Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why Tiny House Living?

This is a question that I have been asked a lot lately. My initial reaction "because it is fun!" has seemed to immature to let escape my lips. However, a recent blog post from a dear friend of mine, Amanda Bradshaw, has so wonderfully articulated these child-hood feelings I feel it needs repeating.
DSCF0824-002In "Waking Up the Child Within"
(, Amanda shares a short list of her fond childhood memories. Memories that invoked "awe and wonder" resulting in the typical "radiating happiness" that we often see in innocent children.

Her short list, among other things, includes:
Playing board games with family members
Playing cards
Watching the clouds
Building an inside chair fort

Each of these examples perfectly matches the experiences one can savor while living in a Tiny House. The lofts are cozy and snug, just like those chair forts we use to make as children.
At bedtime in a Tiny House, the out of doors beacons one to step out to star gaze prior to crawling up to one's little loft, leaving one with a lingering sense of awe as they lull off to sleep.
Within a Tiny House, one would be remiss if a small portion of the valuable storage space was not set aside for a small game and craft cubby. Tiny Homes minimize our work and chore responsibility time resulting in more time for rest and relaxation. Board and card games are a great way to spend valuable time with your family in a Tiny House. So many life lessons can be modeled through family game play; patience, honesty, empathy, tolerance, and kindness are just a few.
Think about how healthier our planet and lives would be if everyone in the world had a solid foundation of patience, honesty, empathy, tolerance, and kindness to offer. Hum, sounds like some really great reasons for building your own Tiny House or finding a Tiny House Community to live in.

WHY would you live in a Tiny House if you could??? Write in and share your thoughts!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Upcoming Topic Posts...

With the media coverage we are getting comes a LOT of great questions! There are several questions that many people probably have. So I'm committing to answering them in upcoming blogs over the next week or so. Here are the topics we will cover:
  • Where do you find Furniture for a Tiny House?
  • How Can One NOT Go Crazy Living In A Tiny House With Teens?
  • Here Comes DHS To The Tiny House... Quick Hide the Kids!
  • What Exactly Are Multiple Functions?
  • How to Start A Tiny House Community on Your Land
Join us this week for these and other fun Tiny House specific blog topics.

We also want to hear from you! Do you have any great Tiny House or Tiny House Community questions that you would like to have answered? Send them in and we'll add them into an upcoming blog post :-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

'Tiny House' offers big benefits to save energy and money

'Tiny House' offers big benefits to save energy and money: The tiny house is the size of a college dorm room, but is fully-functional and houses an entire family.

All The Walls Are Up

So this morning we only had the lumber cut for framing up the South wall. It looked like, for those of you who are old enough to remember, Pixie Sticks. First thing we started organizing all of the cuts to be hammered into place.

By noon we had a lot of the South Wall framed and took a break to have some pizza then get back to work. MUM had let Kate Allt over at KTVO Channel 3, and Andy of the Fairfield Ledger, know that we would be raising all four walls this afternoon around 1:30pm. So we finished framing up the Southern wall and got all of the roof rafters and wall plates in place so when they arrived we could put and screw all the pieces together.

Sure enough, just like Mark (our instructor) said, it only took about 40 minutes to raise all the walls and screw them in place. It was amazing, exciting, and very moving (no pun intended.) It was incredible to walk inside and be able to see the tangible results my months of planning. I explained to my classmates where all of the built ins would be. It was an awesome moment, and a few of us got misty. To think, we just started the tiny house class a little over 2 weeks ago. Wow.

The next step will to place the electrical wiring in the walls for the solar panel that we will eventually build. We will then stuff the wall cavities with recycled foam insulation and hemp fiber. The next step will be to close up the wall cavities with the 1.5" pink foam board. The foam board has a double job, extra insulation and to pull the humidity point out away from the interior wall cavity to decrease the chance for moisture or mold issues.

Verde ButterflyYesterday I ordered the custom 18" polished granite countertops for the kitchen. Tonight I will be finalizing the proposal to secure the land to plant my tiny house for the next 12 months for my Senior Project of Tiny House Family Living and Community Planning and Development.

It is so exciting. My goal is to move my little family into the tiny house by June 6th. We'll soon enough see! 

Both Kate and Andy were kind enough to keep tabs on our progress and come out to the tiny house in a few weeks to see our progress. It will be fun to see their reaction again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hind Site Is 20/20

Although I considered the whole TH land partnership event a fiasco, not all is lost. And actually, in a very short amount of time I was relieved and felt very blessed.
I was not going to blog about my TH location misfortune. However, I started this Blog to help others with the process of transitioning into THs and building TH Communities. What I learned over the weekend can certainly be a lesson for many.

Top 9 Lessons Learned
  • Be yourself
  • When people talk, listen
  • Go at your own pace 
  • If it looks, acts, and quacks like a duck... it is a duck!
  • Tiny House Communities are like family
  • Every cloud has a silver lining
  • Sleep on it
  • Have faith
  • Be kind

Be Yourself. Be yourself during your TH Community search, do not necessarily be overtly friendly for politeness sake. These are the people you are going to be working closely with for a long time. If you see red flags in others or yourself do not overlook them because you are hoping to make things work out.

Listen. Really listen to what people are saying and especially what they are possibly not saying.
Your Own Pace. If you are use to going slow with decisions and being very methodical then go at your own pace. Likewise, if you usually access a situation and then need to move forward as lollygagging around would drive your crazy, then move ahead and get it done. If your pace makes your wanna-be future community members crazy then it probably is not a good fit. And if it does work out, it probably won't be the most enjoyable community it could be for you.
A Duck. How many times have we seen someone's true colors just ignore them, or pretend that someone's misbehavior hasn't happened? Remember, even though you are going to be yourself during the TH Community courting process, others are most likely going to be on their best behavior. So if you see short tempers or an inability to reason, accept it for what it is and move on.
TH Community Family. The TH Community is not like any other. Although you won't be living in each other's houses, these folks are going to become like family to you. Don't try to make community with people that have major issues. Alcoholics, victims, addicts, rage-aholics, abusers, and psychotics do not make for good TH Community members... just walk away! Your perfect TH Community is somewhere out there waiting for you, just be patient.
Silver Lining. Remember, no matter how great you feel your misfortune is throughout the process, keep in the front of your thoughts that everything happens for a reason. If things do not work out something better is definitely in your future!
Sleep On It. No matter how uncomfortable a situation has appeared to become, don't make rash decisions. Get a good night sleep. It is amazing the clarity that can result from sitting on things for a little while.
Have Faith. Embrace your challenges and the lessons you learn from them. Above all have faith that everything happens for a reason and no matter how disappointing something seems, only the best can come from it.
Be Kind. No matter how difficult the journey, remember we are all part of one big whole. If others end up being completely not what you wanted or expected them to be, that is okay. Everyone is perfect for someone out there. If things end up horrible wrong, it obviously wasn't meant to be. Just be sure to depart on good terms if at all possible.
So, yes indeed. What appeared as an absolutely overwhelming disappointment over the weekend is actually a blessing in disguise. I just know it!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

And The Winner Was... Part II

So after our lunch meeting we returned to the TH Classroom and announced the exciting news... that we had found a place to bring the new TH and we would be raising the walls at the new location this coming week.
Although it was very exciting, a bit of a panic set in at the thought of the sheer amount of work that would need to be done over the weekend to make this come together smoothly. We had planned to raise the walls at the campus. Now, not only did we need to finish cutting and framing the South wall, we also needed to move the floor plate and the four walls over to the new site.
We went into super planning mode and identified that in order to get everything done we would have to move at least a couple of the panels the next day. So we borrowed a truck, arranged for a trailer, and loaded it up to transport that next morning, which was a Saturday.
We were successful in getting two panels over to the site and the only fatality was a splinter (ouch!) After a morning of hard work, we departed and agreed to regroup the next day (Sunday) to move the other two walls that were finished. [Boy, my classmates are so awesome and dedicated! I am so blessed that their love and care have been placed into the building of my TH!]
Before we flipped the bottom plate Sunday morning, I would need to seal the plywood cracks. So I went home and had lunch, then drove out to the new site by myself to complete the sealing. My son, excited about the news, came with me. We arrived on site and I began the sealing. After about 10 minutes a young university student who had been living on the land stopped and addressed me. Now this is when things starting becoming a bit odd....

 The young student proceeded to tell me how rude he thought I was for moving onto 'his' land without getting his permission first, and how put out he was about the whole thing. When I tried to apologize citing that I thought I had gone through proper channels by working through the Board he quipped, "The Board just pays the taxes, I am the one who has stake in the land here. I am the one who decides what will happen and not happen."
His lecture lasted about 15 minute. His colorful language which soon segued to threats made my thirteen year old son so uncomfortable he went to the car. "And it's very ironic you want to come here to community build, because this is a (f&#*&^%) poor way to go about doing it," he said. He closed the conversation informing me that he thought my proposal for Strategic Planning and Program Development over the next 12 months was a pretty good idea, but because I failed to obtain his permission first, it now was not going to happen.
Then sure enough, within a couple of hours we received a phone call from one of the board members informing us that our deal had fallen through and to come collect the TH plates from the land.
Wow. So the winner was not such a winner after all!

And The Winner Was... Part I

After several weeks of research, analysis, contemplation, and soul searching I decided to approach a local non-profit with a proposal for a year long, mutually beneficial partnership. This organization was not one that I had originally considered, but rather a new location that a couple of people had recommended to me sighting their need for some Strategic Planning, which is my background.
Preface: The non-profit I discovered is a group of enthusiastic individuals actively working to create communities that are: environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just places to live.  (Or so their website states.) One thing that really grabbed my attention was their vision statement:
To empower individuals and communities to live fully rooted in the abundant flows of natural systems via education, action, and partnership.

This non-profit had been around for nearly 10 years and had acquired a 10+ acre parcel of land just outside of Fairfield center. Research uncovered a Board of Directors consisting of prominent professionals who are all personally invested in the Sustainability Movement at regional, national, and international levels. After a few weeks of exchanging emails and ideas, we met over lunch.
The day of our meeting my stomach was churning with excitement all morning. On the agenda was talk of honey bees and my TH Project. We had a great lunch meeting and lively conversation centered around strategic planning, local and regional opportunities, and partnership. All very exciting stuff!
By the time our meeting ended we had mutually agreed that coupling their resources, reach, and opportunities with my Strategic Planning and Program Development background would result in a dynamic partnership poised to generate a plethora of regional Sustainability Programs and resources for individuals and businesses alike. Also part of our conversation was their possible interest in purchasing the TH from me at the end of my 12 month Senior Project, in the event they decided they would like it to permanently remain as part of their program. In closing we discussed the TH Wall Raising on their property for the coming week on a day we had previously secured for some press coverage.  When I left the meeting they were going to discuss who from their organization would be the spokesperson in a few days, as they had one board member that couldn't make it to our meeting.
Oh my goodness...there was so much to do!  

Time Flies... When you are Building a Tiny House!

Well it has been over a week since I posted last. Trust me, I have not been slacking! My fellow classmates in our Tiny House Class are fast learners and even faster builders.
By the end of last week we had completed two walls and the floor.

This week we did a lot of class work, lecture, and tiny house designing. Despite our long list or achieve-ments we still managed to finish the cut list for the last two walls, cut and completely frame the third wall, run through the tiny house roofing options, and get some hand's on experience making homemade cedar shingles!

I am having a hard time keeping up with the efficiency of my peers in the shop. It seems like they are so efficient that they are cutting and framing my cut lists faster than I can make them!

  East Wall
Mark Lecturing

Community Building At It's Finest...

While the construction portion of my Tiny House Project is coming right along, I have been forced to speed up my site selection process so the Tiny House (TH) has a home to go to within the next two weeks. Fairfield is an awesome town for any plethora of sustainability projects.

Lucky for me, there are several folks in Fairfield that are interested in starting up TH Developments. There is where my good friend Tom is doing a smashing job with launching his new Tiny House Community. As well, there a few other wonderful individuals in the Fairfield area that are interested in doing the same. 

While TH Community start-ups are very exciting, they are also front loaded with a heavy infrastructure time investment. My ideal situation is to work with a young community that already has it's basic infrastructure in place. This will allow me to garner as much practical application experience as possible over the next twelve months.
So my search is focused on a community somewhat minimally establish and ripe for delving into community partnership projects. The great thing about TH Communities is that they are uniquely rooted in the interests and passions of it's residents. In the Fairfield area the top of the interests list is usually Sustainability! And that is great with me :-)
In addition to Sustainabiity, other strong interests include permaculture, organic on-site farming, the arts, entertainment, communal fellowship, and local business support. Another top priority is sharing this plethora of greatness with other local and regional communities. Fairfield folks just love helping to raise awareness, sharing knowledge, educating, and sharing lessons learned.

After initial research the top three choices for my TH home is So Fair Farms, The Abundance EcoVillage, and the SEED Center. Further research will help identify which of the three will be the perfect partnership!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Raising the Walls...

Today was a very productive day in the MUM Tiny House Course. In the morning students reviewed yesterday's Tiny House Tours then engaged in shelter, architectural elements, iterative evolution, and design discussions. The morning was wrapped up with design time for students to begin sketching out their Tiny House design ideas. I can't wait to see them tomorrow!
After lunch the crew shed a few pounds elevating the North wall to mark the window cuts and then practiced 'plunge cuts' to clear the window framing. Students also had an opportunity to practice using the jig saw.
Once all three window frames were cut, the crew erected the north wall again and brought it outside to make way for creation of the floor plate in the shop tomorrow. It was strong work needing steady hands as the shop door was only 11'wide and the panel measured 12' wide. The crew needed to elevate the wall at a steep diagonal to carefully move it out the shop door. 
While the north wall was outside students worked at reinforcing mid-stud plywood seams with 1x3s affixed with a combination of glue and screws.
It is hard to believe that with only 3 hours of work we were able to completely conjoin the North wall and get it out the door to begin work on the floor plate! I can't wait until tomorrow...