Posts Tagged building

The Journey Starts

Today was day one of building the Tiny House and I didn’t get as far as I hopped I would.  My welder let me know that he wasn’t going to have time until Monday to tackle the project, but it shouldn’t take him that long to do.  So most of the day was spent driving to Lexington to pickup my trailer at Kaufman Trailers, then talking with the welder about what needed to be done.  The welder had some ideas on how to improve the structural integrity of the anchoring of the house to the trailer over and above what Tumbleweed recommended so the plan has changed slightly.

Even though I didn’t get started on the floor framing like I had wanted, I have a game plan for the welding, I picked up almost all the lumbar for the floor framing and all the little things have been collected.

Here is a photo of the last load of lumber for the floor portion of the build.

Today I learned a few important lessons that I think I’d be wise to keep in mind during this process.

  1. Everything and I do mean EVERYTHING takes way longer than you thought it would.
  2. Have a plan, think it through, then be prepared to totally change it as things come up.
  3. While building a Tiny House always have: work gloves, a tape measure, you house plans, pencil, calculator, patience…


Tiny House Builder Interviews

Recently I have been ravenously reading other Tiny House building blogs as part of my preparation to build my own Tiny House.  Along the way I have been fortunate to talk with a lot of people who have been building or living in Tiny Houses which I was able to learn a good deal from.  So today I wanted to share some of what I learned and give a shout out to some awesome people!

Rowdy Kittens – Tammy Stroble and Logan Smith

I have know Tammy and Logan for a while now and I always gain some great insights from this amazing couple.  One thing that struck me from my conversation with them this time was their comment how larger traditional homes are “made for other people”.  With traditional homes many people are concerned with resale value and having your home generalized to potential buyers.  Tammy and Logan’s pointed this out and said to me this house is for you, so design it that way.

MiniMotives – Macy Miller

I really love the work Macy is doing over at her website, I found it very informative and she has a great links section.  From our conversation I have been able to glean some insights into building codes and where we might take Tiny Houses in the future. We talked about how DIY builders of Tiny Houses are a good thing and at times, not so good.  Another thing that municipalities are very concerned and focused on is sewage.  Tiny Houses often use composting toilets or other alternatives to the standard grid tied flush toilet.  After some reflection I can understand this as a big issue.  Here in most parts of North America we benefit from a lot of attention paid to our water management and sewer management.  This leads to better water quality, huge impacts in terms of health and disease control and  mitigating damage that water causes.  It’s not perfect here by a long shot, but this infrastructure saves countless lives.

Big Lake – Tiny House  – Erin and Pete

These two are building the exact same house I plan to build and I was able to glean some building tips and other considerations from them.  The first was making sure your trailer was properly fitted to your house weight.  From trailer shopping I discovered that you can often get a trailer rated for 10,000 lbs for about $200-$300 more.  The downside to this is that it often means you raise your trailer deck height about 2-3″, but you have a beast of a trailer that can take it, so you sleep better at night.

Tiny R(e)volution – Andrew

I found Andrew’s website  and really liked his philosophy on a lot of things.  As he put’s it, they are building “cash on the barrel” which is something I admire.  Some of the practicality of how Andrew is doing things brings a lot of perspective to this process.  He has a lot of great videos and I have watched each one several times!

120 Square Feet – Laura and Matt

Laura and Matt built a great little house in the mountains of NC, right near where I used to live and have so many fond memories.  I learned a lot of construction specifics and they are good motivators in taking on this endeavor.  What I like about their house is they setup a solar system that powers everything.  I still find it amazing that couples can swing such a small space, but these two not only live in the house together, they work from home together.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses – Steve and Jay

I was excited when I received my plans from Tumbleweed and these guys have been able to give me a lot of nitty gritty details on the build.  Windows were a tricky thing because the type they recommended just were phased out.  They helped me figure out the alternative and I am excited to get started!

So a big thanks to all those above and many others who helped me along as this journey starts!



Tiny House Cohort

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I am building a Tiny House!  One thing I have been doing as part of my planning is a lot of research.  Part of that was to talk to a lot of people about their experiences and I found it very helpful.  So I thought I’d see if I could find other people that are building their own Tiny House that are either within a month of starting to build or just started themselves.

The idea would that as we work on our own houses, I think it would be great to do a google hang out with a group of these people every now and then to kick around ideas, share challenges, offer solutions and Etc. We could help each other out with helpful advice and how we decided to do things.

So I figure I’d put a call, do you all know any Tiny House bloggers just starting out?  Are you just starting out?  Let me know!

Your Turn!

Are you about to build or just started to build your own Tiny House?

Do you know other people that are just starting the process?

Are there other Tiny House blogger you know that just started?


Lessons Learned From Building My First Tiny House

Today we have a great guest post by our friend at the Austin Tiny House, Louis Burns at  Louis has some great hands on experience, so feel free to pick his brain in the comments!

Have Flexible Expectations

Before I started, my biggest question was how long it would take to complete. I had initially planned to have a friend work with me but then he landed his dream job and was completely unavailable.  I read somewhere that a guy had built a tiny house in 12 days. After the first 12 days, I was still working on framing. I suspect 12 days may be possible for a professional crew but it was just me. It took me 500 hours to build it over 9 months.
I’d spoken to another friend about storing all my materials in a shed on the property. I’d gotten the okay but the day before delivery, she “forgot” our prior discussion and said I couldn’t use it. I ended up putting all the supplies under an open shelter with plastic sheets covering them.
In the planning process, I’d added up everything I thought I would use and had those two friends look it over too. We were estimating $4000 in building supplies including the trailer. No such luck. By the end I’d had to spend around $8000. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
The only expectation I started with that I came out the other end with was that I could finish the project.
Quite a few days – especially during the Texas summer – I had major motivation issues. The heat aside, I found that if I was approaching a step that I didn’t know how to complete like framing the roof or wiring, my work pace would slow to a crawl too. I had to keep in mind that as long as I kept working on it, it would eventually get done.
I noticed that I worked better when I knew how the next step would work before I got to it. It’s like having your next book to read ready. Regardless of what I’m reading, I usually have a next book in mind. It helps me stay motivated to finish what I’m currently on.
Sometimes I would get so frustrated that the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I’d already sunk a good chunk of money into the project and that my wife was proud of my efforts. I can’t imagine trying to do it with an unsupportive spouse.
More times than I can recall, I reached a place where I thought I was stuck. The last two instances I recall were that the storm door was the wrong size and that the plank in the porch I wanted to replace had a screw in it that was under the door frame. When that would happen, I’d take a break and see if a solution would come to me.
With the storm door I talked to the manufacturer’s customer service and then realized I could build onto the framing with the remaining lumber I still had. With the porch board I sawed as much off as I could reach with the reciprocating saw. Then I took my biggest drill bit and drilled all around those two screws. I used a chisel to get the wood pieces out and then sawed off the ends of the protruding screws. The new plank is as secure as the others.
Often times, the solution that presented itself was better than what I’d planned originally. I hadn’t known enough about vinyl siding to order undersill and it hadn’t been suggested by the salesperson. When I got to the top of the siding installation, I ended up tucking it under the roof trim and hiding it with finish trim. It looks better than if I would have tried to use undersill.  Of course I didn’t try to wing anything. I probably bought 5 books on building and checked out 10+ more from the library. I did check with a former electrician before I started but the rest I learned as I went. I think that’s where a lot of folks start so I’m proof it’s possible.
If I were doing it again, I’d definitely make sure I had a dedicated (preferably inside) space to build, store supplies and all the right tools. Trips back and forth looking for something that’s been borrowed, going to the home improvement store or waiting for the weather to cooperate can really slow you down.
Besides that, working your plan is what gets it done. Even if you can only manage a few hours a week, it will eventually work out.


Building a tiny house…

China’s Problem

So we have seen how we have countless neighborhoods that have been almost abandoned or stopped in mid construction.  In my post, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, it shows how California has been hit hard.  This pales in comparison to China’s empty houses.  Currently there are enough empty house in China to house roughly 2/3 the American Population.  That’s right, China currently has enough homes to house over 200 million people.

In a quest to “westernize” or “Americanize” investors dumped their wealth into constructing entire cities where there might only be a handful of people living in them.  They are so big, but so sparely populated, they don’t even have enough people to keep the city in working order.

Click the photo to see these ghost cities