Here’s a “before and after” cabin renovation that embodies so much of what we love at Tumbleweed. It took absolute determination, belief, preservation, intelligence, grit and creativity.
The Miracle: What do you get when you combine nearly 200-year old cabin timbers and a retired mathematician? Nothing short of a miracle cabin that comes to life! Imgur (and Reddit) user Kippies recently shared photos highlighting his father’s 10-year restoration of an 1830’s era home.
The Remains: We frequently field questions about the use of “found wood,” which creates character after many hours of work. Considering how much character these timbers have, we can only imagine the work here was extremely intensive. To move the timbers, this savvy mathematician carefully numbered and labeled them before relocating cabin remains to his property.
The Build: The cabin includes a lovely front porch, sleeping loft, stone fireplace and root cellar. Some of the wood timbers came from the original home, while wood from a downed oak tree in the family's backyard became a special staircase. All the materials were locally sourced too. Gorgeous!
The Results: This historically-inspired home is stunning and unpretentious. The beauty and simplicity inspired by original timbers and craftsmanship of the build blend seamlessly. The builder's patience and attention to detail paid off during his decade-long project.
To the father and craftsman of this cabin, congratulations on an incredible build. To the son who shared images of your family's cabin, thank you for inspiring us. We wish you many warm fire-lit evenings.
Note: Tumbleweed admires unusual yet perfect cottages of bygone eras. Our own cottage designs are inspired by archetypes that are 100+ years old, reflecting the changes from early U.S. pioneer homes.
You likely have heard of Ryan Mitchell already, or read The Tiny Life blog. He wears many tiny house hats as a blogger, author, builder and North Carolina conference leader. He recognized the lack of information about the impact of local building codes and zoning laws on tiny house owners, and published Cracking The Code to fill the gap.
Tumbleweed applauds this effort, now in its second edition, and is offering this guide FREE to anyone buying a Tumbleweed product through December 24th. We sat down with Ryan to ask some of the tougher questions.
Ryan Mitchell, author of Cracking The Code and blogger at The Tiny Life
Q: Is it possible for would-be tiny home dwellers to live legally in this country?
A: Absolutely! Community leaders are waking up to the fact that people want truly affordable housing options and tiny houses fit the bill. While there aren’t any cities that have a formal code for tiny houses, this guide outlines how you can approach this issue, find a pathway and apply for variances to gain legal status.
Q. For builders of houses on wheels, what are the most important things for them to do?
A: There is a lot that goes into building a tiny house. I would say before you do anything, have an informed conversation with your local building code enforcement office about how you can meet building code requirement. Doing this before is important because they may ask you to make certain design or material selections in order to comply with the law.
Q. Tumbleweed sells RVIA certified homes. What key steps should buyers take to park these homes?
A: Do your research ahead of time, as many municipalities have strict restriction on RVs, park models, mobile homes and travel trailers when it comes to zoning and length of stay.
Q. If you want to park a home on property, is there an advantage to buying land or renting on land?
A: Buying land is a good option for those who want to live in tiny house because you can do with it as you see fit. If you find yourself renting, monthly rent minimizes the benefits of tiny houses, but at the same time it gives you flexibility to move if you choose to. If you can park your tiny house where there is an existing structure on the property that has all the utilities connected to it, it will make things much easier. The connection of utilities is something that cities use to maintain their control over residents when it comes to compliance of building codes.
Q. Do you believe its easier to park in urban, suburban or rural locations?
A: Rural is much easier. In rural locations there's more land which costs less, less municipal staff, and less regulation. Smaller communities will be more likely to work with you. The downside of rural locations is that sometimes utilities can be costly to get. In more urban areas, land is costly and more regulated, but it does offer the advantages of having great services, jobs, things to do etc.
Q. Do municipalities favor tiny homes with full plumbing and utilities versus off-grid set ups?
A: They strongly favor grid tied homes with full plumbing. In fact, in most places it is illegal to not have full plumbing. To not have it would lead to the house being condemned and you can be arrested for entering your own home!
Q. Municipal codes are tough reading, so what are home owners trying to research in them?
A: In Cracking The Code we give you the tools to understand some of the mind numbing legalese, plus tips on how to get help when you work with the city.
Q. Could you describe some of the changes made to codes these days?
A: The biggest trends that we are seeing are the adoption of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) in many cities. These are stand alone structures that are behind a home and might prove to be a pathway for tiny houses to legal status.
Where would you put your home? We realize that placing your tiny home in a nice environment is important, and encourage you to dream here. While all these settings are sensational, you may prefer solitary time, connections with others, or even yearn for a satellite connection. Take a look at how others already live off-grid.
Pictured: A tiny island in the Adriatic Sea near Dubrovnik, Croatia
Pictured: A single cottage in Switzerland, on the plains
Pictured: A small village by the Seealpsee Lake in Switzerland
Photographer Emmanuel Keller, also known as "Tombako the Jaguar", captured these amazing locations to live off-grid. Which would you choose and why? What does off-grid mean to you? Please let us know in the comments below.
Tumbleweed Tiny Houses has received word that we're not quite the first house on wheels. Today we learned about Charles Miller, who built and parked his very own Model-T home in Odgen, UT. This 1929 cottage-to-go is a stunner!
Model T Motor Home built in Ogden, Utah (www.theoldmotor.com)
In this classic farm cottage, we appreciate the roof line, finished porch, well-proportioned front door and over-sized windows. This archetypal home resided right on Mr. Miller's lawn, parked close to his larger homestead.
While Miller's cottage looks terrific, it might not be ready to withstand the rigors of travel. The Model T trailer foundation seems too light for the load, and its engine horsepower would be severely tested. Once underway, imagine hitting a windy storm and losing this beauty!
Away from home, the lack of amenities would be noticed. Mr. Miller lived in the City of Ogden, and within a short drive to Utah's high deserts and mountains. Without plumbing, water, power or alternative sources, the cottage provided shelter without some of the comforts of home.
Yet we can overlook construction matters and appreciate this stylish house on wheels. Here's to Charles Miller, a man ahead of his time!
[Special thanks to David Greenlees and The Old Motor.]
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Your sister, brother-in-law and niece are visiting you and your tiny home this evening. How will you entertain everyone? What will you make for dinner?
Gourds set the mood (flickr/nickshadel)
Tumbleweed Houses recently posed these questions to Facebook visitors and discovered how you would celebrate in a cute little place.
Along with cheeky suggestions for reservations, we received a flood of heartfelt and creative responses for enjoying the holidays. Square footage didn’t really change how you mingle with family or friends.
Call us impressed! With so many delectable ways to give thanks, here are the most inspiring ideas to chew on.
Thanksgiving Eve and Day Ideas
Turkey Fry - “Deep fry the turkey outside, make remaining dinner inside, set the table outside with a nicely set table weather permitting of course. If not a small folding table inside with names written on small white pumpkins as place setting. Precook as much as possible and after dinner a nice board game or an evening of looking through old photos reminiscing of Thanksgivings of the past. some apple cider or spiced tea with dessert.” Julie Fair Thomas
Indoor Turkey - “Since it will be dinner for four, I’d make two turkey breasts, a small ham, gravy, steamed vegetables and stuffing. If that’s still too much to cook then a chicken and stuffing casserole with a dinner salad. And don’t forget the apple pie for dessert or even some chocolate dipped strawberries. After dinner, serve some wine for the adults and sparkling grape juice for the little one and watch a funny family movie and play some games like pictionary or charades.” Gisela Marquez
Vegetarian - “There would be some type of vegetarian dinner. I am making Shepard’s Pie, soup, salad and a cake this year. Then as long as it is not raining a movie projected onto the side of my house. (my dream tiny house is a moving driving theater on one side…big screen TV where ever I go).” Brenda Lott
Crockpot - “I’d cook some chili in my crockpot, some fresh cornbread & chai tea plus blueberry lime Tiramisu for dessert. Entertainment would depend on the age of the niece… At the very least a funny movie would get popped into the dvd player.” Andee Wasson
Soup – “I would make turkey soup with cranberry scones or muffins. I would theme the dinner Thanksgiving with the Lady who lived in a shoe…tight but cozy. We would build a bonfire and share mother goose stories in the evening while we roasted marshmallows by a roaring fire outside. Then we would go inside and spread pillows all over the floor and drink spiced wine.” Robert Lisowski
Hawaiian – “We would eat outside. I would ask that they bring the wine, dessert, and rolls, and I would make wild rice hotdish (a staple growing up in MN) and one or two other sides. For the turkey, schools have fundraisers here by digging a huge ‘imu (underground pit) and cook hundreds of turkeys in it. Simple!” Sam Craddock
Tiny Theme – “I would make them lots of mini-foods just to freak them out. And make them wear tiny hats.” Carrie Rice
Sweet Singing - “Entertaining outdoors seems to be the best option. Parked at a campsite…I could prepare dinner in my tiny house, but cook it over the campfire. We have always been a musical family, so I think for entertainment I will bring out my acoustic guitar. I don’t know many songs, but I can play a passable version of Scarborough Fair, Kempt’s Jig, and a Waltz and “Andantino” by Ferdinando Carulli. The rest of the time I can fill with random chords and arpeggios.” Sage Blackthorn