New Tiny House Workshop!

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I’ve had a lot of people ask me when we were planning on hosting another workshop and I’m proud to announce that it has been scheduled! It will be held in Cumming GA (just north of Atlanta) on May 24-25.

In this workshop you’ll not only learn the ins and outs of tiny houses (including zoning issues and loopholes, information on trailers, and other tiny house specific information), but you’ll also get hands-on experience. We’ll build a cross section of a house which will give you experience with framing, sheathing, insulation, electrical, and plumbing. There’s no substitute for the confidence gained from actually picking up a tool and building something.

We always have a lot of fun at the workshops and it’s just a great being around so many like-minded people that are into tiny houses.

Our past workshops have all sold out, but I decided to drop the prices on this one to make it a little more affordable for everyone. We also provide two meals a day as well as snacks and drinks (I’ve had people tell me the food was the best part, which I’m not entirely sure is a compliment ;) The number of seats are limited, so get yours before we sell out!

I hope to see you there!

For more information, go to: http://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-workshops/Atlanta

Dan

The hardest part of building a tiny house

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I’m frequently asked what the hardest part of building a tiny house is. People expect that I’ll respond that it’s the electrical or the plumbing (the two tasks that seem to scare people the most), or perhaps attaching the house to the trailer. But really the hardest part is just getting started, and taking that first real step. By real step I’m not referring to the planning phase, while technically that is where you start when building a tiny house, it isn’t a commitment (it’s easy to walk away from an unstarted plan).

It’s human nature after all to resist change and to avoid the unknown. And for most who are building a tiny house, since many have no construction experience, that means a tremendous amount of firsts. Then, beyond the construction, you’ve got the actual living in a tiny house. Something that isn’t exactly common quite yet and thus not ‘normal’ as viewed by society.

Those can be really scary. Some people consider living in a tiny house and then immediately abandon the idea thinking that they just can’t do it (and for some, they are right since it isn’t a fit for everyone). I’ve seen others that have been in the planning phase for 5 years and that have attended 5 workshops who can’t seem to move past the planning stage. That doesn’t count as getting started :).

While building and living in a tiny house can seem insurmountable when looking at everything that goes into it at once, you can do it. Just look around on the internet and see the countless individuals and couples who you wouldn’t think could do it, doing it. The difference is they picked up a hammer and got started.

Open House

We’re having another open house in Deland FL on November 23rd! Our open houses aren’t a typical open house as they are really more an opportunity for you to see a tiny house in person and hang out for a couple hours with likeminded people. They have been really popular in the past drawing about 30-40 people driving as much as 8 hours to get there. The Central Florida Tiny House Enthusiast Meetup group will also be showing up so I expect this one to be our biggest open house yet.

I’ll have two houses there; our Simple Living design that is just a shell, and a new single level design that hopefully will be finished by then (fingers crossed).

If you’re interested check out the eVite and I’ll see you there

http://www.evite.com/event/03C4HXQAMMD6DAXUSEPDI6ZKB3EFUM

Dan

Orlando Home Show

I was recently invited to bring a couple tiny houses and to speak at both the Jacksonville and Orlando Home Shows this year. I was really excited because I thought it was a great opportunity to introduce a lot of people to the tiny house movement, who might otherwise never hear about it.

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I was so busy getting ready for the first show in Jacksonville that I really didn’t get that much of a chance to write about it. I had planned to bring two homes to both shows, but only one was completed and we were rushing to finish the second one (a new design that I will be announcing soon). However, because of delays in getting the windows we didn’t finish the house in time, which was just as well since the show hadn’t allotted enough room for two houses anyways*. 

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Well the Jacksonville show has come and gone and it ended up being a lot of fun (and work). I got to meet a lot of people and if I had to guess at least 20,000 people got to see and/or walk through a tiny house (most for the first time). It was not uncommon for us to have at least 80 people in line to go into the house at any one time. We were definitely one of the more popular exhibits.

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This coming weekend (Oct 4-6) we will be at the Orlando Home Show to do it all again. If you get a chance, swing by and say hi :)

 

* That’s actually a funny phenomenon with tiny houses. When you tell someone about tiny houses and you say they are between 100 and 200 square feet, people are so used to larger areas that they often think of a much smaller size in their head. Whenever we show our houses people are ALWAYS surprised to hear how small they are in terms of square footage.

Trailer Pictures

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We introduced a line of tiny house trailers a few months ago, but since the trailers are manufactured down in Florida and I live near Atlanta I hadn’t had a chance to take any pictures or them (and my Dad, who lives in Florida, is no Ansel Adams ;). But I finally went back down there to work on a house for the Jacksonville and Atlanta Home Shows and brought a trailer back with me to deliver to one of my workshop attendees (that makes 6 now that are building house, woo hoo). So I took the opportunity to take some pictures and record a video showing off the features of the trailers. You can get more information at http://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-houses/trailers

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Timothy’s Tinier Living House

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On a recent trip to Florida I had the pleasure of visiting one of our Alpharetta workshop attendees. Timothy is building our Tinier Living design and has a really cool idea for its use that I wanted to share. For those who don’t know, our Tinier Living design is a smaller version of our popular Tiny Living house. While smaller, the bathroom, loft, and kitchen are all about the same size of the larger version. Where space is sacrificed is in the living area.

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Timothy is already living tiny by living in a trailer that he has remodeled. While he has done an awesome job, the insulation and the general layout have not really been to his liking, so he decided to build himself his own house.

Since the Tinier Living house has all the amenities required to live (kitchen, bath, sleeping), but is a little tight on general living area, he plans to build an additional structure for hanging out and eating. His tiny house will then just ‘dock’ up to it and provide all the houses services. He also plans to build additional living structures in other parts of the country where he can then move just his tiny house between them (containing all his belongings). His first living structure where be right beside a secluded lake in a beautiful part of central Florida. Part of the structure will go out over the lake just slightly where I imagine he will be dropping a fishing line occasionally.

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Since a Tinier Living house is so small, it can be easily towed by some smaller vehicles (including some SUV’s), he can even use it as an RV in a pinch or if he wants to park it in a location where he hasn’t yet built a living room house.

What’s awesome is that as I’m visiting with him I kept thinking he is living the dream. He’s doing what he loves, he’s surrounded by friends, and amazingly it doesn’t hardly cost anything. Pretty cool if you ask me!

P.S. We have a new workshop schedule for October just outside of Asheville NC!

Tiny Home Builders Trailers

When I built my first tiny house I used a standard equipment trailer with just a few special requests. These requests included leaving off the ramps, not having a dovetail (which is a slanted back which helps when loading heavy equipment like tractors), and using heavy duty axles. I actually forgot to have them leave off the front guard (which is a piece of metal on the front of the trailer that stops your equipment from rolling too far forward). That ended up not being that bad of a mistake since it made me build the front compartment which I ended up really liking and has stuck with several of my other designs.

While building on a standard trailer is definitely not a problem, there are a few things that I have had changed over the years for our houses to improve the way they are attached as well as to make the trailers a little lighter. I’ve been offering these trailers to others as well if they contacted me directly (which several have), but I recently decided that I needed to set up something a little more formal so that anyone who was interested could get one (without knowing the special handshake ;).

So we’ve introduced our new line of trailers specifically made for tiny houses over at http://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-houses/Trailers

These trailers have many of the special requests of my first trailer as well as a few more. Most notably are the steel flange and the metal deck replacement.

Steel Flange

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A typical trailer has wood decking that runs the length of the trailer. That decking is supported by steel beams (cross members) that run perpendicular to the decking and attach to the sides of the trailer. Since the subfloor of your house needs to be attached to the metal of your trailer you may think that the cross members would be a good choice. The problem with using those is that since they run in the same direction as the floor joist, you would have to perfectly line up the floor joist with those beams. Those beams are also pretty far away from the subfloor since they are under the wood decking, which would require a really long bolt. What you really need is metal that is running perpendicular to the subfloor joist and is right up against the subfloor. While the trailer side beams match both those requirements, it’s a pretty thick metal and is usually a ‘C’ channel which doesn’t give you much room to drill. So the best option is to just add brackets (that is how we used to do it) or a flange to the sides.

Why not pre-drill the flange or weld the bolts to the trailer?

While having the bolts welded to the trailer may seem like a good thing, it’s actually a pain to work with and doesn’t give you a good way to attach the subfloor (when the bolts are on the back and front). If the bolts are welded to the sides of the trailer you’ll need to make sure that you have a joist in that exact location to attach to it (not exactly builder friendly). This can require you to add an extra joist or change your plans around. It can also be a pain to work with a fixed bolt since you will need to predrill your wood before putting it in place. This can be hard to line up correctly and you will need to do so before you attach the board to anything. While it can be worked around, as a builder, I just don’t want that hassle.

The flange on the other hand allows you to put the bolts wherever your joist end up after you’ve constructed the subfloor. That’s why we don’t predrill the flange either. While it may seem intimidating to drill your own holes through the metal it is actually quite easy. It doesn’t take any special tools other than a standard drill and a good drill bit. Others like to talk about plasma cutters and special drills to scare you into thinking that you can’t do it. But you’re about to build a house, what’s a few more holes to drill.

Bolts welded to the back or front of the trailer are even worse. In these locations the subfloor doesn’t typically hang over the edge, so what is the bolt supposed to attach to? Cantilevering the subfloor over the back edge just so you can accommodate that bolt seems a little unnecessary.

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Finally, the flange also increases the width of the trailer, thus reducing the amount that the subfloor needs to extend unsupported over the edge of the trailer. More support is always a good thing.

Replace the wood decking with metal beams

By replacing the wood decking with metal beams, we eliminate some of the weight of the wood decking and provide another place to bolt the trailer to. Not to sound too redundant, but these beams are up against the subfloor and are perpendicular to the joists.

Summary

Basically what it comes down to is you want to have metal on your trailer that runs the length of the trailer that will give you a good place to attach your house too. If your trailer doesn’t come with those metal surfaces, you’ve going to have to add them.

I personally designed these trailers for what I want and need, and it’s what we use for our houses.

Tiny House Workshop #1

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We wrapped our first workshop on Sunday, and I must say it was awesome. It’s amazing being in a room of likeminded people all interested in making changes in their life.

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I brought my Tinier Living house to the workshop and it was by far the most popular thing there (although the cookies each day at 3 and the free beer at 5 were pretty popular too :)

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Here is Solomon trying out the second sleeping loft (formally known as a storage loft ;)

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A little breakfast to kick the day off.

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We had lots of hands on activities which for many was the first time they had ever used power tools. The nail gun was a favorite.

Here’s a video with some of the responses we got from the workshop

 

I’ll be putting together the schedule for our future workshops soon, so stay tuned if you missed this one/