Steve’s Thailand Dome

Steve Areen, a world traveler who has been visiting remote locations around the world, decided to put down a few roots in northeast Thailand. These roots grew into one of the most beautiful dome homes you may ever see. This work of art (that only cost $9,000 to build) sits in the middle of a mango farm that belongs to Steve’s friend Hajjar Gibran.

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Hajjar had already been building dome homes at his retreat center on the farm and taught Steve how to build this cement block and clay brick home that uses local materials and lets in light and fresh air. Hajjar’s son, Lao, helped build the home with his masonry skills and the dome was completed in just over six weeks. Steve added his own details with the handmade front door, pond, upstairs hammock platform and the stonework and landscaping. Some of the most beautiful features of this home is the shower/greenhouse from local river stones and the natural bamboo sink faucet.

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The home’s large, round windows are screened against insects and act as curved seating areas, and when Steve heads off to travel again, he seals up the round windows with rat proof inserts. A handmade wooden staircase ascends to the roof where a steel rod and palm frond covered hammock platform offers fresh air and views, and screened skylights on the domes let in even more light. Continue reading

The Tiny Houses of Belize

To kick off the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought I would add a little color to the Tiny House Blog with some tiny houses from Belize, the land of perpetual summer. My husband and I recently returned from the tropical country where we stayed on several cayes (pronounced keys) and on the mainland including Placencia, Caye Caulker and Rendezvous Caye and Tobacco Caye which we reached by sailboat.

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Since the weather in Belize stays around 85 degrees F with nearly 100 percent humidity, most homes in Belize are raised off the ground on stilts to create airflow and catch some of the ocean breezes. Sometimes hammocks are strung in between the posts for lounging. Belize is an interesting mix of cultures from Jamaica, Cuba, Guatemala and other Central American countries and the styles are reflected in the colors of the homes which range from Caribbean blue to bright pink and orange. Continue reading

The Tiny Houses of Easter Island

When my husband and I told our friends and family we were traveling to Easter Island, many of them were surprised to learn that people actually live on the most remote island on Earth. In fact, about 4,000 beautiful, friendly people live on this magical South Pacific island, and many of them in some interesting, tiny houses.

Easter Island home made from part of a shipping container

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, as it’s called by the locals, is actually a territory of Chile, but many of the people who live there are of Polynesian descent. The 15 mile long island is about 1,300 miles west of mainland Chile and Hanga Roa is the only town on the island. It also contains a small airport, one main paved road and several dirt roads.

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Sri Lanka Shipping Container Retreat

A friend and fellow tiny house lover recently sent me this link from Container Home on this shipping container cabin retreat in Sri Lanka. The house was constructed with local reclaimed material in about a month by architect Damith Premathilake. The tiny house is located on an Army base and was built for a lieutenant colonel.

The 700 square foot retreat is constructed of two shipping containers, timber strips from old bunkers and weapons boxes and used railway sleepers. It is designed to embrace the views and climate of the surrounding environment, and create a place of relaxation and beauty while using already available resources. Continue reading

Gado Gado Teak Guest House

In the middle of winter, I start dreaming about tropical locales. For people who are lucky enough to be able to let the outdoors into their homes almost all year long, the “Wee Hus” from Gado Gado International in Santa Rosa, Calif. might be the perfect tiny house for you.

These tiny teak homes with their exquisite details are designed from the original style found in Indonesia and are built in Java. Both the original traditional tiny houses and the newer ones are made from reclaimed teak using traditional mortise and tenon joinery.
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Gado Gado uses nails and bolts sparingly where needed for structural strength and safety.The tiny houses are named after Gado Gado owner, David Sussman’s Irish Aunt Patsy.

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Indonesia is in earthquake country, and there are more >6.0 earthquakes in Java than in California. These little houses have stood up to large temblors precisely because of how they were constructed: the complex joinery system with through-going tenons through tenons in two directions gives the structure sufficient strength but allows enough flexibility to sway during earthquake movements without falling over.

The ceilings of some of the tiny houses range from simple teak lap-jointed planks to highly carved original “joglo” pieces. Gado Gado cuts the roof shingles by hand out of reclaimed teak boards.

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Tumpang Sari Carved Ceiling

Joglo Painted Ceiling

Joglo Painted Ceiling

The tiny houses range from 8×8 ft. up to 16×16 ft., and are priced at $10,000 up to about $30,000 based on size, complexity, and the amount of original or new carving requested by the customer. They are built for longevity, and can stand up to rain, snow and direct sun. Teak is more resistant to rot and bugs than any hardwood or softwood grown in the U.S. due to its high resin content and the presence of 1%-2% silica (basically like beach sand) taken up by the teak tree from the soil. These houses are not yet built to U.S. standards for year-round living, although such modifications are not difficult during installation. The original Indonesian teak homes were not built with wiring or plumbing, but this can be added later by the customer.

Gado Gado offers a CD-ROM that shows the step-by-step construction of a 16×12 ft Wee Hus. You can order the CD-ROM from the website.

The teak homes ship to the customer as “knock down” with each mortise and tenon marked to show where they will be put together. Scaled drawings of the pier foundation are also included. Gado Gado recommends that customers invite all their friends that are handy with tools and make a day of it (a 12×16 ft. tiny house takes about 1.5 days to set up with 8 people). However, it is worth the money to get the owner, David Sussman and one of his staff, out to the site to guide the installation.

By Christina Nellemann

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