Chris's Tiny House in the Country

Chris with his Tiny Retreat in upstate New York

This past weekend Deek Diedricksen presented our Philadelphia workshop and we met a lot of wonderful attendees, many of whom aspire to build or live in a tiny home. Last year at this very same workshop, Chris Schapdick attended with a similar goal: specifically to build a tiny vacation home in the country for himself and his nine year old daughter, Mia.

"I really want my daughter to have a connection to nature." says Chris, who currently lives in New York City but has recently purchased land upstate. "Ideally we'd have a tiny home as a weekend getaway, and later I could retire in it." 

After the workshop Chris felt inspired to build his own tiny home, but like many of us, he had other obligations that took priority. "I thought about buying a trailer," Chris admits, "but I was moving slow and, honestly, the whole idea (of building my own home) was daunting."

Finally, in early 2014, Chris found his solution with the announcement of Tumbleweed's tiny house starter kit - or "barn raiser." The barn raiser was ideal for Chris because it would expedite the build process AND allow him to finish the house himself. Within a few weeks, Chris received a photo and notification that his tiny home was ready for pick up.

Tumbleweed Barn Raiser / Photo by: Tumbleweed Tiny Homes*

"It might sound corny, but when I received that photo it reminded me of seeing the first ultrasound of my daughter. I had an immediate connection with my tiny house. " Chris recalls giving countless tours of his new home while towing it from Tumbleweed's Colorado build site to his rural property in New York. "It really resonates with people." 

Chris chose a Linden Horizon floor plan which features a second downstairs bedroom for his daughter. Mia thinks her dad's tiny home is really cool, and Chris hopes she'll want to be involved on some of the interior build.

A few interesting pieces Chris has added to his tiny home include an incinerating toilet and a library rolling ladder. He also has exciting plans for the front door:  "I'd like to have a bright colored entry door, like Ella's house. I also bought an old brass ship porthole for a window insert."

Chris even installed a motion detection camera to see what wildlife might trek up to his tiny home, but one day it malfunctioned and took a photograph every minute. If you're feeling a little scrambled from your busy schedule, take a moment to watch this "day-in-the-life" video created from Chris's camera's happy accident. 

"It's amazing to see a day go by and have absolutely nothing happen...it's like that everyday." - Chris

Once in a while, there are a few furry visitors! 

Three Pieces of Advice From Chris:

1). Take your time.

2). Know that there are resources out there to help you.

3). Be confident in your own abilities and have the confidence that you can do it.

We will check back in on Chris's build later this year. In the meantime he is looking forward to receiving advice and answering questions. He is about to embark on electricity and plumbing, so any research, links or tips are welcome!

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Contact Chris through his tiny house website here.

*All photos provided by Chris unless otherwise stated.

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Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a self-built Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure that began in September 2014. Occasionally they will be hosting an open house. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Tour a Tumbleweed

How much of a difference can a few feet make? Decide for yourself as Tumbleweed's Steve Weissmann leads you through this beautiful 172 square foot Cypress 24.

The floor plan in this tour is the new Equator, which includes an open great room / kitchen as well as a separate downstairs bedroom or workspace. If you love the look but would prefer a different flow, don't worry! There are plenty of other layout choices for this 24 foot tiny home. Check out the Horizon, Overlook and Vantage floor plans by clicking here.

Cypress Equator Floor Plan

Cypress 24 Equator Floor Plan

As you watch the video, you'll notice this Tumbleweed is tricked out with all the bells and whistles. This Cypress 24 has a washer/dryer combination unit, air conditioning, and large refrigerator (as opposed to the standard under the counter unit). Perhaps the most exciting new add-on is the storage staircase.

Cypress 24 Staircase with Drawers for Extra Storage

Head up the stairs and into the spacious loft, complete with double dormers! It's big enough for a king size bed or a queen with space leftover for bedside storage. Visualize this sizable bedroom as Steve (who is 6'2") demonstrates how he can comfortably sit up in bed. 

This tiny home was constructed on a Tumbleweed 24 foot three axel trailer. Hardy retractable scissor jacks and convenient outdoor water, power and sewage hookups allow this tiny home to be easily transported from location to location. Steve recommends a 1-ton truck for this particular model, as it's one of our largest.  

So now that you've had a tour, we're dying to know what you think about our new model? Comment below!

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Jenna Spesard 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.
 

 

A Tumbleweed in Germany

Hanspeter and his German Modified Tumbleweed

 

Hanspeter is currently building a Tumbleweed in Germany, a country where the tiny house movement is in its inception, but this isn't his first experience as a woodworking pioneer. In June of 2000, he traveled to Mongolia to construct the first wood frame house in Ulaanbaatar for a local family. "This," he says, "was one of the best experiences of my life."

 

Hanspeter in Mongolia
Hanspeter During Construction of Ulaanbaatar's 1st Wood Frame House

 

A few years later, Hanspeter stumbled upon the Tumbleweed website and was immediately fascinated by the little structures. What he said next will resonate with many of you - 
"I loved the idea of having a tiny home of my own, living with a small carbon footprint, staying debt free and having more time for community living. I am retired and my pension is not very big. I don't want to spend my remaining years administrating a lot of personal stuff. So, living small is the best solution for me to live a self-reliant life."

 

"I love the saying: the best things in life are not things!" - Hanspeter

 

Hanspeter began construction of his tiny home last summer, but since he is building one of the first tiny homes in Germany he has encountered a few unique challenges. "In Germany, we are not allowed to bolt the structure permanently to the trailer," Hanspeter explains, "So I invented a system to plug my tiny house into the trailer railings." In doing so, his tiny home is now categorized as a "load."

 

 

Hanspeter faced his next challenge when he weighed his half-finished tiny home and was forced to cut back on using heavy materials. Tumbleweed trailers are rated for either 10,000 or 15,000 lbs, but as Hanspeter explains: "The sturdiest trailers available in Europe that I know of are 3.5 tons (about 7,700 lbs). My trailer is a  2.7 tons trailer (about 6,000 lbs). The only solution for building tiny homes in Europe is to build lighter and smaller."

  

 

Since discovering weight might be an issue, Hanspeter has put his home on a diet, employing only light weight materials. For example, he used aluminum instead of steel roofing and styrofoam insulation instead of wood fiber. Even with taking these precautions, Hanspeter's most recent weighing neared 5,300 lbs. That leaves him only 700 lbs for the remainder of his interior build. 

"I am aware that the Tiny House might still become too heavy once fully equipped. One option is to change the axles, the breaks and the towing bar." Hanspeter contemplates, "I'm also currently investigating if the trailer manufacturer is able to build a 3.5 ton trailer with the same dimensions and the same railing as my current trailer." If that option proves available, Hanspeter's Tiny House could be transposed onto the new heavy-duty trailer (as mentioned earlier, his home was engineered to be "plugged" into the trailer, rather than permanently fixed). Although costly, he believes upgrading the trailer would be the ideal solution.

 

 

Hanspeter's Three Pieces of Advice for Tiny Home Builders:
1)  Try to get the sturdiest trailer available with the largest possible payload.
2)  Build with the lightest materials you can find and keep the thickness of floor, roof and walls in reasonable limits. Weight will add up fast and every pound counts in the end.
3)  Try to get in touch with other builders of Tiny Houses, Circus Wagons, Vardos and Shepherds Huts. In Europe, this is the most difficult task.

 

Thank you Hanspeter for sharing your story and advice with our readers. We know that every build helps us learn and grow as a community.
 

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*All photos provided by Hanspeter & Black Forest Tiny House

*More information on Hanspeter's build can be found on his website here.

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Jenna Spesard 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



 

Written by Jenna Spesard — August 06, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   diy   Downsizing   Europe   european codes   germany   trailer   Tumbleweed   tumbleweed trailer   weight  

High School Students Build Three Tiny Homes

The Academy of Career Education (a.k.a “ACE” high school) in Reno, Nevada is not only embracing tiny homes as an alternative housing option but also as an educational tool for their students. Being a tuition-free charter school focusing on construction and engineering, each student at ACE becomes OSHA certified and is offered a variety of courses with hands-on training in home building. 

“We were looking for new projects,” ACE instructor Tony Clark explains, “and we happened to see a news story on a boy that built his own tiny home instead of a fort. After that, we did some research and found Tumbleweed.” After pitching the project to Tumbleweed President Steve Weissmann, Mr. Clark and his students were donated a set of Cypress 20 plans. Clark also attended a workshop last fall and purchased three Tumbleweed trailers. In January 2014, ACE students began building three tiny homes. 

“We have about 45-50 students taking the course, between the ages of 15-18 years old,” explains Clark. “All the traditional techniques for building a home are covered, and then some! There are more codes to follow when building a tiny home, as well as weight, propane and movement to consider. I think the biggest benefit is that it makes the kids better problem solvers.”

Justin Moore, a student taking the course, believes building a tiny home will make anyone a better carpenter. "Tiny homes are a growing trend, and learning to build off-grid housing is extremely beneficial." 

Ace High School

One of Clark’s favorite teaching moments was when two of his award winning carpentry students installed the shower insert. “They triple checked their work, but they forgot to make sure the trailer was level.” Clark chuckled, remembering. “They had to do the work all over again. It’s not something you would encounter in a regular home, and so it was an excellent learning experience for them.” 

Before summer break, the students were sheathing the roof and had started on electricity and insulation. They’ll pick back up when schools begins in September, with the goal of being finished by December 2014. 

“We have some interested buyers for two of the tiny homes, and we’ll keep the third on display.” Mr. Clark went on to say that all the money made from the sale will go straight back into funding the program. “I want to continue building tiny homes at ACE. The students have really embraced it.” 

Justin (Clark's student) agrees,  "I think tiny homes are very very cool. I could see myself living in one, but I would customize it to fit my lifestyle." 

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*All photos provided by ACE High School

*For more information on the ACE High School Tiny House project, click here.

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Jenna Spesard 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

Written by Jenna Spesard — July 29, 2014

Filed under: Academy of Career Education   ACE   Build it yourself   Cypress   design   High School   Reno   School   tiny   tiny home   tiny house   Tumbleweed  

Tiny House For Three

Family posed on the porch of their "big house" (above) and their barn raiser (below).

Meg, Brandy, and their 2-year-old son nicknamed "R.A.D." are about to dramatically shrink their idea of home. Having just received a Tumbleweed barn raiser, the family of three will be shedding approximately 3,000 square feet!

“Somewhere between growing to despise our huge mortgage and realizing we would never be able to take my mother on the Alaskan cruise she dreamed of, something just snapped in my mind.” Meg explains why her family has decided to downsize from their 3,193 sq foot home and nearly $2,000 a month mortgage payment.

“Losing my mom made us realize the ‘American Dream’ of the big house with the white fence was really just a pair of shackles preventing us from doing the things we really wanted to do.” Sadly, Meg’s mother recently lost a 17-month battle with cancer. Before she was diagnosed they had planned on moving the whole family from Texas to Washington. “The more I thought about the plans I was making with my mom, the more resolute I was that I needed this change. I was sick to my stomach with the knowledge that I let the big house weigh us down." It was then that Meg and Brandy finally made the decision to drop the big house, and travel around the country with a tiny home before settling in Washington for R.A.D to start school. 

With Brandy attending college and Meg working two jobs, the couple quickly realized that finding time to build was going to be a challenge. That’s when they stumbled upon Tumbleweed’s barn raiser - a professionally built skeleton of a Tumbleweed tiny home secured on a Tumbleweed trailer. The family chose the Cypress 24’ Horizon model, which will allow a private bedroom for their son as well as a loft bedroom for themselves.  

“Having the professional builders do all the heavy lifting and, most importantly, the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer was the decision maker in the build vs. buy debate for me.” Meg explains. “I’ve had nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer, so the peace of mind that comes with having professionals secure my house is worth it’s weight in gold!" 

Meg and Brandy ordered their barn raiser in mid-March and received a notification it was ready on April 22nd. The family set off to retrieve their new home - one that is equal in size of their current master bathroom! When they first stepped inside the tiny dwelling that would one day carry them off on an adventure, Meg remembers thinking it felt huge and tiny simultaneously. Check out their height charts: 

“Our son calls it his ‘Biiiiigg Hooose’, and it (the tiny home) will probably continue to feel big to him while he is little.” - Meg

How will this family cope with this dramatic downsize? Check back in for updates on Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D. as they finish their house and prepare to travel around the U.S.A. 

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All photos provided by Meg and Brandy. 

Follow this tiny house family on their blog here. Like them on facebook here.

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Jenna Spesard 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

 

 

 

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