Tumbleweed Building and Design Workshop

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending Jay Shafer’s Building and Design workshops in Sebastopol, California. We met at his home, in an apple orchard on the outskirts of town, gathering on the deck of his landlord’s home.

The day began with a tour of Jay’s home to give participants a look at the finished product. Most in attendance seemed to have some building experience and know the general terminology of building.


After the tour, Jay took us through the building process to the point of the framing, exterior walls, and weather wrap were on the house. We also discussed trailers and the process of mounting the home onto the trailer.

Workshop on the Deck

In the afternoon Building Workshop session Jay presented the details of how to complete and finish the tiny house. He discussed the need for precise work and the fact that the finishing of the interior often takes longer than the framing and roofing and siding of the outside of the structure.

The workshop progressed through each stage of the building process, and kept the flow of the workshop in this manner. Although not a hands-on workshop, Jay provides a illustrated color workbook that is detailed with photos, floor plans, and a complete list of tools required to build your tiny house.

The workshop is very organic and improves with suggestions and feedback from participants.

Jay later showed us the Vardo where Greg, President and co-founder of the Small House Society has been staying on this break in the West Coast tour and answered questions about its design and construction.

Exploring the Vardo

At the end of the day Jay gave a second tour of his home. Having gone through the workshop the participants had a few new questions after having more knowledge about the building process.

The second Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop is a design workshop. We had a very small group for this one, only three of us. The day started out very cool and we ended up moving from the deck into Jay’s Epu. It was very comfortable and was neat to experience a couple of hours in the space of the tiny house. We sat five fairly comfortably when Greg joined us for a short time.

Jay began the day with an introduction to the “art” of architecture. He discussed the influence of sacred geometry in design. We than went into more aspects of design and than broke for lunch.

Design Workshop in Jay’s Epu

After lunch we came back and began our own designs. With graph paper and pencil we spent the next couple of hours designing our own tiny house. The last hour was spent with Jay critiquing our work and giving suggestions

This was a very worthwhile weekend and I would recommend that anyone who is serious about living and/or building a tiny home take this workshop.

To view more pictures of this workshop visit Greg’s special blog.

Photo Credits: Gregory Paul Johnson

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Michael - August 1, 2008 Reply

Thanks for this great run through of a Tumbleweed workshop. I’ve been trying to find time to attend one and this definitely helps me visualize what to expect.

Tammy Lynne - September 4, 2011 Reply

I want to know where I can buy one of these great tiny houses!

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