Category Archives: Tiny Homes

Tiny Home Subdivion Discussion

I ran across an older post on the Tiny House Newsletter about codes regarding building tiny houses on a foundation.  The question was simple, “can’t tiny houses be built on foundations? if so how would codes affect their construction, etc”.  The discussion that followed was fabulous!

I LOVE the Tiny House (TH) movement.  I LOVE most of the tiny homes (mostly on wheels/trailers) that are in the Tiny House newsletter, (you can sign up for your copy of the online newsletter by visiting the link above).

SO I’d like to start an interaction with all my Tiny House loving friends about the “WHAT-IFs” of a Tiny House Community, specifically located in a large city.  (Not necessarily out in the country off grid, etc.)

My thought is this.  If I’m going to live in a TH some day,  I know I’d have difficulty letting go of my car, but I’d LIKE to be able to live daily without using the car.  BUT to survive psychologically, I’d need shops, grocery stores, coffee, cafe’s, etc.  Let’s face it, if you live tiny alone or with one other person, you’d need a place to get away TO, not that you are angry, but just too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and cabin fever is REAL.  So, to walk down the street to a coffee shop to visit with “people who know your name” is valuable.  In my city, that would be Mid-Town.  Live music, food trucks are often here and there, but lots of local joints.

So with that in mind, I want to know the answer to the following question(s):

IF a “subdivision” (for lack of a better term) could be developed in the center of  a large city, close to restaurants and shopping, but to keep it operating as a high quality subdivision (not trailer park trash), to keep home values NORMAL – relative to what it cost to build it plus a normal “builder profit”, but if it were operated somewhat like a Co-Op or Condo, meaning that the GROUND is owned by the WHOLE and each unit is owned by the individual.  An HOA fee is paid which would include the rental on the property, grass-cutting, parking maint. property taxes, and other maintenance issues which may occur, but otherwise, keep these as low a possible.  The goal being, let’s all get along like other “regular subdivision” dwellers do, but smaller with lots of outdoor living aminities, things like built-in charcoal grills, picnic tables, a Gazeebo or a Community Clubhouse for larger groups and parties.   What type of Subdivision RULES would you think are practical?  If you were developing the Subdivision Covenants, what would be your “MUST HAVE” rules.  What things that your NEIGHBORS might do would drive you batty?

In Normal subdivisions, the goal is to have your home increase in value build your equity, but if property taxes are going to disrupt the idea of living tiny, maybe there should be a limit as to their value, such as you build it for $25k yourself.  Add a 30% builder profit to achieve a fair market value.  While some rich person may be willing to pay $100k to buy you out, the value would still be assessed at the $32.5k ($25k+30%).  The TAX sould be assessed on this not the $100, but personally one of MY rules would be to not sell at $100k. Because this would mean that the TH in the area certainly ALL increased from the $32.5k to $100k, thus all our taxes will be out of sight.

I’m also not naieve enough to know that those who are original owners in the TH subdivision will live there for ever.  Life happens.  Plans change. People have kids. Stairs no longer work for you. Jobs move.  You’d need to be able to sell your unit, but in my opion, to let someone new in to your place, would need to be  community interview event.  They would need to sign a comunity agreement… Thus this post.

On the website above, someone mentioned the “Pleasantville” idea.  A place where everyone is nice, we all get along, it’s all beautiful, etc.  I know this doesn’t exist in most places, it is a dream, but not everyone is nice all the time.  BUT with a bit of self control we can all get along.  This would be the ultimate goal.  I could see large cities allowing a small community such as this as a trial run and if it works, allowing more and more.  It just takes ONE to get started.  If it doesn’t work, if the cops are called for domestic disturbances among the residents often enough, they won’t let it happen in the future. But I doubt this would happen, especially if these are not rental units at $300 a month (such as is often found in innercities – crap (crack) houses.

Would you want to park your car right beside your unit? Or would you be acceptable to a parking lot so that your unit could be all green grass/trees/flowers with parking blocked out of sight by a fence or shrubs.

Would you want a “committee” to interview each new resident, such as in a Co-Op situation to make sure there are no giant dogs to bark all night?  Should the units be SOLD, or rented? What to do IF a resident turns out to be “trailer trash” or an annoyance to everyone else in the complex.  What about that overly Nosie Rosie, who rats on everyone?

I REALLY want your feedback!

If you have developed a TH subdivision/community and IF you already have covenants in place, would you mind sharing?  I’d love to post them here, or at least pieces of them here depending on if they apply to my area.

So, with all that said, on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!

10 suggestions for designing a Tiny House

Recently the Tiny House Blog did a contest for designing an 8×12 tiny house.  They had tons of submissions.  I, too started to design to see just what would fit into an 8×12 box.  The answer, by the way is ‘Not Much’.  That really is tiny and as far as actually living in that small of a place permanently, I couldn’t do it.  For a hunting/fishing cabin where you stay for days or weeks each year, it would be doable. But I tried to make it a real full-Time living area.  I will show it to you soon, but for now I just want to give some advise to those new designers out there. These are some practical, hopefully cost savings ideas for those on a real budget (the $12k – $40k kind, not the $80k – $400K kind).

1.). 2 x 6 walls really are not needed even if your real house has them.  You can get up to a out R15 or more insulation value in 2 x 4 walls, so why lose those precious square inches all around your house.

2.). Interior room dividers can be as small as 1/2 to 3/4″ thick,  sure at the floor and ceiling there will be some additional bracing, but there is no reason to use 2x4s for partition walls unless there is a specific need, (like plumbing or electrical).  But the wall between a closet and the bathroom where water is not in the wall, just use a sheet of plywood to save those valuable inches.

3.). Toilet & Shower Space:  If you weigh more than 150 lbs, 24″ is NOT enough space (width-wise) for a toilet (or a shower for that matter)!  30″ is really tight for a toilet and 36″ is much easier on larger people.  I’ve also seen some 24″ wide showers in some tiny homes.  Do yourself a favor, never use less than 30″ in width for the shower or the toilet spaces.  For Showers, use 36″ in one direction and no less than 30″ in the other.  Do a test.  Put your hands on your head, like you are washing your hair – or have been pulled over by the cops.  Have a friend measure the distance between your out-spread elbows and add at least 6″. This should be your absolute narrowest shower dimension while facing the shower head.  Also, always carry a measuring tape with you as you go about your life.  The next time you are in a public restroom that has tight quarters, you know, the ones that are hard to get into the space to turn around and shut the door… Now measure this space.  Don’t make yours this small, you’ll thank me later for this one!

4.). Now think about your walls.  Many people use tongue and groove boards.  Some use drywall.  Drywall cracks easily ifs you drive your house around a lot.  But most wood is pretty thick.  Consider using a 1/4″ thick material, could be wood and stainable or paintable, but it is thin.  This saves you 1/2″ of space inside your house.  If you build with SIPS (structured insulated panels) these assemble quickly, already have insulation as well as channels for electrical to be run through the walls, as well they have plywood on both sides, so the inside could easily just be painted and ready to go without another layer of material.

5.). Kitchen Sinks:  Tiny round sinks in the kitchen are horrible! Use a real kitchen sink, not a bar sink.  You need to do more than rinse a coffee cup if you are LIVING in the TH!  Think about it, there are potlucks at your church or with your family on holidays.  You still need to cook real size food, so when it comes to cleaning up, you need a bigger sink.  I’m going to suggest 24″ in width as a minimum for a sink.  You can always put a cutting board OVER the sink for more counter space.

6.). Cooking.  Do you really use more than 2 burners at a time?  If not, just get a 2 burner. If you ever need more than 2, go get a single induction burner for those times, it can be stowed when not in use.  These are super cool inventions!

7.). For Pete’s sake, plan for storage of clothes and other stuff.  If everything you wear can be wadded up under your couch, fine, but for the 99% of us who need to be ironed and relatively wrinkle free most days, plan for a hanging closet! You may need to stow out of season things under the sofa, but the truly in-season clothes need to be readily accessible or else you won’t keep your place tidy.  Your tiny house will have clothes consistently lying about in desperate need of ironing. (BTW: I’ve never seen an ironing board in any tiny house,  hmmmm.)

8.). Water storage space.  This is in theory only, so feel free to let me know the down sides to this topic.  I see lots of tiny houses with space under couches or cabinets for water storage tanks (gray, black and fresh water).  If you aren’t moving often, couldn’t these tanks go UNDER your tiny house on wheels, even if you do move often, these can be emptied and stowed inside the house while traveling, then reset them up once you reach your new destination.  Sure you may need to fill up your fresh water storage tank, but why put these things inside your tiny house where every square inch needs to be accounted for? You could even put these water storage containers on a rolling cart (such as the roley things mechanics use to get under your car to do repairs).  You can roll them under your tiny house for use and roll them back out again when it’s time to empty or fill them. Roll them up on a trailer for easy transport to dump or re-fill.

8.)  DRAWING SCALE MATTERS.  When drawing a tiny house, make sure you use the same scale on everything and also check to make sure you KNOW how big things are.  You can google practically anything these days to get their dimensions.  Round up to the nearest inch in every case.  Just because a bed is 60″x75″, have you considered the headboard, the legs or the frame around the bed? A fridge may be 24″ wide, but is often deeper than the cabinets.  Did you allow for the door to open? I looked up the dimensions of an Apartment sized fridge (11.7 cubic feet) and discovered that it was 24″ wide and 28.2″ deep including the handle.  It was 59.8″ high and when open it was just over 50″ deep.  These are important numbers to know. Make sure the door will open fully or else the drawers may not open at all.

9.)  WALKWAYS  24″ May work, and if that’s all you got, you gotta go with it, but this is not easy to pass another person in the same space.  Make sure to consider how many people will be living in the house before deciding on a 2′ hallway. Try for 36″ as a minimum.

10.)  My OCD self would not let me stop with only 9 items in this list, so here’s #10.  POP-OUTS.  Leave the pop outs for RV’s.  They are drafty, they often leak with rain, these are only intended for temporary use, not full-time living.  Besides that, they are pricy.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can use them all day, every day in a full time tiny living situation.  They are extremely costly and need to be light weight.  This means non-conventional construction.  Not for new builders or DIY projects.  In theory they are great.  In reality, a nightmare! Just say no to the thought of cheating Physics.

Well those are my tiny house thoughts for the day.  I’d love to consider your thoughts on these.

LIVING in a Tiny House

Now, I don’t live in a Tiny House, may never live in one, however, that doesn’t keep me from dreaming about the PERFECT tiny house.

With that in mind, I’d like everyone’s thoughts about this one. It only has floor plans at this time, there will be additional elevations and sketches, but for now, just imagine walking through this one. C:UsersRJHPDocuments2012 Client Jobs - June 6, 2014TINY HOU

For those of you who do build homes:  The kitchen, bath, office and foyer are framed with 8′ walls.  The Loft(s) have 6′ kneewalls and there is a gabled roof on top of the kneewalls, consequently, the lofts have minimum of 6′ head height.  As for the stairs, the codes have changed over the past few years, each tread here is only 9″ wide.  It won’t be the easiest staircase to get up, but it is more than adequate especially since most tiny houses have ladders!

I’ve seen the IKEA kitchen table in many Tiny Homes.  It is only about 12-18″ x 30″ but folds into a HUGE table.  Just in case you didn’t notice, there is plenty of room for

There is a full kitchen and the FULL SIZED stackable washer/dryer is in the bathroom.  There are quite a few cabinets for dishes and supplies as well as a 4′ x 18″ pantry cabinet.  Who won’t love that!

There is room in the Bedroom/Loft for a King Size Bed!  There is also a walk-in closet as well as a secondary closet which could be a built-in dresser or shoe shelves, whatever your heart desires.

I’d like your thoughts!

We have a total of 674 Heated Sq. Ft.

Must Haves

I’m totally addicted to the Tiny House Movement.  I LOVE looking at the designs, I love imagining myself living in one (not thinking of course that my hubby could never live in there with me, so it’s not going to happen any time soon, but that still doesn’t keep me from obsessing over them).


So my question is this, what things do you have that you can’t live without? I know newly weds and hippies don’t hold on to possessions, but I have a few heirlooms that have been handed down to me that I really don’t want to part with.  SO, I’d need to make a place for them in my tiny house.

One piece is called a “Break Front” or Hoosier (sp?) that was used in my grandmother’s kitchen.  It was just about the only counter top she ever used.  It is really deep (at least 30″-36″ deep.  There is a cabinet with glass doors on the upper part and small drawers/bins under that upper cabinet.  Below the counter is 2 drawers that would hold silverware and utensils and below those are two huge drawers/bins to hold flower and corn meal maybe.  This sits up off the floor and allows for storage below.  This piece I couldn’t leave behind.

I also have a buffet.  It is about 36″ tall and about 5′-6′ long.  It has 2 long drawers in the center, again for silverware and service pieces, a deeper drawer for linens.  On each end is a cabinet door.  The space is about 18″ square on each end. I’m assuming this is where other serving pieces would have been stored like large bowls or pitchers.  This piece would have to come with me.  I currently use the buffet in my master bedroom as a TV stand.  We use the drawers like a dresser and just use the cabinets for storage.  I would probably use this in my tiny house for that as well.

What things, that you have now, would you insist on keeping if you were moving into a tiny house? Furniture, Equipment, Sports gear? I’d like to know.