The Tiny House Nation guys built this house for a couple who, like so many other tiny house couples, wanted freedom from debt and freedom to travel. But this couple also had a special fondness for flying, and that introduced a few additional challenges for John and Zack. Most were simply aesthetic: the airplane-style aluminum skin, for example, or the ceiling fan that looks like a propeller. But there also had to be a place for a flight simulator. There wasn’t room to do that on the lower level and still have a functional space there, so the setup found its home in the loft, in front of a bed that converts into a couch when it’s time to practice.
A house divided against itself? Despite appearances, this Oregon structure is composed of two trailers joined together, not one split apart, and it’s standing just fine. Credit for the build goes to Tiny House Nation and Canadian firm Sunspace Sunrooms, who were responsible for the covered porch in the middle. It’s an interesting idea that effectively fits a courtyard-like area, semi-outdoors but still private, into a very small house. The trailers themselves hold the more conventional spaces – living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – and will be home to a family of four.
Here’s an interesting Tiny House Nation project: a faux stone sided home built for a Tennessee family of three in collaboration with local outfit Triple B Construction. The couple was going for a gothic castle look, but as it turned out that didn’t entirely fit into 480 square feet – or their budget – so what they got ended up looking more like an old country church. Still kind of goth, if not gothic, with a nicely atmospheric interior highlighted by a central staircase going up to one of the loft bedrooms.
Wind River Tiny Homes are best known for their highly individualized THOW designs, such as the Rook and the Chimera, but they also do foundation houses for those lucky enough to live in the Chattanooga area. They call this one the Urban Micro Home (at 650 square feet, we’d normally call it ‘small’). If you like it, there are two ways to get one even if you aren’t near Chattanooga: have Wind River build you a 396-square-foot mini version on a skid, or order soon-to-be-available plans.
On the bright and sunny main floor, a full kitchen with bar-style seating and a stylish range hood shares space with an open living area.
There’s a private home office off to one side.
The bedroom at the top of the stairs looks out through huge windows over a covered porch.
One of our favorite parts about tiny houses is seeing the constantly evolving designs that appear, and the Greenmoxie is one example that will leave your mouth wide open in amazement. Greenmoxie the house started as a side project for the team at Greenmoxie the eco-conscious consumer blog, but the design and build by David Shephard and Ian Fotheringham ended up being so successful that they’ve decided to start taking orders.
It’s a relatively long tiny house on a 30-foot triple-axle trailer, timber framed with a black metal roof to go with its dark shou sugi ban siding. It has an unusual interrupted roofline that’s only half roof, the other half being a 1kW set of solar photovoltaic panels. An electrically operated false end wall folds down to make a small deck at the rear. Inside, there’s a long and spacious living room followed by a galley kitchen and a bathroom up front behind a reclaimed barn wood sliding door. The large windows interspersed along the walls among the bookshelves and storage stairs are also reclaimed, as is the ceiling; the floor is new oak. The walls themselves are Norbord oriented strand board, spray foam insulated to R22 (roof and floor insulation is R35).
True to Greenmoxie’s roots, it’s designed to be totally self-sustainable and off-grid. It carries two 30-pound propane tanks that feed the stove, the fridge, the water heater, and a Dickinson 9000 fireplace. A Little Cod woodstove provides supplementary heating. The solar panels charge 11kWh worth of Surrette batteries, and there’s a 200-liter rainwater collection and filtration system, as well as a 200-liter grey water holding tank. The toilet is a Sun-Mar Excel composter.
The Greenmoxie guys seem a little apologetic about the price, $65,000 base (US, although they’re in Ontario), saying “we blew our budget to smithereens.” However, 65K is pretty squarely in the midrange for commercial THOWs these days, and considering the off-grid features, name brand appliances and electric porch, we’d say they’ve got no reason to be bashful price-wise – and plenty of reason to be proud design-wise.
Brevard has been one of our favorite tiny house builders for quite a while; we love them for their unpretentious style, build quality and affordable prices – as well as their intelligently thought out interiors. Take their new $52,000 Fort Austin as a great example of that. Its 24-foot length is very well balanced between the central kitchen/dining area and the living room and bathroom/laundry room on the ends. None of the spaces is very big; none of them feels small, either. It’s an almost perfect adaptation of functional spaces to a tiny living scale. (‘Almost’ because the kitchen probably wouldn’t satisfy a true culinary enthusiast, although it looks just fine for more casual cooks.) Then there are two full-sized sleeping lofts up top. To get to one of them you climb a roll-out wooden ladder; to get to the other you take the stairs. And has Brevard found a great place for those stairs! They’re tucked away in one corner of the bathroom, which has two big advantages over the more conventional placement along a side wall: They take up absolutely no space in the main living area, and as they’re surrounded on all sides they’re some of the safest stairs we’ve seen in a tiny house. There’s even storage space under every tread. A great idea, and just another reason why Brevards are always worth a second look.
Like a lot of small towns, Spur, Texas, has spent the last several decades getting even smaller as society has moved towards urbanization and mechanization. In the case of Spur, a West Texas ranching and cotton farming community about an hour outside of Lubbock, the population at the turn of the century had fallen to half the 1950 peak of 2,183. The remaining residents didn’t like the decline, or the vacant lots and abandoned houses it left behind. But while the area had a lot to offer – a mild climate, beautiful red rock canyons, low crime and low cost of living – the lack of jobs was going to make it hard to rebuild the town in the conventional way. Spur was wired with fiber-optic broadband, though, so attracting telecommuters was a possibility. Of course, tiny housers often do work from home and are known for their willingness to relocate, so they seemed like an especially good bet. In 2014, the City Council eliminated minimum building size restrictions and passed a resolution designating Spur as “America’s first tiny house friendly town.” There are still some restrictions – houses must be on a foundation, on the electric grid, and hooked up to city water and sewer – but it’s still a lot easier to get legally set up in Spur than elsewhere. For example, inspection and permits are free, and if you already have a THOW, they’ll help you transfer it from the trailer to a qualifying foundation. The city has already sold more than 60 one-sixth-acre lots for $500 each, and while they’re working on condemning more abandoned properties there’s a good supply of private land for sale as well. Most of the new landowners haven’t moved in yet, but there are around a dozen new tiny homeowners in town, including a couple of college professors who teach online classes. (If you’re more into homesteading than telecommuting, that’s an option too – it’s legal to grow crops and raise animals inside city limits.) For more information, see Spur’s tiny house website, SpurFreedom.org.
Abandoned homes in Spur, Texas
A (re)solution from the City Council and Mayor Manuel Herrera
A new arrival
Now seated on a city-approved foundation
Spur starts to fill up
With typical Midwestern modesty, Iowa resident Mike Tucker says he only knows “some basics” about homebuilding. Nevertheless, the 57-year-old landscaper and hobbyist craftsman felt confident enough to start on this 48-square-foot micro cabin without blueprints, a design, or even a plan. “I just winged it as I went,” he says. He did know he wanted something that would be easy and safe to take on the road, so he built on a small but exceptionally robust welding trailer rated at 10,000 pounds, giving himself a very generous safety margin. He found the trailer on Craigslist, and many of his other materials came from the same source, including the reclaimed barn wood siding and the antique door. New 2×4s, particle board, Tyvek and windows ensured that the house would be sturdy and weatherproof. Mike sourced the cedar for the interior walls from all the way in Arkansas, but it was quarter-inch, edge-cut wood and very cheap. Altogether, he spent less than $3,000, including new heavy-duty trailer tires. It has no plumbing (Mike keeps a camping toilet inside for emergencies), but it is wired, so he’s be able to have a microwave, coffeemaker and TV. And maybe a hi-fi system… since Mike didn’t have an endpoint in mind when he started, he says that the hard part now is knowing when to stop – it may not be until he’s completely out of space inside. You can take a look at proud son Jay’s Imgur for more info.
ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), which will run from November 15–17 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, is a pretty big deal in the building industry, with over 400 exhibitors expected to attend. As far as we know, though, only one of them is bringing a tiny house. That’s Tracey Powell, an architect (and longtime member of expo sponsor The Boston Society of Architects) who’s now busy finishing up a 150-square-foot THOW that she plans to take with her whenever she has to travel for work. (Apparently that’s pretty often: Tracey estimates that she’ll be spending around 50 weeks a year in her new tiny home.) The Lil’ Lodge, which Tracey is building together with her brother Trevor, an electrician, is notable for its steel frame and sleek modern styling, as well as for being jam packed with high-tech luxury gadgets like Glass Apps Smart Film, a Hidden Television VanityVision dielectric mirror, an Incinolet toilet, a Kohler DTV Prompt digital shower, Lutron wireless lighting controls, and lots more. It also uses Energy Star appliances throughout to make it five percent more energy-efficient than a regular house. Despite all that, Tracey says the Lil’ Lodge is still going to be relatively affordable thanks to its small size, although a total cost won’t be available until she and Trevor are finished with the build.
Anyone who’s worked on a serious construction project knows how important it is to have the right tools. It can mean the difference between endless swearing and frustration – and sitting back with a beer and admiring your handiwork in the evening. We spent some time rounding up the best tools for the job – tools that will save you time, frustration, and most importantly, help you build a better home.