Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged Tiny House

Your Tiny House… In a Book!

tiny house reclaimed book

Attention tiny house fans! Do you you have a friend who built or lives in a tiny house made with reclaimed materials? Do you have one yourself? Do you want see your house featured in a book? (Of course you do!) The Tiny Life wants to talk to you!

We’re looking to connect with people who have used reclaimed materials to build their tiny homes to be included in an upcoming book project. Maybe you used reclaimed pallet wood for your walls, or found all your kitchen cabinets at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Maybe you found windows by the side of the road on trash day, or the perfect farmhouse sink at the dump. However you used reclaimed materials in your tiny house build, we want to hear about it!

Imagine seeing your house in a printed book that you can pick up at any Barnes & Noble around the country! Pretty cool, right? If you think you and your house would be a great fit for our book project, please fill out our online form below.. We can’t wait to learn more about you and your house!

This application is now closed; we are no longer accepting entries. Thank you for your interest.


Tiny House Composting Toilet Blues

composting toilet

I’ve been living in my tiny house now for a good while and the big challenge of composting toilet has been going well.  Initially I had wanted to have a flush toilet and my house is setup so I could drop a toilet let in quickly, but the quotes for a sewer line alone started at $50,000 so I begrudgingly went with the composting toilet.

I haven’t really read too much online about people’s experiences with composting toilets, the few I’ve read were just over the moon, glowing reviews.  So I thought I’d share my experience so far.  It has mostly been positive and easier than I thought, but with this recent incident it goes to show it isn’t all great.

more-than-dietThe other thing I don’t think people talk about in their composting toilet posts is diet.  I have learned that a good diet beyond good health, impacts how easy it is to use a composting toilet.  Good healthy foods, meals with salads, and less processed foods makes composting toilets easier to manage.

With a good diet your body functions better, it can extract more moisture and nutrients out of the what you eat and keeps things with composting toilets easier.  I also know the better one eats, the more regular one is; for my body, I usually need to visit the restroom at 10:30 am almost without fail, which 9 times out of 10 means I’m out and about, where there are toilets for me to use.  So diet is worth noting and was something I felt was missing from the discussion.

Currently it is illegal in my city have a composting toilet, as it is in most municipalities; plus I’m renting my land, so I wouldn’t want to be composting on land I don’t own.  What seems like the happy medium and it is what I do, is bagging the waste every week into a biodegradable “plastic” bag and then sending it along with the city trash; at that point its essentially like a diaper, but the plastic will breakdown in a landfill quickly.  There are other options out there for this too and I considered them, but for me this works.

I am currently using pine bedding (from the pets section) which has a nice scent, but I don’t think it absorbs as well as other options.  I’m thinking I’m going to switch to a mix of half pine bedding and half mix of peat moss which is very absorbent.  Peat moss is a pretty good option, but it isn’t a sustainable material, it’s harvesting is actually quite destructive to wet lands.  I know for gardening that coconut coir (husks) is the sustainable version of peat, but I don’t know how it performs in composting toilets.  I’ve ordered an 11 lb block of coconut coir for $16 to try out, which I’ll report back on later.

It has been pretty straight forward, but I still opt to keep my bucket setup outdoors.  I do keep my liquids and solids separate, which at this point means I go peep in the woods and then use the bucket.  Later on I hope add a urine diverter later on, but it isn’t a must at this time.  I have a mini deck space that I keep it on.  The smell isn’t anything to be concerned over, but I’m not sure having it inside with no moving air would be a good idea at this point.

luggable looMy bucket has a pretty tight seal on the lid, so it is pretty hard for things to crawl in, but it is possible.  The other day I went to use my setup and when I opened the lid, I was greeted by a swarm of fly larva.  A hundred wriggling maggots.  It was gross!    What was interesting was they were on the seat between the seat and the lid.  What I don’t know is if that was because the flies couldn’t get into the toilet or if they just preferred that narrow space.

Luckily it was very simple to take care of.  I easily popped off the lid, then hosed it off in a very sunny spot.  I figured the intense sun would kill the larvae so I didn’t have a ton of flies.  I double bag the bucket so I closed the first bag, then tied up the second bag that was still clean.  Job done, took all of two minutes, but I realized something is flawed in my system.

I did some googling to discover that this is a semi-common issue when the heat of summer comes on.  You’ll be going along in the winter, it gets warmer and then all a sudden the flies come out.  I learned about a product called Mosquito Dunk, which you crumble into a spray bottle, mix up with water and then when you use the toilet, you give it a few mists on the surface.

mosquito dunkMosquito Dunk as described by the maker  is a “larvaecide that kills mosquito larvae only. It is deemed organic by the USEPA.  Dunks are harmless to beneficial insects, pets, birds, fish or wildlife.  Kills within hours and lasts for up to 30 days.”

So I’m going to give this option a try and see how things pan out.  I will report back in a few months as I learn more,

Wifi For Your Tiny House

One very common question I get about my tiny house is about internet.  For the most part its exactly the same as getting internet in any home, a tiny house is a house after all, it just happens to be small.

My original plan was to have normal cable internet brought to the tiny house.  This took me longer than I would have liked because it was dependent on power.  You obviously need to power the modem and to do that I needed to get my solar power squared away.

all-i-want-is-a-cabin-in-the-woods-with-wifi-af0b9With solar all setup, I called Time Warner which is the only internet provider that was available to me.  I checked all the big companies, local shops and even satellite, but they have things so monopolized you literally don’t have any other choice.  I loathe Time Warner, but I need internet, so I scheduled them to come out.

They came out and did a survey, they then let me know the cost to just install it: $2,500! Mainly because my tiny house sits so far back from the road.  It should also be noted that the same day I got that estimate, Google announced they were coming to Charlotte to bring Google Fiber, which is fiber optic gigabit internet.

So what I decided to do is wait for Google Fiber, because I expect the install cost will be very similar and I’d give almost anything to never deal with Time Warner again.  The other factor that weighed in on my decision was that come September, I will be opening a coworking space, where I will have an office and internet.

While I decided to wait, I still needed internet.  So I opted for a mobile hotspot which functions off cell phone signals to get 4G internet.  I considered two options:

  1. Verizon Jetpack 6620L
  2. Karma Go

These two options were pretty appealing to me for two very different reasons.  The Verizon Jetpack would work well, Verizon has very good 4G coverage, so I knew I could connect almost anywhere.  The Karma Go is a prepay setup with no fees, but it uses Sprint’s which has drastically less coverage, even in a city like mine.  The other thing is Karma Go is a startup and they haven’t actually released their newest version of hardware and have been pushing their delivery date back for months at this point.

In the end I bought both.


I already have a contract with Verizon, so it was easy to add on.  I bought the unit out right for $200 so I could stop and start service as I saw fit.  When I have service it costs me $20 + data. As on this posting I get 15 gigs a month for $100.  My total internet bill right now is $120.  If you’re considering this, make sure you get the Jetpack 6620L, because the cheaper versions only do 4G, but not 3G, which you really need both.  The 6220L does both, plus international GSM, so you can hop on a plane, buy a sim card where ever you are and just drop it in.

Karma_device_2_white_smallFor the Karma Go, it cost me $100 + data with no contracts.  I should note that I pre-ordered it in December and still haven’t received it (delays in their manufacturing).  The Karma Go will let me load data credits on it and there aren’t fees, so I can drop a few gigs in it and just keep it in my bag just in case.  I can get 10 gigs for $100, no other fees.

So far I’ve only had a chance to put the Verizon Jetpack through its paces, but it has held up to it all.  I’ve had a few hiccups with it having ip address conflicts, but they are rare and easily fixed with a restart of my hotspot.

To give you an idea of data usage:

  • Sending an email (w/out attachment): 100,000 emails per gig
  • Surfing the web varies so widely I can’t put a number on it
  • Streaming music: 10 hours per gig
  • Youtube depends on the quality
    • 240p: 6 hours per gig
    • 360p: 4 hours per gig
    • 480p: 2 hours per gig
    • 720p: 1 hour per gig
    • 1080p: 30 minutes per gig
  • Nextflix/Hulu
    • low quality: 3 hours per gig
    • medium quality: 2 hours per gig
    • high quality: 30-45 minutes per gig

I’ve learned some tricks to save on data.  Your biggest user of data is videos.  If you can control that, you can cut your bill down pretty significantly.  First thing I did was turn off autoplaying videos on Facebook.  You need to do this in two places.

Your phone:


Your computer:


The next thing I did was set youtube to a lower quality.  This is somewhat of a pain because when on normal wifi I want full blown HD, but on mobile wifi I want low (240 or 360).  To do this you go into your youtube settings and select that you have a low connect:


How-to-Set-the-Default-Video-Playback-Quality-for-YouTube-VideosFor netflix:



Those are you big wins with data usage.  If you stream tv shows or movies, I’d suggest actually download them in bulk when you are on normal wifi.  There are a variety of legal and illegal ways to do that, but I’m not going to go into that here.


Why Only You Can Make It Happen

kljlkI found this video recently that I really liked.  It struck a cord on many levels for me; as a tiny house person, as an entrepreneur, as a location independent / digital nomad.  The video introduces the concept of “learned helplessness” which standing on this side of tiny house (living The Tiny Life) is all too clear to me now.  I now wonder if there are other areas of my life that I just am assuming are the way they are, things that I’m blind to?

What I Know & What I Hope

I’m writing from Portland today, still here after an amazing time at the Tiny House Conference that happened about a week ago.  On Saturday I went to brunch with Laura LaVoie and Matt, where we were chatting about the amazing opportunities we experienced because of our choice to live tiny.

It struck me how lucky we were, to be sitting around a table on an extended vacation sharing a meal with friends.  I all a sudden said “what a gift” and began to share this gratitude with Matt and Laura, we all took a beat to reflect on this gift we have been afforded.

So today I wanted to share what I know about you and what I hope for you.

I Know…

The Tiny Life is a life that anyone can achieve with enough perseverance.

I know YOU can persevere through the doubt, the fear, the questions, and the hard days.

I know the life you can achieve will inspire you, drive you, and open doors.

I know you will value relationships over money, but you’ll have both in abundance.

I know you’ll be empowered when you realize (or realized) the truth: this is MY life.

I Hope…

I hope all you reading this have that moment when you say “I’m going for it”.

I hope that you appreciate what you have right now and fight hard for what you want in the future.

I hope you build a life that inspires you and others; One that others only dream of.

I hope you get to sit around a table with friends and say “what a gift”.



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