by Ethan Ramirez
My name is Ethan Ramirez, several months ago I posted pictures of my first tiny house. A 100 square foot silver rectangle that my girlfriend and I built and lived in…at the time. Well since that time a gentleman approached me asking if I would be willing to sell him our house. I was so excited I told him yes immediately, because I had so much fun building the first one and was already thinking of how I could do it again. This time more efficiently and dare I say it, smaller.
The gentleman told me the lease on his rental house was up in February and without much thought I told him great I will have it available. Keep in mind he approached me around late October/early November giving me around 3 months and with my job of working overnights I have several full off days during the week so I figured sure my girlfriend Kelsey and I could totally build another in 3 months. Well turns out that November was a pretty rainy month so we had to scratch November out of the picture and then came December and with it the Holidays and travel so we went a head and scratched that out as well. Which had us frantic and left only with January and February.
Well after putting on our “grown up” pants and “work ready” gloves (we actually don’t work with gloves) we got down to business building our tinier tiny house. This house was to have only 8ft ceilings so we could fit under trees if needed, because Texas summers can be brutal. We also wanted to have a 20% smaller footprint. Well ladies and gentlemen I am happy to say that after 6 weeks of sun up to sun down off days we did it!
Our tiny house 2.0 as we call it is complete and we have moved into it. The house consists of a kitchen space with similar plumbing to the last house (water crock fed sink) an “office” which consists of a standing desk with storage beneath it, a sleeping area and living room. We decided to place the bed on the floor in this house because last summer we found out exactly how hot air rises and decided that if we put our bed down low and our a/c unit up high we will get a much cooler sleep.
Inside the sleeping area we have placed shelves inside the joists of the lofted living space where we store underwear and other items used either before sleeping or just after waking. The living room consists of a couch with storage underneath for media and across from it an entertainment center neither of which were in the last house (our movie collection felt neglected). The sleeping area has a height of 3 feet inbetween joists so we can both sit up and read before bed and the living room has a height of 5 feet so it is too short to stand in but in a space that is only 5 feet wide there is not much ground to cover to get to your seat.
We did not put any drawers or doors on any of the storage instead using curtains giving the space an airier feel (or maybe we were lazy who knows). We live on an organic farm with other people living in small structures and tiny homes and have a community bathroom that has a plumbed toilet and washer and dryer along with an outdoor shower. When the weather is too cold for outdoor showers we use the city rec center which only costs us $80 a year which turns out to be cheaper than a water bill.
Most of our cooking is done on the grill outside and we also have a small toaster oven. I believe that about covers most of it (not that there is really much to cover in a tiny house) Oh wait the house is about 80 square feet and yes both Kelsey and I live in it full time. If there are any other questions be it about building a tiny house yourself, about our tiny house, or what ever they might be you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and good night.
by Jim Walters
A lot is being said about tiny houses these days so I thought I would show everybody mine. It’s right around 200 square feet. Total cost to build for me was about $600.00. One or two could live in it, but one would be ideal.
Right now it’s a guest house, but I used to have my studio in it and where my wife and I would party. It is basically made of left overs from when I built the cabin we live in now.
We believe tiny house workshops should be like tiny houses: small, intimate, and designed to your individual needs. That’s why a couple of the professionals involved in building houses at Boneyard Studios put together a tiny house design workshop for the DIYer who wants more technical information and planning materials for their tiny house build. Our first workshop this past fall was a success and a lot of fun to put on, so we are redoing it again this Spring at Howard University. Find out more details about the workshop and watch a video from our past workshop. Check out our photos and materials from the past workshop below and see why I, Lee, was motivated to help design a workshop with these professionals after my experience building a tiny house.
Throughout my tiny house project, I have realized how much building requires project planning, understanding major decision points in the process, and a knowledge of building code and materials. I didn’t fully understand how one decision impacted another or what building decisions and techniques were unique to tiny houses. I had naively bought into some of the promotional materials in the tiny house world that claim you can build a tiny house with just 14 tools or that make it seem like building a tiny house is simpler and easier just because it’s smaller than a regular house. Our experience has been the opposite: a tiny house actually requires more planning, and a pretty thorough knowledge of building science, health and safety, and codes (International Building Code, RV code (ANSI/RVIA), and city code and zoning) in order to build a structure that is safe, durable, and is an efficient use of space. Come learn with us again this spring!
March 29-30, 2014 in Washington, DC
Location: Howard University
(two blocks from the metro, one mile from downtown and one mile from Boneyard Studios tiny house community)
We believe tiny house workshops should be like tiny houses: small, intimate, and designed to your individual needs.
Join us this spring to gain the technical knowledge and the planning tools to start designing and building your small house project!
*Workshop limited to 30 participants to allow one-on-one time with architect and builder.
by Gabriella Morrison
Do you want to live tiny but are worried about having to make too many sacrifices in space and comfort? We were too but can say with total confidence and from experience that with the right design and house size choice, you can go tiny and still live extremely comfortably. We will assume that if you are reading this article on TinyHouseBlog.com that you share some (if not all) of the same dreams, goals, and values that we do. Living a life that is mortgage/rent inexpensive or free, that is abundant in time for travel, hobbies, family and friends, that is peaceful and harmonious is what we have been working towards for decades. We were so committed to creating that lifestyle for ourselves that we took a risk and built a tiny house (221 SF on a 28′ trailer + 128 SF in lofts) rather than a more conventionally sized home. We were prepared (and willing!) to make significant sacrifices in square footage to achieve our life goals.
Here’s the kicker: to our surprise we have not felt, at any point, that we have had to make any compromises or sacrifices in our self designed and built home. Not once have we felt that our space was too small, that our needs weren’t luxuriously met, or that we didn’t have enough space to run our home business, entertain, cook, bathe, watch movies, play guitar, wrestle with our dog, or store our clothes and belongings. Not once have we been uncomfortable, hurt our backs in the lofts, struggled on our stairs, felt like our fridge or kitchen sink was too small, or felt that we didn’t have enough space for an item.
Here are the common areas in a conventional tiny house that typically pose significant compromises/sacrifice and how we found a solution for each:
STAIRS: I would venture to guess that this is one of the top 3 reasons that someone would not build tiny. We’re youngish, strong and healthy but we don’t want to haul our bodies up and down dinky ladders to get to our bedroom each day. And what if we have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom? Not only do ladders to bedrooms sound miserable but they also seem like a bad idea for someone like me who fumbles to the bathroom with eyes nearly shut at night. We designed our house, which we loving named “hOMe,” specifically to accommodate Andrew’s modular stair system. The ratio between the treads and risers is set up so that going up is as easy and comfortable as coming down (even with my middle of the night fumbling). Further, there is 25 SF of storage space beneath the stairs and even enough space for a washer/dryer combo unit. Personally, we are using that large washer space as our hanging closet as it can easily hang 20 items of clothing. We also store all of our shoes, hats, winter apparel, dog accoutrements, keys, and purse in the modular system. It is a treasure trove of storage. To learn how to build it click here.
KITCHEN: We are all for rustic living and have certainly done our share over the years including living in an 80 SF historic, off grid log cabin in the Colorado Rockies, tons of long term back country camping and spending 5 months traveling in a pop-up tent trailer in Baja with our 12 year old daughter. We know we CAN cook in a tiny kitchen with two burners, wash dishes in a tiny sink, and cram all of our food into a dorm sized fridge, but we don’t WANT to. Not in our home that we plan on spending many, many years in. In order for a space to feel like a home to us, there has to be a spacious kitchen. Ours is 56 SF and it is perfect. Andrew and I can easily cook together without bumping into each other. Our propane range/oven is a standard, full size unit which has 5 burners including the center griddle component. Our fridge is a super energy efficient, 18 CF model which we have yet to really fill up, and our sink is a standard, deep, single bowl with a built-in drying rack.
We have lots of cabinets and storage galore: frankly, too much of it. More than half of our cabinets and drawers are empty because we have gotten really clear on what is necessary in our kitchen and eliminated unnecessary gadgets. I wouldn’t trade in that extra cabinet storage because we love how much counter space it provides. It also makes for excellent overflow storage should we need some extra space for a special occasion. Further, creating a U shaped kitchen was one of the best decisions we made in our house design as the work triangle is just the right size.
BATHROOM: Again, I know that we CAN brush our teeth in a mini-sink and shower in an 18″ x 18″ stall, but in our home, we really don’t want to. During our build we made a significant and vital design change that increased our bathroom length by 2′. This extra space allowed us to install a regular sized sinkand shower unit. Now the bathroom feels spacious, even with our giant Sun-Mar composting toilet. I mean, that thing is obscenely large and easily twice the size of a regular toilet.
We have an abundance of storage space in two full drawers under our sink as well as a floor to ceiling storage cabinet. All of our toiletries, first aid supplies, vitamins and supplements (yes, we are those types that take about 20 natural supplements per day, so room for all that is no small thing), soaps/shampoos, cleaning and laundry supplies only use up about half of our available storage space. I should mention as a side note (read EXTRA benefit) that both the kitchen and bathroom, which are located beneath the lofts, have ample head room and do not feel cramped at all. That’s easy for me to say, but Andrew feels the same way and he is 6′ tall. Furthermore, our bedroom loft and our secondary loft both have great headroom as well.
HOME OFFICE: I have worked from home full-time since 2004 and Andrew since 2007. We are both self motivated, passionate about what we do, and wouldn’t trade our jobs for anything. We have tried working outside of our home but have found that we are most productive and love our jobs best when we are working from within our own walls. No commute, we create our own hours, and pay no rent for an office space. Creating a functional office area in hOMe was a necessity and we feel we accomplished that. By creating a paperless office (you can watch a short video on how we did that here), we eliminated 75% of the space we used to require to run our business. We found two folding desks that do double duty between office/work desk and eating table. Our printer and scanner are stored in our cabinets and all of our office supplies fit in just one tall cabinet unit. We also have overflow work space in three other areas in hOMe: our bedroom loft (we bought two bed loungers so that we can comfortably sit up in our bed), our TV/hang out lounge (lots of pillows create a wonderful cradle to prop us up) and the built in sofa. So if one of us is working on something that requires a lot of concentration without disruption, there are choices of work spaces.
STORAGE: The hOMe design centers around a long and tall series of cabinets from Ikea. Even though we have freed ourselves from about 90% of our belongings over our last 3 year downsizing process (you can read more about that here), we still own some material objects. Again, we know that we can live with nothing more than 4 changes of clothes, a couple books, a laptop, toothbrush/floss, and a set of very basic cooking essentials, but in our own home, we need space to store some of the items and heirlooms that we don’t want to part with. Our cabinets provide us with 82 SF of storage shelving surface area, more than enough for our belongings and to house our favorite books, camping supplies, linens, etc.
PRIVACY: Andrew and I are super compatible. We have been partners in life since 1993, still love each other’s company, and are glad that we don’t work separate jobs in different places only to see each other for a few hours in the evening. That said, I don’t want to hear or see him every single second of my day (and I’m sure he feels the same about me!). So, we have been happily surprised and delighted at how much privacy we can find in hOMe. Because our bedroom loft is pretty large and has a wall that separates it from the open area below, it really feels like a separate bedroom. When one of us is up here, it feels like we are in totally different rooms. Perfect!
In sum, we have been ecstatic with hOMe and living tiny. Truly it is beyond expectation and our wildest dreams. The months of planning and design paid off and at this point there isn’t a thing we would change. By identifying and addressing each of the common tiny house limitations that we weren’t personally willing to live with, we were able to find solutions that are working. Because we chose to build tiny rather than a larger house, we were able to pay for the materials in cash and now have the security of knowing that we will always have a place on this planet that we can live for free. And being that it’s off grid, we aren’t bound to utility bills and the system. If you are considering making the move to tiny, we highly recommend it. If we can do it, so can you! To view more photos of hOMe and read stories about the trials, tribulations, and high points of our build, please visit us at www.TinyHouseBuild.com.