tiny house living

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. 

 

Seven Steps to Simple: The No-BS Guide to Letting Go

Seven Steps to Simple: The No-BS Guide to Letting Go

You know you want to downsize. Heck - you NEED to downsize if you’re thinking about living in a tiny or small home!

And beyond that, no matter how many square feet you're gonna live in (because let's be honest that's not what matters), downsizing feels good. It saves you money. It gives you more time for your hobbies, family, friends, travel. More dollars in your pocket. Less stress. All that good stuff.

You know that downsizing will allow you to save more money, live the life you want to live, and have the time and financial freedom.

Maybe you’ve tried to “get organized” and “de-clutter” before. It probably felt pretty good…at first. But a few days later, your home looks the same as it did before. And the progress you’re making is slow-going. You’re stuck. You’re not sure why - because you’ve read the books and the blogs but nothing really works. 

Well, today I've got seven steps to help you let go.

How to Deal with Building Codes and Zoning Laws: Tiny Homes and Trailers

How to Deal with Building Codes and Zoning Laws: Tiny Homes and Trailers

Minimum square footage.

Composting toilets and solar showers. 

RV and trailer by-laws.

NIMBY (not in my back yard!).

Living “off the grid”. 

These are just a handful of the things we need to talk about when we talk about “building codes” and “zoning laws” as they apply to living in a tiny home or trailer. 

I literally get emails and questions about this every day, but until now I have been very hesitant to write a full response on this blog.

Why?

Building codes and zoning laws are such a hard topic to talk about because they literally differ from town to town. There is no one rule I could say that would be true for all (or even a handful) of places.

I wish it were easier, but it all comes down to talking with your local building inspector and talking through the process with them. Ultimately, that person will decide. It's good to form a relationship with them and be upfront about your plans and ideas. If you go about it in an open and honest way, they are much more likely to say yes and approve your home. 

I get this question a lot, so I've done my best to put together some guidelines. That being said, it's the one thing that is nearly impossible to answer! (Figures!)...

"Stop Dreaming, Start DOING: My (honest) Journey Towards a Tiny Home" a guest post by Jennifer Baxter

"Stop Dreaming, Start DOING: My (honest) Journey Towards  a Tiny Home" a guest post by Jennifer Baxter

Today we have an AWESOME guest post from a Tiny Transition + Downsizing student named Jennifer, who is having her tiny house built right now and is making tons of progress towards downsizing and getting excited to move in! In this post Jennifer explains why she was inspired to build a tiny home, the events that made her realize she couldn't wait forever, and the hardest (and easiest) parts of her downsizing journey.

In the Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course, the practical weekly lessons and private student-only forum allow you to make progress at your own pace within a group of like-minded friends on the same journey. I've been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That's because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with "stuff". It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life. When you join, you get 8 weeks of practical lessons and challenges (lifetime access), guided step by step help, lifetime access to the private class forum, accountability, support and motivation from me and your classmates, and the tools you need to simplify your home and life. 

You can learn more about Tiny Transition and Downsizing and register here. Class starts March 1st!

I'll let Jennifer take it over from here!

I am building a tiny house because my friend doesn’t have cable TV.  Well… that might be skipping a couple of steps.  But my curiosity and excitement for tiny houses can be traced back to a random (or maybe not) night spent pet-sitting at a friend’s house in spring of 2014.

Since they don’t have cable, I ended up surfing Netflix to find something to watch.  While scrolling through the documentary section, I saw a movie called “TINY: A Story About Living Small.”  The description explained that it followed a young man and his girlfriend as they built a tiny house on a flatbed trailer.  It sounded interesting enough so I thought I’d give it a go.  I had never even heard of tiny houses beforehand.  But by the time the 66 minutes was up, my heart and mind were racing.  How had I not known about this??

A Simple New Year: Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course

A Simple New Year: Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course

Are you ready for a new year?

More importantly, what are your intentions for the new year? What do you want to be different this year?

Though I'm not much for "resolutions", I do always set some goals and make some intentions for the coming year. I find it's easier to focus and do what really matters to me when I lay it out like that.

What if this year you could...

Explaining Tiny Houses to High School Students

Yesterday Matt and I made our long awaited return to the amazing Anne Richards School in Austin, Texas. You might remember our visit last year, where we were brought in to teach the all-girls engineering class for 2 weeks, as they were doing the first COMET Camper-inspired curriculum, Project  Ventura. The girls had to design an eco-friendly trailer to be used by the school community.

This year, the girls of the Anne Richards School have a bigger budget and a bigger project: to turn a huge Airstream trailer into a teacher's lounge powered by solar panels. We are so excited to be in Austin again hanging out with these amazing high school girls. Their passion and innovation is incredible. I keep telling them how lucky they are to be restoring vintage trailers as a school project! I think they realize the importance of the project and the opportunity it creates.

So yesterday Matt and I gave the class our introduction to Tiny Houses. I'm used to giving this presentation to groups of older people - people living on their own already, and people with jobs and kids. But giving the presentation to high school students was totally different! They could see the COMET lifestyle (either in a trailer or tiny house) as a way out of their parent's house, or as an alternative to expensive college dorm housing. We heard many of the girls exclaiming "I have to rethink my whole life now!!", which was awesome!

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!