Category Archives: Minimalism

Ideas on a minimalist life

10 Reasons to Minimize House Size

So I realize I go a bit to the extreme with my tiny house, 196 s.f. is not SUPER feasible for many people for one reason or another and your living space ought to fit your comfort level, not challenge it, TOO MUCH ;-).  196 s.f. works well for me still, for now, I would honestly even consider going smaller now that I’m here.  I think I could find a way to cut out about 4 foot of length (~32 s.f.) ad still be pretty comfortable.  This house has pushed my boundaries a little on size but I never thought it wouldn’t be ‘doable’.  As of right now this house is serving its purposes very well, I have learned A LOT about construction, I think I am MUCH better at my job because of it, at least more comfortable and confident with the theories I’ve learned in school.  I am continuing to learn the technical and practical sides of things like my composting toilet (had my first hiccup today, I will update on that and how I fixed it as soon as I figure out if it is actually ‘fixed’), I am learning about radiant floor heat (love it), I am learning that even the spaces I thought would maybe be a little tight are actually very sufficient since they are designed well!  To date for me, there is no prouder moment than sitting inside, warm and dry when it’s raining and snowing outside knowing that I did that myself.  Well, maybe taking a really LONG and hot shower in the shower I created from scratch!   Pretty amazing feelings still, even 8 months later! :)

I want to point out my favorite ten things I have gained from living in my tiny house.  I have been asked a bit ‘how to convince others that this is a valid/great lifestyle choice when they aren’t necessarily ‘on-board’.  While you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do it is a great discussion to have, perhaps 400 s.f. is more do-able than 200.  Even getting to 1,000 s.f. is a great direction to head from the average ~2,200 s.f.!  Here are my top ten counter-points :).

  1. Knowledge gained.  There seems to always be things that need done and when you built the thing entirely you know how to do it all!  There is a lot of pride that comes with that, and a sense of accomplishment! (and you become a trusted resource for friends, not sure that’s a ‘pro’ 😉 )
  2. More cost effective. When building your own tiny house there is a lot of room for finding deals and saving money.  Even though there are typically the same base costs in a tiny house as there are larger houses you can find deals and make a house for considerable less than the square foot cost of a traditional house if you choose to.   Also considering labor fees saved of course if you’re doing that yourself.
  3. Ability to pay off debt and live debt free. With minimized  housing costs, even if renting the land to park on you are able to pay greater portions toward debts and realize the debt free lifestyle much faster than you could while paying a larger mortgage/rent. (in MUCH less time!)
  4. Less ‘stuff’ to maintain.  Owning things is a lot of owning maintenance (even just dusting around them stinks!), living smaller allows less space to accumulate unneeded ‘wants’ which can clutter life and require more time of you to maintain.  Smaller houses help you to be more intentional about what you collect (not to be confused with not being able to have what you want).  Having less stuff is a surprisingly freeing feeling.  It also happens to makes the things you have ‘mean more’.
  5. Less time spent cleaning.  This one is self explanatory, it’s nice to be able to clean everything top to bottom, including mopping in 20 minutes!  Aside from that, its easier and logical to put things away in their correct place when there is a correct place for it and not a lot of extra surfaces to clutter.
  6. Knowing that you are impacting the environment less.   No matter what you choose to put in your house, if your house is a little bit smaller rather than a little bit bigger you will impact your environment less and have a big impact on how much waste you put out whether it be in the form of  ‘stuff’ (that require production and all the waste that goes with it), garbage or utilities wasted.  The BIGGEST ‘sustainability measure’ you can do is not to invest in some gadget but to make your physical footprint smaller, simpler.
  7. Encouraging closeness inside of families.  There have been hundreds of studies on the damages the growing house sizes are having on family units socially and psychologically.  It is undeniable.  If I were to guess based on my own perceptions, parents think they are doing good by giving everyone their own room and their own space, to them that feels like success.  What families need though, children mostly, is closeness and a sense of bonding with other human beings.  You get that by learning how to work together, by forced interactions, by getting mad and then working it out, by learning boundaries, not by storming off to your separate part of the world and slamming the door behind.  If everyone is allowed to disappear into their own room at will you allow families to bypass this critical component and decrease overall happiness, closeness and mental health.  A small house is not the ONLY solution to this but it makes it harder to avoid one another for sure.  In the same breath, I think we tend to get caught in a consumer cycle, ‘bigger is better’, which then takes more hours of work to pay for, and then you feel bad for not spending time with your loved ones so you buy them things that take up space to make yourself feel better about not spending more time with them.  It is a vicious cycle.  Purely opinion on my part but some of the families I look up to most are the ones with really simple lifestyles that allow them to spend time together as a family, I believe they are happiest, which is my point in life, and worth emulating to me.
  8. Working less/More time.  If you have less stuff to maintain, less bills to pay and less ‘chores’ to do you have much more time for hobbies, friends and family.  Simple, more time for the things you love!
  9. You can afford to use your community.  Often times I found myself not going out for drinks with friends, not trying out the new restaurant, not going to the big cool event because I simply didn’t have the money for it (within my comfort level), it was going to my mortgage, my utilities (I had utility payments one winter month of nearly $600 for gas and electrical in my big house! That is beyond insane to me now!).  Without those bills piling up you can afford to try out the new food place around the corner, or see some live music (and tip them!).  It is not only good for you and your social life, it’s great for your community!
  10. Debunking the saying “We buy things we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”  There is a certain amount of criticisms you get by escaping this notion, mostly, it feels pretty good to debunk the social norms ‘financially’ :).  (as someone told me, learn to be a duck and let the criticisms roll right off! 😉 )

With that, I would be curious to hear from others on what they think are the redeeming qualities?  What are the main concerns from others if not purely ‘space’?


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Tiny House Update 9.8.13

I was able to get some work done on my house this last weekend!  Checked a couple things off.  I am trying to hurry and tie up all the loose ends by the time the film crew comes from London, I want to do a quick update on the steps I built and then I have a punch-list of sorts to get done in the next two weeks at which point I have hired a photographer to come take some images for a friends project!  I want to get some pretty documentation before things turn into a disaster zone too! :)   Without further ado, here is my update!

Things I Don’t Like About My Tiny House

I am not going to lie, parts of this stink… overall… totally worth it so far but here are some of the cons as compared to always giving you the shiny ‘pros’.   I think most of these can also be spun to sound like pros and can boil down to me having moments of laziness, like we are all allowed to have.  (it’s actually hard for me to not put on the positive spin at the end of each point… because I wrote this here though I will not!)   Here is the list:

  1. These things take a lot of time and energy to build, parts of my body will never be the same after this build.  As some of you know, about one year ago I fell off the roof while being dumb on a particular part of roofing, this resulted in a back that was broken in two places as well as a broken heel bone.  Here I am one year later, with the cold season coming and I can already feel it in my back.  My foot is STILL not healed amazingly enough, I have not been able to return to running just yet.  I have been told that I will always feel the weather changes in my back.  That is an unexpected consequence of tiny house living that not everyone will have, but it’s real.   Aside from broken bones, this thing ate up about a year and a half of my life I didn’t intend on giving it!  I seriously and foolishly was convinced that 6 months was oodles of time… nope, two years is more like it.  Sure I could have gone faster, I could have also gone a lot slower… but that is a lot of social life to exchange!
  2. Everybody looks and stares, I am happy to share, in fact I LOVE it, most of the time.  Its those other times when I just want peace and quiet, people still gawk then too.   I have been woken up from a nap more than once by someone knocking on the door.  Which is actually really cool, unless your napping mid day, which pregnant people do sometimes! :)   Part of me feels ‘weird’ too, I wish these were more ‘normal so I didn’t have to be made to feel weird so much!
  3. I am constantly concerned about being ‘turned in’ and worried if I am pissing off any neighbors.  Even though I would probably be totally fine with being turned in and it would actually be a different sort of enlightening adventure I would be ready and willing to tackle, it sucks to feel that little bit of insecurity constantly, just not knowing what is around the corner exactly.
  4. Everything is a work in progress, things break, water is not limitless, every action has a consequence that I have to be aware of. Sometimes it would be nice to be oblivious again to my daily processes, dump all the leftovers down the garbage disposal and not think anymore about it.  If I do that now it will grease up my grey water tank and that will be a much bigger deal down the road.  I have to only take what I will eat so i am not as wasteful.  It is mostly enjoyable to be engaged in my daily processes but sometimes it would be awful nice to get lazy and just not care.
  5. Space, only sometimes though.   It’s not even so much the space as it is smells, and it could be a pregnancy thing.  Denny-man stinks though.  He is getting weekly baths pretty much but it’s small enough in the tiny house that it takes no time for it to smell like dog (still, at least it isn’t smelling like compost!).  There have also been times I want to stretch out and do some yoga without leaving home and I just have enough room to do a few poses, nothing too detrimental but, sometimes, it would be cool to not have to go somewhere to do my physical activities.
  6. The dark flooring was a horrid choice with a puppy and mud.  It stays clean mere fractions of a second at best!  I will gets some rugs once I get a lawn and Denny get’s a little better about keeping water in his mouth, that will make this easier.  Right now my floors stay a pretty consistent mix of puppy slobber and dirt.

And the surprising things that I DO like!

  1. I LOVE the composting toilet, at least so far (I have yet to have to empty it).  I like it better than a flush toilet, for real.  No one can hear me pee, no splashing water back on my butt… it’s great!  and absolutely zero smells and the satisfaction that I am not sending a huge burden to be treated at the water plant.
  2. It is nice to be able to do what I want when I want, to know that the investments I make into may living area are mine.  If I want to paint I can, if I break something that isn’t working properly it isn’t super painful knowing I’ll have to replace something dumb only for it to break again some point later.  My own space is an obvious thing to like, but I am surprised by how much I have missed it. Even if it is less than a tenth the size of my last place that was ‘mine’.  That ownership aspect works just the same!

What else would you guys add to the list of Tiny House cons?

Update 6.09.13 – Moving Day!

I apologize for being so late to update, it has been a BUSY couple of days!  I Moved!


I had a LONG weekend, picked up around my folks’ farm, I made three distinct messes as my house moved around… Packed up my tiny house and got it ready for moving.  Then Sunday was the big day.  Originally my friend Jed was planning on helping me move Sunday around noon.  He was right on time and came over only to find out his truck is TOO big :).  He has an extended flat bed which made it about a foot to big to be able to fit under my hitch.  It was a good effort but it just wouldn’t work.  I almost called off the whole thing but then I decided, hey, this is what its like when you don’t own a truck… try some other options.  I posted an ad on Craigslist but then was too impatient to even wait.  I instantly called a tow truck to see how much they would charge to move me the 21 miles I needed to go.  I called the first one and they said they could do it but instead gave me the name of a guy with a dually, just in case.  Turns out that was a great call on their part.  Called the guy, he did ‘want’ to help on a Sunday but said he would and it would cost between $100-$110 to move it.  That was actually cheaper than I thought he would say.  I didn’t want to surprise him when he came out so I was sure to tell him it was a ‘home-made RV’ (which is what they technically are generally).  He said it would be fine.   He came out, hooked everything up, we had to modify the light wire so that it would plug in but other than that it went pretty smooth.  We couldn’t get a good ground to the truck so the hazards didn’t work well but all the other lights worked great.  I followed close behind and took way too many pictures (I only posted maybe half of them and it’s still a lot for one trip… I was nervous!) as we nervously went down the road.

He said it traveled really well, it was HEAVY.  His guesstimate is between 15k-18k pounds.   I still think that is way too high knowing all the materials I put into it.  We were not able to swing by a scale unfortunately to get a weight :(.  Eventually that will happen but in the short-term I am going to add up the materials and get a rough estimate now that it’s pretty much complete.   He did say that it is the heaviest thing he’s ever pulled but also that it pulled very straight and well.

Dad and mom followed down to complete the caravan with their tractor so we could get the site ready.  I moved downtown and am renting an empty lot from James.   The tractor made extremely short work of leveling the place and even digging a hole where the remote composting bin will be located.   I am very fortunate to have the family I do, it would have been a whole weekend long project at least otherwise!

We had a little mishap while backing the trailer in place, the ground was so soft that the trailer sunk a good 6-8 inches so there was a point that the tractor was just plowing it back there.  Unfortunately after the trailer got a few miles on its new axles the leaf springs and U-bolts got a little better acquainted and loosened up.  two of the axle’s leaf springs had a little bump out that holds the U-bolt in place when tightened down, I remember now thinking ‘what’s that for and why doesn’t this axle have it?’  Well now I know. With the sideways pressure the middle axle actually slipped on the leaf spring and was touching the front wheel.  Not to self, if replacing axles get a few miles on them then tighten again.   At first I freaked a little and thanked someone that it happened at our final destination instead of on the road somewhere but it really wouldn’t have happened anywhere else or there either if we weren’t plowing through the lawn instead of rolling through it.  It was a slight snag, we had to jack up that side of the trailer and put it back in place on the leaf spring then we (James) tightened down all the others to be sure.  then BAM, dad moved it into place.

On the way over I only noticed a single person who was mouth open looking at whatever contraption that was rolling down the road.  James was nice enough to ride with the tow dude, Gary (I think), and he may be able to speak to whether they noticed others.  There were just a couple of people who walked by while we were placing it who made a comment about it being ‘neat’.  And ‘Oh, it’s a house, cool!’.  It actually fits really well in the neighborhood too, it’s hard to actually see unless you’re right next to it.

So that Sunday was followed but a 16 hour work day Monday to catch up for a deadline or I would have updated sooner.  This afternoon I go get the new title for my ‘brand new’ 2013 RV.  and then I will try to snap some more photos of where the house is at now, below are all the process photos of the move, sorry, I know there are a ton!

Things still left to do:

  • Install water line at new location
  • Install composting toilet
  • Build media center/book shelf
  • Build 10 drawers for kitchen/dresser
  • Second coat of paint on the mill-work
  • Recover couch
  • Electrical closet doors
  • Hook up radiant floor heat
  • Build the fence for Denny

As you can see there are still plenty of project to keep me going before I can call this complete, I will be sticking around a little while longer on this topic at least and may start to post about my other projects I have going on too.  Just because you never say it enough though, thank you for sticking with me through this project, the encouragement you give me goes a LONG way!

Update 6.2.13

Just some pictures tonight, I am tuckered!  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Update 5.22.13

We (dad) got some more plumbing stuff done today, the water heater is vented!  the bathroom sink is installed, the gas lines are run!  The mechanical room is filling up!  I forgot to take a picture of it but my great uncle Bill gave me an oversized propane tank to use, that will save me some runs to fill up the little ones!  Pretty cool!  It’s all getting so close to getting done!

I should also share, I had an offer in on a place downtown which had a house on it ad was a great lot layout, I was haggling on the price pretty hard and ALMOST got there but that offer fell through.  I am still on the hunt for a good deal though.  The plan is to buy a piece of property that will accommodate my house and provide a rental income at the same time.  One of my favorite financial quotes is “Make your money on the buy, not the sell; this is true in any investment whether it’s real estate, business, or the stock market.”  That is the motto here, I am not in a hurry to buy, I am not getting emotionally invested, I am looking for an investment opportunity.  In the meantime I will be moving my house down town to James’s property where he as a double lot, I can live downtown while I keep looking for a place of my own and he can get some rental income too, win win.  Wish me luck!

Here are some pictures:

Update 4.26.13

Baseboard and interior trim is up!  Tomorrow I was planning on working on siding but its going to be way too nice to be cooped up in the shop planning and ripping wood… I think I will work on the shower tiles a bit more.  If I can get that all done tomorrow I can grout sunday, that would be pretty cool :).  Be back soon, here are some pictures: