We all know and love Jay’s amazing design that truly sparked the imagination of thousands. When most people say Tiny House, we see in our minds an image of a Fencl or a Lusby, but it is important to remember that Tiny House come in all shapes and sizes. This is important because by choosing a Tiny House we are breaking out of a mold, but sometimes we find ourselves in a new mold. The out-of-the-box thinking that started Tiny Houses must be continued to improve an already great idea. I submit these five improvements of the Tumbleweed Houses, but the face of Tiny Houses isn’t limited to Tumbleweed by any means.
Radiant Heat Floors
The Tiny House is typically heated by a small boat fireplace, which can run close to $1000, must be vented (which means cutting a hole in the roof) and I don’t like the look of the chimney. Now radiant floors for those of you who don’t know, are wires inlaid into the subfloor to heat from the bottom up. This gives a nice cozy feeling for your feet and since heat rises, you are heating the space as a whole. It has been successfully done in the PAD (portlandalternativedwellings.com)
The best part about this option is that it adds about ½ inch rise on your floor level, which is unnoticeable, while the boat fireplace takes up a lot more space. The downside to this is you will need electricity. At 50 square feet (remember you don’t heat areas you don’t walk on) running an hour will need around 6 amps at 120 volts for a total use of ~750 watts. Most folks are going to have power, so this is pretty reasonable when combined with a programmable thermostat.
I came upon this idea over at Jonathan’s blog (http://gungy.livejournal.com) and it just made sense. Upstairs in the loft he has created small “lockers” that line the side of his bed. This frames the mattress, adds storage and keeps things looking neat while still having access to it. He did an excellent job at taking the existing structure and integrating the storage to match. The added bonus of this is that your mattress will have less room to shift as you climb in and out of bed. I would take this option one step further by adapting one of the “lockers” near the head end to have a power outlet inside of it with holes to run cables to the top, this would create a way to charge your cell phone and ipod etc. neatly.
On Demand Water Heater
This one will certainly take a bit more expertise and planning, but there is one thing I would miss after a long day in the garden is not having a hot shower. These water heaters are really small, can fit just about anywhere and mean that you only expend energy when you are in need of hot water. Take all that and top it off with tax credits and it sounds like a great idea. What is the catch? You will need electricity (albeit a small amount and propane), which I feel is something that most Tiny House people have, either solar or grid. You certainly can design it so you can bypass this when you are running off the grid.
One thing many people don’t realize is that if you are going to be setting up in one spot with a Tiny House on a trailer is that just letting it sit there can lead to tire shock, which will put flat spots on your tires or break down the walls faster. It is probably a good idea to jack the trailer up and remove the tires, this way people can’t steal your house. With jacks you also have a more stable floor, it could be argued that it is safer too.
Integrated jacks aren’t anything new, look at trailers and popup campers, but for $100-200 you can get some nice looking jacks that can be integrated into the trailer so you are never without them. Be sure to take into account what weight they will be holding, 4 tons per jack will be overkill, but you will never have to worry about it. The added benefit of these are if you ever get a flat tire on the road, these are already in place and are safer because they are welded to the frame.
This one is a bit of a stretch, but I decided to add it anyway. Jay’s craftsmanship is nothing short of beauty, the quality is superb, which is why he is a premium brand. I felt the need to have my storage in these to be a bit more flexible. With moveable shelves, rolling shelves, etcetera you are able to accommodate a wider range of items and have them tucked away out of sight. See my photo here and take a look around my blog for lots of ideas.