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22 Tiny House Questions Answered in 22 Days With A Builder – Day 6

If you were here within the last week you know Aldo Lavaggi.

He built his own mortgage-free tiny house with solar power.

Just in case you missed it the last couple days…

We’re answering 22 tiny house questions in 22 days with a tiny house builder.

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Wall Framing for Aldo Lavaggi's Tiny House on a Trailer Project

Photo Courtesy of Aldo Lavaggi

22 Tiny House Questions Answered in 22 Days With A Builder – Day 6

Alex: In the past, have you ever thought you wanted a big house?

Aldo: I can appreciate a big house in its rightful place, but the notion that it’s somehow normal for each person/family in the world to own their own is very dangerous.

The idea put forward by economists that all seven billion humans on the planet should be able to have an American middle class lifestyle, is very dangerous and impossible.

The planet would not sustain that. That’s the bigger picture. But, more personally, I would not want the increased pressure of financing, paying more taxes, maintaining, landscaping, and cleaning of a large house.

Living in a tiny house will be lots of work, too. Except it consists of learning to live well in a tiny space and and creatively managing the perceived inconvenience that goes with it.

For now, I’d rather do that. The question is really not living big or small, but finding what is the perfect size.

In order to determine that we must experiment with different sizes. I am guessing that there will be an acclimation period for me, and what seems hard at first may get easier over time.

One thing is for sure. After living in a 100 square foot house, a 400 square foot house will feel large, even though it’s a fraction of what most people live in today. It’s the relativity game.

Learn more about Aldo at his blog www.goldthreadtinyhouse.blogspot.com.

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • John Mauldin March 18, 2012, 8:30 pm

    I have always had an affinity for tiny: tiny tree house as a young child, tiny garage apt. as a teen, tiny popup camper as a young adult. When grown, I first lived, at the age of 20, in a 4600 sq. ft. ranch, of which I lived in a very small area and did not enjoy the waste. I moved to midtown Manhattan and paid thousands of dollars each month for a place that was slightly less than 1,000 sq. ft. Over my lifetime, I have found that I spend most of my time outside, which is more enjoyable to me than any place indoors. When I am indoors, the actual space I utilize is small in relation to most traditional living quarters. I am grateful for public interest in tiny homes, it makes good sense. Esp. for the young, it makes no sense to saddle yourself with a 15 or 30 yr. loan. Too, it ties you down. With a tiny home on a trailer, you are free to have your own bed, your own bath, etc. while enjoying the freedom to live as many different places as you desire. All I can say is BRAVO! for all of you, young and old, that are discovering a new way to live.

  • Alain March 19, 2012, 2:54 pm

    Where do you park your tiny house ?
    Most states do not allow living in a trailer, unless you are in an approved trailer park, paying an average of $ 350 a month and right next to a bunch of other trailers.
    And you don’t really save money in a 120 sf house as opposed to a 400 sf house. Both have a front door, a few windows, a sink, a toilet, and some trim work. Heating cost about the same since there are the same amount of doors and windows.
    Ok… tiny houses are fun and can be cute. However, for the average human, there is a limit to downsizing. Anything below 400sf is just inefficiency of use of materials and labor, + why suffer in a cage ?

    • Alex March 22, 2012, 4:05 pm

      Thanks, they’re not for everyone that’s for sure

    • Michael March 24, 2012, 7:45 pm

      [WARNING: Rant mode STRONGLY engaged]

      “Where do you park your tiny house?”

      That is the magic question. You have to do a LOT of research to find out where you can park it legally.

      “And you don’t really save money in a 120 sf house as opposed to a 400 sf house. Both have a front door, a few windows, a sink, a toilet, and some trim work.”

      You do save on same quality materials to build and furnish it since the tiny house requires less. Yes tiny houses still do require many of the same expensive fixtures (toilet, sink, etc.) that a bigger house requires.

      “Heating cost about the same since there are the same amount of doors and windows.”

      And what about walls, ceilings and even floors? These let heat escape too. With the same built walls, ceilings and floors, you would lose the same amount of heat per square foot through these surfaces for a bigger house and a tiny house but since the bigger house has even more square feet of these surfaces,you will lose more total heat because of the extra surface area.

      “Ok… tiny houses are fun and can be cute. However, for the average human, there is a limit to downsizing.”

      True. You can’t build a house smaller than the person can fit inside of because it wouldn’t be a house. You have to find ‘A House Just Right for Me!’

      “Anything below 400sf is just inefficiency of use of materials and labor, + why suffer in a cage ?”

      Hearing this, I pity you. Where in the world did you get the 400sf figure? It is this type of thinking (and tax revenue) that caused many places to put minimum house sizes into place. Some places even have ridiculous minimums like 2000+ sq. ft. Why would 1 person need a 2000+ sq. ft. house?? This is truly an inefficient use of materials for housing. It should be about safe housing not minimum size.

      As for labor, as far as I know if takes the same amount of labor to drive a nail in a tiny house as it does a bigger house. A tiny house would require less nails and thereby less labor.
      One BIG advantage tiny houses have is their size. Lets take bathroom flooring for instance. Let’s say a tiny house needs 15 sq. ft. of flooring and a bigger house needs 60 sq. ft. We go shopping for flooring and find flooring we totally love for $20/sq. ft. With a tiny house you can afford the $300 but with a bigger house you are going to rethink how much you love that flooring for $1200. Also since a tiny house requires less materials you can check Craigslist and other places for small quantities of high quality (and high store priced) materials. Contractors that have small quantities of extra stuff left over after a job (and don’t have a future job that can use it) would rather sell it cheap than pay to have it hauled to the landfill. It is just good business sense. Since the quantity is small a tiny house could use it while a bigger house couldn’t. I personally believe the landfill is an inefficient use of building materials. What do you think?

      A tiny home is a cage?? Far from it!!! Because of their size, a tiny house will have the finishing materials a homeowner desires and loves. How many bigger houses do you see that have their walls covered in tongue and groove pine? I think it is beautiful and yes it is expensive per sq. ft but when you have much fewer sq. ft to cover you can get what you want.

      I would like to put forth that the bigger house is truly the real cage! Let me show you how a bigger house is a cage. A tiny house normally has more window area per sq ft. of house than a bigger house has. More natural lighting makes you feel better. It makes you feel less closed in (less like a being in a cage). A bigger house normally has a 15 to 30 year mortgage and a tiny house does not. This means you are CHAINED to the bigger house financially. Since the bigger house is bigger, you have to spend more time and money on maintenance (such as repainting it). It also takes longer to clean a bigger house especially ones loaded up with stuff that doesn’t get used that often (if ever!). If you have ever moved and found stuff you didn’t even know you had, you have too much stuff (yes I have had that happen to me in the past). If you are in a bigger house and have neighbors you can’t stand, you can pray they change or pray they move away. Very unlikely on both counts. You try to sell your house and move but the housing market sucks so the house isn’t selling so you stay inside your house to avoid those neighbors. Does the bigger house feel like a cage now? In a tiny house you would just figure out where you want to live next, make sure you can put your tiny house there legally and then move the whole house there. You don’t even have to pack! Everything you need is already in the tiny house!

      A tiny house is liberating! It helps free us to do what we love to do! You spend less time working to pay for your expenses and more time doing what you enjoy! A tiny house has enough room for our needs and some wants but keeps us from being chained to all the stuff our whimsical wants would bring in the house. This always makes me picture the average bigger house person as ‘Jacob Marley’ (from the story ‘ A Christmas Carol’) with chains dragging behind them hauling all their stuff instead of the lock-boxes. How many cars do you see parked in the driveways because the garage is full of stuff? They are chained to their stuff. Before a person in a tiny house buys something, we have to think about do we need it or just want it AND where will it go in the tiny house if we buy it. Quite often we don’t buy it because we really don’t need it while a bigger house person would buy it and then the item would end up stored in the back of a closet or in the garage in about 4-6 weeks.

      [Rant mode disengaged]

      I guess what I am saying is we have found out what is truly important in life and it ISN’T stuff!

      • George Lowry March 25, 2012, 6:29 pm

        Three cheers for you,,,I am retired with a bad back after many years of trucking,,,,I could use any ideas,,,,I have only so much money social secuity and a little in the bank and don’t know quite the right move…..I am now living – camping in my little truck,,and just went to Arizona to check out the snowbird idea,,This could work fine to camp and go south in the winter and camp,,so I’m wondering what the best idea is,,and want to stay with a small truck for fuel mileage,so thinking of a small trailer,,or a-frame or camper ??? I have no bils or family and I do love the road and I am am very evangelistic and love to tell people about Jesus,,to get rid of most things is very liberating,and wonderful I don’t even have or want t/v I do wonder how you find a wife ??? That would be nice Thanks George 360-953-2184

        • Liz March 28, 2012, 4:31 pm

          I love Jesus too! I want to have my own tiny house and I love to camp out as well as travel. I am 34 single and have the same purpose as you. I’m starting to realize that maybe I shouldn’t get a tiny house I love to camp out at Lake Tahoe and not sure if they would allow a tiny house their at the campsites. I would like to build my own I was hoping I could buy a shed made already and attach it to a trailer what do you think? Blessings! YOur sister in Christ.

      • Bill Rockhill March 28, 2012, 11:48 pm

        Mike my guess is you are not raising a family right now or maybe not even thinking about it now. Its good to see such “passion” towards “tiny ” efficient” living, I have run the full “cycle” of housing needs as a “majority” of the population goes through for example: when first leaving the nest you may go to college and a dorm room ( usually paid for by others ) not always just usually, next you come home or never left your room either with a sibling or not, then you might “break out” and move in with some “roomates” 4 to 6 guys and or gals renting a pad, this lasts till either you get tired of being woken up when you have to get up fo work or school or your roomamtes get tired of you doing it to them or you find your first cohabitant true love, now you two are working, we can get a place big enough for “us” and in the back of both your minds but not always said “the first child” maybe maybe not….lets just say it happens “junior” well junior sleeps in with mom and dad, then junior has a brother and the nest gets “bigger” and “bigger” as your work load and “lack of me time ” goes down, you decide “I want my own space” now the kids cant leave hell they are 2, 4,6 and 10…the space gets bigger, you need a garage , six bicycles, 5 kayaks, a big canoe you never get to paddle since you are working two jobs and your wife is going to night school….the kids grow up… maybe two boys in one 200 sf room 2 girls in another , your little home office piled with papers… and then you pray for them to go to college…..so “rant” all you want, you show us all how its done” ….Thanks Bill Rockhill

  • George Lowry March 29, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Liz,what a neat reply,Call anytime for prayer or interesting ideas,,I have built small cabins,remodeled house,etc.and have a lot of experience,I weld and have built car trailers,have trucked many years,,,,,,,Tahoe is one of the prettiest places around,in general the western mountain states are all I will ever need to see…The deal is,that these houses are great,but not at all for traveling with,too bulky,catch too much wind,and the tail could wag the dog,taking you into trouble,,,,My idea is to camp for free–boondock for a spell,until i find a partner,and then we will decide together what we want to do,,and then if we settle down,build a small cabin,,so for traveling,which I will do for awile you want to stay light and that would mean a small truck and casita,or other small trailer..A person could build a tiny -tiny house the size of a casita,,and a good way to go would be a gypsy design about 12-14′ long with mabee even a small tipout for a bed,,,,,God bless you girl George

  • George Lowry March 29, 2012, 4:27 pm

    Liz ,another idea I had was to build your own camp trailer by buying a cargo trailer,6’x 10 or 12′ and putting in what you want,they are generally 6′ inside,,but one thing I don’t like is the wheels stick out,making it 8′ wide and not the best for small roads…You go girl,,,don’t let anyone stop your dreams,,,,Want to be a traveling evangelist ???

    • Liz March 29, 2012, 6:39 pm

      My idea is to have a trailer that seems homie has lots of windows. I take care of this 93 year old lady for about 7 years live with her up in the hills of california beautiful view of the beach but I feel stuck in a cave. My desire is to not have a house but travel and if I ever get married I would want one child no more. Going to school online and almost gradutaing to be a preschool teacher. Right now I can travel when ever I want I plan on going to Alaska this yea and next love to fish. Sometimes I feel like I’m a man stuck in a women’s body but that is how God created me and I’m having fun and along the way tell people about the Lord on this wonderful adventure. When I go camping bymyself people can’t believe I am by myself and they invite me over for dinner at the campsite its funny. I love to go camping I love the trees and lakes so pretty! I am more of an outdoor person then and indoor person. Once my old lady passes away I want to be able to have my camper. The ladies family not sure if they would be okay allowing me to build a camper on their property but they only come once a month to visit her. If anything she is a part of my family which isn’t much LOL! I was thinking about going to San Jose workshop by tumbleweed not sure now that you have mentioned that these house are not stable enough to travel in. I could use ideas and I have enjoyed your so far. I don’t care to live with roomates anymore only because I have to move in and out which is such a hassle. And as I have said before brother 🙂 I LOVE TO CAMP!! WOO HOO! sorry I didn’t mean to get crazy just now:)Just to let you know I actually have sciptures on my car of Matthew 10:28 in big bold letter and then it a bumper sticker that says GOT JESUS? That is how I came to the Lord is I went to hell so, God uses my testimony to bring people to Him. Anyways, please bring me more of your smarty pants ideas please! I sure could use them. I also want to be able to build even just a camper if I could not sure how to do but please pray for me that God would direct me on what to do cuz He may not want me to build anything. May the Lord bless you!

  • George Lowry March 30, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Liz,I can tell you are a special girl,and one after my own heart,please feel free to call any time 360-953-2184,,,,,I am a lot older than you ,and now not a lot of money,but don’t have to work anymore,so since I drove semi-truck for a few million miles in the western states,that is what I still enjoy,so I think I will live in a small trailer that a small truck will haul,and boondock camp for free,,,I need to learn of more free spots,but did go to the Arizona-California border and found 14 day free camping and I go to senior centers for $3.00 lunch or McDonalds or whatever,,,I enjoy being outside all the time and love to talk about Jesus to whoever will listen…This place we live in now is not our home ,you know,,,I study lots of bible ,and revelation-things to come,etc. It is very interesting,,,,things could change for us anytime,,,we could be soon in a war with Iran,I don’t know,,but they sure are picking on Israel and that is Gods’ baby,,anyway I will consider you a fine friend and I pray right now for Gods’ perfect will and direction in your life,and that He will protect you as you journey through life,,,I pray for the right mate and timing in all these details,,,Bless you girl George

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