Our tiny house took 10 months to build.
The foundation of our tiny house is an 8′ x 21′ flatbed trailer, so the footprint is 168 sq. ft. Add to that two separate sleeping lofts.
Yes. At first we had to adapt physically. We bumped our bodies a lot—tossing at night and I bumped my head on the ceiling in the loft and on the sink in the bathroom. We bumped into each other. We spent a couple of years preparing to move into the tiny house, so the downsizing process was quite long. We held yard sales and donated lots of our things. Then there’s the emotional adapting which is ongoing for us. With four of us in this tiny space, our emotions can fill it up quickly. We’ve learned some techniques, we’re still learning, actually—we’ll never be done learning how to communicate. It’s important for us to express when we need space, help, when we’re sad, angry, etc. If we don’t clearly communicate our feelings, they can overwhelm us in this tiny space.
I have always missed a bathtub. If I built the tiny house again, I would include a tub. When we consult with others, I make sure to share my feelings about including a bathtub in the design. I also miss our couch. We had a big comfy couch on which we could all lounge comfortably together. We sold it before we moved. It would take up our entire living space in the tiny house.
I love this question! It’s important not only to consider how one will downsize belongings to make tiny living work, but it’s important to develop a lifestyle that avoids accumulation. Here are some things we do:
We designed our tiny house after closely studying the traffic patterns in our daily lives. We accommodated every activity in our former house the best we could.
When the weather is nice, it doesn’t even feel like we live tiny—the living is easy. It is hard in the dead of winter, though. Now that the kids are getting bigger, we’re more crowded, and the kids’ need for privacy is becoming more clear. They are loud which is difficult when I’m trying to write or focus in any way. They bring stuff home everyday—and they don’t always keep it where it goes, so we have to stay on top of it constantly. Then there is the privacy as a couple issue. We do have to be creative about finding time as a couple.
We have separate lofts, the kids aren’t always home, and they sleep.
We saved my salary when we were both working outside the home. Now Karl is working full-time on building our bigger house, so we are living on my salary and using anything extra to build our mortgage-free bigger house. Because we live without a mortgage, we save at least $1000/month just by living in the tiny house. Building the tiny house made it possible for us to start living our mortgage-free dream quickly, so that we could continue saving to build our right-sized house.
It takes very little to heat the tiny house, so the electricity bill is about a quarter of what it was in our last house. We have well-water and septic, so we don’t have any utility costs except electric.
The biggest inconvenience of living in a tiny house is not having a space for our creative work. We each need and want a little room of our own to write, paint, make music, sew, etc.
The biggest joy is that we’ve made it work. This tiny space seemed impossible to turn into a home, but this really is home and has been for 3 and a half years. It’s taught us so much about what we value. Oh yeah, and we’re mortgage-free!
Tiny houses are a great way for folks to live in dignity and to gain freedom from the system that keeps us trapped in debt and consumption. I think more and more people are rethinking what home means, designing a home to meet personal needs, and not trying to fit into a home that was mass-produced. I think we need to be careful when talking about tiny, though. It’s not so much about how many square feet we have, and having the tiniest house, but how we use and live in the space. It’s about right-sizing our homes, and living comfortably within our means. For us, the experience of living tiny has informed our lifestyle, and we are forever shaped by it. As we finish and move into our bigger house, we will carry this lifestyle into a bit more space. Living tiny means we live fully in our space and use it to it’s fullest capacity. It doesn’t mean you have to live in 168 sq. ft. Heck, I know living in this space wouldn’t be the best for us long-term. The kids are nearing adolescence and I don’t expect them to share a tiny loft as teenagers. Because we’ve lived tiny, we know exactly what we miss, and our bigger house will be perfect. We will each have a small room, we will have a bathtub, a dining area, and living area where we can have a nice party. The space will be right for us. * Above interview by Mariana Pinheiro, journalist.
We broke ground on the big house in October 2012.
1400 sq. ft.
Our plans are on graph paper. The big house plan is evolving as we build. We began creating plans for sale, and quickly realized that project will have to wait until we are done building. Someday…
It will become a micro bed and breakfast, guest house, teaching tool, and who knows what else.
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