Q&A with Tiny House Experts

We asked three of our tiny house experts to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions. For the previous "Q&A with Tiny House Experts," click here.

ELLA JENKINS

Ella Jenkins / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background: Ella never built anything before undertaking a tiny home. She attended the Los Angeles workshop a few years ago and began building her Tumbleweed Fencl (now called Cypress) the next month. She built her entire tiny home wearing a skirt! Her enthusiasm was and is contagious. Ella now presents our workshops all over the country. Read more about Ella and her tiny home called "Little Yellow" on her blog

Ella's modified Tumbleweed Cypress

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny space?

Ella: The kitchen. Or my yellow door. Or my window seat. Or...this could go on for a while.

Q: If you could do anything different to your tiny home, what would it be?
Ella: Replace my solid aluminum windows with aluminum clad wood ones (which I will be doing soon). But not much other than that, I'm pretty darn happy with everything else!
Q: What do you think is the best part of Tumbleweed's two day workshop?
Ella: Is it weird that I'm going to say the plumbing/toilet section? Probably. Composting toilets are just so interesting!
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BRITTANY YUNKER

Brittany Yunker / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background: Brittany built her Fencl (now Cypress 18-Overlook) after attending a Tumbleweed workshop.  Without any building experience, she created a beautiful cottage that she now uses as a vacation rental.  She also modified the interior and really took great effort to accent her home with charm. Take a look at her website to learn more about visiting this home.

Brittany's modified Tumbleweed Cypress

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny house?

Brittany: My favorite part of my house is the loft bed with the skylight overhead.  It's so cozy up there, and it is wonderful to watch the stars from bed on a clear night.

Q: What was the most difficult part of your build?

Brittany: The most difficult part of the building process was overcoming all the questions in my own mind (i.e. "how the heck do you cut a birdsmouth notch at the right place in a rafter?", and answering the multitude of logistical questions that others asked me.  "Where are you going to park?", "How is the toilet going to work?", the list goes on.  I didn't have all the answers, but I tackled each issue methodically as I built, and everything came together splendidly!

Q: Any space saving advice?

Brittany: Find creative and unique ways to hang things on the wall or use vertical space such as a cabinet or closet.  Use beautiful personal belongings as artful wall hangings.  I decorated the wall of my bathroom with my earrings, jewelry and hung my (ahem, beautiful) skis from the ceiling.  Find furniture that folds, tucks away or is stowable and that fits your body when using it!

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MEG STEPHENS
Meg Stephens / Tumbleweed Designer & Workshop Presenter
Background: While Meg was getting her degree in Architecture she stumbled upon Tumbleweed and fell in love with the designs. She became fascinated with building her own and called us to order tickets to a Tumbleweed Workshop. The conversation lasted 30 minutes and ended with a scheduled job interview to come design tiny homes for Tumbleweed. Meg designed our newest model, the Linden, and is currently building one for herself and her husband to live in full time.
Meg's Tumbleweed Linden
Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
Meg: I really love my trim. It took a long time to get all the curves cut, but I think the end result was totally worth it. I also really like the glass block "windows" that I made and installed high on the long sides of my house.
Q: How was it building with SIPS? Would you do anything different?
Meg: Building with SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels) was fun, I had a big work party and we got the walls and roof up on my house in two and a half days. However, I'm nervous about doing the wiring and plumbing because the interior of the walls are not accessible. If I were to do it again today I would probably have gone with the Amish Barn Raiser instead of SIPs.
Q: What do you think is the best part of our two day workshop?
Meg: I love the discussion and seeing people make connections with each other during the course of the weekend. Many group builds and friendships have come out of the workshop, and it's an invaluable experience to add to the knowledge that the workshop provides.
Meg giving tours of a Tumbleweed Cypress on display at a workshop in early Feb 2015
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What questions should we ask in our next Q&A with Tiny House Experts?

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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 — February 11, 2015

Filed under: Experts   Presenters   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Workshop  

Miranda's Hearth - Tiny House Build Spot in New England

Calling all creative entrepreneurs, artists/makers, and tiny house enthusiasts,

I am in the process of starting Miranda’s Hearth, the first community art hotel, a business where everything in the rooms from the soap to the furniture to the dishes are handmade by members of the community. Our mission is to build a community through creativity that is approachable, accessible, and affordable to people of all professions.

In the long term, our goal is to transform an underutilized piece of public property into a hub for creative economy, an educational resource, and a retreat for makers and patrons. By employing makers to build and run Miranda’s Hearth, we will accomplish the parallel goals of providing local jobs that keep young professionals engaged in the community while developing a focal point where people can gather and create.

Currently, we are in our second year of running monthly Dinner, Art, and Music nights which regularly draw 30-50 people and have engaged over 200 individual patrons. Rather than following the “build it and they will come” model, we are bringing our community together so that they can help us build the community art hotel from the ground up.

In 2014, we co-hosted the BIG Tiny House Festival with the Somerville Arts Council and when nearly 2,000 people showed up, we knew that we needed to further engage that community by asking them to help us build our own. We plan to start this spring by building a tiny house of roughly 115 sq ft that will become the first hotel room. This tiny house, filled with local handmade items, will create an affordable preliminary space to host events, showcase our business plan, and engage the community.

Currently, we are looking for a building location in New England, preferably within an hour or two of Boston. For six months to a year, we will need roughly the space of two parking spots as well as a secure location to store tools. We are looking into locations at both private residencies and businesses.

For private residences, we could exchange a small amount of rent in addition to assisting with yard work, child care, etc. For businesses, we could help with administration, use our growing network to market your services, and host exciting creative events. We are also looking for a longer term parking location while we continue to develop plans for the fully realized hotel.

If you have a space or know of someone who might, please contact us via email at mirandashearth@gmail.com or via phone at 978-233-1423. We would also love to hear any questions, ideas, or suggestions you might have regarding the tiny house or the community art hotel.

To keep updated on our progress, you can join our email list at mirandashearth.com, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or come to one of our Dinner, Art, + Music nights every Second Sunday.

We look forward to seeing you at Miranda’s Hearth!

Miranda Aisling

Founder of Miranda’s Hearth 

Written by Guest Blogger — February 10, 2015

Filed under: Art Hotel   Miranda Aisling   New England   Tiny home   Tiny House  

Off-Grid Heating: Propane VS. Wood Burning

If you are looking to heat your tiny home with an off-grid heater, the two big power players are 1). PROPANE and 2). WOOD BURNING, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Let's compare the most popular off-grid heaters for tiny house RVs: the Dickinson Marine P9000 and the Kimberly Wood Stove

1). PROPANE: Dickinson Marine P9000

The Dickinson has been the leader in tiny house heating for some time because of its sleek look and compact size.

Advantages:

  • Space Saving. This tiny heater can be installed directly into your wall. The body of the unit is only 8.5" wide x 14" high x 5.5" deep. 
  • Affordable. Off-grid appliances, especially those made for boats, are expensive. The Dickinson P9000 is $1145.15, including the chimney. Cost of fuel is not included.
  • Beauty. No one can deny that this is a good looking appliance. The glass door allows you to watch the flames flicker as the heater warms your tiny space. 
  • Venting. Can be vented through the wall or ceiling.
  • Lightweight. Weight is always an important consideration when it comes to tiny house RVs. 

Christopher Smith from the film TINY installing his Dickinson in his Colorado tiny home. Photo credit here.

Disadvantages:

  • Fuel Expense: This stove burns 1 pound of propane every 5-7 hours. A 20 pound propane tank will cost about $15-20 to refill. Depending on your climate, this can be a huge expense.
  • Running Constantly Not Possible: This stove needs to be used under supervision. Which means turning it off while you sleep or when you leave the house may cause your home to return to a frigid temperature, depending on your choice of insulation.
  • Fan Requires 12v: Wiring needed for the fan to spin and heat to circulate.
  • Lower BTUs: Depending on where you are located, this heater may not be enough. On HIGH the heat output is 4,500 BTUs.
  • Doesn't Dehumidify: Propane stove tops produce excessive moisture, which can be difficult to maintain in a tiny space. If you already have a propane stove planned for your tiny home RV, you might want to purchase a dehumidifier or use a heat source that acts as a dehumidifier. Wood stoves will dehumidify as well as heat, where as the Dickinson will not act as a dehumidifier. *As a note, the Dickinson will not produce extra moisture because it is a vented appliance.

Brittany's Bayside Bungalow with the Dickinson in her Washington state tiny home. Photo credit: Chris Tack

2). WOOD STOVE: Kimberly by Unforgettable Fire, LLC

The Kimberly is compact, burns extremely clean for a wood burning stove and vents through the floor, making it the most popular choice for tiny home owners who prefer wood burning heat. 

The Kasl family heating their Minnesota tiny home with the Kimberly

Advantages:

  • Dehumidifier: Wood burning stoves act as dehumidifiers, which is a good thing for tiny spaces that often struggle with moisture control.
  • Fuel Cost: Wood is easily obtainable and if you have your own wooded property, it can be free. Also check Craigslist for "free firewood."
  • High BTUs: This wood stove can burn up to 42,200 BTUs. On low, this stove can burn up to 8 hours on a single load of fuel, providing a good night’s sleep without having to refuel. 
  • Beauty: Like the Dickinson, this stove is also very attractive and provides a glass window for fire viewing.
  • Cook top: As an added bonus, you can cook on top of this stove.
  • No additional power needed. This stove is operational without the need for 12V.

Ella & Zach with the Kimberly in their Northern California Tiny Home

Disadvantages:

  • Space Requirement: Although the Kimberly takes up far less space than most wood stoves and allows the use of a 3-inch pellet stove pipe, it will still require more space and clearance than the Dickinson and cannot be installed into the wall.
  • Cost: At $4,495 for the stove, pipe and floor pad, the Kimberly is an investment.
  • Too Much Heat: Depending on your location and climate, this stove might be too much for your tiny space, even when on low. 
  • Weight: The Kimberly weighs 56 pounds, which isn't very heavy for a wood stove but heavier than the Dickinson.
Jenna & Guillaume's Kimberly wood stove in their traveling tiny home

For our tiny home, we went back and forth between the Dickinson and the Kimberly. Eventually we decided on the Kimberly. We plan on taking our tiny home to ski resorts, so an efficient high BTU heat source was necessary. We also have a three burner propane cooktop, so moisture control was a factor in our wood stove decision. The extra money and space requirement was worth it to us. 

YOUR TURN! Which would you prefer for your tiny home: the Dickinson or the Kimberly?

*Other ways to heat your tiny home

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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 — February 03, 2015

Filed under: best   Dickinson   heat source   heating   heating a tiny house   Kimberly   Marine Stove   propane   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Wood burning   Wood Stove  

Take The 2015 Tiny House Survey

In order to better support our customers, we're participating in the 2015 Tiny House Survey.  The survey is completely anonymous and we'd love to get your input.  Please see below:

Written by Steve Weissmann — February 02, 2015

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 house RV.

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

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  

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