Ready? Set? Go Tiny!

by MJ Boyle

The first step in living your tiny house dream is the dream itself…visualizing what you will need, and what you will want, and imaging all the benefits that a simpler lifestyle will bring.

The second step along your journey will involve planning and asking yourself a lot of questions. Where will you park or build it? What will it look like? How will you fit all your stuff into it?

Eventually, however, you’ll have to DO something and I think this is where a lot of tiny house enthusiasts get discouraged. Perhaps they/you think that if you don’t have all the answers for every question you have…you cannot begin building? Maybe it’s lack of money that is getting in your way. Maybe you don’t have the tools, or the expertise to build your own home.

Even if all of the above apply, in order to fulfill your tiny house dream, there will come a time to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and blaze that wonderful trail towards financial independence. And just think…someday you will fondly remember the day you finally decided to embrace your inner child, and be wildly optimistic, and move forward despite your trepidations.

OK…Ready? All Set?

trailer

My Trailer…ready and waiting for the build to start!

I started my Tiny House journey just a few months ago and I would have never imagined how far my vision would take me in such a short time. Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t hit a few bumps along the way, but my 24 foot trailer is paid for and in my driveway, the lumber is being delivered in a couple of weeks, I have all my appliances and most of the interior materials stacked around the house and garage, and my tiny house (aka “My Empty Nest”) should be dried in before the infamous Oregon Rains arrive.

Like many of you, I live paycheck to paycheck and I have debt. I don’t have any savings, and I don’t own a home. I don’t have a retirement account, and things like new tires, or car repairs, require careful planning. So, to put it mildly, the financial concept of me building a tiny house is just plain crazy. But, when I stumbled onto the concept of gaining sponsors for my build, it all clicked, and it was just the kick start I needed to get into gear.

So, even though I didn’t start with any money, I was able to move forward…,
…slowly…but forward nonetheless.

Also, like many of you, I didn’t know a lot about how to build a tiny house. I am familiar with the concepts and practices behind “normal” residential construction, but a tiny house is very different. So, I reached out via facebook, and have done hundreds of hours of internet research, and I attend monthly tiny house networking events. Now, I know the difference between a deck-over and a drop-axle trailer. I know the advantages and disadvantages of tiny houses with lofts, and those without. I have met a few movers and shakers in the tiny house world, and have a network of supportive and knowledgeable people.

I certainly don’t know it all, but I now know a lot more than I did when I started!

upholstery

Selecting upholstery fabric for my tiny, custom, living room furniture. So many choices!!

The most fun part of all of this, however, has been “putting pencil to graph paper” and sketching my design. I didn’t start with a clear vision but today I have one. I have stacks and stacks of paper in my tiny holder folder where I keep all the copies of the designs I drew, and re-drew. I listed, beside each design idea, the things I liked best; as well as those attributes that the floor plan was lacking. (no wall space, not enough windows, too many hallways) And speaking of windows, I have a list of the windows I have collected so far with their dimensions. I then numbered them, and incorporated them into my designs, cross referencing their numbers so I know which ones I have left over. (Extra windows? Who’d thunk?) I also have another list with the appliance, loft, décor, and furniture dimensions. I then check, and re-check, and then triple check; to make sure they will all fit where I want them to. (and just discovered that I have to move my kitchen window up, as well as my loft, to accommodate my vintage drainboard-style kitchen sink…sigh…)

I didn’t have money, but I had time, which I invested in researching sponsors.

I didn’t know how to build my tiny house, but my ideas really started gaining momentum when I reached out to others.

I didn’t have a clear design vision, but I started with a pencil and a piece of paper and now it’s gettin’ REAL!

tile

Ta Da! My color scheme is finally finished!

If you feel like you’re stuck in the planning stages, if you’re not able to easily answer all of the questions you have for yourself, and if you’re discouraged by seeing others move forward while you’re still visualizing…..it’s time to shake off the dust and take an active step (even if only a small one) in the right direction.

Ready?
Set?
Now GO!

“Michelle is an outgoing single mom, published author, speaker, patented inventor, blogger, craigslist stalker, enthusiastic Glamper, and Northwest native. Her interest in all-things-tiny-and-old started when she was only 12 years old when she became fascinated with a tiny abandoned farm house near her parent’s home; and she’s been sketching floor plans ever since. With pencil and graph paper in hand she’s more than ready for the next phase of her life. Her Tiny House, aptly named “My Empty Nest”, is the culmination of a life spent dreaming of a tiny reclaimed space, all her own.”

Facebook Page Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Empty-Nest/494081560700467
Blog link: mytinyemptynest.com 

FireFly Trailer

For fans of the stylish Cricket trailer and the cult television show, the new FireFly prototype camping trailer by designer Garret Finney brings together aerospace technology and the desire to be sustainable while off-roading. According to the NASA designer the FireFly is actually a habitation module designed to fit into the bed of a pickup truck or towed by a small car.

firefly-camper

The 600 lb. trailer is minimal and includes folding bench tops for sleeping and lounging surfaces with room for storage underneath. The FireFly is supported by four legs and can be moved easily to various locations. In fact, it was originally designed to be used for disaster relief or as a temporary basecamp. The lightweight camper has welded square tube sections, highly insulative composite panels made of aluminum and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam.

The protoype was created in only three weeks after several months of sketching and design work.

firefly-camper-truckflirefly-camper-trailerfirefly-camper-interior firefly-camper-interior3 firefly-camper2

Photos by TaxaFireFly

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Collaborative Vardo

If you are thinking of building your own vardo as a tiny house or for camping, Instructables recently featured a collaborative wagon built by Paleotool (author of Building a Gypsy Wagon), PaleoPunk and a friend of theirs, AmericanPikey. The instructions for this tiny, wooden wagon are available as a free download. AmericanPikey recently retired and wanted a mobile retirement home, but not an RV. He also wanted the utility and towing cost to be small. The total cost to build the wagon (including the trailer) was $2,400.

 

instructable-vardo

 

The wagon is built on a 10×5 foot flatbed utility trailer. PaleoPunk mentions that flatbed trailers, while expensive ($1,000 for this one) are much easier to work with than a re-purposed trailer which sometimes have to be dismantled and prepared for building. This particular trailer had metal side rails to support the wagon’s walls. The overall length of the wagon is approximately 10 feet long and is 7 feet wide. The floor on the inside is about 5 feet across with one-foot ledges extending over the wheels.
vardo-wagon
The wagon has a Dutch door,  the 20 inch porthole windows are made from actual ship portholes, and a Lexan window was placed in the front of the wagon. The bed is about four feet off the floor and has storage space underneath. There is a trap door under the storage area that opens to an enclosed space underneath. Several benches by the bed also serve as steps up into the bed. The wagon also contains a small wood stove made by Marine Stove and a portable propane stove for cooking. The wagon does not have electricity or plumbing.
vardo-wagon-build
vardo-wagon-tow
Photos by PaleoPunk