Tiny Houses - Part 5 of Fantasy Homes series
Build a tiny home for less than $5,000
I’m still doing research on possible “Fantasy Homes” I would love to live in, given the money and place to build them. You may have heard about the new trend toward “tiny houses” which use very little land, energy, or materials and provide the bare essentials for green living. Some are really charming and look very comfortable.
The concept of living in a “tiny house” - under 100 square feet - is not new to me. When I lived in Colorado in the late 1960s many people were building tiny homes, only then they were called "hippy cabins" or "country cabins" and this followed a long tradition of "mountain huts". The main difference was that now people were living in these tiny houses year-round. A friend had the most beautiful little house with lovely windows looking out across the mountain ranges. Everyone hauled their own water and heated with little wood stoves. Some people shared property and built several little homes together, creating their own community. People who live in the country have always built small structures - easier to heat, easier to build, easier to maintain in harsh conditions.
In the 1970’s I lived in a small U.S. Pacific coastal village where a water moratorium effectively stopped all building permits (except for lots that already had their water meters) and all new housing was pretty much stopped. The only way around this was for people to build what we called “10 by 10” structures, which were permitted, as long as they were not "improved". You could build these tiny 100 square foot buildings because it was assumed they would be for storage or garden sheds.
Instead, people started living in them with some success. People who couldn’t get permits to expand their existing houses built a 10 by 10 room for their teenager. Or they made a little office or sauna. Then, when some people had the lots, but not the water meters, they started living in a couple 10 by 10 structures and bootlegged some water and electricity from next door, with their neighbors’ permission. I think this is still going on, even though that community’s land prices have increased to the point that buying a lot with a water meter there is probably impossible. I slept in a couple of those tiny guest houses and visited several others so it is not hard for me to imagine living in a more adequately designed tiny house.
Now some revolutionary builders are making these tiny houses to order for people to use for guest houses, or homes. They have all the essentials and comforts and would suit a single person very well. Combine a tiny home with the trend toward less possessions and eliminating the consumer oriented life-style, and you have a very pleasing and responsible way to live.
Some tiny houses are built on wheels, towed to your space, and left on the wheels so you can move them around. It would be fun to have one of these and tow it around according to the season to get the best climate, best light - under a shade tree in summer, or in the sun for winter.
You can add a very moderate solar system and generate your own energy, easily. You can add a deck and a hot tub and a pool, and have people over for summer parties! I visualize my tiny house with a deck large enough to make a kind of outdoor “kitchen” for summer and I would do all my cooking out there. All it would entail is putting an “island” with electrical outlets on the deck and a small convection oven and range-top for cooking. Or even just a nice-sized Weber for grilling - a delicious and healthy way to eat! Add a cabinet for storing your pots and pans and kitchen supplies and you’re set!
Combine a tiny home with gardens and other structures
I also absolutely love to make gardens, so I would place my tiny house in my enormous garden with one of those “outdoor rooms” I’ve seen that are made as part of a garden. These outdoor living spaces are enclosed by hedges or large planter boxes or beautiful fences covered with climbing, flowering vines. A central flag-stone patio with chairs and a table and loungers is surrounded by plantings of grassy areas and your favorite perennials. With some nice large umbrellas, some reclining lawn chairs, a bed on a platform with a canopy, or a three-sided hot house type structure you can have shelter and still be outside. Maybe put the hot-tub in one corner, instead of on the deck. The variations are endless! How about a small pool for cooling off!
What you are creating would be an extension of your living space, so you would spend most of your time at home living and sleeping outside. The tiny house would mainly be used during bad weather and storage for your very few possessions - the things you couldn’t part with - maybe a few books, your clothing and toiletries. This would be a good time to consider the "75 things" movement - encouraging you to own only 75 things. I know I'm not there yet, but its the direction I'm going.
I am visualizing now a space somewhere in a semi-forested area with enough land area so I can build several small structures. A tree house, a “tiny house”, a gazebo, and a greenhouse. I would want to design and building them myself, with some help. These would provide me with more than enough living space to have a marvelous life and still live with a fairly small carbon footprint. Generating my own solar energy, having a well with good water, and maybe a minimal road to the place. I would like it best if a hiking trail would be the only way in and out (except for bringing in supplies and trucking out my produce to market and in emergencies, the little road would be closed).
Any of my previous Fantasy Homes would work - treehouse, earth-home, houseboat, straw bale house - all work very well as tiny homes.
I know this isn’t the life everyone pictures as ideal. If you're retired or will be soon, maybe you would be too fearful to live that far away from a doctor and the supermarket, but I'm not! The building and maintenance of my living spaces would be an ongoing project. Certainly the large garden I would like would mean hours and hours of hard work. You have to enjoy the country life-style the way I do to live miles away from towns and the hustle most people thrive on, but this has always been my goal. However, these tiny homes are also perfectly adaptable to cities and towns and I can see how well they will fit into suburban and urban life.
Lloyd Kahn: I would like you to know about Lloyd Kahn and his marvelous SHELTER books on unique and inventive building. He is a very good writer and I think you will also enjoy his blog. The homes in his books are carefully selected to represent creative home building. These structures are not only environmentally sound and conserve energy, but also built as true expressions of the lives of their builders. They are all created with genuine art and living in any of them would naturally change your life for the better! http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/ Lloyd has been studying, documenting and building alternative structures for many years. I consider him THE expert!
If you want more information about how to build these tiny homes, how they might work for your needs, and how they conserve and utilize green energy, just search for “tiny houses” on Google. These have caught on fast and now there are people who will design and build for you, or help you build your own.
This video really presents the tiny house cause!
The Newsletter TINY HOUSE LIVING
- Tiny House Living
A great website where you may find most of your questions about tiny houses answered. It also has some really beautiful images.
My other Fantasy Homes
- Straw Bale and Adobe Home: Part 4 of Fantasy Homes Series
Straw bales and adobe make some very beautiful homes with great energy reduction and relatively inexpensive building costs. In Part 4 of my Fantasy Home series I take a look at the functional and spectacular designs of some straw bale and adobe homes
- Earth Homes - Part 3 of My Fantasy Homes Series
A true earth-home underground seen from the top. Earth-home built halfway into a hillside front of the underground earth home Interior Earth home style, though it isn't underground - you can see the lovely...
- Treehouse homes
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