Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged Tiny House

Fixing Warpped And Twisted Boards

During the building process, no matter how meticulously you select your lumber, it will never be perfectly straight.  It is something that first time builders don’t consider, that your materials will be imperfect, which can result in your house being off.
The longer the board, the less straight it will be.

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Another common first time builder assumption that is incorrect is lumber dimensions.   To add to the confusion lumber is milled smaller than their names might indicate.  A 2×4 isn’t actually 2″ by 4″,  it is actually 1.5″ by 3.5″ and this is the case for all milled lumber.

What I hadn’t realized when I started is that lumber isn’t all milled the same.  For example I picked up some 2×4’s that were the higher grade studs to find that they were in fact 1/8″ smaller in each dimension.  Also 8 foot boards are often longer than eight feet.  When it comes to ply wood, usually the thickness is the same thickness indicated, but the 4′ by 8′ panel isn’t always 4 feet by 8 feet.  Plywood is also seldom flat, it often has a bow to it, I found digging into the stack of plywood and pulling out the middle sheets of the pile are often flatter.  Also the thicker the board, the flatter it stays.

So today I wanted to share these video on how to handle warped and twisted boards.

 

The Elusive Land Search

After reading Ryan’s post I thought I’d share some of the ways we’ve been able to acquire parcels to live on as well as advice from other tiny houser dwellers. Just recently, another friend who owns a tiny house started her search to find a new place to set her home and, as Ryan mentioned, it’s an incredibly stressful process and there are no guarantees.

DSCN27131. Friends & Neighbors: Look to your immediate community as much as possible. We talked to everyone about the tiny house, invited them to work parties and even put the house in the Christmas parade! By the time we started seriously considering a place to put the house, about a year and a half after we started building, we had 3 offers. Word of mouth played a huge role in this. I was talking to a college acquaintance in a cafe one morning and telling her about the project. Low and behold she told her husband who came to see the house, loved it and offered us a place to stay in the heart of downtown Charleston.  City living is hard because you’re most definitely at higher risk of butting heads with town officials, which is stressful in and of itself, but ultimately just chatting with an acquaintance provided us an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.

2. Seasonal Work: There are campgrounds at state as well as national parks that need hosts during the busy months. Sometimes seasonal work can turn in to year-round gigs if the timing is right. Cedric and I have considered this option but no situation has come up that seemed quite right. It can be tricky but if you find the right place, it could be an option.

3. Government Auctions: There is a lot of land out there and the governmentDSCN3518 holds auctions where you can buy it for dirt cheap. Some of this land is seized for tax reasons while some is surplus land and other properties are environmentally degraded, needing extensive bio remediation. If you go this route, be sure to do an extensive search on toxic waste sites through the EPA’s website. If you have a desire and willingness to revitalize such land, it can be an incredibley cheap way to acquire property. Govsales.gov

4. Exchange: We lived in Charleston for several months free on some friends’ property in exchange for being a presence.  They were remodeling a house and it was helpful to have people next door who could be present in case of any issues. It was a win-win for both parties and there are folks out there who will pay you or set your tiny house for free to watch their properties and/or manage their rental properties. We’ve met other tiny housers who offered to help neighbors with their animals, exchange home repair, computer repair, landscaping and many other skills in order to use land.

DSCN34805. Start a cooperative housing project: I list this as a long term goal. It is a lot of work, in a city or rural setting, but ultimately the work can pay off. This is definitely a goal that Cedric and I hope to accomplish. We want to help create a space that allows folks to live how they want. Whether it be a tiny house, a yurt, a cob house or a vardo. We are slowly learning the rules and regulations of creating such spaces. It’s different in every state but it’s worth it to us to try and find a home where our future and choices aren’t dictated by a landowner and where we can offer other tiny housers an opportunity to co-own their own space.

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The Search For New Land – Part 1

So a while back I had posted about some land that I was planning on living on in my tiny house.  I am sad to report that spot isn’t going to work out well because the owners have since decided to sell the property.

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So this meant I have to finish up building and then move on, which left me in a tough spot.  I had quite a few sleepless nights over the whole thing while I searched frantically for land to get my house on.  I pursued some properties to purchase, but they didn’t work out for various reasons.  I looked for farm land to rent, but people aren’t keen on this.  I tried for trailer parks to setup up shop in, but they wouldn’t let me in even if I got designated as a park model, RV or mobile home.   My search lead me father and farther out of the city to the point where I was considering the next state over!

This is the story of tiny houses that isn’t told.  It’s not a glamorous one, it frustrating, its stressful and it will keep you up at night.

The fact is that getting tiny houses to work in a big city like Charlotte is tough, while I could easily move to the country, I’d leave behind friends, family and good paying jobs.   So I decided to tough it out here in Charlotte for many reasons.  Luckily I have found some land to live on, but now I need to get all the utilities setup without raising any eyebrows.

On my to do list is the following

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Cable internet
  • Trash service

So in the next few weeks I am going to be chronicling my journey in getting these things setup.  So stay tuned!

So now some photos of the property that my house will be on, it is quite big for being in the city and I can’t wait for the spring because there isn’t much green after the winter!

See part two of this series here

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See part two of this series here

 

Tiny House Living: Indoor Air Quality

gerber daisyA little over a week ago I finished up a 2-week intensive training in Permaculture Design. It was an awesome learning experience and got me thinking about tiny house design in new ways.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Permaculture, it is a term coined in the 1970’s  by Bill Mollison that follows a core ethic: to care for the planet, the people who live on it, and provide equal distribution of surplus. Permaculture design encourages folks to look to biological processes as a means of solving environmental problems and creating regenerative sources of energy, building materials and edible as well as medicinal plants for all peoples.

To be able to discuss solutions we had to go over the issues. Many of our Toxiclectures over the course of those two weeks had a lot to do with toxicity and public safety & health. It gave me pause to think about the quality of life provided by living in a small space. I find my quality of life to be equal and/or greater than living in a larger home.  One thing we definitely considered when building La Casita was material off-gassing. That’s one reason we really looked to reclaimed material but also a reason we tried not to use chemically produced paints, inks, varnishes or lacquers. We definitely used Great Stuff and the adhesive on the sheeting off-gassed. We attempted to balance that with the use of milk-paint and no-VOC paints indoors as well as tung oil on the Cyprus siding. Check out Ryan’s list of best low-VOC paints and non-toxic paints!

There’s a lot of toxicity to battle in daily life I had no idea about such as trichloroethylene (TCE) which is considered a potent liver carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute. This chemical is in lacquers  varnishes, paints, printing inks and adhesives. Benzene, a chemical in gasoline, plastics, oils, paints and rubber is known to cause skin irritation as well as many other health issues such as leukemia and bone marrow diseases. Formaldehyde is a third common chemical in products including particle board, facial tissues, grocery bags, natural gas and nail polish to name a very few. Exposure has been linked to asthma and cancer.

english ivyThe good news is that these chemicals can be absorbed by house plants! NASA conducted a study that explored the abilities of plants to provide better air quality. That research consistently showed that certain plants remove toxic chemicals from our indoor environments. In a tiny house carbon monoxide is an added concern. We have fans and often crack the windows but there have cold nights and we’ve noticed we aren’t getting enough air in our loft and wake up groggy and disconcerted. The top five plants that they found to clear the air of the three chemicals above and reduce carbon monoxide levels indoors are bamboo palm, chinese evergreen, english ivy, gerbera daisy and Janet Craig. To learn more, find the full report here.

There is a lot to consider when building and living in a small space but for mejanet craig plant indoor air quality ranks as one of the most important changes I can make to my overall well-being living the tiny life. Living in La Casita I’ve definitely learned that it’s the smallest of changes that make the biggest difference.

Your Turn!

  • What concerns about living the tiny life do you consider most important?
  •  How do you limit toxicity in your daily 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.

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