Then she moved in to a tree house on a goat farm owned by a couple of architects. She revealed her dream to build a tiny house and she says their eyes lit up! They agreed to help her in exchange for goat sitting on the weekends. Two months of building and she had herself a house.

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The house is built with pine that was cut and milled from the forest on the goat farm and it was built specifically to her measurements. She’s thinking up new ideas for the house and planning to remodel the downstairs to have a narrower staircase and a space for a table and two chairs. The best things about living the tiny life? The strong sense of ownership and accomplishment is certainly a strong sentiment for her. “It’s mine, I made it!” is the first thing she tells me when I asked her the above question but also living in a non-toxic space and escaping the materialistic bent of our consumerist culture are among the positives to living this life.

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Our Wheels Stay Put…For Now

Last post I was pretty much freaking out about having to go and talk to town officials about parking our house on our friend’s farm but I’m sure glad I did! It ended up being a fairly straightforward process, however (there always seems to be a however with tiny houses) we only have a permit for a year. As long as it’s on wheels it’s considered a temporary structure and can only be lived in for 365 days. After that, I’m not sure what we do.

P1000545They didn’t say it was renewable so do we keep it on wheels or try and set it on a foundation? I feel like taking it off the trailer will be quite a hassle with zoning and code but trying to explain to people that you LIVE in this, that’s it’s NOT a camper and is your home is pretty much beyond people’s expectation. Some children I care for down the street actually passed by and asked if it was a new playhouse for the children of our friend! This is totally fine with us. We figure the less serious people take our living situation the better off we are.
It’s pretty amazing to me though the amount of attention such a small square footage receives. We have had strangers stop their cars, get out and ask to take pictures. Folks are asking if we build them and how much they cost. There is definitely an opportunity here to gain community support. Who knows? Perhaps even change the zoning laws! I’m definitely debating how I begin to advocate on the town administrative level so that tiny housing can be considered a legally viable living alternative to the statue quo.

We plan to live in this area for at least the next ten years, who knows-maybe the rest of our lives, so I feel like it’s well worth the effort to begin changing the laws. It’ll probably take me ten years to accomplish so I might as well get stared!
The fact that we landed on a farm whose owner is open and supportive of our lifestyle was huge. For changes to happen I feel we need support from property owners like her who have a solid place in their community and can say, “We had a tiny house on our land and it was a positive experience!” Not to mention that the situation often benefits the land owner who either receives work trade, rent or some other barter situation from tiny housers.

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In my mind it’s a way to create a more locally minded economy rather than paying a bank for a mortgage we can’t afford. Cedric and I were looking at properties a couple months ago but in Vermont either you find raw land, which isn’t cheap and needs a lot of money put in to make it livable, you find a camp, which is usually only livable in Spring, Summer and Fall or you get huge houses with a price tag far beyond what we can consider.

It’s not an easy situation for the tiny house dweller but right now I’m extremely grateful to have a place to rest our weary wheels for the next year. Winter in a tiny house is a whole new issue for us and we realize we need to start getting ready now for those cold, blustery months. With all the challenges we’ve faced, I still look forward everyday to climbing into our snug little home and enjoying the knowing that it is ours, and ours alone.

Your Turn!

  • Any advice on how to get started advocating change in zoning laws?
  • Have you received community support in your city/town living in a tiny house?
  • What are most folks reactions to your tiny house?

Via

5 Reasons You Should Date A Tiny House Person

Over the past few weeks I have been doing interviews of tiny house people for a secret project I’ve been working on and from it sparked an idea for a post!  After talking with a ton of tiny house people I have come to see quite a few commonalities and these made me think…  So here is the top 5 reasons you should date a tiny house person.

1. Tiny House People Are Awesome People

I say this all the time and its because it’s true, by in large people who live in tiny houses and even those that are interested in the tiny house movement are really amazing people.  There is just a lot of things that they just intuitively get about our world and different things in it.  They are really nice, very chill people who are just like you and me, but they always seem really friendly and happy people.

2. Tiny House People Make Better Lovers

299105_2237701427665_1194569782_nTiny house people have moved into a tiny house because they have realized one thing: there are more important things in life other than their material possessions.  Namely relationships.  We have decided to remove ourselves from the material world and focus on the people around us.  We are doubling down and saying “you matter to me”.

Now when it comes to adult time in tiny houses, because we all know that’s what you were thinking about, it means that we have to get creative make the extra effort to pull it off in that small little loft.  Or we might be seeking some more exotic locals, whatever it is just know, we’re up to the challenge.

3. We Got The Money Thing Down

The number one reason cited for divorces is money.  It’s a very sad thing, but it is a reality of this world we live in.  When you live in a tiny house you have removed the largest expense most married or serious dating couples have to face: rent or mortgage.  Instead of paying crazy amounts to the bank each month, we have been banking it and it helps smooth out life’s ups and downs so that they don’t really impact us anymore.

4. We Are Passionate People

Quote-Find-your-PassionYou meet a tiny house person, they are passionate people in general.   If it wasn’t enough that they said “I’m going to build a whole house, even if I have never swung a hammer before” and then did it, they are often invested and driven about many other things in their life.  You should be so lucky that they become passionate about loving you!

5. We Know Ourselves, So We Know What We Need

Many times when a relationship ends it is because we thought that person was the right mix of things, but ended up not being.  Tiny house people have a way of packing in a lot of life, even if they haven’t been living for that long.  We have come to know and understand ourselves very well and by living in a tiny house we have had to defend that against people who are critical of the life we lead.

When you know yourself, you know that you are an amazing person and for the most part you don’t need anyone else.  You are self sufficient, heck you just built a whole house on your own!  So when it comes to relationship you don’t need that other person, you want that person, which is a powerful thing.  Since you value relationships, you know what you need to put into a relationship and what you need to get out of one for you to harmonize with it.

 

So that is the top 5 reasons you should date a tiny house person.  So there are 5 more reasons other than they live in an awesome tiny house!

Are Trailers Holding Tiny Houses Back?

I had been doing some writing for another project I have been working on when I started talking about how the form of many tiny houses today have actually been dictated by the use of a trailer.  It reminds me about  the story how the width of a horse has determined the dimensions of today space shuttle (though this isn’t 100% true), and so it appears this is the case with Tiny Houses too (read about it here).

There are many compelling reasons to have a tiny house on a trailer, I am building my tiny house on one, but it does have it does have some downsides too.  For many the need the flexibility of being able to move locations, for others they like the legal gray area a trailered tiny house is, and for me, I like the idea that if code enforcement comes by, I can take a little road trip to a camp ground for a while if I need to.

If you are going to trailer a tiny house, inherently it can only be so wide, so tall and so long.  You can certainly take the approach of getting permits to push these dimensions, but generally speaking it is going to be 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall.  This means that inherently a tiny house on a trailer can only be so many square feet.  People have tried different tricks to get around this, such as multiple tiny houses, put it on foundation, etc.

So it got me thinking about how the form of the trailer can be limiting on the potential creativity that we bring when building our houses.  This then was struck home when I saw Tumbleweed’s new Cypress 20, which looks almost identical to the Fencl from the outside with the exception of it being on a 20′ trailer instead of a 18′.  That isn’t to say that I don’t like it, but it was interesting timing.

Then I remember a conversation I had with Macy from Minimotives.com about how I thought there was only a limited number of design options when it comes to trailered tiny homes.  Her stance was, being the architect she is, was that was so many options that could be done with a tiny house on trailer.  I think it shows the creativity that could be had with the trailer that Macy is building, but the fact remains that the trailer holds us to a certain set of parameters.  To add on to this, we also must use the current set of materials on the market and then there are certain features that make a house a home, so when we get down to it, we are somewhat limited.

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Many will disagree and part of me disagrees with myself.  The success of creativity is taking how we do things and approach it in a way not previously thought.   It is taking those materials and re-purposing them in different and unintended ways.  It is saying… “what if we” and not being afraid of failure, but seeing it as a learning process.

Your Turn!

  • Are trailers limiting tiny houses?

 

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