Tag Archives: Compost

Inwhich I Beseech Dear Readers to Comment and a Midnight Bathroom Solution

No question about it- ACCESSIBILITY for loft dwellers is an issue! We who sleep in lofts have all been there- three a.m. and you need to pee. No problem if you are on the ground floor, but in a loft it can be tiresome, (perhaps dangerous), to climb back DOWN the ladder and back up it, in a groggy state in the dark. And on days when I have consumed an entire two liter bottle of Dr.Pepper at 12 a.m.? Eye yie yie! Don’t even get me started! I know my bed shakes and scrapes and I just imagine what types of injuries a person would sustain falling out of a loft… No thanks! And of course, people with limited mobility may not be safe going up and down repeatedly, either…

So I had an idea….. And a couple of days ago the subject was alluded to on another blog. What to do about the 3 a.m. run? So I figured it was high time I shared this idea that has been brewing on the back burner of my brain for awhile now.

It would seem to me that a loft urinal would be a great idea. I imagined this collection system as a passive type of system that would involve installing pipes from the loft to feed into whatever type of method of disposal you use below. I do not mean that the  urinal should have a regular flush system pumping water UP into the loft, only that the pipes would take the fluid DOWN and feed into the regular means of egress downstairs.  This loft urinal would ideally have a lid to prevent smells, and also a spray bottle or bucket of water to “chase” with would also keep it from becoming odoriferous.

There would be a few considerations, of course when installing this system, such as the angle of the eave and which side of the tiny your downstairs waste receptacle was located. I would think that if care was taken when installing the “throne” downstairs, one could make sure the upstairs one was positioned in such a way that there would be adequate room to avail oneself of it. For example, place both potties so that there is a vertical wall for use in the loft.  And too, there would also be the aesthetic issue of not wanting everyone who enters your domicile to actually be able to SEE that there is a potty in the loft. For that reason, (as well as the aforementioned odor issue), I would recommend using a device that would camouflage the matter, like an upside down wooden box when not in use.

I would hope, Dear Reader, that no one would be entering your domicile at 3 a.m. to make it necessary to conceal the actual USE of said potty, however, for the faint of heart, or at least the terribly shy, a curtain or movable partition would obscure the act.  I am assuming that those who live in such a tiny structure have made certain to install some way to close up for the night anyway, so that no one could see ANY activity at 3 a.m.

Having said all that, and as delicately as I could muster, with all of my Victorian ways, I come to my second motive for writing this blog today- comments. Only my new friend Drew, (and maybe not even he after this article),  has commented on this blog as of yet, and I do so want to hear from my readers! I have them according to the hits recorded in my Site Stats, so I am making the plea, if you like my blog, let me know! I am an obsessed blogging Momma and I crave interaction between myself and my readers.  If I have not thoroughly offended you by the topic and overuse of paregmenon- I would love to know that I am not blindly sending my words into a cyber-abyss when I press the SAVE button….

Thanks!

© 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.

Tiny House Myth #1- I Cannot Do Tiny Because I Have Kids

On my weekly looong trek to the bank sans vehicle, as I am these days, a bit of the old light bulb came on over my head. Many times I have read something to the effect of, “Of course tiny houses are for singles and close couples,  as families with children would not be able to use them.” Heck, I have even stated this myself on this humble blog!

When said light bulb came on over my head, two things also occurred to me. First I said to myself, “Wow, I have never seen a halogen light bulb over my head before!,” and two, “Why the heck NOT?”

Yep, that is what I said all right, right before the IDEA hit me. OF COURSE YOU CAN- YOU JUST HAVE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE “BOX”!

You see the problem is Dear Reader, we are thinking like STICK BUILT people! We are thinking SQUARE FOOTAGE thoughts and trying to convert them to the new language of TINY. If you ask anyone they will tell you, when you learn a new language you have to think in that language!

So for your consideration, I present to you, The Pod People Concept.

The Pod People do not think about housing as a static situation, but a flowing one that changes with needs to be addressed and then reevaluated as the players age, move or needs change.  So just how would say, a family of four live as Pod People and have a Tiny on Wheels?

Lets start with the “main” tiny house, say 120 square feet. This one has two lofts, like the Slabtown Creations AnneMarie with a loft over the front porch. When the children are really tiny, they need to stay on the first floor, say on a fold out in the main “living” room that converts at night. That is after they have had a crib. Until the child moves around a lot, a cradle is convenient in a loft house. Of course the house should be child proofed and maybe a ladder that pulls completely into the loft would prevent falls from a climbing toddler.  Once the child can be safe to do so, a second tiny house is moved next to the original one. While the main home has a kitchen and full bath, the second may have only a bathroom and the future kitchen area may have desks for study and shelves for extra storage of toys and books. The second tiny could even be made to attach at a side door so the parent is as close, (no a LOT closer), than a regular house.

There is lots of room for the second tiny to become a bedroom with two lofts, and playroom and have a second bath- a luxury many larger houses enjoy. During these years of growing up, these tinies could be altered as needed to accommodate the current desires of the family. Then, when the kids are grown, this tiny house can go with the kids to college and even into beginning a career or family for themselves! A new take on empty nest. Dad pulls up stakes and takes kiddos to college in their own home! Talk about money saving convenience! I know there are considerations that would need addressed, but we are just thinking outside the box here. It is doable!

Then the family is aging. Again needs have changed, kids gone and there needs to be a caregiver for Dad, or Mom gets a job caring for another at their home. Enter the new caregiver cottage, or change it around and Dad stays in the back yard of one of the kids!

You see, the possibilities are endless if you think in POD, instead of PED, (ped- as in FEET- you know…. oh never mind).

© 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.

Taking Some Time, Creativity and a Tiny Rant…

Here at the start of a brand new shiny year, I am poised for what ever comes next. and also taking a little bit of reflective time. I have not truly updated this with any new material for a couple of days, as yesterday I was tweaking the functionality of  this blog that I started as an extension of sister site, mytinyhome.blogspot.com.

I usually start a new year, not by making resolutions, (I see no point in those), but rather by listening. I like to be quiet and form an impression regarding the direction the wind is blowing. So my blog has not really been tended to properly for that reason.

And that dear reader, to me is all about downsizing. When we are caught up in a whirl of meetings, deadlines, schedules and such, there is no time to just reflect and use one’s sensibilities. I do have a goal for this year: simplify. I would love to see my, “bottom line” reduced dramatically. I am tired of the obeisance to Gulf Power, Ma Bell and the Gas company.

And now for the daily RANT!

Ok, Ok, I don’t believe I have ever RANTED on here before, but I feel one coming on. Let me say though, that I am striving to keep both of my blogs free from political input. I do not want for people learning about tiny houses to get the impression that everyone has to feel a certain way about the environment, or the economy, or have a particular political view. I personally come from an artistic, creative, and cant-throw-anything-away, stance. One of my early memories was of me taking the beads out of a bead necklace kit and instead of following the directions, (DIRECTIONS? Are you KIDDING ME?), and making a necklace, I glued the beads on tiny boxes in flower patterns that delighted me.  So all these pieces of things laying around my moderately tiny home need to find a new home or else I just need to go ahead and do all those projects swirling around in my head.

BACK TO THE RANT:

I have decided that I am mad at Career Builder! Take THAT Career Builder! The state of the economy is all YOUR fault! Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for ingenuity. I think that I carefully place everything in the recycle bin instead of the trash can, just because I am so impressed with the folks making cool things out of milk cartons and soda bottles. How is that for American ingenuity? Say WHAT? You have an awesome growing business making cool stuff from JUNK? Awesome. I love it. Ben Franklin loves it. He would make a new proverb just for you today if he were here. But Career Builder I think is responsible for the separating of jobs from those who need them. This disaster was further careened off course by the fact that many jobs can now only be found ONLINE.

Think about it. One day a guy said, “hmmmm,” I think I can make money if I get all of the people who have jobs to have to come to me to advertise. Then, all of the people who need jobs will also find it necessary to use my service! I will make them pay for things like a bank charges fees for things that are really free, and I can make them have to come to my website to find those groovy jobs I tout.”

That man was evil. I don’t know if he realizes it or if he even cares, but now HE has become the owner of the jobs and HE brokers them! The result of this type of business, (people selling things that do not need to be sold), have pushed the job seeking arena further and further into cyberspace that now a person HAS to apply for a vast majority of jobs online. GONE is the personal interview between the nice old man and the fresh out of college nervous wanna be. GONE are the days when the nice old man sees a spark of something he likes in the applicant that makes him want to give the young person a chance. GONE are the days that you can get a job right out of college with a handshake. Now you filter down to the bottom of a virtual application holding pool that only promotes people with a certain number of years of experience. No one else is even seen as they sink downward watching undulating figures in the bright light of the surface and the net is lowered to scoop only those who come up on a SEARCH ENGINE. Two years and thousands of dollars wasted getting the degree for a job you cannot get because the numbers in your online application do not attract the fishing hook lowered by the Human Resources Specialist.

And that, my friend is why America is jobless. Yes I love SIMPLIFYING. Yes I love the businesses that have as raw material that which came from recycled trash. Yes I love repuposing. Because we are still a scrappy bunch that is going to make it through. We just will have to get rid of some stuff….

 

 

© 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.

Hello To New Visitors, (which is just about everybody….)

Please excuse the headache inspiring twirl of experimental layouts and designs, etc.

I am trying to get this to the place I like it, and that is a work in progress, so hang on and colors and images will soon stop flashing before your eyes. I promise.

A Look Ahead… 2012

“What is inside you can get you through anything that is outside you.”

Many make New Year’s resolutions and others state what they think is going to happen in the New Year. I want to start this year with a game plan. In light of the recession, unemployment and housing crash of the last two years, I want to put forth the following for your consideration. The world will not blow up, (I hope), if you do not heed my advice, but I do hope that you will in order to be ready to face the next year in the uncertain times in which we live.

The word of the year: FLUID
1. Please lets all make it a priority to get ourselves fluid! This means that we are not so attached to worldly possessions that we are unable to make minute by minute adjustments if necessary.
2. Get out of debt.
3. Got off all forms of dependency on jobs, government or otherwise.
4. A mobile tiny house makes sense. If you can and you do not have a large family, consider it for its affordability and mobility if there should be any social unrest or natural disasters.
5. Consider having supplies on hand in case of the later. I know that in some ways that seems to contradict the “less is more” philosophy I am recommending, but if you think about it, food is more important to have than junk. The whole base of the simplicity movement is to consider what you NEED,  and I would think that food would figure prominently as such.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Full of Light and Love and PEACE….

 

 

 

© 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.

A Link to a Brand New Video to Air on BBC

This may give the reader a little more clear picture of what types of dwellings we are discussing on this blog.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16348594

What IS a Tiny House?

This is the blog of a Tiny House enthusiast. I LOVE tiny houses! My Blog originated here: http://mytinyhome.blogspot.com/ which I still operate. Someone who gave me feedback about the site stated that he did not actually know what a tiny house is.  So a fitting start to this Shiny New Blog is a definition of what TINY is all about.

In light of the recent economic spiral down, people are beginning to evaluate what they really need to live well.  As housing has crept up feet wise over the last decade, housing prices have sky rocketed forcing families to over-commit themselves fiscally, physically and with their time.   Although smaller dwellings have been the way of life overseas for years, Jay Schafer re-invented tiny, American style, about 12 or so years ago.  For myself and others, it was his Tumbleweeds website that followed his trek across the country living in an 84 sq ft home, that caught my attention.

Tiny homes are built either on a regular foundation or on a trailer which can be towed behind a vehicle. Thus being used more like wooden RVs, they are most often considered as such by insurance providers and local ordinance. Given the tight restrictions placed on stick built houses, the mobile option is the only one viable for most.  This is because the roughly 50-250 square feet contained in many tiny houses is below the local codes for stick built houses to be plumbed and include a kitchen.

These houses are used for a wide variety of purposes. They become terrific vacation aids, retirement cottages, workshops, offices, “personal time” spots and full time residences for singles and couples. There are some cases where small families find them comfortable to share with a kid or two. There are medical purposes, including use as a “therapeutic” playhouse, and also for those who are sensitive to toxic emissions from treated housing materials.

As varied as the purposes these tiny homes are used for, the motive behind seeking this type of shelter also varies.  Many people are building their own from totally recycled and dumpstered materials.  Others save the money to have them built by professionals, but do so to reduce their impact on environment.  Many people do not want to continue to collect “stuff” and just want to simplify.  They are easy to clean, easy on the budget and easy to heat and cool.  They just plain make sense.

For examples of what tiny houses look like, just Google Tiny House.  Jay Schafer has Tumbleweeds, there is a company called, “Portland Alternate Dwellings” (or PAD for short), Scott of Slabtown Tinies is the very most affordable that I am currently aware of, and Dan Louche has recently brought Tiny to Florida.  Tiny Texas uses totally reclaimed materials that are fabulous, and Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, um, well, he just does what he wants. 🙂 There are endless lists of builders and most likely you will find one in your area doing something awesome if you look.  I know I left out most of them, but I hope to include a list on this page with active links for your convenience.

So there you go. You CAN downsize, reduce utilities costs, reduce waste, recycle, live sustainably avoid a mortgage, and live in a home made from the very best materials with low chemical emissions!  Whew! With all of that going for them, I believe tinies are going to be gaining in popularity for a long time…

© 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.

Compost, Incinerating and Flush Toilets: A Compendium

After reading recent comments in the Walmart RVing Yahoo Group I told you of a few days ago, (you can find the link on this blog if want to join), today I am thinking about what kind of toilet I want in my tiny house. The topic was originally a general comment about some presumed RVer who opened up the black water tank in a residential neighborhood. This was apparently NOT done at the Walmart, (thank goodness), but in front of people’s homes who had to walk through the stuff on the street. The offender was not observed, so it may have been an accidental dumping by an unwilling party. Malfunctions of this type do occur, and I had the thought that it may even be more likely with tiny houses as they may handle a bit rougher on the road than an RV. I do not know that for a fact, as I have never driven an RV or a tiny house, (but want to)!

So for your consideration, dear reader I have compiled the following:

There are several choices that are commonly found in tiny houses, RV, compost and incinerating type that are commonly used on boats.

RV flush toilets use water and flush into a holding tank which is usually carried on the underside of the craft. This must be dumped in specific places only. Apparently there are private, public, RV park, non-park, municipal, state, provincial, truck stop, rest stop, campground, camping, resort, commercial, pay, donation, and free, and so on, according to http://www.sanidumps.com/, which see if you need to know this information. This site directory includes sites in the US, Canada, Mexico and even over seas locations. This site claims that there are dump sites most likely that are even in your own city now that you are unaware of. This is for sure in my case as, one, I live in a popular vacation spot near water that attracts thousands each year by RV and boat, and two, I have never had need for one. The drawback to this system, as we have seen, is that the latches can malfunction or accidentally be left in an open position, causing an unexpected ejection at inopportune times. Also, there could be other types of accidents which could be nasty, to say the least. Although, I like the RV toilet upon first flush, for its lower price, (RV toilets and holding tanks can be repurposed from defunct vehicles for little money making them by far the most economical), I find myself leaning away from this system. I think that this one would serve best in a situation where the tiny house was at least semi-permanent in location and not moved frequently. There could be the ongoing cost associated with this type toilet if your dump site charges for dumping as some do. There is also a need for water, obviously, and those interested in water conservation would want to avoid this type for that reason.

Composting toilets are boxes that collect excreta and turn it into compost for safe disposal. A Wikipedia article about this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet . They range from several hundred dollars to right around $2000 in price, making them the second less expensive option for tiny-ers.
The proponents of this type toilet claim that there is no smell associated with the system, and that the materials they use with it are low cost. Some people use ashes and others use sawdust or a variety of materials commercially available. I think that charcoal used for speeding up regular garden compost bins and available in garden centers may also work and cause the process to complete more quickly. This type toilet appears to me to be the most popular with tiny house owners because it is easy to install, and can be disposed of safely with little or no cost. I personally would not want to see anyone use this for your vegetable garden, (please don’t), but a flower garden would be appropriate. For those who are trying to reduce the carbon footprint, this is THE method as it uses none or little water, and no other type of fuels are necessary. There are types that also use/treat the grey water from the shower, as well.

A few links for purchase:
http://www.envirolet.com/
https://www.thenaturalhome.com/compost.html They have a variety of brands.
http://www.enviroalternatives.com/toilets.html

The third type of system that is available for tiny houses is the incinerating toilet. This toilet is by far the most expensive type to install and to use- ranging from just under two thousand dollars to a whopping 5K for the toilet alone, in addition to installation and operating costs. The toilet is found mainly on marine vessels and there is even a learning curve to the safe operation of it. Wikipedia has an article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incinerating_toilet
An informative article by the board of health in Barnstable county can be found here: http://www.barnstablecountyhealth.org/ia-systems/information-center/compendium-of-information-on-alternative-onsite-septic-system-technology/incinerating-toilets. These toilets are useful where there is no other option available for various reasons. They can be used in units that are unheated, and some require additional materials or catalysts and additives. They are not for those seeking to avoid pollutants and fuels. They may produce some pollutants and they need electricity or gas to operate. For that reason they require venting. The resultant ash is benign and can be safely disposed of without harm. Some types cannot be used during incineration, and some may incinerate with every use, and still other types collect wastes to be incinerated later.

Some links for purchase:
http://incinolet.com/aboutus_2.htm
http://www.propaneproducts.com/catalog/propane-toilets/ecojohn-sr.-propane-electric-incinerating-toilet-12v-110v-380.html

A short film is available from Amazon on the subject here:
http://www.amazon.com/ReInventors-Episode-6-Incinerating-Toilet/dp/B003HNNEQ4
More info on incinerating toilets by the EPA is here:
http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/upload/2002_06_28_mtb_incinera.pdf

So to recap, if you are seeking low cost of toilet and maintenance, the RV flush is the one to chose. If you seek low environmental impact and ease of installation, choose the composting toilet, and for those with money who are not trying to avoid fuel use, but do not want to tote your waste with you, the incinerating toilet is the one for you.

Happy New Year!

On this last day of 2011 I cannot get out of this year fast enough!

I wish all the tiny housers downsized ecstasy this year, with all of us achieving our goals!

What is your wish for the New Year?

HaHa! Oh Yeah….

So I was sitting here thinking about the square footage of my current home. The biggest room in the house is about 11×15. Add to that a bath of 25 sq ft, a dining room of 60 sq ft a 10×12 bedroom and a 10×8 bedroom, plus the kitchen, (I will give it a gracious 7×10 at most), and you end up with less than 600 sq ft. at most. Even if you added another 25 sq ft for a hallway, you come up with WAY less than the aprox 900 sq ft the realtor told me this house was….

Hmm, I wonder how many McMansions out there are also more FABLE than GABLE?