My husband and I have a dream of creating a sustainable micro-homestead on a tiny backyard plot. We built this 120 square foot home on a limited budget with zero construction experience. Neither of us had ever swung a hammer before starting and we had less than $6k in the bank upon breaking ground. As far fetched as it all seemed, we decided to trust that anything is possible with inspiration, vision and enthusiasm.
We learned framing, sheathing, roofing, drywalling, tiling, flooring, plumbing and wiring mostly from YouTube and a few select books. Each part of the project had a steep learning curve as we gathered the necessary tools and materials and knowledge. I mostly had to learn the art of patience and the supreme importance of good prep work !!
We designed the shell to be simple + approachable for first time builders. And because our budget was as tiny as the house, we used as much salvaged, reclaimed, restored, discounted and second hand materials as possible. The chronic lack of funds inspired a lot of creativity and I discovered an amazing alchemical skill for transforming trash to treasure. The whole thing cost less than $8500 to build and took about 9 months to manifest.
What a tremendous journey to build a house! Besides being a dynamic, hands-on education, it was an absolute joy to see our vision manifest and take shape, step by step. The result is a gorgeous labor of love that fits our simple lifestyle like a glove.
We have plans to develop the edible landscape with recycled grey water irrigation and to build a tiny greenhouse, rainwater catchment system and matching chook house.
Having completed this project, Priyan is now interested in the creation of tiny home communities where beautiful, functional, sustainable homes are affordable and available to average people. Such communities would offer shared utilities and facilities and create safe, legal spaces to live large in tiny homes.
A few years back Jeff sent me a link to a tiny house he had built as a place to stay while building his larger home. He finished his larger home, but his original tiny house still get used by guests.
But Jeff still needed some space in the garden for tools, his mower, greenhouse. So Jeff build a second tiny house – this time with multiple functions in mind.
“I found myself needing more storage space, a place for the lawnmower, a greenhouse for wintering over citrus and starting seeds, and a guest house for the occasional times when we run out of beds and sofas here at our home in upstate South Carolina.”
The new tiny house is designed around the windows, which he found while dropping off some recycling.
“I was at our metal recycler, taking scrap aluminum and copper when I noticed several pallets of new windows. I asked if I could buy a few. I was able to purchase all of the windows for $3 each. They were headed for the crusher for the scrap aluminum, brand new in the original packaging. I decided to see if I could incorporate all of my wishes into one building.”
Looks to me like Jeff achieved his goal. The mower can now park in its tiny carport, the tools hang in their tiny outdoor cupboard, and on the inside his citrus can winter-over and his seedlings can get their start. There’s even a bit of space for an extra bunk.
As the tiny house movement grows it’s exciting to see so many creative people diving in an inventing new solutions to the small space challenge. The tiny house pictured here looks to me like one of those evolutionary steps that will catch on and be emulated and built-upon by others. It’s the Minim House.
If you think it looks a bit wider than most tiny houses you’re right – it is. It’s about 11-feet by 22.5-feet for a total of 210 square feet of usable space. It also has few interior walls which help open the space up. But the icing on the cake is the flexible interior layout with the movable table and roll-out bed.
The only big disadvantage to going past the more common 8.5-foot width is that in many states you’d need a temporary special move permit when moving the house.
There’s no loft. Instead they put the bed under the floor of a slightly raised space at one end of the house. This conceals the bed while still maintaining full use of the space.
Another innovation is the hidden and detachable trailer. The designers figured that since people don’t move tiny houses very often it might be useful to make the trailer a separate part held on by just 15 bolts. The house is also wider than the trailer so the wheels are hidden below and behind the outer walls.
Also included is a stealthy rainwater collection system and the house is off-grid ready. You’ll also notice that the toilet is an Incinolet incinerating toilet, so now sewer connection would be needed – assuming local zoning requirements permitted this.
This house was designed by Foundry Architects and Brian Levy, and was first built by Element Design + Build at Boneyard Studios DC. For more information and visit the Minim Tiny Homes website.
Below: You can see the rainwater collection system, and notice above how the rain gutters are totally hidden.
Below: The bed is pulled out.
Below: The bed is tucked away and the table is setup like a little bar. Maybe set for a party?
Below: Now the table is set for dinner, seating for 6.
Below: Party is over, table has been lowered into coffee table mode.
Below: Time for work. Table now setup as a desk.
Below: Detail shot of the kitchen.
Below: Simple wet bath with Incinolet brand incinerating toilet. The curtain keeps the water off the electric toilet and outlet. Also notice the instant hot water heater hung in plain sight on the wall and exposed copper plumbing.
This small home is just under 400 square feet and is manufactured in Portugal. It was designed by Marta Brandao & Mario Sousa and has an unusual feature – the interior walls move.
It is unique for its ability to be reconfigured by the owners in project and also post-delivery. The interior walls consist of lightweight panels that can be easily relocated or removed by two people. Several years have been spent refining the concept in order to arrive at a finished product that would be quick to manufacture, easy to assemble, of good quality and affordable.”
The overall floor plan is square and the supports are in the corners. This makes it possible to have those wide expanses of glass.
Tiny House Map is a great place to begin a search for tiny house builders near you. It’s a simple mapping tool that Dan Louche and I dreamt-up and Dan coded. Anyone can post their tiny house related effort on the map including workshops, houses for rent & sale, open houses, and businesses.
The view pictured above shows all the tiny house builders listed on the map in the U.S. It’s a world-wide map but most of the listing are in the U.S. so we have it defaulted to that. Most experienced builders of big and small homes could probably build a tiny house, but the folks listed here specialize in tiny homes.
If you’ve got a tiny house or related cause and you’re not on the map be sure to add yourself.
If you’re looking for something tiny house related give the map a search.
As a result of this exploration we now know that a tiny house that could be built without a saw. The direction I went in is just one way to go too – and I’m certain there are many many more. In fact several folks have commented and contacted me directly suggesting some great improvements. I was thinking of running a little design competition to see how many people we could inspire to jump onto this idea – but this whole process sparked a new idea that’s even better.
You see when you choose to avoid using a saw in your design, you end up making compromises that create another kind of waste – the use excess material in the structure. Making cuts for a perfect fit means the house only ends up with just the right amount of material, albeit with some discarded waste lumber.
So what if we took the learnings from the Uncut Tiny House and applied them to a No Waste Tiny House. In other words, take the benefits of avoiding using a saw and combine that with a few strategic saw cuts that result in pieces that are included in the structure. The house should still go together much like a kit with little sawing and the end result would be no wasted material.
But I digress… Let me show you this version of the Uncut Tiny House. The post that follows this one will be my first pass at a No Waste Tiny House.
Located in the funky Alberta Arts District of NE Portland, Oregon (map) is the first tiny house hotel in the USA. There you’ll find three tiny houses that encircle a small courtyard.
Each house is equipped with a bathroom (flush toilet & hot shower), kitchen (hot plate, refrigerator & microwave), electric heat, and sleeping space. Each of the three houses has it’s own unique character too.
The Rosebud – Traditional style, 120 square feet, Sleeps 1-2 people.
The Tandem – A larger tiny house, 160 square feet, Sleeps 1-4 people.
The Pearl – Modern style, 90 square feet, sleeps 1-3 people.
The Advocate Tiny House will be created through crowdsourced collaboration. In other words you can help design it, and the Advocate Tiny House team will build it. When the house is complete they’ll use it to share the world of tiny house living with others. The finished house will be available for touring, traveling, classroom learning, workshops, rental, etc.
At this moment in time the only design decision that has been made is the size and source of the trailer. It will be built on top of one of tiny house trailers available through Tiny Home Builders. So it’s the perfect time to jump into the process. Andrew Odom from the Tiny r(E)volution is spearheading the project.
Joe Everson started Tennessee Tiny Homes in 2012, but Joe has over 15 years experience building custom homes. He’s located near Memphis, Tennessee and in the last year has completed several homes.
What I like about Joe’s work is the diversity of designs he’s exploring – no two houses are alike. They are all outfitted a little differently too, based on the buyer’s needs I assume. They also shows off Joe’s diverse skills.
He is also working on offering financing in an attempt to make his homes more accessible for buyers. Unlike a normal mortgage, it should be possible to pay off a tiny house in the time it takes to pay off a car.
The folks at Outdoor Research have a tiny house for chasing powder. They have a couple seasons under their belts now and a new truck after the first finally passed due to old age. The house serves not only as a ski lodge for the Outdoor Research Sidecountry skiers & snowboarders but serves as an ambassador for the company out in the field.
The house was originally built in 2011 by Zack Griffin, one of the skiers, who works as a carpenter after the snow has melted. Zack and his crew worked steadily for seven weeks and had the house ready just in time for it’s original road trip. It’s only 112 square feet, but sleeps five and has a wood stove for heat. There’s no bathroom, but there is a small kitchen with a fridge and running water. The house has a lot of miles on it now, and seems to be holding up well.
One of the home’s most unique features is the drawbridge bunk. Two wood boards that slide out from below the main loft and connect up front to form a narrow sleeping berth. Two others sleep in the small loft, and two more down below in a sofa bed.
Kudos to Outdoor Research and the Sidecountry Skiers & Snowboarders that made this project happen. Love to see it progressing into multiple seasons. Below are some images grabbed from the videos. Image credit to Outdoor Research.
Here’s a couple of shots showing what it takes to get to their starting line.
Now at the starting line, it’s all downhill from here.
Yikes… not for the faint of heart.
I think the early American pioneers called this kind of terrain impassable.
Tasting the snow.
Love this final shot, a tiny house day dream.
If Outdoor Research is thinking about a future tiny house that (1) has a bathroom, (2) space for snow mobiles, (3) and space for extra gear, they might consider building a new tiny house on a 5th wheel trailer. This should allow you to legally pull a snowmobile trailer too and provide the extra space inside for gear and a bathroom. If you use steel framing or SIPs you’ll save some weight too.
This is a recently completed home by Molecule Tiny Homes in Santa Cruz, California. It’s 17-feet long and has a few notable features: a staircase to the loft, a bathtub, and a fold up porch. The whole thing is very nicely done, but those items really stand out in the crowd.
Stairs don’t normally work well in a tiny house because the height in the loft is too low by the time you climb to the top of the stairs. They solved this issue by using a shed dormer in the loft. I’m not sure why they chose to use a shed dormer just on one side, but it seems to work nicely making a nice asymmetrical loft space. The multiple windows and skylight in the loft also do a nice job of opening that space up.
The bathtub is tucked into a corner of the bathroom behind the sink. In addition to the window in the bathroom there’s a door that opens toward the back, which would seem to give the feeling that you’re soaking in a tub outside. I imagine this was a feature requested by the buyer.
The porch at the front door is hinged and folds-up when the house is being moved. Molecule Tiny Homes have been pioneering the implementation of fold-up porches on tiny houses. The porch on this house is small and appears to be partially supported by cables. I imagine it could also rest on a solid support for a firmer feel under foot. I really like the idea of adding fold-up porches to tiny houses, it adds a bit of extra outdoor decking without eating up precious indoor square footage.
These canvas topped Gypsy wagons are built in Bristol and can be shipped outside the UK. They are built on top of a brand new Alko caravan chassis and the wood frame is made from seasoned pine. The bowtop is made from insulated & waterproofed tarpaulin and the entryways can be hand painted & gold leafed with designs like the romany design below.
They measure 6.5-feet wide and tall and typically 15-feet long and on the inside you’ll find a sleeping space, storage, and ample seating. Compared to the typical tiny house they are very lightweight and can be pulled down the highway at speeds up to 60 miles per hour without damaging the canvas top.