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