Where in the World is Tiny House GJ? - Northeastern USA

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.

Tour a Tumbleweed

How much of a difference can a few feet make? Decide for yourself as Tumbleweed's Steve Weissmann leads you through this beautiful 172 square foot Cypress 24.

The floor plan in this tour is the new Equator, which includes an open great room / kitchen as well as a separate downstairs bedroom or workspace. If you love the look but would prefer a different flow, don't worry! There are plenty of other layout choices for this 24 foot tiny home. Check out the Horizon, Overlook and Vantage floor plans by clicking here.

Cypress Equator Floor Plan

Cypress 24 Equator Floor Plan

As you watch the video, you'll notice this Tumbleweed is tricked out with all the bells and whistles. This Cypress 24 has a washer/dryer combination unit, air conditioning, and large refrigerator (as opposed to the standard under the counter unit). Perhaps the most exciting new add-on is the storage staircase.

Cypress 24 Staircase with Drawers for Extra Storage

Head up the stairs and into the spacious loft, complete with double dormers! It's big enough for a king size bed or a queen with space leftover for bedside storage. Visualize this sizable bedroom as Steve (who is 6'2") demonstrates how he can comfortably sit up in bed. 

This tiny home was constructed on a Tumbleweed 24 foot three axel trailer. Hardy retractable scissor jacks and convenient outdoor water, power and sewage hookups allow this tiny home to be easily transported from location to location. Steve recommends a 1-ton truck for this particular model, as it's one of our largest.  

So now that you've had a tour, we're dying to know what you think about our new model? Comment below!

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

High School Students Build Three Tiny Homes

The Academy of Career Education (a.k.a “ACE” high school) in Reno, Nevada is not only embracing tiny homes as an alternative housing option but also as an educational tool for their students. Being a tuition-free charter school focusing on construction and engineering, each student at ACE becomes OSHA certified and is offered a variety of courses with hands-on training in home building. 

“We were looking for new projects,” ACE instructor Tony Clark explains, “and we happened to see a news story on a boy that built his own tiny home instead of a fort. After that, we did some research and found Tumbleweed.” After pitching the project to Tumbleweed President Steve Weissmann, Mr. Clark and his students were donated a set of Cypress 20 plans. Clark also attended a workshop last fall and purchased three Tumbleweed trailers. In January 2014, ACE students began building three tiny homes. 

“We have about 45-50 students taking the course, between the ages of 15-18 years old,” explains Clark. “All the traditional techniques for building a home are covered, and then some! There are more codes to follow when building a tiny home, as well as weight, propane and movement to consider. I think the biggest benefit is that it makes the kids better problem solvers.”

Justin Moore, a student taking the course, believes building a tiny home will make anyone a better carpenter. "Tiny homes are a growing trend, and learning to build off-grid housing is extremely beneficial." 

Ace High School

One of Clark’s favorite teaching moments was when two of his award winning carpentry students installed the shower insert. “They triple checked their work, but they forgot to make sure the trailer was level.” Clark chuckled, remembering. “They had to do the work all over again. It’s not something you would encounter in a regular home, and so it was an excellent learning experience for them.” 

Before summer break, the students were sheathing the roof and had started on electricity and insulation. They’ll pick back up when schools begins in September, with the goal of being finished by December 2014. 

“We have some interested buyers for two of the tiny homes, and we’ll keep the third on display.” Mr. Clark went on to say that all the money made from the sale will go straight back into funding the program. “I want to continue building tiny homes at ACE. The students have really embraced it.” 

Justin (Clark's student) agrees,  "I think tiny homes are very very cool. I could see myself living in one, but I would customize it to fit my lifestyle." 

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*All photos provided by ACE High School

*For more information on the ACE High School Tiny House project, click here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — July 29, 2014

Filed under: Academy of Career Education   ACE   Build it yourself   Cypress   design   High School   Reno   School   tiny   tiny home   tiny house   Tumbleweed  

Tiny House For Three

Family posed on the porch of their "big house" (above) and their barn raiser (below).

Meg, Brandy, and their 2-year-old son nicknamed "R.A.D." are about to dramatically shrink their idea of home. Having just received a Tumbleweed barn raiser, the family of three will be shedding approximately 3,000 square feet!

“Somewhere between growing to despise our huge mortgage and realizing we would never be able to take my mother on the Alaskan cruise she dreamed of, something just snapped in my mind.” Meg explains why her family has decided to downsize from their 3,193 sq foot home and nearly $2,000 a month mortgage payment.

“Losing my mom made us realize the ‘American Dream’ of the big house with the white fence was really just a pair of shackles preventing us from doing the things we really wanted to do.” Sadly, Meg’s mother recently lost a 17-month battle with cancer. Before she was diagnosed they had planned on moving the whole family from Texas to Washington. “The more I thought about the plans I was making with my mom, the more resolute I was that I needed this change. I was sick to my stomach with the knowledge that I let the big house weigh us down." It was then that Meg and Brandy finally made the decision to drop the big house, and travel around the country with a tiny home before settling in Washington for R.A.D to start school. 

With Brandy attending college and Meg working two jobs, the couple quickly realized that finding time to build was going to be a challenge. That’s when they stumbled upon Tumbleweed’s barn raiser - a professionally built skeleton of a Tumbleweed tiny home secured on a Tumbleweed trailer. The family chose the Cypress 24’ Horizon model, which will allow a private bedroom for their son as well as a loft bedroom for themselves.  

“Having the professional builders do all the heavy lifting and, most importantly, the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer was the decision maker in the build vs. buy debate for me.” Meg explains. “I’ve had nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer, so the peace of mind that comes with having professionals secure my house is worth it’s weight in gold!" 

Meg and Brandy ordered their barn raiser in mid-March and received a notification it was ready on April 22nd. The family set off to retrieve their new home - one that is equal in size of their current master bathroom! When they first stepped inside the tiny dwelling that would one day carry them off on an adventure, Meg remembers thinking it felt huge and tiny simultaneously. Check out their height charts: 

“Our son calls it his ‘Biiiiigg Hooose’, and it (the tiny home) will probably continue to feel big to him while he is little.” - Meg

How will this family cope with this dramatic downsize? Check back in for updates on Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D. as they finish their house and prepare to travel around the U.S.A. 

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All photos provided by Meg and Brandy. 

Follow this tiny house family on their blog here. Like them on facebook here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

 

 

 

In The Tumbleweed Family: New House Names


Meg Stephens, Lead House Designer

Dear Tiny House enthusiasts,

As Tumbleweed’s lead designer, I have been expanding our family of House-To-GoTM models. We think of the family names in two ways:  as external models and internal floor plans.

You asked for flexibility with floor plans and home lengths, and the house names should create a logical way to select from 21 different homes.  

Our exterior models are based on nature.

How do these models differ?  The Elm has a nice porch and iconic lancet window to greet you. Our Cypress features an aesthetically-appealing recessed...

Read More

Written by Debby Richman — October 24, 2013

Filed under: Cypress   Elm   Linden   Meg   Mica   Tumbleweed News  
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