The Decisions You'll Make When You Build Your Tiny Home

Tiny House Design Choices: Big Decisions


Building a tiny house differs from the “typical” homebuilding process in a lot of ways. 

For one, you’re working with a lot less space and therefore, using a lot less materials.  You only include what you really need and most things have a double purpose.

Being that I’ve never been a very decisive person to begin with, this proved to be an interesting part of the journey. 

It was exciting at times… getting to pick out fun stuff like my tiny appliances or paint colors, but challenging at times too when you find out what you want or dreamed of is not a realistic possibility.

The very first decision I had to make was: 

What do I really need in my tiny house?

That’s a pretty big decision right off the bat because the entire design of your house depends on it. 

When you’re building a “regular” house, a lot of things are standard… bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen.  But with a tiny house, it’s not that cut and dry. 

 

Tiny House Living: How to Deal with the Privacy Issues and Concerns as a Tiny House Dweller

“Can We Come Inside?”  - Privacy (or lack thereof) In a Tiny House

 

The other day, my good friend Jenn and I were talking about one of the weirdest things about living in a tiny house, camper, or van - the fact that total strangers think it's just normal to try to look in your windows or ask to come into your living space.

I mean, if you think about it - this is SUPER STRANGE.

Because when you live in a tiny house or camper, even though it might seem novel to other people, you are in YOUR HOME. It's no different than any other home - and yet people think it's okay to show up at your doorstep and ask for a tour at all hours.

This has happened to both of us, and SO MANY other tiny house friends I know, again and again.

So many times I've been chatting with Jenn online, when she says "oh wait - there's someone trying to look in my door window, let me see what they want".

This is weird! People need to have boundaries and feel safe.

And personally, I really don't like it.

After having this happen to me many, many times while on the road, I've gotten used to telling people firmly to please not try to look into my house at night, and telling people not to bother me. After a while you just want some peace!

What appliances do you use in a tiny house? Where do you get them?

One thing that people are often curious about in tiny houses, is what kind of appliances do you have? 

Do you cook on a hot plate? 

Do you have a regular washer and dryer? 

Do you use a window air conditioner to cool it off? 

Well, the answer to all of those questions can be yes. 

Because just like with a traditional size house… there are options.  And it’s up to you to decide what you want to have as far as appliances go.

I, personally, knew that I:

  • Wanted to cook meals so I wanted a regular oven and range,
  • Didn’t want to go to a laundromat or use a washboard, so I wanted a washer/dryer and
  • HATE washing dishes by hand so I wanted a dishwasher.

So these factors determined the appliances that I had in my tiny house.  But you can tailor your appliance set-up to match your specific needs and desires.  If you want to be totally off-grid, this will obviously have a major impact on the appliances you choose, as will your budget.

How to Choose a Toilet For Your Tiny House

The Toilet – One of the Most Important Tiny House Decisions You’ll Ever Make


Living a “normal” life in a “normal” home, you’ve probably never given much thought to your toilet.  It’s there when you need it, it does its job and it takes care of business with little muss or fuss.

But when you live in a tiny house, your toilet becomes a big deal.  Like, you’ll find yourself thinking about it, talking about and considering the various aspects of it A LOT.

(And consequently - people start ASKING you about your toilets - A LOT!).

It might sound a little ridiculous or even a little uncomfortable for some, but the fact is, when you make the transition to tiny living, you’re going to have to start thinking outside of the norm.  And partaking in toilet talk will just be part of that journey.

What’s the big deal about toilets?

Well, it’s simple… first of all, if you want to be off-grid, you’re going to have to use an alternative to the traditional flush toilet, that’s just a fact. 

You can always upgrade down the line to solar panels and water catchment systems for your other utilities, but if you don’t plan for an alternative toilet from the very beginning, then you will always need access to a sewage hook-up...

 

Going Tiny: How to Downsize Room by Room

This is a guest post by Jenn Baxter, a Tiny Transition and Downsizing student and now tiny house dweller. Jenn began her journey in the Tiny Transition and Downsizing course, and now lives full-time in her very own (very cute!) tiny home!

Today, she's going to share her experiences and her tips for downsizing.

The next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course starts on August 30th, and I'd love to see you in there!

This is an 8-week course that fundamentally changes your relationship with stuff and helps you de-clutter, downsize, and clear out your home and mind, in a step-by-step zero-overwhelm environment.

Registration is open for the session beginning on August 30th. Preparing to transition into a tiny home, RV, trailer or cabin? Just want to clear your space and get some sanity in your current home? This is for you.

You'll be in supportive group of like minded friends and kindred spirits! Register here and join us for the next session.

I'll let Jenn take it from here!

Downsizing is no easy task. 

We all have become so accustomed to having so much stuff, that we don’t even realize how much we’ve acquired over time until we are forced to a) move it or b) take an objective look at it.

When I decided to build a tiny house, I knew I had some downsizing to do.  I had, after all, filled a mid-sized U-Haul truck all by myself the last time I moved.  Like most people, I had a bedroom full of furniture, a dining set, living room furniture, a second bedroom set in the guest bedroom, several Rubbermaid bins full of keepsakes, kitchen appliances, luggage, sporting equipment and on and on it went.

 

 

What's holding you back? Probably the same things that held me back, too.

Right now, my life looks a lot like this:

I travel in the Honda Element for months at a time, taking breaks at rented AirBnBs for a month or two at a time, then hitting the road again for more adventures.

When we’re “home” in our hometown, we stay in the camper for a month or two before heading out on the next trip.

I live mostly out of a backpack and a small duffel bag with my clothes in it. Everything else fits neatly under the platform in the Honda Element we converted into our very own “micro-camper”.

It feels natural now. It feels….easy. It’s just my life.

But Before I made my tiny living dream my real life, I was being HELD BACK by so many unknowns.

So many questions, concerns, and things I had to figure out.

It felt overwhelming to want a mobile, simple life so bad, but really have no clue at all how to actually make that happen.

Like how to bridge that gap between where I was (living in 1500+ square feet of clutter and chaos, stuck in one place, drowning in stuff) and where I wanted to be (free in a camper that felt like I was wearing my own custom-made space suit with everything I needed!).

 

The problem with your 5-year plan

The Fallacy of the 5 Year Plan

As you probably know, I’ve taught at more then 25 tiny house workshops and events over the past 2 years.

My favorite part is talking with everyone at the workshops, hearing their stories, and helping them start their journey.

Every time we teach a workshop, I end up losing my voice answering so many questions! It’s always fun to stay up late with people who share your values.

(PS - I’m hosting the first and only VIRTUAL Tiny House Workshop this weekend! You can register here and join us!)
 

 

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more while teaching and speaking at these workshops, is that people have long timelines for their tiny house journeys.

I definitely think everyone should follow their own path and work within a time frame that suits their unique situation and life story.

DESIGN/BUILD/DOWNSIZE: Introducing The ONLY Virtual Tiny House Workshop

A few months ago I mentioned that my good friend and tiny house builder Dan Louche (author of The Tiny House Design and Construction Guide, TinyHomeBuilders.com) and I were working on something really new and exciting behind the scenes.

Well today, our idea from months ago becomes a reality!


Introducing….

Design/Build/Downsize: The Only Virtual Tiny House Workshop!

 

What is it?

Design / Build / Downsize is a two-day virtual tiny house workshop that includes 8 in-depth lessons, live group chat and discussion, and a live Q + A session with Dan Louche and I!

It's two days, with two experts, and a bunch of your new tiny community friends.


What will you learn?

Dan Louche and I have created 8 lessons on everything from choosing a trailer, designing your tiny home, building methods, and downsizing. 

You can read about the entire curriculum and see all the details here >>>

These are the trainings - plus plenty of extras - that we teach at our live, in-person workshops (that normally would cost more than $500 plus airfare + hotel to attend). 



The workshop is the only virtual tiny house workshop - meaning we’re delivering these trainings and lessons live, but you can watch from anywhere in the world :)

My Journey Began With a Dream To Travel: By Terry Ann Bernhardt

My motto is “follow your heart but take your brain with you”.

My journey began with a dream to travel and explore leisurely, moving at approximately the same speed as an ancient turtle in my golden years. 

I began to collect a list of interesting places to visit from friends, co-workers, books, magazines, movies, and yes, Pinterest and YouTube.

I’m up to 91 places I’d like to visit ranging from Yellowstone Park to a little spot in the Appalachian Mountains where fiddles are still handmade.

I would be accompanied by my dog Emmy Lou, 56 lbs of fur-bearing love, so traveling via recreational vehicle seemed ideal.  Again I began collecting facts, people’s anecdotes, magazines, brochures and visiting RV lots to determine what suited my turtle traveling dreams.

How I Designed My Tiny House

Today I have a super guest post from my good friend and Tiny Transition and Downsizing student Jenn Baxter!

Jenn has been living in her tiny house for some time now, after initially starting her transition to the tiny life in the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course.

I asked Jenn if she would write about her experience designing her own UNIQUE tiny home, and she said she would love to! Not only that, but she has created a free worksheet that you can use to design your own tiny home. You can grab the free tiny house design worksheet below!

Let's get to it! I'll let Jenn take it from here. Thanks Jenn!

One of the main questions I get when people first see my tiny house is, “How did you design this?”  Well, the answer to that is actually pretty easy. 

I thought about what I need every day.

First of all, designing a tiny house in and of itself is easier than designing a traditional home, simply because of its size.  When you are only working with 100-300 square feet, your choices are limited to begin with.