Tiny House Visit

My family and I traveled down to Lakeland this past weekend to visit my mom to see how she’s been since moving in to her tiny house a little over a month ago. I also invited Alex from tinyhousetalk.com to come up and see it since he had expressed an interest when he interviewed me a while back (check out his post and video).

Tiny Retirement Exterior

I must say my mom has done an awesome job (with lots of help from various people – especially her neighbor Bob and husband Rick) finishing off her tiny house. If you recall, due to pressure from my neighborhood association I was forced to move the tiny house to Florida a little less finished than I had planned. The exterior was complete with the exception of paint and the interior siding was up but not much else. Since then she has painted the exterior, had cabinets custom built, installed hardwood floors, and turned it into her own personal gallery.

Tiny Retirement Interior

Tiny House Kitchen

Tiny House Kitchen & Bath

Tiny Retirement Kitchen

Tiny House Kitchen with Dormers

Dining area

Family Pictures

Trash and Storage

36 inch shower

Upon entering the house I realized I had forgotten how roomy it felt (it’s been at least a year since the last time I was in it). When I spoke to my mom about us all showing up for the day, I said we could do a tour of the house but then spend the rest of the time outside so that we weren’t all cramped inside.   After all, there would be 6 of us (this is before I knew that Alex was bringing his fiancée Andrea and her dog). Well the heat and the rain spoiled that plan and we all spent the day inside.  Yet not once did the house feel crowded (even with a two year old taking up half the couch napping). My wife Beth even commented on how this experience had changed her thoughts on entertaining in a tiny house.

Party in the Tiny House

We all had a great time and haven’t stopped talking about it since. I want to thank Alex, Andrea, and Louie for making the trip up the see us. I really enjoyed their company and had a great time with everyone.

Group photo in the tiny house

As we left, Beth turned to me and said: “Your mom seems so happy now, I think you gave her a new lease on life”. That was the goal :)

Small house hapiness

One issue that did come up is that my mom said that the water heater always cut out after about a minute of use. She said it was always just as she got her hair all lathered up that the water would become ice cold. After investigating and experimenting I realized that the issue was that the compartment that contains the water heater isn’t ventilated enough and the heater burns through the available oxygen pretty quickly which then extinguishes the flame. The burning of propane produces Carbon Dioxide which is heavier than air so ventilating the bottom of the compartment out of site should fix her problem.

Also on a side note, I have decided to build another tiny house. I am working on the plans now and expect to begin construction in the next couple months. On this build I plan to post as much as I did on the first but also include a lot more video. I’ll provide more details when I know them. Talk to you all soon.

49 thoughts on “Tiny House Visit

  1. Thanks for the update. The house looks great. Looking forward to watching the new house go up too! Making a video is a great idea too. Be sure to check out sites like Lulu.com for self-publishing multimedia.

  2. This home is stunning!!! Great, great job! Does the sofa turn into the bed area? I am more and more excited as I see your place and wonder if you can or have posted the costs and if you used any recycled materials.
    I would love to do the same for my mother in the next two years.what were your carpentry skills like before you started this home?
    Thanks so much!

    • The sofa does turn into a bed. If you watch the video that Alex from tinyhousetalk put together you can see my step dad convert it.

      The materials cost about $11,600. I would have liked to use more recycled materials but because of the time constraints on this project it was a little too difficult. Since you are considering building one in two years you could start to gather stuff now (if you have a place to store it). On my next build I may look into the habitat for humanity store for some recycled material.

      As far as my skills before starting the house, my dad is a contractor so I was on some job sites when I was younger. So I was always pretty handy. But I went to school for computers and never did anything construction related as a job. I really think that how skilled you are contributes greatly to how fast the project will go, but not necessarily how successful it will be. As long as you are committed and don’t get too frustrated, I think almost anyone could build a tiny house if they really tried and had enough time (and a willingness to learn too :)

      Good luck!!

  3. You built your Mom a Great House Really nice. And I like clerestory windows on top for light .How much did it cost to Build ,all materials Labor Etc .

    • The materials list that I include with the plans has the total at $11,600. That includes pretty much everything except the cabinets, which for my mother where inexpensive since a neighbor made them for her. This also doesn’t include any labor.

  4. The tiny house looks terrific! What I love most about it is the usable kitchen. I do have one question, though — does your mom not use a hotplate? Or does she just tuck it away when not in use?

  5. That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the pictures. I intend to build one in the near future. You have great design features that I hadn’t thought of. :)

  6. Beautiful! I was wondering where is she permitted to park it according to zoning? I know Polk county is more lenient towards mobile homes than Hillsborough- but over all the building codes are quite strict over the whole state.

    • I honestly didn’t check into any zoning. From my understanding since the house is really just a trailer I don’t believe zoning rules apply. The only thing that is ‘permanently’ tied is the waste line and even that can be removed in a pinch.

      • Good to know. Taking a trip to Lakeland tomorrow with the intention of possibly gutting a MH and making it a tiny home. My biggest concern is coding and zoning. Any thoughts? Where is this THOW parked. I would love to do a drive by.

  7. OMG! Thank you and your mom for sharing these pics. I often thought about how she was liking the cozy home. she did a great job making it homey. also I love how the light comes in making it feel even larger. You are a great son to have built it for her.

  8. Love this. Only thing I *might* change would be to install a projector over the couch/bed and a screen about half as far away as that TV. I might install the projector above the screen and have a mirror on the wall behind the couch…That TV is just too far away for me. :)

    • You could also just use a bigger TV. We didn’t watch TV while I was there so I didn’t notice if it would be too small for me, but it didn’t seem so.

      Glad you like it though :)

  9. Wow! Your tiny house is amazing. I have been following your blog for some time now. I am very impressed with the outcome. Kudos to you and your family. I have a quick question…does the $11,600 of materials you mention include the trailer? I am very interested in recreating your creation.

    • That amount did include the trailer which was the largest single expense of the house (I’d have to look it up but I want to say it was $2600)

  10. Very well decorated! The wood-on-wood-on-wood tiny homes get very repetitive. I wish your mom would continue her blog about living here!

    • As do I. Unfortunately as a cost cutting measure she discontinued her access to the internet which makes it a little difficult for her.

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  12. Isn’t that amazing? I’ve had my family over for dinner, and we never feel crowded in it, either. 160 square feet is about all you need when you actually want to see the people you’re visiting with, I suppose. We have tossed the kids (now 6 and 10) into the loft with a laptop and a movie or game when they have more energy for playing than for visiting, so that we can do all the storytelling we want with them out from underfoot.

    I keep thinking about space, and how we almost always have more than we need. I miss my little house – it’ll be done someday and I’ll get to live in it again.

  13. Wow I live in Lakeland and your moms tiny house is amazing! We are gearing up to do renos to our small 1200sf home but all I want to do is move to the mountains of TN in a tiny house lol. I really hope these types of house will become more of the norm than the McMansions of today.

  14. It came out very well especially considering that its your first tiny house.The interior looks great, too. Your mom’s choice of only a few colors keeps it from looking cluttered.
    Kudos to you both!

  15. I figure that since 24 studs cost less than 2.00 each it might make more sense to get these last few pieces of lumber at the store instead of burning up gas looking for the free variety as much as I hate to do that. I m building a tiny house thats cross between Henry David Thoreau s cabin at Walden Pond and a Tumbleweed-like Tiny House on wheels the only difference is that it will cost nothing. It just seems like poetic justice for a house that questions consumerism to be made from the very things that carried so many products to market.

    • It will cost nothing?? Really? How are you doing this? Do you have a blog/website? I’ve been stuck on the Tumbleweeds info, not realizing there were more tiny homes being built, so I’m getting into researching all of this now. I have a 5 year plan but if I could cut costs to nothing (or even close to it) that would be awesome and I could get into my tiny house a lot quicker. Of course, Dan’s cost of $11K + is a lot better than Tumbleweed’s ~$20K.

  16. WOW! I just found you via tinyhouseblog and I’m glad I did! Your mom’s house is so beautiful! It’s so well organized too! lol I think the little details are really what makes it perfect. What an amazing home – you did a great job. :)

  17. We are building a home soon that will have a door on the long side of the building, rather than the front or rear of the trailer, so it was very refreshing to see this design!! I wanted to inquire about your mother’s cooking habits – I did not see a stove or oven. Does she use the microwave and eat out often?

    • She is on a pretty tight budget so she doesn’t eat out often. She has a counter top oven (heavy duty toaster) and an induction hot plate, at well as a microwave.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this. Truly amazing! Do you think your mom would be open to showing it? I live in Tallahassee and I think I’m on the verge of getting ready to build my own Tiny House but I would love to see one in person. If she is open to it I have no problem making a donation to the house expenses for the time and courtesy. I visit friends and family and in the Tampa area from time to time so its not that far away from me.

    Thank you!

    • I’m sure my mom would love to have visitors and no donation is necessary. I will contact her and then send you an email to make arrangements.

      I am also planning an open house of my latest house in Sept/Oct, but that is in Deland Fl.



      • Do you know where I could find information on building guidelines for a Tiny House in Tallahassee. The City and County don’t seem to know much about them which make it difficult to proceed. I’m not sure if I want to build on trailer or ground up. I’m leaning more toward ground up and doing a trailer later.

  19. I just started reading your blog today and I am so impressed!!!! I live in Tampa and would like to visit your mom’s house also. If you would make arrangements I would be grateful. Thanks for putting this information out there and documenting how to do this. It really helps to take the fear out of it.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

  20. This tiny house is just beautiful inside and out! One of the nicest I’ve ever seen and I love how your mother has decorated it. I hope your mother is very happy there! I’m designing one that is similar to your design, and am grateful to you for sharing your costs and designs (as I have no real experience with designing houses, carpentry etc.) I love all the different angels, and the pictures with the family in the house to get a real feel for how it would be to have company. My dream is to have an eco-village someday made up of little tiny houses. :)

  21. I just discovered your site and your blog and I’m in love with your mom’s tiny house! So glad to see someone building a “retirement” house that is all on one level. And it’s just so lovely, so well crafted.

  22. Gorgeous GORGEOUS house! Kudos to both you and your mom! I also appreciate your inclusion of photos showing how many people you can fit in the house. I must admit, when I looked at the photos on your website, the interior looked reasonably comfortable. But seeing all the family gathered in the living space, I can see exactly how spacious it is. My only concern would be where I could live in such a house. I hear of people putting these homes off in the woods somewhere, but do they actually own that land, or have they just gotten permission to “park” there? And then, how do they access water, sewer, electricity, etc.? I know solar panels can be used for electricity (or does one use propane tanks), but what about water & sewer?

    • Ok, I just watched the video, and I see that your mom’s tiny house is on property that already had a trailer on it (which I assume she owns). And I assume the water, sewer & power were already available. So I guess the logical place to locate these homes (assuming they will be accepted) is trailer parks. Here in Brevard county, we have an abandoned airstream trailer park that I think would just be PERFECT as a tiny house community! If only…

      • I used to live in Melbourne and there was an abandoned airstream park there. Is that the one you are referring to?

        • Yes, that’s it! It was called Port O’ Call. I didn’t even realize it was abandoned (shows how observant I am) until I started researching places where I might locate a tiny house in this area. My big problem is I’m not a land owner so I wouldn’t have a place to put my tiny home. (Which, if it ever comes into fruition, will be the “Retirement Plan!”) Thanks, by the way, for designing a single-story home for us folks who can’t climb up into lofts! :-)

  23. I just viewed this tiny house and fell in love with it.It seems so roomy and a perfect place for me some day when im all alone. My question is im in tn, so the only place one can park this is either on your own land with a sewer system etc., or a trailor park? I would not be traveling with it, so this information would be helpful. thankyou

  24. I have fallen in love with the tiny home movement, I am having to move from my current home soon and down size, I love the home for the mother in law it was perfect.
    if it were my home I like the rustic, cabin type exterior. I would like my living space just a tiny bit wider for recliner, and the kitchen…… just a tad bigger for a small dinning room set. and some how have a wall in front of me to hang my wall t.v, other than that it is perfect…….oh I almost for get I love porches as a visual artist my porch is my studio lol

  25. Amazing work guys! Sweet..That means I have an available space in St Pete/Tyrone area. The yard is quite deep and it would have to be portable..What would one even charge? This would help offset taxes!!

  26. Thanks for sharing all this great info. I dug around on your site a bit, looking for any reference to how you or your mom treated the interior planking? It looks like pine with a white-ish stain on it. Is that the case?

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Dan,
      Dan has told me that he they stained the pine boards. He said it was a multi color process, but said that his mom did not remember what the colors were.

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