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Tiny House Living: Security and Simplicity?

After Ryan’s post earlier this week, I got to thinking about sense of security. Living in a tiny house definitely decreases dependence on money but living the tiny life does not necessarily mean a life free of worries.

happinessBefore jumping in, I have to say that the completion of La Casita came at a time of great upheaval in the lives of my fiancee and I. Our rental had been foreclosed on, the bank had kicked us out, the tiny house was 3/4 done and we were essentially homeless. Luckily I had family in the greater Charleston area that took us in but it was a harsh reality for a couple of months. Since moving in to our house, life has been easier in terms of money but in terms of legal shelter there have been distinct challenges.

I guess my first question for someone thinking about a tiny house would be:zoning do you mind living in an illegal situation according to most zoning codes? If this doesn’t bother you then my second question would be: does possibly not having a home address, which can make acquiring a driver’s license, a post office box or your citizenship difficult, concern you?

These are some of the realities we’ve faced living in a tiny house. Without a home address, it is very difficult to get our driver’s licenses in Vermont. Without a home address my fiance can’t start his citizenship application and in Charleston I couldn’t get a po box without a street address. Not everyone has this issue when it comes to tiny living but it has been a constant for us since moving in to La Casita and I never considered this would be one of the issues I would face.

Having just moved to a new community in Vermont, we’re slowly meeting folks and people are incredibly nice and open to what we are doing but we’ve already had a town official contact us about living in the house and its questionable legality. In a town of 3800 people, it’s not going to take long for us to be noticed. In a city of 100,000 it was much easier to hide from zone enforcement although they would roll by in their truck about once a month. They never stopped and asked questions but the possibility was there and we knew it. La Casita was a “temporary studio space”  to anyone official who asked but it was fairly obvious we were living in it. Luckily, we planted it in the ghetto where cops and officials were more worried about busting drug dealing than some illegal zoning issue. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that neighborhood and living there was wonderful. We had great neighbors and no one ever messed with us but if we had parked anywhere else in the historic district of downtown Charleston, I’m certain we would have been forced to move.

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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.

Day Two – Tiny House Workshop

I wanted to do a second update from my time at the Tiny House Workshop put on by Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.  The second day was focused on the design of tiny spaces.

Jay spoke about subtractive design, which is a process of design where you remove elements to refine a design without detracting from the design at the same time.  The balance between removing elements and simplifying the design while still maintaining the core functions and needs that a home provides are inspired by a list in Christopher Alexander’s book, A Pattern Language.

Another point that Jay hit home was that of “vernacular design” where certain design element subconsciously signal us to understand that the design is a home.  Things like a porch or a defined angle on a gable roof.

The last part of presentation was done by Greg Ramsey of Village Habitat Design.  His company specializes in designing small house communities.  It was a really great presentation on how we can rethink traditional housing, layout traditional urban lots to have community, interaction with nature and higher home density that is a quality not typically seen today.  What I really like about Greg’s approach is that his goal is to turn 60-90% of the land into green spaces and gardens.

All in all it was a great workshop, the design approach was an interesting one, to see and understand that Tiny Houses are so intentionally designed.  The added conversation of community building was really fascinating and really got the wheels turning!

Keret House

In Poland we will soon see the construction of the Keret House, a 150 square food house sandwiched between two buildings.  The house itself has a really interesting skin that will be made of clothe that is impregnated with concrete.   The house will first be an art installation, but later actually will house the owner.  The house will be the narrowest in Poland, the narrowest part of the house is just 28 inches wide!

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Hide-Away Table

This is a kinda neat table and bench, folding and sliding to different configurations and even defined spaces.

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