Tiny House Decisions Book Giveaway

Congratulations to our Winner Kelly Foster! Thanks everyone for your participation!

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book Tiny House Decisions: Everything I Wish I Knew When I Built My Tiny House, by Ethan Waldman.

book 1

If you are looking into building your own tiny home, I highly recommend Ethan Waldman’s book. Ethan answers the questions you should be asking yourself from the start. He walks you through construction decisions and the infrastructure of where and how to place your home and much more. A must read.

We are giving away one complete digital edition of the book- be sure to read to the end to find out how to enter.

book 2

Is a tiny house right for you?

You may assume you’re past this question, but I think it’s an important one to cover before we go any farther. People who look at gorgeous, quaint tiny houses on Pinterest all day are not getting the full picture. Aside from all the space issues, living in a tiny house comes with its own set of challenges.The biggest one of these is that tiny houses are either explicitly illegal or fall in a legal grey area when you decide to live in one full time.

The laws in your individual municipality will be different than the laws in mine, but building a tiny house will likely mean building a structure that doesn’t fit so neatly within the letter of the law. Out of this very challenge, though, comes an opportunity: One of the big advantages to building on wheels is that your house will likely not be subject to building code, because the house is not considered a building. This is good because it allows you to build whatever you want, wherever you want, without any interference. However, when you turn around and decide to live in that same house, since it’s not considered a house by the building code, it will be subject to other rules. It’ll likely be considered a “temporary structure” or lumped into the same category as an RV or travel trailer. Do you see the paradox here? You can build the house any way you like because it’s not considered a legal “house,” but that very same rule will prevent you from living in it legally full time.

As far as I can tell, even in my rural town of Morrisville, Vermont, my tiny house falls in the same category as a “camper.” The code states that campers “shall not be used as living quarters for more than 30 days within a 12-month period.” So if you take a literal interpretation of the code, I am breaking the law. And it’s likely that your tiny house will be illegal in one way or another, too:

  • It may be legal for you to build but illegal for you to live in all year round.
  • It may be legal for you to park but illegal to hook up to utilities.
  • The way you park it may be illegal; for example, it may need to be on a concrete slab or a certain distance from other structures.
  • Your loft bedroom may be illegal due to lack of egress.
  • It may be illegal for you to build a “house” without a flush toilet.

I could go on, but I think you see the point.

I’m not saying that these laws are fair or come from a system that’s designed to encourage small or sustainable building (it’s not), but this is the reality of the current legal landscape. And it’s something that you, as a potential tiny house owner, need to be aware of.

What the legal gray area means for my tiny house, at least, is that I am unwilling to purchase land for the house. Since I rent the land that the house is on, I could always move it if I got in trouble. If I were to purchase land and then get kicked off, I could be in a situation where I’ve spent a lot of money for land that I can’t live on in my tiny house. That would not be good. Rather, if I were to purchase land, I would work with the local municipality to get a pass to put my tiny house there before I ever started building.

However cute they are, keep in mind that tiny houses are still new and the establishment is still figuring out what to do with them. I have no doubt that the tiny house movement will wind up on the “good guy” side of history, but in the meantime, you may be limited by both where and how you can live. If you’re okay with this small level of legal ambiguity, then a tiny house may very well be right for you.

That is just one small taste of over 200 pages of tiny house decisions, explained in clear language with pros and cons for each choice. Tiny House Decisions is an excellent resource!

Ethan is providing one complete digital edition, featuring multimedia extras to one reader of the tiny house blog. This includes:

  • Tiny House Decisions in PDF, Mobi, and ePub Formats
  • 8 Audio/Video interviews with leading tiny house experts
  • 12 video system tours from Ethan’s own tiny house build

Learn more about the book and all of the packages here.

Enter to Win the Complete Digital Edition

To enter the contest simply write in the Comment Section below and tell me how Tiny House Decisions will help you overcome the challenges of your dream tiny home. On Wednesday, September 17, 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 Ethan to to receive the book. Good luck and thank you for your continued support here at the Tiny House Blog.

Coupon Code for Tiny House Blog

Ethan is also offering a limited time launch discount to the readers of Tiny House Blog. Between now and midnight eastern time on Monday, September 22nd, you can get 15% off any of the Tiny House Decisions packages by entering the coupon code tinyhouseblog2014 at checkout!

The Path to Mortgage-Freedom – Tiny House Family’s ecourse

by Hari Berzins

During the big snow storm last week, Karl and I walked up the hill from our tiny house to our newly dried-in (Woohoo!) big house to watch the falling snow. The snow in the woods was magical and the view in all directions was spectacular. I looked up at the rafters and there was no snow falling in the house! We were dry. After more than a year of watching rain and snow fall on our house, this was big. I smiled at Karl. “How does it feel to go into this snow storm with a finished roof on the house?” He took a deep breath. “You have no idea.”

dried in house

That was a nice moment.

We’ve come so far, and it’s so important to take time to celebrate all of the milestones along the way.

Hi, I’m Hari Berzins from tinyhousefamily.com. My husband Karl and I built a mortgage-free micro-homestead and have worked our plan for the last five years. We’ve created an online course to help others realize their dream of mortgage-freedom.


In 2008, we had to totally redesign our life after losing our restaurant and home in the financial crisis. With a firm resolve to never use credit again, we started over. We dreamed of building a homestead for cash. With $300 to our name, owning a mortgage-free homestead seemed like an impossible dream.

I searched and searched for others who had lost everything and built a new life that included debt-free home ownership. How happy I would have been to find a course like ours, but I guess it was our work to write The Plan: Creating Your Pathway to Mortgage Freedom.

Our plan was a simple one and simply radical. We would work hard, stop buying, sell, donate, downsize, make a budget, and save every penny. We would find a little piece of land,


buy it for cash, and grow a homestead. We saved, worked, bought land, drilled a well, dug a septic system, built a tiny house, and are now completing the exterior of our main house. We did all of this with cash and time. We now live our impossible dream!

In our rebuilding process, we’ve relied on several practices of deep self-care to affirm that our worthiness is not attached to the balance of our bank account, nor our foreclosure, nor our belly-up business. We’ve relied on these practices to cultivate the contentedness and patience we need to thrive in our 8’ x 21’ ft. tiny house while we build our right-sized house. And we’ve relied on these practices to keep the faith when we have no idea how we are going to get through the next phase. We will share these practices with you because this change is for the long haul and we want you to be successful getting there.

tiny house

You might wonder why we are building a bigger house. The tiny house has been our ticket to mortgage-freedom. This phase of the plan has taught us so much about what we really need, about compromise, communication and delayed gratification, but we need room for our art, space to dance, and entertain, space for our children (now 9 & 11) to grow into adults. Space is so very personal, and we will explore your needs for space in the course. You will design a plan and a homestead to fit your unique lifestyle and budget.

Our little journey has attracted the attention of many media outlets which has brought with it a ton of emails with questions about our plan. We felt the need to compile a comprehensive course to guide others down the path to mortgage-freedom.

Now when I look up the hill at the main house, I’m so thankful we chose this route. It’s not an easy path. It’s hard in the beginning. It’s hard to talk yourself out of those moments when you just want to give in and blow your budget on a dinner out, or buy those cool new hiking boots or whatever it is the merchants pry your self-esteem with. With practice, this has become the norm for us, and the urges are rare. We’ll help you with this, too.

“. . . I will act, says Don Quixote,
as if the world were what I would have it to be,
as if the ideal were real. . .
— Don Quixote de la Mancha, Cervantes

There were lots of naysayers in the beginning, even family and friends who thought we were crazy. How in the world are the four of you going to live in that little house without killing each other?

the family

We are still alive almost three years after moving in, and look what it’s enabled us to do. We live mortgage-free on our own land; we’re raising animals and growing food. We get to be choosy about the work we do, and we spend tons of family time together. And once we move into our main house, we’ll have a micro bed and breakfast ready to go!

What would your life look like if you didn’t have a mortgage payment? If your dream is to simplify your life by building a tiny house, we can help you get there.

Having a supportive community is all important when making a “tiny” lifestyle change such as this. As part of our course, you’ll have access to a private Facebook group where you will connect with other like-minded individuals to discuss course materials, share ideas and support each other in creating your very own micro-homestead.

This e-course is 5 weeks long and begins on September 20, 2014. If you want to join us, see all the details here: http://tinyhousefamily.com.

kids loft


living room


Tiny House Workshop in Worcester, MA

tiny house

Photo Tammy Strobel (cc)

My name is Ian Anderson and you posted about my tiny house project a couple of years ago on the Tiny House Blog (here is the post). It is a 100 square foot timberframe house in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is still a work in progress, but moving along! You can follow at my blog here: www.littletimberhouse.blogspot.com

I wanted to let you know that I am going to be teaching a tiny house workshop this September 28 through October 3rd In Leicester, Massachusetts. We are accepting six students. We will be starting with a used 20′ trailer and in one week we will build the frame of the house, sheath it, roof it, and install windows and siding. Lunch is included and a space to camp can be provided. The price is $475, all inclusive. To get all the details follow the links below.

See http://thebeeskneestiny.wordpress.com/details/ for more info, and http://www.worcesterthinktank.com/content/tiny-house-building-workshop-adults-18 for registration.