Jay Shafer Announces the Four Lights Tiny House Company

Jay Shafer brought tiny houses into the public eye when he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (original video here) in February of 2007. At the time the idea of living simply in a small space was refreshing approach that inspired many to follow. Jay’s Tumbleweed Tiny House Company thrived over the following years as more and more people discovered tiny houses.

But now Jay has chosen to resign from his position at Tumbleweed to start a new endeavor  – Four Lights Tiny House Company. Here’s a quote from the announcement:

“When asked why he split with the business he founded in 1999, Jay says, “For some of the same reasons I started designing, building and living in small houses in the first place – for more freedom and more manageability. The message and design philosophy I’d built my original company on had become harder and harder to maintain as the business grew from a one-man operation into what it is today.”

Four Lights will launch by offering Jay’s first-ever unabridged, hands-on building workshop, his plans for a tiny house village (slated for completion in 2015), and a new 280 square foot home design. An additional house will be unveiled every month for the next five months. Jay’s designs for compact furnishings and his system for “design-it-yourself” tiny houses will be released thru fourlightshouses.com on January 31.”

Be sure to sign up for news & updates at fourlightshouses.com. You can also find Four Lights Tiny House Company on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


HGTV Design Star – Tiny House Challenge

The three final designers of this season’s television show HGTV Design Star will be competing to create the interiors of three Tumbleweed Box Bungalow tiny houses. The base house is the Beavan, a 7-foot by 16-foot tiny house with a 2-foot porch.

As you can imagine designing for small spaces can be much more challenging than designing for larger homes. The details of the show and what these designers will be asked to do is still shrouded in secrecy at HGTV – but I’m personally hoping that they’ll be challenged to create fully functional living spaces that include a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, storage, work-at-home space, and living space.

In other words I hope the producers at HGTV have them solve the very same interior space design challenge that real people work to solve every day when they choose to downsize their lifestyles.

The designer of the Box Bungalows is Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. The plans for these tiny structures are just $49 and you’ll actually find a download code for the Zinn plans free inside his new DIY Tiny House Book which costs $19.95.

I’ve not had an opportunity to review the book yet but so far it sounds like a good deal… printed book + house plan download for $20. (just fyi: the free plans are for the Zinn not the Beavan pictured above.)

Below is the basic floor plan of the Beavan, and a close-up of the porch. The show airs for the first time on Labor Day, Monday September 5, 2010 at 9/8c and again on September 6 at 12 am. If you miss the live broadcast the show will also be posted on Hulu on September 9th.

If you’d like to take part in a chat on Twitter during the show the folks at Tumbleweed will be hosting via hashtag #DSTumbleweed.

If the idea of tiny houses and extreme downsizing are new to you, learn more by reading:

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Tumbleweed Vardo Plans

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, originally founded by Jay Shafer, is probably the best known tiny house company. One of their smallest designs is the Vardo – a tiny shelter that can ride in a truck bed or on a trailer. It has no bathroom or kitchen but fits a full size bed with 35 cubic feet of storage below.

The folks at Tumbleweed estimate that it would cost about $2,500 in materials (minus the optional heater) to build this design. If you like the idea of having the cutest handmade camper to take on road trips this could be an ideal set of plans to buy.

The plans include 14 pages:

  • Elevation Drawings: The exterior view from all 4 sides is included showing you heights relative to the truck bed, window and door openings, and finish materials.
  • Floor Plans: Floor plans are included for both the storage area, and the sleeping area.
  • Roof Plan: Shown from above, you see the overhang of the roof compared to the truck and structure.
  • Wall Framing: Two pages of wall framing show you how to frame each wall, front, back and sides so that you have the rounded roof and slight angle of side walls. Additionally, floor framing is included.
  • Door Detail: The Vardo requires a custom made door, and the door detail gives you the dimensions, and types of wood to use.
  • Section Drawings: These drawings cut the Vardo in half both the long way and the short way. They show you where to insulate, what types of wood studs to use, how to properly insulate, which materials to use, how to secure the structure to the truck, and much more.
  • Basic Components: Suggestions on specific windows for the structure and the door including the manufacturer and glass type. Also included is a heater suggestion.

Learn more about the Tumbleweed Vardo Plans