FAQ

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We often get asked these questions about our tiny house. If you have a question not listed below, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to answer!

1) I’m new to your blog. Where should I start?
Welcome, we’re glad you’re here! Our About Us page is a good place to start if you are wondering who we are and what started us on this crazy journey. If you’re interested in the philosophy behind tiny homes, check out these entries. If you’re interested in something in particular like our trailer, door, walls, windows, roofing, flooring, and more, there is a search bar on our front page that can help you find what you’re interested in. If you’d still like additional information, feel free to contact us anytime. We’re happy to help!



2) Okay, back to the basics. What exactly is a “tiny house”?
Tiny homes are loosely defined as any structure under 400sq. ft. They can be built on a foundation, or on a trailer bed, commonly known as a “tiny house on wheels,” or THOW. They are often built on trailers because structures built on trailers are often considered out of the jurisdiction of a city zoning office, which puts it under DMV jurisdiction instead. Building on a foundation can often be more complicated, because cities often have a minimum square footage a house can be. This is often a larger number than a lot of tiny housers would prefer. 

Tiny houses have recently become far more mainstream in the past 5+ years thanks in part to builders like Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, Jay Schafer, Dee Williams, and TV Shows like Tiny Home Nation and Tiny House Hunters. In the past year we’ve noticed that tiny houses are being made in larger and larger sizes (500-600+ sq. ft.) and are often far less portable than a house like we’re building. Consequently, they often require contractors, permits, and more money to make. While the tiny house movement is partly about reclaiming your space and inexpensive home ownership, we feel that this recent trend is kind of missing the point of tiny houses. We initially got into tiny houses because we wanted to be forced to reconstruct our lives around what really mattered to us instead of shielding ourselves from our experiences with possessions and empty space. It was this and other ecological factors that got us interested in tiny homes.

 For more information about our tiny house philosophy, check out some of our philosophical posts on tiny houses and efficient living.


3) What are the dimensions of your tiny house?
Our house is about 18ft long by 8.5 ft wide. Interior space is about 17.5ft by 7ft. We bought an 18ft trailer. We have an additional bike box on the back that is about 2.5ft by 8ft that will hold our two bicycles.


4) Can you tell me more about your trailer specs?
It’s a 8,000lb, dual axle trailer sold by Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders. It cost us about $4,500, and seems to be on the more economical side for trailers. What we like about this trailer is that it has a 4” steel fin on the edges that makes for an easy attachment to the trailer. For more info, read our blog entry on it here.

5) What is the square footage of your house?
It’s about 140 sq. ft. not including the lofts. (Lofts oddly aren’t included in square footage calculations because you can’t technically stand up in them.) Including the lofts it’s about 220 sq. ft. The height of the loft is about 3’6″.


6) How tall is the entire house, trailer included?
About 13’4″. Most standard bridges are about 13’6″, so we want to make sure we fit under them while traveling. Most tiny houses these days are designed to fit under bridges, but you should always make sure before purchasing a set of plans or a house.


7) Do you have a sleeping loft? If so, why did you make that decision?
Yes, we do have one. It’s about 8ft long and it at the back of the house. We made this decision because we prioritized having a shorter house because we want it to be pretty portable, so we saved length by moving the sleeping area to the loft. We also have a second loft, about 3ft wide, at the front of the trailer over the front door. This we’ll use for some creative storage. We chose to have dormers to give us even more head room. Sitting up there and being surrounded by windows and a skylight makes the area feel surprisingly spacious!


8) Will you have a blackwater system? Graywater? What are you doing for plumbing/a toilet?
We get this question a lot. Working with a blackwater system is tricky, and honestly kinda gross. Not only do you have to be parked in a location where you have an RV blackwater connection, and hiring a contractor to install a blackwater drain on a piece of land can raise some strange questions at the zoning and code approval offices. So, to get around this problem we’re using a composting toilet.
 
For those who don’t know, composting toilets are actually very sanitary if handled right, and they don’t require any extra plumbing. Most tiny housers these days use composting toilets. The trick is to dry out the waste so it doesn’t smell. Most people add layers of peat moss or saw dust to dry out the waste. Very often, visitors to a house with a sawdust composting toilet will unknowingly compliment the tiny home saying it smells like pine trees! When your bucket is full, the handling process is no different than composting food scraps, and in fact, the decomposition and sanitation is greatly enhanced by adding food scraps. Just dump the contents on a compost pile and put some fluffy material like dried grass, straw, or leaves on top. In a year, you’ll have a pile of sterile dirt. No sh*t. For more information, a great resource is a book called The Humanure Handbook by Joseph C Jenkins. (For other tiny house resources, check our our resources page.)


9) How long have you been working on it?
Regularly since May 2015, but with a three month break that fall. We had the walls up in about a month, the roof and lofts in about two. From there things started going more slowly. We regularly update the amount of hours we’ve spent working on the house on the front page. Note, about a third of that number is time spent researching things on the internet.


10) How much money do you think you will have spent on this by the time you’re finished? 
About $20,000, but we’ve heard of some rare builds that have cost less. Note, about $5,000 of that was our new trailer. We really hate it when people are discouraged from building their own because they think it will be $60,000-$70,000 to do so. Yes, we were lucky to have access to a woodworking shop, but other than that we salvaged a lot of our materials (most of our windows were from Habitat for Humanity, which saved a ton of money) and had our fair share of mess-ups that costed us along the way.


11) Where are you guys going to put it?
Short answer: we have no idea yet.
Long answer: that’s a tricky question because of zoning laws. Tiny houses are still very much in a legal gray-area, which can prohibit where you park your house, whether or not you can live in it, who can know you live in it, etc. For example, if you park your house in an empty lot near downtown, you can usually expect someone from the city to show up with a clipboard within the week, even if you legally own the lot and it is zoned for residential buildings. However, if you go outside of a city out into the county, you can even go so far as hiring people to run electrical and sewage line out to your house and no one will bat an eye. The problem is that no one really knows how to treat tiny houses on wheels. Are they houses? Are they RV’s? Are they modified travel trailers? Can we tax them? It’s confusing. The key is what you call it. You can call it an artist studio, but that may not mean you can live in it. You can call it a modified trailer, but that may affect where you can park it. You can call it an RV, but it has to be built up to a specific RV code. If you’re looking for answers to these kinds of questions, there is a great book out called Cracking the Code by Ryan Mitchell that could help. (For more tiny house resources, see our Resource page.)


12) Do you need a special license to travel with it? What tow it with? Any code need to meet to take it on the road?
Another tricky question! The simple answer is no, you don’t need a special driver’s license to tow it as long as it is less than 13’ 6” tall and less than 8’ 6” wide. Those are the maximum dimensions a standard driver’s license will cover. Any larger, and you will need a commercial driver’s licenses, which means a special truck, and special classes for anyone who drives it. Our house will fit within these limits, which means we can tow it as long as we have a 3/4 ton truck. If we end up towing it ourselves, we’re going to buy an RV GPS that will tell us where the highway clearance may be limited.
Even though we will legally be able to pull it by DMV standards, the standards vary state-to-state, and it may mean we will need a special permit to tow it on the highway for a set number of days.



Don’t see your question listed? Contact us here or below and we’ll do our best to answer!