When looking at pictures of tiny houses with tiny porches, there’s often a part of the mind that wonders whether this space wouldn’t be better made use of inside the living area instead of out. It is a logical thought when considering every ½” of your design, but I want to highlight some of the saving graces to tiny porches that I believe make them worth it.
Using Your Tiny Porch As An Exterior Work Surface
During construction, I quickly got over my uncertainty about the Fencl half-porch when it became one of my primary work surfaces. Being level and close to the project, I clamped, cut and sanded lumber, and put together countless small sections of my house there. Now the build is done, I still use the tiny porch as a work surface whenever I have projects I’m likely to make a mess with.
A Transitional Place to Sit
I love to sit on my tiny porch when the weather is nice. Out there I’m not quite in my house, but I haven’t really left either. Even though I have places for sitting further away, I always prefer the tiny porch.
Your Tiny Porch—A Shelter From the Storm
When you come home in the evening and it’s raining cats, dogs and small hamsters, having a covered area to hover in for the moment it takes to get your door open is quite the relief.
The Classic House
Aside from functional benefits, porches are a familiar aspect of the classic house image. Small as they are on a tiny house, the attached exterior space still imparts the distinct look and feel of a complete house.
So there you have some reasons why tiny porches can be practical even in tiny spaces. Anyone considering going porch-less?
- Ella Jenkins
This series discusses the “What”, the “How” and “Why” of Tiny House Living
The tiny house living concept raises a lot of questions for tiny house visionaries on their quest for freedom, simplicity, and personal fulfillment. In this series we answer some of their queries and explore the lifestyle a little more deeply.
We hope you find this series enjoyable, thoughtful and thought-provoking!
Tiny House Living: Cost Versus Lifestyle Value
At some point, people new to the tiny house living always ask the same question: “Is it cheap to build a tiny house because it’s so small?”
In a word, no. It’s true that it’s much more affordable to own and maintain a tiny house once it’s built rather than a conventional house, but the most expensive parts of a habitable dwelling are the core systems; climate control, plumbing, electrical, and appliances. All those systems provide a quality shelter. In a tiny house those systems are used and viewed at close quarters and often need to be specialized. For example, Tumbleweed’s plans call for the smallest, safest propane fireplace designed for use on boats, so there’s very little danger of fire. It’s a beautiful little piece of clean modern design, and it also happens to be quite expensive!
Other appliances offer similar challenges. I buy bathroom ceiling fans for my tiny houses because I value the active ventilation they provide. But I spend a good bit of money on them because I prefer extremely quiet fans. In a big house you can flip the fan on and walk away. However, in a tiny house, if the fan has a high decibel rating it will be roaring away in close proximity.
Further, many tiny houses are beautiful gems of custom construction. Created with an exceptional level of quality throughout the build. Cedar plank siding, stainless steel siding nails, all plywood sheathing, rigid foam insulation, solid wood floor and wall coverings, premium low VOC finishes and more.
There are some moments when it feels like it’s cheap to build a tiny house. When buying flooring, for example, it hurts a lot less to multiply your cost per square foot by 120 than by 2000. This is delightful when you price materials and do the math, but it can get you in trouble. If you’re like me, you might have a tendency to shop higher end because of the smaller figures involved. I have to watch myself and make sure I’m selecting upgrades that are more than simply cosmetic. I stick to options that provide superior performance or meet my personal environmental impact criteria.
In the end, you might be startled to find out that the tiny house is amazingly economical, until you calculate the cost per square foot.
In our next segment we’ll go into more detail on all the upsides to the tiny house lifestyle; quality, control, financial freedom, environmental benefits, and the profound relief of simplifying our lives.
-Workshop Presenter & Designer
I’ve just returned from Tumbleweed’s Boulder workshop on tiny houses, along with Joe and Shelby, and I’m savoring some great memories. What can I say? Boulder workshop attendees were just about the luckiest Tumbleweed fans alive. Through a special convergence of events, we were able to see three different tiny houses; a lovely visiting Vardo, the Fencl, and the brand new Cypress 20.
Our weekend started off with local research. On Friday we stopped at the Boulder Land Use Planning Division to ask about tiny houses and cottages. As always, tiny houses are not specifically defined in the existing codes. Cottages should have no problems, but it was explained there wasn’t much available land in Boulder proper. Though we didn’t get any actionable info, the woman we spoke to was friendly and open in her attitude toward our questions, and was very happy to help us track down information. I felt like we accomplished something in the sense of planting the seed in another official’s mind about tiny houses – you never know, she may someday have a chance to influence things.
Then we were off to the Friday night mixer. We all gathered in Coach’s, the sports bar at the Millennium Hotel where the workshop would place. I’d guess about 35 people mingled and got to know us and each other. It was a purely social event, and our common interests and love of tiny houses drew us into great conversations about our favorite topics; cooperative building support, tiny house communities, and the lifestyle shifts that come with downsizing and simplifying.
On Saturday we posted sheets for a mutual contact list, resources and ideas from the audience. Folks were encouraged to put their resources on the list, and their names and info on the contact sheet to be shared among the participants, so they could connect for mutual support, advice and maybe even hands on help. Then we settled down to business and began our step by step tiny houses journey. We started off with the legalities and logistics of tiny house living, then explained about plans and discussed design principles. From there we moved sequentially through the process of building, covering materials and methods for each phase. Just before lunch, we had a short talk from Sarah of Pie it Forward, where she explained her background, her adventures with Chris and their pastry mission. She then graciously allowed the whole workshop group to check out her own tiny house, the Vardo close up. Joe, Shelby, and I fielded a lot of great questions during breaks and Saturday ended with us wrapping up our session on doors and windows.
Sunday we continued our tiny house building journey, and the highlight of the day was the collection of Tumbleweed tiny houses with the Cypress and Fencl arriving in time for the lunch break. It was wonderful to see the excitement in the group observing three different tiny houses at once. Of course the Fencl is a favorite, and it certainly got a lot of attention – but for me the 20 foot long Cypress was a whole new experience and a joy to behold. The new design is lovely; within the popular Fencl exterior it boasts a split bathroom, a great room with a sofa that will soon have a fold down Murphy bed above it, a queen size loft, and a generous kitchen. It includes many of the most requested features we hear about from tiny house fans, and I look forward to seeing how our audience receives and adapts it.
At the end of the say Sunday, Dave Fisher of The Shed Yard in Colorado Springs, Tumbleweed’s approved builder, took over the show for a while to talk about interior finish. It brought a very direct and immediate feel to have a session taught by the guy who just finished building out the tiny houses the audience toured.
It’s always a pleasure to meet tiny house fans, and our audience in Boulder was no exception – we had suggestions, feedback, and participation from so many insightful and passionate people, we came away inspired all over again!
- Pepper Clark
Workshop Presenter & Designer
Introducing our latest innovation! The Tumbleweed Tiny House Trailer! Designed specifically for tiny houses on wheels.
Over the winter we’ve been asking our fans a lot of questions, wanting to know how we can improve your building projects. You’ve told us the most frustrating part of building a tiny house on wheels is finding an appropriate, usable trailer. First locating one, then negotiating a reasonable price and cutting and welding it to size. All this effort can be time-consuming and exhausting. And after all that, you may or may not have a trailer that meets the strict requirements necessary to carry a house on wheels. So we decided we should help you with this laborious process—we developed the Tumbleweed Tiny House Trailer!
The Tumbleweed Tiny House Trailer—designed specifically for tiny houses on wheels!
Made in the US, our quality-built tiny house trailer comes standard with brakes, lights, underside flashing and radial tires. These tires are a significant upgrade from tires usually found on utility trailers and one we feel is extremely important. The tiny house trailer is also available in sizes of 14 ft, 18ft and 20 ft. offering Full Porch, Corner Porch or No Porch and creates a perfect foundation for your home.
And when it comes to attaching your house to the tiny house trailer the techniques have improved greatly. We’ve taken advantage of the latest technology and added threaded galvanized rods which serve as anchor bolts to attach your framing to. Heavy-duty, they are made to withstand major wind-drafting when driving on the open road—after all, you don’t want to lose you house!
Additionally the tiny house trailer allows for an increase of 3.5″ headroom in the house interior. The trailers surface is flat so there’s no need to build up the sub-floor prior to framing—something you cannot achieve on any other regular trailer.
To learn more and purchase your very own Tumbleweed Trailer, click here
The Other Freedoms of Tiny Houses
‘Financial freedom’ is a phrase rooted in the appeal of tiny houses. I used it before I lived in mine because not many people seem to have it, and it was a great reason to give to inquiring minds that must know why the heck you want to build this unusually small house.
It sounds good, ‘financial freedom’, doesn’t it? But though I used the term frequently, I couldn’t know what it would mean to me in real life terms because I wasn’t there yet. Now that I live tiny full time, I am slowly understanding the weight of this, and just how few people really do have it.
The freedom that tiny houses allow isn’t just financial, it’s a full circle of inter-connected possibilities that exemplify the word and absolutely blow my mind. I could write a novel, but here are just a few of the freedoms I find living tiny.
Freedom to Change
I can change things now that would have seemed unchangeable to me with the strings of my conventional life. I can change the position of my house with the seasons or move across the country and take that same house with me.
I have already changed the way I live and think and I’m able to start changing habits that were making me unhappy; I am clean and tidy in my house, I make lists and get way more done. My new part-time job with Tumbleweed that I love is all I need to do because my overhead is so low.
The initial changes of committing to—and building—a tiny house broke the stagnation that held me back and set me on a path of forward movement.
Freedom of Time
If there’s one thing that stresses me out it’s time. Rushing off to get things done on a limit, being somewhere without enough or watching the clock tick by while I had to complete some mindless work task for old jobs that made me wonder what I was doing with my life.
When did you last feel you had plenty of time to do something you wanted to do? To travel, work on a project or spend time with people you love?
The most amazing thing this house has done is that it has given me the time to do what’s important to me. Today, for instance, I sat in the sunshine, called my sister, played banjo in my window seat, swam in the ocean, and after this post I quite think I’m going to make pancakes. Time is potential, how much would it change your life to be the one who chooses how to fill it?
I really could write a novel, because there are so many more. Freedom to explore, to love, to just ‘be’, and I look forward to more and more people discovering and living with their own freedoms in tiny houses.
Don’t miss Ella at our upcoming workshops: