Robinia a Tiny House Case Study

Dennis and Sharon

Dennis and Sharon

Sharon Bagatell and Dennis Hoffarth combine permaculture principles with passion for the planet in Robinia, a tiny house case study in pioneering an ecologically sustainable lifestyle for the future.

Permaculture is way of life that integrates all dimensions of the human condition into a collaborative whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Practitioners weave a rich tapestry of systems for building, growing food, earning income and nurturing relationships with one another that enhance functionality and multiply our joys while meeting everyone’s needs. It is a lifestyle rooted in ethics that promote reciprocal partnerships between humankind and our environment that are based on care rather than exploitation. The endgame is an abundant world where everyone can enjoy a high quality of life, wherein our problems are solved in the garden instead of on the battlefield. Continue reading

Making A Living With A Tiny House Based Business

One of the top asked questions about living a nomadic lifestyle be it in a THOW, an RV, a travel trailer, or a luxury cruise ship, is how to earn any sort of living in order to explore the world around you and focus less on the corporate stronghold and more on your passions. It seems to be a riddle for which we are all seeking the answer. It is important though to remember that our priority should not be on making money but finding passion in what we are doing. A tiny house based business should expand with us and not limit our freedom to travel, exploration, adventure, connection, etc. But what can be done as a nomad? What kind of business can be operated on wheels, on the open sea, or from a remote outpost with little interaction other than that with nature around us?

THOW based 1There seem to be two categories of businesses when it comes to the THOW based industry. There are those that cater to the THOW and there are those that are based OUT OF the THOW. Examples of the first category might be:

  • Tiny House Sales and Marketing
  • Solar Panel Distribution
  • Solar Power Maintenance
  • Wind Turbine Maintenance
  • Housecleaning
  • Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning
  • Meal Prep and Delivery
  • Computer Tech Services
  • Trailer Tech
  • Brake Specialist
  • Spot Welder
  • Windshied/Window Repair
  • General Handyman
  • Wooden Display Signs
  • Locksmithing
  • Exterior Painting
  • THOW/RV Detailing

Continue reading

Matt and Kathleen’s 5th Wheel

You wouldn’t normally think of a 5th wheel trailer as a tiny house, but when I was invited over to Matt and Kathleen’s Forest River Cardinal trailer which is parked behind a friend’s home, I was astounded at how cozy and “house-like” it felt. The couple, who downsized from their home in Seattle to this 30-foot trailer about a year ago, have turned it into a little mobile retreat.


A few years ago, a trip to India opened the couple’s eyes to an alternative way of life and they decided to sell their home in Seattle and most of their belongings. Kathleen said they were both “ready for wheels on a house” and wanted more time for themselves and each other. Matt works as a freelance multimedia designer and Kathleen is an acupuncturist, so their jobs can go on the road with them. Their cats, Mojo and Chloe, also travel along with them and seem to love their new, sunny home.


The couple’s travels have taken them to several RV parks and campgrounds in the West and they spent last winter on a relative’s ranch in Arizona. They currently live in the large acreage behind a friend’s home and pay $500 a month which includes their utilities and Internet access. Since this winter will be colder than the one in Arizona, the 10,500 lb trailer has currently been fitted with a plywood skirt to protect the tanks and pumps. Matt mentioned that the skirting keeps the bay and bottom of the trailer about 4 to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air.

The reason the couple chose a fifth wheel rather than a wooden tiny house on wheels is simple: Matt is 6’2″ and needed the headroom. This particular trailer was also rated one of the highest in insulation value. The couple purchased the fifth wheel from Fife RV in Washington for $14,500 and it contains a slider for the living room, a cozy kitchen and dining area, a stand-up work station for Matt, a shower and separate toilet, full bedroom, and they keep it warm with the propane/electric furnace and small space heaters. Gray and black water is first sent through a grinding pump before being pumped into the home’s septic system.






Kathleen said that while it can be difficult to keep the trailer warm and that cleaning out the tanks is not fun, she loves the freedom of the trailer.

“I love the mobility and the idea of being totally self contained,” she said. Matt added that he also loves that there’s no wasted space and he totally digs the trailer’s “Command Center” where they can keep an eye on the level of the tanks, the lighting and battery system.

“We were a bit worried about what people would think of us,” Matt said. “But the response to our decision to move into the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive.”


Photos by Harry Thomas

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Living Green In Small Spaces

Guest post by Mark Russell of Apartment Guys

These days we all want to go green. It is no longer a trend followed only by the tree huggers and the hippies – it is a fully fledged movement with C.E.O.’s and world leaders singing its anthems. Living an environmentally friendly, eco-conscious lifestyle is not just good for the planet; it is also good for your finances. When you use less energy, for example, you also spend less on your energy bills – makes sense, right? So there are a number of reasons besides plain old environmentalism to go green. Every person, though, needs to find ways to adapt their particular lifestyle to be greener, using less energy, and creating less waste. There are a number of ways to achieve these goals, no matter where you live or what you do.

Living in a small space presents a number of its own unique challenges. Where do you keep all of your things? How do you cook without a full kitchen? But going green is not hard to do in a small apartment or loft. Actually, you might find that it makes your life easier. Below are some tips for living green in a small space.

small apartment

TIP #1 – It’s time to do some spring cleaning. Before you do anything else, you need to really clean house. Make five piles: keep, store, donate, recycle, trash. Go through everything you own and put it into one of these categories. Emptying your apartment of your belongings will make it cleaner, keep your air fresher, and even make your life less stressful. Donate everything you don’t want but someone else can use. Recycle things like broken or old electronics. Trash only the things that can’t be put in the other piles. Continue reading

Happy, Simply – A Lifestyle Model and Education Project.

Debt free – healthy, happy, and with lots of friends. Where the best things in life are not things, where less is more and, where just enough is plenty!

The lifestyle model includes:

  • Sustainable living – shelter, food, water, energy, transport, waste, environment
  • Community participation – volunteering, active citizenship
  • Education – learning, simple sustainable choices, self-sufficiency, and rich experiences

A model for life and an educational project to learn from with information and inspiration.

happy simple life

Of most interest to the Tiny House community this website will be the Happy, simply home – a 10m2 house built by a group of volunteers using mainly reused, recycled, or left-over materials in two weeks for under $8000 NZ ($6700USD).

To live simply is the ultimate sophistication and luckily I have been fortunate to live and learn from the world’s poorest who, unfortunately, don’t get to choose simplicity, but are masters of living simply and being more connected to their families, communities, and the environment around them.

Simplicity has so many amazing benefits to the individual, the people around them, the environment, and towards a more just and connected global community. This was the starting point that I wanted to have a home that implemented these ideologies in a tangible way through a dwelling to live in and be an active part of a community.

inside drawing

After traveling to almost 60 on top of my native home of Australia, I stumbled upon a town named Paekakariki (where the girls are cheeky – as the local rhyme goes) and fell in love with the surrounding beach and mountains and also the community. It’s a small but distinct community that cares about where they live and those who live within the community. I was there this time last year and then had to leave for the remainder of the year. I returned in late January to set up the Happy, simply project and the home. Continue reading