The New ‘Tiny House’ Plan.

Whatever happened to the tiny house?

Back in 2011, I announced our intention to build a Tiny House. Remember that? We even started working on a design with a fantastic tiny house company. Then we had to stop. I wrote about my disappointment with putting off our tiny house dream. Later in May, we visited our potential land again to get a clearer picture of what we really wanted and what we could do.

We decided to buy an RV. Specifically, a fifth-wheel travel trailer.

We spent the last few months looking at RVs that fell within our price range (we have a low-ish budget, but nothing too cheap) with some specific features. It was kind of hard to find one in great shape with minimal work needed that fit our critera, but we found one a couple weeks ago, checked it out, and brought it home a few days ago!!

YES. WE HAVE AN RV. A HOME OF OUR OWN.

As one friend put it, we are officially homeowners! With a very mobile, flexible home!

Sure, it’s kind of small, a bit outdated, pretty basic, and needs a little work, but we love it!

RV

Oh my gosh, guys. It’s real. It’s actually happening.

Kyle and I are bursting with excitement. We have it parked in the lot behind our apartment building, which is phenomenal because we can see it every day and just walk right on over to it as we work on the remodel. You can view more pictures on my Flickr account.

Why an RV and not a Tiny House?

Good question. We didn’t give up on our tiny house dream — we just re-evaluated our finances, goals, and values when it came to having a home. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that a tiny house just didn’t fit into our life vision anymore. Tiny House would be perfect if we could already be living in it. But we aren’t, because we couldn’t fully fund it. And in a few years, I’m hoping to be settled on a small homestead. There is no point in us investing money into a tiny house only to invest even more money into a larger house a few years down the road. Yet, we are tired of renting and wanted to own something while still living small. We didn’t want to buy a house just yet, though. Buying a fifth-wheel RV seemed like the best fit. I’m quite happy with our decision.

What happens next?

Oh, there’s plenty of work to do. We will insulate & remodel the RV over the next few months before moving out of our apartment and living in it full-time. We’ll be gypsies throughout the summer before settling at our land in Kentucky by next autumn. After staying there for a year or two, we will build or buy a [small] ‘regular’ home. Who knows from there. Life is adventure. We are thrilled and a little bit sad. Excited, and a little nervous. Bittersweet, I suppose. I promise many updates on our remodeling process and the transition to our Kentucky homestead!

Something Tiny Is Happening This Year!

Back in June of 2011, I announced my intentions for a tiny house.
For our October wedding, our registry was solely focused on tiny house funds & items.

A month after that, I told you we we acquired some land to park it on!

Then we started working on the floor plan in February of last year. We started searching locally for trailers and made a few trips to check some out.

At the rate we were going, the possibility of a house being near to completion at this time was very high. Unfortunately, we began to lose sight of our goal. Our savings started to deplete as it was used for a new car for my husband, some moving expenses/deposits, and so forth. No progress was made at all on tiny house. Nothing happened for a year. It just went by.

That’s changing. We’re making it happen this year.

We planned to build the house ourselves with the help of friends and family, but after much discussion, Kyle and I realized that we wouldn’t be able to set aside the time we needed in our schedules to focus on building. So we’re going to have a tiny house company build the shell/exterior for us and finish the insides ourselves. That way, we still get to work on the house, but we leave some of the heavier construction/design work up to people who have experience building tiny homes. This means we’ll have to create a bigger budget with funds that we don’t really have right now (labor + delivering a house + better materials = more cost) but we will figuring out our financial plans more in the next few months.  I’m not too worried. We’ll also need to secure a location here in the suburbs of Chicago to park the house while we work on the interior and possibly live in it for a year or so before moving to our land (we both have good jobs, great friends, and fantastic families).

We have already started speaking with several tiny home builders — and we are soooooo excited!!! Our goal is to start working on our design (we want to change some things) with a company by the end of February.

So that’s that. Just wanted to share a quick update. =)

A Tiny House Future

Growing up, one of my dreams was to become an architect. When I was a little girl, I drew elaborate house plans with dozens of bedrooms, bowling alleys, and movie theaters inside. I obsessed over Frank Lloyd Wright and his neat lines. I took an Auto-CAD class in high school. I loved The Fountainhead. I started playing The Sims just so I could create houses within the game. I drooled over million-dollar homes surrounded by ornate courtyards. I wanted big. Senior year of high school, I figured out I did not like math and my dream changed. I went off to college to study film-making and creative writing. Architecture took a back seat. My mind filled with splicing 35mm film and transcendentalism. This is where I fell in love with photography, was introduced to Thoreau, and briefly tasted sustainable living in an off-the-grid alternative housing option on campus known as the Homestead. Yet, I still had a dream of designing and building my own home in the future. Thanks to Thoreau and experiencing the Homestead, my ideal house shrunk in size as I now envisioned a log cabin in the woods with a giant stone fireplace.

Since then, I decided I just wanted to live simply in a small space and save all my money for experiences and trips. I wanted to be one of those people that was secretly wealthy — living minimally with a huge savings account. Why bother collecting stuff when I could use the money to see the world? The same mentality is what attracted me to the minimalism movement when I stumbled across it (“There’s a name for this mindset? I’m not alone? Cool!”).

I also discovered tiny homes and fell in love with them. For half a year now, I’ve been drooling over tiny homes. Tiny houses are homes typically under 200 square feet (think 8′ x 20′ with a loft), placed on a trailer.  Jay Shafer has been designing and selling tiny homes for years. Drew and his wife are documenting their tiny home progress. Tammy Strobel and her husband will build their home this summer. Evan and Gabby are building a home now, a few hours away from me! The more I dived into the world of tiny house living, the more I discovered that dozens of people are living out their dream in a small home. My dream is to live simply and be active within the community and outdoors. Why bother with a large home and fill it up with stuff when I could downsize and truly live? Why keep paying rent for an apartment that doesn’t give me a return on my dollars? A tiny house is perfect.

This was originally hard to explain to my fiancé. He’s not completely on board with the simple living thing. He wants a small home too, but envisions a modest ranch home with a furnished basement for a large, flat-screen television and a garage to house all his NASCAR memorabilia and tools. After much persisting, my enthusiasm for a tiny home finally wore off on him a couple months ago. He looked up tiny homes on Google, found some videos of Jay Shafer’s home and said, “I’m in. I could do this!” Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that!

We immediately dived into tiny home research. The past couple months, we’ve been sharing our plans with friends, family, strangers, and fellow writers and tiny home enthusiasts. Some people doubt our plans and think we’re crazy while others have been encouraging and excited for us. We have nothing concrete at the moment aside from browsing home improvement stores, some bookmarked websites, and sketches on papers. It is this lack of physical progress that gave me hesitation to write this post in case things fall through, but we re doing this! It will be our first major project as newlyweds and we aim to have it completed by our first wedding anniversary. Since our wedding is in October, construction of the house will hopefully begin early next spring.

Tiny house progress will be documented extensively over the next year as we explore the research, planning, design, process, and lifestyle behind the home. We’ve already made decisions on a few things (which appliances to keep, what kind of toilet we want, the ideal size of the home, what kind of stairs to build to the loft) but still have many burning questions (where to build it, to buy or rent land, gas or electric, how to make room for our pets and keep the place odor-free, etc.)!

I still want a log cabin. He still wants the garage. We might have this someday, after we’re lived in tiny house for a while. But for now, it’s time to focus on my biggest dream: designing and building my home. Or rather, our home.

*Photo by Peter DaSilva for The New York Times.