Posts Tagged With: living in the tiny house

A Tiny Step in Our Journey Home (Tiny House Magazine Article)

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.

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Living in our Tiny House near Santa Fe, NM. Next to our parents on their 5 acres of land, the freeway was just north of us and visible from the front deck. The Harleys were the loudest.

In theory, I think tiny homes are the cure for what ails us – a lack of home. Mortgages can feel like indentured servitude and when the economy fluctuates and our income declines we see how fragile our ownership really was. Or decades of rental homes where we can never truly settle into our surroundings, never invest in our environment.

One of my favorite design books, ‘A Pattern Language’, lists home ownership as a mandatory requirement. Pattern 79: Your Own Home – “People cannot be genuinely comfortable and healthy in a house which is not theirs. … Give every household its own home, with space enough for a garden. … In all cases give people the … physical opportunity to modify and repair their own places … each family can build, and change, and add on to their house as they wish.”

pattern language book cover

Pattern 79: Your Own Home from ‘A Pattern Language’

A tiny house is a means to fulfilling this requirement: the need to nest. And without Daddy Warbucks giving us all a house… it’s up to us. Being small, tiny houses are within the financial grasp of most people. You can build one yourself, with the help of a few professionals, for $15,000-$20,000 – or buy one new for $40,000-$50,000. In our area, a normal modest sized house (1,000-1,400sf) would cost around $200,000, not including land. Being mobile, tiny houses allow the freedom to move with work as the economy ebbs and flows.  We’ve moved twice with our Tiny House to find better work.


Moving the house from Prescott to Santa Fe when work slowed to a trickle.

In reality, Tiny Houses fall short in a few necessary categories of home. Be prepared to wrestle your demons when living in a tiny house. I dealt with feelings of poverty, scarcity, instability, claustrophobia, and lack of personal space. At a minimum, a home should provide privacy and a room of one’s own for all occupants, which is nearly impossible in 140-200sf.

To live Tiny or not is perhaps a question of whether home ownership and mobility trumps all other needs in a home. That will be up to each individual resident to discover. I was reluctant to go Tiny and was only convinced after an extensive pros and cons list.

I really disliked living in the Tiny House at times, but looking back, I am so glad we did it. Nothing else could have freed us up financially to take a huge leap forward into independent self-sufficient living. I am starting to see the value of taking a step forward – any step – when life seems stagnant. Sometimes moving in a different direction, even if it doesn’t feel like the right direction, can free up the flow of more possibilities.

Almost a year ago we were finding more work up in Colorado and decided to move again, but this time without the Tiny House. We left it on our parents’ land in Santa Fe and went up to Colorado where we rented a house – a large cathedral-like space that made us miss our low ceilings and tiny space that was so easy to keep warm. The ceilings were actually as high as our Tiny House is long: 24’-0. We burned 4 cords of wood in one winter.

In March of 2014 we found a piece of land in Colorado and started building our own house, 1,000 SF with designs for the Tiny House to function as a guest house, enabling us to keep the house small and within our budget. We’ve been working on our main house on the weekends and are finishing out the interior with hopes to be finished by Christmas.

In October 2014 we moved out of the rental and back into the tiny house again, next to our new house. And this time it feels fine – great even – cozy but not cramped – stylish and truly ours. By living in the Tiny House we’re saving $1200 a month that we would have paid for rent and utilities at the rental house.

Clothesline Tiny House interior.

Clothesline Tiny House interior.

Setting up the Tiny House again.

The south side of our new house and the tiny house entry.

The south side of our new house and the tiny house entry.

Living in the Tiny House on our land in Colorado while we finish building our house.

So what’s different this time around? Have I changed? Have I transcended into some higher level of minimalist contented enlightenment? I’d like to think so! But honestly, it’s probably because:

  1. We are on our own land. Privacy is always important to feel at home but when your house is tiny it’s crucial to have privacy outside. Privacy could be found in a friend’s backyard alley lot, surrounded by garden walls; it doesn’t have to be big, you just need to feel sheltered; observing the world around you from the safety of your own nook.
  2. We have an office set up in our house next door. I think a lot of my struggle with living tiny could have been alleviated by going to work at an office (preferably Google, where they have great food, slides, and napping pods). It feels so good to go to work next door and I’m glad to go home to the tiny house after a productive work day.
  3. We have a flushing toilet now! I was initially a huge proponent of an alternative toilet in our tiny house – Shane wanted to install an RV toilet with a blackwater tank that we would empty periodically. That sounded disgusting to me. But burning poop?! Bring it on! Our first toilet was an Incinolet, and maybe the problems stemmed from its secondhand acquisition… but I cannot imagine burning fecal matter ever smelling tolerable. It did not. Next, after a brief foray into cat litter, we used a low-tech sawdust bucket toilet (outside) and that worked fine, better than the incinerator, though we used a trash can full of sawdust every month and had to discard the bags of waste at the dump, which is unsanitary at best, possibly illegal. Now the tiny house is connected directly to our septic system. Happy, sanitary flushing. I have so much respect and appreciation for modern sewer systems. And with a septic system the flushed water is returned to the ground it came from.
Flushing toilet in the tiny house - hooked up to our main plumbing and septic system.

Flushing toilet in the tiny house – hooked up to our main plumbing and septic system.

The new flushing toilet installed in our Tiny House bathroom.

There are many ways to achieve financial independence and find a home of one’s own. The definition of home is different for everyone. A Tiny House was a key step in our journey home. And because Tiny Homes are mobile, who knows, maybe we’ll hitch up again someday.

(originally published in Tiny House Magazine Issue 23)

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Publicity | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tiny House in Place on Our New Land

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!)

The front entry courtyard with the tiny house in place.

The front entry courtyard with the tiny house in place.

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 south side of our new house and the tiny house entry.

The south side of our new house and the tiny house entry.

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.

Really amazing views from inside the tiny house.

Really amazing views from inside the tiny house.

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.

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 6 Comments

One Year Living in our Tiny House! Year in Review.

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:

Driving our Tiny House to our new home.

Driving our Tiny House to our new home.

Setting up the house at our rented site in a neighborhood in Prescott, AZ where we lived from mid May to mid August, 2012:

Neighbor's kid checking it out.

Neighbor’s kid checking it out.

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!


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Categories: Living In the Tiny House | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Winter in our Tiny House – Big Snow!

Winter in our Tiny House

Winter in our Tiny House

Hooray, I think I am finally going to be able to post these photos!  For some reason wordpress kept deleting my totally awesome blog that I was writing with photos of our house in our first blizzard this past Sunday.  Grrr.  Technology.  Sorry for that blank blog post that went out.

Anyway, it snowed!  Quickly and coldly…  5″ or so in an evening and down in the single digits at night.  We stayed quite cozy inside with our propane heater / fireplace and our plants even survived out in the cold frame.  Amazing.

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

Winterizing the Tiny House and Other Outdoor Improvements

Hello everyone!  We spent this past weekend winterizing our Tiny House in reaction to the really cold weather we’ve been having here in Santa Fe.  In the 20’s at night…. Brrr!  Now it’s back up into the 70’s, which is nice, but we still needed to get set up for winter, which is different in a tiny house.

  1. Hook up our propane Newport heater
  2. Insulate our graywater tank and hose located under the trailer
  3. Install wind-block and insulation skirting under the trailer foundation
  4. fix the heat tape at our water supply hose (we had used some heat tape we found from an old trailer but turns out it didn’t work – we found this out when our water froze!)

Our propane heater:

we already had propane plumbed near the heater but we just needed to hook up the connection line with a shut off valve.

Newport propane heater provides a cozy fireplace effect.

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Tiny Vignettes and a New Page!

Hello everyone!

So.  We got iPhones.  I know, I know, I am a technology phobe and resisted getting a “smart” phone for so long, but at last, I’ve made the plunge.  And I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I LOVE it!  Like way more than anyone should love a … phone.  Haha!  It is so compact and beautifully designed and simple to use.  Anyway, I have a new app and wanted to share some tiny vignettes of this morning with you.  Now I can turn all of my photos into 1970’s house-fire survivors too!!

the view from the bedroom.

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House | Tags: | 2 Comments

House Tour and Interview on CNN’s Headline News!


Check out a tour of our tiny house on HLN / CNN’s Headline News!


(sorry I can’t embed the video directly, but if you click the link above it will take you to the video tour and article)

they also wrote an article about the mortgage crisis and Tiny House living: click here.

Shane was live (via phone…) on the show “Making It In America” today at 4pm ET and I’ll share the link with you when HLN posts it on their website.

Also, we watched a really great movie last night: Surviving Progress.  (with appearances from Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood, and No Impact Man.)  It really encouraged us that we ARE on the right path with living differently, living simply, and living smaller.  Props to everyone else who is trying to make a change and treat our home planet with care and respect.  It’s not easy to change the way we are used to living, but it is paramount that we all do so.

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Publicity | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Clothesline Tiny Homes Featured on CNN

Almost two months ago I participated in a CNN “iReport” about tiny living.  Today, the full article came out featuring all of the contributors’ stories.  So inspirational to read about all the people embracing smaller living.  And so invigorating to see myself quoted in an article for CNN!

Tiny Homes hit the big city –

Read the full article here on CNN.  I’m quoted at the end of the story, along with several others in the tiny house community.

If you scroll through the photos at the top you can read the whole story we wrote about Clothesline Tiny Homes for CNN.  Or click here.

I also really enjoyed Andrew Odom’s report about Tiny r(E)volution.  You can find that by scrolling through the photos at the top of the main story, or click here for a direct link.

happy Friday!

– Carrie

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Publicity | Tags: , | 3 Comments

The Downsizing Discussion

I read a really great post this morning by Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens and I wanted to re-post it for you all to read.  She discusses her and her husband’s journey toward downsizing and I was surprised to find out that it was actually her husband that pushed for living in a smaller house….and she was initially very resistant to the idea!

Here’s the article:  How to Negotiate Downsizing – On Becoming Minimalist

My story is similar:  Shane and I were living in a two bedroom house that we were renting – paying about $1,200 a month after utilities (which is relatively cheap in the housing world).  We were spending way too  much of our income on mere shelter and kept hitting a wall when we talked about our dream of building our own house on some land.  (and raising chickens etc.)  How were we ever going to save enough money to buy some land outright and build a house?  Given the unlikelihood of winning the lottery, and our failure to win big at the slot machines, it was not going to be possible if we were spending all of our income on our current shelter.

When Shane suggested living in a Tiny House I instantly bristled – “how many square feet is it?  so it’s the size of some people’s closets?  where will I do yoga?  where will I work on my projects?  where will I put all of my furniture?  how will we get enough space so we don’t fight all the time!?”  And finally… “NOOOOOOOO!”

After I realized Shane was NOT letting go of this idea, I spent about a week researching tiny houses, minimalism, and voluntary downsizing.  I found so many people (including Rowdy Kittens) who have found great happiness in paring down their belongings and getting back to a basic form of shelter.

I was inspired to try something different and get back to basics.

Wishing you all great courage to follow your dreams…

– Carrie

Categories: Living In the Tiny House | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Tiny Hospitality, Podcasts, and Tiny House Furniture: a Swiveling Table

hello everyone!

well, it’s been three weeks of living in Santa Fe now, and we are loving it!  it’s great to have the house out on some land that provides some long views from the interior and a lot of exterior spaciousness.

Recent happs:

  • Shane spoke on Tiny r(E)volution’s podcast about Tiny Living yesterday… you can listen to the podcast by clicking this link.
  • My brother and his family visited us over the long weekend so we got to try out “Tiny Hospitality”…
  • And a recent addition to our tiny house was a swiveling table…

Swivel table in the living room.

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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