Month: April 2011

Tiny Houses and the crap that goes with them

When you make the decision to abandon the traditional sticks and bricks method of Americana living decision become much more difficult and less tested than you can even believe. Between how to get a certificate of occupancy to gaining space on the electrical grid for your tiny house the territory is unchartered at best. The rules, laws, and codes we have encountered so far are little more than a hot, steaming pile of sh……….and speaking of poop, let’s talk toilets. Perhaps the most unapproached subject in tiny house living, sewage and toilets is just a really stinky situation. For a moment, let’s consider our commode options in the tiny house. We can: Hook up standard plumbing to either the city sewage or build a septic tank. Install RV type toilets and holding tanks. Set up a simple composting toilet or purchase a commercial grade composting commode. The first option requires permits and permanent establishment. It is also a rather expensive endeavor in any city/state. Obviously if we’re building on a trailer, that’s not what we have in mind. The second option requires a lot more cost and moving the house back and forth to an RV sewage dump. That too, would be a tremendous amount of time and expense. The third option seems not only to be the most cost effective route to take, but it’s the most sustainable...

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Tiny House as a modular dwelling

My first true introduction to modular homes came (by no coincidence, I am now sure) by Farmers’ Almanac TV. Just about four years ago they introduced a short film about the Katrina Cottage. The Katrina Cottage was designed as a replacement for the FEMA trailer made so popular in the hurricane ravaged areas of New Orleans. Before the cottage we recognize today was created though the city invited some 200 architects, builders, and “thinkers” to gather together to brainstorm such a form of modular housing. Not modular in the strictest sense (meaning prefabricated buildings or houses that consist of multiple modules or sections which are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use.) but rather in a more artistic and – dare I say – new urbanist form. The Katrina Cottage is a small, sturdy house that can be used in a more permanent way as it was designed to expand into full-sized dwellings. Loosely dubbed “The Grow House” the cottage started off as 294 sq. ft. (fitting the immediate need) but could quickly be expanded to 1,463 sq. ft. in Phase 2 or the near term. In a long term situation (and with the addition of one more modular structure) the home could grow to 2.055 sq. ft. allowing for 3 bedrooms in the main house, a garage, and a guest cottage. Urban Design...

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Creating the Minimalist Medicine Cabinet

After we are asked “are you a minimalist” it is usually followed with “what is a minimalist” which then turns into “so why don’t you like stuff?” So to answer…. No, we are not minimalists. We are nothing. We are not a label and, quite frankly, don’t care to be. It is not that we have commitment phobia but rather that we don’t really fall into the classic definition of minimalist. Minimalists are those who practice voluntary simplicity for emotional and personal reasons. And we actually like stuff quite a bit. In fact, we love stuff. We just don’t particularly like most stuff enough to bring them into our home and our lives. But perhaps these questions are best answered with visual proof. The quickest way to understanding a pseudo-minimalist, conspicuous ill-consumer, is to observe said species in its own habitat. So, come one in. Let’s start with the bathroom shall we? In fact, let’s really dig deep and take a look inside our medicine cabinet. Often the last space to succumb to minimalist tendencies the medicine cabinet is usually the “do as I say do, not as I do” spot of the home. It houses an obscene amount of Q-tips, rash ointment that expired nearly three years ago, Tylenol, Aleve, Aspirin, and the like, eye drops, and a number of other necessities. In “The Bungalow” (which is our...

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Why choose to live in a tiny house

The grass is always greener on the other side. Think about it for a moment. Some may call it a truth. Some, a proverb. Some may have it over their desk on a calendar or tucked into their wallet for regular reading. For some it may ring true while others use it as an albatross. Whatever the case, it is a euphemism that many throw our way when we talk of consumerism, mini-mansions, corporate slavery, and mounting debt. “They probably grew up as rich, entitled, youth so they want to rebel against their parents.” We have heard that, yes. “Oh, they are just trying to make a point and become some sort of Internet celebrities.” We have even heard that. It doesn’t matter though. We know that the grass is only as green as the effort you put into it. Grass doesn’t green on its own. It takes resolve. You have to first plant seed then you have to cultivate that seed and protect that seed. Then as the grass begins to grow you have to feed it and nurture it. As the dirt turns to carpeted stems you have to maintain it and continue to shape it and work it. Such is the case with our tiny house dream. No, the grass isn’t any greener anywhere else for us. Yes, we could have “the American Dream,” if we wanted. Our...

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Planning a tiny (and sustainable) landscape for the tiny house

So far we have talked about the construct of our tiny house. We have talked about our gardens. We have touched on our desire to raise more chickens and add in goats and possible livestock. We have covered our plumbing options. But how in the world does it all fit together? It is a question we have been pondering each night we lay in bed. Where will the goats go? How will we create enough solar power to run a fridge and an temperature unit? Will we be able to grow strawberries? In fact, the questions are endless. So much so that this week I had to sit down with my niece’s colored pencils and a piece of old art paper and sketch out what our cleared plot will look like. Please notice that I say what it WILL look like. I believe that you have to set your goals and accept nothing less. We each have the capacity to reach our own limits. Provided we stay healthy and their is still land under our feet we are going to run full speed ahead at the r(E)volution. We’ve come up with an, ahem, highly technical and correct-scale map of our future homestead to assist us in using our space effectively and efficiently as well as to guide us in our vast projects. In all honesty it really does provide...

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