By Carrie Caverly. October 30, 2014 (an article I wrote for Tiny House Magazine…) When we built our Tiny House in 2012 we wanted it to be temporary – a stepping stone toward owning our own self-sufficient home, mortgage free. And even though I struggled with living in 200 SF for a year and a half, I feel so much gratitude for our tiny house because (two years later) it actually did enable us to buy land and start building a modest home of our own, without borrowing money. Our first rental lot in Prescott, AZ. Set up for an RV, this site was tucked into a residential neighborhood and I cropped them out of this photo, but there are neighbors 50 feet away on both sides.
Living In the Tiny House
We’re back in the Tiny House after 10 months of renting a big house. It feels really good- small, sure- but good. Cozy, clean, bright and light.
I might be over personifying an animal, but I think Rio is totally BUMMED to be back in the tiny house! haha. He doesn’t have any carpets to roll around and play on. Sorry buddy, you’re at the bottom of this totem pole. Maybe if you learned how to hang sheetrock??
Friday we placed a concrete pad for the Tiny House on our new land and this week we moved the house onto it’s new slab. The tiny house will be used as a guest house and is now connected to sewer (flushing toilet! hooray!)
We obscured the view of the gooseneck hitch with a dry-stacked CMU wall that can be disassembled when we want to move the tiny house. Shane will add a little shed roof over this masonry wall and it will be outdoor storage area and there will be a wall connecting the main house to this masonry wall.
The tiny house is an integral part of our new house design – we were able to make our new house smaller (only 1 BR 1 BA) because the tiny house will serve as a Guest House. It also blocks wind and creates an outdoor courtyard shielded from the adjacent road to the west.
In the photo above you can also see our hot water solar panels in place! These will heat our domestic hot water and radiant floors.
We ended up orienting the Tiny House with it’s entry facing away from the main house entry because the views were better from inside the tiny house – we wanted the full height windows in the Tiny House living room to look at the mountains to the east, not the road to the west. It’s more private inside the tiny house this way.
The tiny house is connected to water, sewer, and electric and we’ll be moving into it at the end of September while we finish the inside of our main house.
We moved our tiny house up to our land in Colorado!
It’s going to be the sweetest guest house! except no guests yet, because we’ll be living in it!
starting October 1st we will be living in the tiny house again full time while we finish building our house. We’re both excited to be back in the tiny house, though I’m sure it will be an adjustment after being in a large house for 10 months… Rio’s really stressing. haha.
We will finish out the office and the utility room in the main house prior to moving into the tiny house so we’ll have work space and laundry, as well as the pump needed to get running water out of the well.
check out the progress we’ve made on our main house! stucco is done, rough plumbing and electrical are done so we can get it spray foamed in a week… living in the tiny house again will allow us to save about $1,100 a month that we would be paying in rent and heat at a rental house. we’ll put that into our main house that we’re building out of pocket.
Well… I feel a little sheepish about not writing for so long! But. It is my blog. ;)
Actually though, I feel more sheepish because we moved out of the tiny house in December… and I am just now posting about it! Yes. That’s right. We no longer live in our tiny house. What happened? Well, ultimately, the Tiny House was just not meeting our needs.
We still have it, and will be using it as a guest house on our new property. But it was just too small! Both Shane and I agreed that we could live in a tiny house ALONE no problem. Haha? We lived in it full time from May 2012 through November 2013 – 18 months – a year and a half. I’d say we gave it a good run.
We’re now renting a full size home with 24′-0″ high ceilings! We could literally stand our tiny house on end in the living room of this new house. Heating this big house does indeed suck and cost a lot, but it’s worth it. And… we’ve purchased a piece of land and are in the process of designing our own home that we’re going to build ourselves debt-free. We’re trying to keep it under 1,000 SF, which is surprisingly difficult!
I am very grateful for the opportunity we had to design, build and live full-time in our own tiny home. It was an excellent design experiment on what is truly necessary in a home and how much space feels right.
Here are my observations on the Pros and Cons of Tiny Living:
CONS of TINY HOUSE LIVING:
- No home office space. We both work for ourselves (a builder and a designer) and need space for filing, accounting, bidding, designing, planning, and creating.
- No personal space. When a couple gets married they are still two individual humans with individual needs. The book, A Pattern Language, writes that a house for a couple needs separate spaces for each individual (pattern 77). A Tiny House just doesn’t provide this on it’s own. Perhaps with a shop and a studio we could have made it work. Perhaps our own train? With 3-4 cars…
- Not enough storage space – for everyday items or for bulk storage. Getting things out and putting them away was a complex puzzle. We were always losing stuff, believe it or not. Too tucked away maybe?
- Hitting elbows on walls… Hitting elbows on each other… tripping over the dog… Claustrophobic.
- No room for yoga… or just stretching out on the floor… playing with the dog. I’ve spent a lot of time laying out on the living room rug in our new rental house… feels so spacious!
- Really hot in the summer. Mobile Tiny Houses cannot have large roof overhangs, allowing for too much solar gain in the summer.
- Small Kitchen = we started eating a lot of Trader Joe’s frozen dinners that only required one pan to cook. Ugh. Not healthy.
- No privacy.
- Toilets… I’ve written about tiny house toilet woes and options a lot… and decided that flushing toilets are the nectar of the gods. We’re going to be adding a flush RV toilet connected to a septic system.
- No bathtub.
PROS of TINY HOUSE LIVING:
- You’re always close to a window when you’re inside = intimate connection to the outdoors.
- Very cozy in the winter – easy to warm up and keep warm.
- Affordable to build – you can own your own home! Freedom from a mortgage!
- Mobile. Great if you’re not sure where you want to live.
- Very cheap to live in. We paid $300 – $400 a month rent for land + maybe $40 a month for propane and electricity. Easy to save up money for… a bigger house.
- Very efficient to clean. And very efficient to communicate with others in the house – no intercom system required!
- Easy to renovate – you own it and it’s inexpensive to make changes.
- Small environmental footprint.
- Great conversation starter! You live in a what? How big?? Oh wow.
- Fosters community. Claustrophobia will drive you out into public where you can sprawl out on the floors of cafes and coffee shops. Also, you’ll develop a … memorable relationship with your neighbors when you fire up that incinerating toilet.
I decided that a tiny house could work for one (or two extroverted people) who work full time outside of the home in their own private offices, eat hot pockets for dinner, and whose only hobbies involve reading books on a Kindle or watching YouTube videos on their laptop computer…
Thanks for following along on our incredible journey – the people we’ve met through this blog have made it quite enjoyable.
Can you believe we’ve been living in our tiny house for a year already?! I went back and read the blog I wrote a year ago about moving our tiny house to our site, (you should read it too!) what a day that was! In the morning we had a news interview with ABC15 Phoenix, then we hauled the house from our rented shop space in Prescott Valley to our new rented home site in Prescott, AZ.
Here’s a little year in review: (translation: get yourself a cup of coffee and a comfy chair and settle in for the longest post ever!)
Each section below has links back to the original blog posts so you can review our year with us!
May 16, 2012: Hauling the newly completed Tiny House from our shop in Prescott Valley:
Setting up the house at our rented site in a neighborhood in Prescott, AZ where we lived from mid May to mid August, 2012:
The tiny house was like the pied piper the way it drew the neighborhood children… I think they thought it was a little playhouse for them! Nope. Ha!
wow, another story about us living in a tiny house and our website is going crazy! almost 8,000 hits today.
this one was on “Mail Online” a UK online news website. a really great story they wrote, click the photo below to read the story.
And I really need to do a post about progress on our current tiny house project underway, the Beehive Mobile Mini Mart. Soon! We’re just so busy working on it, I haven’t had time to blog.
The NY Daily News wrote a really nice article about us living in our tiny house. Click the photo to read the article…
And… we’ve had over 200,000 hits on our website! We created the website a little over a year ago, so I guess there is a lot of interest in living tiny. We’ve been working on the Beehive tiny house and I’ll do an update soon. Hope everyone is well!