Tag Archives: Tiny Houses

We build north woods tough!

Ravenore safe outside

Ravenore safe outside

I recently saw an ad for a tiny house that said they build tiny houses for temperatures from 47 degrees to 147 degrees and the picture showed a cabin in snow storm. Snow at 47 degrees? Maybe they meant  -47?

Our cabins and tiny houses are built for many different climate for instance; the desert southwest to the frozen tundras. Each one has a different level that needs to be met for that climate. The multiple climate zones for building are;

Marine - A marine climate meets is defined as a region where all of the following occur:

  • a mean temperature of the coldest month between 27°F and 65°F;
  • a mean temperature of the warmest month below 72°F;
  • at least four months with mean temperatures over 50°F; and
  • a dry season in the summer, the month with the heaviest precipitation in the cold season has at least three times as much precipitation as the month with the least precipitation.

Mixed Dry – A warm-dry and mixed-dry climate is defined as a region that receives less than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 4,500 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) and less than approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) and where the average monthly outdoor temperature drops below 45°F during the winter months.

Hot Dry – A hot-dry climate is defined as region that receives less than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis)or greater and where the monthly average outdoor temperature remains above 45°F throughout the year.

Hot Humid – A hot-humid climate is defined as a region that receives more than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and where the monthly average outdoor temperature remains above 45°F throughout the year. This definition characterizes a region that is similar to the ASHRAE definition of hot-humid climates where one or both of the following occur:

  • a 67°F r higher wet bulb temperature for 3,000 or more hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year; or
  • a 73°F or higher wet bulb temperature for 1,500 or more hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year.

Florida, Southern Texas, South Mississippi, South Alabama, South Georgia are some states that fit this zone.

Mixed Humid – A mixed-humid and warm-humid climate is defined as a region that receives more than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 4,500 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) and less than approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) and where the average monthly outdoor temperature drops below 45°F during the winter months.
Tennessee and Kentucky region and neighbor states fit this zone.


Cold Climate Zone – A cold climate is defined as a region with approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 9,000 heating degree days (65°F basis).

From the New England states through the Midwest through the Rockies are in this zone, including the southern half of Minnesota.

Very Cold – A very cold climate is defined as a region with approximately 9,000 heating degree days or greater (65°F basis) or greater and less than 12,600 heating degree days (65°F basis).

Northern Minnesota, northern North Dakota, and the southern half of Canada are in this zone.

Sub Arctic Zone – A subarctic and arctic climate is defined as a region with approximately 12,600 heating degree days (65°F basis) or greater.

Each of these different zones requires different criteria in building envelopes as well as higher R Value assemblies.  Insulation plays a critical value in tiny homes. We have heard from some people that I am already reducing my carbon foot print or energy consumption substantially, it does not matter.

Does it? Fifty years ago, building a home with no insulation did not seem to matter, and yet 50 years later it really does. What will energy prices do in the future is anyone’s guess, and yet leading indicators would suggest using the technology now to create a personal environment and home that will meet your needs now and then.  Housing is becoming high tech and why skimp on something that can enhance your living experience in the future.

Anyhow, how about some winter cabins eye candy. We build our tiny house for our very cold zone as well as everyone else’s climate zone.

What is a Cabin?


Winter Morning Wildflower

Winter Morning Wildflower

What is a cabin? How do we distinguish it from a house, let alone a tiny house?

Dale Mulfinger lists four cabin characteristics. He did a speech on Cabinology 101 and he knows cabins, especially Minnesota cabins. And I suspect that anyplace that has cabins has the same four cabin characteristics.

Dale Mulfinger is a Minneapolis architect and author of 2 great books on cabins he has designed or admired: The Cabin and The Getaway Home.  He describes a cabin as a place not to live, but a place to escape to them. Which is not far from what a tiny house is; a place to escape from the demands and monies that a large home requires, to a place to escape to so we can be able to “live like giants”

1.       The site is chosen for its natural beauty.

One of the challenges is taking advantage of the views that some sites offer. With a transportable tiny house/cabin, the choice of views and directions faced becomes a non issue.  As the seasons change, the views often reveal something new and a transportable tiny house is able to enjoy all the different views. Or maybe, you are a writer, and enjoy the sun shining on the windows. Mount the cabin on a turntable as George Bernard Shaw did and spin the house following the sun throughout the day. He even named it “London” so his staff could say he went to “London” and be able to say it truthfully. Shaw’s cabin allowed him to take advantage of the sun for passive solar heat.

 2.       A cabin provides simple basic shelter. It isn’t fancy. It doesn’t try to make a social statement, as houses often do.  A small efficient floor plan is all it needs.

When I was growing up, we often saw tiny cabins dotting the roadside by farmer’s fields and along the rivers and streams. They were basic; a place to sleep, single pane windows, a small kitchen often with a water pump and small sink, wood stove, and a lofted area or small bedroom with bunks. The latrine was always outside, set back into the trees.

The tiny houses and cabins now often are quite larger than the cabins of old.  When one decides get back to the basics, a lot of space is not needed.  However, some things moved into the cabins; double and triple pane windows, insulation, and the latrine aka bathroom.

Tired of the distractions of modern living, Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to live a deliberate and simple life. He borrowed some land near a pond called Walden from friend Ralph Waldo Emerson and built himself a simple 10′x15′ shack for $28.12 and furnished it with a bed, a table, a desk, and three chairs.

Smaller cabins and tiny houses do make a social statement it seems even if not their intent;  low carbon footprint, living sustainably, I don’t need a big space to live and more. The use of cabins are expanding; they are no longer in the mountains, found is hidden nooks or valleys, but coming into mainstream life.  They are sprouting up like wildflowers in a spring time meadow as writer huts, sewing dens, garden retreats, hermitages, proverbial “dog house,” back yard offices, student dorm rooms, mother or father in law quarters, nanny quarters, or caretaker cottages.  As times change, so will the zoning laws allowing for more uses in denser population centers.

 3.       Overlapping activities take place within compact quarters.

Living small means living smart and using space for dual purposes;  great room becomes a study area, relaxing space, work space, eating space. The kitchen while its primary function is cooking – one can actually cook healthy in a tiny kitchen instead of running daily to the store, burger and noodle joints for  fast food seems out of context for living small and in a tiny house. If one does not cook in, except for the occasional add hot water, the counter space can be used as a desk top for work, writing, or just pondering why I am living in a tiny house/cabin. The loft besides sleeping is a great place to read or day dream listening to the rain drop hit the metal roof or watching out through the loft window as wildlife plays just below you.

4.       Everybody feels at home right away. A cabin furnishings are simple, often treasured family hand me downs. It is sleeping lofts, tucked under the eve, evokes memories of childhood. It fireplace or stove provides physical and emotional warmth.

Cabins are magical!  Climbing into the loft each night became comforting and cozy. The Wildflower and the loft had become my nest and “safe Place’ to rest, sleep, and relax in. My pillow was at the awning window and I could look out into the night and see creatures of the night moving about; deer ambling thru the yard and cleaning up the seeds below the feeders; the skunk that found the ground bees nest and savory honey; to the owl and mouse drama that resulted in a flurry of wings; the dancing of the shadows of the moonlight dancing across the grass;  the wind whistling around the eves at night; the rain drops pelting the roof all bring about childhood memories of sleeping in under the eaves in the old farm house of my parents.

Most of my days of childhood were spent outside the house, in the woods, haymows, and forts that I would build in secret places. The tiny house is similar to those places, a friend used the term to describe a tiny green cabins as a ‘power fort!”

For me, my cabin or cottage is about making a choice; living smaller and sustainably so that I can live large and enjoy the experiences that this new freedom form ‘stuff’ brings me.


Transportable Tiny Houses

Prairie Rose Tiny House

Prairie Rose Tiny House


Did you know? While serving in the military and subsequently deployed to an overseas location – they will ship the tiny house for free to your deployment location. This is subject to case by case review, and a tiny house is treated like portable housing. Cool


This puts a whole new spin on our motto;

“Take your tiny green cabin…wherever life takes you!”

Pictured is our Prairie Rose Tiny House ready and waiting to be deployed.

Living Small is About Experiences

Jim is enjoying his house guests as he builds their customized non toxic not so tiny, tiny house.

The name of the not so tiny, tiny house is “Explore2Live;” 40′ x 8′, 320 sqft, weight 20,000 pounds,  road height 12′ – 9″, steel framed with an R 45 roof, large kitchen, large great room, 2 fireplaces, 5th room bedroom and bath with safe room below, lockable equipment room, in floor storage with hatches, loft at stern with bay window, with niche for an Onan 6000 watt generator, 200 gal water storage, solar power. The Explore2Live is built to go off the grid for an indefinite period if needed. The Explore2Live is packed with features.

Karen and Harris were part of our workshop this fall and decided after the 2nd day to have us build the Explore2Live.

Jim’s cottage is 400 sqft, so we are indeed having a “build a tiny house”  and living experience.

People, build small so they can live large, and we build tiny houses because we really enjoy the of experiences, new ideas, and new friends that we meet. We are a custom tiny house builder and love working with people and help them make their dreams come alive. One could say, that this tiny house is a workshop in many ways, as Harris and Karen are learning the details of their tiny house. They have also recently informed us that we will be building several more tiny houses for them and their recently purchased property in Colorado.

Harris and Karen  are  well versed in marketing and are handing out business cards all over and talking up Tiny Green Cabins. They had talked to other tiny house builders, and met resistance for what they wanted to do.  Since we are a custom tiny house builder, and have built custom homes from small homes to McMansions; we feel we can offer an excellent service to people looking for something different in tiny houses and not so tiny, tiny houses. After some discussions, they also felt the same way.

“Jim Wilkins YOU Rock! Thank you, WE appreciate you for helping US build our TINY greEN cabIN on wheeLS…YOW!
Sustainable is prayer for the people similar to mediciNE for the peoPLE is music as a prayer with wisdom and integrity. YOU are amazing and the world needs more of both tiny green cabins and medicine for the people… peace & blessings, “swirl” aka karen murphy-sizelove”"

Harris has also held workshops on watersheds and water resources in Virginia and plans on continuing workshops in Colorado, and using the Explore2Live as a part of those workshops.

Here are some pictures of the plans and build process of the Explore2live


Tiny House Artist Rendering of the vision

Artist Rendering of her vision










Tiny House Welding

Tiny House Welding








Tiny House equipment safe built in

The Tiny House, Caleb, and equipment safe





Tiny House Steel Frame

Tiny House Steel Frame

Tiny House Tarped for the night

Tiny House Tarped for the night

Cedar and Tiny Houses

Cedar-lined storage chests and closets have long been used for long-term storage of out-of-season clothing, in the belief that the cedar will deter moths from destroying the clothing. But does it really work?

The damage moths cause to natural fibers is caused not by the moth itself, but by the larvae that hatch out of the eggs the moth lays. Therefore preventing the damage can take two forms, preventing the moth from laying the eggs in the clothing, and killing the larvae as they emerge (or in the egg).

The heavy scent of the cedar is thought to mask the smell of wool, effectively hiding it from the moth seeking a home for her eggs. That is, it doesn’t repel moths so much as it camouflages the moth’s natural target. If the smell-disguise in fact does deter moths, then any masking smell would work as well, and people have packed old garments away with sprigs of lavender, tansy and rosemary tucked in them for literally centuries.

If the scent-deterrent works (and there’s only anecdotal evidence that it does), then it only works on the egg-laying moth. Packing away garments already hosting moth-eggs will yield a cupboard full of rotting wool. Since the larvae are repelled by strong light, shaking and hanging clothing in the sun for a few hours before folding for storage should ensure that what you are storing is larvae-free.

Mothballs have been used to destroy the emerging larvae, but this has fallen into disrepute. The smell that mothballs leaves on clothing is reason enough to avoid their use; further deterrent should be toxins they contain. These chemicals slowly vaporize, creating a toxic vapor that kills moth larvae, but which is also dangerous to people and pets.

A report from the University of California at Davis suggests that one type of cedar, Eastern Red Cedar (which is actually a juniper), does kill moth larvae over a period of time. The wood contains an aromatic oil that in sufficient concentration, as in an airtight cabinet, will kill small moth larvae. If there is too much air circulation, as in a closet, concentration of the vapors will remain insufficient to kill larvae, although the scent might deter adult moths.

My concern is that when building a tiny house with techniques used today to get the highest efficiency for minimizing heat loss and being air tight; have we not in all practicality built a cedar chest for men and women which some could say is very similar in building a cedar chest when cedar is used as paneling and interior mill-work. While a sauna is meant for use once in a while, living in a tiny house year around, and sleeping there could be putting oneself in an unhealthy environment, much like a moth larva in a cedar chest.

What do you think?

Tale of the Tape of why a tiny house costs more

Tale of the tape

Tale of the tape

While tiny houses appear to cost more, it is important to remember that the cheapest thing you can add to a tiny house or any house is square footage. At the core of most houses you will find an electrical system, plumbing, heating, appliances, and structural components that are similar in one way; they are expensive.

This core is housed in the relatively cheap volume that surrounds it. Because the price of extending core components outward to accommodate additional space isn’t that high, and open space itself is priced next to nothing, square footage is next to nothing, square footage is (at face value) cheap.

Tiny Houses and small houses are micromanaged with subtractive geometry by taking out space that is not needed to arrive at a tiny house design.
The tiny houses often become smart houses by what people add to them; systems that allow the owner freedom of travel and ability to live off the grid if they so desire. They give people an option to live and pursue their passions by living small and living large at the same time.

Sales Event

Prairie Schooner Naked Tiny House

Prairie Schooner Naked Tiny House

Order a Naked Prairie Schooner tiny house, receive a $1500 discount as part of our new model introductory model sale

Click here

Running with the Giants

Running with the Giants

Running with the Giants

The upside of downsizing

It was not that long ago, that “downsizing” carried with it somewhat negative connotations. From businesses that cut staff to become more competitive or do more with less to survive while an economy retracted; to people driving smaller cars or smart cars. Downsizing also suggested that you were either too old or too poor,(or both) to have a large home anymore and so you were forced, begrudgingly, into something smaller and inexpensive and that you were just going to have to “make do.”
These days, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

So, what do giants have to do with downsizing? Personally, I like giant stories, myths, and legends. There is always a little guy in the mix that figured out how to beat the giant, or at least have some of what he has or is able to do.

To me, the modern day giants are the wealthy that keep getting bigger and bigger. They build bigger extravagant castles, and spend a lot of their time trying to make money, so they can have more; another house, a cabin, trips, new automobiles all the while having less and less time to spend doing what they love doing. It becomes a spiral of sorts, as they build bigger to impress someone, they need to make more money by spending more time working.  They have become the modern day giants!

When one downsizes, be it by choice or forced upon them, they have freed themselves from the “trappings” of modern society. Instead of spending $251,000 of interest on a $350,000 loan over 30 years, which is about $9,000 per year of income; they can now spend that $9,000 on a 10 day  Regents Alaskan cruise and rail excursion to Denali, travel to Europe and ride the rails, or ride the Blue Train in Africa taking pictures all the while and living for a brief spell like a giant lives. Or take a series of small trips around the country, book an excursion in a hot air balloon, take a trip to see friends that have not been visited with, in years, or just play around in your backyard, take some classes, and create experiences that will live with you forever.

The comment by Henry David Thoreau, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” has a lot of wisdom in it. IF you want to run and play like the giants does not mean you have to live like the giants in their stately mansions, castles, and big fancy houses/condos. We can make different choices by living smaller, so we can live large.

Some of the upsides to living small;

  • Freedom to travel
  • More vacations
  • Weekends are yours to play
  • Explore the outdoors
  • Read frequently
  • Go back to school, get a degree
  • Read a book a month
  • Explore museums
  • Pursue a hobby
  • Pursue a passion that makes you come alive
  • Take part in sporting activities
  • Be of service to the community

Tiny Green Cabins, Tumbleweed Homes, Tiny Home Builders and others can help you achieve living small while running with the giants.


Bam! Tiny House Dreams Smashed!

Tiny house Smashed

Tiny house Smashed

This tiny house was on the road was involved in an accident between semi-trucks that resulted in major damage to the house and truck pulling it. This tiny house was known as the Wayzalot and over several years made many trips to RV shows, gatherings, and events.  The driver suffered a broken ankle and the Wayzalot was towed, salvaged and dismantled.

The truck and tiny house had to be cut apart before they could be towed. The semis  also sustained some damage in the accident.

One of the concerns of tiny houses is getting insurance, especially while being moved. Whenever we move a tiny house, we use a courier as they insured the tiny house for 100K. We have learned that by using a courier, it is a cost effective and wise choice.

We have heard a lot of comments about not being able to insure a tiny house, and it is strongly suggested that people talk to their insurance agents for the best options. This owner had insurance through Auto Owners and insured his as an additional vehicle with for material receipts and a little labor. The insurance company paid out the claim within 2 weeks and the owner then built the Wayzless…and that unit is also insured by the same provider.


We build tiny houses with a cold formed steel frame that is welded together for added strength and rigidity. Besides our tiny houses being resistant to molds, termites, vermin, fire; they are also 16X stronger than wood and are earthquake resistance.

Isn’t it about time YOU check out Tiny Green Cabins for added security in a tiny house.

Send Jim an email at jim@tinygreencabins.com for more information.