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

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Building Workshop

This is a repost from www.cometcamper.com by Mariah Coz. She recently spoke at our latest tiny house workshop and wrote about her experience on her blog.

I’ve spoken at and taught about 20 in the past 2 years, and they always get me excited all over again. Meeting people who are just beginning their small home journeys, discussing science and nature, and making good friends are my favorite parts!

Last weekend Matt and I helped Dan Louche at his hands-on tiny home building workshop in Atlanta, GA. We were there to primarily talk about sustainable building, off-grid systems, and how and WHY you should downsize your life sooner rather than later. We ended up answering a lot of questions about composting toilets. Everyone is ALWAYS most interested in our bathroom habits, and we’ve become extremely comfortable speaking candidly about our bodily functions with total strangers.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with some people in real life from the current Tiny Transition + Downsizing class, and it was SO FUN to hang out and get to know each other off-the-Internet. Putting faces to names and meeting people I had been connecting with online for months was really great.

Hanging out with some friends from the Downsizing e-course, in real life!

Hanging out with some friends from the Downsizing e-course, in real life!

I’ve taught at so many workshops about tiny houses, I’ve seen it all. And I really think Dan’s are top notch. He goes into just the right amount of detail so that you will leave knowing what you have to do, and with some experience using the power tools you’ll need to build your own small home.

Every tiny house workshop is different. Some that I’ve done are just 100% presentations, with no hands on element. Others are totally hands on, but more chaotic and not focused on details such as plumbing, electrical, trailer selection, and other nitty-gritty issues. Dan’s workshop was the perfect blend – about 70% hands on, real life building experience, and 30% presentations to cover the more complex parts of building a tiny house that we couldn’t address in just 2 days.

Dan explains how to use the chop saw before the students have a hand at it!

Dan explains how to use the chop saw before the students have a hand at it!

Dan packs a TON into the 2-day session. The #1 request he gets is to offer longer workshops, there’s just so much to learn! But Dan knows how to teach the most important parts so that when you leave you  know where and how to start building for yourself. Dan was also very generous with his time and expertise, answering any and all questions after hours and staying late after the end of the workshop to help people individually become more comfortable with certain power tools. By the end of the class, you’ve wired up the tiny house for electricity, gotten experience with plumbing, and used an array of power tools to put together the tiny structure from framing to roofing. It was the most well-rounded tiny house workshop I’d ever taught at.

Though not everyone at the workshop has immediate plans for tiny house living or building, many people said that just being there inspired them and got the wheels turning for them.

Plans for the tiny structure that we built at the workshop.

Plans for the tiny structure that we built at the workshop.

While students got their hands-on experience building this shed-roof style tiny home, there were not one but TWO tiny homes on-site to inspect and hang out in. One was totally finished and served as an example during the workshop, while the other was a partly finished “shell”, so that participants could see “behind the scenes” and get a glimpse of the construction process. It was great to have 2 tiny homes on-site. One was 14 feet long and the other was 22 feet long (I think!), so that attendees could get a real sense of how big those different lengths really felt. It helped a lot of people decide what length to go with. Many people were at the workshop, totally committed to building a tiny house, without ever having been in one before! So this was a great opportunity to experience it first hand.

The Tiny Home Builders "Tinier Living" model, so cute and spacious for just 14 feet!

The Tiny Home Builders “Tinier Living” model, so cute and spacious for just 14 feet!

In the photo above, I’m having a fantastic conversation with the whole group about what downsizing means and how to start doing it NOW, even if it feels like the tiny house is a few years away. This was a really fun presentation, because the group got very involved and we heard a lot of personal stories. Some of these folks will be joining us in the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course, so we’ll get to hang out and spend more time talking and working together. We talked about so much more than just “stuff”, like those less-tangible demons of toxic relationships, bad work environments, unfulfilling jobs, and family issues. It got pretty deep!

Matt and I are hoping to return to GA in the Spring for Dan’s next workshop, which is scheduled for April 11th-12th. If you have time in your schedule, I highly recommend Dan’s workshops. I hope to see you there!

By Mariah form www.cometcamper.com

Tiny Studio

I’m back from Florida where we hosted an open house featuring our latest house design called Tiny Studio. I took lots of pictures so check them out. The plans for this house will be available on our plans page soon!

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View from the bathroom looking toward the raised kitchen.

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Couch slides out to convert into a full bed.

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Stairs lift up to reveal storage.

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The entire staircase also unlocks and slides out to reveal a huge storage compartment.

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View of the kitchen

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Looking down from the kitchen into the living area

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A better view of the eating bar

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The living area, front door, and closet.

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Closet with exposed shelving on the side

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Large closet

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Bathroom with storage above toilet. The compartment has a mirror on both sides so that you can still see what you are doing when it’s open.

This house is for sale and is listed at $37,000.

Also, do you want to hang out with me, Jay Shafer, Deek Diedrickson, Lloyd Kahn, and a ton of other like minded people? Then you definitely need to check out the Tiny House Fair coming in October in Texas. It’s going to be a blast and I hope to see you there!

Tiny House Incubator

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Are you in the Atlanta area and interested in building a tiny house but need a place to build it (and perhaps a little supervision)? You’re in luck! We’re starting an incubator in Cumming Georgia (45 minutes north of Atlanta) where you will have access to land, bathroom, tools, other builders, as well as occasional visits by me to answer your questions. There will also be limited camping for those who travel to the site to work over the weekends.

This is starting out as a pilot program so participation will be limited. For more information including pricing please email [email protected]

Loft-Less Tiny House Design

I spent the last week down in Florida working on our latest house design. This house, like our Tiny Retirement design, doesn’t have a loft for those that aren’t interested in climbing a ladder to get in and out of bed. Instead, the bed is on rollers that allow it to be converted into a seating area (like a couch) or pushed even further away when you just need the space.

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When the bed is pushed all the way in it really opens up the living area. I even thought this design would lend itself to being an office as there is room for a rather large desk and the area under the kitchen could be used for file storage.

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This house was started a little while ago (it was at our last open house), but as with so many things it took a back seat to more important jobs. Well we are finally wrapping it up and while it wasn’t completely done by the time I had to leave, it probably only has a few more days work remaining. Once the finishing touches are complete I’ll travel back down to take some final pictures.

Couple Builds a Tiny House

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I was randomly looking through some of the latest tiny house news and I came across this article about a young couple that is building their own tiny house. I got so excited because Lily and Matt (whom the article is about) attended my last workshop and purchased a trailer from me. I hadn’t heard from Lily since then and so I didn’t know how she was coming along but looking at the pictures in the article she is making some amazing progress. Before the workshop I don’t think Lily had ever used a power tool, and now she’s built herself a house. She’s amazing!

Attend our upcoming workshop and see what you can do! :)

Photo by Beth Beasley/ Times-News