July Tiny House Work Parties and Workshops in the Pacific Northwest

Dee Williams and the gang at PAD Tiny Houses want to help you learn to build your tiny house right the first time. They’re hosting two Tiny House Work Parties over the 4th of July weekend (to celebrate independence from debt) and twelve lucky participants will get valuable hands-on experience working side-by-side with Dee Williams and Lina Menard building a tiny house before they start swinging the hammer on their own.

The first Tiny House Work Party will start building the tiny house that Dee Williams will be taking on her nationwide book tour for her upcoming memoir, The Big Tiny, due out in 2014! On the second day of the Work Party, participants will help put up the walls of Kate Goodnight’s tiny house (Kate is the Naj Haus blogger: http://najhaus.com)

If you’ve just started on your journey toward tiny, and aren’t ready for building yet, PAD is also offering their trademark weekend workshop called “Tiny House Basics: Introduction to Design and Building” on July 20 & 21st, 2013. Click here for more information on those workshops.  And for more information on what PAD’s Tiny House Work Parties are like, see their recent blog post “Tiny House Work Parties: Barn Raisings for the Tiny House Community.”

build square workshop

framing walls

shed roof house

completed tiny house

Dee Williams Lives Large in a Tiny Footprint

By Alyse Nelson

How much house does it really take to be happy? Some people are taking a hard look at the question, and discovering that the answer is: not much.

These “tiny housers” are bucking the idea that “bigger is better.” Their homes, ranging from 800 square feet to less than 100 square feet—a far cry from the 1000 square feet per person that has become the North American norm—take many shapes and sizes. And the people who live in them are as diverse as the homes themselves. Some hope to save money on housing; others hope to “live green” by choosing a smaller space; some are trading living space for a neighborhood they love; and others want to live closer to family or friends.

Dee's house with class

Dee Williams talking to a group outside her tiny house

Photo by Flickr user irooshka

Dee Williams’s story starts with her questioning her lifestyle choices. After helping build a school in Guatemala and watching a close friend fight cancer, Williams reevaluated her priorities. “He was getting sicker and sicker, and I didn’t have the time or the money to really throw myself into helping him. I was spending a lot of time and money on my house. So the house was the easiest thing to try to get rid of,” Williams told Yes! Magazine.

“I started really wondering if the cost of owning a house, of maintaining a house, of remodeling my house, was really kind of socially what I wanted to be about. So I decided to bite the bullet and go for it!” Williams said in this video. So she sold her 1,500 square foot Portland home and built an 84-square foot tiny home for $10,000.

Her 8-foot by 15-foot home is parked in a friend’s backyard in Olympia, Washington. She helps out with household chores in exchange for the space and drinking water. She lives with just a few outfits and shoes, but also is mortgage-free. This has allowed Williams to work less and spend more time and money investing in giving back to her community.

Williams’s story has spread far; because she’s been featured in national news more than 20 million people have viewed (in person or via video) her tiny home. She received the 2008 Governor’s Award for Sustainable Practices in Washington State. Now she co-owns PAD—Portland Alternative Dwellings—a tiny house company that holds workshops to help future tiny housers get their start.

Dee showing her house

Dee Williams shows off her tiny house.

Photo by Flickr user irooshka

But the help tiny housers need most isn’t advice about building or living in a small space; it’s navigating the maze of regulations they’ll confront as they downsize.. Some cities set minimum size requirements for dwellings. Others say a recreational vehicle can’t count as an ADU, which is typically how a tiny house is categorized. This means “you can camp in your little house, but not live in it,” writes Williams. Williams helps other tiny housers navigate the regulatory barriers that come with tiny house living.

Through her activism—and her lifestyle—Williams is helping create a wave of interest in tiny homes that local governments cannot ignore for long. Williams proves that even if your house has a tiny footprint, you can still live large.

Bio: Alyse Nelson is an urban planner for a small town in Kitsap County, Washington. She is a Writing Fellow for Sightline Institute. This post is adapted from a full article published here:

Tiny Living in Portland, Oregon

By Alyse Nelson

While attending graduate school in Portland, Oregon, Lina Menard didn’t rent an apartment or live in a dorm. Instead, she lived in a tiny house. During her tiny home tenure, Lina has learned to live and love tiny spaces. Lina became a tiny-house advocate, organizing tours of small homes, learning about the regulatory barriers of tiny home acceptance, and interning at PAD and Orange Splot, where she helped build tiny houses.

Lina and her possessions

Lina Menard with her possessions, sitting outside a tiny home she lived in for 10 months. Photo credit Lina Menard, used with permission from her blog, thisisthelittlelife.com.

After spending almost a year in a 120-square-foot tiny home, Lina has a good idea of how to live well in a small space. “I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I’m much happier when I live with just the things I like best. My relationship to stuff has shifted dramatically over the past year and a half. I’m much less materialistic than I used to be. But I really appreciate the little touches, too. It’s not about deprivation, but about intension,” Lina told me.

Lina's cat

Lina’s tiny home includes a sleeping loft that she shares with her cat, Raffi. Photo credit Lina Menard, used with permission from her blog, thisisthelittlelife.com.

When you’re measuring square inches rather than feet, every detail counts. Lina’s tiny home features a dining room table that expands to fit guests, a window seat that doubles as extra seating for big meals, and lots of windows to let in natural light. Every single possession Lina has in the home has to serve a purpose, but she doesn’t mind: “It’s liberating to not feel tied to stuff,” she told OR Magazine.

Embed video with Lina’s tiny house:

She recognizes that tiny-home living isn’t for everyone, but thinks there’s a way to broaden its appeal: the “cohousing” model, where tiny homes would be coupled with shared kitchens, laundry facilities, guest rooms, and even amenities like barbeques, workshops, and gardens. “Tiny cohousing would just push the envelope,” Lina writes in her blog. “People who lived in a tiny house community would have access to all these things, but they wouldn’t have to own all these things themselves,” she explains. Continue reading