In the summer of 2012, Michael Byer, the future owner of "Tiny House Coffee" met Zack Giffin: pro skier and builder. Zack showed Michael his self-built Tiny House RV, which was being used as a mobile ski lodge. Features of Zack's tiny included a potbelly stove, sleeping bunks, a spiral staircase, and beer taps that were accessible from the porch.
"Something about the 'quaint mountain cabin' aesthetic stuck with me." - Michael, on Zack's Tiny House RV
Michael was inspired. He and his wife, Sabra, hired a professional builder and came up with an idea for a mobile coffee shop. Tiny House Coffee was born!
On July 4th, 2015, Tiny House Coffee opened for business in Poncha Springs, Colorado.
Q & A with Michael from "Tiny House Coffee"
What is it really like owning a business out of a Tiny House RV? We interviewed Michael to get some insight.
What about a Tiny House RV works with your business?
The coolest advantage to running a business out of a Tiny House RV is the ability to both choose our location and move around if necessary. Currently, we are parked at a busy intersection in a small town where we are the only gourmet coffee shop. We love this spot and do not have any plans to move. We are also able to keep our overhead costs low, allowing us to use the highest quality ingredients available while keeping our prices competitive. Lastly, the Tiny House RV itself draws a lot of attention from people who are interested in building one or have seen them on TV but never have had the opportunity to walk inside of one.
Any cool design elements that you'd like to share?
We knew from the start that we wanted to have space inside for our customers to order and enjoy their drinks. With that in mind, we had to build an efficient work space in less than half of the total space available. We modeled the plumbing after coffee kiosks, using 5 gallon water jugs and an RV water pump to supply our appliances. This design allows us to park places without water hookups. All of the glass windows and the door have double-pane tempered glass; expensive but necessary for moving down the road safely.
Steve Weissmann, President of Tumbleweed, visiting "Tiny House Coffee"
What is the most common comment you get from customers?
We are always surprised at how many people ask if we live in the loft. The word 'house' is in our name so it makes sense, but it would be pretty extreme for the three of us to share the loft and operate the coffee shop in the same space.
Do you move your Tiny Coffee Shop around?
While our shop tows down the road very well, it is quite involved to move around. Still, there is something enticing about moving around to events and festivals and going to where the people are. But we love our customers and it is important to us that they know where to consistently find us. For now, we are very happy with where we are parked (in Poncha Springs, Colorado) and have no plans to move.
Happy Father's Day! Today we're highlighting a father-daughter team who decided to build a Tiny House RV to spend more time together.
Randy & Nicki rocking out while working on their Tiny House RV roof
Back in October 2014, Nicki received a call from her father, Randy, who had a wild idea to build a pirate ship on top of a trailer. "That sounds cool," Nicki told her father, "but why don't we build something more practical, like a house?" That very weekend Nicki and Randy attended a Tumbleweed workshop that was serendipitously happening in nearby Boulder, Colorado.
"I thought there would hardly be anyone at the workshop, but it turns out there were over 75 people!" Randy recalled with amazement. "And Meg, the presenter, was very informative, rational and helpful. The dream (to build something with his daughter) became a reality almost immediately after this weekend."
Randy, who has always regretted not building a tree house as a teenager, wanted to teach his daughter about carpentry. With his 40 years of experience and Nicki's eagerness to learn, construction of their Tiny House RV began almost one year ago.
"The best gift has been the mentorship and bonding (my dad) has offered." - Nicki
Randy and Nicki are building on a Tumbleweed trailer and using modified Tumbleweed Cypress plans. They have chosen to name their tiny in memory of a dear friend, Uncle Paul. "Paulie" is being constructed with Uncle Paul's tools and his passion for reclaimed materials.
The round window, front door, siding, window trim and greenhouse window are examples of salvage finds being used on Randy and Nicki's Tiny House RV. However, as with many resourced materials, these items have taken a lot of extra labor to re-claim, store and install.
"This experience is simply a gift," says Nicki. "It's been an incredible opportunity to spend so much time together."
Close friends, Al and Nancy, offered Randy and Nicki their barn and property as a build site. Because of this, construction was able to continue throughout the winter season in Colorado. Nicki's mother, Donna, has been tracking the father-daughter team's work hours so that they can accurately recall this data after construction is complete. They hope to be finished this summer.
"As a father, to be able to teach and learn with my daughter the basic skill of shelter, is exciting," Randy explains. "Nicki has been learning life skills that will serve her forever."
Randy and Nicki's story encompasses so much of the spirit and community behind the tiny house movement. How many people can say they built a shelter with their father or daughter? It's wonderful to see people coming together, accomplishing their dreams and learning/teaching life skills through Tiny House RV projects.
This week we'd like to feature Ryan Hoffmeyer's unique Tiny House RV, featuring a one story floor plan.
Ryan began constructing his Tiny House RV during North Dakota's 2014 winter season. He was completely isolated in a rural community, building in his neighbor's garage. That is, until the project literally outgrew the space.
"I built at much as I could knowing I had a 12’ garage door and a 13’ Tiny House RV," Ryan explains. "It wasn’t long before I had to move outside in the dead of the winter."
Having strong knowledge of the construction process, Ryan built solo and was able to finish his Tiny House RV in just four months, despite the weather. In May 2015, he moved it to Colorado.
A one-story Tiny House RV design that works!
Ryan designed his Tiny House RV to have no loft, high ceilings, and a main floor sleeping space. He accomplished this by installing a murphy bed over a folding couch. The transforming furniture came from Italy and took 3 months to ship. In the meantime, Ryan continued to build.
Ryan can also relax in a hammock with his open floor plan!
Another innovative element in Ryan's design is that he chose to elevate his kitchen and bathroom floor 15 inches to accommodate a space for mechanical storage. By doing this his batteries, piping, p-traps, fresh and greywater tanks are all located in the insulated area of his trailer. He never has to worry about winterizing his pipes for freezing temperatures.
"Being a DIYer, I could afford to build my house with nice things," Ryan explains. "If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing."
The average DIY Tiny House RV spends approximately $25-30k in materials, but Ryan opted for upgrades. The total costs for his 20' Tiny House RV came to $35k.
Ryan's Three Pieces of Advice:
1) Build as much as you are able to yourself. Sleeping in something you built with your own hands is the best feeling ever.
2) Watch youtube videos. Gather ideas, do’s and don’t. Just because it's tiny, it doesn’t mean you don’t have all the building procedures of a normal home. Framing, plumbing, windows, roofing, siding, electrical, interior finish, etc. It can be overwhelming without the correct knowledge.
3) Take the Tumbleweed workshop. It's pretty much is a live version of youtube. You get a booklet and step-by-step on every procedure. Plus the room is filled with enthusiasts who are planning to build, or have built, and are sharing about it. I was very impressed with the knowledge of the staff. Tumbleweed trains them properly before they send them off to start to train you. I give it a 10.
What do you think? Would you opt for a single story floor plan if you could? Comment below!
“The ease of starting our build with an 'industry standard' was settling,” Ian explained.“The confidence to know our foundation is solid goes a long way.”
Adina spent months with papers and photographs strewn across her living room floor, hashing out the design. The couple knew they wanted a real kitchen with a big oven and a large fridge. They also wanted their space to feel light and uncluttered. As far as “must haves,” Adina wanted a place to study; Ian wanted a wood stove.
When construction began in July 2015, Adina and Ian were eager to get started, but neither of them had any real carpentry experience. Their build site happened to be located on a salvage yard, and the owner of the property (a trained architect) was a big help. He gave them access to his shop and advice when needed.
“The kitchen, by far, is my favorite part of the house.” Adina told us. “I also love the timber framing we did with the reclaimed wood from a whiskey distillery on both of our lofts.”
They budgeted for $25,000 and ended up spending $30,000 during the build, with splurges on the Kimberly Wood Stove and Dickinson Propane Heater. Adina and Ian estimate the total to come to $35,000 after they finish their awning, plumbing and interior furnishing and decor.
Adina and Ian are currently researching graduate schools, and they intend to park their Tiny House RV near the school they choose. Later on, the couple dreams of starting a farm and using their tiny as a guest house.
Ian & Adina's cantilevered dual lofts and a tall handmade front door
Adina and Ian’s gorgeous front door was built by their friend Randy. They painted the door blue, which really pops against the dark wood siding, and placed the door on the side of the structure.
“The door has a unique history. It is made out of Colorado pine from the same valley we used to live in and it has traveled and lived in Joshua Tree, a climbing mecca and one of our favorite spots.” - Ian
Adina and Ian’s Advice for future DIY Builders:
Building a Tiny House RV may seem tough, but board by board and nail by nail it's one of the easiest things to understand.
Dive into the journey. Your design is extremely important but it also changes and grows as you build.
Use your community. Talk to people and feed off the knowledge of various skilled and practiced individuals. These relationships are so valuable.
When Dave Fisher says he has a family business, he means it. The Fishers grew up Amish in Pennsylvania, and true to their roots, are very talented when it comes to carpentry: they just finished building their first Tumbleweed Fencl in about two weeks.
Dave and his brothers have been in the construction industry since 1993. Believe it or not, his favorite project from the Montana days was a subdivision. They got to build all of the houses in the development, ranging from about 1,500 to 3,000 square feet in size. Now the brothers have scaled down significantly. Their company, The Shed Yard, specializes in high quality storage sheds, garages, gazebos, and other outdoor buildings and accessories.
Outside the Fencl in snowy Colorado
Only recently, however, did it occur to the brothers to try their hand at a tiny house. "Someone approached me at a home show in Denver and told me to look up Tumbleweed. I went to the website, and thought, I'd love to build one of these."
After attending the Santa Rosa workshop in October, the brothers met up with Tumbleweed's Steve Weissmann. They talked for hours, and made a decision: the brothers would build a Fencl, and thus be added to the growing network of Tumbleweed builders- great news for Colorado! Given the company's experience with building small structures, tiny houses made a lot of sense. "The great part about building the tiny house was that we could do it inside the warehouse. We could stay warm in the Colorado winter, and didn't have to have any building permits- we'd never experienced that with other kinds of house building."
This is the first time they have built anything on a trailer, but it didn't prove too much of a challenge for the intrepid brothers. They've got team work down to a science: Dave's brother Ben handled most of the wood cutting, while Dave preferred the assembly portion. Ben also handled the wiring, having experience wiring large houses. Alan, Dave and Ben's brother-in-law, managed the interior and put some of the finishing touches on. Dave's sister and his wife helped also a great deal, running errands and handling other business. The only person to work on the house who wasn't related to the Fishers was the plumber!
Keeping warm inside- look at that beautiful wood!
While the house is nearly identical to the Fencl plans, they did make a few modifications. The house is wired to easily accommodate solar panels, and the low-flush toilet can be replaced with a composting toilet. Dave wants customers to be able to customize the house with ease, and to encourage off-the-grid living. If he can convince his wife, he might even build a self-contained Fencl of his own.