I’m happy to announce after a year of work we finally have the tiny house finished and moved to its final location. The house was built for my parents to use as a tiny vacation house (a step up from the decrepit parked camper we had all previously crammed into). We moved it about 300 miles south to the Ozarks to stay a little piece of woods in the foothills.
Handmade ladder that slides over for access to larger loft
View from loft
Couch folded out to make a bed
Fold down table with 4 folding stools
One of the two lofts
After putting in most of the final touches (we’re waiting to install solar, hook up water and figure out a solution for waste water), we hosted a tiny open house. At the busiest we had 10 people inside the roughly 160 sq. ft. house. After building it in my parents’ backyard our first hurdle was to haul it to the street for the open house. We had dreaded this part the whole time building it because the alley was narrow, the backyard fenced in and the path riddle with power lines and low hanging branches. After cutting down a section of the fence, the tiny house sprang to life with ease, rolling down the alley to stop on the street in front of the big house. Aside from curbing the tires and hitting the neighbor’s tree, the first part went as smoothly as possible.
The next day we hitched up the truck and loaded up a second vehicle to lead and watch for low power lines, street lights, bridges etc. Every step of the way, from their little street into town, from town out to the highway, from the highway to the interstate and forward to the mountains, we crossed off every obstacle we thought we might encounter. Later we shared the fears we’d had (the house falling off the trailer, the house capsizing, the roof being ripped away by a low bridge, a tire off the road sending us into a ditch, etc) and laughed when nothing terrible happened.
After about 7 hours of driving we got it to the final location. About a year ago we’d had someone clear off a section of woods and lay down gravel for the house. We pulled the house onto the spot we’d cleared. It only took two tries, which is amazing given that we had to make a turn over a 10 foot wide culvert with an 8 foot wide trailer. After the house was parked and everyone had let out a sigh of relief, my dad, who had piloted the house managed to get stuck in about 3 feet of mud simply trying to get his truck back to the road. It just goes to show you that you can work on something for a solid year with no hangups and run into the least expected problem just trying to read the road again.
We were only able to stay for about 4 days as a mini work-cation. We worked to build a porch around the house and make it seem more like home. We got all of this accomplished in April and have had a chance to stay in it a few times since. It’s a tight fit but it’s so much nice than the camper we had used before. I’m looking forward to many more weekends spent down there, enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Work on the tiny house has been pretty slow as we’re finishing up the interior. Since I last posted we’ve finished up the kitchen counters and started installing the sink and 2 burner gas stove. We built a ladder to access the larger of the two lofts (the smaller one will have a collapsible ladder, as it’ll get used less). The ladder we built attaches to the loft around a metal rod, allowing it to slide to the middle of the floor for use, and back to the side to stay out of the way. We’re in the process of building a couch that folds out to sleep another 2 people. The arms on the side and railing at the back fold down to support the top when it converts to a bed. There will be 2 doors underneath with storage under the couch. We built a small table that attaches to the wall with piano hinges and is held up by a triangular support that is hinged to the wall. Once all the furniture is finished the house should be able to sleep 4 people with features that fold up to make it roomier if just 1 or 2 are staying.
We still need to build a box to go around the hot water heater, run gas to the stove and figure out a solution for electricity. We’re aiming to move it in March and are finishing up what we can before we go. My parents have had land cleared out where they are going to park it once its moved. The land was leveled and gravel laid down. The land is supposed to be getting city water run to it, but we’ll need to find out own solution for waste water disposal. We’d like to install solar, but haven’t started working on it yet. We’ll also be buying a small generator as a back up for the solar, or to tide us over until we can get the solar installed.
Couch folded out to seat two
Ladder with routed hand holes
This weekend was a bit of a step backwards. My dad originally installed a Tarkett snap-together laminate flooring for the house. After installing it my parents were disappointed with how it went together and looked. After a few weeks of trying to warm up to it, my dad finally decided to rip it out and start again. After buying Pergo brand laminate, we went to work replacing the floor on Sunday. It was the first day after daylight savings time ended and I think everyone was tired and a bit frustrated, so we really didn’t get too far.
Pergo hickory laminate floor
Installing the floor
I promised my mom I would make the cabinets and counters for the house, but then I got distracted. Before I even got started planning my dad started building. I’m glad he did because I’m sure the cabinets will turn out much nicer now. We were originally going for stark simplicity, but my dad loves a challenge and has been designing and fitting drawers, shelves and doors. Today we got 3 drawers put in. It was pretty challenging and took most of the day’s work. In the end they fit well and move smoothly. They look rough now because they’re just set in the shell of the counter, but soon we’ll finish the rest of the cabinetry and put faces and pulls on the drawers. We were also able to cut all of the pieces for the other set of counters, on the opposite wall.
The work is going a lot slower now as the days get shorter, but every week it looks a little less like a box full of lumber and supplies and a little more like an actual house.
Jason an my dad discussing drawer measurements
Every week it looks less like a box full of lumber and tools and more like a (tiny) house
Today we got started working on what will be the tiny kitchen. With the floors, interior paneling and window trim installed it was time to start planning the cabinets. Our plan calls for a kitchen that’s situated right under the larger of the two lofts. It will have cabinets on both walls with a sink on one side with a two burner propane stove and mini refrigerator on the other. For the cabinets we decided to build a simple frame that we would fit the appliances and drawers, shelves and cabinets into. The outside will be finished with a 1/4 inch cedar and the top is a slab of spruce stained a dark color to match the flooring.
We started building the frame today, which gave my dad an excuse to buy a new tool (always fun). After starting the cabinet frame we had just enough time to cut the counter top and mount it before positioning the sink. We plan on connecting the plumbing (PEX tubing) later. The sink we bought was a small stainless steel bar sink that was just the right size for the narrow counters.
Working in the fall has been a nice relief from the heat of the summer. During the early months we started early when we were heaving plywood up to the roof and installing paneling on a scaffold. We’d work until it was too dark to work anymore. Now that its cooler and the projects needed to finish the build are getting less taxing, we’ve been starting earlier and quitting sooner. With lights inside and a fan/space heater as required the work is less draining and more fun than the initial steps. Since we’ve delayed the launch date until spring there’s also less pressure to finish it soon. We’re finding that like any project, it’s going to take about twice as long as initial guesses.
Joining the frame boards
Joined frame boards
One day’s cabinet progress
Last year Jason and I had a chance to stay at Caravan, a tiny house hotel in Portland, OR. For about the cost of a conventional hotel we were able to rent a 120 sq ft. house built on a trailer bed. The little house had all the amenities you’d expect and all the charm you could ask for. Shortly after our stay there we became obsessed with tiny houses. As soon as we got back we told my parents about our stay and they too became tiny house fanatics. My dad has always loved building with wood, having built the deck, the fence and many other things around my parents’ house. My mom had always dreamed of having a cabin in the woods. They both loved the idea of building something small and cost effective. So they ordered plans and bought a trailer and in the dead of winter started planning.
Jason and I volunteered to help on the weekends and I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of building a house. Throughout the process we’ve met many challenges and gotten a chance to use our problem solving skills. Still, none of the challenges we met were too big to solve with a little time and research. I dubbed myself the “project worrier” as I scrutinized everything and watched it fall into place despite my ability to worry and over analyze. Now it’s October and we’d hoped to have it finished but have still made remarkable progress. We hope to bring it to the place where we’ll park it in the spring. We still have floor to lay down, cabinets to build and appliances to install. Until then I’ll be counting down the days and crossing my fingers for the arduous trek through mountains to rest this sweet little cabin its spot in the woods.
more first steps
Putting up plywood
Lofts coming together
Dad got a special discount on the Tyvek because it was upside down
No pictures of the roof laying action because it was a major pain
Installing cedar siding
Siding and windows in
Starting to look like a house
After staining the cedar, painting the window trim
Installing the insullation
Just seeing if our whole family could fit in the tiny bathroom.
Pocket door installed
I don’t have many pictures of me working because I was the one taking the pictures. I’m sure I’m doing something important here.