Roten Small Home Retreat Update

by Paul and Shari Roten

I covered the Rotens “Ideabox” inspired Small Home back in December of 2012 and they recently sent me an update to share with you.

We’ve had a crazy few months, but wanted to share some of our news! Mother’s Day was spent moving into a 29ft camper on our 10 acres within a hundred feet or so from our future home.  We left our management position due to Shari’s injury, so once again, it was time to start anew. And what a place to start!

We spent a couple days getting things organized in the camper and in our future home as we had no other storage building. Then the raised beds were built from 4x4s and we got our gardens planted! Food is always nice to have, especially when you’re roughing it.

We’ve been blessed by Paul’s new job just 15 miles away where he can utilize his skills and gifts. And we also now have the Camas center where we can get refreshed every day. The hot tub is pretty awesome too for the injury and other aches and pains.

On to the house! We’ve dealt with building codes and inspections, have had a few corrections to address, but up to this point, its been a cash jo with no debt. That’s HUGE to us. However, when you live in extreme NE WA, you have to be prepared for winter. A trailer for two plus three Boxers, one with pups on the way, isn’t going to cut it. We endured much stress as the bank account allowed just enough to cover a few bills each month and we’ve done some creative cooking thanks to Dollars and Deals!

digging for the sunroom

We’ve had an incredible angel come into our lives. We asked for guidance, and he made a proposal AND told us “I believe in you”. It was one of the most humbling and emotional moments we can think of in our lives. We are truly blessed. It is amazing how things work when you take the high road and do the right things on life.

We have a plumber, an electrician, a sheetrock installer and painter in the wings!
Just past our septic test hole inspection with FLYING colours so its on to approval of the design, then installation! That’s a huge hurdle!

We have paint colours chosen, our tile stocked, and plan to hit IKEA on Saturday to pick up all our kitchen cabinets! They are our favorite!

Our 5th anniversary is November 21st, so the plan is to be in and hosting an open house by then!

getting ready for the sunroom





roof framing


23 thoughts on “Roten Small Home Retreat Update”

  1. You need to check the installation of your windows with respect to flashings and integration with the weather resistant barrier (“WRB”). Photos are not clear, but if true, water will be trapped and routed into the wall cavity instead of draining to the building exterior. This will result in mold and decay over the next 5 years. Refer to the WRB manufacturer’s web site for proper flashings.

  2. I would love to see the blueprints or plans of your house. This looks very similar to what I want to build but have been unable to find the plans for. I am assuming your house is passive solar by the looks of it. I have a great piece of property I bought a year and half ago with a septic already in place. It is a great a spot for passive solar. I too am working on a cash only basis and love it that way, much less stress! I live in Idaho so we are almost neighbors. Please continue to share!

  3. Hi your house is looking great already. And not to small but liveable… Tiny is really tiny afterall.

    I am interested in the roof beams, we do not have these in The Netherlands, just solid timber or steel beams. They seem to be lightweight but strong. Can you send me a frontal close up picture and sizes/dimensions?

    Thanks in advance and I wish you success with finishing your build!



    • Go to Weyerhaeuser TJI Joist
      They are a manufactured beam made from OSB
      ‘Oriented Strand Board” and a 2″x4″ board on all sides. All of the 2″X4″s have a routed grove that the OSB sits in and then all is glued up. These TJI-Beams can span large areas with no supporting walls in between. I have a friend that built a house over a 4 car garage that has no supporting walls in the garage except for the outer walls. Pluming and Electrical can easily be run through the TJIs at several points, through knock-outs that can be manufactured into the beams wherever your plans call for them.

      • Bless each of you for your positive comments, suggestions, and questions!

        Joost, our beams are actually called BCI 5000, and they are from Boise Cascade.

        Ralph, OD without sunroom is 16×34 – so you were almost right on! The sunroom will house our large mud room complete with commercial soda fridge we picked up at a garage sale! And our laundry/canning/sewing/crafting room!

        D Whit, I am in tears reading your remarks. BLESS YOUR HEART! Thank you for realizing what we are all about without ever having met us. We are actually a couple with grown kids and grandbabies…but having lived through many challenges, we ARE putting down roots and it has been and continues to be a very challenging, and very fulfilling process.

        Deb, where in Idaho are you? We actually designed the house ourselves, however it was inspired by one of the Ideabox homes. We’d be happy to send you some details on the rooms and sizes!

        For now…its time to head back up our hill and check on the plumbers! We got the roof on the sunroom “wrapped” today in beautiful sunshine and with safety harnesses!

        It is coming together!

        Thanks everyone for your encouragement!

  4. Hi.

    Keep up the good work. I would consider adding a skylight in the lower slanted roof. Also, what’s the deal with foundations. Have you considered using straw bales to insulate the lower portion?

    • I think this is a small efficient house that will serve a growing family well for a while. This is a real house, putting down roots, taking a stand, making something from nothing.
      This does not appear to be a gussied garden shed , built during breaks in an ongoing social hour by aimless dabblers without direction wanting to be part of a fad and a slogan and wear a nifty t shirt.
      This is a home. It is a commitment.

        • Hi Paul and Shari, please send photos and updates to tinyhouseblog (at) and I will post an update on your build. Thank you! -Kent

  5. This is a perfect example of what I refer to people going small but as big in small as is suitable for them to actually live their lifestyle in, (and not say, oh damn, we should have added a tad more) “own”, that’s a biggie, and be comfortable. This is hardly a TH by some standards but to me it’s great and if that’s your version of a TH, then that is what it is. Love you went with the roof style you chose for the box shape and can hardly wait to see it finished. Very practical thinking guys and by the look of it you didn’t waist a cent. I would listen to the glass guy (George) though; I made a similar mistake when replacing windows in a house and the after repairs are expensive, messy and a pain. Great to see a plan come together isn’t it? I did a 7 month test run in 250’ for myself and knowing I will probably have someone else in my life, can ad onto the back if they required a bit (or even a lot but they can clean it) more but since finally realizing I am defiantly here to stay and for a long time, I am steeling a few more feet for a larger closet but am fortunate to have that option without adding onto a building or the closet would be a no no. Last time I utilized a loft for that storage and will to some degree put that back in place but did get a little older, a recent fire has caused some more lung damage (things like your injury can happen in a flash even when you are young and strong) and there are some “need it now” things which I can’t see climbing to get from the loft as frequent as I have to. It’s the little crap that starts to become a major if overlooked. You are doing great.

    • You are very close, Ralph!

      Its 16 x 34 and the porch is 10 x 34.
      We are so so glad we added the porch! Its like the cherry on top of the sundae! It will house a great mudroom on the west end, and our laundry/craft area!

  6. It is nice to see Tiny House Blog include some “owner builder” small houses. Much of the layout and design is very similar to a tiny house. My first and second house I built for myself was a truck house and a wooden yurt. The third house was very similar in size and shape to this tall box style. I spent a long time (1 yr) on my plans and still made a few “design build” changes as I built from the underground up with 99% my labor. It was also a test of mountain hermit life after a bad relationship.
    I built many of my windows as fixed units and had not so much experience on how to seal, wrap, and flash them. I now build using exterior flashing details above exterior trim to protect trim and window areas along with retrofit icy tape on wrap. It looks really nice with shingles or corrugated metal siding.
    My favorite options available with this shape of house are the tall walls and multilevel openings up into second floor and lofts.
    Much of the light in a clearstory glazed wall can move into the whole house. One solution I figured out for getting the wood stove heat down from the ceiling was a small blower with a duct in an exterior wall. It moved heat onto the kitchen and bath area floors via cabinet kick-board vents.
    It would be nice to here some of the stories and reasons for changes as you build this house and what it feels like to create your own space.

  7. Hi, I was re-reviewing this because I really liked your design, and noticed that the early pics show the foundation is piers, then–later pics it appears to have a full foundation. Or is that a “stucco illusion?” I always thought that if your dirt is loose, dig a root cellar under it!!
    This is a great “modular” design, in that you can add to it later, in my mind at least, pretty easily.

    • good morning mark,

      You are correct in that we originally did piers, by hand I might add, and then had issues with the building inspector so had to add a poured foundation. It was a lot of extra work, but the issue arose as we were planning to add the sunroom, so we got it all tied in together!

  8. Happy new year everybody!!

    We are so excited about getting back into our house after havibg a local gentleman do our sheetrock hanging and painting!

    In the next few weeks we’ll be starting floor and wall prep for tile and our radiant heat floors!

    Being the bargain hunters we are, we were able to get some gorgeous porcelain 20x20s for our main level, and have incredble honed slate for the upper level. Always watch for closeouts at your supplier…then its ok to add a little bling on backsplashes and for accentliners! We decided to go with Behr’s flagstone for our all over colour, and then juniper ash for our accent here and there!

    Hope to hear from you real soon! We’ll be picking up our Ikea cabinets at the Seattle store, MARCH 8 for their , BYOF Event!

    We wish you all the best on your journey. We’ve overcome much on ours, and always remember…the BEST is yet to come!

    • almost have the deck done and the weather’s been great!
      it was incredible to sit outside and watch the Blood Moon the other night…as well as our deer that are are on a daily basis!
      our countertop guy had an accident, so the final kitchen work has been delayed, but appliances are here and ready to be installed!
      wish I could add photos, but I can’t get it to work!

  9. We are considering selling our place due to a variety of health issues…..

    10 acres, custom built 2 bed 2 bath home, in floor heating, incredible views, built with efficiency in mind!

    There is also a 10,000 sq ft plot that is cleared and ready for…..whatever your dreams may be….power close by for a pole barn, guest cottages, orchard…..greenhouse….dog kennel…barn…..livestock…..

    Please contact us at if you may be interested. This home was built with faith, family & friends….and we would be thankful to have it continue on that journey.

  10. Well folks……after putting years of blood, sweat, and tears… well as the help of faith, family and friends into our “dream” home, we had to sell it.

    As many know, we were self employed contractors and sadly, we had the rug pulled out from under us one too many times so had to make a move.

    We are thankful to be where we are now in a small community in Colorado….and pray that the new owners of the “ranch” are feeling blessed.

    Thank you so much for all your support…..we are not done yet.

    Paul and Shari
    and the Boxer brigade!


Leave a Comment