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From Large to Little: My Tiny House Saga

Our night in the tiny house!1

It was a cold, windy New Years evening. Logan and I were wrapped up in the covers; he was surfing the internet and I was reading a book. It was a perfect and cozy night to be at home.

Suddenly, Logan looked over at me and said: “Tammy, you’ve got to see this!”

“Dude. I’m reading. Is it that important?”

“Yes! You’re going to love this little video.”

Logan was right. The video featured Dee Williams and her little house. The house was adorable. It looked like a miniature Victorian or Carpenter Gothic home on wheels.

I looked at Logan and said: “I want one of those homes! They are so cute. And think of all the money we’d save. We could pay for the house up front. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about paying rent anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. And maybe, just maybe we could park the little house in someone’s backyard.”

My mind started racing while thinking of all the possibilities this tiny living idea presented. Logan had no idea he’d unleashed a monster. For the next few months all I could talk about were tiny homes, decluttering, and how we could finance a little house.

The idea of buying a tiny house was appealing. So, I started doing research on little homes and was shocked by some of the statistics I stumbled across. For instance:

  • In 1950 the average American home was 983 square feet. By 2004, the average American home swelled to 2,349 square feet; that’s about a 140% increase in size.
  • Garages account for over 15% of the size of the average house.
  • Appliances, both large and small, account for as much as 10 percent of the increase in house size since 1948.
  • A majority of North American homes have refrigerators that are twice the size of European models. And a typical refrigerator uses as much energy as leaving six small television sets on for 10-12 hours a day.

While I was doing my research, I discovered that there are many benefits to living in a smaller dwelling. On average little homes cost more per square foot, but that’s typically because they are made with higher quality materials. Plus, you don’t have to spend so much time on home maintenance or cleaning. 🙂

At this point, we had just moved into a large one-bedroom apartment. We loved the new place, but we still had a lot of stuff. And after watching Dee’s video we decided to move to Sacramento into a smaller one-bedroom apartment.

As we slowly downsized our space, we started tracking the types of things we did in our apartment. If you’re thinking of moving into a smaller place, I highly recommend doing the same. Teachers and designers, from Natural Building Movement, created the following exercise to help people figure out where they really live.

Where do you really live?

1. Before you get started, make a list of all the activities that you do at home and things you need in your house. Be as detailed as possible.

2. Over a period of one to two weeks, keep a log of where you go in your house, and what you do there. You might post paper at doorways, and accurately record exactly where you go and how long you spend there, or just take notes from memory, once a day. In larger rooms, be specific about which part of the room you use.

3. Look around your house for spaces that you never inhabit. Imagine what would change if that space magically disappeared.

4. Make another list of “activities and needs,” without reviewing the first list. If you have patience, make a new list one a week for a few weeks.

5. Uncover your first list and compare it with later ones. You may be surprised. More than likely there are probably some areas of your home you don’t use as much as others.

Even if you don’t want to live in a tiny house, you can start living better right where you are. Here are a few ideas: start decluttering, stop buying stuff you don’t need, and consider sharing your home with others. For example, my friend Victoria recently cut her living space in half. She is using her 375 square foot living room as her primary living space and renting out the other two bedrooms in her home!

From Large to Little

I’ve received a lot of emails from readers asking questions like:

“What was the tipping point? How did you go from living so large to living in such a small apartment?”

I think the tipping point was watching Dee’s video. It changed my perspective. Before I watched the video, I was still unsure if we should move into a smaller place and I was still feeling stuck. Dee’s video lead me to a number of resources like the Small House Society, the Tiny House Blog, and Tiny House Design. The stories featured on those sites inspired us to keep chasing our dreams and focus on paying off our debt.

I also have to give credit to my grandparents. They taught me many valuable life lessons. I just wish I had started listening to them sooner.

Micro-actions…

  • Complete the exercise above.
  • Read Little House on a Small Planet. The book contains a wealth of information about living in small spaces and profiles a number of families who live in little homes.
  • Finally check out Dee’s new book: Go House Go! And watch the video that inspired us to go small and think big:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • James Schipper November 10, 2010, 8:50 am

    It’s been a fun journey to watch, Tammy. (I say that to you a lot, don’t I? 😀 )

    • Mike Donghia November 10, 2010, 10:14 am

      Really informative article Tammy! My fiance and I are looking for a house to live in next year when we’re married and I think this post will have a huge impact on the type of house we look for. I’m going to make sure she reads this 🙂

      Take care and have a great week!

  • Peter Ahrens November 10, 2010, 8:52 am

    I really enjoyed the video Tammy. What an unusual way to live, though I am not against it at all. The houses in the subdivision look like enlarged doll houses, with such pristine lawns. I guess it is a different style house to what we see in Australia.

    I would also like to move into a smaller house. At the moment, our house has very high ceilings, with very poor heating and cooling capabilities. I would be very happy to move to a place where there isn’t so much space to clean (or mess up in the first place).

  • Gin November 10, 2010, 8:58 am

    I love tiny houses! When we bought our 1400 sq ft. rowhouse, it felt huge to us. 5 years later, we had managed to fill it with stuff (wedding registries are a real demon – have you ever written about them?). In the last two years we’ve begun to really downsize – there are now empty spaces in many rooms.

    It makes no sense to sell a house just to move to a smaller one in the same neighborhood, but when we do make our move beyond our community, we are definitely looking a much smaller spaces. Maybe a tiny house!

  • Alissa November 10, 2010, 9:03 am

    LOVE this post. I have been a fan of tiny houses for years and find myself repeatedly browsing the web sites for Tumbleweed and Ross Chapin…

  • Lisa @ simplifying the simple life November 10, 2010, 9:11 am

    Great video! Thanks for sharing. We recently moved and cut our square footage in half – and I find myself (just as we are getting settled!) thinking — oh we could TOTALLY go smaller. I think I might have a “right sizing” addiction!

  • Monica November 10, 2010, 9:16 am

    Thanks Tammy! Living in a one bed-room apartment in NYC with my fiance and our dog, I definitely agree with everything you said:) I don’t mind a small space but a yard with some trees would be nice….

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:42 pm

      @Monica – I do miss having a porch. But I try and go outside a lot. We are super close to a large park. So that makes up for not having a yard. 🙂 Are you close to Central Park?

  • jody lee November 10, 2010, 9:26 am

    Great post Tammy. I was also thinking about smaller ling spaces today.

    In preparation for apartment hunting, my partner and I recently did an exercise similar to the one from the Natural Building Movement – and came to the conclusion that we could live without a living room. We could easily use 30% less space than in our current one bedroom apartment – and that’s if every other room stays the same size. I think the solution will be a small dining/living/work room – something flexible.

    Is that your tiny house in the picture? Very cute 🙂

    • Logan November 10, 2010, 10:23 am

      Hi Jody,

      The picture is of us inside the famous Dee Williams house featured in the video. We took one of Dee’s tiny house construction workshops and got a tour of her 89 sq ft home. 🙂

  • Heather November 10, 2010, 9:29 am

    Gah! Right now! Right now! I want this right now! Someday soon, this will happen: A disused lot, close to transit, somewhere in Portland. Buy or rent the land, share space, build or park tiny houses. Plant a garden in the middle. It wouldn’t even be that hard! Let’s do it!

    • Logan November 10, 2010, 10:27 am

      Very true. When we went to visit Dee in Olympia she gave us a tour of a few small structures that she has inspired. We think if a tiny house village will come into existence it will most likely happen in Olympia first. 😉

  • nina November 10, 2010, 9:53 am

    Very interesting…I just recently discovered Earth Ships. Do you have any thoughts on those?

  • Lisa November 10, 2010, 10:23 am

    Great post! My family lives in a small hundred year old “shotgun” house. It’s around 700 sq ft. I love it! I doubt that I’d want to go much smaller but could if necessary.

  • Beverly November 10, 2010, 11:15 am

    I love these tiny homes. My husband, myself and two teen boys are living in a house smaller than the average but I want to go smaller. We have discussed waiting until the boys move out to get a much smaller place. I’m not a very patient person, I want it now!

  • Anna November 10, 2010, 11:19 am

    This is great! I definitely think a lot about how we use our space. We rent right now, which is a good opportunity to really think about what we want in the future. One thing I often wonder is how do people fill up normal sized refrigerators? I have lots of stuff in the freezer and in canning jars on the shelves, but I make most of our food from scratch and can’t for the life of me fill up our fridge. I think this makes it run less efficiently. In the future I plan to have a small fridge but maybe a larger freezer for preserving garden grown veggies.

  • channelingbliss November 10, 2010, 12:21 pm

    Thanks Tammy for re-igniting my passion for tiny homes! My favorites are the Katrina Cottages, and someday I hope to have one of my own, about 500 sq. ft. As it stands right now, I live in a 3-bedroom house, but occupy only about one fifth of it. I have it up for sale, and my next move will be to a studio apartment in a neighborhood where I can walk instead of driving so much. Here’s to making our dreams come true! 🙂
    Laurie in Michigan

  • Pradeep Mohandas November 10, 2010, 12:27 pm

    I and my family – dad, mom, brother and grandma – live together in 414 sq ft of total space in Mumbai. This seems comfortable for all of us. This makes mention of houses of the order of 800 – 3000 sq ft seem like mansions.

    Don’t let size of the house fool you though. We’re middle class families and the structure is excellent and spacious and green!

    A British architect, Laurie Baker has built several smart and green buildings in India and has written about how to determine house sizes for people. Worth checking out. He’s based the yardstick on Gandhi’s ‘enough for the world’s need but not enough for world’s greed’ philosophy.

    Pradeep

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:41 pm

      @Pradeep – sweet! Now that is super cool. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll have to look up Laurie Backer on google. Her designs sound beautiful.

  • Pradeep Mohandas November 10, 2010, 12:32 pm

    Hmm. This got left out in the comment.

    The size of your house in sq ft is not the determinant of a happy house. The number of smiles and your experience in it is.

    Pradeep

    • Lisa Under the Redwoods November 14, 2010, 4:31 am

      My Mom always says “love grows best in small houses”.

  • Anke November 10, 2010, 12:56 pm

    You are me in this post, Tammy. I have wanted a Tumbleweed home for a long time. I have a question for you: what would you have done if you were completely serious about making this lifestyle change and your partner wasn’t in agreement? Your partner still collected “stuff” and had no real interest in minimalizing?

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:39 pm

      @Anke – well I was against downsizing at one time. Personally, I think it’s possible for anyone to change. But change requires a lot of intense self-examination. It’s not always easy. 🙂 Check out this article. It might help. 🙂

      Also, you might want to read Stuff. I’m about half way through the book and it’s fascinating. The authors take an in-depth look at hoarding, consumerism, the meaning of ownership, and why people collect stuff.

  • Anonymous November 10, 2010, 1:08 pm

    I get the same way every time I see a show featuring Tumbleweed Tiny Houses – I mean what more could you need. My goal is to someday shed enough crap so that I can get to that point. Must get husband on board first 😀
    Spending hours cleaning is not a productive use of my time – and with our current place there is so much to clean I get overwhelmed. Maintaining stuff you don’t need is no way to live.

    There is a tiny house nearby which was probably a storage room at one point in the back of a house and it appears that someone has installed a window air conditioner and fancied it up a bit and is now living there. I always get so jealous when I pass by. My husband and son have known for years that that is my goal. Just need to get there.

  • I have to comment on this as refrigerators (or fridges as they are called in the UK is a bit of a hot topic at the mo!) The UK are quickly catching up with the US on the size of them. It is very interesting for me as my overall conclusion is (and feel free to disagree anyone) that the larger the fridge/freezer the more waste rather than vice versa. I love food, I am a foodie and blog about simple food, but my fridge is tiny – it is the equivalent of the size of a small cupboard, and yet it miraculously fits everything I need in it for a week, because I eat nutritiously and simply. I have a freezer also – again the size of a small cupboard which is only half full and I could potentially eliminate altogether if I did not have an addiction to ice-cream – well we all need a little of what we fancy in moderation! :-)). In my opinion the more storage you have the more stuff you have and the more waste you may have long term.

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:34 pm

      @Jo – ohhh so true. I wish we had a tiny refrigerator in our apartment. It’s never full and it runs all the time. Such a waste.

  • Eric November 10, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Damn- %15 is the garage! I love the facts you have listed Tammy all great points!

    I find it amusing (maybe a little disturbing) riding by peoples homes and seeing their garages open. Most can’t even use the garage for their intended purpose because of the massive boxed junk collection and/or expensive toys (motorcycle, ATV, Kids toys).

    Why?

    If that stuff you have packed 5 boxes deep is that important, why is it in the garage? Do you even know what’s in it?

    P.S. Do these tiny houses allow for a 6’5″ guy? I’ll have to find out!

    Keep rockin’ it Tammy!

    Eric

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:33 pm

      Thanks Eric. The garage statistics are disturbing. For more on garages and stuff, check out The S-t-r-e-t-c-h garage. I’m sure you could build a tiny house that would fit a 6’5” guy. 🙂 Email Dee and ask her about designs!

  • Anonymous in California November 10, 2010, 4:22 pm

    We live in a very small house with no electricity — but we do have a toilet and a shower and a sink! Practical concern: where do you wash things, including yourself, and go to the bathroom?

  • Tami (Teacher Goes Back to School) November 10, 2010, 5:02 pm

    we’re in the process of adopting a toddler and everyone keeps saying as soon as our kid arrives we will want to buy a bigger house. there is this persistent belief that kids (and all their stuff) take up so much room that we’ll be driven out of our house by a toddler. {i’ve been reading a lot of frugalbabe’s posts about raising kids without buying into the kid’s NEED all this stuff nonsense}

    currently we live in an 1100 square foot craftsman 2/1 built in 1905 which has at one time housed 8 people (4 adults and 4 kids). i’m not convinced we’ll need to buy more house – if people in the 1950s lived in small houses and raised their families, i’m convinced we can too.

    • Annisia November 16, 2010, 11:34 am

      People say that because it is what they are used to. Kids need tons of toys and stuff…
      It sounds like your house is plenty large enough. If there are limits on what you can fit you make better choices on what to bring in the house. It also give an excuse to not accept things from family. They all seem to go overboard with buying items that are not really needed.
      We live in a 600sf apt in Jersey City(NYC metro). We have one toddler and will have a second child at some point. And my husband works from home as well so we need office space. My son has plenty of toys and stuff. He certainly is not deprived.
      My husband and I are both architects and believe that people typically have much more space than they need and mostly it is because they don’t use the space well. We built furniture that maximizes the space we have so everything can have a place. It may not be typical suburban living but our simple and walkable life works well for us. By the way I do feel like I have a major luxury for NY a backyard – that helps.

      • Gary Jordon November 16, 2010, 7:21 pm

        Annisia you are right if we have a smaller space we will make better choices.

        When I was a little boy. Me and my brother Bill would our mom would tell that is we wanted Santa Claus to come to our our mobile home we need to get rid of toys we didn’t need anymore. So we did. Also we periodically cleaned out our closets of clothe that were not needed anymore. This was kinda hard for me as I stopped growing at about twelve years old. As a result I had by nineteen quite a few shirts. Some of which were only non fitting because of a slight change in the sleeve opening size(where the sleeve meets the torso portion). So things got carried away in my case.

        But as you can see I never felt cramped as a child. I always had more than enough toys and stuff. But my dear mother laid a great foundation for a more frugal way of doing things.

    • Jen November 23, 2010, 4:10 am

      Also, if you live in an area that requires a car (and lets face it, a lot of America does if you aren’t near a city) people will insist that you must buy an enormous car once you have a child. Nonsense! I drive a six year old and a two year old in a Honda Fit and we are fine. People say you need a car to drive around the kids friends too, but that is such a rare situation. In our modern helicopter parenting society, people don’t usually want you to drive their kids anywhere anyway! Somehow, our parents managed to drive kids around without a Cadillac Escalade.

      And as far as needing a big car to be safe on the road, that is a really remote risk and I just try to drive carefully and defensively.

  • Anonymous November 10, 2010, 5:36 pm

    what about toileting? Is there no bathroom, no plumbing for a toilet?

    • Tammy November 12, 2010, 7:12 am

      A lot of tiny homes have a shower and bathroom. Dee has a composting toilet and showers at the gym. Take a look at Tumbleweed Tiny Homes. They have a range of plans with a lot of different options. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

  • ET November 10, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Its hard to find a legal place/build to park a tiny house.
    W/o a real space utility hook ups can be a real problem.

    If your are wanting to do this find someone in your area that has been successful or be prepared to work hard to make it work.

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:44 pm

      @ET – very true. You have to be careful about zoning issue. However, Portland is very accepting of small dwellings. It’s a great place to live if you want to go super small. Ideally, we’d love to build a tiny house this summer. I really hope we can make it happen this year!

  • Amy Jo November 10, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Tammy–

    So nice to meet you today. I look forward to having a chunk of time to read through your archives, and maybe, just maybe, stopping by the yarn shop for another chat!

    Amy Jo

  • Gary Jordon November 10, 2010, 5:41 pm

    You know I lived in a single wide 1971 mobile with my mother until 2003. I don’t remember feeling cramp one bit. I have lived for a couple of years in a camper trailer. Ironically the same vintage as the mobile home. I loved both places. Yeah my mom’s mobile home rooms were small and the closest tiny by modern housing standards. They still managed to be crammed with lots of stuff overall.

    In comparison I currently live in my Aunt Eilleen’s and Uncle Paul’s Mcmansion in order to be close enough to be there for my ailing mother. I don’t really like the huge size. I don’t feel cozy like I did in my mother’s mobile home. Also we had a wonderful fruitless white Mulberry tree which was swell to read under or just lay under. The only really good thing about my aunt’s place is that there cathedral ceiling living room/dining room has nice acoustic to play my Native American flute.

    • Tammy November 10, 2010, 5:46 pm

      @Gary – thanks for sharing your story. It’s cool that your Aunt and Uncle are sharing their space with you. I really liked Victoria’s strategy of renting out a portion of her home. It’s a great way to save money and make new friends. There’s no reason why folks can’t use their current space more effectively. 🙂

      I hope your mom gets better soon. 🙂

      • Anonymous November 10, 2010, 6:36 pm

        Thank for your well wishing. While I agree with the concept of sharing existing space. I miss the smaller more cozier feel. I would love something like a cob or paperadobe house that was big enough to live comfortably and cozily.

  • Majeeda November 10, 2010, 5:44 pm

    You made some really great suggestions there Tammy. I find that a lot of the space we have we don’t actually use; really, we could do without it. I do like where I am living though and would like to find a solution to using that extra space for some other purpose. Thanks for posting about Victoria Vargas. Her idea of getting someone in to share but only sharing the bathroom and kitchen is a good idea. I’m not sure if it would work in my situation, but it’s good ‘out of the box’ thinking anyway and that is the way to go. I love those “little” homes too 🙂

  • Majeeda November 10, 2010, 5:51 pm

    One more thing (something I notice you have mentioned in anther post too) is that we really need to start opening up the way and the possibilities for alternate ways of living. Currently there are so many rules & regulations that it make a lot of ideas impossible. It’s a shame because in many ways we are being forced into a system of living that not only many of us would exit if we could, but also which is not in our best interests in terms of the environment. We actually need to work towards more sustainable, lower impact living and yet so many laws are stopping people with ingenuity in their tracks. I know some of the laws are there for good reason – not suggesting a free for all, but more open mindedness in law making around these issues would be a good thing.

  • Alicia November 10, 2010, 6:04 pm

    I’m wondering how many of your readers have children? I have three children, 6 year old twins and a toddler, and we do alright in our 1600 sq ft, but we have always dreamed of a larger house. We particularly feel cramped after visiting my mother’s spacious 6 bedroom house and having the opportunity to spread out with each person having the opportunity to do things in their own space. We’re committed to staying in our smaller house now that we’ve put solar panels on, but it’s hard to not feel cramped sometimes! It’s also hard to get rid of stuff!

    • Tammy November 12, 2010, 7:14 am

      @Alicia – I highly recommend reading Little House on a Small Planet. They feature a number of families that live in small spaces. One thing that they talked about was the importance of good design and decluttering your living space. 🙂 Best of luck!

  • MJK November 11, 2010, 5:22 am

    I’ve also unleashed my own “tiny house” monster! I can’t remember when I first saw videos on these tiny houses and the tumbleweed home design, but I’ve been voraciously continuing my search online for more and more material on the subject. I think it would be amazing to tow your own tiny house around and park and stay where you want for as long as you want!

    In a small way it has made me regret my home purchase. But I think buying a home right now was the best thing for me. I made sure I stayed within MY budget (not what the bank told me I could afford) and all of my bills are considerably lower than I had anticipated. So right now I am not feeling any sort of pinch financially, and I am happy with that!

    Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and build myself a tiny house, but for now I do know that I want to maintain a smaller scale of living for an extended period of time!

  • Teresa November 11, 2010, 6:23 am

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the book,” Little House on a Small Planet”. Everyone interested in small places should read this book and the pictures are amazing. It will inspire you to get off your tush and start downsizing your stuff. If your family is not on board, just declutter your stuff and it might inspire other family members to do the same.

  • michelle November 11, 2010, 6:32 am

    My partner and I have rIsed our 2 kids in 900 sq feet. We’ve never felt cramped. As much as I love my friends and family, they are constantly trying to convince us that we need more space. I’ve come to realize that most times they feel the need to justify their own life choices. It’s great to prove it can be done and comfortably also. Shockingly nice living with one bathroom and no garage *gasp* 😉

  • peter November 11, 2010, 11:36 am

    I hope you do move forward and walk the talk. You have come very far, and I am one step behind you, and if zoning issues can be resolved, maybe I can leap frog ahead. My alternative no wheels project is a one car garage and no car. Fun to contemplate, appreciate your inspirations. PBH

  • Sheila November 11, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Hi Tammy – My partner Kai & I fell head over heels for the Tumbleweed houses too and I understand your desire to want one right NOW. We finally made the decision to build our own wee house – we just got the trailer and will be starting to build this week. You can follow our progress on our blog http://www.2cycle2gether.com. If you are ever on the East coast, feel free to visit us and check it out! 🙂

    Sheila

    • Logan May 30, 2011, 9:46 am

      Hi Sheila!

      We heard about your site recently through a friend Michael Janzen. Wonderful blog! I’m busy watching all of your videos and reading all of your awesome content! Good luck on your bike tour starting soon! We may have to take you up on that invitation one day! We’ve been kicking around the idea of pairing a bike touring adventure with a visit of tiny houses in the USA. 🙂

      Cheers! Logan.

  • Amy November 11, 2010, 2:38 pm

    It would be really cool if you did a story contrasting the positive and negatives between owning say a tiny house, a trailer, and an RV. Why did you personally decide to choose a tiny house over a really nice RV, Tammy?

  • Anke November 11, 2010, 7:10 pm

    Oooh!! Good question, Amy, as I have considered an RV as well, and one that you can actually drive as opposed to pull. Tammy?

    • Tammy November 12, 2010, 7:23 am

      @Anke and Amy – RVs are an option. However, a lot of RVs are very expensive and don’t have good insulation. If you live in a cold climate, that is something to consider. Also, RVs are made for driving long distances and we are car-free. 🙂

      We will move the tiny house once in a while, but not all the time.

      I think if you’re doing a cross-country road trip an RV is a great option. But for our purposes a little house will house meet our needs.

  • Dawn November 12, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Hi Tammy,
    You may have seen this video already, but I found it really encouraging – a tiny house, owner-built, on a trailer, for less than $3500: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB-MhZkYVo8&NR=1

    • Sheila November 12, 2010, 10:28 pm

      OMG – LOVE HER and love this video. Thanks for sharing! So inspirational.

  • Volker November 13, 2010, 4:55 am

    Interesting story. I’m asking myself if the statistics about house size are similar in Europe. Maybe there are big differences between the countries, at least when it comes to city areas.

    I have to disagree a little bit about the the fridge part: Yes, European fridges are much smaller. The standard fridge in my normal standard flat is 4 times smaller as normal fridges I have seen in most households in USA. The for German and Swiss standards “big” and cause of this not really common fridges would fit twice in a regular US one. So it’s even worse.

  • Turling November 16, 2010, 12:43 pm

    Also, one thing to ask yourself is whether or not what you did in the room was required to be done in that room. We played in my son’s bedroom last night with my daughter, and I realized we could have stacked blocks anywhere really. Also, we do use our dining room often, but we really only use it, because we HAVE it. If we didn’t have it, we would eat in a corner of the family room. And, save ourselves 150 square feet with vaulted ceilings to have to heat, cool, clean…

  • Steven November 16, 2010, 1:00 pm

    It’s amazing how quickly the this whole tiny house thing is taking off. When people’s wallets are pinched, they really start to look around at what’s important and what’s not.

    I love tiny houses, so much that I just start a tiny house website where people can list their tiny homes that are for sell or for rent and buyers/renters can browse through them. The site is still very new, so it’s getting there.

    Check it out and lemme know what you think!

    http://tinyhouselistings.com

  • Mary Charest January 23, 2011, 6:31 am

    I’ve seen Jay’s site and I have a great interest in living in a home on wheels — like yours or Jay’s. I would like to know, for my own records, places — actual names of towns — where these homes are currently permitted for people to reside in. This seems to be the “only” issue in my mind — yes I want to downsize, but where exactly can I easily do this?

    If you can expound on this topic — please do. I would like to buy a property and possibly put two or three homes on wheels on it — hooked up to septic/electric/water. I need to know the best place to buy land where this project would be possible — legally.

    I have 35 acres in NYS with a farmhouse (it’s in real bad shape — but livable). Really, if I could, I’d knock the thing down and live in a home on wheels.

    Any help you can provide — information wise — please do. Please send by email as well to my address below.

    [email protected]

    • Tammy January 23, 2011, 8:26 am

      @Mary – You’ll need to check in with your own city planning department. Rules and regulations very from state to state and city to city. I’m not aware of any “master list.” If you have land, you should be able to put a small structure on it. Especially if you’re in a rural area. I’d encourage you to get on the Small House Society’s email list and read Greg Johnson’s book, Put Your Life on a Diet.

      Remember you can downsize anywhere. Maybe the first step is moving into a small apartment?

  • Tweeny March 28, 2011, 7:44 am

    Interesting post, and thanks for sharing!

    I did want to point out a slight correction. Smaller houses cost more per square foot, but it has nothing to do with the quality of materials. I’ve seen plenty of small houses that were made out of cheap materials, and large houses made with nice materials. The opposite can also be true. It all depends on the builder and finish-out.

    Smaller houses cost more per foot because of the expenses associated with a house’s footprint. Certain costs are somewhat fixed, whether the house is one story or two stories, and whether it is large or small. For example, the lot cost is constant. The foundation cost – which is a large portion of the construction cost of any home – is essentially the same for a one-story or two-story home. The basic systems like air conditioning, heating, plumbing, etc. have a base cost that will be the same for most homes, and then just cost marginally more as the square footage grows. For fixed expenses, the larger the home is, the smaller the per-square-foot price would be.

    Choosing small over large is fine. But it’s not correct to perpetuate a myth about smaller homes being of better quality. Heck, I lived in a tiny home right after I was married. It was a post-WWII home built like a cardboard box. It leaked like a sieve, was freezing in the winter and hot in the summer, and the finish-out was minimal.

  • Steven Crisp June 11, 2011, 2:19 pm

    Tammy,

    I have a question (and sorry if it has been asked before).

    What is the difference between a tiny home and an RV? I know lots of folks who “full-time” (i.e., live) in an RV, and many are even smaller than the tiny home you are thinking about.

    Indeed, it is something we’ve considered (though I think we’ll keep a small cottage as a landing pad).

    Just wondering. Appreciate all of your insights.

    Thanks,

    S-

  • Jim H September 29, 2011, 6:50 am

    What about bike parking? Do you leave them outside when you are home?

  • Jenn K October 14, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Hey Tammy & Logan! Love your new house. Kim and I paid KT a visit a few weeks ago and saw a little more progress than you have pictured on your site. I love the litter box compartment 🙂 We are still chuggy along on our two houses in Olympia slowly but surely. The schedule on Kim’s house has been pushed back quite a bit. Building & designing ourselves instead of having a builder do most things has definitely been a growth opportunity filled with both feelings of empowerment, joy, frustration, and disillusionment. But we are sticking with it and getting support where we most need it. If you find yourself traveling up through Olympia drop us a line.

  • NLM October 19, 2011, 2:00 pm

    Found you on This Tiny House, and so glad I did. Congratulations on the house–Hope you have many happy, healthy times there.
    I found a place in Texas that builds tiny houses out of salvaged materials, and they are very cool. You can find the link at: http://www.50plusandontherun.com/2011/10/square-foot-limbo.html

    • Tammy Strobel October 19, 2011, 6:22 pm

      @NLM – Right on! Thanks for stopping by and sharing the link. 🙂

  • Angie November 2, 2011, 7:25 am

    I love this idea, in the past year or so I have been wanting to down size so much, but with two teenagers it is a bit hard. I have made our basement a livable space through donations and tossing stuff. My spouse and I keep saying that when we retire we are moving to Southern Colorado, no more bitter cold winters for me. I just do not think I could get the big guy to go this small. I give you a lot of credit and I wish you all the best. Take care.

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