Vermont has quite the tiny house scene. Only two weeks after moving up here we came across our friend KJ’s tiny house and heard about several more! Back in SC, we were pretty much the only tiny house folks that we knew about but it seems Vermonters have had tiny house fever for some time! Today I want to share this wonderful tiny house that our friend built and currently occupies with her bull mastiff!
The house currently lives on a farm and sits on a 8 1/2 x 16 foot trailer with two bumpouts that serve as storage and sleeping space. She has a hard wired, 20 amp circuit that allows her to hook to a breaker box in the barn next door and although she has a clawfoot tub she recently bought, she does not having running water in the house.
While taking a permaculture course, KJ was exploring a less toxic, less material based lifestyle. She was living in yurt in Vermont and realized that it was not the best living situation through the long winters. It took a lot of wood to heat it and keep it warm for one person so she nixed the idea of buying a yurt. She became especially interested in gypsy wagons and began researching other small living alternatives, such as school bus renovation, back in 2008. Then she moved in to a tree house on a goat farm owned by a couple of architects. She revealed her dream to build a tiny house and she says their eyes lit up! They agreed to help her in exchange for goat sitting on the weekends. Two months of building and she had herself a house.
The house is built with pine that was cut and milled from the forest on the goat farm and it was built specifically to her measurements. She’s thinking up new ideas for the house and planning to remodel the downstairs to have a narrower staircase and a space for a table and two chairs. The best things about living the tiny life? The strong sense of ownership and accomplishment is certainly a strong sentiment for her. “It’s mine, I made it!” is the first thing she tells me when I asked her the above question but also living in a non-toxic space and escaping the materialistic bent of our consumerist culture are among the positives to living this life.
KJ also really loves having a woodstove in her tiny space. She enjoys splitting firewood and having the warmth and coziness that wood heat provides. The house is well insulated and she uses about 3/4 of a cord of wood a winter. That’s pretty good when you consider that many households use 2, 3, 4 or more cords during the cold season!
Some of the harder things about living in a tiny house? Not being as autonomous as she would like since she rents the land she occupies. She is also dependent to some degree on a supporting structure, whether a barn or someone’s residence, in order to get water and electricity. This makes daily tasks more time consuming but she appreciates the humbling quality hauling your own firewood, water and other needs has on her life. She feels gratitude to only walk a few hundred yards for clean, healthy water when she thinks of the women in the world who walk miles for dirty water that can harm them and their families. After becoming extremely ill while living in the tiny house and still having to perform her daily tasks in the winter while also goat sitting, she definitely has an appreciation for the harder aspects of living the tiny life and she finds she’s still happy to be living it.
A want to send a BIG thank you to KJ for letting a like-minded eccentric into her home and for sharing pictures of her tiny house!
- What are your motivations for joining the tiny house movement?
- If you’re already living the tiny life, what are the best/hardest aspects in your experience?