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Tiny House Safety: Towing the Tiny House- Bill Kastrinos

“Most tiny houses are a, “white-knuckle,” towing experience.” -Bill Kastrinos I have been in communication with Bill Kastrinos, owner of Tortoise Shell Home LLC, and put to him the following questions: Tiny House Wisdom:  Do you believe that Tiny Houses … Continue reading

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I Had an Idea….

This gallery contains 2 photos.

If you have read my blog much, you know that I have stated elsewhere that I am an idea person, (this is when my daughter runs out of the room screaming, “Oh NO!”). I have not featured any ideas on … Continue reading

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Safety: Towing the Tiny House- Interview with Andy Lee

This is the second installment of the series about Safety. It will be in two parts, The first is an interview with Andy Lee, (the second part is from Bill Kastrinos of Turtle Shell Home).  I thought it would be … Continue reading

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Clocks Are Useless Here: A Review of, “Tiny Homes Simple Shelter,” by Lloyd Kahn

“Clocks are useless here…” A Review of Lloyd Khan’s new book, “Tiny Homes Simple Shelter.” In 224 pages of a dizzying array of stunning photography and how-to tiny home information, Khan has captured the movement in a book that is … Continue reading

HOT OFF THE PRESS! Book Review!

TINY HOMES: SIMPLE SHELTER, by Lloyd Kahn  is soon to be available. I was asked to write a review, (I am sure I am not the only one), and it will be out in the next few hours. So stay tuned and I will have this out for you as soon as my little fingers can type….

A teaser quote, “Clocks are useless here…”

It is GORGEOUS folks!

Annie

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About Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Tiny House” + Feature Focus, FLW Downsized

The following is an article that I found when reading about FLW and his minimalism taking on the affordable family home. In Milwaukee is a tiny development that FLW had built as prototypes to a new concept he had to downsize … Continue reading

Tiny House Myth # 2: I Can’t Live Without My Stuff!”

As a confirmed pack rat and project collector, I have made it a goal this year to downsize and use or get rid of the pile of projects collecting in my spare room. Much of the piles of broken furniture consist of repurposing projects and are my own doing,  and others were left on my doorstep by various people trying to “help me out.” Thanks Guys. Some of these loved ones far and near are more famous than I for collecting and storing junk, and nothing could be more poignant nor speak more volumes than a plastic fork packet from Wendy’s that I swear was from 1952 found among the relics.

Their reasons for collecting stuff were valid ones, such as the various types of equipment needed by a professional photographer, (as one of these benefactors has been low these many years), to rare and expensive cameras and even a beat up tarnished old trumpet. So many of these things I have used and needed. But a side effect of not having money, is that you tend to hoard things. That is the problem. Currency, comes from the root word “current” and that means stuff has to flow in order to come to you.

Every time I see the broken bentwood chair, I think, its only a LITTLE broken, and begin to imagine how I could use it as a table or maybe re-glue and brace the back part. A nice glass top and voila’ the seat is flat enough to use for a lamp table, and even now it is making a great support for my desk. Art supplies in the closet, sewing notions and necessities from my days as a seamstress, and broken furniture take up space that I cannot otherwise use. Oh, and don’t forget the little unopened packages someone gave me that contain fall leaves, of the type you would expect to see stapled to the bulletin board in a 3rd grade classroom- too cute to throw away, and too corny to have a real purpose.

So I have to ask, “Can I live without all this junk?”

I asked Tammy Strobel who writes the “Rowdy Kittens” blog, (you will find her blog here: http://rowdykittens.com/), who many know currently live in their lovely new tiny house, (you can find pics of it at the link above), if they missed having stuff.

“No, I don’t miss anything. I have everything I need in the little house. For a long time I thought I “needed” more, like a bigger house, an additional car, and more stuff. I don’t feel that way anymore. By having less stuff to worry about I can give more of my time to friends, family, writing, and volunteering,” she told me.

Sounds awesome! The stuff I have is not only taking up space, but it is physically and emotionally draining to have to work with and around to use my small house. The toll then is not only financial, but it is not a good investment of my time. I simply do not have the energy to keep this junk.

Minimalism is not just a word to describe getting rid of your stuff, it is a valid form of art, music and architecture of the 60’s and 70’s. Of course the most famous among those designing in architecture would be Frank Lloyd Wright. His motto, “form follows function” is a declaration that turns architecture INTO art, (and art back into architecture).

One of the benefits of minimalism is that you feel a greater sense of peace when there is not clutter around you or things that need to be maintained. It is less expensive, too. Have you ever paused to consider how much money you are spending to house things compared to their monetary worth? Why should I spend my time making money to keep plastic knick-knacks from my local Walmart? I am from an art background and I appreciate beautiful things. However, I would pose the idea that a thing must have some real value in terms of aesthetics or usefulness, even MULTIPURPOSE uses in order to be worth paying to store or house. And too, in our computer centered existences of the modern age, we are spending more time doing things online and have less time to worry about our homes.

I have made it a goal this year to simplify and downsize. Many others are getting on board with this idea, (including those aforementioned here), for benefit of our health, both physical and mental well being.

Part Three of Tiny House Safety- Roll Offs…

Part Three: Roll Offs

Well, you can’t stay hooked up to the truck forever. Even if you could, someone could easily disconnect your tiny house and steal everything you own all at once. I know, because someone did that exact thing after hurricane Katrina. All of my stuff was in a pull behind trailer my Dad gave me for my birthday, and we were visiting friends in Diamond Head Mississippi. I got a weird feeling and could not get out of there fast enough. I left behind the trailer chained to a tree and the back-est seat of my Astro van under a huge oak. The trailer was stolen, and the oak split my seat in two when it came down. Because while we were visiting OTHER friends in Sheboygan,Wisconsin, (now THERE is nice town- full of cute loft tiny houses for reasonable prices, too), Katrina happened.

Two and a half weeks after we left, the Gulf Coast was robbed of all the astounding architectural history of the last two hundred years. My daughter and I used to drive up and down the main highway next to the water and say, “I want THAT one.” I kid you not, the day we left, I was in the Gulfport Walmart, and looked out over the road to the water on the other side and said to myself, “I wonder what would happen if a Hurricane came?”

Two and a half weeks later we found out.

Did I tell you I left two and a half months before Ivan destroyed Pensacola? But that is another story. If I tell you I am antsy and feel like I gotta get out of town- RUN!

But I digress. I been thinking about roll offs.  How to prevent them? I know there are devices you can lock the trailer hitch on the back of your vehicle while in tow to prevent it from being disconnected and hooked up to someone ELSE’S vehicle. But what if you want to drive into town and leave the tiny behind? I am sure there are some products on the market, and when I see them, I will publish them here for you to use.

What I thought of, was for the person who is parking their tiny on a spot where they could place a permanent hitch sunk into concrete. The tiny could be chained to the hitch with a padlock. Another thing that could be done to prevent these roll off situations from occurring, is to build a wooden or wire cage box that would fit upside down over the top. This could even be placed on hinges and it too could be locked into position in order to prevent unauthorized unhitching of the tiny house. These boxes would look like a sort of suitcase and would be designed to fit around the hitch area, (not the entire house), to make access impossible. The suitcase lockout device would be portable.

Well I had planned to publish this one after I wrote about the towing safety issue. But since I was scooped on the subject on another tiny house site, (they say great minds think alike), I figured I would go ahead and put my two cents in, for what it is worth…

Please feel free to comment about any products on the market designed to prevent roll offs from happening.

A list, (as they come in), of links to products that will help deter roll offs:

Here is a link for wheel locks that are affordable : http://www.etrailer.com/Locks/Valley/V75712.html?feed=npn

Here is a link for a locking device that prevents hostile hookups from the business end:

https://www.rittenhouse.ca/content/images/big/Balllock.jpg

New Series: Tiny House Safety

Today I want to investigate an issue I have wondered about since I first found out about Tiny Houses, and that would be the issue of Safety. I plan to pose the question regarding safety to some of those who know first hand about the reality of towing the tiny. I plan to cover the following safety areas: Towing, Theft, Fire, Break-ins, Carbon Monoxide, Roll-offs and Storm damage, to name a few. This will most likely be done in installments, with this post as the first. There are some posts out there that are comprehensive and therefore I am including a section at the end, that will provide click throughs to links out side of my blog that already include adequate information regarding some aspect of safety. I try to never waste my time by re-inventing the wheel.

In my neighborhood, a tiny dwelling with all the windows might be a red light to attract break-ins. As a fifty year old single lady, this could be a big problem. So I got to thinking about how to handle this issue, and I hit on an idea I have not seen anywhere- shutters or bars. To me, shutters would be a low cost and attractive way to sleep at night with peace of mind. They would be aesthetically pleasing as well as a safety feature. I would have one next to the front door, as well as the first floor windows. These could be accessible from inside with an internal locking device that I could pull in from inside. I would want for the loft window, however, to be completely free to open, because if a fire broke out, the exit would need to be a quick one, (more about fire safety later in this article). So right off the bat, I want to recommend for those building a tiny, PLEASE include some type of protection against break-ins.

As far as fire is concerned, I want to see every tiny home equipped with fire alarms and extinguishers. This is not so far fetched as you may feel at first, as we recently read about a tiny home in Alaska catching fire from a malfunctioning stove. You can read about this at Tiny House Blog, by clicking here: http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/christmas-fire-in-our-tiny-cabin/

Luckily, this lady was not home when the fire occurred but the house was destroyed and I had to think about what could have happened if she had been asleep.  Smoke inhalation occurs fairly fast, so let all use some common sense when we are living in these tiny structures. Other fire dangers are from any type of electrical wiring or tiny woodstoves. This can occur when cleaning and a “clinker” is dropped or other types of accidents. Of course if you smoke, (and I certainly HOPE you do NOT), there is always the danger of falling asleep while smoking and catching fire that way. This is a very common thing to happen to smokers, so maybe a strict, outdoor only, smoking policy would be a great way to stay safe.

As I mentioned above, I would want to see fully open-able windows for any tiny house with a loft. Also recommended would be to have a rope ladder if your regular loft ladder did not operate in such a way that you could lower it and escape from the window in case of a fire.

In addition to a fire alarm, would be a carbon monoxide alarm. These devices detect carbon monoxide, which cannot be detected by smell alone. When I lived in my tiny log cabin in the mountains of NC that I have written about elsewhere on this blog, I incorrectly installed a woodstove into the fireplace. Luckily, I went out of town that weekend, because me, my four year old, the cat and the dog all developed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning! The symptoms are, a cherry red complexion caused by the fact that carbon monoxide molecules bind to your hemoglobin, thus preventing the binding of oxygen, and you are suffocated from the inside out. Also common effects are headaches, nausea, diarrhea confusion and flu like symptoms.  I am actually a respiratory therapist by training, and it can be difficult to treat carbon monoxide poisoning quickly with O2 therapies.

I consider this important because, not only is carbon monoxide a by product of ANY material combusted rapidly at high heat in an unventilated system, I understand that carbon monoxide output is possible from the use of an on demand hot water heater. I have seen them installed both inside and outside the tiny home, with various problems, (such as freezing if they are un-insulated). For this reason, I consider a “work box” a better solution. I have seen many examples of the tiny being outfitted on the “business end” with a door behind which all of the electrical boxes, propane tanks and other necessities would ideally be situated. Also, as we are discussing safety, I would take care to place these items behind a lock to prevent theft or sabotage. Don’t laugh. It happens, but that is another story for another day!

In the next installment: Towing- can it be done safely?

As promised, here are some links to issues that are adequately covered on other sites:

Drew Odom wrote a fantastic piece covering everything you need to know about securing the tiny during a wind storm or tornado. You can find it here: http://www.tinyrevolution.us/2011/05/21/how-to-anchor-down-your-tiny-house/

A good article about the safety of PEX that is used to replace PVC pipes in many tiny homes can be found here: http://www.small-house-building.com/plumbing/how-safe-is-pex

Tiny Green Cabin Homes has a built in safety feature found here: http://www.tinygreencabins.com/Blog/?m=201103

I also found an article at Tiny Home Builders here in Florida that echoes some of what I just said: http://tinyhomebuilders.com/Blog/category/safety/

© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Coming SOON- Tiny House Myth # 2: I Can’t Live Without My Stuff!

Yes Dear Reader, I am writing another installment to the Tiny House Myth series. This time I will investigate the question, “Can I live without my stuff?”

I will get comments from a couple of surprise guests about whether they are living well in their tiny houses without all the “stuff”.

So stay tuned! This article should be ready in a day or two.  In the meantime, take a look around and check out my site!

 

Annie, (is IN the loft).