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.
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.
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:
by Andrew Morrison of Strawbale.com
EVERYTHING on our site is on sale for 1 week including:
- “A MODERN LOOK AT STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION”, our new book. Get it as an instant download or bound book on sale this week. And since so many of you have asked, yes, I can autograph them for you if you’d like (just write in the Comments Section at checkout “autograph”).
- Check out our 2013 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE we’ve just released. We are excited to say that we are offering a workshop in pretty much every major geographic area in the US so that you don’t (hopefully) have to travel so far to take a workshop (at least for our US folks). Our workshops are also all on sale.
- Sale pricing on our 3 CONSULTING PACKAGES (Plans Review, Crew Training, and Total Package). If you are serious about wanting to have a successful straw bale build, make sure to check out these consulting options to see which works for you.
- Sale on all of our DVDs, including our best seller “Combo Package” which includes ALL of our straw bale DVDs, plus a Free set of the Mountain View Cabin Plans for a killer price.
- Sale on our beloved Applegate and Sunset Cottages. These plans are perfect for those wanting to downsize into something they can build themselves that is energy efficient and beautiful.
The sale will go on until Friday, Nov. 30, 9am EST.
The link to the sale again is:
Straw Bale Innovations, LLC
PO Box 3145
Ashland, OR 97520, USA
Following is a letter from my friend Dee Williams.
Hope you are well and enjoying this October! It is beautiful out! I’m forwarding this to you with the hopes that you might consider posting a notice about it on your blog, or with your tiny house network.
In the past couple of months, my company Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) has been working on a new look and focus. We recently reorganized, and now will offer more workshops and consulting services.
Our first ‘Build it Tiny’ workshop is coming up this November 10th. We’ll focus on practical solutions for some of the more challenging little house conundrums: where to place/park your tiny house, code enforcement, insurance, electrical hook-ups, wastewater and (drum roll please…) toilets! The workshop will provide detailed information from local experts, and a great opportunity to meet others in the tiny house community. It will be an awesome opportunity to further flesh out the details for your little house, and to sort through some of the hard-knuckle decisions associated with a tiny house.
In the spring, folks can join us for another workshop: a hands-on, tool wielding weekend workshop focused on building a little house!
Our new website: www.padtinyhouses.com offers more information about PAD and the up-coming workshops.
Hope you are well and enjoying the last bit of summer!
Wow, what a terrific response to this milestone of five years for the Tiny House Blog! Over 200 comments telling your favorite blog posts. I just wish I could give everyone a prize, but unfortunately I can’t. Listed below are the prize winners and I am in the process of contacting everyone and will get your prizes to you as soon as possible. I am somewhat dependent on the vendors so hopefully they will work with me and expedite this process. Please look for my email and if I need a physical address please send it to me ASAP.
Here are the winners:
- Sonoma Shanty Plans - 2 copies Richard and Paige
- Leo Babauta’s minimalist life - 2 copies – Rachel and Cookie
- Lloyd Kahn’s Tiny Homes Simple Shelter book – Susan
- Michael Janzen’s Tiny House Plans book – Scout
- Deek Diedrickson’s Humble Homes and Simple Shacks (Original book) – Jerry
- Signed Sketch by Deek (sorry no picture but it will be COOL!) – Michael
- Jay Shafer’s The Small House Book - Dondy
- Tumbleweed Backyard Sheds & Tiny House DIY book -Ben
- Tumbleweed XS plans - Susan O
- Strawbale DVDs set - Amy
- Dan Louche’s Tiny Builders book - 2 copies – Louise and Joy
- P.A.D. Vardo Plans - Grant W
- P.A.D. 12′ Vardo Plans - JT
- P.A.D. Go House Go book - gmh
- Tammy Strobel’s Blissful Reflection Holly
- Tammy Strobel’s SmallTopia - Christy
Here is something for everyone. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses has stepped forward and is offering 30% off workshops from June 1-16 (This is for Portland, DC, Durham, Houston – Click Here.) Use the code thb5 when purchasing a workshop. They are also giving 25% off all tiny house plans from June 1-16 (Click Here) and use the code thb5years when you make the purchase.
I want to thank our sponsors and encourage those who didn’t win to check them out and use there services if you can.
Thank you again for your participation and I look forward to many more years sharing inspiration and your stories on the Tiny House Blog.
Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders and Michael Janzen of Tiny House Design have collaborated on a new website called TinyHouseMap.com. This is a map-based classified listings site in which the goal is to connect the tiny house community and to take it to a local level.
You can list yourself on the website and find others in your area who have the same interest. If you have an open house, workshop, or are a builder you can list that too.
If you do not want to much information about yourself online you can limit it but it is nice to have a way to contact you if possible. If you have a website or blog you can list it as well.
Guest Post by Andrew Morrison
As you may know, my wife, 12 year old daughter, and I recently sold more than half of our worldly belongings to fund our adventure, let go of our large rental house, and spent the next 6 months in a quest to reconnect with each other and with what really matters in life. Most of that time was spent in a 150 sq ft pop up tent trailer in Baja, Mexico where we were able to live off grid and to essentially unplug ourselves from our “normal” day-to-day lives. What we learned was that in living with the least, we gained the most and that in finding the stillness that comes in not busying ourselves, we reclaimed our joy and inner calm (to read more about this journey, please visit www.SmallHouseRevolution.com).
One of our favorite topics of conversation since embarking on this adventure has become housing. What defines a home, what are the things that are essential in making a home a wonderful space, what do we want in our own dream house, etc… Being that the professional focus for most of our adult lives has been straw bale construction and green housing, we naturally have been exploring the merits of this mode of building as a solution for those of us that are wanting to build affordably, to tread lightly on the planet, and to be involved with our own home’s creation. We now see, more than ever, that straw bale construction is an amazing building technology fully able to fill those needs.
The idea of stacking straw bales to create a super insulated and natural shelter first appeared on the Nebraska plains over 100 years ago and some of these original homes are still in use. The technology has advanced significantly since those early builds and today, two major styles of straw bale construction have been developed: Load Bearing and Post and Beam. Load bearing construction uses no structural frame (such as framed 2×6 walls) to support the roof. Instead, the bales carry the load. Post and beam construction, on the other hand, uses a structural frame to support the roof while the bales act as insulation within that frame. Whichever system is implemented, the benefits of building with bales include: 3 times the insulation value of a conventional wall; 3 times more fire proof than a conventional home (yes, you read that right!); lessens pollution by using a waste material that normally contributes significantly to the pollution cycle; ideal building system for the owner builder; incredibly sound proof; able to withstand natural disasters (earthquakes, high wind/tornado) significantly better than a conventional home; aesthetically beautiful. Continue Reading »