‘How-To Tiny House – 101’ – Now Live!

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(A four part series)

I put together these presentations as a way to help the tiny house community to the best of my ability.  I presented these locally and have had several requests to put them online so here they are!  The actual live recordings didn’t work out but I was able to re-record the information.  It was not the least bit comfortable for me in front of a camera, just like standing in front of a crowd wasn’t BUT I believe in the information and I believe in helping to empower others interested in living tiny so hopefully you can forgive a little camera shy me and find value in the information presented!  This is my attempt at a complete ‘brain dump’ of everything I know and have learned about tiny houses in the last 4+ years!

These are four sessions I have made to cover some of the main tiny house topics.  I know people aren’t interested in all parts so I split them into four different sessions focusing on ‘Construction‘ options, ‘Systems and Utilities‘, ‘Codes and Foundation Selection‘ and finally ‘Design!‘  I hope they can be beneficial for you!


Tiny House Construction

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This is going to be a conversation about the various types of construction you may use when building your tiny house. I will talk about standard framing practices, advanced framing techniques, steel stud construction and SIPs. The great thing about tiny homes is that even the most complex house is pretty basic. Even though this will be a bit more ‘technical’ information I hope it stays simple enough for those not in the construction industry.

In addition to framing options I will get into insulation types, pros/cons and tiny house specific considerations and suggestions when it comes to moisture protection, fasteners, attaching to your foundation and more. This will MOSTLY focus on tiny houses on wheels. I also hope to give you a basic understanding of tools needed for the task and important safety info!

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to construction, insulation, glazing selection and special considerations – as it applies to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Tiny House Systems

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This is going to be a conversation about the utilities and hookups available for tiny houses including pros and cons of each. I will talk about on-grid, off-grid and self contained options when it comes to water, sewer and electric as well as a basic intro to wiring and plumbing.

I will go through all the fixtures and options as far as plumbing, heating and cooling your tiny house. This will be the one where we talk at length about toilets and all the options there ;-).

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to utilities, fixtures and systems as they apply to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Designing Your Own Tiny House

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This is going to be a conversation about how to design your own tiny house. Fact is tiny houses HAVE to be suited for their occupants, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but there are things to consider and think about in your daily life. I will share some of the important questions to ask yourself, some things to consider and give you some general rules and background of design to help make the appropriate decisions. Design is daunting but it’s also systematic and with tiny houses, form really does follow function, there are reasons that one strategy makes sense over others. In addition to talking about the design of the actual house I will touch on designing your lifestyle!

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to design, materials, and processes – as it applies to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Tiny House Codes and Foundation Selection

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This is going to be a conversation around local and national code issues surrounding Tiny Houses. I will talk about the options you have both locally (to you) and nationally, focusing on the permitting process and alternative paths to legalized tiny house living.

As a part of this conversation I will explain the difference between a foundation tiny house and a tiny house on wheels (legally) and the process that each must go through. The MAIN focus of this course will be tiny houses on wheels so I will get into the considerations that will go into picking your foundation (trailer) including both new and used options.

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to history, zoning, codes and foundations – as they apply to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Some reviews of the live sessions:

“It was outstanding !!! – Macy is so full of wonderful information – Thank you for all the time you take to help others.” -Kym

“Comprehensive, informative and fun! Thank you!” – Dani

“Macy — Once again you wowed us with your tiny house series! You answered a lot of essential questions and asked us to consider some questions I had no idea I needed to think about. You are a master at instruction and even if you feel nervous talking to groups, you are a true master of communication and I thank you for giving of your time to teach us all something new.” – Libby

“Macy, thank you for a great final meeting and a fantastic series! I’m not sure how, if I would like it built for me or a more DIY effort, but I am more convinced than ever that a tiny house is for me! You did a fabulous job presenting the information in a logical and systematic way.” – Michelle

“enjoyed the class while learning much I did not know.” -Joe

“Very informative!!” -Fawn

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Family Update August 2015

Just want to do a quick update, I have the feeling this may be the last chance I get to do that before our little family of four becomes a little family of five!  In the last month or so we have been trying to get out of the house a little more and enjoy the summer, the renovation took a lot of weekends but since it’s over we’ve been exploring!

I am getting pretty huge again, I am still a lot less concerned about weight this go around compared to the first pregnancy, I had a hard time putting weight on when I was pregnant with Hazel, even though I am working a lot this go around I am a lot less freaked out and stressed which helps me stay on a better path and I am right on target having gained 25 pounds so far!  It is amazing how much you gain for a small little baby but there is a lot that goes into it that isn’t just a baby I guess… :)  I am feeling much better in almost every way this time, Hazel was a miserable-miserable pregnancy, this time I totally get why people say they didn’t even know they were pregnant until they were so far along… I definitely LOOK pregnant but most of the time I haven’t felt that way.  As things get closer I am definitely much more tired, I find myself often taking Hazel’s afternoon nap with her, or at least part of it… I really think I am down to the last 3-4 weeks.  This is right about the time I stopped working with Hazel.  This go around I am rushing to get a few things done before Mr. T makes his arrival!  I hope I hope!  :)  Stay tuned for that, I SHOULD have an announcement shortly if all goes as planned!

Mr. T is a mover, I wondered which was stronger, him or Hazel for a while, it’s definitely him!  He moves all day long.  It’s nice because he’s not lodged in my ribs like she was (yet) but he is SUPER low which has given me quite the waddle for several weeks now… it’s pretty tough to walk ‘normally’ with a small human lodged in your pelvis… he seems to be doing awesome though at every appointment, He’s been a really easy pregnancy and Hazel’s been a really easy baby, I am so scared that all hell is going to break loose once they meet! ha!

I do think that Hazel ‘gets’ it a little… I think getting a little brother is a pretty abstract concept to really ‘get’ but she has been paying a lot of attention to my belly, she got to feel him move several times and makes the cutest surprised shocked faces every time.  Every night she gives him a hug and a kiss (but then she will kiss James’s belly too…).  I am pretty sure we have a name, it hasn’t really changed much for several months at least, we still have to meet him first to know for sure but ‘Miles’ is at the top of the list still.  At first when I asked if she could say Miles she got a BIG huge grin… then I realized she thought I asked her to SMILE (I didn’t know she knew that word)… she’s since learned and when you ask her where Miles is she will grab my belly… she even says Miles when she wants to :).  She’s got a TON of words and will try to parrot anything we ask her to, some she’s good at, some need work.  Body parts are all down pat now, to the elbows and knees!  She knows most fruits and can identify them at the grocery store, she LOVES mangos, I think she would turn inside out for a mango sometimes…  She has discovered the art of tantrums too! Fun! :)  I have had to catch her head several times before she slammed it into the ground, we all just ignore them as much as possible so hopefully that phase passes quickly… it’s still kind of hilarious how irrational little humans are…

Denver is on a hunger strike, he seems to stop eating in the super heat of summer and the super cold of winter… I feel so bad because he looks so dang skinny!  I thought we got lucky having one of the few danes it wasn’t hard to keep weight on and then right around a year he turned out to be a skinny mini dane… I have tried putting yogurt in his food to get him to eat it, he just licks the yogurt off…. I’ve tried broth, he drinks it and leaves the rest… I have put hamburger in with the kibble and he picks out the big pieces… I would normally say ‘well he will eat when he’s hungry I guess’ but I can see every dang rib!  I feel guilty when we take him to the park and he plays with the other dogs and looks like Skeletor!  So I am trying to put some pounds back on him… James had some leftover Wendy’s chili the other day and I mixed a little of that in and it did the trick, he scarfed the whole bowl… so that is my method right now until he looks like a healthy dog again!   He’s totally happy and active as usual, just looks skinny, this is the third hunger strike he’s had… it MIGHT have to do with the introduction of Hazel slipping him her leftovers… he’s had a taste of the good stuff and is through with those dang brown pebbles!  Hopefully he gets over it soon!

I have some sad news too, my grandpa who was a very special person in my world passed away last week :/.  He was 90 years old and had such an amazing life (a lot of which I am only finding out about now! I knew he always wore a fireman’s jacket but had no idea he was a volunteer fire fighter and even chief for many years!), he was very influential for me.  I grew up spending every summer on his ranch with the cows and horses.  We used to eat burritos, go to ‘the office’ (the country store) and talk with all the farmers about everything, he’d get a coffee and I’d get a candy… He taught me how to work hard and enjoy life at the same time.  He exposed me to things I would have never got to experience otherwise which have shaped who I am as a person today.  He was an amazing man and I am VERY lucky that I get to share his gene pool!   I always felt like we had a special relationship and I will always cherish that…  On a whim, the week before he passed, I invited myself and Hazel on a road trip with my mom and grandma to see him.  I had a feeling it may be the last time I got the opportunity.  While it was great to see him again and he still had every bit of the spark I know in his eyes, he cracked corny jokes like always and was still ‘grandpa’; his body was giving out, his memories were failing.  It was very humbling to see such a great, independent, strong man in the final days of his life.  He was just a guy that was easy to be around, genuine and fun, oh so serious when needed though!  He was truly loved by everyone he met!  And I got to be his grand daughter!  How lucky for me!

Grandpa Z
My grandpa :)
Hazel got to meet him!
He called Hazel ‘twinny’, because they were twins, just separated by 89 years… :)

I am sad that Mr. T won’t get to meet him but he will certainly hear countless stories of the great man that is my grandpa Z!

Here are some random pictures in no particular order of all of our adventures and projects!  We will sit and patiently await the arrival of our little boy!  I hope your world is as amazing as ours!

Before and After: Tiny House Through Time

I was finally able to put some before and after images together, it’s really not that tough, I’ve just been too busy to actually get on a computer!  We had a great showing at the open house and all of the local tiny houses 101 sessions I put on over the last month.  Now that that is past I can get back to the business of blogging! :)

I had Marc come out and shoot the tiny house renovation/addition again, he does great work!  I put some of the shots side by side so you can see the difference after 2.5 years and a renovation!  I have to say, I am more surprised by what hasn’t changed than by what has!  I mean we have a really cool renovation but the details are all the same, I still have the same set up on my pots and pans for crying out loud!  And the furniture is mostly the same.  Seems weird for me, a person who likes change!  :)  Take a look, I hope you like seeing the house adapt as much as we do!


Blogging Your Tiny House Build?


This is a topic that comes up pretty often and I am sad to say that a lot of people have chosen NOT to blog their build, number one reason I hear ‘the niche is saturated already’.  Makes me SO sad to hear!

When asked if I think you should start a blog for your own build I ALWAYS answer with a great big ‘ABSOLUTELY I do!’

I will back up and say I am not a ‘real blogger’, I didn’t get into ‘tiny housing’ to blog nor did I ever expect that any other soul would read the words I write (and boy I’m sorry sometimes when I go back and see all the posts that were never proofread or even spell checked…).   I started blogging for me and I suggest others start for that reason too (rather than to make money, get famous, tell others what to do or anything like that…)!  There are a few reasons for this:

  • If it isn’t for you it is really hard to justify those late, late nights recapping your days work to the internet, who is really not all that likely to respond in droves… If it is for you, and you commit to it, it gets easier to justify that time.
  • If you are constantly trying to think about what others will want to see about your build, or hear from you you are not going to have a ‘genuine’ feel and will most likely have a hard time finding readers anyway, people want honesty and they want to see what it is that you are doing and why you are choosing to do it… and you’ll want to remember over time too, occasionally.
  • It is nice and handy to have your build documented.  I used it both to get registered at my final inspection and I have referenced back MANY times to remember how I did something…
  • Simply put, if it is for others you won’t do it, if it is for you, you might!

There may never be anything that comes out of blogging your build, it does take a lot of time and commitment to follow through – but if you are at all interested I strongly suggest you give it a go!  Some things you might not expect that COULD happen….

  • People read your posts!
  • People send you nice supportive comments and emails!
  • People re energize you when you are feeling overwhelmed with the tiny houseness and give you that boost of energy you need to get over the next hump!
  • People stop you from making a huge mistake if they see something unsafe happening (take it all with a grain of salt, they aren’t ALWAYS right… but they might be!).
  • You might get materials donated to you by companies who see you as a great way to advertise their stuff.
  • You MIGHT make money (this is a long shot… my first check was $2.39 for a month, but let me tell you, I was STOKED!  Hardly a job replacement though…)
  • You will learn, about the internet, about yourself, about building and teaching…
  • You will have a great open journal and documentation to show prospective buyers of how your house was constructed, should you ever need to sell… and inspectors…
  • You’ll be able to answer all of your friends and families questions at one time and stay in touch over this ‘weird project’
  • You’ll probably introduce some new folks to the tiny house idea, normalizing things and inspiring all at the same time!
  • It may make it easier for you to find a place to park your tiny once it’s complete by both providing a ‘finished picture’ as well as showing the safety measures taken throughout your build to prospective hosts!
  • You might just have fun!

You may never have more than 10 readers, you may never make a cent, you may start and then stop and be all sorts of inconsistent (well you probably will be) BUT in the end you MIGHT just have a really cool journey documented to show your friends and family, you’ll have something to be really proud of!

So, what are your reasons NOT to blog?  If you’re not blogging how else are you planning to document your project/progress?

Finally, if you have a blog and happen to see this post can you leave it in a comment below, I LOVE following new and old builds! 

SketchUp Snapshot Video

I could not be any more excited to share the video that SketchUp so graciously came out and shot of our tiny house and our life inside of it!  (They haven’t officially released it yet but told me it was ok for me to share :) ).  I am simply amazed at how much effort goes into this and I am impressed with this particular crew and what a great job they did!  They had a vision and they didn’t make us look like weirdos!  I am proud to be this family shown below!  Believe me, I have done enough interviews to know to be leery ;-), this crew made us comfortable from the word go!  We all had a blast on a hot, hot weekend!  We’re so excited that they were in it to tell our story, not a preconceived angle!   James and I just LOVE SketchUp and we are so amazed/grateful/proud to get to be a part of the SketchUp family for 15 minutes of fame! :)  It’s just awesome to see such a great company supporting and encouraging the tiny house movement and picking us to help show their support!  SOOOO cool!

Huge thank you to Mark, Josh (who hung out with Hazel for most of these shots!), Tim, Cole and Rex, we’re so grateful for this snapshot of our ‘weird’ little life! :) Thank you!

Family Update July 2015

Hi Everyone!  I hope you’ve all been well, I figure it’s time for another family update, I’m going to use these few minutes while I have them because it’s been BUSY around here!   We wrapped up the tiny house addition and renovation and it is still totally AWESOME!  The house feels so much lighter and airier! I particularly like the shower, I think I am going to like it even more in winter when things tend to start to feel dark and gloomy.

James and I hit our third anniversary.  Every year we take a snapshot of our life and we realized that we can probably put some breaks on some big life changes!  Here are our four images:

First Date
Our first date. We went to a RAW art show that I had a couple of friends showing their work at. We were pulled over on the way but got out of a ticket, had to be a good sign!
Year 1
Our first year, holding an image from our first date. The day we got Denver and shortly after I moved into the tiny house. Turns out it was also the day we got Hazel ;-).
Year 2
Our second year, Denver grew up! Hazel was about 3 months and we were living tiny!
Year 3
Our third year, Denver has chilled out a bit, Hazel is getting big and we are well into the making of #2, Mr. T(iny). Recently added an addition to continue living tiny!

So that’s good, we made it another year.  :)

So after we finished the renovation I set right into preparing my workshops.  Last week I got to present my first one, I was stoked to have so many people attend.  We had almost 300 people RSVP, I think about 200 actually showed up, it was a pretty full house!   I have three more sessions I’ll be presenting on, for more info they are outlined at www.PlanningTiny.com/Events

Session one of my tiny house series!

This first one was all about codes and picking the right trailer, we had some great questions, some really nice people and some members of the City even showed up to learn more, I think it was a success!  This Wednesday I will be presenting on Construction and Safety, then Systems and Utilities and finally Design!  It took me forever to comb through my head and actually put together some presentations in a coherent order but I am excited at how they have come together.  The events have been free to those able to show up BUT I was able to record them (and I am happy to say the first one recorded with no issues!).  I plan to edit them to something that will be helpful to those who may not be able to attend.  My whole goal was to make some free resources but at this point I am about $450 invested not including any of the time I spent putting them together or any of the time it’s going to take me to learn to edit and to edit the videos… I THINK I am going to have to put a small fee on the sessions but we will see what I can come up with.  I have been trying the ‘pay what you want’ model so that I don’t have to limit access to only those who can afford it…but… that isn’t actually working out so well.  With the baby coming I figure I need to at least break even!  But I SO hate charging!  We will see if I can get creative!

Speaking of resources and helpful tools, I put together some quick cut-outs a while back that others can download and use, you can get them HERE.   I get asked a bit ‘where to start’, AFTER you figure out your top ten things you must have this is my step two.  You can just get some regular old graph paper, one square = six inches, map out your trailer and put scaled objects into your house, that will give you a really good feel for how much space you need and how well you can fit your life into a tiny house.  It’s great to draw it on the graph paper but sometimes its easier to cut out the components and then you can move them all around and about quick and easy.  If you want to read more about this you can see my post at PlanningTiny, HERE.  If you want the cutouts they are HERE!



If you’re comfy with your design you can go straight to something like SketchUp but these are a good basic starting point to start figuring things out.  After you have your plan to a point you’re liking it I suggest taking the same graph paper and look at the outside/inside elevations too so that you can work out your window locations, roof style, and ceiling heights.  It will give you a pretty good understanding of your space.  from there you could go right into construction or you could take it to the next level and build a 3D or digital model.  These are great tools for showing others, maybe significant others, your ideas and getting them invested in the space too!

The kiddos

Hazel bell is pretty darn impressive these days, she’s at the point she tries just about every word we say out, a lot come out sounding like ‘candy’… Crayon=candy, etc.  We worked on ‘up’ for when she wants up (on my lap or on the counter to help me cook… cause she likes that), and we’ve also worked on ‘help’ when she needs something, they come out sounding exactly the same most of the time and she either needs help or wants up A LOT :).  She will bring me packages to open, or want me to help her put things back in boxes, it’s all pretty cute!  We are working on potty training, she LOVES it!  We got this book Potty

Totally worth the money!  She loves it, she will grab her book and go sit on her potty, she knows the story and ‘ohhhs’ and ‘ahhhs’ along with the story, every damn time, cracks me up! :)  It would be sweet if we could get her mostly potty trained before Mr. T(iny) gets here, but I am not totally sure if that will happen.   We need to just have a solid week to run around naked and ‘get it’.  Right now that is a tall order, I am pretty booked out until the end of August and I am perpetually more tired!  This being pregnant thing with a toddler is tough!  I am not planning anything for September though, hopefully we can make it happen then.  She is more than interested in the idea I just need to devote the time to make it work!  She is LOVING her room still and gets really excited to take her naps and go to bed and she is a smart little ball of attitude, this video pretty much covers her personality, she’s got a bit of the whole ‘little man complex’ :), poor Denver puts up with her:

I actually think Denver secretly likes her attention… though I think he was about ready for bed then.  It’s funny because that is about the fifth time she got him out of bed that way in a row.  He would lay down, she would run out of her room, get him up, lay down until he turned around then go back to her room.  He would look around all confused, forget about it and lay down only to relive the whole thing.  After the last one he just stood and looked at his bed, knowing he couldn’t lay down without her ‘teaching’ him but really wanting to just lay down… she’s a future dog trainer, or dog infuriator :).  He’s good to put up with her!  They are starting to play together which he is enjoying!

Mr. T(iny) is more and more active, I can’t figure out which one of the two has been more bouncy in utero, Hazel or him, I think he is gaining though.  You can sit and see him moving, kinda creepy!  His stats have been spot on the same has Hazel’s, week for week so far.  I am having a much less difficult time gaining weight, which I am actually grateful for.  I was worried with Hazel that I was not gaining enough, it was a stress that not many people have much sympathy for… but it is pretty stressful.  With her I actually lost a lot of weight to start and ended up not gaining a ton.  I definitely showed a lot sooner with Mr. T but have been shocked to find the gain was not nearly what it looked like!  At this point I am right on track and have gained almost 20 pounds at 30 weeks.  I hear that is right about where I am expected to be and I should be gaining 1/2-1 pound a week for the next ten weeks until he’s born.

I am not due until Oct. 4th but I have said since the beginning that I think he will be early, it may be wishful thinking but I still think so!  I’d LIKE him to be Sept. 21 because we have a solstice baby with Hazel, our anniversary is a solstice so it only makes sense he would be the fall solstice BUT I have the feeling it will be Sept. 29th, no real rational, that’s just my thoughts :).   I was expecting a HOT and miserable summer but it really hasn’t been bad at all.  I think I was more over heated with Hazel through the winter than I have been this go around.  It’s so weird just how different the two pregnancies have been.  To date things have not been bad at all, I am getting to the very uncomfortable point now though, I have been contemplating sleeping vertically in a chair… it’s just tough to get comfy laying down… I’m certain that will be happening before too long.  We are getting very excited to meet him though and I even think that Hazel ‘gets’ it a little.  I think she’s going to be a great big sister, she’s such a girly girl and loves ‘babies’, I think that will make things easier for sure.

Mom and I got some fabric to make Mr. T his baby quilt, Hazel’s was jungle animals, Mr. T’s is going to be woodland animals, fox, hedgehog etc.  I say mom and I but really it’s mom, we have a tradition that the grandmas make baby quilts, my turn will be soon enough, for now I will be the happy recipient!  Can’t wait to see how it turns out! :)

Last thing of note I suppose, we had Marc come out and take new photos of the place now that we are done with the renovation, I can’t wait to see them once he get’s them all processed!  We weren’t going to do it but it was about the best decision we made before to just document the accomplishment, we thought it was important to do that again!  I can’t wait to share them with you soon!  In the mean time I took a couple of my own just messing around with some apps and what not on my tablet, they are not great but they were kind of fun to do.

I hope you are all doing great!  Here are some random images:


Renovation Video Tour

Hi Everyone,

I did a quick-ish video tour of the new addition.  I apologize, like I’ve stated time and time again, I hate video, particularly being in it!  I know it is much easier to visualize a space via video though, and I’ve gotten a lot of requests to see the new parts, so here it is, don’t judge me personally, feel judge the house and my housekeeping skills! :)  To view in YouTube click HERE.

Thank you for all the support in construction, it makes it much easier to keep going!

Our Tiny House Story

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