Build a tiny home for less than $5,000
I’m still doing research on possible “Fantasy Homes” I would love to live in, given the money and place to build them. You may have heard about the new trend toward “tiny houses” which use very little land, energy, or materials and provide the bare essentials for green living. Some are really charming and look very comfortable.
The concept of living in a “tiny house” - under 100 square feet - is not new to me. When I lived in Colorado in the late 1960s many people were building tiny homes, only then they were called "hippy cabins" or "country cabins" and this followed a long tradition of "mountain huts". The main difference was that now people were living in these tiny houses year-round. A friend had the most beautiful little house with lovely windows looking out across the mountain ranges. Everyone hauled their own water and heated with little wood stoves. Some people shared property and built several little homes together, creating their own community. People who live in the country have always built small structures - easier to heat, easier to build, easier to maintain in harsh conditions.
In the 1970’s I lived in a small U.S. Pacific coastal village where a water moratorium effectively stopped all building permits (except for lots that already had their water meters) and all new housing was pretty much stopped. The only way around this was for people to build what we called “10 by 10” structures, which were permitted, as long as they were not "improved". You could build these tiny 100 square foot buildings because it was assumed they would be for storage or garden sheds.
Instead, people started living in them with some success. People who couldn’t get permits to expand their existing houses built a 10 by 10 room for their teenager. Or they made a little office or sauna. Then, when some people had the lots, but not the water meters, they started living in a couple 10 by 10 structures and bootlegged some water and electricity from next door, with their neighbors’ permission. I think this is still going on, even though that community’s land prices have increased to the point that buying a lot with a water meter there is probably impossible. I slept in a couple of those tiny guest houses and visited several others so it is not hard for me to imagine living in a more adequately designed tiny house.
Now some revolutionary builders are making these tiny houses to order for people to use for guest houses, or homes. They have all the essentials and comforts and would suit a single person very well. Combine a tiny home with the trend toward less possessions and eliminating the consumer oriented life-style, and you have a very pleasing and responsible way to live.
Some tiny houses are built on wheels, towed to your space, and left on the wheels so you can move them around. It would be fun to have one of these and tow it around according to the season to get the best climate, best light - under a shade tree in summer, or in the sun for winter.
You can add a very moderate solar system and generate your own energy, easily. You can add a deck and a hot tub and a pool, and have people over for summer parties! I visualize my tiny house with a deck large enough to make a kind of outdoor “kitchen” for summer and I would do all my cooking out there. All it would entail is putting an “island” with electrical outlets on the deck and a small convection oven and range-top for cooking. Or even just a nice-sized Weber for grilling - a delicious and healthy way to eat! Add a cabinet for storing your pots and pans and kitchen supplies and you’re set!
Combine a tiny home with gardens and other structures
I also absolutely love to make gardens, so I would place my tiny house in my enormous garden with one of those “outdoor rooms” I’ve seen that are made as part of a garden. These outdoor living spaces are enclosed by hedges or large planter boxes or beautiful fences covered with climbing, flowering vines. A central flag-stone patio with chairs and a table and loungers is surrounded by plantings of grassy areas and your favorite perennials. With some nice large umbrellas, some reclining lawn chairs, a bed on a platform with a canopy, or a three-sided hot house type structure you can have shelter and still be outside. Maybe put the hot-tub in one corner, instead of on the deck. The variations are endless! How about a small pool for cooling off!
What you are creating would be an extension of your living space, so you would spend most of your time at home living and sleeping outside. The tiny house would mainly be used during bad weather and storage for your very few possessions - the things you couldn’t part with - maybe a few books, your clothing and toiletries. This would be a good time to consider the "75 things" movement - encouraging you to own only 75 things. I know I'm not there yet, but its the direction I'm going.
I am visualizing now a space somewhere in a semi-forested area with enough land area so I can build several small structures. A tree house, a “tiny house”, a gazebo, and a greenhouse. I would want to design and building them myself, with some help. These would provide me with more than enough living space to have a marvelous life and still live with a fairly small carbon footprint. Generating my own solar energy, having a well with good water, and maybe a minimal road to the place. I would like it best if a hiking trail would be the only way in and out (except for bringing in supplies and trucking out my produce to market and in emergencies, the little road would be closed).
Any of my previous Fantasy Homes would work - treehouse, earth-home, houseboat, straw bale house - all work very well as tiny homes.
I know this isn’t the life everyone pictures as ideal. If you're retired or will be soon, maybe you would be too fearful to live that far away from a doctor and the supermarket, but I'm not! The building and maintenance of my living spaces would be an ongoing project. Certainly the large garden I would like would mean hours and hours of hard work. You have to enjoy the country life-style the way I do to live miles away from towns and the hustle most people thrive on, but this has always been my goal. However, these tiny homes are also perfectly adaptable to cities and towns and I can see how well they will fit into suburban and urban life.
Lloyd Kahn: I would like you to know about Lloyd Kahn and his marvelous SHELTER books on unique and inventive building. He is a very good writer and I think you will also enjoy his blog. The homes in his books are carefully selected to represent creative home building. These structures are not only environmentally sound and conserve energy, but also built as true expressions of the lives of their builders. They are all created with genuine art and living in any of them would naturally change your life for the better! http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/ Lloyd has been studying, documenting and building alternative structures for many years. I consider him THE expert!
If you want more information about how to build these tiny homes, how they might work for your needs, and how they conserve and utilize green energy, just search for “tiny houses” on Google. These have caught on fast and now there are people who will design and build for you, or help you build your own.
This video really presents the tiny house cause!
The Newsletter TINY HOUSE LIVING
- Tiny House Living
A great website where you may find most of your questions about tiny houses answered. It also has some really beautiful images.
My other Fantasy Homes
- Straw Bale and Adobe Home: Part 4 of Fantasy Homes Series
Straw bales and adobe make some very beautiful homes with great energy reduction and relatively inexpensive building costs. In Part 4 of my Fantasy Home series I take a look at the functional and spectacular designs of some straw bale and adobe homes
- Earth Homes - Part 3 of My Fantasy Homes Series
A true earth-home underground seen from the top. Earth-home built halfway into a hillside front of the underground earth home Interior Earth home style, though it isn't underground - you can see the lovely...
- Treehouse homes
Interior - what I call the "bubble" Once upon a time we called the 70s, all us happy hippy children just danced and sang and refused to grow up, remember? And if you would have asked any of us what...
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on November 14, 2012:
Another Hub after my own heart. I have bookmarked this to go back and reference. Thank you for sharing your knowledge; Write On!
Qmarpat from Northern,California on May 26, 2012:
ery nice! I've always been fascinated by tiny houses, you don't see too many everyday.
homesX from Canada on October 20, 2011:
Wow! What a nice tiny houses! Hope I could make one for myself:) I love the design though..Thanks for sharing such a nice hub topic of yours mega1!
mega1 (author) on September 16, 2011:
This just in: Lloyd Kahn's Shelter Publications informs me their latest book on Tiny Homes is being sent off to the printer today! Can't wait to see this since all Shelter's publications are fabulous!
mega1 (author) on August 25, 2011:
Thanks, carcro - glad you like these hubs about homes.
Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 25, 2011:
Great ideas for small homes, I really like outdoor patio and kitchen island pics, thanks for sharing!
mega1 (author) on August 19, 2011:
Thank you Merbau for reading my hub and commenting. These houses really may solve a housing problem for many people, myself included.
suriya on August 19, 2011:
I am happy to see ur blogs I like all houses are super and made very surprise to me..Great job!
mega1 (author) on August 17, 2011:
Here's a blog on How To Live In a Tiny House - http://www.tinyrevolution.us/2010/12/27/how-to-liv...
interesting, also interesting to hear how tiny a space people think they can actually live in - I'm just one person and I know I will have to get creative in order to keep my craft supplies close by - what will I have to give up? I don't know - this may be a whole other subject!
mega1 (author) on July 29, 2011:
A little update - and thank you all for your comments - A couple years ago when I started noticing tiny houses there wasn't much online about them - now there are hundreds of websites and thousands of tiny house pictures and plans. My favorite of course is Lloyd Kahn's facebook page @ Shelter Publications - where almost everyday he has at least one more tiny house for us. It is overwhelming, but very encouraging. I think I'd like to go live in the desert in a tiny adobe house!
fashion on July 29, 2011:
Interesting article.Very beautiful tiny houses.
I love it.
mega1 (author) on July 26, 2011:
Thank you Mark!
MarkMAllen15 on July 25, 2011:
mega1 (author) on July 16, 2011:
Thanks everyone, for commenting and reading - I've just added another hub you may find interesting about Tiny Homes and Lloyd Kahn's new publication about them which is coming out soon. So many people around the world are finding tiny houses just fit for them.
nagu01 on July 15, 2011:
Thanks for the information, we will add this story to our blog, as we have an audience in this sector that loves reading like this”
Merbau Decking Timber
melodyandes on May 23, 2011:
I really like it, Thanks for sharing.
PaperNotes on February 16, 2011:
Love this. These homes are eco-friendly, not just cute.
Winkrez on January 16, 2011:
Great hub mate!
mega1 (author) on December 10, 2010:
thanks hubby7! my personal fav is the treehouse, but I can see that having both a tiny house (maybe a portable one) and a treehouse combined with the outdoor kitchen/garden would be so nice. living simple, that's the key. in that way we can have more of what our souls really need.
hubby7 from Chicago on December 10, 2010:
Excellent hub! I enjoyed reading about the history of small house building and all of the other information you provided. I've been following Jay Schaefter and I think that I just might want to own one some day.
mega1 (author) on December 05, 2010:
Hi Ralph! Thanks for the comment. I just found out Lloyd Kahn has another book on tiny houses about to be published. It should be as mind bending as his other books, he's been previewing on Facebook some of the tiny houses he's visited and they look fantastic.
Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on December 05, 2010:
Interesting and well done!
mega1 (author) on October 30, 2010:
Hi skok - It wouldn't be too difficult to build your own tiny house. I think it would be fun. Thanks for reading my hub and commenting.
skok1234 on October 30, 2010:
Great pictures! It would be great to have one of those tiny houses :)
mega1 (author) on August 29, 2010:
Thank you so much for commenting - I am so glad you like this one too.
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 29, 2010:
Good information. I like this hub very much. Personally, tiny house is amazing and always fantastic like you said before. Thanks for share about this for us. I really enjoy all the pictures....beautiful, my friend. Vote up.
mega1 (author) on August 23, 2010:
Hi peaceful - that Toronto house is so so cute! Here's another one - used as an office but it looks like I could life in it - up in the treetops!
peacefulparadox on August 22, 2010:
Someone saw this small house
on google street view.
mega1 (author) on August 21, 2010:
cvanthul - Glad you liked it! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Cristina Vanthul from Florida on August 21, 2010:
Great hub. I, too, love all things architectural.
mega1 (author) on August 20, 2010:
Hi Paradise: I think they are very affordable - I have heard of people building their own for 1,000 or $2,000! the bare essentials. That means you could spend a little more, and then add the outdoor rooms, garden and gazebo and have a beautiful little home combining the best of outside and in. Also you could have more than one - say an office and a living room. It would be very easy to heat and cool such a small space, too! I'm hoping someday I'll have the land and $$ to actually do something like this - or maybe have a treehouse and a tine house!? I don't know - its fun to imagine.
Paradise7 from Upstate New York on August 20, 2010:
This looks terrific, to me. What a great alternative to apartment living, assuming they are affordable! Thanks!
mega1 (author) on August 20, 2010:
Hey Gus! Good to see you! I love to hear about architecture for homes that is different and interesting. I started out fantasizing about a home for myself and by now it has turned into an obsession to see what wonders people create to live in. I will look at those houses you mentioned.
Gustave Kilthau from USA on August 20, 2010:
mega1 - That was a whole lot of information for such small subjects. ;-)
In Cologne, Germany, there are some tall, but very skinny houses that are right together in a short row. They are so narrow that they use rooftop hoists to get furniture into the upper floors. They have been converted into a hotel, named "Das Kleine Stapelhauschen." (That name, crudely translated, means something like "stacked little houses." The room rate was said to be from about 125 Euros down to about 75, with the rate decreasing the higher up the room was situated. Here is a link to a good photo of the place + the Cologne Cathedral behind it. http://davidrapp.org/SVAOLtrip/SVAOLentry9.html
mega1 (author) on August 20, 2010:
Thanks Jeri for reading and commenting. Good luck with your tiny cabin!
jeri on August 20, 2010:
Very interesting.I too am planning a tiny cabin and will be buying a piece if land next sprng to put one on.