Welcome to The Not So Tiny House Project
Hi everyone, welcome to The Not So Tiny House Project’s very first blog post! If you’d rather watch this in a video form, please feel free to click the video below.
Over the last year I’ve been sharing the idea of “going Tiny” with my friends, family and basically anyone who will give me the time of day to talk about tiny houses. I usually wait for some type of reaction to that topic, and I receive responses that are usually something like, “Oh I’ve seen those on TV!” or “They’re so cute I love looking at them on Pinterest!” Most of the time I get curious or positive responses although there are those who don’t agree with my decision—luckily everyone I’ve spoken to has been rather nice whether they agree with the idea or not. My hopes with this first post is to hopefully be able to answer some of those more popular questions I get asked.
So let’s start off with the basics. What is a Tiny House? While there isn’t a perfect response to this answer, I like to categorize a Tiny House as a dwelling typically under 400 square feet. Have I lost you already? If so, no worries, I completely understand that that idea isn’t for everyone.
In my eyes, the most popular Tiny Houses people recognize are from TV from shows like Tiny House Nation or Tiny House Big Living. You may have even see the documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small by Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith1. If you’ve seen one of those shows, you probably have a good idea of what a tiny house is like.
So what is the Tiny House movement? Again, there is no perfect answer to this question, but to simply put it, I believe it is a social movement where tiny enthusiast are starting to reject the concept of continuously consuming. We go to work to get more money to buy a fancier car, to build a bigger home, to go back to work to fill the big home with more things and the cycle continues.
Pulling numbers from census.gov for the average square feet of floor area in a new single family houses, in 2010 the average of the United States was 2,392 square feet2. If you take the square footage of what’s considered a larger tiny house, let’s say of 400 square feet, you could essentially fit 6 tiny houses into the home the same size. So what point am I trying to make with this information?
The tiny house movement is rejecting the idea of what is considered average and challenging the idea of what we call the “American Dream.” Do we need 2,000 square feet to be happy? Could we spend less time working to buy that bigger house or fancier car to do things we love or to spend more time with friends and family? Is there a more environmentally friend option? Is there a more financially responsible option? The tiny house movement may be an answer to a lot of these questions.
So why have I decided to go Tiny? To be completely honest about it, my biggest reason is financial. Right now I have an enormous amount of student loan debt to pay back. I’m sure I’m not the only one. In an article posted in March of 2017 on Student Loan Hero, “the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt3.” I’ll tell you I have more than that. So going tiny for me is a responsible decision for me financially.
Yes, I’ll incur the cost of building the house, registration, utilities and fees for renting/purchasing land, but in the end I will have a home to call my own instead of dropping endless amounts of money on rent.
Depending on what source you use, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin is just over $1,000 without utilities4. My ideal budget for my tiny house would be right around $35,000 and let’s say I’d be paying rent to live in a one bedroom apartment with utilities/fees for about $1,200 a month. If I live in the tiny house for about 2.5 years I’ll have my investment returned. Now I know I’m going over this with pretty big generalities, but I’ll get into some of these topics in a future video or blog post. For now you have at least an idea behind the thought process of how this could help me financially.
One last financial thought is that once I have my student loans paid off, and much quicker than the track I’d be on if I was paying such high rent, would be that I can save for retirement much quicker. Not only that but be able to afford doing the things that I love, including traveling. I have been so completely fortunate thus far in my life to travel to the places I’ve been able to and see and experience the things that I have. My junior year of high school was the first time I went out of the country on a school trip and it changed my life. After I graduated high school I was able to backpack around Europe for six weeks. During college I studied abroad in China. Recently I’ve traveled to Peru and Mexico for trips. Traveling for me is like a drug that I can’t get enough of it. I can’t even explain the feeling I get when I’m on a plane taking off from an airport to a place I’ve never been. Traveling to me is so incredibly important and the tiny house will allow me to be able to do this thing I love more frequently.
The third reason why I’m doing this is that I’m a control freak. Simply put and I know it. I love the idea of being able to design something specifically to fit my needs and wants and having complete control of my living space and designing all the touches that go into it from the foundation to the finishes.
So I’ve given you an idea of what the tiny movement means to me and why I think it is a great solution for my future but what makes me qualified to build my own tiny house? Yes, I do intended to build the house with my own hands and with the hands of my family and friends who I will lovingly pay in food and booze (I do live in Wisconsin after all haha). I’d love to tell you that I’ve got this thing on lock but honestly I don’t know that I do. I have absolutely no construction experience under my belt. I have no specific training or a degree in the construction field either.
I did however go to school for Interior Architecture so I feel pretty confident in my ability to design a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing home. I currently work in the flooring industry and have a little under 2 years of that under my belt. While I may not have any idea what I’m doing for construction purposes, I’d like to think I’m more aware than the average person about material selection for things that will go into a tiny house. Now my design background and experience working in the flooring industry may have absolutely nothing to do for me and I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with asking for help. I’m okay with hiring people to do things like electrical or plumbing for me. I’m okay with doing hours of research and attending classes, reading books, and learning from others.
I’m okay with the idea that I could completely and utterly fail at this whole thing. I could through my life savings into this project, hate every minute of it, and never finish the house. I’m okay with the idea that I could go through this entire process, live in the tiny house and just hate it.
I’m also completely inspired with the idea of building the house with my own hands. In having a project that has been my baby from the beginning becoming a reality that I can see and touch and actually live in. I’m in love with the idea that while living in the tiny house I will be able to think back about how many people supported me and helped me on the way. I’m in love with the idea of being able to downsize my possessions and spend more time with friends and entertaining which I really enjoy. To worry less about money and spend more time traveling. And for me, those inspirations far outweigh my ideas of failing. I couldn’t imagine not taking this chance—I’d always be wondering, “what if I would have tried going tiny?”
So why am I calling this The Not So Tiny House Project? For two reasons really, the first being that I’ve decided to build my house on a much larger trailer than most tiny houses are built on. My house will be on a trailer instead of a foundation because I’m really not sure what the future holds for me and I love the idea of being able to take my house with me if I so chose in the future. While most tiny house I found are on trailers averaging 20’ to 26’ long, I plan to purchase a 30’ to 32’ long trailer making it, “not so tiny.”
Not only is the trailer bigger than the average, but the entire concept of an amateur like me building a house with no construction experience is in itself a not so tiny project. Combine those two things together and you get, “The Not So Tiny House Project.”
Why am I recording a video about this? Why do I have a website? Why do I have social media accounts like Instagram and Facebook for this project? There are three reasons for this. The first is that I have a lot of friends and family around the United States that won’t be able to physically help me with the house but this way I can still share with them the project and have them be a part of my experience. I’ve got family and friends out in California, the state of Washington, Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota and all of those people will still get to be a part of this project which is incredibly important to me.
Second is that it is a way for me to digitally scrapbook the whole process. Instead of printing photos and putting them into an album like I usually would, I will have the process of the house from the design phase to completion in a digital form. I fully intend to film as much of the process as I can during the build and even before and after the build.
The last reason is I want to share my tiny experience with other tiny house enthusiasts. Maybe there are some of you out there considering the idea and have no idea where to start. Maybe some of you have seen the shows but think there is no way I could actually do that. Maybe you are completely gung-ho about the idea but like me, have no idea if you can build the house yourself. My hope with sharing this project is to help with some of those answers for other people.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’ve created a website that you can reach by going to TheNotSoTinyHouseProject.com. This will be ground-zero for my project directly linking to all my social media accounts and where I will be posting all of my blogs.
I’ve decided to break up my blog posts to focus on four different topics. The first is the design phase—this section of the blog will cover things like: why I picked the trailer I did, why I designed the layout of my bathroom, reviews of helpful books, how I’m planning for my tiny house mascots (aka pets) in the tiny house etc.
I will also have a financial section that I will post articles about the physical cost of my project including how I’m paying for everything and what things cost. I think this is one of the most dramatically under discussed topics of tiny house projects because it’s such a personal topic.
I’ll have a section on there that will reference all of my build. I’ll reference links to helpful videos, time-lapse of my build and hopefully any videos I record selecting materials that I think may be helpful for someone.
In the future, I’ll have blog posts and videos on tiny house life section of the blog. I think the hardest part people have with the tiny house movement is seeing someone living comfortably in the tiny house. There are so many TV shows that show you a house being built and so many Pinterst posts on houses for sale but there is dramatically less information available about how folks live tiny. I intend to be so ridiculously honest with you about what I wish I did and didn’t do, what works for me and what I will change, do I see myself living in it full time or will I be selling the thing and moving on with my life? How do I entertain? How do I live with pets in such a small space? What is it like with winter in Wisconsin—am I freezing all the time?
There are also links to my social media accounts where you can get to my YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram account and Pinterest page where you can follow my journey.
That basically wraps up this first blog. Hopefully I’ve given you a better idea of The Not So Tiny House Project is about. Thank you in advance for sharing this project with me and if you decide to follow me on my YouTube channel or any of my social media accounts that is much appreciated—I love the idea of sharing this with other people who are tiny enthusiast so please feel free to share with anyone you think might enjoy this.
On a side note, I’d absolutely love to hear how you found this blog and what makes you interested in this project? Comment down below and let me know how you found me!