Once upon a time, Arianne and Sean lived in two separate houses in Las Vegas. Between the two dwellings, the couple had over 4,000 square feet combined. So how did they end up spending “happily ever after” in an Alaskan abode surmounting to no more than 150 square feet? Well, it all started with a newspaper clipping…
Arianne had always considered downsizing and living tiny, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her a crinkled photograph of a Tumbleweed featured in the Denver Post that she truly fell in love. “I used to dream about it.” Arianne admitted. “Sean and I wanted to live a greener lifestyle.” Her partner is an engineer in sustainable and renewable energy. Minimizing would help open other doors for the couple as well, including a big move to a certain beautiful and adventurous state.
With an Alaskan tiny house on the menu, Arianne and Sean teamed up with Tumbleweed’s Meg Stephens to design their perfect abode - a modified Elm. The couple knew the main course of this particular tundra was best served cold, which meant a higher R-value insulation and electric heating in the floors. They also customized their house to have a galley kitchen, four skylights, and two lofts!
But once the house was complete, Arianne and Sean faced another challenge – getting their house from the Tumbleweed build site in Colorado to Anchorage. Their journey began with a cross-country road trip, including a stroll up the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.
Next the couple took to the sea, as they boarded the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry.“Most people were boarding cars, but we pulled up towing a house!
The workers were surprised to say the least.” Arianne chuckled, remembering. “They said it was the first house they ever loaded onto the ferry, and it barely fit!” She recalls seeing numerous whales along the swaying careen up the west coast of Canada and Alaska. Finally, they docked in Anchorage, and set out to begin their new life.
Now, half a year later, Arianne works locally for the Air Force piloting C-17s – a plane that could fit six Tumbleweeds inside! She and Sean are enjoying their new house, new location, and new neighbors – most recently a curious moose greeted them one morning, resting his head on their front porch!
Who knows, maybe he is interested in a tiny house with a little extra antler-room?
Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She 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.
Lone Hansen has some
beautiful views about tiny houses. She lives in Denmark, and is a Buddhist, member of the Royal Danish Navy, and tiny house builder. She's shared the following details on her plans to build a Fencl in Denmark.
I have a small plot of land on the island of Zealand
This is where I would like to build a small house. Not just any normal house,
but rather a house that does not impact the environment more than necessary.
Being a Buddhist, it is important for me to leave as small
an imprint on the environment as possible. Since we are all interdependent,
then there is no reason to bring any aggressiveness into our dealings with our
I will build a small passive solar house with solar power
and solar water heating. There will be a solar venting system on the roof. Off
the grid. Small because it leaves the smallest footprint on the environment. It
does not take much to heat it, since it will be well insulated with triple
glazed windows (low energy windows) and thick layer of insulation under the
floor, in the walls and roof. And easy and quick to clean ;-)
I've worked in the Royal Danish Navy for 3.5 years. So I got
used to living in small spaces with one cupboard and one drawer. The interior
design of boats is an inspiration for practical solutions to hold all the stuff that one can gather in a lifetime. The question is how much space one needs to
be fully satisfied and content and how much stuff. If the space is well thought
out, then it is possible to live in a shoebox.
However, I needed inspiration for my small build. I looked
all around the internet and came across Tumbleweed, The Tiny House Company.
These houses seems to fit my needs very well, and are filled with practical
solutions and ideas. I fell in love with the Fencl and Whidbey house and bought
When I got the drawings, I realized that they were in feet
and inches. It is however almost impossible to get any kind of ruler with feet
and inches here in Denmark,
since our entire industry is based on the meter system. Recalculating all the
measurements seemed a little daunting and could possible lead to mistakes,
since I am not that skilled in the imperial system.
Tumbleweed to ask if they happen to have a metric version of the two houses.
Shortly after, I received a mail, that they would be so kind and make metric
versions for me. I've just got those yesterday. And they look just fine and
seems correct at the first glance. So I thank Tumbleweed very much for doing
the recalculations of the drawings. It has been a time-consuming work.
Now I just need to make some redrawing of the house plans,
so they are according to the Danish building code. This means that the Fencl
will become a bit wider with more insulation in the floor, walls and roof. The
Whidbey will be lower (too tall for the area it would be build) and also a bit
wider with more insulation in the floor, walls and roof. Both will have 200 mm.
minimum of insulation in the floor, 300 mm in the walls and 400 mm in the roof
area. This might need some recalculation of the strength of the structure. I
will add some extra big windows on the south elevation and roof to get more
passive solar heating compared to the original drawings.
I expect to start building the Fencl next spring when the
frosty weather is over!
We've got a lot more great posts coming your way. We are grateful for our many quests bloggers and look forward to sharing the best information we can to help you get started on your own tiny house. Grab your own tiny house plans here.
I left for Brazil just as everything started happening on the lot. I promised I wouldn’t disappear for a month but try and stay engaged in the project while here. Thus, I write this from a hammock in rural Northeast Brazil where we’re staying with an amazing community leader and learning about the Xukuru’s fight to regain their territory here in Brazil. While feeling grateful for the opportunity to be here, I’m also sad that I’m missing out on all the work that is being done on the lot. Fortunately, Tony and Brian have been keeping me updated via photos, email and Skype.
Here’s a recent update I received from Tony about the past week:
What a week! We took delivery of the shipping container on Monday, we’ve set most of the fence posts and Brian and Jay picked up their trailers on Friday. We should have the fencing up by the end of next week and, hopefully, we’ll have your house on the lot in about a week. You’re not gonna recognize the place when you get back!
It took some doing to get the trailers on the lot, but everything went well and we learned a lot about the logistics of moving and siting them. Once they are built up, it’s going to be even trickier to move them around. There’s not enough room in the alley to back them all the way into place with a truck. We ended up situating them by hand. We’re going to look into getting some type of hand dolly for future use. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up renting a small tractor to move them on and off the lot. One nice thing about the lot is that the yard slopes down perfectly to meet the back of the trailer. You’ll probably be able to step out of your back door directly onto the grass without stairs.
Brian and I have spoken to a lot of people passing through the alley and the feedback we’re getting is very positive. People are excited about the garden beds and curious about tiny houses. I know you feel like you’re missing out, but a lot of what we’ve been doing is dirty, sweaty grunt work. The good news is that we should be ready for the fun part of designing and building out the interior of yours when you get back.
Check out the photos below – they’ve really made progress, and I’m excited to get back and start working on this project again!