DIY

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Tiny House Workshop Recap + Review

Have you ever been to a tiny house live workshop? Are you planning to attend one?

Well today's post will give you some of the details about what those weekend tiny house workshops are like!

Specifically, Matt and I help Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders teach his hands-on tiny house building workshop in Atlanta, GA. We've taught and spoken at more than 25 tiny house events and workshops all over the country, and we especially LOVE Dan's workshops.

The Tiny Home Builders' workshops are the right combination of hands-on building experience (yes, you get to use all the power tools!) and super educational trainings on everything from electrical, plumbing, how to choose a trailer, and off grid systems and sustainable design (my specialty!). It's part classroom, part workshop, and it's really effective to learn about something in depth via the presentations, then actually go over the the tiny house you're building and try it out yourself. (Plus there's a fully-built tiny house on site).

Some people attend the workshop to learn about the "systems" and more complex elements, others to get the confidence to use power tools (for many people it's their first time using power tools or swinging hammers!), and others come to network and meet like-minded friends.

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

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....

This Couple is Living in a Vintage Trailer While They Build a Tiny House

This Couple is Living in a Vintage Trailer While They Build a Tiny House

Kathleen and Greg are a young couple living in a 1969 vintage trailer (same year as the COMET!) while they build themselves a tiny house on wheels. Kathleen and I connected a few weeks ago, and I was so excited to meet another couple who lives like Matt and I do! I asked if I could share their ongoing story here, and so here's what Kathleen has to say about their life in their trailer so far. You can read more about Kathleen and Greg and their tiny living adventure on their blog, "Tiny House, Tiny Footprint."

 

Tiny Changes

Since living in a 140-square-foot camper trailer, I have received a variety of questions. I thought it would be best to answer them here and help alleviate concerns for those who are considering tiny living. If you're nervous about embarking on a new adventure like this, I think it's important to remember that you can test it out and if it doesn't work out, you can go back to living how you were previously.

8 Vintage Trailers That Will Make You Swoon

8 Vintage Trailers That Will Make You Swoon

Finally! An excuse to show you some of my favorite vintage campers that we saw on our #tinyhouseroadtrip.

I typically hate "list" blog posts like this, but I needed a way to show you some of the random cool trailers and campers we saw along the way, in between, and on the road.

All of these photos are mine, I took each one. Enjoy!

SEE ALL THE VINTAGE GOODNESS AFTER THE JUMP!

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Building Workshop

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Building Workshop

Have you been to a tiny house workshop?

I've spoken at and taught about 20 in the past 2 years, and they always get me excited all over again. Meeting people who are just beginning their small home journeys, discussing science and nature, and making good friends are my favorite parts!

Last weekend Matt and I helped Dan Louche at his hands-on tiny home building workshop in Atlanta, GA. We were there to primarily talk about sustainable building, off-grid systems, and how and WHY you should downsize your life sooner rather than later. We ended up answering a lot of questions about composting toilets. Everyone is ALWAYS most interested in our bathroom habits, and we've become extremely comfortable speaking candidly about our bodily functions with total strangers.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with some people in real life from the current Tiny Transition + Downsizing class, and it was SO FUN to hang out and get to know each other off-the-Internet. Putting faces to names and meeting people I had been connecting with online for months was really great.

Tiny House Tour: A Yestermorrow Design/Build Project

Does anyone feel like tiny houses are EVERYWHERE these days? I've been seeing ads for tiny house TV shows, tiny homes in the news, and when I got home from our tiny house road trip, I had a stack of local newspapers waiting at my door with an interesting cover story: tiny houses!

I'm glad that more people are being exposed to tiny homes and the larger world of alternative, responsible design and architecture. But I am also wary of tiny house TV shows and the like that show people living in their real, actual homes as if it's a kind of novelty. I see more and more people treating it like it's a piece of theatre - something to be gawked at. Whenever I see a news story on TV about tiny houses, I can't help but roll my eyes at the way the news anchor presents the story and the ridiculous questions they ask the tiny home owner. Making a novelty out of the small home really diminishes it's potential as a real solution to a real series of problems we face today.

Chat with Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn: Tiny Homes and Mobile Dwelling

A few days ago I had the immense pleasure of being part of a video chat (“Hangout”) with two awesome dudes, Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn, both heroes of mine and very inspirational people. If you’re wondering who they are, Kevin Kelly was the publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, founded Wired magazine, and now does a million other cool things, including the recent publication of the awesome book Cool Tools. Lloyd Kahn worked with Kevin Kelly as the editor of the “Shelter” section of the Whole Earth Catalog, then went on to start his own publishing company Shelter Publications, which has released classic titles such as Shelter, Shelter 2, Home Work, and Tiny Homes (I own and love all of these books, highly recommended!). He lives in a neat owner-built home in California, and is the liveliest, sharpest 79 year old I’ve ever seen!

It was exciting to have a chance to ask Lloyd and Kevin some questions, they both have decades of experience in building, design, technology, and writing/publishing between them. The webcast was broadcast live, and is available on YouTube to watch (and is at the bottom of this blog post!). Lloyd and Kevin started out by talking about domes and Lloyd explained how his book Shelter was a direct response to his years of advocating for and building dome homes. He said that he had realized that perhaps domes weren’t the perfect buildings after all, and decided to showcase a myriad of other awesome homes and building techniques as a sort of resignation about domes. He explained how domes were still viable as some functional spaces, but that they aren’t ideal for residences for many reasons.

 

Trailer Babes: Interview with Sarah Mueller of TowLola

I found Sarah’s blog TowLola recently and knew that I wanted to share a fellow female trailer babes’ story with you. I emailed Sarah about being camper pals and to tell her how rad she is, and we got to talking about rallies, vintage trailer life, the hassles of towing, trying to become writers, and what it’s like to be a woman nomad in America. She said she was inspired by my COMET to look for a vintage trailer as her adventure-mobile, and I was so flattered! I asked Sarah a few questions about her decision to travel in a vintage trailer and her life with Lola, her 1960’s Fan camper. You can read the interview below. I hope this badass, amazing lady inspires you to get out there and do something awesome, even if that means just saying”Fuck it!” and taking the leap!

 

ME: What inspired you to buy a camper and hit the road?

SARAH:    I'd been living in a 3-bedroom house for about 4 years, working full-time in a day job I hated while I struggled to write and make art in my spare time. I'd always had this fantasy of just being able to "pick up and go."  I saved money for a long time, thinking I'd need it, but having no real plans. When my long-time boyfriend and I decided it was time to sell the house, I sat down in front of him at a pub and blurted "I'm going to buy a BUS." He and I are both explorers by nature, so he just nodded and smiled and asked how he could help. The bus idea went through several iterations (bus, van, housetruck, camper) and I shopped around for a rig for about 4 months. I spent nearly all of my free time on Craigslist. Finally, after moving in with my parents and being generally miserable and thinking it would never happen, I stumbled upon Lola. She was cheap and ready to hit the road, and resided in Elkhart, IN. The idea of towing anything terrified me, but by this point I was so desperate that I drove up and bought her before anybody else could. It took another three months to gather supplies, outfit the Jeep, and sell all my belongings. It wasn't any one thing that led me to my adventure, I guess. Simply the realities of my life combined with a desire to "get out there."

Tiny House Q + A: What should a beginner know before building a Tiny House?

Tiny House Q + A: What should a beginner know before building a Tiny House?

The other day I did a Q + A session online about tiny homes. Everyone had really interesting questions, many of which I’ll answer in greater detail on the blog in the next few weeks. I figured that these answers might shed some light on things that you guys have questions about too. Feel free to send me your own question by contacting me, and I’ll answer it!

Question:

I'm still in college but I'm really attracted to the idea of a tiny house. The only problem is, I don't have any experience building or anything of the sort. How hard was it to learn all the technical stuff?

 

Answer:

Find a friend or "mentor" that you can learn building basics from. There are also groups that are always doing group builds/barn raising type style stuff. I recently saw this and thought it looked really neat: http://thepoosh.org/. It is a group that connects people who want to learn how to build hands-on with building projects that they can join. It is a great program! Look and see if someone in your area is building a tiny house and ask if you can help (look at the tiny house blogs and search your city, or post on craigslist). Or you can take a tiny house building workshop. Yestermorrow Design/Build School's 3 week Tiny House Design/Build class is AWESOME, you build a tiny house start to finish.

"Technical" stuff like electrical and plumbing is actually super easy. My advice is to look at youtube videos. Dan Louche of tinyhomebuilders.com has an awesome, very technical book and video series. Electricity is like water and plumbing IS water so it’s very relatable. Tiny Houses can be set up very simply, which is an advantage we have!

Recycling Greywater + Biodegradable Soaps

Recycling Greywater + Biodegradable Soaps

If you’re thinking about recycling your greywater, either in your tiny house or other home on wheels, you need to pay attention to what’s going down the drain. Recycling greywater (which is the used water from showers, the sink, and the washer machine) requires us to be conscientious of what we put down our drains, since those products will end up in our gardens, yards, and in the ground. A welcome side effect of being careful about which products end up in our drains is that we know more about which soaps, cleaners and detergents we are using in our homes and on our bodies. Using all-natural cleaners and body products is better for your health and the environment.

    So If you’re designing your tiny home or other trailer to be off-grid, or at least want to recycle greywater, these are the things I recommend which I use in the COMET. If you’re living in a trailer/ camper like me, another great by-product of recycling greywater is that you don’t have to dump greywater tanks out at dump stations or RV parks, which is gross. I specifically designed the COMET to not have any grey or black water tanks, because I am recycling and composting all “wastes” (which become something much nicer than waste because I’m reusing them!). By being careful and conscientious about what we put on our bodies and down our drains, we can keep water of of the sewers and put it safely back into the land. I’ve gotten a few questions about this topic recently, so I hope this clarifies it for you!