Recently, I wrote about my plans to live in a tiny house for my last semester of college. In a week's time, my Fencl will finally be arriving on my campus! You could say I'm excited- I've gained some serious calf muscles jumping
through hoops for the last two
months to make this happen. For those who are curious, especially
college students who are interested in trying something similar, here's what my
process looked like:
It began with a fairly lengthy proposal that I drafted at
home in early December. I outlined all of the reasons why my school would
benefit from the presence of a tiny house, given our emphasis on sustainability
and alternative lifestyles. I emphasized that I would not need the school's
money or resources, just their permission and support.
My beautiful view-to-be
I sent this proposal to my college's president. I never
heard back from him! Luckily, someone else in the office intercepted my
proposal and directed me towards a newfangled student project approval system.
Through this system, I was able to communicate with all of the individual staff
members on campus that would need to personally approve my project
We had a lengthy back-and-forth regarding zoning, utilities, placement, and
everything else imaginable. The staff members were interested and supportive,
but still committed to doing a very thorough job- naturally, I found this
frustrating. Even when it seemed like everyone was on board, there was no clear
sense of approval. I wanted a giant stamp of my proposal that said
I made a chart of my proposed off-grid utility usage plans,
including back-up solutions and alternate ideas. The biggest issue was, big
surprise, dealing with my own waste. Turns out this is tricky territory on a college campus.
I'd originally hoped to use a composting toilet, but health people gave that a
My generous friend- thanks Hazel!
I'm going to start the semester using a nearby friend's toilet (above), and work with
interested students throughout the semester to develop an alternative that
everyone can feel comfortable with.
Scouting it Out
Last week, I met with the guys who run facilities and
grounds. We discussed some potential solutions to my utility woes, and took a
field trip to some potential house sites. Finally, we found the perfect site- I can hook up to the school's electricity while I work on getting solar panel donations. I
did a little dance on it to mark my territory.
Waiting (Is the Hardest Part)
Squatting in the living room
Now, I'm waiting patiently. I've been squatting with three
of my friends in their bachelor pad. I thought I packed light this time around, but my possessions seem to be traveling around the apartment a bit. My scruffy friends have mentioned that they're growing tired of me. I think they'll make it one more week, as long as I do some dishes.
Stay tuned, folks in the Western Mass area- I'll be having a housewarming gathering/open house late next week!
Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!
While I have been building my Tiny House,
I have been living in a traditional house until my house is finished. The unfortunate thing about modern
neighborhoods is that people don’t really know their neighbors, while my
neighborhood wasn't any different; an interesting thing happened when I pulled
up with my trailer and started building. At first it started with people craning their necks to see what was
going on. I didn't quite know what to
think of it, so I just waived and gave a smile.
For a few weeks I toiled on the floor framing and insulation, and then
the magic happened. Within one hour of
the first wall going up I had three neighbors walk straight up to me and
started asking questions.
At first I was a little nervous on how they would react. Would they think I was crazy? Would they call code enforcement? Well as it turns out they thought it was really interesting. All of them. I had made sure to keep a few photos of what the house would look like handy to show people who wanted to know more and they were instantly on board.
What is more, a few days later I stopped to talk to my newly acquainted neighbor and he asked if I’d be interested in moving the house to his lot when I was done building.This was a very welcomed surprise and signaled a very positive acceptance of my little house.
So when you build your tiny house, realize you aren't just a builder, you are also a PR person; building connections and being a good neighbor is an important part of building your home!
Hi! I'm Nara,
Tumbleweed's staff writer.
You might have seen my name on the bottom of recent blog posts, or perhaps you noticed my face looming over a questionable gingerbread house. Now it's time for a formal introduction!
In addition to managing the blog and talking with you lovely people about your tiny house dreams, I'm in the process of finishing college in the glorious liberal woods of Western Massachusetts. For my what you might call my senior project, I have been attempting to dissect a small but crucial slice of the
American Dream: The American House.
Playing tiny- I had to fend off some small children for this shot
Beginning later this month, I'll
be living in a Fencl on my campus for 120 days. I want to share the benefits
and realities of living small, so I'll be writing about my "Tiny
Semester" on this blog. I'll also be holding several open houses and
informal workshops in the Western Massachusetts area- contact me if you're interested!
I'm so excited to be a part of Tumbleweed, and to pursue these tiny dreams of my own. One of the things that drew me to Tumbleweed was flexibility. Instead of
prescribing one set way to create a structure, Tumbleweed allows for houses and
builders of all shapes, colors and sizes. Everyone is encouraged to create
their own unique take on a tiny house.
To me, creating my own tiny house set-up is the ideal way to wrap up my year of studies. I want to create an interactive, influential space on my campus that represents alternative possibilities for housing. This also presents the opportunity to live off-grid, which is an important step for me. With help from my college and fellow students, I've been
working hard to develop sustainable, low-impact ways of residing in my tiny
house. Hello composting toilet, goodbye refrigerator!
And as I near my final semester of school, I want to try something different: I want to really, truly have to live with myself. To forgo plastic
bins and cardboard boxes of hidden pasts, to be conscious of the line between
useful and excessive. I want to address myself piece by piece, taking it apart,
discarding the excess, and reassembling in an appropriate, Tumbleweed-sized
I will graduate college all too soon, and I don't want to
walk straight into a mortgage. I don't want to be told to buy a house on
unrealistic credit and that it's my fault if I can't pay it. I want to joining
hands with the young people all over the world that are saying "NO!"
to an outdated American dream.
Watch out for upcoming blog posts. Heads up: I'm packing up my life this week, so it's about to get interesting!