Tag Archives: Wisdom

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Safe, Natural Pest Control for the Tiny Dweller

If there is one “tiny” thing we do NOT want in our small dwellings, it is pests. As we repurpose, re-use and re-package here in Florida, it is a very real possibility that we may be introducing tiny intruders along … Continue reading

About These Tiny House Types- a Letter from Brad Kittel

That, in a short time, I have engaged in conversation with leaders of the Tiny House Movement who are dreaming with me by email, is nothing short of shocking. I am a person who watches others and tries to get a feeling for the people I see. Although I cannot see these people, physically, I am “seeing” them by the words I am reading. For Dear Reader, I am nothing, if not a READER. I read nature, and intent and passion. What I see here are passionate and brilliant people.

I am learning that Tiny House people are not alike. Some tiny house builders are engineers, like Bill Kastrinos, and some are poets, as is Jim Wilkins. Jay Shafer is a scientist,  Abel Zimmerman is an artist, and Brad Kittel is a pioneer . Of course I could go on, there are philosophers, salesmen and dreamers, and each one brings a unique veiwpoint. All are craftsmen, and all are zealous about their mission. These are inspiring, wonderful people who are creating and rebuilding our country and even pointing the way for sensible living.

I tried to keep the comments in the post regarding the most important thing to consider when buying a tiny house short. I could see the passion in these builders and other knowledgeable folk, but tried to pare down the words to a terse, “juicy” tidbit. I am going to make one exception. Brad Kittel wrote to me a piece that I want to share with you and there is no “paring.” I am going to give it to you in its entirety, and I believe you will be inspired by this modern day “pioneer” as much I was when reading this.

He wrote:

“What to you is the most important stage of Tiny House construction?”

“This is a great question, as it addresses the very foundations of what we believe in. Each individual must consider the quality and cost of the materials we build with, the impact of the toxins that are used to create the materials, the out gassing released from the products for the first year or two, and the cost to the planet.  Each must calculate the resources available in terms of fuel, environment, and human energy. Each person has to evaluate the importance of values from the standpoint of physical, mental, and immune systems conditions, spiritual, political, and Earth oriented perspectives. Affecting the choices of materials and size, will be your personal goals. If you want to build a house to live in for the rest of your life, make it portable, or leave it as your legacy, then you will need to consider size and mobility.

You must take into account that importing from other countries is sending our wealth to other places. Global corporations make their profits on cheap foreign labor, resources, manufacturing, and transportation to Americans. Our money and our jobs go as well.

Buying local encourages employment. If you want to create work, hire local people to create what you want. If you want to be free from toxins, the United States is rich in pre-used American made materials, like lumber from virgin forests, or bricks from clays loaded with iron and baked hard at high temperatures. This will last for centuries, as will hardware made from the finest iron, brass, copper, and zinc that was ever mined in the United States

If you want the quality America was once known for, buy repurposed goods, instead of the foreign made items that are built-to-break. Use your hands, your minds, and your imagination, to build a house from the recycled materials from houses, buildings, and barns that already exist, and these virtually for free. You can do it without shipping across oceans, by reclaiming the 51% vintage building materials that comprise our landfills each year. This means your decision saves resources that are sorely needed. You can save 99% of the materials already mined, smelted, formed, porcelain coated, and shipped all around the country, ready to use, like a giant home depot, that is practically free for the picking.

Lets teach our children how to survive without foreign imports, cheap labor, oil products, energy waste, or toxic health issues. Lets avoid a breakdown in family, community, and the old fashioned simplicity that modern marketing has nearly extinguished. At the same time, you will also help our planet, our species, and our environment socially.  You will be thinking, not only of Tiny Houses and Pure Salvage Living Villages, but also about the kids who need to know that all the materials they need for the future, that made this country great, are still hidden before our very eyes.  At the same time, we must provide a safety net for the 76,000,000 baby boomers hitting the wall.

To be fair, I am a purist at the fringe with the elements used in my artistic world of 99% Pure Salvage Tiny Texas Houses. I have pioneered to push the envelope of what is possible. We can achieve sub zero carbon footprint, a sustainable, portable, healthy, 100+ year lifespan, with import free housing that is built entirely in America. I am biased towards my solutions. These ideas can create sustainable societies that will survive without taking, but instead give back to the local community and the entire planet. That said, and with my bias exposed, the most important thing you can do is decide what you want to be happy.  If that means making the individual decision, to do things that will benefit you, the species, your parents, friends, children, and the generations to follow, then this is what is important in the final score. Decide for yourself if sub zero carbon footprint, all natural, organic, items forged with the energy of our forefathers should be handed off to others to appreciate or thrown into the dump. Lets preserve and respect these materials that have lasted for hundreds of years.

Perhaps then decide on what you want to use to build. Consider how big, and how longlasting you want it to be. How healthy do you want to be once you move in? Environmental causes for illness are now being recognized for numerous ailments, (and that without even discussing cancer). We must see the big picture and respect the human energy, resources, and ingenuity with which we have been gifted. What our forefathers built centuries ago, without benefit of electricity or gasoline; these things can not be ignored, under valued, or forgotten. If so, we no longer deserve to be taking more from the planet. I believe that the right answer is, reuse, recycle, make it last, re-invent, reconstruct, pass it along, and never ever throw it away until there is nothing left to save.

I have proven solutions are easily within reach, and no one else has to strive to prove these ideals are possible. Now the trick is to let everyone know there is an alternative. The only cost is in human energy, imagination, ingenuity, community, and many other qualities we have an abundance of inAmerica. Best of all, if we join together, this passion is a fuel for hope. We will find self sufficiency; self respect, freedom from debt, and a way out of the rat race when we arrive at the end. It is at this time when we need a tiny resting spot the most. Thank you for being part of the dialogue about Tiny Houses. I hope my vision for a Pure Salvage Living Movement  will make solutions possible, even faster and for more people.”

Brad Kittel
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A Mountain “Bridge” House

This story “ain’t” never gonna be finished, nor could it be… If you ever wondered why the, “Smokies,” are so called, it becomes obvious standing on the side of a holler at the break of day. As the sun kisses … Continue reading

The Most Important Stage of Building a Tiny Home

An Idea in Blogging- Tiny House Interactive

As I consider my own tiny house, dreaming, (and waiting for the funds), I have many questions.  I think likely these questions are what OTHER tiny house dreamers are wanting to know, too.

I wrote about 20 or so of the leading Tiny House Builders, (as well as other knowledgeable people), and I have a few more in mind to contact. Rather than wait until each one responds, lets have an ongoing compendium, just for fun. I will update this as the comments come in, in order, with the most recent at the top. Readers can comment at the end in the appropriate section, as well.  The info coming in is astounding! So without further ado:  I posed this question:

“What to you is the most important stage of Tiny House construction?”

20. Steven Harrell:  “The most important part of a tiny house’s construction is before it starts in the planning stage. Selecting the layout, determining where materials will come from, how many reclaimed materials, (if any), will be used, determining the location for building the tiny house and lining up the people that will be assisting in the tiny house’s construction.”                                                                 -www.tinyhouselistings.com

19. Laura M. LaVoie:  “For me, the most important stage of tiny house construction was actually starting it! It was a little terrifying, but we couldn’t plan it forever – eventually we just had to break ground and start.”                              –http://120squarefeet.blogspot.com/

18. Macy Miller:  “I would say ‘ACTION’ is the most important part. Mistakes will be made at all phases, don’t be discouraged, keep going forward and keep ‘doing’.”      -www.minimotives.com

17. Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller:  “I would say that the most crucial part of building a Tiny House is choosing a design and sourcing materials that reflect your values and style.”
www.tiny-themovie.com

16. Kent Griswold:  “I think it is a decision to simplify your life. You need to be able to get rid of the things that clutter your life and figure out what you really need to live and be happy. You also need to see if you can live in that small of a space, so it is necessary to try it out.  Create a space in your current home and try living in that space for a while.  Or go on a vacation and stay in a cabin or something of similar size.  Anticipate changes that may come to your life and work through them.  If possible, get rid of debt and only pay cash up front so you are not tied down to a mortgage or loan.”                                                                         -www.tinyhouseblog.com

15.  Dan Louche: “Planning is definitely the most critical step.  Without proper planning you can waste a lot of money, time and then perhaps not even end up with what you had envisioned.  Anyone considering building a tiny house should spend the time up front to plan everything out to save themselves a lot of trouble.      -www.tinyhomebuilders.com

14.  Michael Veil:  “The most important thing in building a tiny home, is preparing it for your climate zone. I am in New England and the temps can be brutal. I heavily insulated the roof and walls with R13 insulation, and used expensive foam for the floor. Its easy to change some things once you’ve built, but insulation is not one of them. You must take the time to silicone and caulk all cracks and voids if you want to keep it warm-or cool with little effort.  An opening window is the best way to clear cooking odors or to just get some fresh air.”                                 -michigan-mike

13.  Jim Wilkins: “The most crucial piece is the process; communication, known expectations, documented specifications and build plans. A good, well drawn set of plans goes a long way towards getting what someone wanted, and yet leaves a lot of room for,  unexpected “surprizes.” The carefully thought out plans connect specifications with the process of building which become a living document that communicates the spirit of the “build.””                                                       -www.tinygreencabins.com

12. Bill Kastrinos: “(Whether stationary or trailer), the foundation is the most important aspect, including how the house will be attached. The trailer IS the foundation, and how it is attached is critical. Best to involve an engineer in either case. Tiny houses weigh more than RVs, so the simple bolt through is not enough. The design of the floor, the rodent shield, and the attachment to the trailer is very important. A house going down the road at highway speeds, into heavy winds, hitting a large pothole, you can quickly get 2 or 3  gs force applied to the hold downs. So that means a 7000# house now weighs 21000#(7000x3g)! Get at least ( 4) 10,000# simpson mst straps welded to the trailer, AND attached to the studs or corners of the house.”                                                              -www.tortoiseshellhomes.com

11. Ethan Waldman: “I’d have to say: Design,” (Ethan’s Fireman rescue window is pretty vital too).  -www.thetinyhouse.net

10. Jay Schafer: “A tiny house would be particularly vulnerable to condensation problems if you didn’t use the right insulation, venting and/or vapor barrier. ”     -www.tumbleweedhouses.com

9. Stephen Marshal: “Deciding if you want your house to be primarily nomadic or stationary is a crucial consideration. If it is to be roadworthy it needs to be trim and not too tall. If it is to stay in one place for a year or more, you have the freedom to design a wide load that will require a permit to travel. Stationary houses that will be moved occasionally, can be taller, heavier, and designed with comfort over speed in mind. Give thought to what level of mobility you need.”     -www.littlehouseonthetrailer.com

8. Andy Lee:  “The most important thing is for you to have the right attitude. Can you really live in one of these things? Knowing what you want to accomplish is the first step. Do the research, talk to the people who have built them and are living in them and see what worked for them and what didn’t. There are maybe a hundred questions you will want to answer before you begin. Adopting the right frame of mind and doing that initial planning are two of the most important things to begin.” -www.myandylee.com

7. Abel Zyl Zimmerman: “For any tiny house that is meant for fulltime living– determining its relationship, (impact), to zoning and utilities where you site it! For some this is easy, but for others it is a deal-breaker.”    -www.zylvardos.com

6. Alex Pino: “The most important step if you are just starting is to shed as much of your stuff as possible. Pare down to what you really love because that’s all that will fit and you don’t want to worry about owning and storing the rest.”           -www.tinyhousetalk.com

5. Lloyd Kahn: “I don’t think you can designate any one step as more important than all the others. I’d say a number of things are critical, like a good plan, sensible design, solid foundation, good craftsmanship, roof leak-tight, etc.”             – Author of “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter” http://www.Shelterpub.com

4. Tammy Strobel: “We didn’t build our tiny house, we hired someone to do the construction for us. So I would say the most important part in the process was designing our little home. It’s a crucial step because the space is so small.”                   – http://www.rowdykittens.com

3. Andrew Odom:  “The most important step – the most crucial, if you will –  to building a tiny house is preparing yourself mentally for the process of downsizing and maintaining a minimal lifestyle. Most anyone can construct a house. But preparing oneself for the psychological, emotional, and physical transitions is what is truly the most crucial step.” – http://www.tinyrevolution.us

2. Kevin Coy:  “Commitment. Commit to your project and  take “no” or “I can’t” out of your vocabulary. Failure does not exist unless you quit. Be a solution minded person. There are no problems only opportunities.”  -K                                                                            -http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/

1. Derek “Deek” Diedrickson:  “The most crucial step? Having the materials! No, while that is imperative, and assuming that one has the money or materials for said project, its really the planning phases, before, and often during (when confronted with a problem or when caught in a carpentry bind that you need to work around) a build, that are the most important. Poor planning will result in wasted, time, energy, materials, and often makes for a lousier end product. Planning, and even just thinking things out in your head before you make a move, might be a pain, but its truly important. ” – Author:
“Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever  the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here”   Available on Amazon.                               – http://www.relaxshacks.com

Thanks to everyone for participating! These are excellent responses. Every bit of it is useful and will help those of us as we think about building our tiny houses.

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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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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