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.
To see more images of their Fencl, Click Here
You can check out their beautiful Fencl this coming Saturday, December 15 2012 from 1 to 4 at the Shed Yard in Colorado Springs. It's for sale, and it won't last long.
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 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.
Our first contest was a hoot and we hope this one will be just as much fun. This time, you can choose between 3 of our houses: The handsome Anderjack Box Bungalow, The über-popular Fencl House To Go and the roomy Harbinger Cottage. So, how does it work?
- Login into Pinterest and start a board with the name of one of these houses in the title. Please include at least one image of the house in your board. Extra love if you link it to the page on our site.
- FIll the board with your imagination and dreams of tiny house living.
- Send me an email with a link to your board at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's it! If you need an invitation to Pinterest, email me at email@example.com and I will send one your way. We will accept submission from June 4 - June 8, 2012. Starting on Monday, June 18th, we will post our top 10 favorite boards and our crazy-loyal fans will pick their favorite board. We will announce the winner on Friday, June 22, 2012. One more thing…
The Prize: A limited edition Hollyhock t-shirt, a copy of the Small House Book, the DIY book, the Popomo tiny house plans, the Zinn tiny house plans and the Vardo. What a pack of tiny house goodness! Have fun Tumbleweeders. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
Lee Pera and a group of tiny house builders attended a Tumbleweed workshop last year. This year, they broke ground on their tiny house community in Washington, D.C. Below is an update from Lee who will be guest blogging her tiny house community adventure with us regularly. If you're interested in starting a group build in your community, drop us an email and we'll work with you to connect with other tiny house enthusiasts, builders, and suppliers in your area.
We’ve been doing preparatory work this week meeting with other tiny house builders, scoping out materials and prices, looking at designs we like, and helping Brian out on the lot and garden beds. Making decisions usually stresses me out, and all the decisions that go into a tiny house have been overwhelming me, so it felt good to already decide on a couple things while looking at materials. For instance, I love the look of the interior of the Protohaus and have decided to go with bead board rather than the knotty pine that the Fencl tiny house plans call for (saving a significant amount of money as well). I have also decided I really like the look of cork flooring and many of its benefits and will most likely go with that for my flooring – whew…two decisions made effortlessly!
The biggest news this week is that I may end up downsizing even more. Originally I planned on building on a 22 ft-long x 8 ft-wide trailer, extending the Fencl out by 4 feet in length and one foot in width. But this week we were out for beers with our new tiny house friends Margaret and Zach – who are building an amazing tiny house in South Carolina – and Zach told us about an ad he had seen for a tiny house shell. It’s a fabulous deal, but the main issue I had with it is that, while built on an 18-ft trailer, the shell is just 16 feet long and 7 feet 10 inches wide. Could I really lose 6 feet of interior space? That’s a lot of room in a tiny house. Still, the price is less than what my trailer itself will cost, and the seller was excited that we even knew about tiny houses. Tony talked with the builder/seller and he seems to have done solid work, and Zach checked it out in person for us. It looks like I’ll be buying the shell all built out! We will finish the roofing, siding and interior starting in June.
Next, Tony and I went to spend some time hanging out in the Fencl (18 ft long x 7 ft wide). After spending about an hour, moving about in the rooms, hanging out in the loft, scoping out storage, I think I can make a smaller unit work. It will require getting creative about storing my stuff (or getting rid of more), but I’m excited about the challenge. I like to think I adapt easily to wherever I live and the size will be fine, but if it’s too small I can design and build a larger one over time. It will be useful to spend some time in one first to get an idea for what I really want and need in size and design. I’ll post more photos of the shell soon.
Another Tumbleweed rises! Our friend and fan Ella just landed a sweet spot in the latest issue of Yes! Magazine. Ella's Fencl tiny house is coming along nicely and it's good to see her getting some press. You can read all about her build on her blog. One of my favorite details about Ella is that she has never built a thing before and it was attending one of our workshops that gave her the impetus to make the leap. Now look at her Fencl and tell me the workshops don't work. Sign up now to attend one in your area. Go Ella!