Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Asheville Tiny House

A few years ago I met Rhodes Waite when we attended a tiny house group talk hosted at a Permaculture gathering. She was in the beginning stages of designing her own tiny house. We fell out of touch but just recently ran in to each other at Yestermorrow Design and Build School in Vermont. She happened to be at the school for a week-long tiny house design workshop and I was there on a work-study for Permaculture design! It was great to catch up and hear about what she was learning in the class and see her completed tiny house. Below are pictures of her home in Asheville, North Carolina and her thoughts on tiny living and the workshop she took at Yestermorrow.

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How do you power your tiny house?

 It is wired just like a “normal” house, 12/20 wiring and a small breaker box.  I have a female recessed outlet in the exterior wall that an extension cord plugs right into.  So I run it to the house who’s yard I’m in.  I set it up so that an inverter and solar panel could be added in the future, but for now it’s on the grid, so to speak. Electric bill runs $5-$10 a month.

What is the biggest challenge for you living in a tiny house?

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This is probably the hardest question you asked, as nothing comes to mind right away. Hmmm…it’s probably that I haven’t been settled in one location long enough to really feel stable as I’d like to. That’s more of a life circumstance and choice thing than a tiny house thing, but ideally I’d like to live in a tiny house in one location (I’ve moved it twice in 6 months). Other than that there aren’t really any challenges. I find myself wanting more space sometimes just to be able to stack a few boxes or get into projects, but it’s not a big deal.

What are some of the advantages?

 I love it, I love it, I love it!!!!  I have no mortgage or rent (just a tiny tiny house payment), and I own my house! Wherever I go my space stays the same, and it’s an amazing space.  It feels so good to live so small, because it doesn’t feel small at all.  The title of the class I just took at Yestermorrow sums it up well…”Less is More”!  There’s really not a way to describe the feeling of lightness and freedom that comes with simplifying one’s life. I love knowing where everything is all the time. I love being able to clean my

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entire house in 5 minutes. I love feeling so connected to the resources I use and don’t use to live my life and power my house.  I love the simplicity of where my “wastes” go…to the backyard. I love the life and character my home holds, it feels great.  I love everything being within arms reach.I love the coziness. I love loving where I live.

What is your favorite/least favorite aspect of your house? I love your monkey bar idea to travel between your 2 loft spaces!

 Least favorite is the super short ceiling and gable roof style of the bedroom (although I do love the coziness of it at the same time).
Favorite….how cute it is and how great it feels! The interior design. How all the windows fully open. The simplicity.

How long did it take to build?

Hmmmm….still haven’t totally it up exactly, but here’s a rough breakdown:
2.5 months full time
a 7 month break (after burning out)
3.5 months working on it on the side in little bits (in addition to working a part time job)

Bathroom and little finishing bits and pieces (like some trim work) still is not complete….I’d say 6 months of part and full time work over 1.5 years of time (including living in it incomplete as I have been). I plan to devote a week to finishing it all after I move out and it’s empty again (it’ll be much easier then), prior to renter moving in.

How did your community help you complete this project?

ATH1They supported my project, donated their time and skills, and even provided space to build for free.  I relied on learning as I went from people in my community, and was amazed at how much people I didn’t even know were wanting and willing to participate.  I even had 2 really young kids in the neighborhood stop by one day and want to help. I taught them how to screw a screw and they loved it! They probably helped me for about an hour or 2, and maybe got about 10 screws in in that time.

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How was your experience in the tiny house design workshop at Yestermorrow? Anything you could share with readership that you learned?

That we are all designers. We are designing everyday whether we know it or not, even in the choices we make of what to wear that day, or what to make for dinner. I also am learning that design is a process, there is no end, that just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean it was a waste of time, it’s a part of the process….that’s what it takes to find what does work. And from that we can keep going, keep designing, observing, and always reaching for what works better, what feels better. Design is continuous. I learned that the options of how one can design a tiny space are infinite, never ending. It’s beautiful, and inspiring.
You are considering wheelchair accessibility in your next tiny house design. I don’t see much of this in other tiny house design. Mind sharing your perspective on that?

  I probably would have done a bunch of those things differently from the beginning but choose a short trailer as my first house to keep the costs down as much as possible. I knew before starting that it wasn’t going to be my dream house. I called it my 80% house to remind me it wasn’t supposed to be perfect or be everything I wanted it to be.  And as far as the accessibility thing, that’s huge! I think there’s a great market for tiny portable houses to folks/families with disabilities, and I hope to be able to learn more and build houses specifically geared toward individual needs in the future. I am differently abled myself (TBI -traumatic brain injury), a surprise to many folks that don’t know me, and that’s one of the many IMG_0940[1]reasons I decided to build and live in a tiny house.  It makes things easier for me.

Thanks Rhodes for sharing your experience! Good luck with your future design and builds! Definitely look forward to seeing the projects you create and needs you meet through tiny house living and design!

16 Comments
  1. have you thought of a Kimberly wood stove for your tiny house? They are built for small space heating.

  2. As a wheelchair user… I love the idea of a wheelchair accessible tiny home! I’ve wanted a tiny home for over 10 years and I even contacted a few tiny home companies about it. All of them told me I had to buy the existing plans and get a contractor to figure out the accessibility component as well as build it. I was pretty bummed that no one seemed willing to work to actually create an existing option for the disabled. I am totally behind this idea and would *love* to see updates about this as it develops.

    • I don’t know where you live, but there is a builder up in Washington state who commented on a tiny house site that he would be willing to build a wheelchair accessible tiny house. All his houses are built to the owner’s requests. His web site is http://zylvardos.com/

      You would have a lot more luck I think if you went with a builder who customized each house as opposed to one that sold plans.

    • I will have a website at some point and will keep folks updated through that. I am happy to work with individuals directly to design custom homes that fit individual needs. Plans are great to produce a product, but I think they are limited in making houses true homes.

  3. I am thinking that for accessibility that two would work better than one. 2-18’s or 20’s. I tend to think side by side although a ‘T’ might be better. This would provide upstairs for caregiver-even part time and down would allow for very mobile less- abled living. be well;peace….dan

    • I like the T idea. I’m not sure how well it would work for a tiny home but I always envisioned the tail of the T as being the living/kitchen area and the top containing the bathroom and bedroom. By centering the kitchen and bathroom you can consolidate a lot of the plumbing and keep costs down. I would imagine that the side-by-side is easier and could even be made mobile – I sort of envision this as an accessible version of the Popomo made by Tumbleweed.

    • Side entry with french doors and a porch with ramp is what I’ve been designing

  4. Thanks for this, Rhodes. I’m also pretty interested in tiny homes, and pleased to see more folks in North Carolina interested in building them. As a wheelchair user, I’m also interested in the accessibility aspect of these houses, along with this costs and personalization.

    Now, if I can just find some cheap land in Madison County, maybe on the French Broad…..

    • Ha, good luck finding cheap land (even in Madison County)! I was previously a Realtor in the area and land prices are sadly so high there, especially near any water. The good thing is you don’t need much for a tiny house!

  5. @Roger
    I have wondered the same thing, but i’m not sure if a wood stove would be the best solution, because you’d need a supply of pellets, no? I’d guess that propane is easier to get and you can store the propane tanks outside (they do not take up a lot of space). Or can you use scout the woods for deadwood to use?

    Anyways, i loved the Interview! I’m currently trying to find a place where i could park my tiny house. It’s not that easy where i’m located because of all kinds of legal restrictions and a scarcity of land. Fortunatly, there are at least two people i could ask for help…

    Tiny houses get me all pumped up and excited :)

    • I’d be curious to hear about the legal restrictions in your area, is it due to HOAs or something? normally tiny houses scoot around any other type of restrictions. Also, have you checked out tinyhouselistings.com to help you find a place to park?

      I second your thoughts on propane, it’s much easier, and seems more efficient in a tiny space actually. After installing a wood stove in my house I would do it differently next time and install a small propane unit.

      It doesn’t take long to heat up such a small space and by the time I get a good fire going it’s already hot enough, so then I just need to maintain a slow burn. This is hard to do in such a tiny stove burning tiny pieces of wood, and I definitely can’t keep it burning overnight (much less for a few solid hours). A propane stove on the other hand is an easy on off when you need it. Also, you don’t have to have a place to stove wood (both inside and outside the house). Fire safety is also an issue. HANDS DOWN I THINK PROPANE IS THE WAY TO GO!

      • Rhodes, you are allowed to park a trailer somewhere but not live in it. But this seems to be a very common problem. I somehow thought that laws would be more advanced. It is weird, but the political dimensions of this whole endeavour wasn’t so clear to me. But as i’m still in the planing stages (or dreaming stage??) there is still time to think about a good way to go about it. Thanks for your suggestions. I’m also leaning towards propane now, but i’m really hoping for better solar panels in the future. Just imagine how awesome it would be if you could install an electric floor heater powered by the sun! But then, it isn’t really such a good idea to be dependent on the sun in winter lol! But perhaps a small propane powered generator could work….

  6. I have been looking for this tiny house! It was parked on a street near the house we’re staying in before moving back to the tiny house this month. It was there before we left to visit family for the holidays in December and it was gone when we came back! I would love to talk with Rhodes.

    If you can put me in touch with her that would be wonderful!

  7. Rhodes,
    I’m actually interested in feedback about Yestermorrow. I’m considering going there next summer, but am coming from the west coast. I’m wondering if you think it’s worth it to go that far when Dee Williams and PAD are just up the road. It seems to me though that YM offers much more comprehensive instruction about plumbing and wiring and design issues.

    Does anyone out there know of a place on the west coast that offers comprehensive design like that offered by Yestermorrow?

    Thanks,
    Jean

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