I’ve just returned from Tumbleweed’s Boulder workshop on tiny houses, along with Joe and Shelby, and I’m savoring some great memories. What can I say? Boulder workshop attendees were just about the luckiest Tumbleweed fans alive. Through a special convergence of events, we were able to see three different tiny houses; a lovely visiting Vardo, the Fencl, and the brand new Cypress 20.
Our weekend started off with local research. On Friday we stopped at the Boulder Land Use Planning Division to ask about tiny houses and cottages. As always, tiny houses are not specifically defined in the existing codes. Cottages should have no problems, but it was explained there wasn’t much available land in Boulder proper. Though we didn’t get any actionable info, the woman we spoke to was friendly and open in her attitude toward our questions, and was very happy to help us track down information. I felt like we accomplished something in the sense of planting the seed in another official’s mind about tiny houses – you never know, she may someday have a chance to influence things....
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.
Our intrepid man of tiny house mystery, Derek "Deek" Diedricksen, was in Vermont recently for a Tiny House Summer Camp. Thanks to MAKE, we have a little video to share. Deek is über-knowledgable about building tiny houses. Draw a tall drink from his well of knowledge at our Chicago and New York Workshops. Both locations are on sale until the end of the month, so act fast!
Here we go! Welcome to our 3rd Virtual Tumbleweed Contest. The theme this time is 'The Perfect Retreat'. We are looking for boards that showcase what your perfect tiny house retreat would look like. Here are the rules:
1. Build a board on Pinterest with "VTC3" in the title. That way, I can find it when I search.
2. Once you've build your dream virtual Tumbleweed, send an email to email@example.com with "VTC3" in the subject line.
3. Pinterest pinboards can be submitted starting today, August 21, 2012 through Sunday, August 26, 2012.
4. Have fun!
On Monday, August 27, 2012, I will post the top 10 boards as determined by our staff. 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.