Ben’s Tiny House

(Fall 2011 – Summer 2012)

My name is Ben Norton. This is my tiny house story. A neighbor of mine was all excited about your blog and showed me lots of really cool tiny houses that people have built. I was hooked. I just said, “That’s what I’m going to do,” and I just started; buying materials as I had money. I don’t think anyone really thought I was serious because I was eleven years old at the time.


Growing up, my parents gave my brother and me skills that many kids don’t have. We worked on lots of different projects with real hammers, nails and wood. From an early age I was like a sponge and absorbed all I could about power tools, building, tree cutting, engine repair, and even asking the right people for advice and help. Continue reading

House Port Mini Square

Cars have carports, why can’t a house have a house port? Designer Hally Thacher was looking to build an eco-friendly home and was inspired by the structures that sheltered hay, alfalfa and farm equipment in the area of northern California where she had grown up. Her House Port and PopUP House designs make for a very interesting concept in home building.


The PopUP House is available in several configurations which are prefabricated and shipped flat-packed to the building site. The PopUP House consists of interior/exterior insulated panels. Over the top of the PopUP is the prefabbed House Port (the large freestanding roof) that protects the home against weather, keeps a consistent temperature throughout the hot summer and offers a covered outdoor area. Several smaller versions of the PopUP, called Cubes, can even be purchased and placed like a small village under the House Port. Continue reading

Dan’s Lithuanian Small Home Update

So my building season has ended. The outside, barring a few details, is finished.

The last article ended with me getting ready for the roof. They do wood roofs quite differently here than in the USA. My roof is a blend of the two systems. The only problem encountered was to make the person installing the shingles understand American methods, which I preferred for aesthetic, and other, reasons.

Still, in some details I deemed the local wisdom to be better than the American approach – doing things as quickly as possible- and although language was a barrier we still ended up producing a wood roof which I consider to have the best of both country’s methods incorporated.

As an example, where in the USA such a small roof would be completed in one day. This person and his helper worked a full seven days on the roof and as much time splitting the shakes. He seemed to care where every shingle was placed. The roof is made of Aspen, a tree similar to the American variety in leaf, although the bark is darker. It is a traditional roofing material here. I am not completely convinced that its lifespan will be equivalent to Western Red Cedar. We shall see. They tell me that such roofs can easily last 35 years which will certainly be long enough for me!

rainbow over roof

As the roofer was progressing I began the task of siding. This began with a layer of 2 in. extruded polystyrene insulation set between 2×2 furring strips. This was followed by a layer of wind/moisture barrier and then additional furring strips to create an air-space behind the siding. Lithuania is a wet climate. Taking extra steps to keep things dry is essential. Taking extra steps to keep things warm is also essential. Continue reading

One Project Closer

The guys over at One Project Closer have been putting together expert how-to guides by shadowing contractors on actual job sites, and they call these articles “Pro-Follows.” If you’ve ever wondered how a professional contractor would build a concrete patio or finish a basement, check out their website. They only have a handful of Pro-Follows thus far so be patient as they build up this resource. Here are some pictures from a recent Pro-Follow for how to build a shed. Visit that link for the full story, and if you like what you read, consider subscribing to their feed.

The Foundation

The foundation was built by digging out a space a few inches larger than the shed, and lining the perimeter with pressure treated 4×6’s. Next, they set 10 columns of concrete block on undisturbed ground and back-filled the area with crushed stone. This type of foundation allows them to set the subfloor directly on the concrete block and provides an exit path for water and moisture. Continue reading

Ted’s Tiny Pop Camp Trailer

by Ted Morris

My family and I love camping; we started taking our girls camping when my oldest daughter was only seven months old. When went on a trip to Detroit Lake one year in a tent and the day started off beautiful, but one night it rained and it leaked through on my wife and daughter. We were miserable the next morning we woke up and broke down camp in the mud. It was at this point I said never again; I said we needed a camper. But being on a budget and not wanting to buy a cheaply made older camper I decided to build a tear drop.

My thoughts were we needed something to keep us off the ground; something small enough to fit in a single car garage and easy to tow. A tear drop was a perfect fit; but the typical teardrop wouldn’t work because I needed something to fit a family of four and I’m 6’7″. So I scoured the internet for inspiration and ordered a templet and built one that was five feet wide and nine feet long with no plans.

It had a bunk bed that floated in the air that my girls slept on and worked great; with all of us snug as a bug. Eventually though they out grew the bunk and so we sold it to move on to a tent trailer. It was great but on the maiden voyage we blew a tire and packing it was tricky because folded down you had to really plan on how to pack it. I never felt comfortable towing it since the blow out and just found it a lot more work to set up compared to the good old tear drop I once made.

Finally this last year I decided to build another one; but wanted to do something no one else had done. I liked the shape of some of the other tiny campers that had a more square shape. So searching the internet I combined different campers in to my own design. I was inspired to build one that had a easy manual pop up roof with a loft; and again I built with no blue prints just figured it out as I was cutting. So with it being a foot wider combined with a pop up roof I figured the girls would have their own separate sleeping areas and they wouldn’t outgrow it until they became teenagers.

That’s my story and if you would like to see pictures of the builds of both of them I would be honored to accept your friendship request so you could see more. Thanks again for your interest of my story. View construction photos by clicking here.