What Living is REALLY like

April 23, 2014 § 6 Comments

So I get the question every now and then about “what living in a tiny house is REALLY like?”  I thought I would post the answer to this here so that others can read it, I will be sure to update it as needed as well.  Feel free to ask any specific questions in the comments, I (and hopefully other tiny house dwellers) will answer them for everyone to read all in one spot!  (anything is on the table, as Dee said at the latest Tiny House Conference, ‘Wanna know about how I poop?”, just ask…)

The basics about my personal story: I have been living in my house for nearly 11 months on today’s date (I moved in June 2013).  I have gone through a summer where temps topped out at 111 degrees and a winter where they got down to -12 degrees.  I’d say I have a good standard for all four seasons at this point but just one year in so far.  I currently live with a Great Dane puppy (one year old tomorrow!), a one month old baby girl and a part-time partner.  My house is 196 s.f.

The first month was pretty normal, the house was not quite complete so I kept working away on it (I had just some interior things to do, build drawers and finish millwork etc.).  It felt a little like camping at that point.  It hadn’t really hit me that I was living in my house, that I had been building for the last 18 months.  I think that was due to the fact that I had clothes in suitcases and was still putting pretty much all my free time into finishing my to-do list on it.  I think I got a little it depressed when all the house projects came to a halt fairly instantly or at least dropped significantly overnight (once I moved), I generally have something like that happen when I finish a project, I have to re-evaluate things and fill that time elsewhere and when your life shifts like that it takes a second to readjust.  That OR it could have been those first weeks of pregnancy…

I was not expecting or trying to get pregnant but looking back I believe there was an overlap of some birth control and antibiotics (antibiotics make birth control inactive… note to those that don’t know, be careful ;-)).  I have always been very careful about this but I think there was a lapse in this whole ‘being careful’ thing, that’s really my only explanation other than when you do x you get x’s results… But I love my beautiful and amazing daughter, don’t get me wrong, she was just a surprise…  Long story short, and coincidently one of the other questions I have had asked a fair amount of time, there is plenty of room in a tiny house for ‘bedroom practices’, you don’t even have to get that creative but you certainly can if you want… MiniM was conceived, I’m pretty certain, the first night in the tiny house so there is your proof right there (I said it is all on the table ;-)).  Right about that time we also got our 8 week old puppy.   It was a lot of changes in lifestyle all at once so it is hard to pin-point exactly what the tiny house’s roll was in changing my life but it was certainly a positive change and experience!  At this point I really don’t even think of the house as a project anymore, it’s just my home.  Every once in a while I get a cool/proud feeling knowing I built it but really it is just the place where most of my life happens during this chapter.

So the vast majority of my time in the tiny house has been spent pregnant and with a small puppy, ok, a large puppy.  I would describe my mental state in regards to the house (in regards to other things was a whole lot different!) as both ‘comforted’ AND ‘stressed’ by this tiny house (there are always contradictions).  There are a lot of times I remember thinking, through the ups and downs, how nice it was that at least I have shelter, no matter what happens in life I will never be homeless.  That was very comforting.  But then there was this feeling of living on a billboard.  All of this attention was coming at me nationally from various news stories but also locally where I had planted my house.  I never knew if people liked the concept or hated it.  It was stressful knowing that all anyone had to do was say ‘hey, I don’t like that there’ and I would have to move my house (or find/use a plan ‘b’) at the drop of a dime.  This is very different than the ‘nesting’ that most pregnant women are trying to juggle I think.  It made ‘nesting’ very tough.

I originally started documenting my build for myself, I wanted to know where things were in my walls and honestly I just wanted to maintain a blog for a bucket list item.  As I continued though, and people found my site useful for their own reasons, it pushed me to continue what I otherwise may have given up on.  I found myself cursing the fact I had been so public about everything.  I remember one point, about 8 months pregnant, that I just knew and expected and dreaded coming home for fear of someone coming by unexpectedly, knocking on my door and laying into me, or finding a note on my door (that hasn’t happened, yet).  The uncertainty is a killer, I SO wish it wasn’t a part of living in a tiny house but I have learned it is just something to be dealt with until this sort of dwelling becomes more accepted.  It was the last thing I wanted to worry about at 8 months pregnant though… particularly with my insurance changing and this whole baby coming along, which, turns out is a very scary thing!  I had moments of regret, not about building the house but about being so open about it. Now though, I’m glad I did, it has opened a lot of doors for me.

As far as the actual house, it has served my purposes exceedingly well.  It is not perfect because it is a DIY adventure.  I expected some hiccups which I think everyone should do if they are building themselves.  I did not know a lot about much of the systems when I put them all together and expected them to work.  I do know, because I put them all together, how and where things are so that when I need to tweak things, as I have, I can do just that.  I have been surprised at how little tweaking I have had to do though.  To date there has been a water issue that I needed to fix once the temps got down to -4 degrees, that caused me to have to shower next door for a few weeks (heat tape does not fix frozen pipes alone, you need insulation also!), and some heat issues that I worked through (the radiant heat floor is only good to about -20 degrees outside, then you need to supplement).

Lets start  in the bathroom, you can read reviews on my toilet Here, that seem to be a big unknown for people.  Please do know there ARE other options than a composting toilet and there are several composting toilet options, and reasons to decide to go with each, if only ‘I don’t want that’.  The shower is amazing, endless, I mean really endless hot water, I have tested it with some ridiculous showers!   The shower head, while it looks pretty does not have the water pressure I like.  I know it is a function of the shower head though, not water pressure.  I will most likely be swapping that out for a different head (on with a wand feature) once MiniM outgrows the sink for her baths.   I feel like overall the bathroom is a little cluttered with ‘things’, mostly products I don’t use, it needs a once over to go through and get rid of these things.  I had also planned to do a little built in storage cabinet in there that I never got around to.  Maybe one day I will or one day I will just get rid of those things to store :).  Right now it’s livable and is probably only about the same amount of clutter as any other ‘normal’ bathroom I’ve had… keeping bathrooms clean has never been my best trick.

My kitchen serves all of my cooking purposes and needs better than my last apartment did but probably not as well as a gourmet kitchen would… but then I don’t have to clean a gourmet kitchen so maybe it serves MY purposes better!   I find I have plenty of storage.  I did get rid of a lot of my cookware but one year later I have yet to have a single moment where I kicked myself for getting rid of any one of those things.  I have one large fry pan and three pots and all the utensils I need, there are a few times I wish I had one more small fry pan but that is the biggest of my woahs so it’s not bad at all.  I do LOVE the gas stove, I hate electric ones!   The washer/dryer was not something I used a whole bunch until now, with MiniM and her using cloth diapers and wipes it has become much more used.  It is essentially acting as an overpriced diaper genie though… not positive it’s necessary for most people.  Nice to have in a pinch though!

My living room suits me, at first I had a love seat that folded out to a spare bed.  Denver stunk that thing up and it was a little bigger than I wanted so I changed it out to have two chairs, one being a recliner that I thought I would use a lot after the kiddo was born.  I didn’t use it too much and Denver ate a hole in the arm so I just recently swapped that recliner out for a small loveseat.  I purposefully did not design any built in furniture into my design so I would have just exactly that flexibility down the road.  Now there are three seats to be seated so we have three seats! Works well.  I was concerned about the large windows in the living room, I was worried it would limit the privacy.  That is easily handled by cheap curtains and I love the light in there.  I seem to have plenty of storage, I still have areas not being used almost a year after moving in.

The bed area also functions remarkably well, I think we went over that a little ;-).  The bed is a pain to make which I expected going into it, I hate beds against walls but it’s sort of inevitable with the constraints of a tiny house on wheels.   My loft originally held my king sized bed but when MiniM came into the picture I wanted to use a co-sleeper.  I ended up building her one that is a full crib sized so I had to swap my king size out for a queen.  With two adults and a great dane the bed gets eaten up fast but it’s nice she has her own space and we are working on Denver not being such a bed hog… all and all it is great, the head height isn’t a big issue at all, its kinda cozy and nice (my loft is about 5.5 feet at the peek, 4 feet on the low side).

Finally, the patio, I love this space, it is only used about half the year though because of our climate.  I still may enclose it at some point in time but for now its one of my favorite spots so it stays! :)

With that I conclude my overall review, I’m going to link this post as a main tab (to the left), if there are certain aspects I did not go over to you liking (because its hard to remember the things I wanted to know) please leave a comment and I’ll address it for everyone to read!  Thanks!

 

Oh, I should add, this post on the things I don’t like is still relevant too!

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§ 6 Responses to What Living is REALLY like

  • Erik says:

    How is the ivy wall covering doing? Did it survive the cold winter temps?

    • Macy M says:

      I did morning glories last year because I missed most of the growing season, they grew ok, not as much as I had hoped and then died off, we are just getting back to our growing season and I think I am going to go with morning glories again but let them get a better go at it (I like that they flower, I’m turning into such a girl! ;) ) I will have to get some better pictures of them this year, I hope that by getting a jump on things they will grow in better this year!

  • I’m glad you brought up the topic of poo. Lol Because I have been obsessed lately with drastically downsizing and building my own to I house. But in the gazillion hours spent on my research, I really don’t find many talking about the sewer and water issue of living small.

    I plan on using solar panels for electric and gas/propane for cooking and heating but how do you deal with sewer and water? Guessing that you are hooked up to a water hose since you are parked in someone’s yard? But where does the water waste go from the shower and sinks? And I know you have a composting toilet but you still have to dispose of waste right? Or maybe I just don’t fully understand how the composting toilet works, maybe I should research that more.

    Anyway, I love your site and you are a HUGE inspiration to me and I’m excited to take this adventure on myself. I can’t wait for your plans because your house is my favorite of all I’ve seen and I want to build mine just like it (other then using a fifth wheel trailer).

    • Macy M says:

      I totally hear you I had a tough time finding info in that area too! And surprise, I didn’t post too much on it… grrr, now it’s all installed under the trailer. Maybe I ca make a diagram on it and post it. The grey water is filtered and collected under the trailer. It is just filtered through some gravel in a rubbermaid bucket then spilled over into a 55 gallon barrel to be used later in my garden of pumped into a drain-line, whichever is needed. I put this all together just before winter and I either didn’t use as much water as I thought or (more probable), I have a leak in the system that I need to get fixed this summer. That was MY solution for grey water, I think others did other things but were secretive about it or forgetful about it for whatever reason. (any other dweller care to comment?). As far as the poop, composting reduces the mass of the waste to about 10% the original mass so you don’t necessarily have to clean as often as you would think (depending on your type of composting toilet, I have the big bin kind and they say once a year). So, once a year (first time coming up in June) I empty ‘some’ compost into a finishing drawer on the composting unit and then let it sit there another 8 weeks before finally dumping it into a garden area (mine will be going on flowers, not food though they claim there are no issues putting it directly from the finishing bin onto veggies…). At the point you dump it I am told you can not tell the difference between it and store bought fertilizer. We will see about that and I will update about that when I get there.
      I am hooked up to a potable water hose (its important to get a potable hose so you are not getting trace poisons constantly)
      I think that was all of your wonderful wonderings, thank you for the comment and of course for the very kind words as well! Plans will be out soon! :)

  • Nana says:

    First of all, I LOVE your house (although I might do a little tweaking to it.) I’m just wondering you mentioned that you have so much storage space, where exactly is that? Also is there space behind the fridge?

    • Macy M says:

      I have a whole bank of closets under the bed and under the steps, that is only about half full, I have a space about 4 feet deep, 7 feet tall and 1 foot wide behind the fridge area, the space above the fridge/pantry which houses seasonal items but is mostly empty and then the cabinets/drawers in the kitchen, the media center and the two cabinets next to the fridge.

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