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FAQs

How big is it?

Version one (2011) was 196 s.f. with an additional 5’x8′ patio. Version two (2015) is 232 s.f.

How long did it take to complete?

18 months to move in, another 6 months to finish after occupancy.

What was the final cost?

Version one was $11,416.16.  The renovation/addition was an additional $2,227.15 for a grand total of $13, 643.31.  Detailed Budget HERE

Who lives in the house?

The home is occupied by myself, my partner, James, our daughter, Hazel and our dog Denver.  Coming Fall 2015 there will be a new addition in the form of a baby boy!

Did you have an architect do the design?

I am a designer, I did the design myself, construction plans are available HERE.

Did you hire a crew to help or did you and a few friends do it?

It was important to me that my hands were involved in every step of the process, I did the majority of the work myself but did have friends help when I needed extra hands as well as having professionals check my plumbing and electrical after I completed it to assure it was correct and not a life safety hazard.

How long has it been finished is it holding up well?

I moved in full time June 2013, it has held up very well.

 What are you using for heat and A/C?

I did not have an A/C the first year and instead used passive cooling strategies (night flush cooling, ceiling fan, etc.).  After my daughter was born I did get a window A/C unit for her safety, we have summers up to 110+ degrees and I did not want to be stuck in a situation where we were at risk for heat problems since babies are more susceptible.  We don’t often use the A/C but it is there if we need it.

I have used several things to heat, at first it was radiant electric heat, I have since removed that as I found it to be less efficient rather than more.  While heating isn’t generally an issue I have used an Envi Convection heater (worked well but wasn’t quite enough below about 30 degrees), a propane heater (great and fast boost), and an electric radiant heater (worked well but not fast if you are starting at ‘cold’).  We do have winters in the negative digits so I have redundant systems to heat as to not get stuck in a hazardous situation.

Where do you think you cut the most cost?

Definitely on the shell, I was able to contact local projects and get very inexpensive materials, I have tips for you to do the same HERE.

 What was the most expensive?

The toilet.  Sun-Mar Centrix 2000 electric.  It was $2,000 of the original $12,000 dollar budget.

Would you have changed anything if you could redo it?

I would not use dark flooring, it shows dirt too easily.

I would have used 3/4″ plywood for cabinet doors, the 3/8″ has warped over time.

Where do you have it?

I rent an empty lot in Boise, Idaho for $200 a month plus utilities.

Where can you park a Tiny House?

More on that HERE.

How did you find the land?

I found land by networking but you can also use Craigslist (parking section), Tiny House Parking (.com)

How much are utilities?

Utilities (gas, electric and water) range from about $8.00 a month in summer to about $50.00 in winter.

How do you track utilities?

I use THIS to track electrical and THIS for water.

How do you get water?

I get water via the host house and a potable water hose.

How do you get power?

I get power via the host house on a dedicated 20 amp circuit via a standard 15 amp power cord.

 What made you decide to build a tiny house?

More on that here, About Me.

What was the transition into tiny living like for you?

It was not difficult for me, I am a pretty minimalistic person, I was excited to sell all my junk and be free of the burdens that seem to accumulate over time.  The transition has felt very natural for me personally.

How did you come up with your design?  What were the most important aspects for you to include?
My design was driven largely by budget, weight and aesthetics.  The trailer is weighted appropriately for both the trailer size and towing capabilities.  I had set a budget of one years worth of rent payments to build the home.  Around that I tried to make it as ‘pretty’ as possible.  In order to get a good starting point I made a list of my 10 most important priorities to have in the house (things like a full oven, and over sized shower, room for two adults and a great dane, reusing my king size mattress, etc.), made some paper cut-outs and started rearranging things until it felt right.
How did you choose your appliances and building materials?
My building materials were largely decided around my budget and figuring out how to make that work, some things, like my tile floor for my radiant heat system could not be had second hand, I made up for those in the budget by using non-standard but cheap materials elsewhere, like my siding of reclaimed shipping pallets that were free.  I also had to balance weight in those decisions, knowing I had a very heavy floor drove me to make decisions on lighter materials elsewhere, like a TPO roof rather than steel for example.  The appliances we chosen off of my needs for the house, all were purchased new.
What has the most surprising part of day-to-day life in a tiny house been for you?
How interesting other people find tiny houses to be.  It was certainly not that way while building, now I am just ‘that girl who built the tiny house’ when introduced to other people :).  Living tiny is not hard, peoples’ outside views of it are interesting…
I have to know… how do you live with a Great Dane in 196 square feet??

Great Danes are very lazy animals, the hardest part of Denver’s day is deciding whether to lay on his bed, my bed, or the couch, all of which are out f the way for most purposes.  He does really well in the tiny house, we do force him out and about to dog parks and play dates with other dogs but even that takes some talking to (he doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do and at 150# I can’t ‘make’ him… ).  There are dogs from my past who I would never make live in a tiny house, they have too much energy for it, Denver is perfectly suited for it.

Why did you decide to build?

I was initially studying for my Architectural Registration Exams (A.R.E.s) when I realized that all the schooling I went through taught me nearly nothing about actually constructing something.  It taught all sorts of design but without that integral part of constructing I don’t feel I can be as successful at my career as I would be WITH that skill.  This build was an attempt to teach myself how to build things, and an opportunity to test out some sustainable features in a real life scenario AND, I don’t like paying rent or the idea of going into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to a bank.

Have you run into any problems with your local codes? How did you solve them? 

I have not yet, I fully intend on running into code issues and disputing them… I want to maintain an urban lifestyle with my house.

What is/was the most time consuming portion of your build?

I am using recycled pallets for siding, in order to do this I have to disassemble the pallets, plain them down, cut them to vertical size and then measure each one to cut it to horizontal size.

Where did you get your plans?

I created my plans from scratch. You can get them HERE.

What sort of items do you have for cooking? 

I will have a recycled, 4-burner, small oven 100% gas stove from an old camper and a microwave, as well as a BBQ on my patio :).

Are you tied to the power grid or are you off grid? 

I will initially be tied to the power grid with the long term goal of being able to be off the grid.  I have designed a closet in the initial design for my electrical components including solar batteries.

Do you have a washer and/or dryer? 

Yes, I will have a combined washer and dryer unit in my kitchen.

Where does your water come from? 

I have a plain old hose hook-up with a POTABLE water hose  which runs through a filtration system and an on-demand, propane water heater system to my two sinks (kitchen and bathroom) as well as my shower.

What are some of the space savings tricks you used? 

I have incorporated every single ‘dead space’ as storage.  The steps leading to my bed are shelves, the space above my pantry is sunken to have storage, behind my fridge is more storage, I have built in book shelves and I have plenty of cupboards and space under my bed for storage.  I have opted to leave open shelving in the kitchen to make it feel ‘bigger’ and more open but will be using shelving that maximizes the amount of storage space available.

What do you have for insulation? 

I am using 4″ of rigid, closed cell insulation in the walls and ceiling adding up to an R-20 in those assemblies.  The floor has 6″ plus a radiant barrier and an airspace, adding up to an R-42 in that assembly.

Is there anything else you would want other people to know about your house and build?

I have really tried to push the boundaries of how a tiny house can look/be, I have incorporated a rain-screen wall system, TPO Roofing system, radiant barrier, and even a green roof system – without all the weight.  I have fallen in love with the entire tiny house concept and will definitely be using this amazing adventure in my future life endeavors.  I really encourage people to give it a go if you’re curious, push your comfort level, find a way to make it happen rather than reasons that it can’t.  I am so grateful for everyone who is reading this.  You have all encourage me!  Thank you!

When and where did you first hear about the Tiny House revolution?

I was in it before I knew it was a thing.  I purchased my trailer and was researching boat appliances when an image of Jay Shafer popped up.  It validated my idea of living in a minimal space and I continued full steam ahead finding more and more people on the same path daily!

What made you decide on a Tiny House?

I have never really been a collector of things, I had gone through a divorce and had a house full of objects that filled rooms but lost the house.  It was painful to sell everything my ex husband and I had collected (for pennies on the dollar mostly) but once it was all gone I felt so free.  The realization of being happier with less was a surprise and I wanted to run with it.  My goal was to create a space I could learn from first (I wanted a project to actually build something, it had to be big enough to incorporate electrical and plumbing, I was studying for my architectural licensing exams).  I helped justify the expense by making it a ‘challenge’ that I would also live in it.  I set the budget at one years worth of rent payments and decided to live in it for two years, that way it would pay for itself and then some in savings.  I also wanted a home of my own but was not ready to take out another mortgage, I hated that emotional weight.  So there were a lot of factors that pointed me in the direction, they all contributed to kicking me off on the journey.

How big was your house you lived in before you built your Tiny House?

I had a few rentals after my large home and before my tiny house.  The home I had while married was 2,500 s.f.  I then lived in an 1,100 s.f. Apartment, then a 650s.f. Then down to 450 s.f., it was a gradual progression down and each place seemed way too big still at the time.  It seemed like I maybe only used half of the space and sometimes it was just to hold things I never used or liked anyway.

What are your views on minimalism?

I am a minimalist.  It’s not something I try to be, it’s just something I am naturally.  I have never enjoyed holding onto things for ‘sentimental value’.  The value to me has always been in the experience and the memory, not in the object.   I think everyone should live their own ‘happy’.  Minimalism is not mandatory but I think being intentional about life should be.  I felt a lot of pressure to get bigger things, have more stuff as a way to be ‘more successful’, I played into it, and I found out the hard way that that’s a crock, at least for me… I’ve found a lot of peace and joy in less.  I feel like the things in my life either hold value or they don’t, and then they don’t get to take up mental or physical space.  Some people can’t or shouldn’t be minimalists, we all should do what is right for us and celebrate others’ version of right too.

What are your views on materialism?

To me it’s kind of like ‘love languages’.  I think we each feel success and pride in different ways.  I think that for some people it is a matter of pride to have material objects.  While I can’t share the same ideals I can respect someone else’s path.  I get sad when minimalists try to project their own ideals on others just the same as when non minimalists try to project their ideals on me.  I think mutual respect is paramount, I think being intentional and self reflecting often are powerful tools but I also think they are learned over time and through experience.  We’re all on our own journeys and we’re all trying to to the best we can!  That said, material objects probably won’t be paramount on my list ever – people, places, things, experiences and memories are so much more profound in my eyes.  

What year were you born? What have you noticed in terms of minimalism and materialism through your life?

1983 – I’m the tail end of the millennials.  I feel like millennials embody the pendulum swinging the other way in a lot of ways, including material items.  Generations before us created the concept of ‘keeping up with the joneses’.  I think our generation has watched how that went and seen our families go through turmoil and a good portion of us choose to go a different direction.   I was a latchkey kid, when I was little I longed to have my family home more.  Both my parents worked and were very successful.  We had a very ‘privileged’ upper middle class life.  We had a boat, a camper, three cars always.  There was nothing we couldn’t have if we wanted it.  The thing I wanted was to put puzzles together with my dad (something we did only at Christmas break) I wanted to take trips to the zoo with my mom… I wanted their time but my folks were very focused on their career because that is what made them feel successful and what made them feel like they were providing us a good life.  I think I choose to go a different direction with my kids because of how I felt about my own childhood.  I am the pendulum swinging.  I have chosen to provide less things and more experiences.  I can’t afford all of those things my folks bought for us (though I am a big fan of a shared economy and I definitely can afford to rent a lot of those things my parents felt the need to own) but I somehow still feel successful because my perspective is different.  (my kids will probably want huge houses and lots of stuff, it’s only fair, right ;-))

What do you notice about your generation’s perceived connotation of the minimalist trend vs the thoughts of your parents’ generation?

I have surrounded myself with others who are open to my lifestyle choices even if they don’t make the same ones themselves but I have noticed that my own generation is usually harder on minimalists than the previous ones.  My parents and their friends seem to think I am ahead of the game for realising that this time with my kids is important and that I will never get it back.  I get occasional feelings of someone thinking I am a failure within my own generation but I don’t focus on them because they don’t serve me to get where I want to go.  I feel I have been on both sides of the minimalist/materialist fence, I MUCH prefer this side! You could not pay me enough to change at this moment in time, literally.  I am well educated, I value my career and it will be there if/when I want to go back, I would feel awful to have to miss out on the moments I get to experience every day with my kids in this chapter of life though. It’s more valuable than money.

In your opinion, how does minimalism tie in with the tiny house movement?

There are a lot of different reasons people find the tiny house movement.  I would say the biggest is financial.  I would say the main reason it has been successful is for reasons that have little to do with minimalism.  It’s a lot of people who have gotten in over their heads and are trying to find a way out.  The tiny house can and has been a step for some people to find their way out.  It can be a tool against debt and a stepping stone in life.  That’s totally legit.  I think a lot of people in that situation are focused on fitting everything in their big houses into a small space and not really interested in shifting their paradigm… I think the people who have the most success in the tiny house community are successful because they ARE minimalists so the lifestyle change is a welcome and easy shift.  Others who view it as a tool seem to count down the days until they are debt free and can qualify for their next line of credit and ‘get back on their feet’.  It’s an interesting time for sure but tools against debt are great and so are long term housing solutions for minimalists.  Win, win if you ask me! But there are a lot of different types of people in the TH community!

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11 Comments

    1. It’s totally possible, you’ll need to check with your local codes and zoning department to find out your local restrictions, every place varies!

  1. Hi Macy, any comments about how your creeper plants are going? I love the idea of having the gutter filled with dirt to allow plants to grow in it, but wondering if it has worked after all.

    1. I am embarrassed to say, three years later I have yet to plant them! I DID plant them just before I moved the first year but took them all out once I found a place to park and moved (I didn’t want them flying off on the road). I stayed busy enough that I didn’t get to replanting them, last summer we were knee deep in other projects and I totally missed the planting season, this year I have been pregnant and too busy, I REALLY need to get to it… Sorry I am no help on that!!

  2. Hi Macy, I looked around your site for a post/comment/question about this but haven’t found one. I am wondering how the drywall interior held up during the move to the final resting spot? Did you find any stress cracks from the trailer flexing as you drove down the road? I love the look of the clean white drywall and find it so refreshing compared to mass amount of wood usually seen in tiny house interiors. Thanks!

    1. Brilliant question, I should probably update this, no though, zero cracks in almost three years full time use in 4 seasons. The move had no effect. I don’t move often and if I did I might have chosen something different, though maybe not because it’s held up great and is a simple repair if it did crack…

  3. I Macy – I finally took the exciting step of going tiny and my foundation trailer is in the process of getting manufactured. I’m incorporating your layout (works best as I’m needing 3 separate sleeping areas) and I’m wondering what your bathroom dimensions are? I bought your cut-outs but somehow I’m coming up with more space then what your pics show.
    Thanks again for being such a wonderful guide 🙂

    1. the cut outs are for general dimensions of things, not specific to my house. the bathroom is 7′-0″ x 32″ if I remember correctly!

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