Tiny House Mistakes

For the past 6 years, I’ve been designing and building tiny homes. In that time, I’ve seen EVERYTHING there is when it comes to people making the decision to go tiny. And I’ve noticed a lot of people making the same few mistakes over and over again, even though they are easily avoidable if you know what to look for. I see these same mistakes in my clients, at my live workshops, and when I consult with people. I want to educate you so that you can avoid this mistakes and be as prepared for your tiny house build and tiny living as possible.

Mistake #1: They think that if they’re having their tiny house built for them, they don’t need to know how it all works behind the scenes.

This is a big one. Many people decide to have someone else (a professional builder like me) build their tiny home because they don’t want to learn how to do it themselves. If this is your situation, you may not have the time, the bandwidth, or the inclination to build your own home. And that’s fine! That’s why we’re here to build tiny homes for you!

But – the entire design and build process is much much smoother when the client knows what the foundations of building a tiny home are. It can save a lot of time and money, when the client comes into the process with a base knowledge of how the tiny house is put together. You don’t have to know exactly how to build your own house, but being INFORMED about how things are built in a basic way can really make your entire experience so much better.

The other thing we see, unfortunately, is people get taken advantage of by dishonest and unqualified builders because they themselves didn’t know what to look for in a quality tiny house build, and by the time they realize what’s happened it’s too late. In order to have the best experience with a tiny house builder, it’s really important to have a basic understanding of how the tiny house works and what goes into building it.

That’s why something like our Virtual Tiny House Workshop is so perfect for future tiny home dwellers, whether they are building it themselves or hiring a builder to work with. You’ll learn all of the building basics, what to look for in plumbing (so that you can make INFORMED decisions about what materials and systems you want to be used in your house), and how to spot any problems.

You don’t want to get into a situation where your builder is using materials or things in your house that aren’t the right solution, but you didn’t know any better so you couldn’t give them your input.

Mistake #2: You approach your builder or a project with no clear design or starting point, making the process more expensive and time consuming.

Here’s another big mistake we see people make when they ask us about building a tiny home. When you approach your builder with no clear design outline, it can make the process more time consuming, and thus more expensive.

People who start the tiny house process without their design mapped out end up getting stalled in the design process – they don’t have a good foundation, so we end up going back and forth about design decisions. On a custom design, this can really add up in both time and money.

Although I have seen people successfully “build without plans”, the most successful tiny house builds have a good design foundation. You don’t have to have a degree in design (like Mariah does) in order to understand the basics – and it can end up saving you down the line.

We teach all of the tiny house design fundamentals in the Virtual Tiny House Workshop, and many people say it’s their favorite part of the whole workshop!

One of the issues we see is someone doesn’t have a good understanding of design principles, so they lay out their tiny home based on “something they saw online”, but not something that fits THEIR lifestyle and THEIR unique habits. Then a few months later, after spending thousands of dollars and many months or years on their tiny house build, they move out after a month or two or try to sell it because they realize the designs that worked for “someone” weren’t going to work for them.

This mistake can be easily avoided. You just need a few lessons and examples about how to design a tiny house FOR YOUR NEEDS and the principles of design as they apply to tiny homes. Again, you don’t need to go to school for it like Mariah, but she can teach you all of the most important things you need to know so that you don’t end up in one of these situations!

Mistake #3: You think that by the time your tiny house is built, you’ll be magically ready to make the transition.

Some people approach tiny living in a backwards way, and I see this again and again. People are ready to get started on their tiny house, they feel excited and gung-ho and ready to go! But they put the cart before the horse and don’t properly prepare for how long it can take to downsize your stuff and make this transition. Of course, we have seen people in extreme situations get rid of all of their stuff in two weeks, but that’s usually out of necessity or timing, not by choice.

In reality, downsizing into a tiny home is a process that takes time. And I wish more people would start the process as soon as possible, so that when the time comes to move in to their tiny home, they are truly ready. If you don’t start this process now, you won’t magically be ready to go tiny when your house is built. If you’re ready to start thinking about your tiny house journey, it’s time to learn the foundations. You should have a basic understanding of building, design, and downsizing – even if your tiny house is in the future and not happening right away. So many of these mistakes can be avoided by a little fundamentals, and that’s why we put together the Virtual Tiny House Workshop.

Whether you’re a few years away, hiring a builder, or ready to get down to business and build your own off-grid home on your own, the Virtual Tiny House Workshop provides lessons and demos on everything from choosing a trailer, to plumbing and electric, to composting toilets and solar power. We also have in-depth lessons on design and downsizing – two really important first steps you need to take!

We hope to see you this weekend at the virtual tiny house workshop!
The workshop takes place December 12th and 13th from 12 pm Eastern to 4 pm Eastern both days, but you can watch it at your leisure as you will have lifetime access :)

Dan (and Mariah)

Tiny Home Builders Workshop Review

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

Workshop – May 2014

We just wrapped up our latest workshop in Georgia. It was a sold out event and as usual we had a great group of people which makes for a great time. I’ve said it before, but hanging out with so many like minded people is awesome!

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We hosted this workshop on a local scenic farm, which had a pretty great view if anyone got tired of looking at me :)

We’re planning on having all future Georgia workshops at this location.

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There’s also room for camping for those who are into that. Many of the campers ended up staying up late hanging out around the fire and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. I on the other hand went home and passed out! Talking all day takes it out of you :)

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This time we had two tiny houses and a tiny house trailer to view (and sleep in for 2)!

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Here’s Laura and Matt from 120squarefeet.com giving their presentation. We’ve had them out for a few of our workshops and we always get good feedback. I like their story.

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One of the attendees, Chris, made the mistake of mentioning it was his birthday. So of course we got a cake and all sang Happy Birthday at lunch :) Chris was also super helpful throughout the workshop.

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Here’s Amy using a nail gun for the first time. She’s already got one of our trailers and is starting construction this summer. I expect we’ll be keeping in touch.

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Brian, who bought a trailer from us and attended the workshop was kind enough to bring it with him. It proved to be a great visual aid.

We’ve scheduled our next workshop for September 6-7. Get more details at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-workshops/Atlanta-September-6-7-2014

I hope to see you there!

Highland Lake Cove

Our last workshop, held back in October, was at a place called Highland Lake Cove located in Flat Rock North Carolina just south of Asheville. A local from the area had turned me on to the place and when I went to check it out I was really impressed. Not only because of how pretty it was but also because of the progress they are making towards having a tiny house community (one of the first that I know of on the east coast). On my last day there, as I was headed out, I recorded some video of the area and have been meaning to make it available for months now. Well, we have a new workshop coming up and I promised myself I wouldn’t let it go past then. So today I finally took the time to put it together and get it out there. So check it out :)

PS. I was so impressed that I feel like the video comes off like it’s an advertisement, but I promise I wasn’t paid anything for it.

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: https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-workshops/Atlanta

Dan

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/