Here is a great story of one person’s adventure of living in a 480 sq/ft house in the country. Kerri describes downsizing, to building to actually living her life in their home. It is interesting to hear the ups and downs of doing what is the dream for many of us.
Reprinted: Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell 12/2009
Adjusting to Life in 480 Square Feet
Life in the Little House was stressful at first, to put it mildly. I work from home, so our 10-by-10-foot bedroom suddenly had to double as my office. We had no room for a bed, so the futon we had bought to sleep on for short weekend stays had to do. Working in the bedroom was akin to working while sitting in an airplane seat, and notes and papers needed for my stories usually fell from my lap and became a jumbled heap on the floor.
It took us more than a year to come up with an alternative plan to building a new house or building on, but we finally decided to construct a large metal garage to house my mother’s heirlooms and other items I couldn’t bear to part with just yet. We also built a separate 320-square-foot office with a basement that doubles as a storage space and a tornado shelter, something we thought very important after a tornado in 2008 cut a wide swath through a town less than 20 miles away. We did it all for less than what it would have cost for the addition to the Little House.
An Unintended Downsize Makes the Perfect Fit
There were days (and admittedly, we still have some) when we didn’t think we did anything right in planning our move, but there were decisions we made that â€” by sheer good luck â€” ended up working to our advantage.
When we built the Little House, we knew we would use it primarily in the summer months, and we didn’t want to install a furnace system, which would add significant costs to building our retreat. We did install a small woodburning stove, which was sufficient to heat the entire building. We built the house with the best insulation we could manage, as well as with 2-by-6 walls, instead of the code’s required 2-by-4. By heating the house using only the woodburning stove, we significantly reduced our utility bill for the remainder of winter.
We also had the foresight to allow for as much closet space as possible and put in the kitchen cabinets I wanted, as well as heavy-duty laminate flooring that would withstand a few years of trampling by large dog paws and boots stained with the red clay and rock from this part of the country. Even while on vacation, I didn’t want to worry about dragging our clothes back and forth from the city, so I insisted that the house have space for a washer and dryer.