Russ and Sheila's Weekend Retreat

Sheila Working on her Weekend Retreat

Russ and Sheila are avid cyclists and have always dreamed of owning a weekend retreat that's bike-able from their permanent home. “I remember how excited I was when I stumbled on the Tumbleweed site for the first time in early 2013. Right away, I knew I had found what I was looking for,” Russ recalls. “I love the efficiency of the design, that it’s moveable, affordable and I love the way the design and look will blend in with the forest setting I plan to place it in.”

Russ (front, center) & Friends 

The problem? Russ wanted to build his home, but like so many DIY tiny housers, he had no construction experience. He attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Berkeley last year to learn more about the project he was about to undertake, and he was delightfully surprised by the amount of new friends he made over the two days.

“One of the couples I had met at the workshop contacted my wife, Sheila, and I about some property they were going to look at in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Russ told us. “The four of us loved it so much that we ended up buying the property together and now we all have a place to put our tiny houses!”

At Tumbleweed, we structure our workshops to be social and encourage our attendees to stay in contact long after the weekend is over. Whether it's a carpenter looking to help out on a small project or a family who has extra backyard space available for constructing a tiny house, countless friendships have been made just from meeting like-minded people and starting the tiny house conversation.

Russ in his Framed Tiny Home

It's been a year since Russ and Sheila attended the Berkeley workshop, and they are now almost half finished with their Tumbleweed Elm 18 Overlook. “It’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life,” Russ admits, “and I have done some pretty difficult things, including getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford and riding my bike 520 miles in 40 hours.” Russ and Sheila have encountered a few difficulties during construction, including finding the right trailer.

“I thought I could save money by having one (a trailer) custom built by a local trailer manufacturer.  However, the final dimensions ended up being less than perfect.  By the time I had paid a welder to modify the design and add the all threaded rod to tie down the house, I ended up spending about the same amount of money and much more time than I would have if I had simply purchased the Tumbleweed trailer.”

Russ on his Ridge Beam

Even thought they've encountered a few challenges, Russ has found the experience to be extremely rewarding, adding that he can't wait to spend the night in a house that he built with his own two hands. 

As always, we asked Russ to share three pieces of advice for future builders. He gave us four, including links to his website with more information! 

Russ's 4 Pieces of Advice:

1.  Stick to the plans. Especially if you don’t have a lot of building experience.  Early in the build process, I made a few changes that I thought were minor but ended up causing major headaches.  
2.  Purchase the highest quality tools you can afford.  Doing so will save you a lot of time and effort and you will thank yourself every time you use them.
3.  Whenever possible, support your local lumberyard instead of the big box hardware stores.  You might pay a little extra, but it will be worth the good advice and high quality materials you will receive.
4.  Its OK to make mistakes. Welcoming a little imperfection often results in unexpected beauty you might not have otherwise experienced.

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*All photos provided by Russ and Sheila

*Russ and Sheila have an extremely helpful, detailed blog about their build. It's a great resource. Follow them here

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 27, 2014

Insulation: What to Consider

Tiny House Giant Journey's Rigid Foam Board Insulation

Many tiny housers live in cold and hot climates. There are Tumbleweeds that muscle through Alaskan winters (such as Heather's Cypress and Nathan's Cypress) and ones that chill-out during Louisiana summers (such as Art's Elm) and protect against Florida's humidity (such as Emily's Elm). High quality insulation is one of the BIG benefits about living in a tiny home versus a conventional RV. 

When choosing which insulation to use in your tiny home, the three key factors to consider are: 1) R-Value, 2) Loose Fill vs. Closed, 3) Environmental Impact.  

1) R-Value

R-values represent the extent to which insulation resists heat flow; a higher R-value means more insulating value.

For example, in Alaska R-values for roofs should approximate R-38 to R-49; for walls, R-21; and for floors R-15 to R-19 (according to this source). It will be important for you to determine the amount of insulation you need for your particular location. You can learn more about recommended R-value per region by clicking here

Halley's Tumbleweed with Rigid Foam Insulation

Types of Insulation and their R-values (per inch)

Rigid Foam: R5-7 per inch

Spray Foam: R6-7 per inch

Wool: R3.5-3.8 per inch

Cotton Batts: R3-4 per inch

Fiberglass Batts: R3-4 per inch

*For a list of types of insulation click here

2) Loose Fill Vs. Closed

Evan & Gabby's Tiny House trailer with Wool Insulation

Some insulations are closed,  which means that they create a vapor barrier or air seal and will provided extra strength within your walls. An example of closed insulation is spray foam, which is the typical insulation we use in our ready-made Houses-to-Go.  

Other insulations are loose fill, such as wool insulation, cellulose insulation and even shredded recycled paper insulation. This means that the material is—you guessed it—loosely packed within your walls. These types of insulations are easy to install and can fit within tight, awkward spaces. Keep in mind that some types of loose fill insulations will require an additional vapor barrier.  

3) Environmental Impact

Ella's Wool Insulation

Whenever you are building a home, whether it be a tiny home or a mansion, you have the option to choose greener materials. This choice depends on your own personal preference, but it is an important factor to weigh if you intend on installing the insulation yourself. Some insulations contain harmful fibers and will require a respirator when installing, such as fiberglass insulation.

Wool insulation is a natural and sustainable product; cotton denim insulation is made from non-toxic recycled materials. These materials will not require off-gassing and are consider green insulation alternatives. 

Comment below on which type of insulation you would use in your tiny home!

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Check back soon for an article on Tiny House heating!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 13, 2014

Filed under: cotton   denim   fiberglass   Insulation   Rigid Foam Insulation   Spray Foam   Tumbleweed   Wool Insulation  

Video Tours of Our Tiny Homes

We’ve been gathering and creating video tours of our tiny homes over the past few months, and we are now thrilled to release them all in one place! You’ll also now be able to view them under each house design for the Elm, Cypress and Linden. We hope these videos are helpful for those of you wondering which model will best fit your particular personality. Enjoy!

If you’d like to tour one of our tiny homes in person, we have another exciting announcement, our showroom in Colorado Springs is now open! Book a tiny house tour here.

First up, we’d like you to step inside our classic model: the Elm 24 with dormers.

We love this design because it’s based on the very first Tumbleweed. The Elm offers a full porch and a picturesque arched window above the front door. This model is simply stunning, just watch as the Home & Family hosts gush in this tour!

 

 

Next up we have our brand new Cypress 24, an extended version of our most popular model which features a left, right, or no porch option.

This particular tiny home is packed full of amenities, including: a full size refrigerator, air conditioning, a washer/dryer combo, downstairs bedroom, staircase, and much more!

 

 

If you’d rather have a smaller model, take a moment to tour through this Cypress 20 and feel the difference. Do you need the extra four feet? Or maybe you can live with even less. Not to worry, we also offer the Cypress on an 18 foot trailer!

 

 

Lastly, we’re ecstatic to show you the first video tour of our Linden 20.

 

This design will provide the largest loft and, like the Elm, offers a full size porch. Once inside you’ll see this model is quite unique from the other two, but she has a Tumbleweed heart and offers a clever, spacious design.

 

 

There are so many options to make these each of these designs one-of-a-kind, including: 3 trailer lengths, 23 floor plans, 3 sleeping options, multiple kitchen options, and choices in number of skylights, roof colors, chosen appliances, etc! The beautiful thing about living small is that you can customize YOUR home to fit YOUR lifestyle. And we want to help you find your perfect home. 

Bonus Video: Why Tumbleweed?

 

 

 

So, now that you've toured a few Tumbleweeds, WHAT TINY HOME ARE YOU?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 06, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Elm   Linden   Showroom   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Video Tour   Why Tumbleweed  

Zee's Tiny Classroom Update

Zee Kesler (On Left in Blue) and her Tiny House Team

We spoke with Zee Kesler back in May when she was still raising funds and dreaming of owning a tiny mobile community center in Vancouver. After a very productive summer, it seems Zee’s dream is close to becoming a reality. Her tiny structure has a finished exterior and the interior is in the works.

The advancements in her build are owed substantially to her friends and construction / design partners: John McFarlane (who builds tiny homes in Vancouver), Josh Armstrong, and Dave Myers. “I trust them whole heartedly and love everything they’ve done,” Zee explains. Her materials consist mostly of recycled supplies from local film productions, and the guys are constantly surprising her with the reuse of these items, seen most recently in her multi-colored window trim.

‘I love stripes, so when I saw what they did (with the trim), I was like: “Awww, you guys know me!”’ Zee recalls. “A community center should be colorful.”

As promised, workshops were held throughout Zee’s build, allowing other tiny house enthusiasts to learn from guest experts and even participate in the construction when possible. “The workshops covered the entire process of building a tiny home,” Zee explains, “So even though we aren’t finished with the house, we did demos of how to complete a tiny home.” Zee continued by saying that she was learning along with her 7-8 workshop attendees. Her favorite part was understanding how water interacts with certain materials and how houses have evolved over time.

Photo from Zee's Tiny House Workshop

Another unique item in Zee’s tiny classroom is the back window. “John (her designer) modified the Tumbleweed plans to create a community center layout, and he decided to make the back window stand out and possibly double as a future trademark or logo.” The result was to put several extra windows together creating a large, picturesque, mosaic-like window.

 

Zee's Unique Back Window

Zee’s house still has a little way to go, but she hopes it will be completed in about a month. This winter she endeavors to secure a grant for a public parking spot in Vancouver and to make this tiny home into a official community center where classes will be held. If all goes well, Zee’s dream will become a reality as early as Spring 2015.

Stay tuned for more updates on Zee’s story!

More info on Zee’s tiny community center follow the build on facebook here and online here, and the original story here

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*All photos provided by Zee Kesler

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Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a self-built Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure that began in September 2014. Occasionally they will be hosting an open house. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — September 26, 2014

Filed under: canda   community center   Tiny House   vancouver   zee kesler  

Traveling Tiny House - Stories & Tips

Tiny House GJ at Ye Olde' Mill Campground in Burnt Cabins, PA

Hi All -

Now that we've been on the road for a few weeks, Guillaume and I wanted to share our stories and travel tips. We will be scooting along the highway for the next year. So stay tuned!

Our official trip began September 2nd with our departure from Shelbyville, Illinois. If you're confused it might be because we built half of our house in Los Angeles, but at the beginning of the summer we decided to move the build to the midwest (where my family graciously let us take over their driveway). Read about our move from California to Illinois here

The construction of our house had taken over our lives for the past year, and yet, we were still scrambling to finish right up until the final gargantuan moment of our tiny exodus. It was 6pm before we slowly rolled away from my family's quiet farm town and began an 800 mile journey to our first destination: the Tumbleweed Philadelphia workshop, where our house would make its debut. Check out the below video tour of our home taken by Philadelphia workshop presenter Deek

I had never been to the east coast before, so I was very excited that the first section of our trip would take us to somewhere exotic - a place where locals don't even blink an eye as they shuffle past 300 year old buildings, coffee is served strong and meant for drinking on the go, and lobster rolls are considered a common lunch. 

Philadelphia really surprised me. I spent days just walking the streets, reading plaques and snapping photos. I'm not used to living in a place that has history, and I allowed myself to feel proud and at home. The words: "I could live here," occasionally crossed my mind.

Our Parking Spot in Philadelphia - across from the workshop

That being said, I was full of contempt for the city as we pulled our (what seemed like) enormous house through its narrow streets. Parking was impossible, which I expected. Our trailer jack clawed at the ground more than once, and every time it felt like the house was collapsing. 

Tiny House GJ Parking Illegally in Philly
Watch out wire - Here we come!!

Tips for Towing a Tiny House in North Eastern USA:

1). KNOW YOUR HEIGHT. REALLY KNOW IT. There are many low overpasses along the east coast. Our house is 13'4" and we had a few close calls. One in particular in New York City, where an overpass boasted a low clearance of 12'6"! We slowed down, frantically discussed our options and then realized that our house would fit. The sign was a lie, or a terribly un-funny joke. Either way my heart skipped a beat at the thought of reversing in NYC traffic. I cringe at the idea of a convertible tiny home. A wonderful purchase for us was an RV GPS. It alerts us of any low overpasses, weight restrictions, horizontal clearances, propane restrictions, etc. If you are going to travel often with your tiny home, buy one!

2). Watch for potholes, steep inclines / declines. Our trailer jack and chains will usually take the hit first, but I wouldn't recommend it. Take it slow and be alert. 

3). If you are still in the pre-build stage, consider placing your door on the passenger side. When parking on the side of the street, exiting the tiny house on the driver's side (or the side of traffic) can be dangerous. This tip really applies to travel anywhere, but especially relevant in an east coast city where streets can be very narrow and traffic heavy. 

4). KNOW YOUR WEIGHT. Tie down everything inside, and distribute your weight evenly. You can weigh your house at any trucker scale (LOVES or similar). Ours is a bit heavy - 9,800 lbs. This means we have to be very careful about our tongue weight. Semi-tedious work, but we often shift our belongings to the back of the house for travel to alleviate our heavy tongue. We are looking for a bigger truck to compensate for this. Currently we have a 3/4 ton diesel Ford F-250, but would like a 1 ton dually. If anyone has any advice for us about this, please feel free to comment!

5). In New York City, watch for gawking pedestrians and flying hotdogs. 

Tiny House in Central Park 

Yes, after leaving Philly we drove the house through New York City. No, we aren't insane.. well, maybe a little. A short-lived cruise through central park ended with us being kicked out; we had permission but ended up causing trouble when we couldn't navigate properly. Our tiny home crawled away with its tail between our legs to a campsite in Croton-On-Harmon, about an hour outside of the city.

Our Campsite in New York - Croton Point Park

Before leaving New York City we snapped a few photos of the tiny house amongst the skyscrapers. It was September 11th, and the significance of the anniversary was not lost on us. We tried to visit the memorial, but it was closed for family members only - a respectable request.

As the new One World Trade Center proudly served as our canopy, we remembered. 

Currently we are on our way to Montreal. My next update will be about crossing the border and staying overnight in campgrounds, truck strops or similar. Wish us luck!

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Check our OUR ROUTE and follow our journey on our website and facebook

For more photos of our journey, follow us on INSTAGRAM

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Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a self-built Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure that began in September 2014. Occasionally they will be hosting an open house. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.

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