Monthly archive for July 2012

Tiny House Tragedy

So many of you know from the other Tiny House blogs, but it has been a sad week for our tiny community. Dee Williams let me know that one member of the Tiny House community, Kim Langston, has lost their entire Tiny House in a fire.

While we are grateful that no one was hurt, it is still a great loss indeed.  Kim was nearly done with her house, only a few short months from having the dream so many of us are seeking.

As a community, we want to support those around us.   For those who wish to help Kim, below is the information where you can send some money to help her with the loss of her home.  So I invite you to join me in helping out a fellow Tiny Houser.  Thanks!

You can mail a check to her credit union or go through pay pal:
Washington State Employee’s Credit Union, West Olympia Branch 
2302 Harrison Ave NW, Ste 201, Olympia, WA 98502
Make your donation to “Kim Langston Tiny House Fund”

If you have a PayPal Account, you can go to the PayPal website, enter your account and then from there transfer money to Kim’s PayPal Account.  In that case reference this:

Day One – Tiny House Workshop

Today I traveled to Raleigh, NC to check out Jay Shaffer’s Tiny House Workshop, which is designed to teach people how to build their own Tiny Home.  When I walked into the meeting room, I knew we would have a good number of people, but I didn’t expect to have over 50 people here!

After doing introductions, we jumped into building codes and zoning, talking about several options when it comes to legal issues.  The message to drive home here was, it depends.  It depends on your local entity, on the person you talk to and their mood.  Overall, we discussed many options.

We also had two groups talk about their Tiny Houses that they are actually building, a group down in Charleston and another couple building their own house.  This was a really neat aspect to see the houses they were creating, it also gave some great outside viewpoints on the design and building process.

We are now into the actual construction of the house.  We talked about trailers, framing, sheeting and many  many other details.  I will report about tomorrow’s


Quick Space Saving Tip

Just a quick post today, I found this neat trick today and liked the space saving and reuse of things.  Use a soda can tab to double stack your hanging clothes and save a bunch of space.  This would also be good to pair outfits, like a shirt and pants for business dress.

Top 5 Biggest Barriers To The Tiny House Movement

I was driving into work today when the idea came to me for this article.  Why does it have to be so difficult to achieve the life so many of us would love to live?  There are no simple answers to our reasons, but we need to face them head on.  Since I don’t like to focus on the negatives too much, my next post will be on some of the possible solutions and approaches to overcome these barriers.

UPDATE:   Here are the solutions to these:   Part 1  and Part 2


Getting Land for sale


One of the largest hurdles for people wanting to live in a Tiny House is access to land.  Land is expensive, in growing short supply and people want a balance of having land and being close to city or town centers where they can access services, entertainment and employment.  These things are often in conflict with each other.  The closer to the city center, the smaller and more expensive the lots.  To have a Tiny House, you don’t need much land for the actual house, but you do need enough to be able to obscure the house from prying eyes in order to fly under the radar of code enforcement and curmudgeons.

Problem Getting Land


At this point, banks don’t feel that Tiny Houses are a viable option because they don’t have a good resale value.  This means their loan isn’t secured with collateral.  It is this dynamic that means for us to get access to loans, we need to get creative.  Some borrow from a family member, some save up years to pay with cash, others use credit cards and carry a balance.  There isn’t a good answer in this area yet, it’s a tough problem to crack.

Tiny Home Violations


Despite the approach of putting a tiny house on trailer, this isn’t the magic bullet that it is often claimed to be.  The issue comes when you look at your municipality’s minimum habitable structure definition.  These definitions almost always exclude Tiny Houses from being a dwelling and give code enforcement a strong leg to stand on when it comes to condemning your Tiny Home and/or levying fines.  This code does serve a good purpose; it prevents abuse on the part of slum lords and gives a mechanism for the courts to hold slum lords accountable.

Laws and zoning

Social Pressures

In our society today, bigger is better, more is better, we are conditioned to want more and more stuff.  These cultural norms are a very strong current in maintaining the status quo.  Tiny Houses fly in the face of such things, questioning much of what people hold dear.  People can react in a very visceral way when we suggest there is a problem with the way things are.  People work their whole lives to get as much stuff as they can, to suggest that is wrong, in a way, is to suggest their life’s work is wrong.  People can get very defensive and social pressures can make the shift to living a simple life in a Tiny House very difficult with some people.  We need to be sure not to come off as judgmental or preachy, we want to present it simply as an alternative.

Don't be afraid to fail


This ties into a few of the above points, but is none the less a real barrier.  When faced with the prospect of bucking the system, initiating a radical lifestyle change, and spending a good chunk of money to do it, it can be scary.  I know from personal experience when you are close to the moment where you must make the decision, where you have to take the leap, a whole series of self-doubts come to the surface.  You are left trying to decide if these doubts are simply normal big decision jitters or if they are valid concerns your unconscious is trying to make you aware of.  The sorting of these thoughts and processing of them is taxing, a little emotional, and of course scary.  Even those of us who deal with change well will struggle with this significantly, fear is a powerful emotion and we must face it to achieve our goal.

What are some ways we can over come these?

Let us know in the comments!

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It’s A Long Road, But You Aren’t Alone

Recently I have hit a snag in my quest for a Tiny House, recently I have had to take a small hit in income and at the same time, I have decided to get more aggressive with goal setting in my financials.  The ultimate goal for me is to have all of my student loan and my car loan paid off, save to pay cash for my next car and build my house without taking a loan if I can help it.  A tall order for anyone, but for a single income worker just beginning their career in a shaky economy, it is especially hard.

At this point I have significantly cut my spending.  I dropped my cable tv, I have arranged to work at home for part of the time to save gas, and the biggest change is I am now house sitting long term (hoping to continue) which saves me $900 a month.

My student loan has 7 more years left on it, but I am working to double pay by the end of next year and then triple pay after that, this will cut the time to about 2.5-3 years.  But this timeline was longer than I had initially hoped.

In the end it will be worth it, I will have a home and a car that I own outright, no debt hanging over my head, this coupled with a lean lifestyle and all my income going to the bank.  I can’t wait for this journey that I started 3 years ago to finally be realized.  So for those of you on a similar journey, know you don’t tread this path alone, good luck.

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