Tiny Home Schooler: Emma's Fencl

Watch out world, we've got another young builder! 14 year old Emma Keely is getting ready to work on a Fencl of her very own. And unlike other high school students, she'll be getting a little more than extra credit for her project- Emma is home schooled. As a major part of her curriculum over the next year, she'll be researching, writing, and asking plenty of questions about all aspects of tiny house building.

emma and brotherEmma and brother, Gavin 

The Keely family just bought their 20 acre farm this past summer so they could grow their own food and eventually have a CSA. They're working on a permaculture garden and food forest, and hope that Emma's tiny house will fit in with the sustainable lifestyle the family is quickly moving towards. They're even aiming for zero waste for next year! 

Some added incentive to get building: as Emma gets older, she can simply move her Fencl further and further from her parents' house! It's every teen's dream. 

For Christmas, she'll be recieving a tool kit. As far as other materials, the Keelys have a family friend with a sturdy old barn that will soon be disassembled. Emma hopes to use some of the wood and metal roofing for her Fencl. She'll also get a job and save money for supplies. Her Tumbleweed will be off grid with an incinerating toilet, a solar panel- she wants to build one herself- and a cistern for water. For homework, she has the task of learning what products are available for her tiny house and how they are made

Before Emma gets to start working on her house, however, she's got to earn her stripes: she'll be building a tree house in her yard as a favor to her 10 year old brother, Gavin. By building a simpler "house" first, she'll pick up some important construction skills and with any luck, gain a helpful future assistant! 

We look forward to seeing Emma's progress over the next year, and encourage more teens to check out Tumbleweed possibilities of their own. 

Written by Nara Williams — December 09, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   education   fencl   young builder  

Jonathan Black: Tiny House Builder, Grandson Extraordinaire

I try really hard to be a loving granddaughter: I visit my grandma as much as possible, take her out to lunch as often as she'll allow, and occasionally even help clean out her basement. So naturally, I've always had reason to believe I was the model grandchild.

That is, until I met Jonathan Black at the Tumbleweed workshop in LA.

 Jonathan Black Jonathan Black 

A former CalPoly student, 26 year old Jonathan chose to seek a different educational path after several unsatisfying years of school. He currently works as a server at a restaurant in San Luis Obispo, and says he's much happier dealing with "life stress" than "school stress." Now, he's setting out on a whole new meaningful adventure: tiny house building for a cause.

Jonathan's grandpa has stenosis, and is trying to plan ahead for the unfortunate possibility of needing to use a wheelchair. His house in Morgan Hill, however, is not wheelchair accessible. To solve this problem, the family has hatched a brilliant plan: Jonathan will build a wheelchair accessible wing on his grandparents' house.

There's only one problem: to work on the house, Jonathan needs a place to stay. His grandparents owned both a motor home and a shed, but neither was an option. The motor home needed too much work, and grandpa had already converted the shed into an office.

The perfect solution? A Tumbleweed Tiny House for Jonathan.

Jonathan loves the idea of avoiding debt, and is excited to integrate his tiny house into a larger meaningful project for his family. He purchased the Fencl plans before coming to LA. 

Brainstorming at the workshop 

Jonathan played around with many different designs at the workshop, getting input from his mom, Bethany, and other helpful attendees.

He will build the Fencl in January, hoping to use as many found and donated materials as possible. He will be blogging about the process as he goes, as well as checking in with us here.

After he completes his tiny house, he'll begin work on the wing for his grandparents. "My mom doesn't want it to look like a disabled wing," explained Bethany. "We want Jonathan to do something that doesn't look ugly, because it's a sensitive issue." Jonathan will be mentored by a local building inspector who is also an ADA inspector, seeking ways to make the wing both aesthetically pleasing and wheelchair accessible.

By the end of next year, he'll have not only blown me out of the water in the best grandchild competition, but will have completed a little house of his own. Two birds, one stone anyone?

Jonathan with grandparents and mom

Right now, Jonathan is looking for trailers in the Morgan Hill area, so please let us know if you can help!

 

Written by Nara Williams — December 07, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   home design   house plan   plans   small house   wheelchair accessible   workshops  

From Tree to Tumbleweed

A Unique Approach to Keeping Building Costs Low

William Lampley is proof that a trip to your local hardware store is not the only path to owning a Tumbleweed of your own! A 100 year-old blighted Hemlock on his family’s property in the mountains of North Carolina will be getting a second life as a Tumbleweed Vardo. Getting this four-foot diameter beauty from a remote mountain access road to kiln dried construction ready material turns out to be an adventure in itself.

Retired early from the entertainment industry and debt free, William’s goal is to spend “as much as a month at a time in each of the as many Great National Parks as I can get to.” With a lifetime National Parks Pass in his hand William was looking for a comfortable mode of travel that would not put him in debt. The Tumbleweed Vardo was the solution. When asked about his choice in Tumbleweeds he said “ I just grew impatient recently and Vardo appears to be the quickest, most economical way to get me on the road.” Tumbleweed's Vardo is unique among their designs in that it is a small space mounted on a truck bed - not a trailer


Hemlock as a building material is quite popular with many in the construction industry and is stronger than pine, spruce or fir. The key in using hemlock, as with so many materials on the market, is finding wood free from knots and other imperfections.

William’s unique approach to acquiring one of the single most expensive components in building his new home on wheels required more than your normal list of tools. Included in William’s list were his two buddies, Skip and Duke, a 2wd truck, a 4wd truck with a winch, a 16 foot 12,000 lb trailer, three chainsaws and a small Ford tractor with a bucket on one end and a fork lift on the other. 


William shared with us some of his adventures in his first attempt at harvesting the Hemlock:

 “Getting to the tree was problematic today. The ground was wet, so my 2-wheel drive white Ford truck with the trailer could not pull up the soggy access road and bogged down too far up the road to back the trailer down again. We agreed to put Duke in the driver’s seat of the white truck and I got on the tractor and pushed on the back end of the trailer with the front bucket and assisted the truck and trailer up the hill. Also, once Skip got the red Dodge up the hill, he turned around and parked facing downhill, whereupon the Dodge stopped running. Apparently when level or facing uphill the carburetor is fine, but when facing downhill it stalls out… go figure!” 

After much head scratching and tree measuring the decision was made that they could not safely drop it. A professional needed to be called in. This will be an unexpected expense but, once the wood is on the ground, the three men plan on sectioning it, getting it to the sawmill themselves and ending up with lumber worth a lot more than what it will cost to cut down and process. 

Check back for more on William’s Vardo adventure!

 

 

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — October 09, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   vardo  

J.T.'s Tumbleweed is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

It only takes a couple minutes to see JT's penchant for baking bread revealed in his Tumbleweed. His kitchen is adorned with commercial shelving and his living room blinds are brilliantly made from Flax linen, known as couche which is used to cradle baguettes when they are rising. They are rolled, then pinned around a 1/2 inch dowel. In total, JT's creative nature is evident in the details of his newly built Tumbleweed home.


JT started with the Walden plans, but ended up combining elements of the Lusby, plus some of his own creativity into his finished product. And what a beauty it is. He started with the recommended 18' trailer but then decided he wanted his home to be an extra 2' longer. His solution ... add 2 feet to the living room. But what about the porch? Well, JT figured that out too. He found some c-channel steel that matched the trailer and had a 2' section welded to the front so he could add his porch. JT like's the open feel of the porch and decided to keep it free from posts and railing.

Come on in

Inside JT used much of the traditional Tumbleweed finishing touches like the pine tongue and groove walls, the wood finished windows and the fir flooring (which he couldn't stop talking about). It's amazing how many Tumbleweed's include a trip to IKEA before they are finished. And this little home is no different. Rather than build custom shelving, JT bought pine shelving at IKEA and built it right in to the house. It blends in so perfectly, you can't tell the difference.

Small Bathroom Design

To mix things up a little, JT added a couple inches to the bathroom and put in a tidy sized sink underneath the window. Above the toilet he simply recessed shelving and a mirror to give the bathroom a much grander space with a unit from IKEA. The 6" bathroom vent quickly clears the bathroom of moisture from the shower.


Small Kitchen Design

A great way to save time and money, the commercial kitchen shelving was put underneath the finished wood countertop. These shelves can be found at stores like Ikea and Costco. 

The kitchen blinds are simply dish towels with small dowels inserted into the ends - and voila - window coverings made. Next to the kitchen sink, you can see how the space in the wall was used for extra shelving.


Good sleep in a tiny home

Take a look at the accent lights at the head of the bed. Known as "up lighting", it creates a warm glow without shadows that is perfect for bedtime reading. The mattress is a single piece of memory foam for a perfect nights sleep.



See more images of the Walden.

Update: JT has answered many of the questions people asked from this post. Read JT's suggestions and advice.

Written by Steve Weissmann — September 18, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   Walden  

Tumbleweed Pinterest Contest #3 Top 14 (Yeah, I know.)

 

OK, I'll admit it: I just couldn't get down to 10. All of the boards were great, but these 14 were outstanding. So, I'll leave the dirty work to you all. Here are links to the top 14 boards. Vote below by NAME & NUMBER, i.e. 'Lindsey #1'. One vote per person, please.  You can vote for you favorite board through Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 5:00 pm PST. The winner will be announced on Friday, August 31st, 2012. Thanks again for all the great boards. It's been fun! ~ Brett

  1. Lindsay
  2. Ann Block
  3. Melani Weber
  4. LoveLoveLove
  5. Janie Foley Larsen
  6. Tracy Papai
  7. Miss Paulina
  8. Jacinda Anastasia Crum-Ewing
  9. Kristilovesmusic 
  10. Kim Fryer
  11. Amy Owens
  12. Stefanie Pedro
  13. Jessica Mullinax
  14. Robyn O'Gorman

Written by Brett Torrey Haynes — August 27, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   Pinterest   Tumbleweed  
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