Update on current tiny home project

Progress continues as we start the final phase of moving beyond the exterior finish of this tiny house project “formerly know as hOMe.”

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Kare 11 Video on tiny houses in Minnesota

Could you live in a tiny house of 200 sqft?
Recently Kare 11 TV visited the shop at Tiny Green Cabins. They were doing a story on tiny houses in Minnesota and wanted some more information and video.

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Tiny Houses and R Value

What R Value should I use for a tiny house?                                      1966108_10153365589384937_3958702924510469456_o

The following chart will give you some guidelines for what R value you should aim for in insulating a tiny house per zone. The higher the R value in a wall or roof system the better, as well as what R value an insulation product is capable of delivering. Closed cell foam delivers the best R value but to get a good install, a professional is best to use.
Since we are in Zone 6, we insulate to that zone plus zone 7, 5, 4, 3 , 2 and 1.
Does your tiny house builder do that?

U.S. Department of Energy Recommended Total R-Values

 

2008 U.S. Department of Energy
R-Value Recommendations for New and Existing Homes 

The following 2008 Department of Energy zone recommendations are based on comparing estimated future energy savings to the current cost of installing insulation. The DOE gives a range for many locations for the following reasons:

  • Energy costs vary greatly over each zone
  • Installed insulation costs vary greatly over each zone
  • Heating and cooling equipment efficiency varies from house to house
  • Best estimate of future energy costs may not be exact. 1
  • New vs
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You want to be a tiny house builder?

What is the best way to become a carpenter?

There are carpenters of legends and myths such as the one that came out of nowhere and built the stairway without any visible supports at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fee, NM.

Carpenters were the builders that did it all, from laying the foundation, to erecting the structure, building and installing the doors, windows, trim and other features of a home. They did it all. Over the years some carpenters specialized; lathers, dry-wallers, trimmers, siders, roofers, window installers and many more.Handyman services

This is a tough subject. Anyone can swing a hammer or cut a board. There are a lot of people in specialty trades that call themselves carpenters (that aren’t). A carpenter needs to learn all trades and know how they affect each other. A carpenter needs to have pride in their work and not just hack something together to get it done. They must understand blueprints, engineering, aesthetics, detail, hard work, common sense, pre-planning, scheduling, material take-offs, efficiency, willing to learn tricks of the trades, etc. Find a mentor that knows all of this and listen and learn what they tell you. This a rare breed that you won’t find in a classroom. It has to be hands on and field taught. It takes many years to gain this kind of experience. The best way to start is to start as a laborer and observe all the different trades and ask many questions. Be willing to dive in and try something new and learn by your mistakes. Never stop learning.

A question I receive quite often is “how do I become a carpenter and tiny house builder?” I can answer this because I’ve done it, and I know a lot of people that have become carpenters and fewer still that have become builders and far fewer still that have become tiny house builders.. And this is a great time to become a carpenter and not so great a time of time to be a builder or tiny house builder. The economy seems to be rebounding, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 24% increase in the demand for carpenters between now and 2022, and the contractors I know moaning that they can’t find good help.

Unlike many careers, there is no one, obvious path for someone starting from scratch. The more knowledge you can bring to the table, the better. Having gone to trade school can be a big leg up, but most residential carpenters learn the job by starting out as a laborer or carpenter’s helper for a small builder. Knowledge aside, in my own experience and through conversations I’ve had with contractors, the single most important attribute for an entry-level carpenter is attitude. Skills can be learned. A bad attitude is a permanent flaw. Attitude can overcome inexperience. Attitude can overcome prejudices.

Here’s advice I wish I’d gotten 40 years ago when I was first looking to become a carpenter. While want ads in the newspaper and on Craigslist can lead to work, the kind of employer they help you find is random. Hire on with the wrong company, and you can waste a lot of time learning little, or worse, learning bad methods that you don’t have the experience to vet. Or you can find yourself working for a company that has poor track record for paying their people if at all. You may also find yourself working as a subcontractor without insurance and not getting paid either. I have been there and it is not a fun way to earn a living. I remember working for months and always gettinga  dribble or a promise and never to see all of it. Finally, I learned to that it is better to walk that wait for a promise that means nothing to some. I am not saying all companies are like this, but there are enough to be forewarned about them. Check their track record and talk to former employees and do not be afraid to ask for references.

Be selective. Many of the better construction companies don’t advertise for help, doing their hiring through word of mouth. If you have any contacts in the trades, use them if only to inquire about who might be good to work for. Look at the construction companies in your area and figure out which ones do work that interests you, and where you think you might fit in. A company’s website may provide insight.

Call the companies that seem likely, speak to the boss, and try to set up an appointment to meet him or her in person. It can take hutzpah to get your foot in the door, but showing drive and initiative also makes a good first impression. Show up on time, dressed neatly but appropriately for the job, with a fresh haircut and your phone turned off. Let me repeat that – with your phone turned off. Offer your hand, and be polite. Be honest about your skills. Say that you are willing to work in the heat and the cold, in the rain and the snow, that you don’t mind sweeping up or schlepping lumber, and that you sincerely want an opportunity to learn the trade. At the end of the interview, say thank you and shake hands again. If you felt good about the company, even if they aren’t hiring right now, follow up with a phone call or email (properly punctuated and capitalized) in a couple of days. People with polite, professional, attitudes stand out, as much as I hate to say this, especially in construction.

When you get that job, show up on time, neatly dressed, with your tools, and with your lunch so you don’t have to leave the site midday. Turn your phone off, bust your keester, don’t whine, and soak up every bit of knowledge you can. And, as I have for 40 years, always keep learning and reading about codes and improvements in construction. When you’ve learned all you can from that job, don’t hesitate to move on to a more challenging employer, but without burning bridges if that’s possible. That’s most of what it takes to be a carpenter.

To be a tiny house builder requires more than a book, a power impact drill, and a tape measure. It requires a working knowledge of how all of the facets of a tiny house that make a tiny house. You need to know that a carpenter can make it easy on the trimmer, drywall installer, plumber, electrician, and all the other trades. If you decide to do all of the trades yourself, a trade school should be a requirement so you can do it all. Otherwise, hire the pros that took the time to learn their trade and the codes they have to meet.

I asked Jay Shafer what he considered to be the best piece of advice he could offer for a tiny house builder. He replied, “Keep it simple” I thought about that and decided I wanted to think outside the box and use my knowledge of 40+ years of building custom homes for tiny houses. One could say, that I am the old guy, or the gray beard of tiny houses, or the old school carpenter that is a  tiny house builder.

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Tiny houses and thinking “tiny”

“Or scale matters”Tiny House in a scene

When designing tiny homes, we need to think tiny, like the Europeans. Europeans had to learn this a long time ago; scale matters and scale the appliances to the tiny space they live in.  They even have a nick name for their kitchen design, “the 24-inch kitchen” meaning no stove, sink,  fridge, dishwasher is no bigger than 24” wide.

We love big things in America, big appliances, double sinks, huge stoves; but it is no different than bringing home a 9’ curved sofa that is too big for the living room, or bringing home a pool table to place in the dining room that is  8’ x 10’. I have really seen that and watched the family trying to play pool in my past. Kind of humorous and yet sad.

Appliances are such a huge part of planning a kitchen and a kitchen uses a lot of valuable space in a tiny house. There is some trade off with some narrower profiles, instead of a double sink use a single sink that is deeper and wider. Instead of a wide fridge, go narrower and taller and yet all of these appliances can have the high tech options and compartments/containers.

There was a builder that used bar sinks in his designs and kitchens. I tried one, and it was almost useless for me. I also found out later, that he ate all his meals out so did not need a sink or much else. It was all deco to appear like a kitchen for marketing.

And always think outside the box or into spaces not normally used in the kitchen cabinets; such as the toe kicks or wall stud cavities. Here you will find lots of room to store lids, backing sheets, Tupperware, even a folding step ladder. Can you imagine the linens, table clothes, kitchen utensils, and even seasonal clothing that takes up valuable space in your small closet or dresser that could be stored in the toe kicks.

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So does size matter? If used wisely, even small spaces can be great spaces.

 

 

 

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Tiny House Reverse Snobbery

Snob…the character or quality of being a snob.

Reverse Snobbery…a person overly proud of being one of or sympathetic to the common people, and who denigrates or shuns those of superior ability, education, social standing, etc. Dictionary.com
Pretentious…Trying to sound intelligent by using long, complicated words, even though you don’t know what they mean.

stirring the pot

I have noticed over the years some trolls that follow the tiny house movement only to cause mischief and create drama in a thread or post. To stir things up a bit or poke the bear.

Poke the bear by Urban Dictionary is To act in such a way that has a good, but not definite chance, of causing trouble. (You can poke a bear once and maybe get away with it, but if you keep poking him, he’s going to get really angry.) To stir things up.

Internet troll by Wikipedia;

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, but have been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment.

As a builder of tiny houses, we have noticed trolls and received emails from them attacking us about being a builder of quality tiny homes for people that choose not to build them, themselves.

A healthy discussion about any subject or topic is good and we welcome them. As long as the comments are constructive in nature and not demeaning to anyone, it can help people see both sides of the argument or discussion. Too often we reject out of hand opinions or facts that go against our beliefs, and that is not healthy.

And we have seen some mean spirited attacks on people that were meant to insult and be inflammatory. Then when challenged and shown the error of their misinformed comment, do a turn about and attack from a different direction. A true tactic of a troll.

When one builds a beautiful one of a kind tiny houses such as these  examples, one is going to get a lot of attention via magazines, webs, and social media.

And that is fine. We like thinking outside the box and bringing some of many talents and skills to the planning and building process of tiny homes. We have also learned that our customers also like being original and creating something different; be it with color choices, or architectural styles. And that bothers some people that think that two of these homes are seen as overly large, expensive, ultra-extravagant, and excessively lavish.

I am proud that I built these tiny homes. The movement to me is about not only downsizing, but living your dreams and gaining the ability to run with the giants; be it traveling, adding charm to your tiny house, or pursuing your passions.

And the person that takes the time to research and build their own tiny home should feel proud of their accomplishment as well. And that does not mean ridiculing someone that chooses to “hire” it done for them. It is like belonging to a click in grade school, so passe! All the people that chose to downsize should be proud of their accomplishment.

Some people choose to invest a year or two of their time in sweat equity of their tiny home and another would rather have that time to do what they love to do. Neither one is wrong and have their reasons for how they built their tiny as well as what materials they chose.

In Peru, they use mud, straw, and whatever material they can salvage for their homes. And much has not changed in the last 1000 years. And we also learned that people often think the same. Just as THOW’s are built here to avoid codes and property taxes by some, the homes in Peru are never quite done; windows missing, 2nd floor expansion underway, an addition in progress. Their reason for never finishing their home is that they are taxed at a much lower rate, if even not at all!

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New Tiny House Project

While we like designing and building our own tiny houses and cabins, we also will build other designs with plans provided by the customer. A customer requested we build a model similar to the Traveler and then made some changes to the plan set, which we incorporated into their new tiny house.

 

Some of the changes we made:

  • Redesigned the trailer for increased GVW
  • Smugglers storage
  • Fresh water tank with pump
  • 2 Grey water tanks
  • 750 WATT solar system
  • LEED recessed light above door
  • Switched exterior outlet by door
  • Drawers in toe kicks of cabinets
  • Closed cell spray foam insulation
  • Smoke and propane detectors

Some of the pictures of the build;

 

 

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Ravenlore Tiny House Tour

Tiny House Giant filmed a video of the Ravenlore. Enjoy this tiny house tour with Nicki The Firefighter from Savannah.

Going small doesn’t mean you can’t also go bold.

The Ravenlore, Nicki the Firefighter, and Tiny House Giant Journey made Good Housekeeping the 2nd week in January, 2015.

Here is an except;

What do you get when you smush together Victorian painted-lady style and minimalist living? This seriously adorable home from Tiny Green Cabins. Its candy-colored siding, trim, and roof just might make it the coolest tiny house we’ve ever seen.

But the home’s rainbow exterior isn’t the only surprising thing about it. A lap around the inside reveals a shocking amount of amenities artfully crammed into the 176-square-foot-space. A relatively large closet, clever hidden storage, a desk space, and a light-flooded kitchen offer the home full-size function in the small space. Still, we’re pretty sure it’s the pastel paint that will always make the owner (and passersby!) smile.

To read more click here: Good Housekeeping

 

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