Tag Archives: tiny houses

our newest crazy adventure

We just bought a school bus!  A turquoise 1968 Chevy Short Bus, to be exact.  What the–?

Here it is at its old home.

It still drives!  Sort of.  But for a few hundred dollars, we get a whole room to add to our compound of tiny buildings.  A room on wheels. It’s so cool!  And hey, it goes right along with the yurt, the recycled tiny house, and the timber-frame, straw/clay wall bedroom.  In other words, our patchwork, by-the-bootstraps, “house” where none of the rooms touch.  It’s weird, I know!

So yeah, a school bus.  The interior is 7.5″ x 12″ which is about 90 square feet (not including the driver’s area or the steps up from the swing door).  Ninety square feet may seem small for a room, but look at this, a 90 square feet house built by the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House Design, Jay Shafer:

He’s got a bathroom, a kitchen, storage, a sleeping loft, the works.  And it’s on wheels, which keeps it out of the jurisdiction of zoning and codes that have minimums for house size.  Wheels like our new bus!

Of course, we don’t have plans to turn the bus into a full house/rv sort of thing.  More a cool, tricked out bedroom for one of the kids, probably.  And, of course, it has to fall in line, priority-wise, behind the timberframe bedroom, so it will be a not-very-tricked-out playroom for the time being.  Either way, the kids are super excited.

Speaking of RVs thought, that reminds me of another branch of the Tiny House Tree, that of the recreational park trailer.  When we were down at the beach last month we went by the old RV parking ground that has been there for thirty years—and some of those rvs have been there about that long, too.  They have grown with skinny screen porches built on, tiny cute yards, decks, etc.  Then we saw some new fancy rvs that had taken this trend of making a vehicle a home a step farther (or maybe it’s more a bridging of the gap between trailers and rvs?) by making rvs that look like tiny, adorable cottages.  The lines are all blurred, aren’t they?

This little thing is ten feet wide and has wheels under that white skirt.  It uses RV hook ups and can be parked in any RV lot.  Ha!

Paul lived in a bus in his twenties, a time for which he has many fond memories that may have colored his view of the bus at hand.  Personally, I was dead set against any expense of this size at this time, no matter how cute it was—what, was he crazy?  Until I saw the powerpoint presentation Paul and Sophie put together after going to see the bus (“Do not buy that bus!” “We’re just going to look at it!”).  That’s right, they made me a powerpoint with graphs, photos highlighting the bus’s many features, and quotes from influential town members extolling the virtues of bus living.  Those may have been made up.  But Paul promised to work faster on the bedroom and Sophie gave me her cute face.  Under pressure like this, it was inevitable that my resolve would crumble.

Paul is talking about putting down bamboo flooring in it—you can get recycled batches of less that 100 square feet for pretty cheap, leftovers from big multi-thousand square foot jobs that otherwise would just be thrown away.  Another advantage of tiny spaces—other builder’s scrap is your bonanza.  The bus came with some cedar paneling the previous owners had put in and then taken out, so that might go back up, depending on its current state.  A futon bed and some shelves have been mentioned….

I absolutely know Paul has the talent, vision, and skills to make it an exquisitely cute, craftsman space.  I just wonder how many years it might be before he has the time. But, as a knitter, I understand having a stash.  While my stash is skeins of merino and silk, his stash is…building projects.  Bathtubs.  Casement windows.  Bundles of flooring.  Cinderblocks.  And now, a school bus.

Yarn is so much more portable!

But it is done, and I’m pretty excited, too, now that I’m on board, I’ll admit it.  The bus comes today.  I’ll post more pictures once it is settled in its new home.

how to recycle a tiny house, day five

After taking a day off for the big snow, the guys were back at work for their fifth day recycling our new, tiny house (see the last few posts for details if you are new to the story). They arrived just about the time I was going out to the barn. Here is Fancy saying “Good morning,” and “What took you so long?”

As I blearily made my way up the path, a grinding noise and then pop! Out fell a piece of the wall. We’d decided on an extra window and here they are, putting it in before I’ve even cleaned out the milker.

Here Monty is on the inside, trimming out the new hole.

And here the window is a hour later, installed, and surrounded by shiny siding.

Next came the interior walls, pine beadboard….

and while that was going on, outside, they got the deck started.

Meanwhile, Sophie was also hard at work building her own house.

I love the back view.

By the afternoon, the deck was nearly done.

And the interior was starting to look quite lovely.

The ceiling and the walls in little side room were the last things remaining unfinished as they packed up for the day.

Here is the view from the back at the end of day five.

And the front.

From a pile of junk, it has regained it’s cuteness! It was there, and now it is here, re-materialized, reconstituted, resurrected! Recycled!

My favorite country music lyrics of the day are also celebratory:

Maybe I’ll get me a new tattoo, or take my harley on a three day cruise, or even grow me a fu man chu….

Tomorrow, they’ll finish up the last details, and then, this weekend, we’ll get the electricity running out to it and start to fill it with…well, toys, probably. Oodles and oodles of toys. Books, too, as Paul has promised me mucho book shelves for my birthday, and maybe that will ease the book pressure as we currently have leaning towers of books on every surface, those not already covered with toys, in the yurt. We need to get a couch, maybe one of those futon ones that open into a bed—future guests, rejoice! And a railing for Sophie’s loft, and, and, and—

Moving the house is nearly complete—now comes the fun part of turning into part of our home.

ETA: They finished on day six. On the seventh day they rested. And Paul got to work. Ceiling sheetrock, oak flooring, interior trim and bookshelves…all lie before us. I mean, before him. But the moving of the house is complete and the recycling experiment is a success. This house cost my cousin Noah about $7000 in materials to build, and cost us about $4000 to move. Go tiny, and building a house becomes quite doable!

ETA 8/1/2009: Here you can see pictures of the finished interior. Woo hoo!

Click here to go back to day four, the afternoon.

how to recycle a tiny house, day four, afternoon

Continuing on in the amazing process of recycling an entire house. Here we are after the guys came back to work after lunch.

Monty started working inside, making the door between the two sections, putting up the loft, putting in the electrical outlets, etc, while Matt and Jose worked on the siding on the little side room.

Here are some shots of the inside so far.

Next, they started putting the tin on the roof. Sophie was totally interested in this part, I think because of the danger-factor of these guys high up in the air. She’s going to be one of those people they drop out of helicopters to snow board or something, little danger-junkie that she is. She took these pictures. I love the one of their feet.

Next the windows.

Jose continued on putting up the siding. It’s starting to look like itself again!

Here is how it looked as they were packing up for the day.

Recall that this:

is how it looked that morning, just eight hours before! A platform. That’s it. Now there is a house! How weird is that?

At the rate they work, they have maybe a day left, finishing the siding, and putting up the interior walls and ceiling. Oh, and the deck. The kids and I have had a great time watching them—it really is like a circus act, what with the ladder walking, speed building, and feats of strength. At one point they were throwing things up to the roof guy—tape measure, extension cord, pieces of wood, cordless drills—as needed the ground guy would just toss a thing high, high, high, to have it plucked effortlessly out of the air by the roof guy, whomever it was at the moment. It was like a dance, and they had obviously practiced a million times. That was cool.

And it’s a darn good thing they got so much done in one day, because here is what it looked like the next morning:

Covered in snow! I hope they take today off.

Click here to go back to day four, the morning. Click here to go to day five.

how to recycle a tiny house, day four

After taking the weekend off, the carpentry crew was back at eight this morning, slamming it into gear with their incredibly loud music and their hammers and full on get-it-done work ethic. I’ve been staring through the window in awe at their industry.

They’d been here about 45 minutes when it looked like this.

It’s just amazing to watch a building appear where there was nothing. Essentially, a recycled house is a pre-fab house—my cousin Noah fabricated it in its old spot. The fact that it is so small means four guys can handle a whole wall section and the whole thing is going up like a magic trick. Watch….

After getting the outer three walls up, they started on the tricker (because of the height) front fall, muscling it into position.

You can see the outer two guys are hauling ass on ropes while the two inside guys do their Incredible Hulk faces as they push that thing up. Then the rope guys held it while the ladder guys scurried around fixing it into place. I think I held my breath the whole time. It probably best that I’m not a carpenter or I would keep passing out from lack of oxygen.

Next came the lower front wall panel.

You see the guy on the ladder? Ladders to me are things to try to make absolutely stable—they are NOT TO MOVE while I am on them. But these dudes think of ladders more like…stilts. Or maybe surf boards. They just stick’em there, scurry up, and it’s rocking back and forth as the lean here or there, stretched way the hell out—one guy even kind of walked his ladder down the wall, while he was standing on it. It’s a carpentry circus out there.

Paul, who used to be into rock climbing, scoffs at ladders. He tends to just crawl up the walls, balancing the ball of one foot on some invisible ledge on the wall, swinging a leg up and over the roof edge, hammering out on some precipice like he’s a spider monkey. A spider monkey with a hammer. I, on the other hand, am good at standing here with my coffee and watching out the window. That’s my part in all this. Oh, and I take pictures. They’ve all been really good natured about my picture taking. But I suspect they think I’m a fruitcake.

Back to the action. The roof.

This guy, Monty, is up twenty feet in the air, his feet balanced on those little rafters, hammering away, like its nothing.

I was impressed, anyway.

Here’s what it looked like from the back after about three hours.

Four hours in…

And it’s time for lunch.

I snuck this picture through the yurt window—they just looked so cute, sitting in a row like that, admiring their progress. And they should. They’ve been busting their humps out there, drinking their red bull and blasting their country music. Yurt walls let sound pass right through, which can be cool at night, listening to the owls outside—but that country music is as loud in the yurt as it is out there for the guys to hear over the pounding of their hammers, and I’m realizing I’ve never really listened to country music. Most of the songs start with something like, “Sometimes I hate my job,” or, “My brother just got out of prison,” but then by the end they seem to be about gratitude, like, “my ticker keeps on ticking,’ or, “I’ve got a cold bear on a friday night.” Appreciating the small things in life. I can get behind that, I reckon.

Half the day’s work is done. Tune in for the afternoon’s update!

Click here to go to day four, the afternoon. Click here to go back to day three.

how to recycle a tiny house, day three

The guys brought the Noah House to its new home the morning of the third day. This the first load, pulling up to the yurt at 8:30 in the morning. Be glad there isn’t a picture of pre-coffee me, staggering outside to answer questions about where to put stuff. Scary.

The sun is coming in from the east and the piles are beginning.

Second load delivered. The piles are getting taller and sun is higher in the sky.

It’s a big jigsaw puzzle isn’t it?

Third and final load.

The sunlight is coming from the other side of the yard now and the guys start putting together the floor platform.

I tried to be a good hostess and cultivate plenty of carpenter good-will by bringing them hot tea and blueberry muffins. It didn’t hurt, anyway. Here they have put in the foundation posts and are moving the first floor piece into place.

Second floor piece. The sun is going down now and they are in shade again.

The floor is complete. Here is a shot from morning the next day:

Tonight is the coldest night in our area in years, a predicted low of 7. With all these house pieces in the yard, I’m just glad there is no rain in the forecast. Tune in for further updates as the walls and roof go up…

Click here to go back to day two. Click here to go to day four.

how to recycle a tiny house, day two

The crew was hard at work on the second morning. Here is what it looked like when we went over to the old site.

Here is the roof. Just a pile of stuff.

Then we came back about four hours later and the whole house was just a pile of stuff!

It’s hard to imagine this could ever be something worthwhile again. I must have faith!

Here is the trailer and the guys loading it up.

Here is the forlorn little platform that the house used to sit on. It looks so tiny like this!

And here is some framing from the small sticky-outie part of the house. At least these sections look sort of like they could be something.

Putting wall sections onto the trailer.

The guys were working hard, hustling these giant pieces of house onto the trailer. I felt like a total girl, “Ooo, such strong muscles!” as I was walking around taking pictures, and trying like heck not to get in the way. Go guys!

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment—the trailer full of house arrives at the yurt!

Click here to go back to day one. Click here to go to day three.

how to recycle a tiny house, day one

As I reported yesterday, we are recycling an entire tiny house, by taking it apart where it is and putting it back together here. And it’s happening FAST.

Here was Noah’s house yesterday at noon:

And here it is four hours later:

The bits that had been taken off were in piles, ready to be moved on the trailer, windows, doors, siding:

The inside was rather shocking:

The white stuff is the remains of the old sheetrock ceiling.

Some more views—it’s like a peeled egg, isn’t it?

Sort of sad and forlorn. I hope it knows it’s going to a good home.

But meanwhile, at our place, the site was getting ready.

Here it where it is going…you might be able to see the little orange string that says, “put the house here!”

And here is the bobcat that the carpentry crew rented to get the grading right. What would take all day with shovels, got done in about twenty minutes with this little thing. I read that one gallon of gasoline has the manpower of a thousand hours or something like that, and I can believe it. Paul was happy not to be doing that shoveling, let me tell you. And I made all my noises about protecting the tree roots, so all was well.

Here are the kids watching the ‘digger.’ They were ECSTATIC. I said, “the digger is here!” and they SCREAMED and scattered to get their coats. Luc came out with his coat on inside out, grinning this giant grin, holding his little digger up so it could see it’s bigger digger cousin.

Tune in tomorrow for the latest updates on the house move!

recycling a tiny house

My cousin, Noah, built himself a tiny house.

It’s adorable and perfect for him. Let me tell you what happened to it.

But first, look at this: In a nearby botanical garden you can visit Paul Green’s tiny house, where he supposedly wrote many of his plays.

I love tiny houses! Maybe it’s an introspective writer-type thing. There’s a great book, A Little House of My Own: 47 Designs for 47 Tiny Houses that has pictures and plans for houses like Jefferson’s Cottage, Henry Thoreau’s Cabin and George Bernard Shaw’s Writing Hut, as well as many others. I need a writing hut! Don’t you think I need a writing hut?

Hey, I’m not the only one who loves tiny houses. This is a very cool site with lots and lots of pictures of tiny houses. And here is a blog about tiny houses. There are even several companies, for example, Tumbleweed Houses, who build and sell gorgeously cute, tiny houses. You don’t have to be introspective or a writer to like these—they are just so cool, all built-in-everything, and efficient, like boats.

What is the romance of tiny houses? It’s hard to put a finger on it. But surrounded, as we are, by a profusion of McMansions going in so fast that our rural road doesn’t look anything like itself, even from a couple years ago, tiny houses seem so lovely in their attention to detail and their focus on quality over quantity. It doesn’t take a ton of space to feel happy and satisfied with one’s home. It only takes the right amount of beautiful space to do the trick.

Okay, back to Noah’s lovely, hand-built house. It’s about 200 square feet, plus a loft you can stand in, made with lots of recycled components purchased from a used building supply store. Yes, that’s 200, not 2000. Those ‘not so big’ people crack me up sometimes—they go on and on about downsizing from the McMansion syndrome, which is great, but then the ‘small’ house will still be 2500 square feet! I don’t know, maybe there are seven people in that house. Seven people who don’t like each other.

Here is a shot of the inside of Noah’s place. Isn’t it cute? There is something just right about a person building their own tiny home, in a way that suits that person exactly, like tailored clothes made for your own body’s idiosyncrasies.

But then terrible news! Just as Noah was settling in, the forces of evil and zoning cracked down on him and announced that no one was allowed to live in this house. In fact, it couldn’t be a house at all. It could only be a storage shed. And not only that, it was too tall and would have to be cut down.

Sometimes you just want to go kick someone. I mean, really kick someone.

But Noah decided, instead of kicking, to do something else.

Rather than cut down his house, he decided to give it to us.

No kidding! How many people get to give away a house? How many people get given a house? My cousin is a very cool guy.

It’s funny—well, I mean, it’s not, but maybe this part is—because when he first built it, we had gone to see it and had immediately grokked it’s beauty and utility and decided we would build one for ourselves. We even called it ‘the Noah House’ as in, “when we get the Noah House built we’ll do blah blah blah,” or, “That window would be good for the Noah House.” And this was the year we were going to build it—or rather, Paul was going to build it. We had even sited it, with orange string and stakes. I would look out the window and imagine it there, our own Noah House.

We had no idea it would be Noah’s house that would be going there! Maybe our manifesting was too powerful! Or too… specific?

Anyway, our first thought was to have the Noah House moved here to yurt land. But because of the height, 16 feet, every power-line between here and there was going to have to get lifted, and that was a lot of fees. Seven thousand dollars worth of fees, to be exact. Um, no thank you. Not to mention the trees we would have to take out, both where the house is now, and here at the yurt.

So we decided to hire a carpentry crew to take the house apart, cart the pieces over here, and then put it back together. All the house at half the cost. In essence, recycling an entire house.

It all starts today! Tune in over the next few days for updates….

Click here for day one.