Youth-Built Tiny House for Seattle’s Homeless

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Photo Credit: Alec Gardner

The Green House: A Sustainable, Youth-Built Tiny House for Seattle’s Homeless

At the foot of a hillside dotted with blue-tarped tents and amidst some salmon-pink “sleeping structures” proudly stands one tiny house, glinting green from its street-sign siding at Seattle’s Nickelsville Homeless Community. It’s the only insulated structure at the camp, but that’s not its defining feature; this little house was built by a group of high school students through non-profit carpentry program Sawhorse Revolution in Seattle, WA. Continue reading

This Cob House Offers Plans for a $4,500 Cob Home

Alex Sumerall of This Cob House recently received his natural building training, but already his Tennessee company also offers plans, guides, workshops, consultations, crew training and books on the natural building technique. Cob is an earthen building material that is made from hand formed loaves of clay, sand, straw, and water.

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Alex’s primary design plan is for “The Freeman” cob house, a 120 square foot natural building with an open cathedral ceiling, south facing windows and a loft bedroom. The plans are $37 and include the floor plan, electrical plans, dimensional diagrams, roof and loft plans and a materials and tools list. The size of The Freeman does not need a permit for most counties and can be built for around $4,500. To go along with the plan are several ebooks including Build A Cob House and Cob to Code on how to build a cob house in conjunction with the correct permits and building codes.

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“The Freeman” cob house design

Alex also offers an introduction to cob building workshop in Tennessee, but in case you are not able to make it to the Southeast, This Cob House offers an online course that covers foundations, wall construction, materials and tools, roofing and earthen floors and addition of plumbing and electrical.

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Photos by This Cob House

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Lilypad Homes Converts Spare Bedrooms into Tiny Houses

What if a person wants to take advantage of the benefits of a tiny house, but wants to keep their own home? A junior second unit might be the answer. These tiny studio apartments are built out of spare bedrooms in an existing house and contain everything needed for small, simple living. Rachel Ginis of Lilypad Homes owns a LEED and general contracting business in Marin County, Calif. and lives in her own 230 square foot junior unit—built out of the master bedroom in her home.

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Rachel’s own tiny apartment includes an alcove for the bed, a desk and dining area, a tiny kitchen and a small deck.

“After my daughter went off to college and I started Lilypad I decided to cut my overhead by moving into the efficiency apartment I created from the master bedroom in my home,” Rachel said. “To develop the apartment I converted a walk-in closet into a small kitchen and added an exterior door leading out to a deck that looks out to the wetlands and Mount Tamalpias. The apartment is laid out so that it feels like a diverse collection of rooms all in one. There are five distinct areas: the kitchen, the bathroom, the seating/sleeping area, the office/dressing area and, what I call with amusement, the great room.”

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According to Rachel, Lilypad helps to create more efficient, sustainable and affordable homes in one of the most expensive places in the U.S. Rachel also mentioned that these types of apartments help to empower other people, particularly women, who are struggling to meet expenses.

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Other benefits of this type of tiny house is that existing homes already have the infrastructure required to serve the needs of their designed occupancy. In the case of creating a Lilypad apartment, all the water, energy, parking, road use, etc. for the home has already been calculated in the original permit.

“By efficiently utilizing the spare bedrooms in homes we use resources more efficiently and do not create an additional burden on the existing infrastructure,” Rachel said.

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Various challenges do come along with this type of construction including the permitting expenses and county requirements associated with converting spare bedrooms. This can make the process four or more times as much the cost of new construction. The Lilypad Flexible Housing Initiative is in the process of creating a simple and inexpensive permitting track for the creation of second units made specifically from repurposing spare bedrooms. LilypadFHI is also creating a portfolio of lending partners who will provide funding for the development of this type of second unit.

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For Rachel, the process, the simple living aspect and the sense of community has been worth it.

“It has been an amazing experience pairing down my life to fit into a much smaller space,” she said. “The exercise deciding what was truly necessary and important to me was both insightful and freeing. I left my home furnished for renters, so not only did I create a wonderful small home for myself, but also I left a charming home behind to share with others. It is a truly rewarding experience to create affordable housing for people.”

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Photos by Jocelyn Knight and Lilypad Homes

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Aubergine: Living in a Converted School Bus

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Guest Post by Collin Vickers

Eco-artist and innovator in radical recycling, Katherine Hanson, is living her American Dream in harmony with nature.

Katherine’s tiny house is timid and easily overlooked amidst the lush greenery of spring or the thick snowfall of winter, but she is still my vote for the coolest house at Dancing Rabbit Eco-village. Her name, (I’ve been told she identifies as female,) is Aubergine, and she is living out her golden years in peace and quiet following a long career in education – you see, Aubergine is a converted school bus. (I wonder what all those children would think if they could see the old yellow dog now?)

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At one time, Aubergine was the only running vehicle at Dancing Rabbit, (she even rushed someone with a broken leg to the local hospital,) but now she rests behind an earthen berm on a foundation of gravel-filled rubber tires. She is insulated with rigid foam, and apart from the thin steel framework of her body, she has a conventionally built roof that feeds water into a system of daisy-chained rain barrels, which Katherine uses to water her expansive garden. All told, the construction cost for Aubergine fell under $6,000 and she took several years to build with the help of many hands. Continue reading

Matt’s “Tiny House Tuesdays” at The Generator

The Generator, a maker space in Reno, NV, has given birth to several incredible art pieces that made their first appearance at Burning Man. Embrace 2014, the Pier and the Pier 2 (a giant, half-sunken pirate ship) were constructed by teams in the 34,000 square foot warehouse. Matt Schultz runs The Generator and was principle builder on many of the projects. He’s also building a tiny house.

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“I’m an artist,” Matt said. “Why would I live in a house that someone else built?” Continue reading