Go House Go! – Book Review

Today I wanted to share with you a great book that comes to us from Portland Alternative Dwellings (link below) written by Dee Williams.  Many of you will know her from her house being profiled in many videos, some of which I have posted on this site.  Not too long ago Dee launched Portland Alternative Dwellings with her house the Don Vardo, which is one of my favorite Tiny Houses to date.

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The book, described by Dee as a “Tiny How To Manual” discusses some of the key structural elements in Tiny Houses in great detail.  I am very glad to see such a manual enter the Tiny House market as it fills a much needed gap when it comes to Tiny Houses on trailers.  These houses must be able to withstand huge forces as they roll down the road, Dee has been able to systematically address these issues in her book.

The manual starts of by describing types of forces that are exerted on a trailered house then shifts into how to address them.  She covers, in detail, the foundation, anchoring, wall design, roof design and water infiltration prevention.   Not only are they key elements to the design of a Tiny House, but it is often areas where an inexperienced person needs the most guidance.

There are a few things that this book (and the Tiny House market in general) left me wanting: a discussion on plumbing, electrical and gas.  I think what I really mean to say is that this book is great, but I would love to see Dee take a crack at each of these topics in their own stand alone book (hint hint, nudge nudge).  Dee does starts off by saying this books wasn’t designed to cover those topics, so I see this more as a opportunity than a negative.

There are a few things that I wanted to highlight in this book that make it really stand out.  First of the level of detail that Dee has put in here is great, not only does she show some great diagrams, but she backs up her design with solid data sources.  This book is a nice mix of easy to read language, but loaded with serious content that incorporates elements to adhere to Department of Transportation, the International Building Code and others.

Next is Dee’s foundation/floor framing design, after looking at other trailered Tiny Houses, it was clear this one is superior in many ways.  From handling stresses during transportation to the fact it is superior while have a lower sub-floor height than others.  I really like this approach and feel that it is more robust than others out there.

Finally this is the manual that I feel complements many Tiny House plans.  When you purchase plans from various Tiny House vendors you get highly engineered plans that are good quality, but assume you know a lot about house construction or expect you to pay for a contractor to build it.  This doesn’t mesh with the demographic that builds Tiny Houses.  They are typically hard workers, looking to save on labor costs, but don’t have the construction skill set.  This manual helps mitigate that gap in knowledge.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to those who are purchasing any Tiny House plans.  It will give you the knowledge and confidence in producing a truly high quality house.

  1. I have to agree that a book on plumbing, electricity and gas would be great. I’m looking at just these things and not really knowing what is best or even what all I should consider. My husband says my future tiny home should be electric and I should wire it for 230 which would take care of anything I want to use like an electric on demand water heater. Why am I looking at electric? Because 4 and 5 inch vents for gas seem bigger than the wall space I’ll have to use a propane one. Or should I use an outdoor propane one? But the manual for that says it can’t be installed within 4 feet of any window – well, fine for a big house but a tiny house doesn’t have a wall with four feet of clear space. So yes, I’d love to see someone address this topic.

  2. Timaree,

    on-demand HW definitely seems the way to go for a trailer-based house. Compact, no need for venting, and fuel ‘storage’ is supplied by an electrical line.

    Plumbing would be an interesting topic to consider. How do other houses take care of the sewer pipe outlet from a trailer-based house? How do you hook it up to a municipal or on-site disposal system? How do you ensure the water lines feeding the house don’t freeze in winter?

  3. I want my little house for the comforts of home but to take it on the road for long trips. Water, gas (cooking & heating) and electrical are critical. The proper disposal of sewage and gray water while traveling needs to be addressed. Is it possible to design the heating to be part of the floor. With solar panels on the roof does that generate enough electricity necessary for the house. What about air conditioning? What size vehicle is necessary to pull a tiny house since I am not interested in buying a truck. Is a special brake system necessary for the house. What about red tail lights on the back of the house. How does that get hooked up to the car. Are there special trailer hitches that should be used for something the size of a tiny house. Can the house be wired for computers, wi-fi, cell phone reception. Should one have all weather tires for the house if traveling in winter and snow.

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