My interest in all-things-tiny-and-old started at 12 years old when I became fascinated with a tiny abandoned farm house near my parent’s home...and I've been sketching floor plans ever since. My Tiny Houses are the culmination of a life spent dreaming of a tiny reclaimed space, all my own.
For the past year, my tiny-house-under-construction has been
parked in the driveway of my rental house.My end goal is to move into it to a place closer to my work once my two
now-college-aged children have moved on to their own apartments.I am looking forward to a life with less
financial obligations (I am already debt free) and more time to travel.The new tiny life, however, that I am imaging
for myself is still full of so many unknowns and getting there has been harder
than I imagined it would be.
First off, to clarify, I never assumed that building a tiny
house would be easy. I have taken on big remodeling projects before and this
one has been an equal challenge. At this
point it is almost done and I will end up spending a bit less than 10% over my
$30,000 budget.I also originally
estimated it would take 18 to 24 months and I started on it one year and two
I'm almost done!!
So, all in all, I’m doing pretty well as a self-builder. And,
in the end, I am confident that building tiny house is the right thing for me
and my future plans. With that said, however, the idea that “a simplified life
in a tiny house is easier” works well as long-term goal; but certainly falls
into the short-term-myth category.
And while I’m at it…
there are a few other myths about tiny
houses that I would like to debunk.
Downsizing while Building a Tiny House – The Dream vs
During the time that I have been building my tiny house, my
life has become a LOT more complex.And,
despite my downsizing efforts in my main living space, I have mounds clutter in
every room of the house.The kids are
sick of it.I am sick of it.Quite literally, a LOT of stuff is required
to build a tiny house.
I can’t keep my tiny house materials and fixtures
in the tiny house because there is no room and stepping over and onto building
materials and tools is not a safe or tolerable scenario.I have been keeping my garage floor somewhat
open so I have a work space when it rains I need to use the garage as storage
for lumber and other bulky items like insulation and roofing.I keep a constant eye on excess materials/supplies
and dispose of them as I complete projects.More than a few times, however, I have needed the materials / supplies
that I just got rid of.To put it succinctly,
one should not simply decide to downsize while taking on such a mammoth
project.Do one thing at a time.
Build a tiny house and THEN downsize.
Doing both will drive you bonkers.
I am already there.
A Tiny House Will Make Life Better/Easier
I recently had a conversation with someone who is going
through a lot right now.She is on the
verge of divorce and afraid that her husband is going to kick her and her
daughter out of the house very soon.She
is stressing about the possibility of being homeless.And, on top of that, she is scheduled for a
major surgery that will require 8 weeks of rehabilitation.She lamented to me that “if only I had a tiny
house, I could manage.”I had to
apologize for sounding Anti-Tiny-House at the time but tried to encourage her
to NOT think of a tiny house as the answer to her problems.
She had so many other challenges to overcome
and basic life necessities to cover, taking on or even entertaining the notion
of a tiny house would be the OPPOSITE of better/easier. Even once it is built
(and she didn’t have money to pay someone to build it for her) she would have
to pay someone to move it, find a place to put it, etc…These kinds of endeavors require resources,
and when you’re already strapped for emotional, financial, and logistical
resources, taking on a tiny house project is NOT a good idea!
Taking a day off, at the zoo.
Living in a Tiny House Will Bring Us Closer
emotionally, if you will be sharing a tiny space with someone that you do not
have a very VERY good relationship; please reconsider.I’m not even living in my tiny house yet and
it has already taken a toll on my relationship with my boyfriend.We disagree on how it should be built, we
disagree on who should be building it, we disagree on how quickly it should get
done and how much I should push myself.My boyfriend and I already know that we will not be living together in
my tiny house. I may park it in his backyard, I may park it someplace closer to
where ever I am working, we may even use it at a short term housing solution while
he remodels his homes. We are not, however, considering my tiny house as a long
term living situation for both of us. We
know this about ourselves. We have too many differences when it comes to living
space and priorities. I am a minimalist and he isn’t. I work quickly and move
on to the next thing, he takes his time and collects things for months before
embarking on a project.Yes, a tiny
space would bring us closer together and that might work for a few weeks or
months but in the long run, having our own space / lives / projects will keep
us happier.You have to really know
yourself, and your partner, and be willing to sacrifice (every day, forever) to
live in a tiny space together.
The kinds of relationships that thrive in
tiny spaces do actually exist,
but they are pretty rare and take a LOT of
My boyfriend, Mark, working on my tiny house.
A Tiny House Is Cheaper to Live In
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people exclaim
that $30,000 is a lot of money to pay for a tiny house.And, if you do the math, living in my
now-paid-for tiny house will indeed be miles cheaper than paying the $1,500 a
month for rent.So, yes, undoubtedly,
living in MY tiny house will be a lot cheaper for me.But this calculation is very different
between Oklahoma and Oregon. And, in the short term, I am spending more money
this year than I ever have in my life!I
am balancing the financial and maintenance needs of both a rental home AND a
tiny house.There is NOTHING cheaper
about my life right now.
In some areas of the country you can actually buy a home on
a foundation for less than a tiny house will cost you.In some areas of the country you can get FREE
land and build one yourself.So, if your
goal is to merely find a cheaper place to live, then a tiny house may be a solution,
but not always and not likely in the short-term.If you have other goals of reducing your
carbon footprint, or having flexibility to move your tiny house, then a cheap
house on foundation might NOT meet them.Maybe an RV would fit your lifestyle if you want to move it often? Maybe
a tiny off grid cabin high on a mountain (where land is super cheap!) would
meet your goals?
Dee Williams' Traveling Vardo
Even if you can build a tiny house for less than $10,000 the
expenses don’t stop there.Do you need a
truck to tow it?Do you plan to insure
it? Are you going to place it on your own land, or someone else’s? Do you have
enough money in savings to properly maintain it.(which may end up being MORE expensive to do
than a normal house because residential contractors do NOT like to work on DIY
built tiny houses…….trust me on this……)
This past weekend I had an emotional breakdown when hundreds
of dollars’ worth of tile fell off my newly grouted kitchen wall.I have been pushing myself emotionally and
financially for over a year.I have a
good life, a good job, great kids, and a generally supportive boyfriend.This shit, however, is HARD!!!!I wake up some days and think “What am I
doing?”When people ask me why I decided
to build a tiny house it takes me a bit longer to tell the story.I have officially moved past the stage of
passionately pursuing my creative endeavor for the good of my future, and on to
the stage of just wanting it to be done.So, I guess you could say I am in a bit of a cynical mood this week.
So, I may have written this article far from my Pollyanna-like
perspective on tiny houses; but I think that taking a step back and looking at
this whole tiny house movement from this angle is a good thing.Gaining perspective is a positive thing.
If there is someone out there who is thinking that tiny
house will solve all their financial and relationship problems…..and if I have
made them / you stop and think more cynically and objectively for even another
day about the realities of the tiny house lifestyle; I have fulfilled my