Our winner is Sarah and you will receive the book from Billy. Thank you everyone for trying!
This is a guest post by Billy Ulmer, author of the new ebook “Life in a Tiny House: Ten Inspiring Stories about How Your Home Can Change Your Life.” We are giving away a free copy of the ebook – be sure to read to the end to find out how to enter.
Are there any skills or experiences you simply must have before you begin building a tiny house? That was one of the questions I wanted to answer when I traveled all over America to visit people who built or designed their own tiny homes. I might have guessed that having a design or construction background would be the key, but several of the ten households I interviewed and photographed had only partial experience in the actual skills necessary to build a house, and some had none at all. As I asked everyone why and how they created their homes, and how living there has changed their lives, I learned that they shared more common threads between their perspectives on the world than between their prior skills.
Their attitudes on how much space is “enough,” how to handle the uncertainty of parking, and how to learn new skills were some of the quiet keys to how they successfully designed and built their tiny homes – and they may be the keys to your own tiny house journey. These perspectives, and the unique lives they helped people create for themselves, are the focus of “Life in a Tiny House,” the ebook I released last week.
Why Perspective Matters When You’re Building a Tiny Home
When I started working for Dee Williams at PAD Tiny Houses a year and a half ago, there was one thing about the tiny house movement that really surprised me. While there were tons of great, technical resources about how to build a tiny house – which trailer to buy, what kind of heater to use – there were very few resources that addressed the more human factors of the process. For instance, that choosing any kind of home is a little scary, let alone one that a lot of people won’t understand, and that isn’t necessarily legal. We like to think that we make big decisions based on cold, hard facts, but our feelings have a tremendous impact on what we do, because they determine what we think we can do.
While it seems like the top success factors involved in building a tiny house would be design and construction experience, that wasn’t the case with the people I interviewed. But many of them shared similar perspectives and beliefs about what they were capable of, how to conquer challenges, and whether their decisions were risky or safe. If you’re interested in building a tiny house, you can learn a lot of helpful attitudes from others that can help you move past the challenges of the process. Here are some perspectives that can help you live your dream.
Perspective Helps You Tackle Challenges
I’m not saying you can build a tiny house with just a hammer and a can-do attitude, but your attitude can either help you or deter you from gathering the skills and resources you need. Candice didn’t have any design or construction experience, but her confidence that she could build her house grew as she did lots of homework, took educational workshops, and met others who had built their own little homes. A valuable perspective she held was that her lack of experience wasn’t some kind of flaw – it was just the step before learning. So if other people can learn to build, then so can she.
Candice said, “I’m not crazy – I know these things need to be put together. I figure, I’ll learn. There’s a book. There’s a YouTube video. There are a lot of people who have done this before. I can learn. I’m not stupid. If they can do it, I can do it. The people who have done it make me feel very encouraged.” That perspective is vital, because if she had thought, “I haven’t learned to build a house yet, so I probably can’t learn now,” she never would have taken the steps that helped her move forward.
Perspective Creates Options
Is there any better feeling than the feeling of possibility? Like there are multiple options open to you, and you’re just choosing the best one? Perspective has a huge impact on what we think our options are. If you’ve only ever lived in a 2,000-square foot home, a 200-square foot home probably feels like another world. But living in different spaces and smaller spaces helps people realize that their life can take place in many different settings, and that they’ll just adapt to them.
Chris and Malissa Tack never felt like their 140-square foot home was really that small. They lived in small apartments in famously-cramped New York City, and according to Malissa, had visited a friend in San Francisco whose, “Apartment was a closet space – his bed fit, and that’s it. He learned to adjust.” Seeing the size of your home as negotiable is a perspective that opens up your options. If Chris and Malissa had felt that 1,000 square feet was the bare minimum they could call home, they would have had to wait until they could get a traditional mortgage. But since they had broadened their perspective on what size a home “should” be, they were able to build their tiny home immediately.
One of the trickiest issues in the tiny home community is their complicated legal status, and perspective plays an enormous role here. The people I met who built homes on wheels had many different reasons that they were comfortable in a home they could potentially be asked to move, but they all came from their attitudes on flexibility and problem solving. Aldo summed this up well, feeling that he didn’t need to solve all the potential problems of parking before they occurred, and that there will always be multiple options available: “I figured I’d come up with a solution. I didn’t need to come up with it beforehand. I didn’t seriously get concerned about that because I felt like something would work. I grew up camping. I knew that, if there’s not a camping site here, if you keep going down the road, they’ll be one somewhere.”
Even if you didn’t grow up camping, you can try and adopt that perspective by learning from Aldo, Chris and Malissa, Candice, and others who found reasons that a home on wheels would work for them. Changing your own mind isn’t easy, but it’s especially worth studying the attitudes of others if they have something you dream about – like a tiny house.
Shift Your Perspective By Seeing Through Another’s Eyes
Many of the people I spoke with found it super valuable to feel like they could connect and relate to others who were also pursuing tiny homes, which is a huge part of why I wrote this book. It’s easy to see a million gorgeous photos of tiny houses and still feel like actually living in one is too difficult or too risky. But when you see the stories of those who have already built and moved into tiny homes through their own eyes, you might feel like living in your own tiny house isn’t such a stretch after all.
Enter to Win “Life in a Tiny House”
As a special offer for the readers of Tiny House Blog, we’re giving away a copy of Life in a Tiny House: Ten Inspiring Stories About Your Home Can Change Your Life to one lucky reader.
The ebook is a collection of stories and advice to inspire people to take action on their own tiny house dreams. It features over 200 pages of photos and interviews with people who live in tiny homes, discussing questions like these:
Why did a tiny house feel right to them?
How did they go about designing, building and moving in?
What is life like now that they’ve been living there, for between a few months and ten years?
It also shares why tiny houses aren’t as “extreme” as some might think, offers useful perspectives on how people overcame the challenges in their own journeys, and recommends practical steps to help anyone create some of the benefits of tiny house living, no matter where they call home. Learn more about the ebook at Unlikely Lives.
To enter the contest just write in the Comment Section below about how Life in a Tiny House would inspire you to move forward on your own tiny house dreams. On November 30, 2014 I will announce the winner. The winner will be chosen using Randomizer where I will enter how many people entered and it will choose one randomly. I will then contact you and connect you with Billy to to receive the book. Good luck and thank you for your continued support here at the Tiny House Blog.