Tiny House Conundrum

On my previous post about Tiny Houses a commenter said they could live in a tiny house, but would need a 1000sf shop to go with it. This is something that I have put a lot of thought into myself while considering a tiny house. Saying that I live in a tiny house, but have a much larger space on my property, that I work in and occupy on a regular basis, seems like it defeats the purpose. Add in the fact that I want to have animals, who need their own spaces and I could be up to a few thousand square feet of space that is enclosed. Reasons for going tiny, including a smaller ecological footprint and using less building materials seem to be contradicted by adding other buildings into the mix. This is my tiny house conundrum. What is the solution?

After thinking about it for quite a while, the solution was quite simple. There is no rule of tiny living that says you can’t have other places. The shop and buildings will serve a purpose. They will be my place of employment. They will be protection from predators and they elements for the animals I raise. But what about reducing my footprint or using less materials? Reduce, reuse and recycle seem to be the solution that issue. Reducing the size to a minimum by pasture raising animals and building only what they need to keep them safe and healthy. Reusing materials that are found or repurposed. Recycling downed and dead trees into usable lumber with a portable sawmill and using that material to build with. With any luck I would be able to use some of this lumber in my shop as well to create things to sell. Or maybe another tiny home enthusiast could use the wood to build their own home?

The conclusion I have come to is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to living tiny. While the core principles of the tiny house movement are important, we shouldn’t limit ourselves and our dreams if we can still stick those principles while striving to achieve our goals. I think we need to remember and consider those principles every step along the way, no matter what we are doing in our lives. Building a tiny house is step along the right path, but there are other obstacles that we still need to overcome. Although we might live in a tiny space, we can still do big things!

Chuck, From the Rural Side


Thinking about a Tiny House for the Future

A while back, probably a couple years ago by this point, a classmate from college posted about tiny houses on Facebook. I had never heard of them before seeing her post so I checked them out. At the time I thought it was an interesting idea. But I didn’t think it was something for me. I was looking for a house at the time. Most of them were over 1500 square feet, 3-4 bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, living room, dining room, a basement, lots of space to use with plenty of storage. By most people’s standards, the “American Dream”. I certainly didn’t think I could live in a house that was less than 400 sf. The house I was renting wasn’t very big and I had too much STUFF.

So when I finally bought this place, what did I get? Less than a 1000 sf, 2 beds, 1 bath, small dining room, living room and kitchen. Not exactly what I was looking for in a house. Heather and I moved in and brought all of our stuff here. The house filled up. For a while everything was alright. Then I started to feel claustrophobic with all the stuff we brought and the more we accumulated. It was kinda overwhelming. But I thought that was what we were supposed to do, I was stuck in the consumerist trap!

I have learned something over the time of living here. I don’t need all that stuff! Yes, I still have more than I need or want. I have sold some stuff and given away a truckload of stuff to Goodwill. Mostly in the past few months, I have started to look at what I really need, declutter, simplify. And not just the house, I’m attempting to do the same with my life and my time. When I take a good look at the space I need, I know I don’t need even a 1000 sf. I might only need a quarter of that!

Which brings me to the point of this posting. A TINY HOUSE. The vision I have is for a tiny house on a 20-30 foot trailer, most likely utilizing an old camper trailer. Make it about 8 feet wide that would give me about 160-240 square feet of living space. Add an 8 foot sleeping loft and that would bring the total living area up another 64 square feet. Putting it on wheels helps to avoid building codes, which in my area limit a house to a minimum of 960 square feet. Also, it makes it portable. This is important because I don’t plan on living here forever. I want to buy vacant land somewhere (lately I have been looking in Northern Michigan, around the Traverse City area). When I finally get that plot of land, I want to have the house ready, move it there, and start building the place I dream about. Because it is on wheels I could have the option of taking my home and moving south for the winter, say to a beach in Florida, where it is warmer and sunny. Which, may be just another crazy idea I have in my head!

As an architectural designer, I have many ideas for the design. I’ve sketched out some ideas. Done a lot of research. Priced out different construction options. Steel siding, versus cedar, versus vinyl. Steel roofing or asphalt shingles. How much each window and door costs. There are countless options that to consider. A Whimsical Tiny House like this one goes to show that the design can be whatever you want it to be. You are only limited by your imagination.