Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Tiny House Tour

Today, MUM's Tiny House Class took a tour of some of the tiny houses around Fairfield. Square footage of homes viewed ranged from 80 sq. ft. to a 380 sq. ft. tiny house that was expanded to 600 sq. ft.
Our first stop was at Christian Hoffman's Tiny Vastu House which Christian hand made with his dad Eric. The interior was beautiful and the total size was 10 x 20'. Christian had plans to place his tiny house in town on some land that he has. Unfortunately Fairfield is one of the hundreds of towns country wide that have a minimum square footage requirement so despite Eric's multiple requests for a variance, the Town of Fairfield has refused his permit. The beautiful tiny house is now up for sale and more information can be found at www.vastucabin.com.
Our second stop on the Tiny House Tour was at the Freebergs. What a delight and surprise their tiny home was. Once we stepped of the bus we immediately noticed the ornate chicken coop which was decorated as a mini caravan and matched their home. The chickens had an elaborate maze created from chicken wire so they could roam around some of the mulching areas and around the property. It was delightful.


The inside of their home did not disappoint. From a bedroom nook behind a faux bookshelf to elaborate catwalks along the interior of the pitched roof, the Freeburg's portable tiny home was one we'll surely remember! I hope they don't mind but I'm going to borrow their ceiling catwalk design for my 12'x20' Tiny House for my 4 cats to enjoy!
Our next stop was right around the corner at Mr. Cassidy's, who is a wood worker by trade. The beauty experienced within his little 8x16' was unbelievable. The attention to detail and rich wood varnishes were unlike any other we experienced throughout our day. Custom cabinets and wooden nooks accented every corner leaving one with a feeling of luxury. On my way out of the quaint home I glanced upward and caught a glimpse of a hand made wooden frame that ran the length of the ceiling perfectly accenting a strip of ornate copper panels. It was gorgeous!
After lunch we visited Mr. Randall's tiny house. Originally Mr. Randall was making due in a 10x16' existing structure on the 55 acres he purchased. He planned on residing in the tiny structure while completing the plans to build his new home on the land. Much to his surprise he fell in love the tiny space, built a 9x10' addition on the front, and has called it home for over 5 years now! The property boasts solar and wind energy, an outside thermal syphon shower, and LED lighting throughout.

Our second to last stop was at "The Farm" as locals refer to it. There were several tiny houses/structures where some locals and students have created. a small community. On the land we found sheep, a swimming pond, and a mud hut!
The last stop of the day could not qualify as an official "Tiny House" however I would be remiss if I failed to report it's story. Originally this beautiful small home was designed to be a 380 sq. ft. Vastu Tiny House. Mr. Muehlman's original design changed shape and evolved throughout the building process into a 600 sq. ft. home with 380 sq. ft. main floor and a fully finished daylight basement. This small home was completely off grid with the support of it's solar array, and boasted beam and peg construction. It was absolutely beautiful and an awesome treat to end our day with.
All in all, our Tiny House Class had an incredible tour and came back with lots of ideas for the Tiny Homes we each will design for our final course project. I'd like to thank all of the individuals and families that so warmly opened up their homes to our class today. Your hospitality and graciousness is very much appreciated!

Hammering it Out!

Monday was the 1st day of MUM's Tiny House course. In the morning we reviewed course objectives, the syllabus, completed self-introductions, and viewed many tiny house designs and stacking function pictures.
In the afternoon the class went into the shop and completed the framing and sheathing for the north wall of the Tiny Home which will be built over the next few weeks. What a class of professionals we have, they look like they have been nailing for years. Here are some photos of the afternoon work completed in the shop.
And of course the day would not have been a "true" first day of building class without a few bent nails :-)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tiny House Course and Construction Begins!

Today another 13 Maharishi University of Management (MUM) students will begin MUM's popular Tiny Houses Course! The month-long course covers a plethora of topics ranging from design and materials to building Tiny House Communities and off-grid living.

In the picture below, Mark Stimson the MUM course Instructor, stands along the framing for the north wall of a tiny house. The course participants will be building the tiny house designed by one of MUM's students, Heather Caldwell, who will be an assistant facilitator of the course.

Over this past weekend the northern wall framing was cut to size. This afternoon course participants will completely conjoin the northern wall cuts and plywood. This exercise displays the easy and speed of stick building to course participants. In the coming days students will cut to spec the remainder of the framing and completely assemble the tiny house.

During the remainder of the course students will learn all about Tiny Houses, finish construction of the Tiny House pictured below, AND each student will design and create floor plans and cut lists for one of their very own tiny houses!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Harvesting Recycled Materials

Building a Tiny House affords one several options. For my tiny house I have decided to utilize as may recycled materials as possible. Here I am last weekend helping a friend deconstruct an old barn.

My friend is creating a tiny house community just south of town called SoFair Farms. He will be using a lot of these materials to construct his tiny house including the old exterior barn boards we were removing when this picture was taken.

Another fun aspect of building your own tiny house is the integration of family with the build. As you can see in the picture, my dog Buddy came out for the afternoon for a romp on the land.  

About The Author

Heather Caldwell, a Maine native, is currently living in Fairfield, Iowa with her two teens and has been searching for tiny living opportunities for over a decade. Recently enrolled in Maharishi University of Management’s (MUM) Sustainable Living Department, Heather has met like-minded, tiny house dwellers which have fueled her passion for tiny living.

As her Senior Project, Heather is building her own tiny house and moving her little family in for an action-packed year of community building. She is currently searching for a young (newer) sustainably-living focused village in which to rest her tiny house for the year.

If Tiny House Living is your thing, intrigues you, or even scares you, join Heather as she blogs her way through her journey of structural building, family downsizing, and tiny house community building in Fairfield, Iowa-- one of the most forward and entrepreneurial towns in the country.

Heather also has another blog titled, Finding Simplicity Within, in which she shares life-simplifying tips and funny stories through heartfelt posts and reader's comments. Pack a sense of humor, it is the one thing you will need on your trip to Finding Simplicity Within.