Lily’s Tiny Living

Lily attended one of our workshops last year and left determined to build herself a tiny house. So she bought one of our trailers and got to work. Now, as I say in our workshops, she gets to live in a temple of her awesomeness every day :) Congrats

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Check out the inside of this van, It’s amazing!

Recently Logan, who is buying a trailer from us for his upcoming tiny house build, was passing through Atlanta and wanted to hand deliver his deposit to me. When I was talking to him on the phone beforehand he told me that when we meet he was going to show me the inside of his van Disappointed smile I told him that was probably not the best thing to say to get people to meet with him Smile

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When I ended up seeing what he was talking about I was pleasantly surprised. Logan has spent the last couple years remodeling the inside of a used Sprinter van to best meet the needs of his active lifestyle, and he’s done an amazing job.

The first thing you’ll notice is the outside looks like a standard work van. He added the extra side windows, but other than that it looks pretty plain. That’s important since he wants to be able to park, and sleep pretty much anywhere. If you park an RV in a parking lot for the night, there is a good chance someone might hassle you. But a work van just blends into most places.

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When you open the side door is when you first notice this isn’t a work van.

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Directly in front of the door is a seating area with a cool custom RV/marine table that rotates depending on the need. He designed it so that it would perfectly fit his favorite cups so that they wouldn’t move when the vehicle moved.

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Below the seating area is storage as well as batteries and an inverter to supply the van with AC power.

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Above the seating area is a compartment and a book shelf (the book shelf is out of view in the picture) with a really cool cut away design.

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The front seats also rotate if he has extra guests.

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Turning toward the back there is a kitchen countertop with running water on the left, a storage area on the right, and a bed in the rear.

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The countertop was probably the single most thing I was impressed with. It definitely draws the eye as soon as you walk in. It’s actually scrap pieces of plywood all glued together, sanded,  and then covered in an epoxy. The scraps are placed at an angle and looks fantastic!

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Below the counter top is a drawer and refrigerator. Both are orientated such that they can be accessed from either the inside or from the outside without entering the van. This keeps the interior cleaner and saves precious seconds when you need that beer when coming back from an excursion Smile

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Under the other side of the counter top is the fresh water tank, pump, and water heater. The water heater is interesting as it just stores the hot water and the vehicles engine is used to heat it up.

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Across from the countertop is the storage area. I love this idea as the compartments can be easily switched out based on the activities that you’ll be doing on your trip. There is also a ledge on the bottom of each shelf that prevents the compartments from sliding out while driving.

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Moving on to the back he has a bed up top (which folds out of the way if needed), and storage for his bikes and camping gear below.

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When the back doors are open, he’s also devised a system so that he can take a shower in privacy (trust me, he has clothes on here)

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Finally, the entire roof is equipped with a wire system allowing for the storage of additional light items and/or for drying clothes.

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Logan estimates that he has about $50K into this project, but considering the expense of the vehicle itself and that an outfitted Sprinter van from Airstream runs about $150K (and probably wouldn’t meet his needs), that’s not too bad.

Logan has set up a website with additional details that can be found here: [coming soon]

5 Things To Downsize Today

Guest Post by Mariah Coz of CometCamper.com

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Downsizing your stuff to prepare to live in a tiny home or other small space is probably the hardest part of the whole process of going tiny. There are a few reasons why it’s so difficult to downsize: emotional attachment, money or time invested, and the fact that many of our “things” represent an identity we want or used to want.

In the Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course, the 8-week e-course that shows you step by step how to downsize, de-clutter, clear your mind and space, we go through this in detail. The practical weekly lessons and private student-only forum allow you to make progress at your own pace within a group of like-minded friends on the same journey. I’ve been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That’s because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with “stuff”. It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life. You can learn more about Tiny Transition and Downsizing and register here. Class starts March 1st!

But, as hard as downsizing can be for some of us – I’ve found a few good, easy places to start. And that’s the hardest part – getting started! We call this “low hanging fruit”, and it’s the kind of stuff that is easier to let go of and builds momentum for tackling the tough stuff later on. So here are five things you can purge this weekend to feel awesome about making progress towards a simplified lifestyle.

1. Luggage and Bags
How many pieces of luggage do you have? How many purses? Probably more than you use! I used to have a bag problem. I had ALL different shapes and sizes – one for each occasion. But ultimately, you only need one or two great bags to make most of your luggage collection seem obsolete. If you’re hoarding this kind of item in your attic, time to let it go.

2. Craft supplies
This is a big one for a lot of people. Maybe you started a project or collection of quilting, sewing, or other craft supplies years ago but never found the time to actually use them. You keep telling yourself you’ll use all that yarn someday, when you have more time. Then you look at it and feel guilty – so you stuff it further back into the closet. Sound familiar? Craft supplies often represent a “sunken cost” of either time or money and therefore are difficult to let go of. BUT – once you DO let go of them – you’ll feel so much lighter and more free. You won’t have that guilt hanging over you. So if you haven’t picked up the half-done quilt, the knitting needles, or the yarn in a few years – give it away to someone who WILL use it. You’ll feel so much better!

3. Sample-sized lotions + bathroom stuff
Those tiny tubes and little hotel-sized shampoos and lotions? Get rid of them! That stuff is gunky, funky, and probably past it’s expiration date. You don’t need a drawer full of “just in case” lotions and stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simplified, relaxing bathroom? This is an easy item to toss. Ask yourself, “why is it so hard for me to let of things that were FREE?” And while you’re doing this, throw away any old makeup or the lotions and products that are more than a few years old. That stuff DOES expire!

4. Your “some day I’m going to get this tailored” pile
I used to have a bag of clothes that were “going to have tailored” – dresses that were a little too big, pants that needed hemming, and other things that just didn’t fit me quite right. If you’re holding on to a pile of things you haven’t made the time to bring to the tailor, ask yourself why. Are you really willing to spend money making those things fit you? Do you have enough clothes in your closet already? Why haven’t you had them tailored yet? This also goes for shoes that you’ve been meaning to have cobbled but haven’t found the time to get them fixed.

5. Quitters
If you have a sock and underwear drawer that you haven’t seen the bottom of in years, it’s time to find and toss the quitters. Quitters are the underwear whose elastic has given out, so they no longer stay up. Quitter socks just droop down on your ankles all sad and uncomfortable. No one likes quitters. So go through your underthings and socks and get rid of all the old ones, stained ones, orphans (one of the pair is lost) and the quitters. This can be a yearly exercise to keep your undergarments in check.

These are just a few things you can downsize this weekend without getting into too much emotional territory. Downsizing is a LONG and sometimes very difficult process. My journey from 1200 square feet (plus storage) into a 100 square foot vintage camper and then into a backpack for extensive travel took me almost 2 years! It doesn’t happen overnight. BUT the good thing about starting now is that every tiny little baby step you make gives you momentum and confidence to keep making progress. Once you’ve tackled the easy stuff, you’ll have the tools you need to start the big bad stuff – heirlooms, paperwork, personal items, clothing and more.

If you want to downsize your stuff, clear out the clutter, create mental and physical space in your life for more joy and happiness, you should join us for the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course. Class starts on March 1st, and you can register here. You’ll get 8 weeks of practical lessons and challenges, guided step by step help, lifetime access to the private class forum, accountability, support and motivation from me and your classmates, and the tools you need to simplify your home and life.

I hope you’ll join us and I look forward to supporting you on this journey!

Getting the Internet in your Tiny House

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If you are anything like me, having access to the internet is right around as important as having access to water (not really, but you get the idea). So how do you get access to the internet in your tiny house? The answer depends on where you are located/parked.

Since a tiny house isn’t on a foundation, it’s hard to request services that are otherwise easy for a conventional homeowner to get. Installing the service wires cost money, but the providers expect to make it up (plus a lot) over the lifetime of you paying for service. On the other hand, they aren’t so keen to running service to an RV or tiny house. Since it’s not a permanent structure, they have less assurances that you will be a long term subscriber, and thus not as sure you will make it worth their while. So you will likely need to get your service from another source.

Get it from your nearby host

If you are parked in someone’s backyard or in their driveway, there’s a good chance that you can just connect to their wireless router just as you would at your local Starbucks or cafe. The big difference is that they will likely have a password set that you will need to get from them in order to connect. At one time most routers came unsecured so that they were easier to set up. But in the last few years there has been more of a shift to security with many routers coming with security features turned on by default and even some routers NOT performing as well or as fast unless they are secured. As a result, you can’t find nearly as many unsecured routers as you used to. So whichever router you want to connect too, you will likely need to ask its owner for their password. Offering to chip in on the monthly bill might make that conversation a little less awkward. If your host is nearby, the only equipment you will need is your computer/tablet/phone. Do be aware that when you connect to someone else’s router, unless you are connecting through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or are on a secured site (HTTPS), it is possible, although probably unlikely, that someone else on that network can see your traffic (what you are looking at).

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Get it from your not so nearby host

If you house is parked on land that is a little more rural, and perhaps your host is not as close, then you may find that your computer isn’t within range to connect to their router. In this case, assuming you don’t want to run a cable all the way from their house, you’re going to need some additional equipment.

One option is to add a longer range antenna to your computer. While this option works well, it’s not very convenient. First, the antenna takes up a lot of room unless you mount it somewhere. Second, since laptops don’t often come with antenna connectors you will also need an adapter to hook it up. This results in more wires which makes your computer a little more difficult to move. Finally, the biggest downside is that this only provides internet to the computer with the antenna, and you still won’t have internet on any of your other devices. While there are ways to share this internet connection, it can be a pain.

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The image above is an example of an external antenna attached to a network adapter that would then get plugged into a computer with a USB cable.

A better option is a setup that includes a device called a bridge. An example of a device that can act as a bridge is the Engenius Enstation 5. This bridge includes a high gain antenna that allows it to pick up your hosts internet signal from much farther away than your other devices can receive. It can also be mounted outside and pointed at your host to extend its range even farther. You then hook up your router to the bridge to create your own network within your house for all of your devices to connect to. The bridge can also act as a firewall keeping people from your host network from connecting to your computers.

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Above is an example of a external bridge/antenna

Finally, if you are so far away that even the bridge can’t connect to your host, you can add another Enstation 5 on their end to extend the internet signal so that you can be as far away as 5 miles!

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Get it from your phone

If you simply don’t have a host you can get internet from, consider using your phone. Many smart phones can be set up so that they can be used as a hotspot. What this means is that your phone shares its internet connection via WiFi, allowing your computer and other devices to connect. Depending on your signal, the speeds can be great or absolutely make you want to poke your eyes out slow. Be aware that your phones service plan likely has a data cap, meaning that they will only let you transfer a limited amount of data per month. So don’t plan on watching too many movies on Netflix or streaming Pandora. Even if your phones service provider says that you don’t have a data cap and are on an ‘unlimited plan’, they will still probably throttle your speed to painful levels once you exceed some threshold.

Get it from a Satellite

The final option I would consider is getting internet from a satellite service provider. There are two companies that offer this service that I know of, Dish and Hughesnet. I have a somewhat remote piece of land that I needed internet at and so I am a subscriber to Hughesnet. While it is good in that you can use it to get internet where you have no other options, it’s not great in pretty much every other aspect. It’s a little expensive at around $90/month. The speeds and lag are unimpressive. It has a monthly data cap, although not nearly as restrictive as the phone option. And finally, the dish hardware is pretty large. It’s definitely not something you would mount to your house and it can be a little bit of an eyesore. So all in all, if you have another option I would pursue it.

Do you have a unique or different way of connecting to the internet? Share it in the comments!

Happy connecting!

New Trailer Pickup Location In Toronto

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Are you in Canada or the northeastern US and in the market for a tiny house trailer? In the past we’ve delivered trailers as far north as upstate New York from our Florida location. But as you can image the delivery costs can get pretty expensive when travelling that far. Well we’ve now added a new pickup location in Toronto, Ontario Canada to service the northeast!

We’ve also simplified the process of ordering a trailer with all the available options on our website. Just go to our trailer page and click “Build & Price Your Trailer”

New Workshop Date Added

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Our next workshop, scheduled for April 11-12, is still over two months away but we have only 6 spots remaining! Because it’s selling out so quickly we decided to add a second date for the spring. This one will be a 3-day workshop from May 1-3.

At our previous workshops, while 100% of the participants have said that they would recommend it to a friend, some have requested that it be a little longer. So for those out there looking for a little more, this is it :)

Learn more about our workshops here.

Where’s the Planking?

One of the questions I’m frequently asked when someone is building a tiny house and they make it to the interior is “where do I find the interior pine tongue and groove planking (siding)?” I had the same question when I built my first house. I remember wandering the lumber isles of Home Depot clueless. Even describing it to an associate didn’t help as they didn’t know what I was talking about. The problem is that it’s not a hot seller outside the tiny house crowd. There aren’t too many people covering their basement walls with this stuff like there once was. However, it’s great for tiny houses since it’s lightweight, durable against the vibrations encountered in a tiny house on the road, and installs easily.

So anyways, the last time I was in Lowes (I usually shop at Home Depot since they are pretty consistently less expensive) I took a picture of it in its native environment so that you would have a better feel for what you might be looking for.

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It’s wrapped in plastic usually near the individual trim pieces (sometimes hidden on a back end-cap). If you still need to ask an associate, ask for ‘wainscoting’.

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4 TOTALLY ATYPICAL, RADICAL WAYS YOU CAN START LIVING TINY RIGHT NOW (NO MATTER HOW MANY SQ FT YOU LIVE IN)

Guest Post by Mariah Coz of CometCamper.com

Mariah is a tiny living fiend. Mariah moved from 1500 sq. ft. of space into a 100 sq ft vintage trailer, and then into a tiny Honda Element with her partner (35 sq. ft.). She helps people get rid of their crap and stop indulging in bad habits, so that they can live happier, tinier, more fulfilling lives filled with people and travel and loved ones, not garbage. Mariah teaches an 8 week Tiny Transition and Downsizing e-course, which is like a bootcamp for those wanting to declutter their spaces, minds, and lives with the help of a fantastic support group.

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Living tiny is only partially about the actual tiny house object, and 90% of it is decisions you make, the attitude you have, and how you live your life day to day. I see WAY too many people waiting to start living “tinier” until they buy the actual tiny house, but that mentality is totally backwards. If you’re serious about living a smaller life in a smaller home, you need to start changing your habits right this instant. Otherwise, you might be in for a total shock once tiny move in day finally arrives! Instead of thinking “having the tiny house will ALLOW me to do these things”, start to do them and then feel totally empowered to start living tiny right now!

STOP BUYING CRAP.

I mean it. Stop it right now. Stop wandering around Target. Stop using the excuse that you need it, or it’s on sale, or you’ll use it in the tiny house! No, you won’t. Because you won’t fit in the tiny house with that extra crap weighing you down. When you’re out in the world being bombarded with messages of consumption and acquisition, just remember that the money you are about to spend on something useless could be building materials for your tiny home. It could be put towards hiring an electrician. Or buying the trailer. If that’s not motivation enough, think about how your dollar is POWER – you have the power in your pocket to add to a planet in crisis, destroy a culture that is being degraded due to the insatiable American desire, and to damage people and places you can’t even point to on a map. OR, you could think rationally, save your money, and put that dollar back in your pocket where it belongs!

BREAK UP WITH YOUR TOXIC S/O.

Yep, I said it. I’m telling you right now. I’m looking you in the eye and giving you permission to ditch that jerk/ladyjerk that is holding you back. The one that doesn’t support your dreams and laughs at your big ideas. If you’re lucky enough to be with your dream partner, then ignore this one. But if I’m talking to you, and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, you need to start seriously thinking about when you’re going to leave this prick. When you get the tiny house? Will he or she conveniently just notice that there “isn’t really enough room, so…”? Probably not. A BIG part of downsizing is taking care of invisible, intangible demons. Bad relationships are a demon. You want to to downsize your life, you have to downsize the hard parts too. If that person isn’t in your dream life when you imagine it, what are you waiting for? I swear, getting rid of emotionally damaging things is just as important as getting rid of physical stuff when you’re getting ready to move into a small space. Toxic relationships take up a lot of SPACE, in your mind, your energy, and your life. You don’t have room for that, because your life is going to be so full of things you care about you just won’t have time for the losers. If you don’t have the same priorities, it may be time to do some serious thinking.

LEAVE YOUR CRAPPY JOB.

The number one reason people want to live a tiny life! Most people that I speak with would like to leave their horrible, soul-sucking 9-5 and do work that MATTERS to them. They don’t want to retire (most of them), they just want to do work that is meaningful and fulfilling. And that’s not too much to ask for. You should 100% be able to comfortably leave that crappy job you hate and find work that speaks to you. In fact, I DARE you to do just that. Most likely, your first step will be downsizing your bills and expenses (something we talk about extensively in the Tiny Transition E-Course), so that you can make a stress-free transition. If you stop buying stuff you don’t need (see Step 1), you can save up a rainy day fund to make the move a bit easier. We’ve had so many people successfully quit their day jobs and move on to more fulfilling work such as part-time volunteering, working with animals, and more as a result of doing the work in Tiny Transition and Downsizing. It’s pretty incredible to see, when it happens right in front of your eyes, real people making important life-changing decisions. Downsizing your work life, either moving to part-time or changing careers entirely, is completely possible with downsizing your life. I encourage you to start making a plan NOW for how you are going to escape, and then start taking action!

CUT YOUR CABLE.

There is nothing on television. Well, that’s not true. There are advertisements that pander to you and speak to you like you have half a brain, insult your intelligence, and try to trick you into buying stuff you don’t want or need. But, there’s nothing that you’re MISSING on television. One great way to start downsizing crap out of your life right now is to cut your cable. There has never been an easier time to cut your cable, you can still use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon On Demand and similar services to actually watch the CONTENT that you love, minus the stupid ads you hate. If you’ve been putting this off for a while, you could be wasting 100’s of dollars a year (or more!). Take a moment and think about all of the things you would do if you weren’t tempted to watch bad reality TV shows. Read more books? Write poetry? Dance and do karaoke in your PJ’s? (Is that just me?). In the Tiny Transition and Downsizing class there’s a whole section devoted to digital downsizing and we go through all of this stuff.

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Downsizing your life is a holistic process, your successes in one area motivate you to build on them and make radical, positive changes in other areas of your life. When you stop buying stuff, you have the extra savings you need to take a more meaningful, less-stressful job (thus giving your old crappy job the finger). Then you start to feel so good when you’re at work, you wonder why your SO is bringing you down at home, and you’re ready to end that part of your relationship. All of the sudden you’re living free, peeing wherever the hell you want (because why not?)! Well, maybe not exactly, but you get what I mean. This whole thing is a profound and deeply catalyzing process – one that will challenge you and excite you and make you feel optimistic and sometimes frustrated. I hope you will join me and your fellow downsizers. You definitely don’t have to do all of this alone (that would NOT be as fun).

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The next Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course begins on October 5th. If you are ready to make radical changes in your life and begin your journey towards a tiny home and life, all with the support of Mariah and your fellow classmates, then join us now.

New House Plans For Charity

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While there are many reasons to be interested in tiny houses, a large portion of the people that I talk to are motivated for financial reasons. And while some of those are just interested in saving some money for travel or to work less, there are also those that are in need. Not a week goes by that I don’t get an email from someone who is looking for an option to avoid becoming homeless.

A while back I started thinking about a basic house design that would cost less to build but would still be of high quality. A house that would look nice, but perhaps not have some of the more expensive elements of some of our other designs. What we came up with is a 20 foot house that can be fully completed for only $10,000-12,000 with all new materials (even less with reclaimed materials). The house is called ‘Simple Living’ and you can get more details and see additional pictures here.

For a limited time, we are offering the plan package (PDF download) for whatever amount of money you decide and what you think they are worth. And we are going to donate 100% of the proceeds to charity, specifically I Care Atlanta which is a nonprofit devoted to ending homelessness. We plan to rotate through different charities and will continue to do this as long as it generates money for the charities. I’ll also be following up with some additional posts including stats like how much money we raised, what the average donation was, as well as some others. I’m personally hoping we raise enough money for me to have a giant check printed out, but I think that would look really dumb if I walked in with a 6 foot check made out for $1.42 :)

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This is part of a shift in our business plan to start giving back to our community more. Going forward Tiny Home Builders will be donating a minimum of 2% of our annual profits, as well as 1% of our time to local charities.

The model that we built for this house is also available for sale at tinyhousemarketplace.com