Matthew’s Tiny House

I want to introduce you to Matthew a 22 year old who recently completed his own tiny house. He had never taken on a project like this before but learned along the way. I think his story is a real inspiration for us all. Matthew please take it from here:

When I was 19 I saw Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Houses and was in awe. I became infatuated with the idea of living as a young adult with no mortgage or rent payment like everyone my age that chose to live on their own. I began making blue prints/sketches every day trying to imagine what “my house” would look like!

Everyday moving the kitchen or altering the windows or what have you. I found a 8×24 car trailer on craigslist for $1,500 and bought it on a whim and said, “well, there’s no turning back now…” $10,000 and over 1,500 man hours later, I’m the proud owner of my tiny home!

On a part time server’s salary/musician’s salary (not a lot at all) I managed to save every dollar I earned and pumped it into the house as projects needed to be done. I had no idea what I was doing, all I knew was I wanted to have it so badly, so I made it happen. I learned how to build walls and install windows, floors, counter tops, operate nearly ever type of saw there is, run plumbing, electrical ( with the help of my father) somethings are better looked after by a professional haha!

Then after two and a half years I wound up being pretty much finished. It’s been my biggest accomplishment in my life to date, it’s taught me things that I wish everyone could understand, minimalism, perseverance, determination, conservation and how important all those things are in one’s life. In a lot of senses this house gave me purpose when I absolutely needed it.

Thank you for hearing my story and I hope I can inspire someone else to do the same.

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Susan - May 19, 2011 Reply

great photographs. i like the red interior.

“I found a 8×24 car trailer on craigslist for $1,500 and bought it on a whim and said, “well, there’s no turning back now…”

The harbinger plans are on sale until May 30. That’s the tiny home I want to build.

inspired! thanks for the story.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    Thanks so much. My girlfriend Katelyn Brouwer took them.. she fancies photography.

    My advise is to get the plans! plan to the tooth and nail, make sure you can afford it and just do it! it will be the best decision you’ve ever made!

    good luck

clickclackgorilla - May 19, 2011 Reply

nice one matt!

Kregg - May 19, 2011 Reply

VERY nicely done!

William DeRuyter - May 19, 2011 Reply

Great House Matthew , I used to have the same Dream as you as a young man . I wanted to take a Shed or Small building and make it into my own House . But I never did back in the early 70s . I just bought my first Small House a Park Model RV Trailer from Athens Park Model Homes Athens,Texas . I commend you on your hard work to fufill your Dream , may you enjoy your Tiny House and all you Learned Forever . You made it Happen !!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    this means so much to hear you say that, thank you. Congrats to you as well.. better late then never on your dreams eh?


Grant Wagner - May 19, 2011 Reply

Congratulations on such a wise start to your life. I which I first heard or thought of tiny houses when I was 19 and not 29. I had already made the worse mistakes at the worse time and now must live with those consequences for at most another 25 years.

Nicole - May 19, 2011 Reply

Fantastic job! Great to see young people motivated to break away from the mortgage scam and secure their financial future. 🙂

Steve Downing - May 19, 2011 Reply

Very cool indeed, but what is that humungotron toilet?

    Bill - May 19, 2011 Reply

    The toilet ilooks to be a composting toilet.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    yep this is a decomposing toilet made by Sun-Mar. It’s the Compact model!

    a little strange at first but the no water usage is rather worth it 🙂


Heather - May 19, 2011 Reply

Terrific job, Matthew! It looks beautiful! I especially love your red paint downstairs!


    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    thanks heather! funny story my sister is the fashionista in my family, so i asked her about the color and what she though of it.. she didn’t think too highly of it haha

    siblings what are ya gonna do with em.. she still likes the house as a whole though



Angie - May 19, 2011 Reply

I really like that this is a practical and nice, rather than super dooper like some we see.
Good job. I do like your windows to wall ratio, love windows!
You’ve done yourself very well. Congratulations!

Angie - May 19, 2011 Reply

I really like that this is a practical and nice, rather than super dooper like some we see.
Good job. I do like your windows to wall ratio, love windows!
Is there a drain in the wet room/bathroom floor?
You’ve done yourself very well. Congratulations!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    there is a drain! that wood panel is removable and under it is a 36″ x 36″ shower basin.. i just put the wooden floor in it to even the floor.


      Angie - May 20, 2011 Reply

      Thanks for the information –
      more ideas for “someday”

Zer0 - May 19, 2011 Reply

Good show, man. I am very happy for you. I think my next project will be to work and save up for a tiny house of my own.

Alfredo Zapata - May 19, 2011 Reply

Awesome job. I see some very well thought out details there.

Corby - May 19, 2011 Reply

Looks like a really inviting home! Great job, Matthew! And… red rocks!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    why thank you! i agree!!!!



Bill - May 19, 2011 Reply

Great story and nice job Matt. Definitely a good way to get started, small steps and work on pieces over time. Also planning out what you wanted it to look like was a great idea. Well done.

Tim - May 19, 2011 Reply

I love it, great tiny house, good for you Matt for making this happen! You did an awesome job on this, I hope many people will be inspired by this and step out like you did to make this happen.

Matt - May 19, 2011 Reply

Looks awesome, bro! Congrats on being debt free with your own house in your 20’s! As others have said I wish I’d built my TH at 20 and not 35 but oh well.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    you didn’t get the memo? 35 is the new 20 haha

    im just so happy to see people diong this no matter what age!

    happy living!


LEE - May 19, 2011 Reply

Small is beautiful! Great house

Christina Nellemann - May 19, 2011 Reply

Good for you! I wish I had access to this site (and the Web) at your age. Where is the house located? Did you find a place to park it?

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    I live in a small town called King, NC

    its parked on my family’s land until i can buy some acreage for myself.


Deek - May 19, 2011 Reply

I love the geetars- the red theme looks great too….What kind of wood is flooring your shower? Great work. Would you let me put the ladder/loft shot (perhaps) in my upcoming book- love the light/color scheme….


    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    thank you! music is actually my first passion before houses 🙂 the wood covering is just pine wood that i shellacked the actual floor below the toilet is cork flooring! although sometimes my cat loves to claw at it grrr haha.

    i’d love for you to use the photo please feel free.. i’d love to have a copy if possible!


Alex - May 19, 2011 Reply

Nice work Matthew. Is the toilet an incinerating toilet or a composting? Either way very cool and nice job. Does seem huge but the bathroom is really small. Very nice for a $10k house!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    they make incinerating toilets? thats awesome! it is a decomposing toilet (Sun-Mar : Compact model) i recommend them!


Jan Kenney - May 19, 2011 Reply

Love, love, love everything about this tiny house. Matthew, you are brilliant and you can enjoy the “fruits of your labor” for years to come. I’ve been looking for ideas for a custom ladder for my loft. Hope it’s O.K. To copy yours.
P.S. What’s your NEXT project???? 🙂

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    by all means please do! I live here in North Carolina and in Pfafftown there is quite a lot of mini bamboo forrests and good folks allowing me to take some with me to craft with. its super easy to cut and haul around..lightweight and STRONG!

    NEXT PROJECT?!?! hmmm i just started a garden this season! that will monopolize most of my free time 🙂 but my next building i think will be stationary home around 350-450 sq ft. with cool stuff that i cant have in the portable home.. stone slab floor, wood burning stove, fireplace, music room!

    thanks so much for the support!


JennW - May 19, 2011 Reply

Awesome! esp love that your cat fits in the house with you 🙂

Brad - May 19, 2011 Reply

Great job Matt, I also love the red and think you did a great job.I wish i had done this when i was younger like you, thanks for posting your story, your story will be the topic at the supper table tonight lol

Lisa - May 19, 2011 Reply

Love it! Your story is very inspiring. We are in the process of working on our tiny house too and love hearing your story. There are so many young people who lack a purpose and/or direction, what a wonderful thing that you did that helped you find yours. Great job!

mike - May 19, 2011 Reply

House looks awesome.

Although to me, building the house is the easy part. Having a legal (and affordable) place to put it with proper utilities is the hard part. (Not to say building it is easy though…)

Rickles - May 19, 2011 Reply

Tiny house win! I really like this one.

I would’ve gone with a Loveable Loo instead and saved (gained) some space.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    originally i had a home fashioned toilet but ventilation was a bit of an issue. spare space is nice anywhere i can get it but i guess we all have to sacrifice something in order to get what we want eh?


Heather - May 19, 2011 Reply

Very nice indeed. Thanks for showing us your home. Love the red accents too! 🙂

Sheryll - May 19, 2011 Reply

Bravo!! Love the bamboo chair rail/accents and ladder, very creative. I’m sure your parents are proud of your values and hard work.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    i think that is one of the greatest things about it, knowing my parents see and and know that i created it.

    thank you so much

Katie - May 19, 2011 Reply

This has to be one of my favorites! Love the red. Thanks for showing the litter box, I was having a hard time thinking where one would fit in a tiny home. As with other posters, would love more details of the bathroom.
Great job!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    yea it was a bit difficult deciding where to put it.. ultimately i just thought..well.. my toilet is there might as well put her’s there as well!

Kathleen - May 19, 2011 Reply

The really nice thing about starting small like this is that you will not be accumulating a bunch of unimportant stuff. You are going to have a good idea about the amount of room that you have and what is really important for you to have. It is minimalism at its best.

Mike Moore - May 19, 2011 Reply

Well done, Matthew!

Mike Donovan - May 19, 2011 Reply

Oh, Matthew, you gotta chime in here and answer some of these questions! Absolutely spectacular!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    haha sorry been busy with music these past few days 🙂

David-Paul Newton-Scott - May 19, 2011 Reply

Great job, BUT, get rid of that bamboo ladder, it will fail one day I promise you and you will break your back or something.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    that sounds like something my mother would say haha! i cut holes the exact size of each of the poles.. the ladder rungs are a specific type of bamboo with nodes closer to each other.. it is virtually solid through out.. i can jump up and down on each step of the ladder and it not bend one bit.. but i wasn’t comfortable with that either so i then ran a supporting wood screw threw the backs of both sides of each ladder step.. i recommend it!

    thanks for the concern!

Angie - May 19, 2011 Reply

Is there any type of refrigerator? I’m just not seeing one.

David-Paul Newton-Scott - May 19, 2011 Reply

Great job,BUT, get rid of that bamboo ladder it will fail one day I promise you and you will break your back or something.

alice - May 19, 2011 Reply

Nice one! Congratulations on a comfy home wrangled into existence by your own hands!

Penny - May 19, 2011 Reply

Congratulations Matthew, you’ve done a great job with no experience – just shows how a little determination, research, and the humility to ‘ask’ for advice can guide you in an otherwise complicated
project. I’m proud of you. I agree that the ladder, although it looks good, could be a hazard later. Love the windows and the sklight. I like the way you cladded over the downward slope of he trailer – could you not have put in an interior step
up – or have you utilised this space in other (hidden) ways? I can’t find the litter box where is it? Clever boy Matthew.

    Anne B - May 19, 2011 Reply

    Ah Hah! Second time through I spotted the litter box next to the toilet! I also wondered if the box framed in between the slope of the trailer and the floor was for storage and I think I see a little ring in the floor in front of the door that might be under floor storage. A great idea!

      Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

      good eye! yep thats a false floor that slopes with the natural dove tail of the trailer. its not that big its just enough to house a vacuum seal bag of winter clothes, christmas decorations, small relics and what not. yep the litter box is next to the toilet.


Jen - May 19, 2011 Reply

WOW. You are only 22 years old and look what you have already accomplished. You have an understanding that some will never have about what one really needs to be happy and content. I am so jealous!!!!!!! 🙂 I often give up on my obsessions and projects because it’s just ‘too hard’. I think I’ll keep you in my inspiration back pocket so I can remember that it really isn’t that difficult if you are determined. Well done!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    the one word that kept me going was INCENTIVE. give yourself small targets.. like i have to finish this floor or wire up this outlet or paint this wall… my attention span is next to nothing. small projects as opposed to picturing the entire show. otherwise it feels hopeless which is inevitable sometimes but you just have to keep at it doll.. persistence is crucial.

    you will surprise yourself what your capable of!
    you can do it jen!!


Randy - May 19, 2011 Reply

This is really nice, Matt! I like how you did the bathroom and especially the toilet: totally portable with no need for hookups. Good job!

Barb - May 19, 2011 Reply

I am amazed and inspired. What a great job!

Tara - May 19, 2011 Reply

I have nothing new to add that hasn’t already been said, but wanted to add a comment just so you can see how many admirers you have that were moved to comment. Excellent job!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    This is the most extreme form of flattery i’ve ever witnessed. It’s as moving to me as it is to you.. i can’t thank you enough for feeling it as I do.

    minimalizm is a lifestyle not what you live in!


Molly - May 19, 2011 Reply

This looks like a real house that someone lives in as opposed to a prototype. It looks great!

I too would be interested in hearing where you found to park your home. That’s what is stopping me.

    Joe3 - May 19, 2011 Reply

    Molly, I’m having the location problem also. Seems without ‘friends’ in this area, there’s just nowhere to park a small home except a campground….and they’re just not affordable. Anyone have a suggestion or two about placement?

      Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

      hmm yes i think that is one of the biggest issues with this life style.. next to owning your own property your options are limited..

      i suggest flyers.. at one point in time i made plans to move to Boone, NC to attend Appalachian State University (before i found it obsolete for me) i posted flyers all around town about how if anyone was okay with me living on there property/ paying a little for a plot. i found a man who was trying to build a bit of a sustainable community of cabins.. rain collection/ communal garden/ solar power/ ect. GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS! pick a place and you can find people who love the idea of this lifestyle as you do!

      keep in mind your power collection method! water collection! you need to be able to get to these things pretty easily!

      im in this same boat myself!



BenBrown - May 19, 2011 Reply

Wow… and I’ve almost convinced myself it will never happen for me and then I read this… This was a needed shot in my hope.

Nick - May 19, 2011 Reply

Awesome tiny house, another inspiring story. Nicely written post too with a great message. I’m 20 with similar interests, but won’t be able to start for a while due to cost. The part about you sketching layouts and blueprints, well…that’s me right now. : )

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    Jay Shaffer does tours with his wonderful houses around the U.S. i suggest going and seeing one in person! it will kick your infatuation into overdrive i promise! or if your in my neck of the woods come see mine! my doors always open!

    you can do it Nick i promise! i know its hard!


Gina - May 20, 2011 Reply


I follow this blog and keep telling myself “I so want to do this! …someday, when I have money and stuff” and yet I am 24 and wasting $700/month on rent.

Way to live the dream, dude! Wish I could be more like you.


Jon - May 20, 2011 Reply

Awesome job Matthew! I like the shower curtain rod, looks good and clean, not foo-foo, like that ladder! The toilet work is really tight, nice handiwork, the cat seems to approve also!

Walt Barrett - May 20, 2011 Reply

Hi Matt,
This is a great story, photos and a great job!
Walt Barrett

20 | Mai | 2011 | Architekturlinks - May 20, 2011 Reply

[…] Matthew’s Tiny House – via Tinyhouseblog (tags: Minihaus Gartenhaus Einraum) […]

Cheryl - May 20, 2011 Reply

Great job and congratulations. Placing one can be tricky. Do an owner carry on a piece of land that allows building without permits a certain size. Not sure how that would work for hooking up water and electric. I don’t plan on either so not taking that step.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    to be honest, i’m not too sure about the legality. Jay Shaffer most likely has a better hold on that one! I assume it not being an actual foundation home that it wouldn’t apply to normal home guidelines. I heard rumor that it would apply as a “load” on a trailer. so essential treat it like your hauling something indefinitely haha.. i’m not a fan of too many rules, regulations, statuettes. I understand the safety issue and support that.. but most of the time I feel like its someone bored who like to make up rules… oh well.. we all must get along one way or another!

    happy living!!


Pedro Martins - May 20, 2011 Reply

I’m truelly amazade, how a person soo young had a goal has yours, congrats Matt, well done. My dream is to build such thing.

This is a inspiration for many!!!



    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    i consider myself a rather intense young man. In my music, friendships, hobbies, ect. its truly rewarding to have done this. The funny thing is there are kids my age and younger doing as crazy stuff everyday. i wish they would make themselves know so they can be an inspiration to us all!

    thank you so much pedro!


MJ - May 20, 2011 Reply

Congratulations, Matt! As has been said, 22 and you have your own home, free and clear, not letting all the things that stop so many touch your dream. Good for you!

Leslie - May 20, 2011 Reply

Maybe he eats a lot of fiber and needs a big toilet. Be polite.

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    Sitting at my local coffee shop as i reply! laughed out loud rather loudly! HAHAHAHA

    thanks so much!

      Leslie - May 21, 2011 Reply

      Glad you laughed because the minute I sent it I thought, that was evil. Between your cool house, your apparent love of coffee, and your sense of humor, I suspect you are the most awesome person ever.

Gabrielle Songe - May 20, 2011 Reply


Colorful, lots of light and a delightful space you have created with your commitment and hard work. As you are aware, you have more than a home, you have the experience of learning, focusing and realization that will serve you in future endeavors with the added benefit of no rent or mortgage to pay out. Thank you for your inspirational story.

Pat Boice - May 20, 2011 Reply

Terrific story! Your experience has got to be worth a college education – good for you!

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    glad someone other than me thinks that way as well!




Marie Johnson - May 20, 2011 Reply

You are amazing to be so wise at such a young age. I love your home. You have inspired me.

Judith Williams - May 20, 2011 Reply

I love your little place. Can you tell me where you got your cooktop?

    Matthew Allivato - May 20, 2011 Reply

    run of the mill Propane cooktop. I bought it from my local RV dealer. found myself buying quite a bit from them!


Stan - May 20, 2011 Reply

What kind of toilet is that? Is it a composting or some sort of boat/RV toilet? It is pretty big and was wondering what it does besides collect waste.

I wish I built a house like this when I was your age. I too saw Jay’s houses and have wanted one since. I hope to make it happen in the next year, I have saved about 50% for the house I want to build.

    Stan - May 20, 2011 Reply

    Oh yeah, and you look like my little brother. I clicked ‘read more’ before reading anything else to look at the pictures and from the angle I thought my brother built a tiny house and didn’t even tell me about it!

      Matthew Allivato - May 21, 2011 Reply

      its for home use, It’s called Sun-Mar : Compact. They are designed to decompose fecal matter with no water consumption! saving THOUSANDS of gallons of water every year you use it! i just love the idea of using less in anything.

      keep saving and build one man! sounds like you already know more about building than i do 🙂 so it should be easy!

      maybe im your brothers doppelgänger?! hah

Tim - May 20, 2011 Reply

Matthew, that house is awesome!

Fran - May 21, 2011 Reply

Matthew…. GREAT job on your space! Purrfect size for man and his other best friend. Bet he/she loves living there, too, especially playing with those tethers on the ladder. 🙂 With all sincerity, give yourself a pat on the back … what a life experience. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Matthew Allivato - May 21, 2011 Reply

    ah thank you so much.. her name is ‘Music’.. she turns 1 in july! Love cats, they suit my personality… want to hang out and snuggle up sometimes… sometimes they are like “get away from me!” haha

    thank you for listening Fran.


laura - May 21, 2011 Reply

Fantastic job Matthew!
Awesome red sink and I love that bathroom! Looks spacious actually! Love how you put your instruments around it! Love how you used bamboo as well! Your no water toilet rocks!!
Can I ask how often you have to dump the fecal matter and how do you do this I mean like in an rv place in the yard where? Sorry to be detailed but I want people to know so they will choose these as well. I have been interested in these since they were invented.

    Matthew Allivato - May 26, 2011 Reply

    good question… the manuel says on full time usage to dump every 6 months. in a setting where land is an issue or not yours to dump, i would say bag it and tote it somewhere that wouldn’t mind a little extra soil.. these toilets aren’t for the weak at heart. You’ll get over it fast when you see your non existent water bill! i got over the whole “ewww” factor in like 2 weeks! get one! recommend one to a friend! they won’t be sad!

Amy - May 23, 2011 Reply

Great job Matt! Question: did you use tinyhouse plans, a modified version, or your own plans? I see you have extra storage/dresser in the loft which is great and a key reason why I’ve been hesitating. Also, how much would you factor in the plumbing/electricity would have cost you if you didn’t have your dad as a resource? Thanks for your help – this on ‘the agenda’ but first need to sell my 800sq. ft. apt.! Thanks for showing how affordable it can be.

    Matthew Allivato - May 26, 2011 Reply

    My house is heavily inspired by Jay Shaffer’s houses. kinda a mixture of the Lusby and the WeeBee and a little of my own taste.

    If its space your worried about then don’t worry. I’ve always said living in a tiny house is a LIFESTYLE not just a place you live. The transition is strange at first. you will have to get rid of next to everything you own but trust me its more liberating. You will find every way possible to make storage and you will fill it. past that you will need nothing more! AND IT FEELS WONDERFUL!

    plumbing and electrical was one of the trickiest parts in my opinion. Pex piping through out! its sooo simple compared to other stuff! cost for an electrician.. mhhh i did it myself to avoid that cost.. im sure it would take he/she long to do it so maybe the cost would be lowish? but it is a rather expensive trade! i’d recommend asking everyone you know, seeing if there is someone that might know enough to teach you or oversee or do it for a cheap rate. :/ i hope i helped! you can do it! its not all that hard! just have someone oversee ya! read lots of books!


James - May 23, 2011 Reply

Great Job!
I have a question, do you have a place to put your home on or do you drive around with it?
Also, what do you do about power and heated water for the shower?

    Matthew Allivato - May 28, 2011 Reply

    at the moment im on my family’s property hooked up by an extension chord (insert joke here) i have a small electric heater that makes it pretty toasty with a propane dickenson marine heater as a wonderful back up, tankless propane hot water heater. 🙂 eventually i want solar panels!

      Kalley - February 2, 2013 Reply

      Hey, why not get a wood stove for heat? Then you don’t need the extension cord! just a cute little stove with a cute little chimney.

Angelica - May 24, 2011 Reply

Congrats! You are definitely an inspiration and you did a wonderful job! I’d love to hear more about what living in a tiny house is like. Entertaining friends, cooking, and more.

Miriam - May 24, 2011 Reply

What a cute house! Love it!

Mark - May 24, 2011 Reply

Great achievement! You are the ultimate self starter at only 22 years old. Keep your attitude and hard work up and you will not be a slave to anyone. Freedom is what this is about!

Jamie - May 24, 2011 Reply

Matthew, the house looks great, and knowing that you created this with your own two hands has got to be satisfying. You’re the frontiersman of the 21st century. Live the life, man!

Timaree - May 24, 2011 Reply

Nice job on your new home. You said your sister is good with fashions but wasn’t crazy about your red. Well fashions and style are two different things. Fashions deals with what’s in and what’s out of style but Style sets the fashion in a way. Style is your own versus following what’s in. Glad to see you went your own way. I wouldn’t have the red sink and walls myself. I thought about the sink but since I plan to have a red countertop the rest would be too much, lol. Love that red! And I really like your bamboo trim on the loft. Nice touch. Another simple thing but something I’ve never thought of is how you hung your knife magnet rod at an angle so it would fit on the small wall. You’ve done great!

April - May 24, 2011 Reply

Sweet place! Good for you. I am jealous of your kitchen and bathroom as ours our still In Progress. Love the red sink and your shower floor looks neat—how’d you do that?

Michael Stewart - May 28, 2011 Reply

Matthew, I’m 21, and I hope to be following in your footsteps in the next few years. I love your design, I could see myself making something similarly constructed for my own. My own question is, I didn’t see a fridge. What do you eat?

Kind regards,

-Michael Stewart

    Matthew Allivato - June 11, 2011 Reply

    i have a mini fridge in the back room… its pretty tiny but it does the job seeing as the house matches it in size :).. you can be surprised that you dont really need a whole lot of fridge space when you only have things that you will use instead of a bunch of clutter!

      Michael - June 17, 2011 Reply

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, Matthew! I’m following in your footsteps for financial and personal freedom at a young age, I’m bound and determined, ‘no looking back’ as you said.

Brian Vree - May 29, 2011 Reply

Love the house, where do I get plans for one like it?

-Brian Vree

    Matthew Allivato - June 11, 2011 Reply

    well i just morphed a few versions of Mr. Jay Shaffer’s houses but your first step is looking at the magnificent tumbleweed houses!


Frank the Tank - May 30, 2011 Reply

What was your total build cost if you don’t mind me asking?

I made the mistake of buying a big house and all I have is empty rooms, this would be perfect!

Bob - May 31, 2011 Reply


I am 58 and just this year finished paying off my mortgage. To say I am in awe of what you have accomplished is a gigantic understatement! You are indeed an amazing person. I feel like I sort of just ‘woke up’ to the small house philosophy and here you are, at 22, on the cusp of things. I have to say that I also have a lot of respect for your dad for him to have somehow communicated this open- mindedness and creativity to you.

Could I forward some questions to you to your email address? I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to accomplish what you have, but I think your what you’ve done is inspirational for me and should be for a lot of other people too.

Thank you very much for sharing your story.

    Matthew Allivato - June 11, 2011 Reply

    i get so much out of you saying this to me. It really makes this whole thing mean the world to me. My father is a great man as well 🙂 thank you.. if it hadn’t have been for him constantly doing jobs around the houses we lived in all my life, i wouldn’t have had the courage to do something of this magnitude. I will say that he kept telling me to just buy a damn RV and live in that hahaha but i think he is 10000% proud and glad i stuck it out.

    im very thankful for him and for people like you giving me the encouragement that i so desperately need..

    thank you god bless.

    Matthew Allivato - June 11, 2011 Reply

    I’d be happy to answer any questions at all

Gabrielle - June 3, 2011 Reply

Wow, this is great! One question, Matthew – what kind of vehicle do you use to tow your home around? Do you know if it’s possible for a smaller car to lug these things about?

Congrats, what a major achievement. I’m a 24 year old grad student, and I’m thinking of doing something similar to get out from the burden of rent or mortgage. Awesome job, Matthew!

    Matthew Allivato - June 21, 2011 Reply

    I live in the great state of North Carolina! and here we have plenty of wonderful people willing to do favors for nothing.. i have a lot of friends with big ole trucks haha.. my house if i had to guess ways 10,000 pounds so i would say nothing smaller than a F-250 truck should tug on one of these.. there is never really a time you want to toe anything with a car 🙂 but lord do i wish i could my little volkswagen Golf would look so much awesomer! haha

    go for it Gabrielle! your not getting any younger and your a college grad, you got the brains for it!
    good luck!



Me'chelle - June 8, 2011 Reply

Nice place reminds me of some cool guys surfing shack.

Good job man.

I’m dwelling over should I have stationary house legal size 10×12 and 16 ft high or just go for a larger movable house 12×16 12 ft high.

    Matthew Allivato - June 11, 2011 Reply

    that is kinda a debate i struggled with at first.. the stationary home is very cool because weight constraints wouldn’t apply.. so cool stuff like tile floors, wood stove, concrete counter tops, etc, could be had. but the portability aspect is rather amazing as well. I would say make a pro’s & con’s sheet.. I’m sure the point of your life as well will play as a huge factor..

    good life and good luck my friend.

      Me'chelle - June 19, 2011 Reply

      Thank yo very much, I just made like the perfect 12 wide 12 long 15 6in tall floor plan for my tiny house.

      I can’t just cheat like others and find some plan on the internet as I just have too much pride and I want to make my own design and have my house built for me.

      And made from me.

      I really want a 15 wide 15 long 15 tall house however I don’t want to hire an escort in case my stupid neighbor might call code enforcement on me (happened three times already) and escorts are expensive.

      Should I design my 15x15x15 or stick with my 12x16x15?

        Carolyn MVaussies - July 12, 2011 Reply

        Remember ZONING building code laws & inspections, is why 95% of the time these need to go on a Trailer. Look into your zoning BIGTIME before you EVEN think of building on the ground. They are Building coding us to death now. Just look at the “code” sized Ergee window needed in a home………

Nick - June 24, 2011 Reply

Speaking of being in awe! I am absolutely amazed by this beautiful home! What made you want the portable one? Where is it you want or plan to live? How long did it take you to save enough to build it? So many questions… I’d love to do this myself, but I’m a bit jobless at the moment.

    Matthew Allivato - August 17, 2011 Reply

    my main reason was i didn’t think i’d be in one spot for an exceptionally long time so i didn’t see the purpose of building a “planted” home. I’d love to live in Asheville NC, Boulder Colorado, Portland Oregon, Austin Texas… i’d love to live in all of those places really haha!

    It took me the better part of 2 years to make due to having to earn all the $$$ and built as i went along. but if i had all the money up front and didn’t have to work i probably could have done it in 6 months..

    you should totally build one! there are no rules really! except making sure it stands up and is skinnier than 9 Feet wide so you don’t have to get “Wide Load” permits when you move it!

    best of luck


Andrei - July 21, 2011 Reply

Congrats on your home, I am 24 and hoping to get my own place built soon. It’s a dream I am hoping to make a reality soon.. CHEERS!

will - July 31, 2011 Reply

Pretty sweet dude.

Dave M - August 11, 2011 Reply

Great house Matthew!

I’ve also been making my own floorplans everyday. Can’t wait to finish school and get a start on it. I’ve been wondering how these houses would hold up in the cold and especially the snow. I’m from Nova Scotia, Canada and with so much snow in the winter I’m wondering if it would be helpful to have some sort of entry way in the design. I thought you may know from experience.

Anyway, love the house!


    Matthew Allivato - August 17, 2011 Reply

    Im originally from New York, so i’ve seen my bit of cold weather also here in NC can get a tad chilly at times… I was concerned at first as well but i use dickenson propane marine heater in conjunction with a run of the mill electric space heater as a back up. it gets pretty darn toasty!

    i remember in winter it was about 30 degrees F… about -1 C ish for a couple of weeks and my house held 75 easily.. my father once told me that i could “heat that house with a matchstick”

    My main advise when starting this home is think of EVERYTHING before you start it! i wish soooo much that i would have put in radiant floor heating! something so simple but so effective! get solar hot water heater panels and run pipes into the flooring and it will increase your warmth amazingly… it will also feel great to walk on bear footed!

    remember you won’t need overkill on heating it is a small space.. also take into account how many windows you have, they will let a good amount of cold in as well!

    hurry up and finish school so you can start living your dream!

    best of luck!

    –Matthew Allivato

Ashley Bryant - August 12, 2011 Reply

Matt. We are completely on the same page! I saw Jay Shafer’s work when I was 19 (I’m 23) and building an EPU is my plan for my living situation after college. I am a costume design student, so I’m going to have to be able to move from place to place with ease as I get gigs after graduation… so the little houses are perfect! I’ve also spent hours drafting my heart out and doing interior design renderings, not to mention work working skills. I am so kindled by the fact that someone else shares this dream, and is living it out! Well done (and I dig that red sink!).

    Matthew Allivato - August 17, 2011 Reply

    well i could say its just as exciting from this end! its like i relive my building when i see people on fire, about to start their own project. You can totally do it! work hard as hell and know what you want!

    Red sink! thanks so much! i love it too! i was hell bent on having it! i bought a plain jane metal, porcelain coated sink found some metal paint sprayed over the porcelain and covered it with a chemical called POR15! its a clear coat that hardens as moisture gets at it! its super cool… pretty expensive but it works!

    good luck

    –Matthew Allivato

Mary Ellen - August 13, 2011 Reply

Very nice house,Matt.Glad, to see you put your dream to work.My Tiny house is up & has electricity but no shower or heat yet.Since you said you answer questions,could you tell me if your propane dickenson marine heater & tankless propane hot water heater give off a slight propane gas smell?I am quite sensitive to even a very slight whiff of it. Also, have you had any condensation problems from the shower?
Thanks for sharing-Mary

    Matthew Allivato - August 17, 2011 Reply

    i was very weary myself about the gas idea at first but after weighing the pros and cons i was for it! you will smell it when it is lighted but the most essential aspect is ventilation! the heater’s door must be opened and manually lighted with a BBQ lighter or a long match but once the door is shut it’s undetectable if vented properly through the roof.

    The hot water heater is a bit different it has an ignition inside of it.. so when you turn the hot water on it will click on and fire up. i have my hot water heater in the back utility room with a sliding door it will smell a bit because the gas kicks on as the ignitor starts as well sometimes it takes a couple seconds for it to catch. there are openings on it to let in oxygen but is vented out the top then to a flap outside..

    if your not comfortable then you could go all electrical! I like having propane because i want to live off grid completely soon so the less electricity i use, the smaller grid i will need, and if something goes wrong with my power or i can’t produce enough i will have heat at least..

    i hope you find your answer!

    –Matthew Allivato

Nancy - November 12, 2011 Reply

Wow this is so inspiring! I hope you travel around with it and post new pictures if you change it.

Cher - January 17, 2012 Reply

Congratulations on your house! Love the colors!
Two questions: It looks like you have an indoor kitty there-how is he/she adjusting to the smaller space? And I have to ask, why did you choose the tiny house over your Dad’s advice for a more traditional RV?

a fellow musician and feline fancier

john jackson - September 3, 2012 Reply

i want one but i dont think i could build it i wish i had someone that could for me and on a break foundation

R C - March 2, 2015 Reply

do you have dimensions or floorplans? I am specifically interested in the height in the loft. I’m debating between a shed roof and a gable roof

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