First look at the actual design

Last week we passed the gate of no return, we ordered the trailer.  True to our earlier post we went with a gooseneck trailer, 26ft (7.92m) base with an 8ft (2.4m) gooseneck platform.  We ended up going with Tiny Home Builders as we found their trailers had a very strong design and they were able to accommodate our special customizing features.  The sketchup file of it should arrive in the next few days and the trailer itself is about 6 weeks out.

Talking about sketchup, this is some great software.   When we started to come up with the idea for the Tiny house, we drew on plain paper using a ruler.  We used a cm to represent a foot as that would be smaller on paper than an inch and our ruler had it marked.  We still had to tape two regular sheets together to make it fit.  As you can imagine, that got old really fast, but was good for some initial pie in the sky ideas.  Drawing in 2 dimensions seemed natural, so we searched for some free software we could use (yes, even I admitted I could not do this in PowerPoint, which is my goto for everything).  While drawing on the computer in 2-D made measurements and scale a lot easier, it became increasingly difficult to figure out the interior and how all the pieces fit together. If they even fit at all.  Enter Sketchup.  Very capable, priced right (free), not too difficult, and lot of fun (okay, at least addicting).  But most of all, the resulting output is impressive and we can import drawings of actual appliances and designs to see how they will fit.

OutsideSideViewSo here it is.  The initial look of our design.  A contemporary, clean look that incorporates our many requirements. Siding is cedar (the reddish parts) and the rest is trimmed in cedar with metal panels. When we arrive at our destination, we will unhook the truck from the house and attach cedar panel skirts underneath the gooseneck creating a tiny garage for our bikes and additional equipment. In this first view, you can see the two decks, including the rooftop.  We placed solar panels on the top as well as a rooftop access window that opens up fully for easy access.  The main deck is 15’x8′ (4.6m by 2.4m) and is stored in two sections under the trailer during travel.

KitchenHere is a view of the kitchen from the outside.

BirdsEyeThis top view will give you a glance of the inside.  The master bedroom is over on the right, just a few steps up a stairway.  We have plenty of closet space and drawers.  The reading loft also has a few more steps on it that leads to the rooftop deck.  Kitchen is in the center of the home with a full size panel ready refrigerator/freezer, top of the line stove, convection oven, hood, and wood burning stove/oven combination.  Adjacent to the stove is a panel ready dishwasher, farmer’s sink, and wine rack.  At the other end is a sleeping loft and underneath that is a full size bathroom and laundry area.

LoftViewThis shows the view from the sleeping loft across the kitchen to the living/office/dining/sleeping room.  Yes this space will have multiple uses with transformational furniture, hidden features in the wall, etc.

What do you think?  Love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


Hands on workshop – opportunity to learn

We just got back from the Atlanta area and the Tiny Home Builders hands on workshop. While we hoped we would learn a thing or two and had put all our final ordering of equipment to start building on hold until we return, we did not know what to expect.

DSC_9898It was so worth it on so many levels.  The people we met, from author/instructor Dan, his right hand man Tom, Dan’s mom Kathy and step dad Rick, to each of the participants, they were all wonderful.  Their stories, their reasons for wanting to build Tiny, their ideas of how to approach various challenges were so intriguing.  We had several people from Florida, whom I can only imagine how they felt as we watched the storm approaching and being covered on TV.  Some were from the local area.  One a New Zealander, currently living in Atlanta. We even had one person who flew in from Hawaii. There were several ex-military who captivated us with their stories and perspectives during some of the breaks. All in all a very diverse group but all with an excitement and desire to learn – learn to build a tiny house.

One thing we found very interesting was the number of people whose primary objective was to build a Tiny House and make it available on AirBnB.  Young or old, these folks saw a business opportunity and wanted to get in on it.

The materials covered were great and we learned not only what will be very useful in building our Tiny home, but also in any home construction or project we may encounter. Framing, electrical, plumbing, all made simple and easy to understand. As a result, we are a lot more confident today about what lies ahead.  It gave us an opportunity to validate some of our designs and ideas as well as seek creative solutions to some of our challenges.  We got some great ideas on how to address the aerodynamics during towing as well as potential materials to use for our decking.  We also learned about some new brands of appliances and toilets we need to look into further.

It was a great venue for us to share our design plans and get people’s feedback. We were so excited since we received positive and helpful feedback. We may have to post our plans on this blog earlier than I had first planned.

Tiny house workshop - tools
Julia getting hands on with the tools
The hands on portion was great as we built a small structure, complete with house wrap, a window, and proper flashing.  One would think, if you have done this in your own home, how different could it be for a tiny home.  Well, it is different, especially if you have a tiny home going down the road at 60 -70 miles/100 – 120 km per hour.  Lots of details to take into consideration. One thing became clear – Tiny homes must be put together extremely well to stand up against the many forces they will be under during transportation.  As a result, if you employ the techniques we learned in this workshop, you will have a house for the ages.  It is going to stand the test of time.

There are great videos and lots of materials out there, but to touch and feel and actually use the appropriate tools gives you a much better appreciation and understanding.   You can also participate in discussions around why a certain tool over another and how to better evaluate what is right for you.

We would highly recommend this workshop to anyone, even if you want to learn or sharpen your skills to be efficiently handy around the house.  I believe they even offer an e-workshop that would allow you to do some of this from the comfort of your own home.

So, now back to our tiny house.  A few validations need to be made with a couple of the vendors. We need to order the trailer and the initial materials, and get any other small projects out of the way so once we start, we can dig right in.

Our design process – Part 1 – the trailer

There are so many great designs of tiny houses on wheels out there. Just go on Pinterest or Google and you are sure to find one after another.  Yet, we know we wanted something that reflected our style.   We live in a very traditional classic home today – so we decided to go with a more modern look.  After all, we are no spring chickens, the tiny movement is all the rage among millenials, so we have to do our best to fit in.

As we started on our sketches, we had a few requirements.

  • A serious cook’s kitchen – that is the heart of the home
  • Space for two separated office areas as we both work virtually
  • A master bedroom with standing height
  • Additional sleep capacity for at least 4 persons
  • A bathroom area with a separate door for the toilet
  • Lots of light through windows
  • Incorporate outdoor decking to make it part of the living space

Did we mention we have to do this in about 300 sq ft?  Width could not be more than 8.5 ft, height no more than 13.5 ft.  The one parameter we could play with was length.  Oh yes, with size comes weight, which equals the need for a large man size truck to tow it.  More about that later.

We did not know much about Tiny House On Wheel trailers, so at first we tried to shoehorn all this into a traditional trailer 24-26ft in length.  It was getting frustrating as we always had to give up something.Trailer 24ft regular

It took a while, but we soon figured out that there was a whole new world out there, the Gooseneck trailer.  It added 7-8ft of elevated space, usually accessible via a few steps, and it provided standing room.  Voila, our master bedroom.trailer32frGooseneck

There are many more details we needed to decide on as well as many manufacturers to choose from, but for now we had selected our foundation choice.   We since learned that a Gooseneck trailer is much preferred when it comes to towing as it is much more stable and easier to handle – great bonus.

As far as size, we started at 24ft of the basic trailer with a 7ft gooseneck.  That grew to 26 ft and an 8 ft gooseneck.

Next post is about some major choices we made which impacted the rest of the design.

Ready – Set – Go

Hi! Olá! Hejsan!

So glad you stopped by. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read our blog. We never expected to have our very own blog until a few friends learned what we were doing and wanted to hear our story.  We are excited to embark on this journey and so very happy to be able to share it with you.

The tiny house movement seems to have taken a life of its own. We have spent countless days and hours reading and watching anything “tiny”.  People go tiny for many different reasons. From wanting to be debt free to living more simply with the flexibility of mobility.  Thus the question, why are we building a tiny home? What is driving us to live tiny? Well, the answer is simple. It is not so much about the house (we are still keeping the big one) but rather about the experiences that we are hoping to gain by building a tiny home together.

One of the many things that attracts us to building a tiny house is the concept that we will be able to have our home with us no matter where we go. Going tiny will give us the opportunity to choose “place over space” where we will be able to explore for long stays at a time without sacrificing the lifestyle we love. Living intentionally tiny will inspire us to spend most of our days outside, creating experiences thus enjoying life to its fullest. Yet, we are determined to make this tiny home a place where we can still entertain friends and family.

Even though we have not even begun to build, it has been an amazing journey already. When building tiny, every inch, every ounce, and every kWh matters. We will share some of our thinking on the design, the choices we are making, and the progress of our build.  Read on – the next post will be about our design process.