A Tiny House Caboose

The Hobo Hilton

Home builders/owners: Bob & Lori Murrell

Home builders/owners: Bob & Lori Murrell

Everyone has a muse; a motivation or inspiration that changes our path. For tiny house enthusiasts, their muse is one of eco-friendliness or of financial freedom. Bob’s inspiration though was to remain single.  As fate and irony would have it, Bob met his real muse, Lori.

He still claims she would have lived in a cardboard box with him if she had to and at that point in time, you could very well say, she did.

In 2003,there were yet to be:

  • -interior walls
  • -Insulation
  • -electric with the exception of an alarm clock plugged into an extension cord from the garage.
  • -closets
  • -kitchen
  • -plumbing
  • -banks that would mortgage.

 

What there was,though, were:

  • -No zoning regulations
  • -A lot of drawings and plans
  • – Dreams
  •  -A County building code requiring 90 mph wind tolerance,a 5000.00 compliance for wind tie-downs in all for corners, and a yard of concrete in each hole in the ground.

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After complying, Bob, Dennis Smith, and Rudy Byler started building. The body was steel with bay windows which had been extended by 2.5 feet on either side making it 14’.

 

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The chassis of the Hobo Hilton was found in a Railroad magazine classified section and soon to be purchased from a private owner in Henry,Illinois. After sending the owner a disposable camera to take photos, the owner sent it back. The photos revealed it to be weathered and in need of a lot of love. It had been through a lot during its heyday along the Topeka, Peoria, and Western Railroad.

 

Lori stuck around after all, helping Bob build and design the interior.

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The design inspiration came from LGB brand drovers’ Caboose called the Colorado and Southern. Fully completed, it is 390 sq ft.In addition,it’s heavily insulated, only requiring a 8” baseboard heater  (or candle!) to get through an Ohio winter.The Hemlock siding is from an Amish Mill in Atlantic, Pennsylvania.

In the photo ,their grandaughter ,Malia, reads her first book. Their favorite book to read together is “I Saw An Ant on the Railroad Track”. Who would’ve known!

In the photo ,their grandaughter ,Malia, reads her first book. Their favorite book to read together is “I Saw An Ant on the Railroad Track”. Who would’ve known!

 

Malia’s bedroom is in the most magical space where she climbs the ladder to get to.

The Cupola: Malia’s bedroom is in the most magical space where she climbs the ladder to get to.

 

With many warm visits from family and friends, it’s second roof, it’s withstanding of prevailing winds and winters for over a decade, the Hobo Hilton has proven to be the foundation of a happy life that Bob and Lori have made together.

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Fun Stuff!

A collection of a few fun things I’ve been working on:

The Tiny House Map

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I’ve been making some improvements to the Tiny House Map (THM) recently. For those who don’t know the THM is a great way to find and contact people, groups, and communities that are close by in your area. I’ve refocused the categories to better help individuals find other likeminded individuals. This included adding ‘groups’ and ‘communities’ (so there isn’t too much up there now for those items quite yet. If you are aware of any groups or communities out there I encourage you mention it to them so they can add themselves to help spread the word!) Right now there are over 800 people from all over the world that are on the map!

https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/map

 

Inspiration

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Looking for inspiration to help get you motivated to downsize, simplify, and build tiny? I’ve put together a list of 31 things that you can do right now. Check it out at:

https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/inspire

 

Savings Goal Calculator

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I’ve already mentioned this one in a previous post but I thought I would add it to the list anyways because I like it :) I put together a calculator to help you see how long it might take to achieve your financial goals (regardless of what they are). Including steps you can take to shorten that time:

https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/home/savingscalculator

 

Tiny House Directory

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Lastly, I’ve made some improvements to the Tiny House Directory (THD). If you haven’t heard of the directory, it’s a collection of websites, books, and other resources specific to tiny houses. Do you have a favorite book or other resource that has helped you? Add it to the THD!

https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-directory

Tiny House Goal Calculator

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We get asked a lot of questions about how to finance a tiny house. And when I go over all the options available I always point out that a lot of people end up buying their house outright. They do this by cutting back on all their spending, looking for extra income, and selling a lot of their belongings. It doesn’t happen overnight but it is a worthwhile goal.  This usually amazes a lot of people and so I put together a little online calculator  to help you see just how long it might take you to save up for your own tiny house (or any other goal for that matter).

Check it out at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/home/savingscalculator

The Fallacy of the 5 Year Plan

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This is an email from my friend and Virtual Tiny House Workshop co-host Mariah, who wanted to share this with you today

As you probably know, I’ve taught at more than 25 tiny house workshops and events over the past 2 years.

My favorite part is talking with everyone at the workshops, hearing their stories, and helping them start their journey.

Every time we teach a workshop, I end up losing my voice answering so many questions! It’s always fun to stay up late with people who share your values.

(Psst – I’m hosting the first and only VIRTUAL Tiny House Workshop this weekend! You can register here and join us!)

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more while teaching and speaking at these workshops, is that people have long timelines for their tiny house journeys.

I definitely think everyone should follow their own path and work within a time frame that suits their unique situation and life story. I’m all about marching to the beat of your unique drum!

That being said, I heard a lot of the same thing at the most recent workshop we spoke and taught at. We asked the group, “When do you plan to move into a tiny home?” and went around the room hearing answers.

“Five years”

“Ten years”

“6 years – when my kids are moved out!”

People were at the workshop, getting all hyped up, learning awesome new skills, and gaining knowledge and momentum – but that wouldn’t be put into action for another five to ten years.

Hmm, I thought, that seems like a lot of planning.

But then I thought about me, a few years ago.

See, I had a five year plan. I was 18 and I was going to save up all my money for five years, I was going to purchase the “vintage trailer of my dreams” – which at the time was an Airfloat.

I wanted something in the 25 foot long range (OMG can you imagine? I’m so glad I didn’t go that big haha).

I don’t think I quite understood just how expensive those rare beauties really are! In my mind, I would have my own place to park it, my own land with my own garden, and everything would happen at exactly the right time just the way I’d planned it all out.

Then, my entire five year plan of saving/researching/designing and planning went out the window when the COMET Camper (originally just a scrappy little 1969 Avalon) landed in my proverbial lap.

At 3 AM on a Tuesday morning (I’m not kidding – it was really that early and crazy), my friend from NYC dropped off what would become the COMET Camper and told me to do whatever I wanted to with it. I figured I’d sell it and use the money to put towards my imaginary “dream camper” – you know, stick to the plan.

Turns out, that scrappy little trailer WAS my dream camper, I just had to let the opportunity take shape and realize it’s potential.

Here’s the thing:

I’m really glad that the camper I live in now ended up in my driveway at 3 AM on a Tuesday 5 years ago, instead of 5 years in the future.

I’m glad because even though at the time it wasn’t in my “life plan” and that really freaked me out, I probably would have waited and waited and postponed making my major life change into camper life much longer than I had even planned. And since taking the leap, you know I can tell you it’s the best freaking thing that’s ever happened!

There’s no perfect time, and the sooner you get started, the better. That’s why we’ve put together the Virtual Tiny House Workshop. So you can get started now, take some action steps, and stop waiting.

We made it super affordable so that you don’t have to save up for years  to attend, and you can start sooner rather than later.

Planning is good – trust me I believe in good planning. Planning can lead to a lot of good stuff! Planning is smart.

But don’t be afraid of opportunity. Remember that it will NEVER be “the right time”, and there will ALWAYS be reasons (excuses) not to dive head-first into a new lifestyle and new way of living.

Things will never be “perfect” – so roll with it and if something amazing comes your way, allow yourself to say yes and let it work itself out.

If you’re ready to start taking those steps now, Dan Louche and I are excited to be bringing you the first and only Virtual Tiny House Workshop, called “Design/Build/Downsize”. We’ve got 8 trainings and lessons, step by step tutorials, live discussions and Q & A sessions, and more.

You can see the entire curriculum and register here >>>

We hope to see you there!

Latest Tiny House

We just completed our latest tiny house for a young couple in Gainesville FL. This house was by far our most complicated build with many custom built-in’s and some unique options.

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The owner plans to build a deck in the front the length of the house. The large window is an accordion window which fully opens up and will provide a nice opening, joining the inside and the outside areas.

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This is the interior view as you enter the house.

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This L-shaped shelf under the accordion window is for storage, with the larger portion also acting as a seat for a table (not shown). An extra chair will also be placed at the table so that two can dine.

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With the accordion window fully open it feels as though you are outside while standing in the house.

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Next is a cabinet that holds the range, oven, and additional pull out shelves for storage.

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Each of these shelves fully extend to hold a ton of stuff.

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The stairs lead up to the main loft. Under the stairs are open cubbies as well as a pull out pantry.

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The pull out pantry extended.

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The stairs also hold a drawer and well as a storage pocket.

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Across from the oven and the range is the refrigerator, dishwasher, and kitchen sink. There is also additional storage under the sink.

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Looking back towards the door, there is a washer/dryer combo unit in a separate closet. The bench seat wraps around the corner of the house to create a huge sitting area (where the owner plans to add custom cushions). The table can also be moved over to this area to create a larger dining area for additional people. The bench seat also opens up on hinges to reveal a very large storage area.

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The main loft has 2 windows and a skylight that provides a large amount of natural light. There is also a mini-split air conditioner to ensure the temperature is just right while sleeping. Finally a custom built shelf provides additional storage.

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The view from the lounge loft

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The view of the lounge loft. Since this loft is above the front door it is a little higher than the sleeping loft, but still comfortable to move around on. There is also an air circulator located on the top right of the back wall which periodically refreshes the air in the house.

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The bathroom has a bump-out over the tongue of the trailer that makes room for the bathroom sink. To the left is a toilet and to the right is a walk-in, tiled shower with a glass butterfly shower door.

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Under both lofts the owner wanted a more industrial look for their lighting. So we took track lighting that they liked and created this lighting solution.

Are you interested in learning more about tiny houses? We have several workshops coming up, including a new online workshop for those who can’t travel to Georgia. Get the full list of all our upcoming workshops at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-workshops

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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Tiny House Insurance

Your Tiny House may be the most valuable asset you own in your life. Protection for it may very well be second most important. After all, weather damage, fires, and theft are all real world situations and although tiny houses on wheels can run, they can’t always hide.

rp_Kim-Langston-Tiny-House-Fire-After.jpg Take it from Dee WIlliams‘s friend, Kim Langston…

Saturday, April 4th - the discovery of the fire - and Sunday, April 6th after starting the cleanup process.

Photo:Tinyhouse43.com

Meg and Brandy of Tiny House 43 who accidently,improperly disposed of hazardous materials after a long day of building…

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and Casey Friday, whose tiny home was stolen and pawned.

While no one relishes being an example of the unfortunate, there were things we all took away from it.

That is the beauty of the Tiny House community. Remember when everyone came together to crowdfund Kim Langston’s rebuild after her tiny house was caught in a barn fire? or when Tiny House 43 restored what they could from the ash covered sheathing? Or when news was shared of Casey’s quest to get justice from the thieves and reunite with his long lost tiny home?

We watched, were moved to help and encourage until all those challenges were overcome. The harder the struggle, the sweeter it was to celebrate their victory! And we all learned what NOT to do.

While some factors we can control (parking farther from adjacent buildings, taking the time to properly dispose of hazardous materials, or buying hitch and wheel locks). Some, we simply can not. Insurance for Tiny Houses under all unique circumstances, settled in one place or rolling along a highway, is non-existent. However,there are efforts in progress and it is a great opportunity for insurance agents to hop on board the Tiny house market.

Tiny Housers who creatively received insurance:

#1 – No matter what insurance you pursue,work with an insurance agent to work through the loopholes. It will also help other tiny home owners in the future by being able to recommend them to an agent that has already written an accepted coverage.

#2 Look for a reputable insurance agent already exploring the Tiny House insurance market.

Darrell Granz Insurance finalized a deal that will allow them to offer tiny home coverage in all US states (except Alaska & Hawaii), not just the West Coast states they currently serve. Even better, they will have coverage for transporting your tiny home and the unique solutions.

Coverages that will soon be available: moving Tiny Homes on wheels, full-time residents, self-built, construction type, tiny home rentals, AirBnB, and other alternative structures.

Archambault Insurance, CT, used by Runaway Shanty Tiny House.

Insurance Resource Center,Neil Gritz, Fairfield, IA, used by Aleks Lisefski.

Foremost Insurance (related to State Farm Insurance), only rumored to be able to insure tiny houses since they cover mobile homes, boats, etc.

 

Where there’s a will, there is always a way. Don’t let a gap in insurance discourage you to build tiny. BIG things are happening!

Tiny Investments are a BIG Payoff

The idea of living simpler has inspired homeowners and homebuyers of BIG houses to evaluate their quality of life and desires. As appealing as it is though, getting involved in the Tiny House movement may seem unattainable, or dare we say, “unrealistic”.

“Have you ever heard of Tiny Houses?”

 “Oh! The ones that are like 1000 sq ft. I could never do that! “

“Actually, most are under 200 sq ft.”

“What!! That’s crazy!” 

…………………………………..Sound familiar?

 No doubt, downsizing to those parameters barely seems possible. Entertain these thoughts though; What if letting go of a lifetime of possessions could be replaced with liberation? What if your partner, who doesn’t have the same tiny dream, could find a reason to accept yours? What if you owned your home and your home didn’t own you!

Well, with some creativity, those inhibitions can be swayed! No matter what your situation is, there IS a way to get involved in the tiny house movement, increase your income, and ultimately, get closer to living debt-free.

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Income property. For the person who loves the idea of tiny houses, but not actually living in one; they, too, can still reap the financial rewards. There are three options;

     1.   Backyard Rental. Generate steady income year round by renting it out to long term  tenants, in laws, or college students home for the summer.

  1. Bed & Breakfast/Hotel . Many Tiny Homeowners, like Nashville’s Music City Tiny House, use Airbnb.com to rent their Tiny Homes day by day.If a Tiny House is rented out daily for $100, that’s about $3,000/month.The best part is you can choose to rent it out as little or as much as you want. This is a win-win because budget travelers are looking for a local pit stop and Tiny House enthusiasts are looking for a trial run of the Tiny lifestyle. See some Incredible Tiny Houses available on Airbnb to get some ideas! download (2)

  2. Apartment To-Go. OK, so you don’t have much of a backyard, not even for a 16 foot trailer.  Rent it to a trustworthy tenant who will care for it on their own property or an RV park/campground. To avoid any problems, do a background check and install a GPS locator on the trailer just in case.

 

Temporary Housing. With such an unpredictable economy and all the foreclosure signs lining the sidewalks lately , its no question why homebuyers would be disromanticized and homeowners would find a way to payoff their mortgage ASAP. There are two options for these folks:

       1. Live in a Tiny Home temporarily as you build the BIG home of your dreams debt free. Ever hear of the Berzins family? They moved their family of four into a Tiny Home so they could save for their pay-as-they-build, “right-sized” home.

  1. The Berzin's Tiny Home (left) and BIG home (right)

    The Berzin’s Tiny Home (left) and BIG home (right)

  2. Rent out your BIG home while you live on premises in the Tiny House. Whether it’s avoiding foreclosure or doubling up on mortgage payments, simply enjoy someone else paying your mortgage with the outcome of owning a home.

 

Backyard Office. Tax write off! Work from home and use your return toward your mortgage.

1.  Working from home, but not AT home is a way to keep family life and career separate. Not to mention, less gas,wear and tear on your vehicle , and no traffic.

2. Be a traveling merchant. Use it as a concession stand for coffee and baked goods, sell roadside art,flowers,or antiques, or offer services like a mobile hair and nail salon.The possibilities are endless to earn an income with a Tiny House.

 

Home Sweet Home. Live in your dream tiny house full time.

  1. With a roof over your head and no mortgage bill in your mailbox (or P.O Box, for that matter) , take pleasure in knowing you won’t have to lug around that ball and chain for 15 or 30 years. Have more energy to enjoy your family and more time and money for experiences.

Whether you are current homeowners or looking to buy a home; hosting a tiny house can be an opportunity to get a BIG payoff for only a tiny investment.

THB-Banners-s-2With debt-free living within reach, it makes sense to ask questions. Tiny Home Builders understands the unique needs of every customer and offers quality customer service.

For a free consultation or to inquire about plans,trailers, and guides found on our website,please email us at support@tinyhomebuilders.com. For updates and special promotions, LIKE Tiny Home Builders on Facebook!

Saruse Family Tiny Home

Welcome to the Saruse Family’s Tiny House! Although tiny, it is filled with a lot of love; Johannah, her husband,Caleb, their four year old daughter,Carli, and two labs.

The Saruse Family

The Saruse Family

I had met Johannah about a year ago,through the “Dreaming of Living In a Tiny Home…” Facebook page, where she would occasionally post her journey of downsizing and the build. If it’s any indication of how appealing Tiny Houses have become; at the time,the Facebook page was under 50 members.Now,it’s already at 7,752! Johannah is one of the first to go from “Dreaming of Living in a Tiny House…” to actually living the dream! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Johannah.

Before the BIG Move

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What was life like before the move?

We had a 3 bedroom, 2100 sq ft house in a nice neighborhood with almost an acre lot. We had lots of upgrades and did lots of remodeling. It was perfect until…see next question :)

 

What inspired you to try living with less?

I came across the book “You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)” and its all about living with less, minimalism, and downsizing. It mentioned Dee Williams and her tiny house and of course I didn’t believe it was possible to live in something so small so I had to google it. The book was great, I was intrigued by all of the minimalist ideas and in love with tiny houses by the time I was done. I started cleaning out our house and getting rid of the excess immediately, my husband panicked and didn’t want to leave the house for fear of what I would get rid of next! I cleaned out the clutter and organized room by room. Then we decided to see if we could live in less square footage so we sold off the extra furniture emptied the bonus room and closed it off, then the spare bedroom, then the breakfast room. Somewhere in the process we attended a tiny house workshop and decided we would build one. We ordered a trailer thinking we would build a tiny house just as a fun project – either travel in it or sell it for extra income. After lots of begging and pleading and making my case, I finally convinced my husband we could do this, we could really live in a tiny house.

What other tiny homes inspired you?

I’m not sure that any one tiny house inspired me to build one (even though they are just ALL adorable). I built one because the ideals inspired me…Minimalism, Freedom, Flexibility, Being Debt-Free, More Time with my Family, etc

 

What were your fears going into this lifestyle?

Without a doubt my #1 fear was the composting toilet. #2 was have we lost our minds. #3 How do our two large dogs fit into the picture? We really didn’t have many fears, we knew going in that at any time this situation is reversible. We can always sell the tiny house and rent or buy a traditional house if we are miserable.

 

 

Building the Tiny House

What kind of trailer did you use?

We bought two 20 ft trailers from Tiny Home Builders, one for us and one for my dad who is in the process of building his. I don’t remember the exact name for it but we have the lower trailer that gave us the extra few inches in the interior. We also ended up extending it 2 ft making it 22 ft long. Because our original intention was not to live in it ourselves, we thought 20 ft was plenty.

 

 

Tiny Home specs?

We maxed out everything, width and height and weight.
How long did it take to build? We started on Mother’s Day and moved in the first week of December so almost 7 months. We primarily worked only on the weekends.
How much did it really cost to build?

We stayed under $20K and there were lots of things we chose to splurge for and spend extra on so a tiny house could easily be built for less.
What was DIY and what did you leave to the pros?

We did everything ourselves.
Did you salvage materials or use all new? What would you recommend buying new?

We came across the doors at habitat for humanity but really we bought everything new. It was just easier to us.
What were your MUST HAVES?

Separate bedrooms with doors (and enough room for our king size bed), mini split heat and air system, full size appliances in the kitchen with plenty of counter space and of course the big screen TV.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change the second time around?

We would have definitely started with the 24ft trailer it was a huge project to extend 2ft and those extra 2ft would have given us a little extra space in the bathroom or living room. We don’t think the sink in the bathroom is necessary you are so close to the kitchen sink so this space could have been used for something else. We didn’t put a fan/vent over the oven and the house is so insulated it holds all of the heat in, even in the middle of winter by the time dinner was on the table (aka tv trays lol) we felt like we were in a sauna. I do miss my disposal, this is such a little thing but I’d love to have this item back.

First wall up!

First wall up!

 

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Tiny House Living

How has life improved for your family?

We have so much more free time because we don’t have a huge house or yard to maintain/repair or clean. We just went on a week long cruise vacation and by day 5 my daughter said “I miss my tiny house.” We are living in close quarters but having so much fun and enjoying it. We spend lots more quality time as a family and do many more family activities. We have really gotten a lot closer the last few months. Especially with the winter behind us we are spending lots more time enjoying the outdoors than we have in the past.

What is the biggest challenge?

Climbing the ladder to the loft after leg day at the gym :P But seriously, while that is a true story the biggest challenge is the dogs. They get in our way and we have to step over them all the time. They don’t have much space so we have to be sure to let them out often and walk them A LOT.

What are you most proud of?

I’m very proud that we did this all ourselves…from design to the finished product. We literally have people betting on how long we will last in the tiny house so I’m very proud to be proving them all wrong. We haven’t been this happy in a long time and we have no plans of moving out anytime in the near future.

Any Advice to future tiny housers?

Spend a lot of time on design and really think through how you use your house. We had to come up with new systems for everything. You really can’t be dirty or unorganized in a tiny house or your house will feel extra tiny. For example, we have to immediately fold laundry and put it away or we can’t sit on the couch. I think people overlook things like where will I put my dirty clothes or fold my dirty clothes, where will I put dishes while they dry since I don’t have a dishwasher. When you think about how much stuff you have did you really think about everything? What about the cleaning supplies or extra toilet paper? You still need those, not in the same quantities but you still need them. We rarely eat out and mostly cook at home, in our original plan we didn’t have a pantry. It was something we just forgot to think about. At the last second during the build, we tweaked our plans and added one. I am so thankful we did, I can’t imagine what we would do without that pantry.

What is in your Tiny house’s future?

Temporarily we are in an RV Park, we are planning to relocate to a new city or even state soon and buy land to park the tiny house. Probably at some point as our daughter gets older, we may build a bigger house 500-800 sq ft and do it debt free while we live in the tiny house but for now, we are loving the tiny life.

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Let there be light!

Let there be light!

Inaugural Trip to the weigh in station!

Inaugural Trip to the weigh in station!

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