2009 Tiny House Construction Workshop

Posted March 1st, 2010 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 16: How To Design & Build a Home

Our night in the tiny house!1Last year, we attended the Little House Construction Workshop in Portland, Oregon. In this article, I’ll talk what we did in the workshop and the good humans we met along the way.

Background

Dee is my tiny house hero. You’ve probably heard about Dee’s tiny house adventures. She’s been interviewed by NPR, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and a variety of other local media outlets about her experiments with voluntary simplicity. She built her tiny house for $10,000 in about 3 months, using mostly recycled building materials.

Katy Anderson rocks. She’s been in the trades for over 20 years and defines her work as “Finish Carpentry”. Katy recently graduated from a two-year program at the School of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, California. It was great talking with Katy about her experience and her future plans.

Dee and Katy recently started their own tiny house company called, Portland Alternative Dwellings.

The Workshop

Logan and I have been pondering building our own tiny home and this was the perfect opportunity to learn from two experienced builders.

KT and Logan_Powertool funI loved the structure of the class; it was all about active learning and contained an incredible amount of valuable information. We learned about general construction techniques, how to stay safe with power tools, discussed building codes and built the foundation of a tiny mobile office.

It was great to see two amazing women leading the workshop. I’ve always been scared to use power tools, but I walked away from the workshop feeling confident. I think Logan and I could build our own tiny home. We still need to do more research, find the time and people to help us. Even if we don’t build the home ourselves, the workshop equipped us with basic knowledge that will help us if we hire a contractor. And I can start scavenging for materials to use in our tiny home.

We didn’t talk a lot about design and that’s okay because I was more interested in learning about construction basic’s. But Dee did mention the importance of design and considering your needs. She recommended Jay Shafer’s workshop for learning about design and material choices.

Logan and I have been bickering about the style of our tiny house. So we both really enjoyed Dee’s analogy of tiny homes to clothing. She mentioned how important it was to “try on” different styles to see if they fit your body type and personal habits. I lean toward a house design similar to Dee’s and Logan is more partial toward the Naked Galapagos.

Dee and Katy’s main message was to start talking about these things now rather than waiting until the building starts.

The finished product turned out great!

Future Workshops

If Dee and Katy host more workshops, I’d highly recommend signing up for their class. Learning about construction techniques, tool use, and connecting with fellow tiny house enthusiasts was incredible.

Thinking Big, While Living Small: 4 Design Ideas

Posted February 1st, 2010 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 15: Small Space Tricks

January 2010 FunMoving to a smaller apartment has helped us downsize even more. Less stuff and less cleaning lowered my stress level, improved my health and saved an enormous amount of time. My extra time is now spent with friends, hobbies, and Logan.

Even though we have less stuff, I still want my home to be a safe, beautiful and welcoming environment. I think tiny apartment or home can be all of those things and more.

Whether you live in 80 square feet or 1000, the following tips will help you arrange your livings space to perfection.

1. Let your style shine through.

You can still let your style shine through and make room for the necessities. Jessica from Apartment Therapy has a 200 square foot apartment in San Francisco that is functional and designed beautifully. She has a “penchant for vintage” and “tried to blend antique collections with a modern aesthetic–all in a home the size of most people’s guest bedroom!”

You might even consider designing a special nook in your tiny space. :)

2. Less is more.

Less really is more. If you live in a small space, you don’t need to stuff it to the max. A few beautiful pieces of furniture will make your small space appear larger and less cluttered.

3. Use Mirrors.

Consider adding a large mirror to your little space. The use of mirrors will pick up extra light and make your home appear larger. Logan and I have a few mirrors in our apartment. The mirrors are designed simply, but add so much character to our apartment. I considered giving them away before leaving Sacramento, but I’m happy they are with us in Portland.

4. Bring in the plants.

Plants bring life to any small space. If you use vertical space you could even start your own radical gardening project on your balcony or inside your apartment. Creating a small outdoor project is not only fun, but a great hobby.

Do you have any design tips to add?

You can learn more about my downsizing journey by reading my blog, RowdyKittens, or following me on Twitter.

Future Parking Options…

Posted January 1st, 2010 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 14: Finding Land for Living

A few months ago I read a post about tiny homes and land sharing. The post prompted me to think about moving to the ranch. It’s not a feasible option right now, but it’s something I’d consider doing 5 to 10 years down the road.

Little Shasta Church 01

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages we have considered…

Advantages

1. Open space to park the tiny house
2. Being near family
3. Zero rent (as long as the tiny house is paid off)
4. Options to build a deck, a green house and space for gardening
5. Food cost would decrease
6. In alignment of long term goals
7. Close access to hiking, camping, biking, running and other outdoor activities
8. Lower cost of living
9. Cooler winters and summers
10. We could get a puppy!

Disadvantages

1. Limited employment opportunities
2. Isolation
3. We would need to buy a car and that would make me very very sad
4. Conservative political environment
5. Slow internet

Finding land to park a tiny house is challenging and the ranch would be a perfect parking spot. But that will have to wait a few years…

We’re moving to Portland at the end of January and might build a tiny house this year. I’m hoping we can park our little house in someone’s backyard. But, you never know what the future holds and our plans aren’t set in stone.

Gadgets and Simple Living: Is it worth the cost?

Posted December 7th, 2009 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 13: Technology and Simple Living

image from Apple.comIt’s time for me to make a confession: I absolutely love gadgets. I don’t buy gadgets very often, but lately I’ve been fascinating about purchasing an iPhone.

On one hand, I see the usefulness of the iPhone. It’s a phone, camera, iPod and has amazing applications. If I purchased an iPhone, I could reduce the amount of stuff I carry around everyday. Also, being able to connect with friends and family with the touch of a few buttons is pretty cool.

On the other, hand what about the cost? On average iPhone plans run about $1,500 per year.

And I wonder about the implications of feature creep?

What do you think? Do gadgets, like the iPhone, enhance the concept of simple living? And are they worth the cost?

You can learn more about my downsizing journey by reading my blog, RowdyKittens, or following me on Twitter.

Issue 12: Small Spaces and Finances

Posted August 24th, 2009 by Tammy "RowdyKittens" and filed in Issue 12: Small Spaces and Finances

A number of readers have requested information on small spaces and finances, so we thought it would be interesting to devote an issue of the SLJ to this topic. In this issue, the authors discuss a number of financial benefits to small living.

Dee's tiny house! 1

Disclaimer: The authors in this issue are not financial advisers. If you chose to follow the advice in this issue, you do so at your own risk.