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Six Months of Tiny House Living: What’s Good, What’s Not-So-Good

We’ve travelled 2500 miles in our Tiny House in the last six months, staying put anywhere from 1 day to 3 months. It’s been a great adventure, and we’re getting ready to head north again as the weather changes. It’s hard to think that we’ve got to learn how to pack up for travel again, and slog slowly along the highway. Good thing gas prices are lower than they were last winter…


Pros and Cons After 6 Months of Tiny House Living

Guest Post by Jane Dwinell

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While it’s been mostly wonderful living in the Tiny House, there certainly have been challenges. Here are a few:

Challenges when Living in a Tiny House

The floor.  We chose to paint the plywood that would, in an ordinary house, be the subfloor. We made this decision to save on weight since we knew we would be traveling a lot. Initially, I primed the plywood and applied 2 coats of paint. That lasted about a month as we were building on the surface and banging around with tools, lumber, etc. When we were done with construction, I applied another coat of paint.

Now I’ve applied 2 more coats of paint (and changed the color — the beauty of a painted floor), and just a few days after the latest coat of paint, it is chipping away. I think it’s because plywood is rough and just the act of walking on it, dropping things, etc. makes the paint come off. It’s particularly bad in the places where we stand a lot — in front of the sink and the food prep area. We’re considering a floor covering now, but aren’t sure what.

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Room to do certain things. I love to do yoga and have managed to squeeze myself on the floor to do a few postures. But, that’s just it…. only a few. There are simply a whole lot of postures I can’t do in the space! I tried a free yoga class, but didn’t like the instructor. Since the TH is on a concrete rooftop, I’ve been reluctant to do it outside. I could go to the nearby park and do it on the grass, but I don’t think I want to be that public with my practice. I ride my bike, walk, and play disc golf instead.

My husband bought a portable keyboard as he loves to play the piano. It almost fits on our table when it’s opened all the way — well enough for him to play, but a little snug if I need to walk by. Then there was the storage issue. We thought it would fit on the storage area under the bed, but no. So I made a cover for it with a handle, and now it hangs on the wall. Not that attractive (I tried to find prettier fabric with no luck), but it works. (photo attached)

Our favorite board game doesn’t fit on the table either, but we play anyway. The person sitting on the couch is stuck for the duration of the game, so you have to plan ahead for bathroom breaks, needing things out of reach, etc. The fridge is pretty small, too, so that I have to go grocery shopping every 3-4 days. I don’t like shopping, and I prefer to go every couple of weeks, but that’s not possible. Luckily, in our current location, the store is 2 blocks away.

In the past six months, I have also been doing all the paperwork associated with being the executor for my mother’s estate. Finding a place to store the records, and finding a place to spread out to collate documents for mailing has been challenging, but doable. Using the printer means putting it on the stove, so I have to make sure it’s not hot, and I have to find a place for the teakettle and anything else that’s on it. Living in the TH is a juggling act.

Photo Credit Jane Dwinell

Photo Credit Jane Dwinell

Having the toilet and shower in the same room. We’ve done this on a boat before without problems, so it’s been puzzling to me that it’s more challenging in the TH. The composting toilet began to take on water during showers (the same one on our boat didn’t), so we have to cover it with a plastic bag during a shower. We have to mop the floor after every shower as the drain is raised just enough that all the water doesn’t drain out (but this keeps the floor clean…). And then there is the issue of what to do when one person needs to use the toilet when the other person showers…. :^). We’ve learned that you have to plan ahead when you want a shower to take all this into consideration.


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Storage. Some works, and some doesn’t. I can’t reach the top 2 shelves in the pantry/kitchen area. I have to stand on a chair (and even then I can’t reach the back of the top shelf) or ask my husband to get something. Annoying. The storage in the stairs to the bed are great… but… I can’t see what I’ve got and have to paw around to find what the clothes I’m looking for (they open from the top). Luckily, I can often find what I need by feel, but it generally makes a mess of things and I have to refold and repack much too often.

The storage under the bed behind the hanging clothes is working… sometimes. Sometimes I  get frustrated because I have to push back the clothes, move boxes off the top of boxes to get what I need. Luckily, the things on the bottom are not needed very often, and I tell myself it’s just good exercise to bend and move stuff. Our exterior storage shed works great… if you want to access the first couple of feet. If you need to get in the back, you have to climb in and then over whatever else is in there to find what you need…. all on your hands and knees, barely. Not my favorite activity.

The best storage we’ve got is the tool storage box we bought for the back of the pickup. Very easy to see, store, and access tools. Worth the price. And the storage under the couch has worked out well, too. Don’t forget your folding, all-purpose cart — it’s been invaluable for going shopping, to the laundromat, and to the trash and recycling bin.

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The instantaneous hot water heater. It works, but is temperamental. Even though we’ve “set” it to the temperature we want (113), the water runs anywhere from 105 to 135. We deal with it, but when you buy an appliance, you expect to work as it’s supposed to…..

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The Good Things

Easy to clean.

Easy to change the color of the outside (do you like it? photo attached).

It feels right, even though there are times I’d like a bigger space.

The windows, especially the ones by the bed.

The bed loft — so comfortable and cozy without feeling too snug.

The stairs to the bed loft — easy up, easy down, even in the middle of the night.

The fold-out table.

Our outside folding table and chairs.

Showing it to visitors :^).

Learning how to live in the space creatively.

Being able to be self-contained while on the road.

Knowing we’re doing the right thing for the environment.

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Jane Dwinell and her partner Sky Yardley, are retired, and live and travel in their tiny house. She is the author of Freedom Through Frugality: Spend Less, Have More, available exclusively on her website, spiritoflifepublishing.com. “Like” Freedom Through Frugality on Facebook for photos, tips, and adventures.

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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!




{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Cahow April 11, 2013, 10:46 am

    Dear Jane, I don’t know the circumstances of you and your husband being “On The Road” but I’m gathering that part of the mobile lifestyle concerns your Mum’s passing. My sincerest sympathy to you and all that you must do to close the estate. I’ve been there (15 years ago) and it is the saddest time of one’s life. 🙁

    I must applaud this article you wrote. I’m so very, very tired of myoptic views from zealots on EVERY issue out there from political candidates, gun control, organic vs standard food, or even micro, tiny, small or none of the above home dimensions. Have we all just reached a Zero Tolerance Policy for other people’s desires? I say “Bravo!” for tellin’ it like it is, and boldly admitting that it isn’t all “Tulips and Sunshine”, living in a tiny house. I honestly think this is the 1st article I’ve read where the person is truthful.

    There’s nothing on Earth that is 100% except death. Every decision is a constantly moving scale of Pro’s & Con’s and only the people directly involved can make the decision about which side of the scale to land on. Every idiot on the planet wants my job (architect) on a balmy sunny 72 degree day. NO ONE ever comes up to me and tells me “How lucky you are!” when it’s been pouring rain, we’ve got pumps running to clear the foundation and my crew and I are covered to our arm pits in mud! Likewise with a tiny dwelling: sure, there are those halcyon days of sippin’ that 1st cuppa coffee, watching deer stroll across your area that make the move worthwhile. But, there’s also instances such as you wrote about, that just make you wish for 20 extra square feet, for a bit more “wiggle room”.

    I enjoyed your candor and article, immensely. 🙂

    • Jane Dwinell jane dwinell April 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

      Thanks for your sympathies about my mom. We had planned to do this knowing she was nearing the end of her days, and she peacefully passed at 96 1/2 last fall after suffering from dementia for 2 years. Still a lot of work to deal with the estate!

      • Cahow April 12, 2013, 10:23 am

        Bless you for being such a loving daughter. You received such a grand gift of knowing your Mum for so long! What she must have seen and thought of her life after 96 years…wow! We should all be so lucky. 🙂

  • sunshineandrain April 11, 2013, 11:01 am

    I truly appreciate your detailed feedback about what hasn’t worked so well in your Tiny House. I may redesign my stair storage into stair drawers instead.
    It was also good to hear what is working well in your Tiny House. Great article.

    • Jane Dwinell jane dwinell April 11, 2013, 2:41 pm

      I’ve been thinking about whether drawers would be better or not. One of the nice things about the stair design the way we have it is that the 3rd stair, the deepest stair, can hold really big things — that’s where I have my big bag of yarn, and extra backpacks, etc. and extra quilts and blankets on the other side. I wouldn’t want to lose that space. But a side-entered clothes place might be good. Do think it all the way through, though, because I’m not sure how you could do it without losing other valuable space.

      • Ann Seeton April 13, 2013, 2:05 pm

        Have you considered looking at some of the ancient furniture designs from the various asian cultures? Some of them had some amazingly efficient small space huge storage pieces of furniture. I saw a chest of drawers (Korean I think) that doubled as stairs but were free standing.

        I’m still working out how to do full time in 36 feet long with small children and two dogs. Hubby suggested adding a trailer large enough for a small car, storing things in duffle bags in the car when traveling, building in upper cabinets and when the car is out, toss the duffles into a corner, and it becomes a workshop.

        I’m not so sure about driving an RV with a trailer that big added.

        • Susan in California April 13, 2013, 4:25 pm

          I believe you are thinking of the Japanese tansu chest, which has steps with drawers built in. One of my favorite fantasies…

        • Ralph Sly June 28, 2013, 7:53 pm

          Susan, I hauled a 35′ trailer with my 32′ RV for a bit and it was OK but I have driven tractor trailers for a living and have hauled many things. If your comfort level is not there, don’t take the chance. The difference is that this is your home, belongings and family in one spot, “most precious cargo”.

  • Jerry April 11, 2013, 1:00 pm

    Thank you very much for posting this article. It’s great to hear that even though it’s not perfect, you are still enjoying living in your tiny house!

  • David April 11, 2013, 2:46 pm

    I don’t know it the article writers can read these or not but, We are going to be painting our sup flooring too. However we are planning on putting a clear coat of the garage floor epoxy over it once it is dry so it will virtually last forever.
    the best thing is if you know how to paint a floor you will know how to put down the epoxy.

    • laurie April 11, 2013, 11:39 pm

      yes about the epoxy. I checked a book out from the library on how to paint floors and they said it would take 2 coats of a very durable epoxy to stay put. I’d tried to paint a floor before to no avail and my grandmother had painted stairs in her house and one set was fine and the other the paint kept coming off of. I’m guessing one set had a coating and one didn’t. Grab a book from the library on painting floors.

    • Ann Seeton April 13, 2013, 1:58 pm

      If you paint a floor use polyurethane coatings on top to make it stay really well. Hubby used to build cabins and would mark the floor plan on the subfloor then urethane it. No errors on where walls went–ever! AND the owner got to double check their floor plan before the walls went up. I think it might be fun to do a floor this way with colored stains and make a nice “tile” look then urethane it and go.

      • Cahow April 13, 2013, 4:38 pm

        Please, Ann, give yourself and your husband a BIG “Thank You” for this>>”Hubby used to build cabins and would mark the floor plan on the subfloor then urethane it. No errors on where walls went–ever!” Absolutely brilliant concept and I plan on using it on my next project! Many humble thanks to you for passing that knowledge along; I’m sure it can benefit so many people. <3

      • Ralph Sly June 28, 2013, 8:57 pm

        Go figure, such a simple thing others just don’t think about, thanks for sharing. I have laid scrap 2x4s down screwing them into place and used them to temporarily brace walls and got a feel of the floor plan that way but this idea is neat when the space is bare. I do not frame interior walls with 2 x 4s if I can get away with it. I use plywood sheets, ¼ to ½ inch depending on the use and purpose of the wall, and anchor them with 1” baseboards and ceiling trim. Heavy use of cabinetry, and built in furniture makes good side bracing and storage. Of course, this will not work on very long free standing walls but I am not building long walls anywhere in a TH. 2 x 4 framing everywhere takes more room than you think; you can gain 6” to a closet and bathroom. Router door and passage way frames and inlay walls into them helps as bracing also. I am generous with a calking gun and screws, pocket holes are fantastic and a lot stronger than you might think. I seen this concept used in Australia many years ago on house interiors and one might think it would shake apart in a mobile unit but the a cube van with a 8×18’ box where I did this built in held up as well as 2×4 framing. 15 years and lots of mile, I saw the guy who owns it now in Bellville Michigan a few years ago and he is happy, no rework on the interior being tied in so well. We used the same concept on an office trailer and it worked well but the office trailer didn’t get the mileage the truck did.

    • Erik Markus April 13, 2013, 10:44 pm

      painting & epoxy ? (interject a picture of the kid from home alone, hands on cheeks, eyes and mouth agape)

      These substances aren’t even safe to use in a typical stuck-to-the-ground house or commercial structures because of the off-gassing. It doesn’t stop off-gassing when “it dries”.
      In a small space the gasses are more concentrated.

      In a tiny home or tight space, you want to keep things as natural as you can, for your own health and comfort.

      I would have liked to put down a painted floor, or finished wood floors as well. Maybe even c-a-r-p-e-t. AHHHH.

      It depends a lot on how you use your floors and what your willing to do to keep the floor clean.

      For example: I only wear socks or slippers in the house. Outside shoes always come off at the door. I don’t have pets that will track anything inside. As a result my floors receive little DIRT, other than house dander and dust, I rarely spill anything, vacuum once a week, and have no children. They do receive typical wear from being walked on.

      I have a 3/4″ plywood subfloor. On my walls I used 1/4″ thick, 3 1/2″ wide, solid pine, wainscot profile, wood.

      I used the same material on the floor, only I turned it over and used the back side. It’s tongue and groove so it stays together at the edges. The entire floor is covered like this and each board comes 8′ long. The house is like 7’4″ on the inside so it is convenient to go a full board wall to wall.

      I did NOT install them to “last forever” . They aren’t glued down. They aren’t strategically stapled so that “those babies aren’t going anywhere”.
      They are held in place with a flat head, copper color wood screw, pre-drilled and there are about 3 screws in each board. Just enough to keep them in place.
      If I ever need to remove them, I can simply unscrew them and take them up, one by one without damaging them or making a toxic mess.

      I didn’t seal these board, I didn’t paint them. They are natural.

      In some areas I have natural cotton rugs over the floor.
      Other areas are simply cotton sheets.
      In the kitchen bath areas I have these foam squares that interlock at the edges. They are like yoga mats and made form recycled milk cartons. You can buy them usually in packages of 6. It is so nice to have that cushion under foot.
      Also, with “portable” flooring it’s easy to move or change OR if it gets dirty, take up and wash. With the squares in the kitchen, a few times I have had to take up a square or two and, in the bath tub, scrub it down and rinse it off.
      Frankly, I thought the pine wood wouldn’t hold up, but it has been great.

      It just depends on how you use it.

      If you have pets that you let run outside and don’t wash their feet when they come in, if you have frequent spills or kids, or like to wear hard sole shoes in the house, or entertain a lot with people you wouldn’t ask to remove shoes…. you may have a different situation. Different needs. You will need a surface that resists stains and does not wear as easily. Pine is a soft wood.

      I recommend, for most anyone, regardless of the type of home, Think modular ANYTHING.

      Carpet tiles usually 22″ square, thick no-glue vinyl tiles (2’x2′), floating wood floors that can be removed with out mess, ceramic tiles that sit in place with special spacers and aren’t glued down. Even wide barn boards that can be put down with only a few screws and will hold up to heavy wear.

      Floors get the dirties wear and tear in a structure. Never believe any product that says it “will last FOREVER”. Never install a product as if it will. Expect a flooring product to need to be replaced in say 5 years and if you get more life, be grateful.

      There was once a time (1930s or so) when asbestos was advertised as the miracle substance for all kinds of products. People were buy linoleum laced with asbestos and glued that stuff in place. Well, where is it today? If it had been SET in place, one could carefully roll it up and remove it. If its glued down, you have a hazmat situation.

      Don’t let your tiny home become a toxic dump. You’ll have to breath the results.

      • jerryd April 14, 2013, 12:05 pm

        Erik, your comments on epoxy and paint while could be right, in most cases, not so much.

        There are many epoxies that are fine without outgassing as they cure, not evaporate to harden. The ones I use mostly are made mostly of peanut oil for instance.

        Most paints are radically different now with the EPA rules they are far less toxic as they use to be.

        If you have a paint problem there are many less toxic ones available but most are not a problem if done right.

        If you have tiny house you better have ventilation enough to solve any outgassing and the many other chemical build ups that can happen from so many other things including natural ones including cooking.

        And anytime you do painting, etc you need to heat it up then air it out until any gassing is done before use. But to say no to paint is rather phobic.

        After the talk of outgassing, etc and then talk about putting in carpet!! Carpet is the dirtiest, nastiest, germiest and outgassing king!! Even without the outgassing carpet traps everything and can’t really be cleaned leaving a germ/dirt/etc layer breeding there. I use to install carpet but stopped and rarely use it other than spot rugs that can be taken out and cleaned often.

        Try to learn the real dangers and how to lessen the affects of others. But make sure your facts are correct before educating others with misinformation.

        Though I’d love to know where you get the 1/4 thick wood boards with V groove edges? I could use a few hundred of them in many ways.

        • Erik Markus April 14, 2013, 3:42 pm

          All paint comes with warning labels.
          I have learned about various paints and epoxies. I’ve applied numerous types. Oil based and latex. I’ve painted cement floors that required several steps just to prep the floor with acid. I’ve learned the importance of priming wood before painting, the importance of moisture content, and knowing what paints can be mixed with others, and which ones can’t.

          If a person is painting walls and floors and later changes their mind, its hard to remove that surface without creating a mess. A painted piece of furniture, for example, can easily be moved outside if its found to be a problem. One can’t do that with a wall.

          I encourage people to choose carefully the potential toxic components in a space that should be well insulated, well sealed, and is less volume than a commercial space or typical house.

          As for the wood, you can find that a typical home improvement store. Typically sold in packages of 6. Pine wainscoting.

        • Erik Markus April 14, 2013, 3:46 pm

          I agree with you on the carpet thing, too.

          When I had rental properties and was building several typical stuck-to-the-ground houses, I can’t tell you how many yards of carpeting I ripped out and had installed. It makes me want to puke that awful smell and all that waste.
          It’s kind of old habit, kind of thing.
          There was a time when carpeting was associated with luxury. I’ve since learned and would not go back to that.

  • Susan in California April 11, 2013, 6:02 pm

    I, too, appreciate your comments. I keep mentally designing a tiny home for myself and always think that they are best for one individual. One problem for me would be room to exercise, which is not optional but mandatory. I like the idea of either storage stairs or bookshelf stairs. It seems to me that adopting this lifestyle requires a few other changes which folks don’t always consider, like those put forth by the ZeroWasteHome bloggette, Bea Johnson. One thing is to radically downsize one’s wardrobe. I have done so. Another is to radically downsize one’s kitchen, cooking style, and activities. Those of us who live by computer can manage a few compact external drives for books and movies and work and photographs. Exercise DVDs, for instance, go well on those. But the sewer in me struggles to downsize from everything in the world, to projects as one category and clothes for me as another. That’s where the rubber would have to meet the road. But it is possible. Yarn, however, takes up a zip code of its own. Fabric can be flattened and beaten into submission…
    Re: departing parents, my own mother passed away just prior to Hallowe’en in 2012 at 97 1/2, after a couple of years of dementia. The estate is still not settled but I have stellar financial advisor and accountant and estate lawyer helping. I only have to maintain a box or two of records, and many of those could be put in digital form.
    Enjoy your travels in the real world while I continue to dream!

    • Erik Markus April 13, 2013, 11:04 pm

      Depending on how your going to use your tiny house, where your going to be (park or private property), and depending on the climate,
      When it comes to exercise space consider a free-standing, 3 sided, $100 canopy for your yard.
      I saw a 20′ by 12′ model at the grocery store yesterday for $79. I thought yeah. It doesn’t look like a typical tent. Soft ground underfoot would be a natural cushion. It could hold some equipment and be protected from most weather. Its private, it’s pretty close to nature “right in your back yard”.

      If your in a typical house now with yard, you can try that out.

      • Susan in California April 13, 2013, 11:46 pm

        Good advice, however am in a house with no yard at present and not all workouts are good for outdoors/grass. Would probably have to switch to all yoga or pilates and free weights, and just to walking for the aerobic benefits.

        I have noted some small house designs where they are getting closer to having enough area in the ‘great room’, after moving things aside or folding down, that exercise would be possible. I’m an old lady, so the rest of the world doesn’t want to see me huffing and puffing…

  • alice h April 11, 2013, 6:16 pm

    For fabric stashes, bedding, out of season clothes,etc those plastic bags you pack then vacuum the air out of are amazing at reducing the amount of space needed. Also keeps the damp out of things. There’s also a version designed for travel that you pack then roll tightly to get the air out. Makes a huge difference.

  • Trudy Mowell April 12, 2013, 11:26 am

    I have enjoyed you comments on the pros and cons small living. We are considering downsizing and living in our 5th wheel for extended periods of time. We currently live in the Midwest and want to enjoy the sunshine of the south in the colder months. We have done it successfully for up to 3 months before and was pleased at how much stuff we can live without.

    • Meg & Joe April 13, 2013, 11:36 am

      I live in a tiny house too, and most of the problems you list are design issues. I have been in my home for almost a year and a half and I can honestly say I don’t have the issues you do. In fact I can no longer see living any other way. Just to let everyone who is on the fence about living in a tiny house that it has changed our lives for the better in every conceivable way.

      • Maggie August 5, 2013, 12:23 pm

        I’m in agreement. Many of these things are design issues.
        I’ve been a designer for 20 years now.
        I’m thinking that a different tiny house design would have been better than this one for you. The tiny house I’m designing will not have the issues your listing.
        Thanks for your comments.

        • Elena June 14, 2014, 7:02 pm

          Maggie,
          Do you have a website pls? I’d be interested to get in touch with you later when I am ready to build my TH. Thanks!

        • Maggie June 14, 2014, 8:08 pm

          Wow this is a post from a long time ago. I do t have a website but I have a blog about my tiny house. tinysaga.blogspot.com you can contact me through there.

  • Ann Seeton April 13, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Awesome report on the pros and cons. Thank you! I’ve been practicing in our home for when I am no longer in a large house. My office, music room, craft space, workshop, sewing room are ALL in one bedroom. Except for cooking and doing dishes and laundry, and sleeping, nearly every activity I have is in this one room. Eventually we’ll be in a 36 foot RV with many things stored until we settle on a new home base. The BEST part of this experiment is that my choice of furniture has changed and I can actually make things work– provided each project has a bin and so the work space is cleared after each session and the next project has someplace to go. Right now, I am sorting children’s things to send my granddaughter stuff my youngest daughter has outgrown. So sewing is in bins on the shelves– really a juggling act and fascinating what I find works and what doesn’t.

    • Erik Markus April 13, 2013, 11:08 pm

      Good for you.

      For items that we keep because of the memories. Try taking several pictures of the item and archiving the pictures. It’s amazing how having the picture can connect with our memories without having to actually possess the physical item. Also, pictures neatly stored on your computer are much easier to access anytime you want.

  • jerryd April 13, 2013, 5:55 pm

    To lower fuel costs you might want to put 2′ dia quarter rounds on the front side edges and roof likely save you 2-3mpg from lower air drag.

    For those wanting more see this. It applies to trailers too.

    A Reassessment of Heavy-Duty Truck Aerodynamic Design …

    adaptiveaerodynamic.com/NASA/88628main_H-2283.pdf · PDF file

  • Callie April 13, 2013, 7:32 pm

    Regarding the instant hot water heater. If yours is like mine, it doesn’t heat to the temperature you set it to, but adds to the incoming cold water until it’s at what you set it to. BUT you set how much it’s going to add. Which means that if the incoming is cold, the additional x° doesn’t get it as warm as you like, and if the incoming water is warmer, it might get too hot. I have to change my settings for winter and summer, as the water changes enough that if it’s nice in the winter, it’s too hot to stand under in the summer.

    • Erik Markus April 13, 2013, 11:11 pm

      Also, the flow rate through this type heater will affect how hot water gets.
      So, if you can cut the flow say in half, the heater will have more time to heat the water. It’s all split second, but it makes a difference in a case like this.

      • Callie April 14, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Oh right, I forgot how much trouble I went to in order to find a shower head with a 1 gal/min flowrate. I got mine at Bricor:
        bricor.com/products/b100-max-1-gpm-shower-head/

        Finding 1.5 isn’t hard any more but I bought a smaller water heater than could handle that much flow and still have time to heat the water.

        It was suggested that you could slow the flow rate by installing aerators (which is what I did on my kitchen sink) or maybe there’s some kind of washer you insert?? (I can’t remember now.)

  • Peter April 13, 2013, 10:49 pm

    When I put in a new stairwell to the new basement under my 120+ year old house, I used the leftover epoxy concrete floor paint on the plywood treads on the stairs. This was back in 2006 and the treads are just starting to show some wear. Porch paint is also a good choice as I have used that on the floor of the front porch and I have only painted it twice since 2006 and will not need to for another two years.
    Thank you for the update on how it is going with the tiny living experience. It is giving me some ideas and prompting me to give the little things more thought.

    • Erik Markus April 13, 2013, 11:16 pm

      If your wood floors are in a dry area, I wouldn’t paint them.

      Think about it this way, a wood floor is going to wear as it gets walked on.
      When you walk on a painted surface little bits of that paint wear off. It doesn’t just disappear. It turns to dust or it can become air borne.
      If it were only a wood floor, some of the wood will wear off and either become small particles or become air borne.

      Which would you rather breath?
      Petro chemical paint dust
      OR
      natural wood dust?

  • James June 28, 2013, 5:24 pm

    I understand the need to pare down and live within your means but I don’t see myself wanting to be confined in such a small space. I love the idea and think it would be great for travel and camping trips, it’s just not something that I would like to live in full time. I’ve become very interested in alternative building techniques like cord wood masonry, straw bale construction, earthships, etc. Lately, I find myself drawn to this companies products, i.e., Ameribuilt Steel Buildings : http://www.ameribuiltsteel.com

    My parents took a steel building (just a regular shed except a large one) and polished and stained the concrete floors before sealing them. They build in two full bathrooms and a large open concept kitchen. They framed in the steel building with 2×6 boards and used expandable foam insulation once they wired and plumbed everything. Their “attic” runs the entire length of their home and they decided to deck over their insulation and use it for storage. The home has three bedrooms and is very open and roomy. They built it for pennies compared to what a conventional home is built for and it’s more durable and better built. They incorporated solar panels on the roof and can run entirely off of solar power but they have conventional power along with a propane generator as backup. They have their own well that is pure and also the water gets softened and also filtered using reverse osmosis. They have enough land that they can and have built other out buildings to hold other stuff like mechanical projects, etc. as well as the tractor, etc. They plant a lot of their own food and can and preserve all summer long in addition to enjoying the fresh produce.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that you don’t have to live in a small building such as the tiny tumbleweed designs to enjoy freedom. Just don’t buy into the scheme that you have to buy a $100,000+ home and finance it for the rest of your life. There are multiple ways that you can build an efficient and safe home for relatively cheap and also enjoy having more room.

    • Ralph Sly July 1, 2013, 11:14 am

      Smart parents James and it looks like their example paid off. I am an entirely different person today than I was in the world of business and commerce. I didn’t have the foresight your folks had while inquisitive to alternate things and did play with many ideas, my, in city business and lifestyle with 4 children coming and going meant purchase the neighborhood house and hit the understood norm of life renting shops and storage space, turn up thermostats, flick on as many lights as it took to illuminate a small village and flush away.

      Many of us without your parents intelligent have, as I tried to describe to my son, evolved into this reasoning and things like health, age, social requirements sometimes motivates us in this direction. It is then when we figure out things like comfort level, size and design for the period it will be used. If I was in this at a young age, the trailer or things I cannot use today would be a no brainer, yep lofts, yep, clambering and cramping a bit. I am not going to now, put myself into something I have to give up if I get a little feebler in time.

      I did, through the advice of my much loved father followed one piece of advice. I never, in my home life, lived up to my income in house and vehicles. Fortunately that is occurring with my children, they can afford much more than what they presently have so can roll with any downfalls life may hand them without disrupting the place they call home. This attitude is what, ironically has given me the opportunity I have today. I purchased this when it was literally pocket change and dimes and nickels to hold on to. In my situation without ownership now it would be far out of my reach. Exploring the attitudes of the free open thinkers involved in these websites have also brought my focus onto the environment, the Lords creatures, hell, a host of things I have become totally enthralled with. (I measure waste water, go figure)

      Your reasoning and that of your parents is dead on the money, to me anyway. It’s all levels of abstraction. And now that this fat kid knows, dead fall apples draw bears into this little area, the dead falls will now be removed and I might just save a bear from getting shot, not like the one last year which I probably was partially responsible for through human ignorance.

  • Ralph Sly June 28, 2013, 7:38 pm

    Jane, you are an absolute lifestyle saver for many, especially those who have no experience in scaling down to live this way. This was a fantastic post and I thank you. Everything I ever learned goes right out the window when doing another dwelling and have applied the original method of stand back and consider everything, trying to remember which one really ticked me off, out of the situation they don’t seem too annoying until you are living it again, oh ya, like that works. On this build I have the fortune of staying in a one man pop up truck camper and it helps brings things to reality. When I started, I assumed I would have the same room as before at this location but have to rethink the entire situation now (complications) so I imagine this winter will just be a make do situation for me. If so, I have lots of room and am almost looking forward to it. I am also building for two, being an optimist LOL.

    Someone mentioned his mother told him to build from the bathroom out. Not so foolish of her. I have the benefit of doing just that here because there is no rush and can take all the time I need once we figure out what is happening with the rest of the building but I really don’t want more than 250’. No one will hit perfection because there will always be room for improvement but you gave some good hints on the reasons to really think it out. We are all just too creative.

    My condolences re your mom, mine is 92 and also now living with dementia it’s good just to call and hear her voice now. She isn’t the sassy old broad she always was but still Mom.

  • Glema June 30, 2013, 12:16 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope on the TH living style. I have just a question or two and a comment or two by way of suggestions to help with the flooring and storing situations.
    I am not an engineer however there are plenty who read these blogs so maybe one can tell you how to do the following. I just thought of the idea from watching the clothes go in circles when I was at work with mom as a kid in the dry cleaners business. Q. How about fashioning an oval style track on the underbelly perhaps on a wooden type underbelly of the bed. With hanging style hangers that fit in the tracking like the dry cleaners? It may be a smaller space however, one might fashion it to be used with a bit of batter/solar energy as the electric provider and be able to easily “move” the clothes so you can reach other storage centered in the middle of the oval track. Just a thought, the engineers would have to tell you how. But it’s a thought. Space bags clipped to hangers with clothespins and placed on the track would further the space saving idea.

    Suggestion for flooring or other wood… how about Thompsonswaterseal.com
    we used it several times works great on wood, cement, etc. we even put it on our driveway after the cement dried when living in Navy Housing so the drive wouldn’t pick up oil spots etc. worked great! Sand the floors to clear the paints, vacumm it up and you can put Thompsons in one of those empty sprayers for insect killer instead of insect chemicals and spray evenly across your floors or walls. Air it out a couple days for drying and we never had any problems with gasses or anything. no worries on leaks or spills on a water resistant surface?! Just a thought. I like the natural look of wood perhaps you don’t who knows.
    I saw on a murphy bed site a great lift the bed understorage situation you might try as well. for the shower and toilet try repositioning the nozzel to face the wall behind rather than out of the shower and put the shower curtain opening toward the outer end of the shower rather than the middle of the area that leads the rest of the bathroom? If you have difficulty with it, you could fashion a shower curtain holder simply enough with a hula hoop attached to the ceiling. That is of course if you don’t have yours made to stay the way it is. I would plug the leaks, even at the leaking entry it will cause wood rot so I would spray that area as well with the Thompsons, it could help.
    God bless and keep you and yours always, take care. Wish I was able to be in a TH now but one day , one day. And thanks to you and those of you who write, I might even be ready to live in it by the time I get it designed and built. HEHEHE!

  • Dawn July 4, 2013, 1:22 pm

    It’s very refreshing to read an article that tells the ‘dirt’ of it as well as the ‘daisies’. My husband and I tried living in our small rv for a while this year and there was a lot of ‘dirt’ from the arrangement. We wanted to see what we actually ‘needed’ and what we could live without, especially when it came to the amount of space. We learned a lot. Granted, an rv is just not intended for a long stay, as it’s just not insulated well enough, nor does it have the closet space needed for the basics. But it has given us a very good idea of what to draw up for our own tiny house. And I agree, flooring is a tough decision, as durable is a definite need and weight is very important. There is a very nice linoleum product out there that comes in strips and looks like hardwood and is very durable. It just may be what you’re looking for. Good job on your article. I enjoyed it very much. Dawn

  • Ralph Sly July 4, 2013, 7:24 pm

    Years ago, friends of mine converted a Flyer Bus, cut the top off and added 9″ of head room, the whole ball of wax and not a dime spared and they could afford whatever they wanted. Rick was very eager to have everything perfect. Shirley gave in to a one year trial. This was huge and had more amenities than the average home, tons of storage and closet space. He said, she will have nothing to complain about. Well, she din’t complain, at all and at the end of the year he had to haul her out of it kicking and screaming. He couldn’t do another night and I think felt like burning it to the ground, he had no problems with anything he built in, but it certainly was not a life he could live. Shirley could have spent the rest of her life in that bus. Rick was a Flyer fanatic, consummate builder, loved to travel, avid camper but it just goes to show, not everyone can do this on a full time basis. Shocked me.

  • Alex June 14, 2014, 8:52 pm

    Not sure if anyone mentioned this… and it’s really too late anyway since you have already painted the floor. Most floor paints should not call for primer under them… read the label. I have painted floors in half my house and it sticks and lasts very well when no primer is used. Cheers.

  • Brian June 15, 2014, 12:15 am

    The problem with water entering the toilet when you shower is easily solved. Hang a nylon shower curtain from the ceiling to the floor in front of the toilet. Pull it across when showering. The water from the shower will cling to the nylon curtain and run down to the floor missing the toilet. My Winnebago has this system and it works like a dream and you never have to sit on a wet toilet seat either. Nylon dries very quickly also.
    Cheers from Australia

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