Tiny Plans

I’ve been away for a while. Away from thinking and planning about my tiny house. But it’s never far from my mind. But I’m back again and more determined than ever.

I had an opportunity to visit a tiny house last week. I got to meet Alexis and Christian from Tiny House Expedition at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Concord, NC. They were there for a project that they are working on with Habitat for Humanity.

Their house is 130 square feet. They built it by themselves with support from Thomas E Elsner Custom Carpentry in Winston-Salem, NC. I’m not going to lie, 130 sq ft is small. I was in the living room area with Alexis and 4 other people at one point. It was tight, but there was enough space for everyone.

Alexis was telling us that they had a party in there the night before and had 6 people comfortably to entertain. It seemed a little small for that, but I suppose it could work. I’m not big on entertaining, so this really won’t be an issue for me.

Everything in the house is multipurpose. The couch has storage under it, the stairs double as seating and a closet, the shelf turns into a table. Alexis said that was very important and that it takes a lot of planning. I can only imagine. I have this fear that I won’t be able to think of all of these types of things until my house is done. It will be too late!

The walls inside were painted white, which I LOVE. The inside of my house is going to be mainly white. I don’t think that I have seen one like that yet.

She also said that they used a lot of wood from an old barn and old house. I love that idea, though I don’t know that it will work for my house. I think that I want a more clean, elegant look.

It was so awesome to see a tiny house in person! It’s only the second one that I have seen. It makes the dream seem a whole lot more like reality.

Also, it was so, so nice to meet people who get it. I’ve had to explain this concept and idea to everyone that I know. It’s getting easier with the shows now of HGTV and FYI, but most people still think that it is a joke. It’s amazing to connect with people who are excited about it and who are already living it! If you haven’t done this yet, I would encourage you to. I think it has been one of the most important things for my in the planning process.

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Trailers

When you are ready to start actually planning building a tiny house the first thing to consider is where you are building it. Because of the building codes and minimum square footage rules, most people build them on trailers, which is what I plan on doing.

So, we are going to build on a trailer. Perfect!

What kind of trailer… um… there are different kinds??

Hours and hours of research later I think I have a plan, emphasis on think.

So, most people use this kind of trailer: Tumbleweed Trailers. One of the companies that makes tiny houses is even nice enough to make their own trailers with all of the proper attachments and things. You can buy them directly from them so you don’t have to modify anything. How nice of them!

The thing with those trailers, though, is the wheel wells. They are RIGHT in the way. The trailer actually 8.5 ft wide, but the “build” width is just under 7 ft. When you are talking about a tiny house, those a foot and a half is A LOT to give up.

So, my plan is to use a “deck over” trailer. That means that the wheels are under the trailer, rather than through it. That will give me the full 8.5 ft if width for my house.

The drawback to this kind of trailer is that it sits higher than the other kind.

The idea is to keep the house at or under 8.5 ft wide and about 13 ft tall. That way you can move it without a permit. This isn’t a make or break thing for me, but I’d like to keep it as small as possible, but still comfortable.

With the trailer being higher, about a foot higher, it limits the interior space. This would be a huge issue if you are planning to build a sleeping loft. I’m not, so it’s really not an issue for me. The only thing it will affect is getting into the house. I’ll need a staircase. I was planning on building a deck, eventually, so that won’t be a problem.

Another thing to consider about trailers is weight. A typical tiny house weights around 10,000 lbs. So, when you are looking for a trailer, you need to make sure that it is capable of handling that much weight. You also need to consider how much everything weighs when you are building the house. Granite countertops may be fun and trendy, but they might just be too heavy to include.

Something else… How are you going to move this thing?? This was one of the first questions that my parents asked me. The truth is… I have no idea! I am planning on consulting the experts when the time comes, as in people who have moved something like this before. In fact, I will probably hire someone to move it for me.

I have been watching the new shows on HGTV and FYI about tiny houses. On a couple of the episodes of Tiny House Nation they have had problems with the house moving or almost falling off of a jack or something. I can’t imagine handling that by myself. Nor can I imagine my house and all of my hard work and money falling over. That’s too much to risk for my DIY project.

So, where is the trailer coming from??

This is something that I have been back and forth about a lot. It’s the foundation of the house, so it needs to be a good one. It’s going to weight around 10,000 lbs, so it needs to have the right tires and wheels and brakes to handle that. It’s also the most expensive part of the build, and the part that has been the hardest for me so far. The best thing to do is to buy one brand new. For one that I need, 8.5 x 20 ft, it’s around $5,000. That’s over 7 months rent for me.

The other option is to buy a used one. Several problems here: finding one that fits what I want, that is close to where I live, and that doesn’t need a lot of work. The last one is huge, mainly because I don’t know enough about trailers to be able to see if it needs a lot of work, unless it’s like blatantly obvious. All of the listings that I have seen don’t seem to have a huge price difference between new and used. So, for me, the only thing that makes sense is to buy a new one.

The next step for me in my tiny house journey is to find $5k for the trailer. I’m certain that I can find a place to put the trailer and build the house when I get the trailer. That’s another post…

The plan is to put together a presentation about sponsorship – asking people to “sponsor” my build for advertising and mentions in return. I don’t know if I can get a whole trailer this way, but I think I may be able to get a discount on one at least. I’m going to try anyway.