The Advantages of Tiny House Dormers

A dormer is a structural element in architecture that protrudes from a sloped roof and allows for additional space. If you're a tiny house enthusiast, the words "additional space" in a tiny house article might seem oxymoronic. Yes, owning a tiny home means that you are "okay" with small spaces, but there is no reason that you should have to sacrifice comfort in your tiny home.

So let's learn a little more about dormers and what they could do for your tiny house loft. 

A Tumbleweed Elm or Cypress loft WITHOUT dormers (keeping the gable roof line throughout) and a skylight.

Some tiny housers love the coziness and lightweight option of the un-dormered loft (keeping the triangular gable roof line throughout), but most prefer to have a little more headroom. Dormers provide extra space for comfort and additional windows, while keeping the lovely visual aesthetic of the rest of the tiny home. 

Tumbleweed Cypress WITHOUT dormers. A lovely gable roof line throughout.

 

Tumbleweed Elm WITH Dormers. Space is gained. The visual aesthetic is not sacrificed. 

How much space do you really gain by having dormers? In order to visualize how much space is actually gained by adding dormers, you will need to have a basic understanding of roof pitch.

Roof pitch is described as the vertical rise divided by the horizontal span of a roof. The gable roof in our Elm and Cypress models have a 12:12 pitch, while our lofts with dormers have a 3:12 pitch. It is important to maintain some roof pitch for weather runoff. 

Examples of roof pitch. Photo credit: Wikipedia

An older Tumbleweed model, where the 3:12 pitch returns to 12:12 for the last few inches of the loft.

If you peer into the back of this older Tumbleweed's loft, you can see where the 3:12 pitch returns to the triangular gable roof line (12:12 pitch). This is a great way to visualize the difference between these two roof pitches. 

If the above loft DID NOT have dormers:

  • The roof pitch would be that triangular slope throughout
  • The four windows that line the sides of the bed would be lost
  • The space on either side of this queen bed would be lost
  • A king bed would not be possible (only possible with dormers)
  • The use of a staircase would be rather difficult (a ladder would most likely be used instead)

Due to costumer feedback, in all of our current models and plans, the dormers extend all the way to the back of the loft. By doing this, the above Tumbleweed loft has gained even more space. Starting this year, we will also include dormer plans with our Elm and Cypress plans, free of charge.
Steve Weissmann (President of Tumbleweed) is 6'2" and can comfortably sit up in bed in this Cypress loft with dormers. 
By adding dormers to your loft, you will also gain valuable wall space, not only on the sides of your loft, but also in the front and back. Consider the cheek walls: the walls that are formed between your dormers and gable roof. Below is a photo of my loft and, as you can see, we've chosen to add an outlet to our cheek wall. My future plan is to mount a television there one day. I could also add a cabinet, shelving, additional lighting or hang decorations / plants / photographs in this additional space. 
Tiny House Giant Journey's loft with dormers. 
So what do you think? Do you want dormers in your tiny house loft?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — January 26, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Dormers   Elm   Loft   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tiny house Giant Journey   Tumbleweed  

5 Tips for Tiny House Travel

Tiny House GJ traveling through New Brunswick Canada

My Tumbleweed Cypress has rolled all the way from Los Angeles to Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys, where I’m currently writing this blog post. In the four months and 8,000 miles I’ve traveled with a tiny home, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. Below is a short list I’ve compiled in hopes that it will be helpful to future tiny house travelers.

*Note: A few of the below are also applicable to RVing. That’s intentional. I’ve learned a lot from RVers and many of the same rules are relevant.

5 Tips for Tiny House Travel

1). You can weigh your tiny home at any truck scale. The best way is to weigh the tiny house with your truck attached, then park, detach, weigh your truck alone and subtract that weight from the total. It’s important to know your weight and to have a tow vehicle that can handle the load. It is especially important to be aware of your tongue weight, which can be found by purchasing a tongue scale. Many tiny homes have a heavy tongue weight because of the loft. You can counter balance your tongue weight by placing some of your heavier items in the back of the trailer (like water tanks or solar batteries). You can also use a weight distribution system, like I do.

Tiny House GJ's Weight Distribution System

2). Call campgrounds ahead of time. I call ahead and tell the campground that I have a 24 foot travel trailer that requires 30 amp electrical, water and (if I know my 15 gallon water tank will not be sufficient) a sewage drain for grey water. If they ask for the brand of the travel trailer, I tell them it’s a “Tumbleweed tiny house, you know… like on Tiny House Nation?” And that usually rings a bell. No campground has EVER turned me down. In fact, click here for a list of campgrounds that I’ve stayed at.

Eddie's Tumbleweed in an Austin, TX RV Park

3). Attach bubble levels to your tiny house. I have one on the back center of my house (for left/right leveling) and one on the side (for front/back leveling). I use Anderson levelers for left/right leveling and I LOVE them. With these levelers, I can raise one side of my house up to four inches simply by driving onto them! If I need more than that, I pull one side of my tiny house up onto planks of wood, and then use the levelers. For front/back leveling, I use the tongue jack. Never use the scissor jacks for leveling; They are for stability only.

 Tiny House GJ's Anderson Levelers

4). Get an RV GPS. I use a Rand McNally RV GPS to navigate around low clearances, weight restrictions, propane restrictions, etc. It’s excellent and it is worth its weight in gold for my peace of mind.

5). Secure Loose Items. Add a lip to your shelves and hook & eyes to your drawers. Using a bungie cord works as well, but if every shelf and drawer requires a bungie, you’ll die of tedium. The less “lock and loading” the better. It takes me about 20 minutes to secure everything inside my house and another 20 minutes to pack up the outside. I’ve got it down to a science, but I’m also always improving.

Any travelers out there want to share some of your own tips? Comment below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — January 08, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   RV Park   Tiny home   Tiny House   Travel  

Mario's California Tiny House

Meet Mario MD Soto, a California resident and soon to be tiny home owner. He’s building a Cypress 20 Equator and has little to no experience with construction. Although he mentions he did build a bird house... once, in the forth grade. And, it lasted about a week before it broke. So let’s just say he's challenging himself!

Mario says he has always been interested in tiny things - cars, cabins, etc. After some research, he came upon Tumbleweed and decided to visit our headquarters to tour a tiny house.

“Love at first sight." Mario describes what it was like when he saw a Tumbleweed tiny house for the first time. "I had butterflies in my stomach and it was in that moment when I truly realized that this is what I been looking for.” Mario purchased plans and a trailer that very same day, and his tiny house journey had truly begun.

Fast forward to today: Mario’s Tumbleweed has been framed, sheathed and the roofing is being put in place.

“I would say the physical part hasn’t been as hard as i thought, but the mental part is what would get me some days,” Mario admitted.” That fear of never doing something like this is the biggest mental block to overcome, but the help from the tiny house community has honestly made all this possible.”

 Mario's Unique Metal Roof

Mario has a few unique add-ons to his Tumbleweed that really set it apart, including a solar skylight that opens and closes depending on the weather. He also has a metal roof with a copper patina look. Finally, he plans to wire the electricity in his house to be controlled by his iPhone. To see all of Mario's plans come to fruition, make sure you follow him on his blog and on Instagram!

As usual, we asked Mario to give three pieces of advice for future DIY tiny house builders. 

Mario’s Three Pieces of Advice:

1). Safety first. Make sure you understand your tools and wear protective gear, goggles, ear plugs, gloves etc.

2). Sometimes you need to just jump in. You can only research so much. Just jump in and get your hands dirty!

3). Have fun. This will be a rewarding experience: building a tiny home with your own hands, watching it come life and making it into your vision. Knowing it’s a reality, not a dream anymore.

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*All photos provided by Mario. 

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — January 02, 2015

Filed under: California   Cypress   DIY   Tiny home   Tiny house   Trailer  

Three Barn Raiser Stories

What is a Tumbleweed barn raiser?

It's a partial tiny house that you finish yourself. With it you get the assurance that your home has a secure infrastructure built by our professionals. It's a great way to expedite your build, while still getting the DIY experience. For more info, click here.

    Today we'd like to share a few stories from some of our recent barn raiser customers. You'll be amazed how these three barn raisers are going to become three completely different homes!

    First up, Dani Moore (The Tiny House that Grandma Built)

    Dani Moore's barn raiser. A Modified Tumbleweed Elm

    Why did you choose a barn raiser?

    Dani Moore: I have some limitations. I have severe osteoporosis, some nerve damage and some loss of function in my legs so I wear a brace and use a mobility scooter. I knew the roof framing and lofts would be too much for me (to build). I know I can do the interior walls, but the rest would just be too much for me.

    Dani in front of her eye-catching fuchsia door

    Can you tell us more about your home, the size and design/layout you chose?
    Dani: I have a 24 foot Elm, but my downstairs is actually only 18 foot because I have a 6 foot porch and a 12 foot wheelchair ramp. The porch was important so that I have somewhere to park my two mobility scooters while they are charging. I have a huge sleeping loft, almost 10' x 6.' My interior design isn't set yet. I have a 30 inch front door so a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair can fit through it, but most of the time inside I can use a three wheeled stool to slide around. I will definitely need stairs so that, when needed, I can go up and down them on my butt. I would ideally find someone who has the engineering know how to set up a pulley system that I could use to manually lift myself up and down from the loft with a sling chair, but so far I haven't found anyone. Perhaps one of the readers will have the knowledge I need!
    Inside of Dani's Barn Raiser
    Any interesting elements that will make your tiny home special. How about that pink door?

    Dani: I love my fuchsia door! I plan to paint the fascia boards and shutters the same color, then the rest of the trim white. The exterior walls will be a soft lavender.  

    Dani's roof, skylight and Christmas tree

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    Next up: Jay and Becky Bayne (http://unskilledbuild.wordpress.com/)

    Jay and Becky Bayne's barn raiser in construction at The Shed Yard

    Do you have experience building?

    Jay & Becky: As you may have noticed by our blog name, we have NO construction experience outside of building bird houses and pinewood derby race cars, back when our now about to graduate Eagle Scout was but a Cub. But seriously, we have installed laminate flooring in a previous house, remodeled a bathroom including toilet and tile and done minor electrical repairs.  We are registered for the February Colorado Springs workshop and will be saving a lot of that "technical" stuff for when we get home.  Hope to glean a lot of useful ideas from our workshop peers.

    Jay, Becky and their two sons

    Can you tell us more about your home, the size and design/layout you chose?

    Jay & Becky: We chose the Tumbleweed Cypress 24 with an expanded sleeping loft. The French doors on the side were something we saw on a tiny house post and loved. We enjoy cooking so a near normal size kitchen with full size appliances is a must, as is a tub/shower. There will also be a small staircase to make climbing to our sleeping loft easier for Becky and accessible to our four legged family members.  Jay is looking forward to incorporating his old component tuner and stereo speaker system into the house.  Not exactly space efficient, but the sound is definitely better than ear buds!

    Jay and Becky Bayne's barn raiser in construction at The Shed Yard

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    Last but not least: Jonathon Stalls (https://www.facebook.com/jstallstinyhouse

    Jonathon Stalls's barn raiser 

    Why did you choose a barn raiser?
    Jonathon: I run an amazing, but demanding social business called Walk2Connect and am fortunate to have enough savings to invest in something like this. Time and professional experience without compromising my own creative and desired DIY experience was the main fruit for moving forward with a barn raiser. It was a perfect fit.
    Check out Jonathon's inspiring TedTalk here about his walk across America.
    Can you tell us more about your home, the size and design/layout you chose?
    Jonathon: My home is a 24' customized "Elm" overlook (w/keyhole in loft) design. Its just perfect for what I had envisioned. It has a beautiful long pitched roof and an open floor plan. I wanted the door on the side to have a big front window and a nice sized couch/bed seating area. I wanted an exterior opening door that gives as much space as possible for my 6'4 frame, 90 lb dog and various guests. 
    Jonathon's loft
    Anything you'd like to add about the build experience?
    Jonathon:  I'm beyond blessed by this experience. There is so much joy wrapped up in the planning and building. All of that said, I think I'm in my happiest places when I pull away from a work day and look at the collection of friends and family that have come together to help. Bringing together new and old faces through a tiny house project is inspiring, grounding, and healing. 
    Jonathon's tiny house with some siding installed. His adorable dog will also be sharing this space.
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    *All photos provided by Dani, Jay, Becky and Jonathon. 

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    Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

     

    Written by Jenna Spesard — December 23, 2014

    Filed under: Amish   Barn Raiser   Cypress   Elm   Tiny home   Tiny house  

    Looking ahead to 2015

    Going forward in 2015, we’ve decided to focus exclusively on our tiny homes on wheels (RVs) and remove the cottages from our website. While we do love the cottages, it’s clear that the Cypress, Elm and Mica are the most popular among our fans and we are focusing our entire company on improving those models.

    The Cottages, comprised of our 9 homes on foundations, range from 261 to 874 square feet and are designed to meet the International Building Code. Most states have unique requirements which we are not prepared to handle and we can not build these models. Therefore, we will be licensing these designs to houseplans.com since they work with architects across the country to help individual builders meet their local and state codes.

    Two years ago, we began manufacturing Tumbleweeds as RVs and now we are devoting ourselves 100% to this path. Since 2013, we've added 100’s of options to our models and made them incredibly easy to understand (see here). Tremendous improvements with financing and insurance paved the way for several customers to obtain 100% financing when purchasing their Tumbleweeds. 2015 is promising to provide even more banks and credit unions for customers looking to finance their purchase of a Tumbleweed with rates interest rates starting as low as 4.5%.

    With all the attention tiny houses are receiving interest continues to grow. Our industry is growing up, and it’s important to recognize our role in making the tiny house RV more mainstream and accepted by governing bodies, banks, and insurance companies.

    Written by Steve Weissmann — December 22, 2014

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