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The Tiny House Movement

 
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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No Len,
It appears it's a Toronto based one off concept and they indicate that they will be fabbed in China and shipped. It's the design features and size that I like. Wouldn't be too hard to mimic those things I liked and make my own.

Over 200 sq ft requires a permit here so even the small one is too large for local placement without a permit.

In my neck of the woods to move or place an early manufactured mobile home without wood siding and a shingled roof it is just not allowed.

Even though most people don't, shipping container placement requires a permit in our county.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vancouver Island
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Robert Ray wrote:
Even though most people don't, shipping container placement requires a permit in our county.



Even so the cost of permit... at least here is based on value per square foot. There may be a minimum price/sqft though. I'm not There for a while yet though... by then the rules will have changed.
 
Posts: 1113
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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bruc33ef wrote:1)  They are cheap to build oneself with easily available, new or recycled, commercial materials.  (Check the 'vermont' link below.  Peter King teaches novices to build a shell, minus windows, for $1500.)  The wood can be precut.  Standard sizes mean it's not hard to find recycled materials to use.



I hadn't really known about the "Tiny House Movement" until after we had already built what we call our "Tiny Cottage". We did many of the same things although ours is heavy masonry. Lots of recycled materials. Our cost is a little more than the above number but our heat bill is almost nothing and our construction is such that our house will last far longer having far less maintenance - built for the long term. Sticks are for firewood in our situation.

bruc33ef wrote:2)  They are easy for the novice and the athletically challenged to learn and to construct. 



Definitely a good way to learn for other projects too. Steadily scale up.

bruc33ef wrote:3)  They require less labor and equipment, and a lower learning curve, than many alternative building methods. 



Very true. It took our family (2 adults, 1 teen, 1 tween, 1 child) about 2 months to do almost all the work. A few months more to do finishing details on the interior to move in.

bruc33ef wrote:4)  Since they're small (typically about 100-200 sq. ft; by definition under 500) they're cheap to heat because of square footage alone.  And they can be insulated quite well.



Key issue. We built our cottage for about $7,000. Keeping the cost low was important so we could make it happen. While that $7K is more the $1.5K number above our house is built to last a lot longer than the tiny houses I've seen in articles and our heating and maintenance are designed to be low.

By the way, our house will float above freezing all winter when unoccupied. This is due to the well insulated thermal mass and passive solar gain. Our little fire brings it up to what my wife considers a comfortable temperature of around 65°F. This is one reason not to do stick built.

bruc33ef wrote:5)  Many of the houses are mobile with the obvious benefits.  Also, since you can put them on wheels they often fall below the zoning radar and no permit is required. 



This also eliminates a real estate tax in many places. Mobile is one thing our 100,000 lb cottage is not. But then I'm not planning on going anywhere.

bruc33ef wrote:6)  In many localities, just because of the low square footage alone they don't require a permit (in some places it's 100 sq. ft. while in others it's 200 sq. ft below which a permit is unnecessary).  And if you need to work with the zoning authorities, they understand stick frame so it won't be as much of a hassle.



Good point. I specifically bought land decades ago where there was no zoning. Fight back - get rid of intrusive, unnecessary zoning. The government has no business telling people how to build on their own land. If I want to build a concrete roof it is my risk.

bruc33ef wrote:7)  The small size of the structure means more land for planting or a pond, etc..



I agree with the sentiment that smaller construction leaves more of the land open. For us this was not an issue - we have a large farm. In fact, people are often amazed that we have such a small house given that we have so much land. Someone recently said that he would have built a much bigger house if he had that much acreage. The thing is, we spend a great deal of our time outdoors. We don't need to bring it inside. Inside is for calm reading, shelter from the storm. (Today it is ice rain so we only did minimal work outdoors - everything in its time.)

bruc33ef wrote:  It encourages people to downsize and become more efficient users and accumulators of resources.  (People tend to fill up whatever size place they have, regardless of need.) 



Very true. One of the things we've talked about a lot was moving from our 750 sq-ft of living space in the old farm house to our tiny cottage (252 sq-ft) made us get rid of 'stuff' we didn't need. It also meant we did not bring our work into the house. Our tiny cottage is just for living - not for raising livestock, nursing piglets or lambs, hatching chicks, tools, etc. Old farm houses tend to have all those functions mixed in together. It is nice not having that.

bruc33ef wrote:9)  Many tiny houses are really cute and livable despite, or perhaps because of, the size.  See links below.



Aye, that they are. It is nice not living in a big ugly box. I see so many of those going up. Maybe when people build small it inspires their creativity.

bruc33ef wrote:10)  You can add on to the basic structures easily as/if your needs grow; something which can be difficult with some alternative methods.



This is an important point. I designed our house to be expandable from scratch. We would like to add on to it in a few years, after we've finished up some other projects. One thing we want to add is a folly tower.

bruc33ef wrote:So I don't think we should turn up our noses on stick frame construction and think that we have to reinvent the wheel in order to build something more 'environmentally correct'.  These are environmentally correct, IMHO.



My biggest problems with wooden construction is:

1) I heat with wood - it is what I can produce myself - and I don't like living inside my fuel.

2) Wood rots - Yes, I have a >200 year old wooden house down the hill but it requires a lot of maintenance to keep up. The rest of the village that was here all rotted, was crushed by ice or burned down.

3) Wood lacks thermal mass. Masonry has a great deal of thermal mass which stores heat so our heating needs are minimal. We heat our house with 3/4 cord of wood per year. We need that much to dry cloths and such through the winter months so it isn't much anyways.

For me, even though I have a great deal of wood on hand, the masonry really works as I also have that on hand. This is Vermont - a great source of rock.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
                        
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We want to do a small pilot this summer, with very basic facilities provided to see what interest there is. My questions are: 
Do you think there might be sufficient interest in staying at such a place?
Where are the best places for me to reach out to let people know we are offering this?
What would make it attractive to RVers? 
What price range would be reasonable, per night or per week for primitive facilities (no electric at first, compost toilets, solar shower, well water piped in, etc)?




You might want to check around with other campgrounds and farms w/camping to see how they handle things and whether it is worth it financially. Oregon has several, even their state campgrounds have yurt and tipi rentals. Not sure about the Midwest due to lack of traveling the area. There are national associations that train people to operate campgrounds, not sure they're name though. As a general rule, weekenders and fulltimers are two types… the boondocker which is self-reliant that doesn't want hookups and generally boondocks because it is free, and the camper who wants hookups. Water access (like a fill spot, not necessarily at each site), a sani-dump location for sewage dumping, and on site electric seem to be the biggest offering at private and government run campgrounds. The more things on site the higher the cost usually. Also, check the local laws. Sewage handling is an expensive part of campgrounds.

RVer is a huge umbrella term with a wide variety of people under it, nearly a million strong last I read.  Looking around your project I would think the type of camper you want is shared goals, the nature type. There aren't many camps in the US focused on permaculture, so the market is niche and really new. 

Price wise, that varies as much as the RVer. One guy might be willing to pay $30 a night for primitive camping at a permaculture campground with no activities. Personally, I wouldn't pay more than $5 a night which is pushing it for a location that doesn't have free sani-dump and water fill or activities related to permaculture.  You might consider offering camping sites to rent for those attending workshops, though without water, sewer and electric most weekend campers can't go two days without water access.  Not sure what type of eco-tourism you were looking to do, but I'm sure that would change things.

By the way I saw your post about people being critical of RVers, but it is really a trade off - stay in a house, use air conditioning plus driving the car around, or park your RV somewhere for a bit, have a much lower footprint than a house....



It CAN be a trade-off. Depends on what people do while RVing to be more green. Most RVs have two AC units and run off electric shore power or noisey, polluting generators. Most use nasty chemicals in their grey and black water tanks that will kill the plant life if dumped. Half the weekend and fulltime people I've met insist on using disposable products like plates, so they don't have to clean. But yeah, people in houses do this as well. All things to consider when inviting people to your land. Things are changing. Slowly.

Wish you the best with your project, it sounds fantastic!

Kind regards,


See
 
Robert Ray
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Small modular design
http://www.trendhunter.com/photos/95955#1!/photos/95955/1
 
pollinator
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Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Here's one I like -

http://tinyhouseblog.com/pre-fab/ideabox/

The one pictured is the company's headquarters in Salem, Oregon, and you can go see it.

It's not cheap, but it is a functional layout and nice finishing. Seems to me you could do something like this with a shipping container or an old single-wide, for a reasonable price.
 
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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A tiny house a Mike Oehler's place:



 
                          
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Everybody wants to be so innovative.  I have to argue for something more mainstream. 

I live in a place where, as yet, there are no building codes.  I can do what I want.  I live in a 170 year old house that needs a lot of work, and sometimes I draw up little cottages.  My name actually means little cottage in some Dutch or Frisian dialect.  I don't draw mansions, and I don't draw strange "alternative architecture" designs.  I've lent a hand building a cob cottage.  I'm familiar with some of the arguments.  But traditional stick building is fast, material and labor efficient, and because it's the standard, it's repairable by a typical carpenter or handyman.

So here's a simple cottage.  It's 16' square.  It's done with 2x6 framing 2' o.c.  It's got a single top plate on the walls, and the rafters should be lined up directly over the studs.  It's balloon framed, with the second floor hanging on the studs, rather than sitting on the top plate.  This way, framing the walls is simplified.  The walls are 10' 3" tall, which is a 10' 2x6 plus a top and bottom plate.  That makes for less cutting.  Just whack them together and tilt them up.  The roof is 12:12 pitch.  45° is an easy angle to measure.  The total height from first to second floor is 7'7".  The joists come down lower than that.  Because of this, fewer stairs are needed, and the stairs will take up less space.  I like big treads, and I don't mind tall risers, so these steps are big, almost like a ship's ladder, but shallower and with a landing.  The soffit overhang is added after the roof is framed, and could be ignored altogether.  The roof can be framed with 12' stock.



I hate fiberglass insulation.  It's good for mouse habitat and little else.  Drywall the walls and then blow in dense pack cellulose.  Put as much foam between the roof rafters as you can afford.  I've drawn an additional 4" of foam on top of the right side of the gable.  Tape seams and glue joints.  Money spent on better construction will mean reduced operating expenses later.  There's no plumbing or electrical system.  Add them at your own risk.  Use cheap windows, but make sure they're at least double pane and keep them on the south side.  Put this on either piers or an insulated slab.  Insulate underneath either way.  Mind your airflow.  Ventilate by doors and windows rather than floor, wall, and roof leakage.  Carefully put in a well flashed chimney and a wood stove.

So, this gets you about 450 square feet.  In the long run it can be a good storage building or office/studio or guest bunk house.  And you can then get to work on your gardens.

Dan
 
                    
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Dan, I'm a stick builder myself and believe that in many situations owner builders are better served with stick building as well. For one thing not everyone is blessed with their own rocks, a sloping lot, or many other things that are needed for many alternative buildings. Cellulose insulation is superior to fiberglass in many ways,  I like the freedom the lack a local building code offers, and at the same time have seen too many people do things that are sometimes not in the best interests of safety or durability.

A sixteen foot wide is a handy size for a home builder. If one needs more room it can be built longer. One of the problems with a conventional narrow building is the upper floor space is cramped by the sloping roof. Balloon framing the walls with a dropped floor as drawn does gain a lot of usable space in the upper area. From the viewpoint of structural engineering there is an area of concern.

I'm going to break this down in simple terms as there may be readers who are not as well versed in terminology as you.

This is known as a gable roof. Normally the structural members are: two sloped rafters, a lower chord known as the rafter tie and an upper chord known as a collar tie. The rafter ties normally double as ceiling joists and floor joists to the upper space. Photo to illustrate. The roof area is divided into thirds. The upper third is where the collar tie should be to ensure maximum effectiveness. Similarly the lower third is where the rafter tie should be. Note that when the rafter tie is raised there are additional stresses placed on the rafters themselves and they may have to have their size increased.



This forms a triangle, a very stable structure.  The lower chord, the rafter tie, prevents the wall tops from being pushed outwards. The upper chords, the collar ties, prevent the roof peak from peeling apart under high wind conditions. They do not restrain the lower ends of the rafters from spreading. As long as the materials are properly sized for snow and other loads the forces are retrained within the roof system. The wall studs are left to mainly support the weight of the roof and the contents of the upper area.

With the bottom chord of the triangle removed, by installing dropped joists down the stud, that triangular rigidity is removed. The rafters will now be exerting an outward force on the wall tops. The dropped floor joists will be resisting that so we end up with a bending force being applied to the upper section of the studs.

I ran the calculations for a 16 ft wide building, using 16 inch spacing on the rafters, using the 12:12 pitch as drawn, a snow load of 50 lbs (common for many areas with snow, many places in the Rockies and the NE have loads in the 90 to 100 pound range) I come up with a load of 300 lbs at each rafter to wall connection.

I am not picking on you, I am picking on the technique. I see this sort of thing done a lot and many people do not see any immediate problems. Problems may come further on down the road. There are many examples of older pre code building that have suffered from similar techniques. The good thing about framing with wood is that failures normally do not happen suddenly unless precipitated by earthquake or other large scale event. Wood construction failures usually happen in slow motion, the roof ridge develops a sag, leaks may occur at roof penetrations, plaster or drywall may crack, and so on.

One good alternative would be to use a structural ridge beam and support that beam from each end with the load path traced down to the foundation. That can be designed as a simple straight down path or one with headers to permit windows or doors in the wall center. It may be difficult to obtain a solid one piece timber of sufficient size and many times it actually costs less to buy a factory made engineered beam.

Trusses are another method, but do present more difficulty in making usable floor space in the upper area. Manufactured trusses can be designed for usable upper space. In a non code area it is possible to build your own trusses. Many universities with Ag schools used to have plan books available for all sorts of sizes of trusses. While these won’t meet code today they could still be used. Some of of them also included plans for Gambrel trusses, the typical barn roof shape. They provide greater amounts of usable upper space.

Yet another method would be to use upper stage floor trusses that are wider than the building, say 20 foot joists on a 16 foot wide structure. That will provide more usable upper space as well as provide a wider eve which can be useful for shading windows from the summer sun. 

Illustration below. (this is drawn for a wider building so the dimensions shown are incorrect for a 16 ft wide building)



I hope that helps anyone who might be thinking of stick building.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Huisjen wrote:Everybody wants to be so innovative.  I have to argue for something more mainstream.



You miss the point. It isn't about simply innovating but about doing better. You're confusing "doing different" with real innovation which is "improving, inventing".

Huisjen wrote:But traditional stick building is fast, material and labor efficient, and because it's the standard, it's repairable by a typical carpenter or handyman.



No. Innovation can actually improve all of these factors.

We built our masonry cottage fast. in two months with two adults and two children (plus a 3 year old). That's nice and fast and with low skilled labor. That's efficient. We did it for about $7,000 including electric, plumbing and a lot of windows, that's efficient use of materials.

The size of our cottage is almost the same as you propose (252 sq-ft). Not only that but our building is virtually indestructable, ultra-low maintenance, heats itself in the winter to the 40's F, uses only 3/4 cord to keep it in the 60's F, keeps cool in the summer and can handle any snow load due to barrel vault roof design.

This house will outlast a stick built house by orders of magnitude. Stick built is estimated to last 20 to 40 years. Sure, many last longer. I designed and built for our house to last hundreds to thousands of years.

There are some major problems with stick construction...

Unfortunately since your proposed tiny house is stick constructed that means that it is very low thermal mass. This makes it harder to heat and cool. A high thermal mass building inside a tempering or insulating jacket makes for low energy usage. In our climate (northern), despite the prevalence of stick built, they're a very bad idea. They just use too much energy.

Then there is the fire risk. Living in a stick built house is like living inside a bonfire. Wood is highly combustible. I would rather use the wood for heating with. This lets me use energy from my own land rather than having to buy distant coal, propane, heating fuel (diesel), etc. Additionally our insurance company gave us a several hundred dollar discount on our insurance rates since our home is built of masonry. That means more savings every year.

Then there is the tax issue. At least in our state the stick built homes get taxed at a higher rate than a house built of concrete and stone. In fact, concrete and stone are the lowest value rated material for tax assessments. This means that we save hundreds of dollars a year more on our taxes, all while having a better house.

Savings on construction costs, maintenance costs, heating costs, insurance, taxes... It all adds up. Each year we save thousands of dollars vs a stick built house of the same size. Then the fact that we built small which further saves money on all of those items and more.

I built and refurbished stick built for decades. I'm familiar with it inside and out. It is so sad that such an awful method of construction became so entrenched in our culture. It is easy to do a lot better.

We built long before I heard of the "tiny house" "movement". Many of the mainstream articles seem to be rather faddish. But there is a functionality to building small - if for no other reason than it is easier to do. Innovation is good. Stick building is just _one_ type of convention. Go somewhere else and they may be appalled that you would use wood.


Huisjen wrote:So here's a simple cottage.  It's 16' square. ... So, this gets you about 450 square feet.



Hmm... 16' x 16' = 256 sq-ft not 450 sq-ft. It's only about half as big as you think. Especially after you subtract the wall thickness.

This is not a personal attack. Just a correction of the math and a reality check on innovation. I like simplicity and completely agree with you about building small simple structures that can be used for various different functions over time.


Innovation isn't simply for innovation, it is to do something better.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
                    
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I would have loved to have stone available on my own property to build with. We didn't even have enough to make a stone foundation possible, let alone an entire cabin, even a small one. Purchasing stone would have been a huge expenditure.

I also toyed with the idea of building with logs or timber sawn from my own trees. They were not larger enough in diameter to be useful; tall enough, but not enough diameter.

It would have been possible to build an earth bermed cabin, set back into the slope. That got nixed because it faced the wrong direction. It would have eliminated the mountain vista view; mountains in the background, open space in the foreground where we get to view deer, elk and turkeys passing through. Hey, we're human.

So I stick built. Well insulated, some thermal mass from using 2 layers 5/8 drywall, cement board floor underlay and ceramic tile. Not much, but then in this case as a part time use building lots of thermal mass would work against desired temperature change as happens in winter when it is vacant for two weeks, then occupied for three  or four days at a time.

So I believe there is a place for just about all types of construction.

Our cabin is 16x30, one floor approx 430 sq ft usable floor.
 
Robert Ray
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hmmm 256 x two floor=503 - stairs + wall thickness about 450 sq feet
 
                          
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Mountain Don, you make very good points.   A few bits of steel strapping on the diagonal, from the top plate to a few feet out on the 2nd floor joists, would hold the top plate in as well as stiffen the floor.  If built in storage were installed around the straps, they'd hardly be noticed.  The structural ridge is probably the best option though.  Thank you for pointing that out.  This is a doodle of sorts, and I'm sure there are other things to be modified in it.  It's not a full plan, just an idea.   A post in the middle of the building might be needed too.

Regarding snow load, a metal roof, installed on purlins over strapping that runs up and down the slope, with 30# felt under that, would last well and let snow load slip off easily. 

Robert Ray got the math right.  Interior of 16x16 is about 15x15=225.  Two floors gives you 450.  And while I haven't run all the structural numbers, I have run the energy numbers.  About 1/2 to 3/4 cord would heat it.  Solar gain from windows with good insulated curtains would cut that consumption some.  Adding a sun porch outside the thermal boundary would be better.  So I have 450, yes, 450 square feet heated with what some would use to heat 252 square feet.  Not an attack.  I agree that your structure is more durable if not cared for.  But the embodied energy of concrete gives some people pause, especially if they're still learning what the land has to offer.  This building could be moved around the property in the old New England tradition.  This building can be modified easily.

Someone who knows about stick built houses knows that this thing could be put up by a half competent couple in a few weeks, rather than a few months. 

A concrete house can be lovely.  Or it can be suitable for storing cheese and little else.  Let me tell you about one couple who prided themselves on being different and innovative.  Call them Helen and Scott.  They moved to a spot out on Cape Rosier, which is the opposite end of town from me, and eventually build a slip form house.  They talked about how durable it was.  They paneled the inside with wood with an inch air space.  That's R-1 for stone, R-1 for the wood, and another R-1 for the air space.  That's R-3, hardly energy efficient.  But they wintered elsewhere mostly.  Today, Helen and Scott are dead some 15 or 20 years.  The house stands empty.  It's unlivable due to mold issues inside the walls, due to their innovative building methods. 

They also built slip form walls around their garden, but some of those oh so durable walls are falling down, because Scott skimped on the portland cement in the concrete.  Concrete buildings have a tendency toward moisture issues and cracking if not well engineered.

Thanks, but I'll take a well built and well operated stick built house.  Thermal mass is great, but don't confuse inertia with economy.  Big Caddies have inertia, just like high thermal mass houses do, but that doesn't make them efficient.  Energy efficiency comes with good insulation and effective air sealing, with proper point source ventilation and air supply for comfort and health.

Dan
 
                    
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Center floor supports for the upper stage can be eliminated by using almost any of the common construction #2 grade 2x10 species on 16" centers. That is using live load of 30# which is common for attic and bedroom spaces.

Steel strapping criss crossed as you indicate would likely help with the sidewall forces but being conservative I'd say "the numbers" should be run before saying it's the way to go My main point is to try to impress caution when trying techniques that are not engineered or proven by lots of trial and error.

I like old buildings, those made way before there were codes. I find the most interesting ones the ones that are showing signs of failure. Those are harder to find though as many have fallen down or have been demolished.

There are many things embodied in modern building codes that irk me. However, the basic underlying structural parts, sizing joists and rafters, how to secure one part to another make a lot of sense to me. Some of these details or best practices are the result of applying what has been learned by looking at storm damages that have occurred in the past.

 
                    
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Country Plans forum has a thread devoted to a 200 sq ft or less cabin. It was a design contest that ran beginning in 2005. Long thread, lots of pictures and ideas being tossed about. Rambles a bit.  Too bad that some photos have "disappeared". (one of the participants passed away and so did the web repository for his images.)

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=641.0
 
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I could live in this with my 2 kids no problem. Until the little man gets a bit older anyhow, then we'd need a loft for him to have some privacy I think.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzGYnMgu-YM

The incinerating toilet was interesting.
 
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Here's a photos I just took of a simple timber-framed structure that would make a dandy tiny house.  12x12, two floors.  To build the frame took 3 men 4 days.  I expect the finishing work would take several weeks.  We milled the posts and beams on site with harvested off a forest restoration project.  Green wood is fine for this type of building. 
P2171103.JPG
[Thumbnail for P2171103.JPG]
 
Len Ovens
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Huisjen wrote:
Everybody wants to be so innovative.  I have to argue for something more mainstream. 



Building small.... is, all on its own, innovative (any more)

All kidding aside, small is not mainstream already. Your own plan is generally different from any of the small houses I have seen and is innovative in it's own right. The roof weakness aside (and I think that could be solved without loosing much of the space it adds) your plan states right off that it is in fact temporary but could be used for other things later and as such fills one use of a small building. That is something small and cheap to live in now till I have time/money/whatever to build what I want. Good stuff.

The biggest innovations in most of these houses though, is use of space. I am constantly amazed at how people make space or have many uses for the same space in these houses. This one is 16x8:
http://www.judyofthewoods.net/small_is_beautiful.html

And "stick built" though not as most people mean... it is only one floor with no loft of any type, but it works.... I don't know if it is permited, but but I think an inspector would need to be ready for a long walk aside from knowing where to look.

pubwvj and his block house keeps him warm with little fuel... it will likely do better when fully finished as he envisions it, but what I really like about it, is the space use inside. You can't really "move the furniture around" to change the look, but everything (even the placement of the dining room chairs) is carefully thought out to make the best use of the space.... the result even gets approval from his wife. All this and constant fresh air.

On another thread there are a couple of ISBU houses, One is a bit larger at 16x40 and the other is like a two car train with an outdoor covered kitchen where they are joined. The great thing about tiny houses is not how cheap can I do it, so much as .... it's small and inexpensive, I can try the things I want to.

I think your idea is great too. I would like to see how you would "Flesh it out" inside where you put the stove (I would take the space to put a small mass heater right in the center with at least some of the mass "upstairs"), how you would design the kitchen/bath/sleeping areas and how you would site it if you could choose the site for it.

Don't get me wrong... I would probably not agree with you, but I would be thinking of My family and how they would fit, not how you would use it. If you were building it, you would be right. I would build it for me.... prolly with a turret
 
Walter Jeffries
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mtnDon Miller wrote:I would have loved to have stone available on my own property to build with. We didn't even have enough to make a stone foundation possible, let alone an entire cabin, even a small one. Purchasing stone would have been a huge expenditure.



Exactly. So use what is available. For us here, stone is easily available. We can just pick it out of the fields, cut it out of the mountains, get it free from the local stone quarries, etc. Somewhere else wood is going to be the best local material. Elsewhere it may be grass or cattle dung. This is why I object when people say that a particular way is the only way. It's what evolution's all about. Making do.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Len wrote:The great thing about tiny houses is not how cheap can I do it, so much as .... it's small and inexpensive, I can try the things I want to.



This is a very, very, very important point. It's hard to try things out, to experiment, with a 30,000 sq-ft mansion but with a 300 sq-ft tiny house you can play around. We built 1 sq-ft models, 16 sq-ft dog houses, 20 sq-ft animal shelters, etc on our way to building our 252 sq-ft cottage. We played a lot.

But we're not done playing. The cottage is the first part. We plan to add another wing that will be a little bigger which will provide room for our growing family. We used many of those techniques building a 70'x30' winter livestock shed. On top of that we're building an on-farm butcher shop which is about 1,600 sq-ft using many of the techniques we played with in building the cottage and other structures.

We learn as we go. Each time we do better. The fact that we have a home to live in (the tiny cottage) which is orders of magnitude more pleasant than our old farm house is a big benny. Living here has given us even more ideas.

It is an evolution of architecture and building techniques. We do ours with stone, brick, concrete (FC & RC) because that is a good local material that will last. We also have wood (we do sustainable logging when we're not farming, sugaring, building, etc...) but I decided after building, maintaining and repairing so many wooden structures for decades that I wanted something more solid and the masonry was a good option for our situation and location. We happen to be not far from a ready-mix concrete plant (10 miles?) so that helps keep the cost of the concrete down.

By the way, when we did the cottage, we experimented with pouring some walls and block on others as well as the ferro-cement. There are definitely places for each. For doing our on-farm slaughterhouse we're pouring all the foundation (done) and walls (done). All of that was super insulated beyond what we did in the cottage since most of the meat processing facility is refrigerated. But for the ceilings and roof we're going to switch to ferro-cement barrel vaults almost identical to how we did our cottage. This time though we'll use a pump truck rather than carrying tons of concrete in 5 gallon pails by hand up ladders. That was an, er, experience! Builds strong bodies.
 
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I have built several 200sq# cabins with stick frame and a couple cordwood ones too.Thermal mass has advantages and disadvantages.It takes longer to heat up but stays warmer longer.I dont get much sun here so it isnt as usefull.Adding on later is a bad choice in earthquake country as the seam is a natural weak point.My stick frame structures paid for themselves with rent in just a few years but the natural building can take alot longer to recoop the labor costs.
 
                        
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I think this is about as tiny as a person could go  Quite amazing what's possible .  http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/9562/mobile-homeless-shelter.html
 
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We chose traditional stick framing primarily due to it's ease and speed of construction, cost and remoteness of the site.


Traditional time proven materials.


I managed to salvage these shingles from another project - major score!  Part of the soffit was salvaged from other projects I had saved over the years.  The long pieces I purchased.


The interior trim and cabinet material was purchased from a local sawyer.


Murphy bed and drawer cabinet I made.  I built the most used cabinets first.  More yet to build.


Modest but very functional kitchen.  All cabinets built from salvaged fir


I incorporated the "defects" for character and a rustic aesthetic.  Pretty tough to improve on God's handy work.


Murphy Bed down.  Luxury in a small space.  It makes the 12' x 16' space truly multi-purpose.  Even with two adults and three Labradors we enjoy the space and don't feel crowded.

We also have a 12' x 12' loft which serves primarily as a storage space but also does duty as sleeping quarters for guests.  The other specs are 12' x 16' mainfloor, 12'x 8' covered porch which is wonderful in all seasons.



We've been comfortable at -3*F on up to 100*F.  In the coldest weather we use less than one gallon of propane per day heating it with a Mr. Heater Big Buddy intermittently.  Once heated to room temperature it loses about 2-3*F per hour with the heat off at the low temperature end.  In summer it is typically 15*F LOWER than the temperature outside.  Very comfortable and efficient.

We had to jump through the county/state hoops to get our permits.  They did account for a big percentage of the cost of this structure.  The assessor makes sure we pay our dues annually too due to the improvements.  Worth every penny in my estimation.

 
Mo Smith
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Forgot to mention having a functional kitchen does indeed make life very enjoyable.




We hate leaving.  It kept us warm and comfortable on our last visit.  We are blessed.


find a local sawyer and make a friend of him.  The materials produced are wonderful to work with and can save you a lot of money.


Drawer I made from local windfall Doug Fir. 
 
                          
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Yonderosa, it looks nice. 

I do notice the floor joists have nothing in between them.  Do you have floor insulation?  If not, for fairly cheap you could put some sheet goods up on the underside and blow the bays full of loose cellulose.  You'd find it even easier to heat.

Dan
 
Mo Smith
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Huisjen:  Since that photo was taken I've insulated and sheeted (critter proofed) the floor joists.

More details can be seen at: http://theyonderosa.blogspot.com/
 
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Yonderosa,

Very nice pics and beautiful workmanship on your part.

I didn't see much in the way of venting for the ceiling insulation.
I fear that moisture will make the fiberglass wet and the moisture won't have a way to escape to the outside.
 
Mo Smith
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The gable end and the soffits are vented.  There is a 1" air gap between the insulation and roof sheathing as per code on the vaulted area that connects to an "attic" space above the collar ties.

Based on what I've seen the frost and snow melt on the roof near the vents and the lack of melting above the insulated part I'd say the venting is working very well. 

 
T. Joy
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Sigh. *jealous*
 
                    
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Yonderosa wrote:

Based on what I've seen the frost and snow melt on the roof near the vents and the lack of melting above the insulated part I'd say the venting is working very well. 



Isn't it nice to see the theory work in practice?

 
paul wheaton
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This tiny house is occupied by a couple and their cats.    This piece of property came with a shack that could have been ... who knows what.   A storage shed?  Whatever it was, it was uninhabitable.  It was nothing close to air tight. 

Here is a rundown of where $362 comes from:

$10  -  front door
$60 -  fabric to hold in wool insulation
$120 -  400 pounds of wool in roof and door (it's nine inches thick in the middle of the poofy part)
$27 -  three straw bales for wall insulation (clay/soil was free)
$60 -  wood (the rest was milled on site from trees we've fallen or salvaged from the site's existing buildings or the cabin itself)
$85 -  large window, the rest were free




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOIifnYM7DQ


 
paul wheaton
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Matt of Feral Farm shows a tiny house made of cordwood.  This off grid house is also a round house.  Matt talks about the issues of cordwood contrstruction, plus issues with round house construction.

Matt explains that one of the perks of cordwood construction is that once the thermal mass is heated, it will hold the heat for a day. 

The biggest downside for cordwood is that as the wood dries, it shrinks.  So gaps tend to form between the wood and the mortar - thus allowing wind to pass through the structure in hundreds of gaps.  Or the wood cracks and provides a differend kind of gap.  The solution is to  use only thoroughly dried cordwood.  This structure shows the benefit of using using thoroughly dried cordwood.

Matt has done a great job of reusing materials that otherwise would have been thrown away.

Complete with a micro kitchen and a wood stove.  The base under the stove is an old chalkboard! 



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3XRa7SsPQk



 
paul wheaton
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My house plan is tiny.  It is about 140sq.ft. with a sleeping loft.  I would like to use Hempcrete for the walls if I can find a supplier for Hemp Hurds here in the US that has a reasonable price.  As it is designed right now it will use hemp mdf instead of plywood for sheathing and is somewhat portable since it can be assembled of disassembled in about 2 hours.  If I can find Hemp Hurds cheap to make hempcrete though it will be a permanent structure.
 
paul wheaton
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Dave Bennett
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I like that comment.  I don't own any land but the house is mine.  I am working on that concept now.
 
paul wheaton
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A video of an off grid tiny house with an indoor kitchen, and a larger outdoor kitchen.  I also interview the guy that has been living in this place for five years.



 
Dave Bennett
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He has more hair on his head than me but our beards are about the same.  Very cool little place.  Big enough for 2 people for most of the year but it might get a little cramped during the winter.
 
                        
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You should post some pics, Dave:) Some of us need all the inspiration we can get!
 
What's that smell? Hey, sniff this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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