Bill Thomas of Hobbitat Spaces in Maryland developed a passion for small spaces after 30 years of working in the historic restoration and custom home business. With the change in the housing market came a change in his focus of building and he began to develop small, custom homes that are constructed inside and out of the harsh Northeastern winters.
The first Hobbitat (or “Hob”, as they are affectionately called) was constructed using materials from Bill’s grandfather’s barn, windows from his childhood cabin and other reclaimed doors and materials. Hobbitat Spaces then built 13 Hobs for Blue Moon Rising, an ecotourism retreat in western Maryland. Each of the cabins were built with recycled, reclaimed and local materials, giving them a distinct look and feel.
Hobbitat Spaces is now in the process of taking individual orders for their small, hand-crafted homes. Each of the homes are built in a shop and all utilities are contained within the building envelope under insulation. The Homes are built to Maryland State building and energy codes and take about six weeks to complete.
Each Hobbitat contains the following:
• A complete structural framework, built to IRC code, with a Zip system exterior wall sheathing.
• An enclosed floor system that rests on six piers, installed before the building arrives.
• A roof system of hand cut framing or engineered trusses designed to carry a 40 lb. /sq. ft. snow load.
• A 30 gallon electric hot water heater.
• A 100 amp breaker panel and wiring to conform to the current code. Many outlets and light switches as per code.
• Andersen thermal windows. Your choice of 400 or Architectural series.
• A complete thermal cocoon of 2 lb. foam. R-38 for ceilings R23 for side walls and R30 in the floor system.
• A fresh air intake system with an Airetrak 1A control for indoor air quality.
• A plumbing system that allows you to very easily drain the building and walk away for weeks or months.
• Panasonic brand exhaust fans.
Photos by Hobbitat Spaces
ZipKit Homes, a division of Timberhawk Homes, is located in Mt.Pleasant, Utah and features several prefab plans including two that could be perfect, streamlined and efficient tiny homes built with sustainable materials and in a controlled environment. The company focuses on smaller, efficiently designed homes over big homes with extra space that rarely gets used.
Two of their smallest homes are the Skyline which is 400 square feet and the sleek M.1 which is 384 square feet. Each of the homes contains spray foam insulation, a ductless mini-slit heating and cooling system, a tankless, on-demand water heater, LED lighting, wiring for solar power, and 100 percent Energy Star Appliances. Options and various colors can be chosen for cabinets, flooring, countertops and metal roofing.
These prefab homes are built as modules in a controlled factory and are shipped 95 percent completed to the building site where they can be installed. This method generates about 80 percent less waste than standard site built homes. Final cost and payment terms are based on the type of home and options, but ZipKit Homes does offer financing. They can ship anywhere within the U.S., but it is most financial practical to ship within 1,000 miles of the factory in Utah.
Photos by ZipKit Homes
For their first tiny house, Green Valley Natural Builders in Sebastopol, CA decided to build something very small, but beautiful, using only natural, unprocessed and re-used materials. What they came up with is a delightful tiny structure on wheels that cost only $1,500 to build. Because the small company is used to creating houses out of straw bales, cob and wood, they didn’t want the materials for their first 6 foot by 10 foot house to come from the lumber yard.
The group used an old trailer frame, separating and recycling the aluminum and priming the trailer with metal paint. The walls were framed with rough cut 2×2 pieces of wood. The rough cut of the wood varied in thickness by up to a quarter inch and because of this the house began to take on its own dimensions and character. Various sizes of 1/8 inch plywood were used for strength and rigidity and the roof was decked with 1/2 plywood for strength and lightness. The exterior siding was rough milled cedar and fir and recycled blue jean insulation was used inside the walls. The windows came from the old trailer and the door was cut from a slab of 2×12 redwood. Metal roofing was purchased for the roof.
“It was fun to build, although definitely one of the more challenging and time consuming projects I have worked on, due to the variability in the raw material we used and the unplanned natural nature of the design,” said Ganesh of Green Valley Natural Builders. “Tens of hours were spent planning and edging and fitting non-standardized materials. What we saved in material costs we definitely made up for in labor, but the end result is unreplicable making it worth it for me.”
Green Valley Natural Builders is a local builders cooperative with over fifty years of accumulated experience in construction, carpentry, landscaping, heavy equipment operation and forestry. They construct and sell tipi poles, handcrafted furniture, play cabins and dog houses, floating cabins, sweat lodges, saunas, solar water heaters and they are currently working on several collapsible vardos.
The build process of the tiny, tiny house is available on Instructables.
Photos by Green Valley Natural Builders
The tiny EcoPod Holidays vacation homes, located in the Derbyshire area of England are not only portable vardo-like structures, but they have been built from over 50 percent waste materials including sheep’s wool and recycled glass bottles. Each of the EcoPod Holiday huts are available as vacation rentals for people who love to be in the outdoors, but want the comforts of home.
Each of the small structures, scattered around the countryside, are constructed using reclaimed timber with some additional FSC approved woods when needed. The owners also use sheep’s wool or recycled bottles as insulation and all finishes are derived from plant-based paints and natural oils. Solar panels are used for lighting and appliances. EcoPod Holidays also manufactures their own wood burning stoves for space heating and heating water for washing and showering.
Each of the EcoPods have different configurations that include a cozy interior with a kitchen, a dining/sleeping area, a bathroom and shower and some even have an airy conservatory and a balcony. All of them are located in scenic areas close to walking and biking routes. The EcoPod Holidays company will also work with customers to build their own tiny home using local and reclaimed materials.
Photos by EcoPod Holidays