Compost Toilet Outhouse

Why a compost toilet outhouse? We live on 50 acres with a one bathroom house on it – we use walkie talkies to communicate with each other on our land. We conduct 75% of our lives 500 or more yards from the house in a series of huge outdoor rooms collectively referred to as ‘the pond’. As in “Honey, when I get home will you be at the pond or at the house?” It’s where we work, play, socialize, park our guests, and have campfires, barbecues, and parties.
 
The more people we share these activities with, the more we need a handy bathroom facility. It’s equally obvious that there’s no way we can afford or justify putting in a second septic system. The entire property is a watershed and we don’t want to take any chances polluting, so we wouldn’t even think about doing an old school outhouse, where you just dig a pit and add lime to the cesspool. A waterless compost toilet was the only way to go, allowing us to return the nutrients and organic materials from our waste safely to the soil.
 
The dirty details; we were on a tight budget and had some materials left over from our tiny house builds, so we opted for an entirely DIY “glorified bucket” approach. I’ve watched quite a few compost toilet videos over time, and referred back to a couple to help us plan our project. Urine diversion is the best approach because it prevents smelly anaerobic conditions and allows more of the nutritional value from our wastes to be used by plants, but to buy aurine diverter costs about $70 – $100 and takes delivery time. I’ve ordered one now, so I’ll do an update at some point about how that works out. For now we’re removing the material to an aerobic microbe rich composting situation, and we always have a large supply of sawdust so we decided to just use larger amounts of it to soak up excess liquid and put everything in one container....
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Written by Guest Blogger — April 05, 2013

Filed under: Build it yourself   Home Design  

The Devil's in the Details

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!

The devil is often said to be in the details, and this couldn’t be any truer than in a tiny house.  Many times I have made the argument over at my blog that tiny houses are more complex and intricate to build than your standard McMansions.  This is because in a small house, you have so little space to work with that the small facets seem to jump out at you. 

cornerCareful corners

When it comes to traditional homes, mistakes are easily covered through various tricks of the trade, but they have one major thing in their favor, lots and lots of space.  With that space you can easily hide the mistakes. Compare that to a Tiny House, and the tolerances are so small that sometimes being off by 1/8th of an inch means re-doing hours of work. 

levelKeeping level-headed

It is here in the details that tiny houses have made a name for themselves, because you have to be so intentional about how you use space.  Here are 5 tips to help you make sure the details given the reverence they deserve.

1.      Make a list of the most important activities your home must be able to handle, form should follow that list

2.      Tape out your floor plan to scale and act out a day in it. Be sure to have extra tape because you’ll be changing it a lot!

3.      Stop looking at other Tiny Houses, make your house for you.

4.      Consider storage for all your things, including often forgotten things like trash, recycles, and dirty laundry.

5.      Obsess over the look, feel and form of everything in your house to make sure it fits in well. 


Good luck! 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 29, 2013

Filed under: build it yourself   builders   building tips   diy   guest post   home design   house plans   small spaces  

Making Time to Build

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!

Like many of you, I have a lot on my plate.  So when it came time to build my tiny house, I started to wonder when I’d fit it time in to actually finish my house.  Right now I am juggling three jobs, running my blog over at The Tiny Life, writing a book and on top of it, building this Tiny House.  For many of you, children are part of the equation, but there are plenty of people building homes with kids.  So the question in your mind right now might be: how can I juggle everything in my life and build a tiny house? 

Ryan buildingMaking time 

The answer is actually part of what I call The Tiny Life; building a tiny house isn’t fix-all cure that some wish to believe.  In fact, in some regards building a tiny house is the simple part.  In a way it plays into our consumer culture, why go out and buy something in an attempt to fix something.  It is the lifestyle that many find difficult to adopt.  We all know you have to reduce the amount of stuff we have, but along with the small house and the sparse possessions we must bring focus to the life we wish to live in that house. 

It was at the point where I had decided to build my house that I sat down and wrote what was truly important to me, these were things that I felt were worthy of my time.  From there I ordered them in terms of importance.  It was this list that I then took and considered where I spend my energy and time. 

Through this process I realized that some things simply couldn’t be achieved right now because other things were more important to me; it meant that I had to say no to some things, which isn’t a word often in our vocabulary in modern society.  It was surprising to see how things that were a lower priority for me seemed to sneak into time that would be better used for more important things.

So take a few moments, even if it is on the back of a napkin on a coffee break, to write down your top 10 things that are most important to you and then consider how a shift if your time and energy might be needed. With this you will have to learn to say no to various activities.  In this list you can begin to see where building your Tiny House will fit in and what things have to go in order to make the time.  You might find that building your house is lower on the list, which means it will take a few years to complete, and that is okay because you are intentional about it.  In the long run you are able to focus on what is truly important in your life and begin living The Tiny Life. 

 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 23, 2013

Filed under: build it yourself   diy   lifestyle   resources   time management   tips  

Training Tomorrow's Builders Today

Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University - Partners in Education

Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University are introducing the concept of tiny home construction to the next generation of American contractors. In the spring of 2013 students in SAU’s Construction Management program will be building Tumbleweed’s newest model.  

As you can see from our early drawings of the new house on the left, The new Tumbleweed is going to include a full sized murphy bed with built in couch on the first floor. 

Tumbleweed’s focus on education is longstanding. Through workshops, books, open houses, partnerships with high schools and community events we are trying to change the perception of what is possible. We are thrilled to be working with a community of future builders that have the ability to change the way America lives, literally, in the palms of their hands.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with two of the Tumbleweed staff involved in developing the partnership with Southern Adventist. The first thing I wanted to know was why they felt it was necessary for the next generation contractors to understand the concept of tiny homes.

Pepper Clark, a Tumbleweed workshop presenter, was nothing less than enthusiastic in her response. “It's essential for the next generation of American contractors to understand the idea of tiny homes because they provide both the most logical response to our growing economic and logistical housing challenges. Future builders need to be aware of how many problems can be solved with a tiny house; providing means for multi generational families to live happily together, allowing people to work at careers they love instead of high paying jobs they hate, enabling folks to move their homes as needed to respond to changes in their lives, and giving young people a way to live independently with little overhead as they start out.”

Our head of business development and sales, also sees contractors as an integral component to solving America’s housing and financial crisis. American contractors have the opportunity to help Americans with the financial headache of getting into home ownership. When contractors assist people in getting a better financial foundation under their feet, it will be assisting future generations. We want to refill the building pipeline in a healthy and sustainable way!” 

When asked about Tumbleweed’s focus on education Pepper discussed the importance of homeowner awareness and creating a financially sustainable lifestyle. “If we can assist people in making the decision to live in a tiny way, to reduce financial stress and increase financial stability in the average home, we will have been successful. Many people are having a hard time making ends meet. It is a path to less stress and financial stability.”

Southern Adventist University is pioneering a new and more responsible approach to educating the next generation of American builders. Tumbleweed is looking forward to the day when the concepts involved in tiny space design and construction are standard components of all university level construction programs.

 

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — January 21, 2013

Filed under: build   Build it yourself   builders   college   education   Fencl   new   student builds   Tumbleweed  

A Look Inside Ella's Tiny House

Check out this video of Ella giving a tour inside her Tumbleweed.

You might recall Ella being on the front page of Yahoo! a few weeks back. 

If you would like to see more about Ella, check out her blog

Written by Adam Gurzenski — January 14, 2013

Filed under: Build it yourself   Tumbleweed   video  
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