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Ready to go tiny and interested in advice

 
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Hi everyone! I've been lurking for a while and I have a question for the collective experience of the forum.

I've been reading and watching videos about tiny houses for a few years now, and I'm just as excited by the idea now as I was when I first heard about them. I'm at a point in my life where I can downsize, and I'm ready to do it.

A short bio: I'm in Salem Oregon, the single parent of a 19-year-old with Asperger's. My son is a huge fan of video games, so electricity and high-speed Internet are a must. I spend a lot of time online, too, but mostly reading articles and forums. But I love the idea of having a much smaller living space. I spend a lot of time in my 10x12 foot bedroom/office and would be happy in even smaller. We don't have tons of stuff because I have already massively pared down our possessions.

There are several things about living tiny that appeal to me. First is the lower cost of living. Second is having so much less space to clean and maintain (I detest housework!!). The third is having a simple, less expensive lifestyle that my son could potentially maintain on his own. And fourth is feeling more connected to neighbors and community.

I'm aware of challenges that tiny house people face, like waste management and where to park a THOW. I found a tiny home resort just south of Salem that looks really nice, and that would also allow me to stay close to my aging mother. Eventually, I want to have a custom house built and go somewhere like Eugene or Portland. But this resort seems like a good place to start.

So my question to you good people is this: What were your most memorable parts of living in your first tiny home? Challenges, learning moments, discoveries...I would love to hear them all!
 
pollinator
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I am not sure I would say Tiny House Living requires less housework, I think it actually requires more, there is just less area in which to clean. What I mean is, I have a pretty good sized house now, so I can leave a pile of dirty clothes on the floor in the bathroom and it is not an issue, where as in a tiny house it must be dealt with immediately. The same for the dinner dishes, because that space MUST be used for something else. But without question there is much less physical surface area to clean, it is just what is there, must be cleaned frequently. That is not so much dictated by the size of the house, but how many corners, nooks, crannies and surfaces you have. My tiny house was just as bad as my big house in that regard for one reason, I have a lot of wood. My parents have a 5000 square foot home, but because everything is plastic and fake wood, a swiffer and damp cloth can clean the thing in no time.

My suggestion to people with a tiny home is to always plan to build on. This does not really relate to you now, but if you build a custom home, it could. I see a lot of them built on trailers and to me that is silly because building one on skids is just as portable and could make it a little easier to add on later. In my tiny home we added on after only 2 years. We did not do that "to keep up with the Jones's", we craved the extra room. But in my case I was building my own home, so building on was not a huge cost financially and so I could without going in debt. Naturally debt is the motivating factor for most tiny home dwellers so I am a bit different in that regard.

But tiny home living was generally good. It was just me and my wife then, but now we have 4 young daughters so we have more square foot needs, but we plan to build a WOFATI when the kids get older, give one of them this house, get off this !@#$%^&* windy hill, and have a smaller home. Yes...part of that is having less surface area to clean, but mostly getting out of the wind, having a better view, and having better thermal efficiency. Considering we were in a tiny home, built on to a fairly substantial home, and are willing to go back...says a lot.

 
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Hadley,Hi
I've lived in a tiny trailer house( 8'x20') from March through November for 4 seasons now. It is in a temporary location on friends' land and I have not set it up for winter living( I'm in southern Canada). I love it!
The challenge of building it myself was at times very stressful( and yes,I would do things differently,if I were to build one again) What's missing: a covered enclosed entry( the minute the door opens the whole of the cold weather comes in and quickly cools the house); more 'living' space( I chose to not have a loft..just couldn't envision climbing up and down) and having the bed down lessens living space;a true bathroom( I have a bucket composting toilet in the corner behind the door) ..guests ..well...don't use it because??
By the way,I love the bucket toilet...it has no smell and most people don't even know there's a toilet in the house. Okay,I'm already on to what I do like... the richness of a space that feels like a hug,waking up in a house I built with lots of recycled materials, the hardwood floor( which is also on some of the walls), the creativity of using what I had to make functional things, and yes, cleaning takes much less time but in my wee house it seems to need cleaning a bit more often( no place to hide the dust) and when the windows are open it affects the whole space not just an individual room.
I greatly enjoy a more intimate connection to outside/nature,primarily because it's small so you tend to be outside more and for me,I have no running water so must fetch and carry water in and then take it out( I refer to it as 'walking water') I constructed a high ceiling in the middle ( the peak goes width wise not lengthwise) and this makes the space feel so much larger than it is..that is the most often heard comment from people who visit...that from the outside it looks so small but when they're in it ,it feels much larger. Because it's essentially one room with windows on both sides and ends,you observe the climate, the sunsets and sunrises and simply nature more easily/readily. Also, I appreciate living with much less stuff( in fact I continue to pare down and have a rule that if I buy something then something has to go to make room for it...I confess I don't always follow that rule but then am faced with the chore of sifting through and getting rid of again.)
Hmmm..what else,I discovered ( well I found this out before I moved into my wee home) that less is MORE,that my life grows in richness and meaning as I live with less and on less money. Living 'tiny' allows me to be more in the moment and thus have increased inner peace.
Best wishes with your journey into tiny home living.
Kate
 
gardener
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I have no tiny house experience,but I did live a year in a studio apartment with my girlfriend and  her autistic son before we got married.
The bathroom became my refuge. Seriously, I would spend an hour at a time in there. Seriously.
My boy is 23 now, and he still lays on our bed with us.
We reminisce about the little apartment,but we also cherish our private spaces.
I suggest you include a way to give each of you a space of your own.
 
pollinator
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I'm a big fan of those rectangular Rubbermaid tubs, that have matching lids. I have lived in small spaces where certain items were stored away in their own tub. It's tempting to get the giant ones, because they are cheaper, for the amount of space enclosed. I found that tubs that are roughly the size of a kitchen sink, in area, but only 4 to 6 in thick, were very useful. This allowed me to keep quite a variety of different things in a big stack of tubs.

I had dishes, carving tools, screwdriver set and other small tools, gloves mitts and hat and other things, stored in separate categories. It's okay to have different depths of containers, but much better if all are the same size and shape horizontally, when stacked. Several days worth of dishes can be left to wash later, if desired. Any project that is being worked on, can be quickly packed away in it's tub and stacked. It only takes a moment to retrieve desired items.

This gives you much more effective surface area. Each tub of stuff is like another section of countertop.

Another stack of larger tubs can be used to store dirty and clean laundry, larger tools and miscellaneous stuff , whenever you want to clean up just by packing everything into a tub. Larger tubs are also useful for washing dishes and clothing.

When choosing where to put a vanity or cupboards, consider spacing them at a distance that will leave just a quarter inch to spare, when a standard size tub is placed between. Now a bungee run from the floor, to the hook on the wall at the top of the stack, is all that's needed to hold everything in place. The sides are held in place by the built-in components.
 
master steward
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As someone who is likely aspergers, and who has a husband who is also likely on the spectrum, and two small kids in a 1,000 sqft house, I would make sure your son is okay with the smaller space. As an introvert, it's really hard when I can't GET AWAY to a place where no one can see me. When I lived in the city, it was horrible. Every time I left my house, there were people and so I always had to aware of what I was doing socially. It was exhausting, and I didn't realized just how exhausting until we moved out to our 5 acres and I could finally be by myself outside without having to think about people's perceptions.

I'm assuming it's not "normal" for most people to to be exhausted and stressed from just being near another person. It means that the part of your brain that has to work so hard to figure out what to do in social situations, that part never gets to turn off. It makes everything so much harder. You're son might not be the same way, but if he is, he will likely need his own private area where he can retreat and not have to think about what other's think. A computer makes a really good, calming refuge for me, but it's not nearly as valuable as being able to be alone. I feel fine when I'm lost in a computer, but the moment I walk away from it, I'm stressed all over again; however, if I'm able to be alone without anyone around, when I go to rejoin society, I'm less stressed and better able to cope.

Finding that alone space in a tiny house could be really hard. It's hard in my 1,000sqft house...but that could very well be because I have little ones! I would make sure your son is okay with a small house, and that it won't make it so much harder for him to cope.

And, I agree with Travis, there isn't less to clean, it just has to always be cleaned. You leave anything anywhere, and it instantly looks like a pigsty...and you don't have an area to work, either. With my two kids, it means that no matter how much I clean, I can never seem to get my house to look as neat as my brother's house, which is almost 3x as big. If they have the same amount of displaced items as I do, their house still looks neat because theres's still lots of neat, open, clean space. I think a large key to having a house look neat is a good mess to not-mess ratio. The smaller the house, the harder it is to maintain a good ratio, because there's just so little space!


 
master steward
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DH and I lived for nearly 10 years in 8' x 36'.  To make that happen I washed dishes as soon as we finished eating; dirty clothes went into a bag about the size of one washing machine load which was washed as soon as the bag was full; bath towels were used for a week as to not fill up the laundry bag;

I found that living in a resort community you have to put up with a lot of annoying people.  Different places have different kinds of problems.  Like other people playing load music that you don't like; letting their dogs poop in your space; letting their kids run all over the place and in your space; having to deal with people you just don't like; the worst one was having to deal with drunks.
 
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I'm currently living in a pre-built tiny space of nearly 200 square feet.  I agree with what's been said about needing to frequently clean and organize.  Tiny spaces require constant cleaning and organization if you want to have the space to do something.  Things that I use everyday end up being piled somewhere, because it's more of a nuisance to constantly put it away and get it out....until I need the space, then I have to organize again.  I look forward to the day I have more space so I can leave all my books and office stuff out on a desk instead of piled up somewhere.  I also have a tiny kitchen with a tiny sink that is difficult to wash dishes in.  Preparing veggies for stir fry is a pain, because I have a tiny amount of counter space to work with.  But I know if I was living in a custom built tiny home that was thoroughly planned out, then my experience would be quite a bit different.
 
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Lots of good things mentioned so far.

I have built a tiny home were I plan to retire. I built it in my driveway and moved it to a few acres that I plan to retire on. I have had it in place for 3 years now.  A month is my longest stay, most of my visits are 2 weeks at a time. So I cant give long term advise. My home is 144 sq ft with the ability to easily add on should I so decide.

Building anything is all about compromise. My reason for building tiny was based on  cost. Not just the cost of building but heating, cooling and maintaining the building on a limited income as I age.

Nichol mentioned that a larger space can give the appearance of less mess. I would some what  agree. A larger area can contain more clutter and still have usable space. A good example in my life is the dinning room and dining table in my 1900 sq ft  home. I don't use my formal dinning room so that table becomes a catch all. Coats on the back of chairs, motorcycle helmets emptying pockets etc. etc. So my 12 x 14 foot dining room is a very large hallway with lots of surface space to fill without ever really being in the way. I still have to heat and cool all that area plus walk past it all to get any where in the house.

Joshua mentioned a well thought out space. I feel that's is the key to going smaller. Volume of space can easily compensate for poor design. A poorly designed kitchen with lots of counter space can still function but at the cost of more travel time between functions. And more space to heat cool and clean.

I have a background in woodworking and construction. I spent 7 years from planing stage to parking the house at its permanent home. I custom built pretty much  everything. I knew this would be a major undertaking and I wanted to get it right. My first step was to really be honest with myself about how I use the space I live in. Where I spend the most time and what can I remove from that space without feeling like I am sacrificing a thing. I used a floor planing app I found on line and started measuring the space I use in my large home and arranged my needs in virtual space just see how much space I need. As it turns out that space can fit on a 8 x 18 trailer with a few bump outs. I am thrilled with the results, It feels like a warm hug every time I enter or just sit and enjoy it. It works well with 1 guest for short term stays. It would not be enough for a partner or one of my sons to be a permanent resident that's why I built with the plan for expansion. For my personal comfort level even if I had a partner I wanted to spend most of my time directly on top of I think I would want at least twice the space of my little home. More space if it were one of my sons.

All this just to say, If this is something you want to be permanent take a very close look at how both of you use your space. And build to that size. Rather than trying to squeeze your needs into what will fit on a trailer. If this is a short term solution, I would cut lots of corners to save for a more permanent solution. And make sure everyone involved knows its temporary and working towards a goal.

 Just my opinion.
 
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The Mrs. and myself have been mulling this idea for some time now, but one issue came up and that is we both love our alone time especially when we're not exactly getting along. I usually head out to the garage/shop in those times and she sits at her computer doing her stuff and she also works from home with her computer doing legal work as a scopist. In case you don't know what a scopist does they take court transcripts from court reporters and turn them into a easily readable format. Court reporters use a machine similar to machine shorthand so most isn't legible. (in case you didn't know)  
Now we love each other and I wouldn't want anyone else at this point in life, but our house is entirely too big for us and we're considering liquidating everything for retirement and taking our show on the road, but it still comes back to having our time alone and I want some kind of workshop.. Tough to have with a mobile tiny home.
We've also considered a trailer workshop with a motor home.  The problem with this is I seriously doubt she would want to drive a motor home with a trailer behind it.  I could do it, but we like to split driving time and I'm 100% convinced she couldn't back up a trailer if her life depended on it. She can't even park her little PT Cruiser unless it's a big  open parking lot and even then it's a cringeworthy event..Yeah, motor home with a trailer could be a disaster in the making..
Now, we don't HAVE to travel long distances with everything so I'm thinking of a tiny home that's movable ,but based somewhere with a garage / shop that's leased or rented..  We really want to get out from under the burden of home maintenance, lawn care and the rest of the bs that comes with it. We're getting up in the years and I'm not sure how much longer I'll even want to putter around in the shop. I'm getting less and less interested in building stuff and with a tiny home there's only so many places to put the stuff I can make.. How many kitchen tables and chairs could we possibly have in a tiny home?  Lol
So many ideas, so little time to work out the details..
I'm actually thinking about putting my entire shop and all my tools in storage so my kids can squabble over all of it after I kick off..  
As for the Mrs...she's a packrat extrordinaire..  I'm not sure she really understands just how much of her crap she'd have to get rid of.. I was living out of a suitcase when we meet and before then I lived in a tiny room at the Y for a long time so I know I'm suited to tiny home living. Her on the other hand???.... Major major lifestyle change..
 
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Transferring from a bigger house to a tiny house was a bit challenging, especially if you had so many stuff from the bigger house! But, it will surely make you realize what are those that matter the most. You will eventually learn to let go of those things you don't really need and it's amazing!
 
pollinator
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My husband and I live in a 12'x16' house that we built.  Half is vaulted ceiling, the other half is bedroom loft.  When we were first together we lived in an old 24' c-class motorhome for eight months, so we knew we could deal with tiny.

I agree with what other people have said - windows and high ceilings are key to making the place feel bigger (although if you're building on a trailer you'll have to balance that with weight and structural concerns), a well-planned kitchen, and separate spaces for everyone when they need it.

For my husband and me, having the loft is enough.  We both work out of the house, so we're not cooped up together all day.  When we were both taking time off work, building our house, and living in a tent, I'd sometimes make him go out and run errands on his own or something to get some alone time.

One thing with tiny houses is that when you cook, everything smells like your food - all your clothes, everything.  We do very little cooking inside, and only in the winter when the wood stove is going.  When we do cook inside, we don't use alliums or other strong-smelling ingredients.  Another problem with cooking inside is the humidity.  A tiny house gets humid fast and when it's been raining for three days, opening a window doesn't help.  Our wood stove is tiny, but still way oversized for our place.  If it gets too humid inside in the winter, we'll get the temperature up close to 40 degrees then open the loft windows to vent the humid air.  We like our house hot and spend most of the winter in practically less clothing than we wear in the summer, so it's a good solution for us.  Other people might not be fans :)
 
Jan White
pollinator
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Oh and if you plan your kitchen well, you don't need to do dishes multiple times a day.  with just the two of us, we often will do dishes once every couple days.  My husband likes eating off the cutting board he makes his food on, so he's easy.  Just have a dirty dishes spot on one side of the sink where you can stack things.  And like someone else said, don't have a tiny sink!
 
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