Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged the tiny life

Building Tiny Bathrooms

When folks ask us what was the most challenging aspect of building a tiny house we will chorus in unison: BATHROOM. Several factors made this the most difficult part of construction.

IMG_7842Firstly, this is the room we spend the least amount of time. For Cedric, this meant that finding inspiration to work on the bathroom was not easy. It was more interesting for us to design and build the kitchen where we spend the majority of our time. Secondly, designing a bathroom on wheels is challenging in and of itself. We love tile but the fact that the motion of moving the house would likely cause cracking and/or breakage threw that option out the window. We tried buying a shower pan but nothing fit our tiny space. We looked to RV and boat design but we wanted as little plastic as possible and much of those use plastic to create a waterproof space.  We considered using a hardwood such as teak since it was available through the warehouse where we constructed, but we feared it would be too heavy. Our bathroom is on the tongue side of the trailer and we didn’t want to weight it down. That was another reason for throwing out the tile idea-too heavy.

Finally, we decided on corrugated tin which was light and attractive. Before DSCN2756installing the outer materials the walls and floor were painted with reclaimed, heavy duty marine paint that’s used on ships to prevent water damage. For the flooring we decided to make a stainless steel shower pan. Cedric found the material at a junkyard. It was previously a kitchen counter but Cedric shaped, cut and welded it to fit our  bathroom space. This is where our community came to our aid because we did not have the equipment to reconstruct the stainless steel counter top.  We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the help of our friend Bill who has a machine shop. It was not a cheap option and it took a lot of work to get right but we don’t regret the time or the money spent. Our bathroom will probably outlast the rest of the house!

Once we had installed the tin and pan we noticed we had issues with standing water. We fixed this by banging the shower pan in around the drain allowing for better drainage. We built in a box on one side with a hinged lid where our bucket composting toilet is located. We heat our water with an on-demand hot water heater that’s propane powered. It works like a charm although we did have trouble keeping the flame lit on a very windy night!

IMG_7841The bathroom, or the wet room as we call it, is still not quite finished with one window left to trim but other than that it has turned out to be a great space.  We created a drainage field based on a gray water system we had used while working on an organic farm. It allows us to water our plants while showering which our banana and pineapple plants love! We are careful with the products we put down our drains using biodegradable soaps and shampoos that won’t harm the soil or plants. If comments on our garden are any measure of success than we hit the nail on the head. Of all the gardens I’ve had in Charleston, this one received the most praise from neighbors. I definitely think the extra watering had something to do with that! Ultimately, we’d like to build an outdoor shower for summer months as well as a possible outdoor kitchen but we still have a few months to consider those options!

Your Turn!

  • What challenges have you faced designing WCs for tiny spaces?

Moving a Tiny House

After one year of living the tiny life in Charleston, South Carolina, we get ready to venture north with our tiny house. Over the holidays Cedric applied for a new position at his job, Vermont Bicycle Tours. He was a trip leader here in the South but has now been promoted and so we are moving to Vermont in the middle of February! We’ve never moved La casitaCasita further than 15 miles so we have quite a challenge ahead of us, especially with winter in full swing in Vermont. Above all else we want the house to come with us but we’ve made two concessions:

1. If a snowstorm hits too soon before we leave we won’t move the house.

2. If the winds prove too blustery we won’t move the house.

Hoping that the weather holds out on us we are taking the following steps to traveling with  La Casita.

1. Towing Vehicle: This is already proving expensive. Moving a tiny house  is not going to be cheap. We have to cover 1,200 miles in a long weekend and most trucks are round-trip rentals only. The cheapest rental we’ve found is $550 not including at least another $500 in fuel. It will have to be a 4×4 and we’d prefer diesel. We’re also looking in to buying a truck and possibly reselling it up in Vermont. As a rural state we figure there is plenty of need for a truck but if it isn’t diesel and it has too many miles, this idea could backfire on us. We’re definitely leaning toward buying at this point seeing as we don’t want to have to bring a rental back down south. A truck could really prove useful up north and we’ve talked about possibly keeping it if we find the right one.

2. Trailer Preparation: La Casita sits on a 6’x16′ dual axle trailer and is pretty easy to tow, even for me, who has little to nopainted-trailer experience in towing anything. We are going to have to replace the tires, another $500, in order to tow it safely. Besides tires, we need to double check our lights, brakes and bearings to make sure everything is in working order. We have to look for chains for the rear axle and the truck as well.

3. Packing up La Casita: For the most part, we don’t have much to pack since it’s already mobile! The kitchen will have to be boxed up to prevent any glassware from breaking and our artwork will need to come down off the walls but other than that the house is set. It will probably require the least amount of work in all the going-ons. We’ll also use it to transport our bikes and Cedric’s tools and anything else that may not fit in the car.

These are the preliminary stages to our planning but it’s going to happen fast as we near next Friday, February 1st which is our current departure date. Cedric does not start til the 19th so we have plenty of time to settle in to our new lives.  For whatever reason, if we can not move the house, we have had a few people ask about renting it in our absence. We will certainly consider this option if it comes to that but we’d rather be able to take our home with us since that was the intent of building it on a trailer. Hopefully, lady luck keeps the winter weather at bay and we’ll find ourselves living the tiny life in Vermont in a couple of weeks!

Your Turn!

  • Any advice or suggestions from the tiny life community on towing a tiny house?

 

 

Pets & Tiny Living

Here at La Casita a surprise was in store for Cedric this holiday season. A young Corgi pup named Asher Bear was my gift DSCN3844to Cedric for Christmas and now we are adapting to tiny house living with an adorably fluffy, tiny being! It’s quite the learning experience, both enriching and challenging and well worth the extra effort! So far, we’ve found the transition from two to three quite smooth and La Casita is proving to be just as nurturing a space as a big home can be.

People have asked us about having pets in a tiny house and many seem skeptical of the possibility.  I believe many things you can do in a larger home you can creatively accomplish in a tiny house. For me, this means tweaking my lifestyle and asking for help. Over the summer a friend of ours house sat La Casita and he owns a 50 pound dog. Rather large for the size of our house but with a little help from our community it worked out beautifully. We put Zach in touch with a friend and neighbor who had just lost her dog a few months back and was more than happy to dog sit during the day while he was at work. That way, Ani-dog was able to have a larger space to spend the day and both human and pooch had much desired company. It was a great compromise that worked for everyone and is one example of how you can make having a pet in a small space work for your tiny lifestyle.

Ani dogAs with any pet purchase,  it’s important to seriously consider what creature best fits personal lifestyle and, for dwellers of tiny houses, the animal’s adaptability to living in a small space. Cedric and I thought long and hard about a dog.  We’d been looking at breeds and talking about potentially have a pup for over 2 years. We selected a breed for size and personality as well as a breed whom we’ve lived with in the past. We always knew a small to medium sized dog with plenty of energy would best suit our lifestyle. We are active people who enjoy biking to the park, kayaking the marshes and going on walks after dinner. We wanted a pet who could enjoy these activities along side us. We knew Corgis need lots of outdoor time so we felt that we’d be able to meet the breed’s need for activity and in terms of size it wouldn’t outgrow a tiny space as s/he moved in to adulthood. So far,  La Casita has proven a great environment for Asher  since it pushes us daily out of our home and into our community.  It allows us to assist in his socialization but there’s still enough space in our home to invite over friends for puppy parties which are great fun.

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Holidays Tiny Life Style

It’s nearly Christmas and here in Charleston we have been enjoying the festive decorations throughout the city. Living inP1000035 a tiny house definitely limits traditional decorations and living the tiny life means having to tweak some holiday decor. One difference is that last year we had an 8 foot tree. That just will not work in La Casita and I have to admit I was a bit bummed about not having the space but one of my students at my school came to my rescue! He brought me the top off his twelve foot tree and placed it in a bowl of clay with a little ornament hanging on one of the branches. He came in the kitchen a couple weeks ago and said, “Here Ms. Andrea! It’s for your tiny house!” It was the sweetest gift and it fixed my tree dilemma.  Now we have a Charlie Brown tree to keep things festive this holiday season!

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Luckily for us, here in Charleston, the city goes to great lengths to decorate the streets. Wreaths, living trees, lights and banners are everywhere so when I feel like enjoying the season I can hop on my bike and go out to Marion Square to see the park all lit up in white lights or down King Street to enjoy 16 foot living trees placed along the shopping areas. Living in such a vibrant city is great when your living space can’t support all the holiday bells and whistles!

Since we don’t have a regular tree we’ve decided to celebrate gift giving in the style of stockings! I’ve yet to make them, which I swore I would do last week, and now with only a few days til Christmas I have work to do! Stockings were always my favorite part of Christmas morning growing up and it’s a great way to receive presents in a tiny house! Certainly helps keep things scaled down. Check out Ryan’s post about gift giving and tiny house living for more great ideas on giving or receiving this season!

P1000043In terms of indoor decoration we have Christmas lights lighting our living room and we’ve put out the cards we’ve received from family and friends. I’ll get the stockings up when I finish them and we’ve put a winter wreath on our door. It takes some adjustment to have a merry tiny house Christmas but I find it no less enjoyable than past holidays when I lived in larger dwellings. We’ve had to be willing to sacrifice a few things, like a regular tree, but when compared to my daily enjoyment of life in La Casita I don’t mind doing things a bit different during the holidays.  For example, since we don’t have the space to host a party this year we are going to host a Christmas Eve bike ride! We’ll bring cookies and hot cider and enjoy the lights of the city on a tour around the downtown peninsula. We love to entertain our friends and family and while it takes a bit more creativity living in a tiny space, we’ve had just as much fun having gatherings outside our home as in and w e look forward to many more tiny life inspired holidays to come!

Your Turn!

  • Hey tiny house inhabitants! How do you celebrate the holidays tiny life style?

Gifts And Living The Tiny Life

With the holiday season upon us, people get very wrapped up in the need to buy presents.   Even though I don’t need things and for the most part I don’t want for much, it’s hardwired into their brains that they have to give me something.  So today I wanted to share some of the things you can do when it comes to the gift giving season.

I think the first thing to do is long before the holiday season, share with those who might give you gifts that your lifestyle and priorities have shifted to have fewer items.  You can frame this in the context of environmentalism, reduced-consumerism, simple living, minimalism; however you do this, people are going to be curious why, so be prepared to have a conversation.  It’s important for them to understand that there is a greater purpose and/or goal behind your request, this helps gain buy in.  Now we Tiny House folks often can’t shut up about our dream Tiny House, so this isn’t usually an issue.

Next thing to do is consider the things that you really do need throughout the year, then consider if you could hold off getting it now and instead suggest it as a gift for the holidays.  A great example in my own life is work shirts.  I wear polo’s to work, but I only have 4 (I only go into an office 3 days a week), so they wear out with more frequent washings.    I was about to retire my polo’s when I realized it was getting close to the holidays and I decided to wait and ask for new shirts.

So where possible try to time things so things that you truly do need, but what about beyond that?  Being that I don’t need a whole lot, I find that there more people to exchange gifts with than I have needs.  This is where I ask for experiences or consumables.

The great thing about these two things is that they don’t take up space (or not for long).  Experiences can be having them take you out to dinner, go see a movie, a weekend vacation, go on some adventure with them, have them cook you a meal and enjoy it together.  The experience will be something that you both will value so much more than anything you can buy at the store.

The second thing is consumables.  There are items like foods, drinks, candy, etc. that you can use, but they aren’t going to have to be stored forever.  If you want to take it a step further, ask them to take into consideration the packaging of the item.

Great examples of consumables are baked goods.  If they are a wine or beer drinker, consider wine/beer of the month clubs.  If they are meat eaters some mail order steaks; for the vegetarians/vegans/raw folks consider local vendors that prepare meals to go that align with their food preferences.   Buying someone a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture).  A great place to start is with your local farmers market.

So those are just a few tips on how you might bring in the New Year and handle the gift giving season while still balancing it with living The Tiny Life.

Your Turn!

How to do you talk with other about reducing your possessions during the holiday season?

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