The Tiny House That Grandma Built: Downsizing from 1600 to 144 square feet

Today I'm excited to introduce you to someone who I find to be particularly inspiring, Dani Moore from The Tiny House that Grandma Built.

Dani is a member of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course (registration is now open for the session beginning on January 4th). When Dani started posting about her project and story in the class forum, I knew I wanted to interview her and find out more about her life. Dani's here today to share with you how she's building her own tiny house, what it's like to downsize in a major way, and how you can make major life changes no matter where you are (or your age!). If you want to be a part of the next Tiny Transition and Downsizing class, you can read more and register here.


 

CometCamper: Tell us about you and your journey up until this point - what is your motivation for building and moving into a tiny house?

Dani Moore: I was raised Bretheren (Think Mennonites in regular clothes) With a "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" attitude. We were taught NEVER to throw away anything unless you were sure that no one could do anything useful with it. Great for not wasting, but bad for downsizing!

It was very helpful after my husband died when my daughter was 2 years old. I was already disabled and we had to be really careful about our spending. We went without hot water for 9 months after our water heater died, until we could get a new one. My Husband had spent our entire marriage showing me how things worked and how to fix them. Skills I have been forever grateful for. We also built or remodeled a business and a couple of houses, So I had some basic construction knowledge as well.

Having done many tasks myself, and being used to coming up with creative solutions to problems, It wasn't too much of a stretch for me to think about building my own THOW (tiny house on wheels).

My daughter is now grown and married with 3 girls of her own. Last year I had to move my 87 yr old Mom, out of the duplex they had lived in for 23 years and into a one bedroom apartment in managed care. I only had a month to do it and it was a horrible task. I knew I never wanted my daughter to have to go through that!

My big house now is stuffed! I have most of my Daughters stuff. She married a man who already had a house. Most of my Mom's stuff. A lot of that was from my Daughter and my Brother's Daughter saying ..."That should stay in the family...you need to take that". Then there are the 2 small bookstores worth of books from the two BookCrossing Zones in town that I ran, who both lost their spaces. Plus everything accumulated in the 37 years we have lived here.

Once my Daughter assured me she didn't want my House when I am gone, there was no reason for me to need 1,600 sq. ft. and 2 1/2 acres. So I started looking at other options. I went to a Tiny House Workshop and knew this was the perfect solution for me! My Dad had passed away and my Brother and I decided to liquidate the coin collection he had given us.

 There was my investment money!

So I found a truck and thought out what special adaptations I needed to make on the THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) I wanted to build. Then it was just a matter of ordering the house and getting the spot for it ready. I realized I needed to make some concessions for my disabilities and limitations. 

Not as easy a task as you might think. So I took some time and a long hard look at what I thought I could and could not do for myself. 

I decided I needed something with the main outside framing done. So I settled on an "Amish Barn Raiser"  from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

That way, once I got the roof on and the siding and windows in..I could take my time building the interior walls and fixtures. They were more than willing to make the alterations I needed.

 Complicating matters was the fact that I run the Disabled Camp at Burning Man every year (Mobility Camp) and this year I broke a rib during set-up week.

Not a total shock as I have severe osteoporosis. But it did make doing the physical part of preparation a lot harder!
 

CC: What has been the biggest challenge of building your tiny home?

Dani Moore: Finding help for the things I cannot do by myself And having the patience to wait until I can find them.

Dani's tiny house on wheels in progress!

Dani's tiny house on wheels in progress!

 

CC: How has the process of downsizing been for you?

So far, not too bad. It is more time consuming than I expected, but I've already planned to take between one and two years to finish the whole process, and I have only been at it since Late September. 

Getting rid of the 5 large bags of clothes, was not a problem. I don't plan on getting rid of all my craft supplies, as I know I will use them, so those are destined for a small storage unit.

It will be the Books. I have always loved books and have many that are very special to me. I have started converting to digital, I have one NOOK, with about 2,000 books on it, two Kindles one with 6,000+ books and one with 8,000+ books. But it will be difficult to let go of my Great Grandfathers books, some of my Full sets and the like.

CC: What about making the decision to make a major life change as an older person (I love that your blog is called "The Tiny House That Grandma Built"). What would you say to other people in your position, who might be concerned about making a major life change? It's never too late, it seems!

Dani Moore: For once in my life, I don't have to be responsible for anyone else! So this is my chance for freedom. Without getting rid of my $917 a month mortgage, I can't afford to travel. I don't want to have to find a "Sitter" for a large house or pets, so I am free to pull up stakes and travel on a whim. If somewhere I go doesn't suit me, I can just move on! 

My Daughter and her Hubby plan on moving once the two older girls are out of school. This way, it doesn't matter where they end up, I can take my THOW and visit (or live) anywhere in the continental U.S. So much of our lives we are tied to "property" because of our responsibilities.

A lot of folks think I'm crazy! Many of my family included. 

I have never been one to be too concerned about what other people thought. So as long as it works for me...it doesn't matter what anyone thinks! 

I also have tried not to make a "Hard and Fast" schedule. Everything takes a lot longer than you have planned and this way, I don't get super stressed out over delays.
 

CC: What are some of the benefits of simplifying your life that you've noticed so far?

Dani Moore: I am learning to "let Go" of the things I have always felt responsible to not waste. I love the feeling of lightness that I no longer must hang on to things because "Someone might need them". Once I am done, I will have lots more time, because how long can it take me to clean 144 sq ft? There is also a great satisfaction in building something with your own two hands.

 


I want to thank Dani for taking the time to answer my questions. I really think her life and story is amazing. It's a great example of going from being overburdened with "stuff" to being simple, mortgage-free, and tiny!

To read more about Dani's tiny house and see her build in progress, check out her blog "The Tiny House That Grandma Built".

Ready to downsize? Learn more about the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-course !