Here's an update from our friends over at Boneyard Studios:
I left for Brazil just as everything started happening on the lot. I promised I wouldn’t disappear for a month but try and stay engaged in the project while here. Thus, I write this from a hammock in rural Northeast Brazil where we’re staying with an amazing community leader and learning about the Xukuru’s fight to regain their territory here in Brazil. While feeling grateful for the opportunity to be here, I’m also sad that I’m missing out on all the work that is being done on the lot. Fortunately, Tony and Brian have been keeping me updated via photos, email and Skype.
Here’s a recent update I received from Tony about the past week:
Brian and I have spoken to a lot of people passing through the alley and the feedback we’re getting is very positive. People are excited about the garden beds and curious about tiny houses. I know you feel like you’re missing out, but a lot of what we’ve been doing is dirty, sweaty grunt work. The good news is that we should be ready for the fun part of designing and building out the interior of yours when you get back.
Check out the photos below – they’ve really made progress, and I’m excited to get back and start working on this project again!
Head over to Barnyard Studios to see the rest of the pictures.
One of the most common questions we are asked is how did we set up the electricity in our tiny house. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not that familiar with all the technical aspects of our system so here is what we said about it on our blog:
“We designed the solar for our cabin by first minimizing our needs - energy hogs like electric stoves, fridges, washer / dryer, air conditioning, water heaters, microwaves and such were ruled out. Our system provides lights, small fans, and plugs for small appliances. When we need to run construction tools or other items with large power needs, we use a portable generator. The generator can also recharge the batteries if we need it to.”
We both work from our tiny house. I use a laptop computer which probably draws the most power. Matt is able to do most of his work from a tablet which uses a lot less energy to run.
We don’t have a traditional refrigeration system. We did find a great invention called the Coleman Stirling Engine Cooler that was used by long haul truckers and boaters. Coleman doesn’t make them any more. Even at its coldest setting it draws very little power. We don’t use it as our primary cooling source, however. We set it on freeze and put ice packs inside which we then transfer to a regular cooler. We also changed the way we buy and eat food. We bought into a CSA and we make frequent trips to the farmer’s market to get fresher ingredients that we use faster.
We also didn’t install the recommended propane fueled boat heater in our tiny house. We live in the southern Appalachian Mountains and during the summer it will never get cold enough to need it. For now, we don’t plan to live in our tiny house over the winter months because we’ll take that time to travel and see family in other parts of the country.
Next time, I’ll share our water systems and how we have a pressurized shower without any indoor plumbing.
Our first contest was a hoot and we hope this one will be just as much fun. This time, you can choose between 3 of our houses: The handsome Anderjack Box Bungalow, The über-popular Fencl House To Go and the roomy Harbinger Cottage. So, how does it work?
- Login into Pinterest and start a board with the name of one of these houses in the title. Please include at least one image of the house in your board. Extra love if you link it to the page on our site.
- FIll the board with your imagination and dreams of tiny house living.
- Send me an email with a link to your board at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's it! If you need an invitation to Pinterest, email me at email@example.com and I will send one your way. We will accept submission from June 4 - June 8, 2012. Starting on Monday, June 18th, we will post our top 10 favorite boards and our crazy-loyal fans will pick their favorite board. We will announce the winner on Friday, June 22, 2012. One more thing…
The Prize: A limited edition Hollyhock t-shirt, a copy of the Small House Book, the DIY book, the Popomo tiny house plans, the Zinn tiny house plans and the Vardo. What a pack of tiny house goodness! Have fun Tumbleweeders. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
The iconic image of the Tumbleweed Tiny House is a little home on a trailer. While most people go this route to build their tiny house, it is precisely the opposite of what we did. Our tiny house is built in a little clearing about 200 vertical feet up a mountain with no road access. You heard that right – no road access. We had two main motivations for this process. The first was, of course, to have a tiny mountain home nestled in the woods off the beaten path. The second was to prove to ourselves that we could build this thing without instant access to power or water. We are not professional builders in any way so we had to learn how to do everything before we set out to build. The house is done now and we live there completely off the grid.
We started the project about three years ago. Because we lived in Atlanta and were building in North Carolina we could only work on weekends. We drove up to our land about two weekends a month during those years. Some friends occasionally came to help us and it was a lot of fun and a lot of exceptionally difficult and occasionally dirty work.
We primarily used rechargeable battery powered tools that we would then take back to Atlanta with us to charge up before the next trip. We also have a very small and efficient generator we use for larger power tools like the table saw. There is also a semi-reliable ATV that we could occasionally load up with supplies and building materials. When the ATV failed, we carried things up to the build site by hand.
The single most difficult part of this process was pouring the concrete foundation. Because we were building the house into a mountain we decided to go with post and pier but that meant we had to dig holes, pour concrete and set the hardware. We had to transport a small cement mixer, 30 gallons of water, and 2400 pounds of unmixed concrete up to the site. The ATV struggled and could only haul three bags at a time. And without any access to electric power, we mixed and poured concrete until the sun went down. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I figure if I can do that there really isn’t much else I can’t do.
As I mentioned, we live in the tiny house now and everything is off the grid. I hope to share more about how we live this way in the weeks to come.