Built by Friends: Evan and Gabby’s Tiny House

Like an Amish barn raising, Evan and Gabby’s tiny Tarleton house is going up piece by piece with the help of friends and family. The Illinois couple were inspired by the Tumbleweed houses and decided to downsize their already sustainable lifestyle even more. With no prior construction experience, they have been working on their tiny home for just over a year and plan to move in (along with their two cats) soon.

The couple also plan to move around the country, staying in campgrounds that offer year-round rates. They then want to purchase some land where tiny house living is more acceptable.

Their 117 square foot Tarleton, built on a car hauler trailer, will have a great room, a sleeping loft above the bathroom and kitchen, another storage loft above the door and a bathroom with a custom shower and composting toilet that vents to the outdoors. The kitchen has four feet of stainless steel countertop, a two-burner stove, a bar sink, a toaster oven, a small fridge and – rare for a tiny house – a combination washer and dryer that they got from a family member for free.

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How-To install a Window in Your Tiny House

The wonderful thing about building your own tiny house is that by-in-large the basic construct is the same as any other building. There are a series of tried and true steps that hold fast for your tiny house trailer, your small home, and the McMansion down the road. You want … Read more

How-To get electricity for your Tiny House

A common question on tiny house forums is in regards to electricity. Can we use standard size appliances? How do you wire a tiny house trailer? Are there plugs inside a tiny house? Where do you plug in? All perfectly valid questions save one factor. I have not yet seen a post on how you actually get electricity on a lot you intend to park your tiny house on. Yes, you can run an extension cord if you are parked in someone’s driveway. You can use an RV connection if you are at a mobile home park. You can even install solar as we have talked about several times. You first have to determine the electric load of your house though in order to determine your solar need. I digress though as I am getting ahead of myself.

The question for us was HOW DO WE GET ELECTRICITY TO OUR TINY HOUSE? It sounds simple enough but with our lot being wooded, our closest neighbor an acre away, no budget for solar until 2012 (or even 2013), and a fear of running hundreds of feet of extension cord illegally, how would we get electricity to our tiny house?

Let’s first talk legalese. At the current time our lot is not approved for full-time domestic use. It hasn’t been perked, it has no septic, and it has no real address. We are solving those issues (as we don’t see them as problems, to be honest) by drilling a well, installing a compost toilet in our house, and renting our current PO Box. Here is where we had to get creative.

We 3 sizable chicken coops – one of which came from Georgia with us –  as well as a hog pen, and the beginning of a goat shed. We also have our garden needs and shed coming up within the month. All of those can benefit from electricity in the form of electric de-icers, incubators, security light, and a shed light. Armed with those needs we contacted our county Planning & Inspection Department to talk about agriculture power poles. If you don’t know what an ag power pole looks like take notice next time you pass a mobile or modular home. They are standalone poles that are attached by cable to a power pole with transformer. What we soon found out was that 42 feet away from where we thought our pole should go, there was a transformer; dormant, but present.

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How-To simplify your digital life for the Tiny House

I am all for decluttering. I don’t like a crowded kitchen, a crowded closet, or even a crowded desk. So why then would I want a crowded digital world? And because my laptop is both my office and my recreation, cleanliness is next to cyber-godliness.

It all made sense to me when my dear friend Naomi Seldin of the Simpler Living blog sent out a link on her Facebook. The link was from the New York Times and was an article called True Confessions of a Digital Hoarder by Jenna Wortham.

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How-To wash dishes in the Tiny House

Paper -vs- Plastic. Hand washing -vs- Dish washing. Cloth Towel -vs- Paper Towel. We have all heard the seemingly timeless debates. But recently several studies have come out in the UK showing that dishwashing is better and more efficient than hand washing. Yet others have come out showing that handwashing is more eco-friendly than dishwashing. Why the difference?

In the first study, the most careful hot-water handwashing just about beats a fully loaded dishwasher. This is partly because most people (in the UK at least) do their manual washing up using hot water heated by a gas-fired boiler, whereas dishwashers heat water from cold using electricity. The second study however favors dishwashing because it uses only half the water and only 1/6 of the energy. Much of this matters not though when you consider the cost of an Energy Star dishwasher.

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How-To choose windows for your Tiny House

There is no simple way to go about the task of selecting windows for your new Tiny House construct. By the time choosing them comes around you will have heard multiple times that the key to making a smaller space look larger is to incorporate lots of natural light and … Read more

How-To determine trailer weight for your Tiny House

Perhaps there is no Tiny House subject (or trailer subject, in general) that causes more arguments and confusion than that of weight. Between the cryptic way that RV weights are reported by the manufacturers, the lack of clear standards by the DOT and the often deliberate misinformation spread by dealers; trailer weights are confusing at best. Because of our recent trailer purchase I have been motivated to try and really understand this often mystifying issue. The following is what I learned, and in my humble opinion, an authoritative explanation of what the truth really is.

Now, our trailer got its beginning as an RV, of sorts. So much of my research has a travel trailer/RV bend to it. If you purchase a trailer from a specific trailer/hauler dealer they should be able to give you specific weights for the axels, trailer, tongue, and hitch. If not, immediately turn around and go see someone else. For our purposes though, I am going to walk you through our process (and one that is becoming more popular with each small home.)

Let’s start with the 2 stickers that are required by law on every RV sold in America. The RV manufacturer is required to include a Weight Sticker on the RV that details all the important weight ratings and maximums. This sticker is usually located on the inside of one of the kitchen cabinet doors. If your trailer has no camper portion (let alone cabinets or cabinet doors) you can simply forego this step and hope the other steps lead you to the same result.

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How-To sandblast a trailer

Crystal has some serious focusBecause we bought our trailer used and it was formerly a 1981 (camping) travel trailer it had some signs of wear and tear; namely rust. Structurally it is as sound as the day it rolled off the assembly line. But because it spent some time on the east coast the salinity of the air made it prematurely age and the paint/primer at some point gave way to rust spots and “age spots.” Luckily we own both an air compressor and a sandblaster – the very tools needed to prepare the trailer for primer.

Sandblasting is a general term used to describe the act of propelling very fine bits of material (play sand in this case) at high-velocity to clean a surface. A sandblasting setup usually consists of three different parts: the abrasive itself, an air compressor (seen below), and a blaster nozzle. By launching small bits of abrasive at the surface at a high speed, all imperfections are knocked loose and can then be easily washed off, creating an incredibly smooth surface upon which to lay the new layer of paint. Before we can do that though (which will come much later, I imagine) we need to prime. Why? Primer spray (in this case we used Krylon grey primer) stops rust and prevents corrosion.

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