During a trip to Portland last week, I was fortunate enough to meet up with Deb and Kol of Caravan — The Tiny House Hotel in the cool and funky area of Alberta Street in the Northeast part of the city. Most readers know about the couple’s selection of tiny homes for nightly rental in the middle of the city, and now the hotel has a new addition. The 160 square foot Skyline is Caravan’s newest tiny house available for guests and reflects a rustic, Western style with a cozy interior and some great details.
Skyline was built in the Portland driveway of Eric Bohne and completed this February. Eric works full time as a craftsman and also built his own house on the Oregon coast out of recycled materials. His company, Metalwood Salvage, sells salvaged metal pieces and his design and carpentry business, Alter Areas, focuses on re-purposing unique building materials.
The Skyline does not have a loft, but a bunked sleeping and living area. The typical ladder has been replaced with a short, metal staircase. The main part of the house has a bar style eating area and a kitchen with a roomy farm sink and storage. One of the most unusual parts of the trailer is the bathroom. It includes a shower and angled toilet that fits just perfectly into the tongue of the trailer. An ingenious folding ladder sits above the toilet in a metal bracket. It can be unfolded for accessibility to a storage loft above the bathroom.
Deb and Kol recently had an open house for Caravan and the line formed around the block.They estimated about 1,000 to 1,500 people from all walks of life visited the hotel. When I visited on a warm, dry evening (unexpected in Portland during the spring) we sat in the courtyard around a metal burn barrel (fueled with scrap lumber Kol gathers from around the city) and chatted about tiny houses, codes and laws, permits and opportunities. Deb and Kol’s own permitting process was “creative and long” but they feel that their hotel is a unique and legitimate staging area as to what is possible in the tiny house industry.
“With the tiny house movement, everything about it is good,” Deb said. “There is no reason not to make it happen.”
Portland is a hotbed of the tiny house movement and the excitement and possibilities for the dwellings are really catching on. During this warm night, the Caboose was filled with four young people, a young couple from Chicago were enjoying the Portland-themed Tandem and the Rosebud was inhabited by a travel writer from New York — all visitors curious about tinier living. The hotel not only seems to be a tidy selection of tiny houses, but a gathering place for interesting, like-minded people.
Photos by Caravan — The Tiny House Hotel and Christina Nellemann
A tiny house may not always work out as a permanent home for everyone. Shawn and Jamie Dehner of the Small House Catalog have lived for the past two years in one of their own designs called the Moschata Rolling Bungalow. This orange delight cost $17,000 to build, sits on a lot the couple owns and contains a full kitchen where they are able to cook and bake, a bathroom with a sink, an RV sized tub and a shower and toilet. The vaulted living room has window sills that are wide enough for their cat to sit on and the sleeping loft has a queen size bed. However, the building codes in their home of Point Roberts, Wash. requires that they build a permanent home within two years.
Their new home will be 700 square feet and the Rolling Bungalow will become their company’s office. The Small House Catalog designs, drafts and occasionally builds small houses and tiny “rolling” bungalows. Their designs are influenced by the kit houses and bungalows of the early 20th Century and are cozy, comfortable and stylish. Both the houses and plans are also affordable for the average person. Several of their plans include the Beekeeper’s Bungalow which is 680 square feet and costs $249 and the 200 square foot Tinka which is free to download. The Small House Catalog also has a great blog that covers a multitude of small and tiny house issues including design aesthetics, small house styles and reviews.
The couple will not leave their rolling home without some regret.
“We’ve met just about all our neighbors (and maybe even our whole town). We never would have met so many people here otherwise,” Jamie said in a recent article for CNN Living. “We’ve even become a landmark…”turn left just after that cute little orange house” is apparently a commonly offered direction! It was a simple, fun building project that solved an immediate need by providing us with clean and comfortable shelter. Furthermore, it saved us a ton of money as we were able to say goodbye to our rental and keep $1,000 a month in our pocket.” Continue Reading »
by Jo-Anne Peck, President of Historic Shed Custom Outbuildings
There comes a time when anyone who dreams of living in a small house has to ask the question, “Where will I put my tiny house?” When choosing to site build a little house, this becomes an ever bigger question since zoning codes and neighborhood association rules are often at odds with small house goals. As a result, many tiny house people look to rural areas where restrictions may be less stringent. However, not everyone prefers country living, and site development costs for utilities can be prohibitive on undeveloped land.
For those that would rather live within more established areas, close to walkable stores and with sociable neighbors, older and historic neighborhoods may be a good choice for building a new small home. The average size of an American single-family home has grown exponentially over the years, but most of our ancestors managed to live in much less square footage, often with much larger families. Therefore, there are many established neighborhoods with precedent for small homes. Historically laid out with small lots (for example, much of the historic core of Lake Worth, FL was platted with 25′ wide lots), local zoning in designated historic districts is often tailored so that new construction within the district remains in scale with the historically smaller homes in the neighborhood. In addition, many historic neighborhoods also allow accessory structures behind the main home that can be even tinier than the main home. Continue Reading »
Many times readers ask me about building codes and unfortunately I am not an expert in this area. Fortunately I have readers who keep their eyes open for me on the internet and recently TD spotted an expert in this area and shared his link with me.
There is a blog written by Tom Meyers called Sustainable Building Codes. Tom Meyers of Berthoud, Colorado is a building code regulator, who is active in the revision of the modern building codes. He is concerned about the effect of regulation and the consequence it has on the production of affordable and sustainable residential construction. Recently, Tom did a couple of articles that relate directly with tiny houses and their legality and the issues that go with their construction. I wanted to let you know about them and send you to his blog so that you can learn from his knowledge. The articles are Tiny House Code Compliance – 120 Square Foot Exemption? and Tiny House Code Compliance Part 2.
I hope this information will help you and I will link to it on the links page so you can keep up with Tom’s writings. Thanks again TD for sharing this with me and thanks Tom for sharing your knowledge with us.