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North Carolina

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Life in 120 - Exterior

Back in the woods of North Carolina you’ll find Laura and Matt living and working in a tiny house they built themselves. They started building their tiny house in 2009 and it took three years to complete, working on it on weekends while living in Atlanta. Now that it’s complete they have left the big city and live in the woods full time.

Moving into a tiny house gave Laura the freedom to leave a 15-year career she didn’t enjoy. She now works from home as a freelance writer. Her work is completely location independent which is what allows her the freedom to live off the grid and in the mountains.

Some interesting aspects of their house is that it’s not on a trailer, it’s on a stout pier foundation. It also has no plumbing but users a Berkey Water Filter in the kitchen and a basin for a sink and a pressure sprayer in the shower stall for showering. The toilet is a simple Lovable Loo style composting toilet. While all these plumbing solutions are very low tech, they seem to be providing the function they need.

You can find articles written by Laura on her blog, Life in 120 Square Feet, and Tiny House Talk. You can see the entire building process of their 120 square foot house on Flickr. You can follow them on Life in 120 Square Feet on Facebook, and below is a video tour of their house.

Life in 120 - Front

Life in 120 - Berkey Water and Sink Life in 120 - Desk   Life in 120 - Interior Life in 120 - Kitchen Life in 120 - Loft Bed

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Tiny House by Marcus

Marcus is an engineer and knows his way around drafting software – so when it came to designing his own home, he did it himself. He also did most of the construction work himself. He hired contractors and helpers when it made sense to have an extra hand or when the task needed expertise he didn’t possess – like with electrical work and drywall.

It’ measures 12′x20′, has 19-foot ceilings in the main room and a loft in the back. It’s located in Asheville, NC which Marcus reports allows for dwellings down to 150 square feet, as long as certain criteria are maintained, like:

  • “Each dwelling unit shall be provided with a kitchen area and every kitchen area shall be provided with a sink.”
  • “Every kitchen shall have not less than 50 square feet of gross floor area.”
  • “Every dwelling unit shall be provided with a water closet, lavatory, and a bathtub or shower.”

More communities should adopt a minimum square foot rule like this and simply focus on the details, letting the designers figure out how to make it all work in whatever reasonable footprint they choose.

To read more about his house see this article Marcus wrote at Tiny House Blog. Also see the video interview below.

Tiny House by Marcus - Kitchen Tiny House by Marcus - Side Tiny House by Marcus

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The Light Box

“The Light Box”- a tiny house on wheels that was group-built at Deek’s hands-on building workshop in November.

The following is a guest post by: Derek “Deek” Diedricksen

Hey all, I just wanted to share with you a few photos of a translucent wall I built in a three-season tiny cabin on wheels, that I’ve dubbed “The Light Box”, for obvious reason. By doubling a layer of this white Tuftex roofing, and leaving an air void in between, I could effectively create a somewhat insulated wall, but for my purposes, I don’t yet need that. Also keep in mind, small spaces are VERY EASY to heat, and this cabin, without the loft, is only 45 square feet in size- TINY!

Anyway, this is the front wall/window (very cost effective) of a tiny house we worked on at last months’s Relaxshacks.com Tiny House Building Workshop in MA that I hosted (we have another HANDS-ON one coming up in North Carolina too, which I’ll mention below). The overall idea was to make this front wall almost art-like at night when illuminated, and the reverse during the day, when light came into the small space and lit the interior. The roofing is affixed to a 2by6 frame (the supports also serve as a ladder to the loft) with hex-head, neoprene-washer, screws, and they’re beyond easy to drive. I’ve never seen a “light box” wall like this before, but was inspired to try it out after I used this type white poly roofing on an A-frame shelter/tree house I recently built for an upcoming DIY Network show that I’m now hosting, designing-for, and building for. I’ve also been very busy sketching, designing, and building, for an upcoming follow-up to my book “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks“- if you have cabins, forts, tree houses, tiny houses, or playhouses that you built, or photographed, I’d love to see them and possibly include them in the book- email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Anyway, the wall has worked out, and I like it so much that I plan on using this same approach on a tree house I’ll be building for someone down the road. With a material this light, in tree house applications, you can actually pre-build entire wall sections of your project, and then single-handedly hoist them up to you platform. This saves a ton of time, not to mention avoids some dangerous aerial work.

As for the other workshop…..   April 26th-28th – Wilmington, North Carolina – Three Days of HANDS-ON building, guest speakers, a trip to a tiny house most likely, demos, campfire discussions, and much MORE! www.Relaxshacks.com has all the sign-up details. We’ll also film some of this build for Make Magazine and my youtube show “Tiny Yellow House”.

Steven Harrell of TinyHouseListings.com and TinyHouseSwoon.com is also co-hosting this event….AND We just added tiny house dweller/builder Laura LaVoie as one of our guest speakers (MANY more to come!).

We’ll all be building a small 100 square foot guest cottage together, and trying some new, funky, unusual, and daring designs and approaches- I can’t wait! Click HERE for workshop sign-up info.

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Ron Czecholinski from DIY Home Building is in the process of putting together a tiny house community, and is currently doing his due diligence in choosing a piece of land. The property he’s seriously looking at is six undeveloped lots in Asheville, North Carolina that have the potential for 6 to 10 small houses. Below is the location in a Google Map with a very rough outline of the property. The plat map below will give you a better idea of the property Ron is considering.

View Cottage Court Proposal in a larger map

Local zoning will allow one main house with a studio apartment (attached or in auxiliary building) on each lot. The homes would follow standards for North Carolina Healthy Built certification which include energy efficiency, non-toxic materials, and resource conservation. The houses will likely range in size between 300 and 700 square feet. The expected total cost of construction will be about $200 per square foot which will make the total estimated cost between $60,000 and $140,000 per house (or around $200,000 per lot).

At this phase Ron is looking for people that might be interested in joining him on this adventure. He invisions the community leveraging a light version of co-housing, a model for intentional neighbors. He would also like to setup a Sociocracy to help facilitate community decision making. While he has an interest as a founder and developer, anyone getting involved at the beginning will have an opportunity to help shape the initial community structure and house design.

Ron has been an owner-builder and professional contractor for over thirty years. Learn more about Ron Czecholinski on his website. If this sounds like a project you’d like to participate in contact Ron directly.

Below are some photos of Ron’s more recent renovation project.

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The folks at fair companies have been making a lot of great videos that focus on sustainability and simple living. This video was filmed in North Carolina at the Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute, which is dedicated to exploring ways modern humans can learn to coexist with our natural habitat. In other words, find a way to live sustainably while taking into account the potential impacts of climate change and rising energy costs.

On this 350-acre farm is a small village with three canvas Yomes that encircle a shared outdoor kitchen. They are also building a small cob house which you’ll see in the video below.

Visit their website to learn more about Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute. You might also enjoy reading this interview with Tim Toben, one of the founders as well as the Transition Town Movement.

Photo credit to the folks at fair companies.

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Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm front

Last Friday I posted news of a tiny house bike trailer built by a fellow named Michael Moore. I was then contacted by another Michael Moore, (also no relation to the movie producer), who lives at Potluck Community Farm which is a community of 13 families in Rougemont, North Carolina. Michael lives in a slightly modified Tumbleweed Mulfinger designed by Jay Shafer.

You will not find this design on the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company website because Michael asked Jay to modify the original 10′ by 16′ layout to 12′ by 20′. Michael also had to make a few more minor changes to satisfy local building codes. Here’s what Michael says about his home and Potluck Community Farm:

I first discovered Tumbleweed and Jay Shafer through a Google search for tiny houses in 2004. I subsequently ordered plans for the Mulfinger, (no longer offered on the site), and asked Jay to modify the plans from the original 10′ x 16′ to 16′ x 20′. He did an excellent job with the larger plan. I did have to stretch it slightly to 16′ x 22′ to accommodate state code and made a few other minor changes. With the loft, (ostensibly for storage), it totals about 450 square feet.

It’s been over 3 years in the making and I still have a few things to finish up, but I do have all the essentials: heat (wood stove), propane for dryer and stove, and 3K photovoltaic system for electrical. Other environmental aspects include mostly bamboo flooring (some linoleum), 2×6 exterior walls for increased insulation (which is denim), 18″ roof overhangs to shade the summer sun, and Richlite countertops.

And a few notes about our community… Potluck Community Farm. We’re located in Rougemont, North Carolina, about 20 miles north of Durham, North Carolina. 13 families share 170 acres. We each have a 3 acre lot, which leaves about 130+ acres communally owned. We have a small pond, an orchard, a number of gardens (both food and flower), and an assortment of ducks, chickens, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, miniature donkeys, 1 horse, and of course, quite a few dogs and cats. About 100 acres is pretty much undisturbed except for walking trails. The land (a former tobacco farm) was purchased in 1990, so next year we will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. We range in age from teens to 70’s, and a plan is in motion to create an “extension” community next door… 10 acres called Elderberry. This will be smaller homes and spaces to allow for aging in place. Some folks from Potluck will join, and new members will be welcome also. I may “downsize” to Elderberry in a few years (I’m 58 now) .

One of the pictures is the view from my front porch, from which I can see the sheep, donkeys, and some of the goats. A great way to greet the morning; life is sweet!

I suspect this story will spark a lot of interest in learning how these 13 families found a way to buy and share a large piece of property… so I’ve already sent Michael the question. It seems like a wonderful way to buy land and build a sustainable and self-sufficient community.

Michael… thanks for sending us this story and the great photos. It’s incredibly inspiring to see and hear you success story. Thanks!

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm solar

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm view

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm porch

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm kitchen

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm dining

Michael Moore Tiny House Potluck Community Farm stove

Photo credit Michael Moore.