Kie’s Tiny House

After following the various blogs about tiny houses for years, I finally decided to take the leap and begin constructing one of my own. As a 21 year old college student, this is not something that many other people my age are partaking in, but I felt that a tiny house would be the most cost effective way to live upon graduation and would give me the opportunity to pay off my debts from student loans as well as save some money as a nest egg for a rainy day.

I have always had an interest in construction, so my degree is going to be in construction management when I graduate this spring. For me, this was another reason a tiny house made perfect sense. In construction, you are generally assigned to a job and will work at it for a few years before moving on to the next job. The next job can be anywhere in the country. By having a mobile house, I am more able to adapt to wherever my job may lead me. This was very important to me because it would make very little sense to build a permanent structure when I may be leaving a place in a few short years.

I am a rather tall individual for a tiny house standing at 6’3” tall, so I had to design that into my house when I began the process. I knew I wanted a loft and wanted to be able to stand on the ground level without feeling constrained. For this reason, I made the height under the loft 7’ tall. With a maximum exterior height of 13’6”, it cut the loft space quite a bit, but I am only planning on using the loft for sleeping and storage, so very little time will be spent up there. Under the loft I have the kitchen and the bathroom with the great room open to the ceiling when you walk in. This was important to me because although it is a small space, I wanted it to feel open and airy upon entry.

As previously mentioned, I am a college student, and as most college students, I am broke, so I had to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality wherever possible. Starting at the beginning of the project, I was able to use savaged materials my dad had laying around the golf course he works at to save costs up front. Even the trailer I am using, while it looks rough, is rated up to 11,000 pounds and I got it for a very good price from a friend of my dad’s. To further save on materials, I began going to pre-demolition sales, where you go through a house that is going to be torn down and bid on items that you want. Through this, I was able to get a front door for the house, oak flooring for only $0.35/square foot, and pine planking for the walls that came to $50 for about 500 square feet. The reason the prices are so low compared to buying new is that you need to put in the labor to remove the materials you purchase on your own. The oak flooring was the hardest to remove because it is all tongue-and-groove, so we had to be careful to not damage those fragile parts when we removed it.

For more information on my build, you can follow my blog at: Kiestinyhouse.wordpress.com

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below and I will be more than happy to answer them.

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Joe3 - December 7, 2011 Reply

I like your approach, you’re way ahead of he curve. I believe there are lots of used/salvage materials out there for minimal cost…’sweat labor’ can be easily used instead of cash. Although you and I are at opposite ends of our working lives, I still think building a timy home would be fun and beneficial. I’ve have signed up for your blog and will follow with great interest.

Sarah - December 7, 2011 Reply

I’m really glad to see someone my age being able to pull this off. Gives me hope.
It looks like I’ll have to wait till I graduate college to start my tiny house. Haven’t been able to catch a break on starting it while in college.
Good luck!

    Kieron Maibusch - December 7, 2011 Reply

    Sorry to hear you haven’t been able to start yours yet Sarah. Keep saving up money and drawing up plans so that when the time comes, you’ll know how you want your house to look!

    I’ve been lucky since I’ve been working for years and saving certain percentages of it for a rainy day. I figured I could take that saved money and use it to build my tiny house.

Gabriel - December 7, 2011 Reply

In spite of saying “I am broke, so I had to find ways to cut costs” this venture has done only good and made you rich in many ways: You’ve gained more experience (Did you think about making a picture album of your progress and present it at a job interview?), you can sell it and start a new venture with your money, practice your financial management and make things better your way. Everything starts small, and this one is a good start. Good luck and many more ventures to come!

    Kieron Maibusch - December 7, 2011 Reply

    Gabriel, thank you for the well wishes and confidence. I have considered the other things I could do with the house if I grow weary of living in it, and at least at this point, I don’t see myself selling it. This is mainly because of all the sweat equity that is in it, as well as just the memory of building it with my dad so far.

    I had not thought about bringing an album along for job interviews, but I have included my blog on my resume for potential employers to peruse.

terminalcitygirl - December 7, 2011 Reply

Who is this smart at 21?! Way to go Kie! Best of luck, will look forward to seeing your build progress.

TM - December 7, 2011 Reply

I am really admire this young gentleman Kie .
MY 2 sons are older than Mr Kie ( 27 & 24 ) but they never thought the way Mr Kie did ( save money on the rain day )
To think of the future , to put into action ( building a tiny house ) and to really work on saving money ( to buy stuff on the old house , take it off and re built back in the tiny house ) it is a very long process , dedicate time consuming & effort and real sweat .
I wish Mr Kie a best of luck , a great future and keep a good work .
BY the way , the design of the tiny seem a bit small to me , but if it is what Mr Kie needs , if that is all he can afford , that is count . TM.

alice - December 7, 2011 Reply

Just looking at your floor plan, wondering if you wouldn’t be better off having the shower open right into the kitchen area so you could tuck the toilet into a smaller space between shower and wall without needing the floor space between them in a separate bathroom area. If you’re the only one living there it should be fine and the toilet area would still be fully enclosed. You’d gain a bit of space in your main living area.

    Kieron Maibusch - December 7, 2011 Reply

    I didn’t show the loft, but I am having the bathroom extend to the end of the loft. Having an extra 9″ or so of living space would not have made much difference, and it would have driven me crazy having it not be even with the end of the loft. I am planning on having a pocket door to enter the bathroom though so that I don’t lose any space.

      alice - December 7, 2011 Reply

      Ah,OK, I totally get that. Looks like a great space, you’re going to have a comfy life in there for sure.

Will - December 7, 2011 Reply

I am impressed by your design, efficient use of space certainly can go a long way. I like used ikea furniture purchased from craigslist or similar as a cheap source for (mostly) high quality building materials. Or even better the “freecycle” yahoo group for your local area. I find the ikea products to be well made in general, but they are absolutely well engineered and often the materials are quality even on the lower end of their product line. In my opinion so much so that any stuff showing wear and tear or in our throw away society “broken,” can usually be brought back to full functionality with minimal effort. Especially things like shelving might be well suited for permanent installation. Perhaps a divider system based on free hanging cloth panels attached by velcro at cieling (and floor?) would give the layout versatility to the dividing line between kitchen/bathroom/greatroom as the situation merits.

My family and I are in the process of moving a 1500sq ft household of 5 from Philly 15 hours away to St Louis. For the past few weeks we have been on the giving side of many freecycle transactions in an attempt to downsize, but still have way too much stuff. For me this was never more apparent than it was today because we boxed and there is nothing like a stack of boxes to convey scale versus when things are spread among all those places we use to set the things down that we don’t need but have a concept in our head that they have some residual value. The tiny house concept intrigues me especially in the fact that these spaces insist on having every object and surface and unit of volume used efficiently. The mobility of your design is an obviously an added bonus. I wanted to ask what your approach is to lighting and also to wish you the best of luck in this build as well as in school of course.

    Kieron Maibusch - December 14, 2011 Reply

    For lighting I will have a ceiling fan/light combo in the main living area that should illuminate everything. I am planning on using LEDs or CFLs in the loft, kitchen, and bathroom because they use very little electricity and do not heat up as much as incandescent bulbs.

Gigi - December 8, 2011 Reply

Thanks for sharing. I am very much interested to see your progress. Nice work, keep it up! 🙂

Connie - December 8, 2011 Reply

Good luck, Kie with the rest of you built,and enjoy the time with yr Dad (if he’s helping you)
Hope your weather co-operates also..
Happy building!

Alex - December 8, 2011 Reply

Cool! Thanks for sharing, Kie. Glad you were able to use some salvage parts to save money.

Dave L - December 10, 2011 Reply

Depending upon where you will move to, it may be wise to plan some way to anchor this mobile tiny house to the ground in places where there are high winds.

GIGator - December 10, 2011 Reply

Kie,

I am very impressed! I have 2 boys, the oldest 17 and the youngest 12. I am trying my best to teach them responsibility and how to be goal oriented! Your parents are very proud of you, I’m sure! I ,recently, retired as a Warden with the FL prison system and over the years I saw many young men throw their lives away. It’s good to see a young man who has things in order and solid goals set! Just keep your focus and never let anyone steal your dreams! You will be tested and there will be times when you will question your own actions; however, things work out, as long as you are willing and able to adjust on the fly!

If you are going to move the house, I would rig up some kind of hinged walls where you can make the front pointed for aerodynamics. You’re pretty bright, apparently, so, I’m sure you can come up with something. Reducing the drag will save you a lot of fuel and make it easier on you vehicle. Are you going to pull it with a Honda Civic? 😉

Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing it finished!

    TM - December 10, 2011 Reply

    My points exactly . I agree with you . I said earlier , my sons are 27 & 24 ( not young like yours ) My sons are great kids …but they have no sense of saving …all they do is working and then spending their money without thinking about their future ( for rain day )
    I came from a poor country and I have had to save a lot so I can have what I have right now . But the younger generation does not realize it …now it is a tough time . They need to save to secure their future in this tough economy .
    Kie’s parents must be wonderful parents to teach this young man how to work , save and look into the future with a clear mind …and willing to sweat for his dream …that is count a lot .
    Keep up the great work , Kie . TM.

sesameB - December 12, 2011 Reply

great. I live small too here in rural south central sunny Arkansas!

Regina Marie Maibusch - December 14, 2011 Reply

Kie, I’m so proud of you. sory it took me so long to write. I have no comments on the size or shape of rooms. It is hard for me to visualize being in it even though I am much shorter than you, Kie. I hope I get to see it before you move it. I will try to send the pictures of your house to Fr.Henry. He will be so proud of you.
continued blessings on your work. Aunt Regina

Danielle - December 20, 2012 Reply

I am a 20 year old college student, I just finally started at a 4 year institution after 2 years at the community college. I decided to live on campus and regret it very much! The space to price ratio is ridiculous. It’s maybe 10′ by 7′ for 4+K a semester. I am going to start construction on my tiny house this summer (2013) and will be living in a local rv park (I’m going to put a grey water tank to make it more rv-like.) Your story inspires me. I am so glad to know that other people my age are able to follow through with building their own home. I’m going to use salvaged materials in every possible way. I hope you are enjoying life in the big little house!

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