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Couple Builds Amazing Mortgage-free Modern Tiny House (Interview + Tour)

I’m excited to get to show you Andrew and Gabriella Morrison’s mortgage-free modern tiny house on wheels.

They’ve recently finished building it and I think you’ll find it’s very functional, spacious, modern, and unique.

I’ve also been lucky enough to get to interview the couple for you so we can all learn more about how and why they did it.

In the interview you’ll find out how much it cost them, how long it took to design and build, find out dimensions, square footages, and more.

You’ll also get to see their completed tiny home below along with the rest of the details on it in the interview below:

Amazing Mortgage-free Modern Tiny House on Wheels

See the rest of this micro house and enjoy the interview with the couple who built it below:

Interior Entrance

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Propane Fireplace with the Traditional Look

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Wardrobe Closet and Storage Underneath Staircase to Main Loft

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Main Loft Upstairs

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Dresser Drawers

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Entertainment Chairs in the Loft

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View of the Other Side of the Micro Home

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Lots of Built In Storage Cabinets

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Reading Nook and Dining Table that Double as Workstations

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Reading Nook with Storage

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Flexible Dining Tables Fold Down

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Convenient Access to Power and USB Ports for Laptops, Phones, etc.

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Bathroom with Shower

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Composting Toilet with Exhaust

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Bathroom Sink and Vanity

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Exiting Bathroom

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To the Kitchen (on the opposite end)

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Lots of Counter Space and Storage

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Cabinets and Beautiful Propane Range with Oven

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See this post for compact ranges and ovens that work great in tiny houses.

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Second Loft on the Other Side of the House (Above Bathroom)

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Loft with TV

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Great Spot to Chill and Look Outside Too

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Exterior of the Morrison’s Tiny House

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Images: Tiny House Build

Interview with the Couple who Built this Incredible Modern & Debt-free Tiny Home

THT: So what made you seriously want to build and live in a tiny house?

Around the time that the concept of tiny house living was introduced to us, my wife Gabriella and I were finally fulfilling our vision of the “American Dream”. By living in a beautifully appointed and spacious home in a highly sought after neighborhood, we thought that we had reached the ultimate pinnacle of success. Friends and family that came to visit called it an “entertainers dream” and congratulated us. The kids were proud to have their friends come over and there was an abundance of space for massive loads of games, toys, and entertainment areas. Trouble was, the longer we stayed in this large house, the emptier we felt.

Our “dream” home was heavy with burdens: 8-10 hours of cleaning weekly, embarrassingly high utility bills, and of course extremely high housing costs. Our dream was beginning to feel more like a nightmare that we wanted to wake up from. More and more we found ourselves needing to say “No, I’m sorry I can’t” to the kids when they would want us to join them in a game. Instead work awaited. We were unable to enjoy the house and our close knit family began to suffer.

Fortunately, right around that time we were introduced to the tiny house movement. In a very short span of time, our view on housing, living and the world transformed. To us it all made perfect sense and we became excited with the promise of a new way of living. We set out to discover what defines a home to US and cut our ties from the status quo. The kids (14 and 11 at the time) became excited about these new findings and were happy to have us be more available to them again.

The first order of business was to strip away as much as we could in order to gain perspective on what was truly necessary and what was just frivolous. This meant eliminating as much stimulation, commercial propaganda, social media, and material possessions as possible. Over the course of the next few months we sold or donated more than half of our worldly goods and put the remaining items into a storage unit. We took some very basic essentials and moved to Baja, Mexico for nearly 5 months with our 12 year old daughter (our son was now attending a college prep boarding school in Colorado, following his passion for ice hockey) and lived in a pop up tent trailer.

After 4 weeks of intense withdrawal from western culture, electronics, and social media, a transformation occurred for all of us. Beneath the layers of “busyness” that had haunted us our whole lives lay incredible joy, kindness, patience, and love. Although our living space was the tiniest we had ever had, we discovered the fullest and most rewarding life experience. Our image of what our new home would look like began to manifest and we became perfectly clear on what was essential for happiness and what actually worked against it.

THT: How long did it take you to build it? And did you do it all yourself?

I pretty much built the entire thing by myself from framing to electrical to cabinets, etc. I had Gabriella’s help on a few things, but the vast majority was built solo and it took 4 months with 8-10 hour days. I have been a professional builder for roughly 20 years, so that experience made the process easier/quicker than it would be for someone with no building experience.

THT: If you wouldn’t mind sharing, how much did it cost you to build it?

Don’t mind at all. We want to inspire others to jump into tiny living, and the financial cost of building tiny is a big part of that decision. Because we did all of the work ourselves, no labor costs are included in the following numbers. They are for materials only. To build hOMe with all the materials except appliances and cabinetry, cost us $22,744.06. The cost including all the cabinetry, appliances and everything you see in the photos (except for the mattresses and what’s in the drawers) was $33,089.72.

We think that’s a very reasonable price to pay for a home. If someone wanted to save money on this build there would be plenty of opportunity to bring that cost way down. The finishes and cabinetry we chose were medium/high end and we did not use any salvaged materials at all.

THT: What are the dimensions of the house including estimated interior square footage?

The house measures 8’6” wide and 28’6” long on the exterior. The interior square footage is roughly 221 SF plus an additional 120 SF of sleeping lofts. Our main loft is roughly 80 SF and our secondary loft, which we call the “Tiny House Lounge” (yes, we have a lounge in our tiny house!) is roughly 40 SF.

The headroom is great on both the lower floor and the lofts. We have roughly 6’3” of headroom under the lofts, 10’10” of vaulted ceiling in the main area, and 4’ 3” at the highest point of the lofts. I’ve gotta say that as a 6’ tall guy, I have not found any place in the house that feels cramped or uncomfortable. That was something I was worried about when designing the house and I’m very happy with the end result.

THT: How much does it weigh, do you know?

We have not weighed hOMe as we don’t have immediate plans to take it onto public roads. That said, we estimate the weight to be roughly 12,000 pounds. With two 8,000 pound drop axles, we are in the comfort range for that trailer.

THT: Did you create your own plans for it? How did you go about that?

We designed hOMe ourselves using Google SketchUp. I had never used the program before, so there was a bit of a learning curve. That said, the 3D aspect of the program allowed us to “walk through” the space and get a sense of how it would all come together. The time investment I made into learning the basics (roughly 4-6 hours) early on totally paid off. Gabriella and I went back and forth on the design and there were a few times that we had to start from scratch all over again because we were running into dead ends in terms of being able to combine everything we wanted in the design.

The primary strategy we adopted when designing hOMe was to enter the process with a blank slate. We did our best to empty our minds of preconceived ideas that we had learned over years of creating house designs. Rather, we approached the tiny house design from a “needs” stand point. We made a list of all the necessities that hOMe would need to fulfill in order to really feel like a permanent residence. On top of the obvious necessities (bathroom, eating area, etc.) this list also included stairs to our bedroom, ample space to have a functional home office, a full sized kitchen complete with full sized appliances, space for privacy and separation, a space that could easily accommodate our 30 pound terrier mix, and copious storage.

Finding space for all of these necessities was a challenge to say the least. Just when we thought we had managed to put the puzzle all together, we would realize that we had left something out. In those instances it was easier to just start the whole design process from scratch. A funny example of this was when I was so happy with the layout and when I showed Gabriella she asked “where’s the fridge?” I had completely forgotten to put the fridge into the kitchen…and THAT’s why there was ample room for other details that had not fit in the last rendition. So, back to the blank slate and then, one day, it finally all came together and the concept of hOMe was born.

THT: Where do you plan on parking it?

We have a spot on our property where we are currently parking it. The hope is that we have chosen the perfect spot; however, if we decide there is a better place, we will move it. We are big believers in not building a home permanently on the ground until we have spent at least a year on the property observing the cycles: wind, solar, storms, etc. That way, we can choose the best spot for complete connection to the land. This helps make a home as energy efficient and in harmony with the land as possible.

THT: Do you ever plan on traveling with it in tow?

We don’t have any plans of traveling with it at this point. We still have our pop tent trailer which is much easier to travel around with. Plus, we absolutely love our land so we have no desire to move hOMe anywhere.

THT: Where else can we find you and follow your progress online?

We have a website that documents our entire journey from before our time in Mexico, to our homesteading process, all the way to the actual hOMe build process. That site is www.TinyHouseBuild.com. We also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tinyhousebuilddotcom where people can visit, like and share our postings. We hope that our journey will help others and inspire them along the way.

One of our biggest passions in life is empowering the average person to build their own shelter. We have seen again, and again, and again that with the right information, resources, and a little encouragement that even those with no previous building experience can hand craft their dream home. Having been engaged in offering those resources since 2004 via 7-day, hands-on construction workshops and instructional DVDs, we felt it only natural to film hOMe’s entire build. We are in the process of editing that footage and will offer the full series in the coming months as well as the full set of construction drawings. We hope you’ll come by and visit our website!

***

Thank you so much to Andrew and Gabriella for taking the time for this interview and for sharing their simple living plans with us.

Related: Couple’s Tiny House They Built in 4 Months for $22k (VIDEO)

Resources

Related: Andrew’s TEDTalk on Tiny Living

If you enjoyed Andrew and Gabriella Morrison’s tiny home tour and interview you’ll love our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more!

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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!
{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Faith Alba February 22, 2014, 12:15 pm

    Can you send me a blueprint or a house plan of this?

  • Eroca Brawne February 22, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Outstanding design and use of space – really beautiful interior.

  • Lionel February 22, 2014, 3:26 pm

    A splendid experience. What a house! Congratulations to Andrew and Gabriella Morrison.

  • Dale February 22, 2014, 4:30 pm

    Well done – especially fond of the wheel over build to protect/hide those, kudos! Also, the interior layout is testament to a design well conceived for simplicity, bravo! I would like to see a fold up deck to be lowered on the entry door side. Please let me know when your plans become available – I for one love this design. Thanks guys for inspiring us all to become motivated further to our small concept goals. BTW… would you entertain the option to build for others? Thanks and congratulations on this build.

    • Andrew Morrison February 25, 2014, 1:39 pm

      Hi Dale. Thanks so much for your kind feedback. We thought about the fold down deck as well but decided against it for now. We will see what the future holds…

      Having been a professional builder for around 20 years, I have had a lot of fun building for myself and for others. At this point in time, I have committed to not building professionally again and have instead focussed my time on teaching others how to build. I believe I can inspire many more people through teaching than I can through building for them.

      • Fred October 12, 2015, 5:22 pm

        Wow what a beautiful home, my compliments. This is exactly what I had in mind as well for my own tiny home (minus the deck, of course…) I’d love to build this for myself if I could figure out where to put it somewhere in Northern Virginia.

  • Comet February 22, 2014, 5:36 pm

    Beautiful and well done! AND stairs! Which I am sure could be adapted for a railing—perhaps either a sleek metal one or a rope —I love rope railings!

    I have not overly been a fan of the clerestory window but it works here and I remember back to a house we had with them in the bedrooms and how we could place taller furniture in them—-You can fit a LOT more where you don’t have to plan around some window designs and placement! And they do bring in nice light—-

    And the price seems way more in line with what I would think—granted that this was–astonishingly!!!—home built. Helps to have that whole career as a builder here I guess!

    And the STORAGE! Finally some one who GETS IT–that we do not have to give up everything except one bowl to live simply! I would love to see more pics of how these storage cubbies are set up but judging by the stairs—I suspect they work very well and are planned to do so for a good long time.

    Hope to see more—–

  • Becky February 22, 2014, 7:48 pm

    This is by far the best layout that I have seen yet. Very very well done!

    • AL February 25, 2014, 2:49 pm

      indeed it is..i like it myself though, I would like to extended second loft a little further out but otherwise it’s perfect especially amount space for the kitchen is perfect!

  • Maria February 23, 2014, 7:25 am

    Are you living in Mexico now or are you in the US. Like the tiny house. You also stated that you have a main house,do you live in it or do you plan on renting it out while you live on the property.

    • Andrew Morrison February 25, 2014, 4:09 pm

      Hi Maria. We are back in the US. We have a couple small cabins on the land (104 sf and 120sf); however, hOMe is our full time home and the cabins are secondary to it.

  • JD Tew February 23, 2014, 7:26 am

    Terrific design and well executed. What I find more interesting than the house itself is the mental process you went through to get there. Very thoughtful and inspiring.
    I cannot find anything in the article on where your property is situated. Is it at the back of the lot where your mega house sits, or did you go find a piece ofd land in a different location ?

    • Andrew Morrison February 25, 2014, 4:13 pm

      Hi JD. We purchased a rural piece of land, roughly 5.5 acres outside of town. We let go of the big house before we went to Mexico a couple years ago.

  • gretchen February 23, 2014, 9:24 am

    Congratulations!! On homeschooling, getting back to the basics, and a beautiful house to boot! Love all of it You did a really nice job! I would live here in a heartbeat! Maybe you need to look into a new profession, Tiny homebuilding!

  • Linda Helgeson February 23, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Well planned!

  • Kenny February 23, 2014, 9:49 pm

    My Mom lives in Loreto Baja Mexico. She has incredibly cool retals, including 2 tiny houses for rent and a larger 7 person occupant one. I love it there! I plan, one day, to spend half the yr there as my arthritis makes PNW living hard in winter. I’ll figure that out in time. We gave a baby boy on the way. Love your place, nice design. So cool.

  • james February 26, 2014, 9:02 pm

    hi, this is a great article

  • Judi Ludewig March 2, 2014, 4:25 am

    So beautiful ,open, sleek, flowing, spacious, uncluttered design —-actual stairs (No ladder) lots of storage—Much thought and excellent planning—–I am so impressed—–Thank you for sharing—-Judi

  • Vickie Vann April 15, 2014, 10:00 pm

    What state is your tiny house currently in?
    THanks!

  • Aramis May 21, 2014, 9:01 pm

    If you were to chArge me to build it, can u help me?

  • Virginia Tolles June 16, 2014, 11:30 am

    Excellent allocation of space. Best one, yet! A little more square footage definitely helps, although it won’t be welcome on the road (Drats!). The only thing I don’t like is the open storage. I would not want to sit in my living room and see my clothes hanging in a closet.

  • gale porraa June 16, 2014, 12:44 pm

    The absolute best I have seen so far. Everything you need in a wonderful design. Even the stairs are doable for most of us. So much safer than a ladder. Great job guys!

  • Mo Lutz June 16, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Andrew –
    I’ve been looking at your home design for a while now. I’m getting ready to build a home very similar to yours.
    My main questions are:
    since I live in the north Georgia mountains, I need good insulation for summer and winter. What do you recommend?
    Also, are Plans available from you?
    Thank you!
    Mo Lutz

  • Dempsey Bird August 3, 2014, 10:33 am

    Good morning Andrew,
    We are very interested in doing a similar change in our life. However, we have kids and plan to have more. We saw you have the additional house for your daughter, can you show the inside of hers? What is her impression of this way of life?
    Thanks!

  • Bruce December 11, 2014, 11:54 am

    My Favorite… awesome use of space, stylish and a shed roof with the highpoint on the correct side. In a perfect world one day I will have a tiny home like this!

  • Jared January 13, 2015, 1:47 am

    My only concern left is my hobby/entertainment which is movies and sometimes video games, would it be possible to still watch/enjoy movies? The tv doesn’t need to be very big, I just would want a comfortable spot to watch it.

  • Carla Kelly February 4, 2015, 4:39 pm

    Just curious. You mentioned that your son is in a prep school. Where’s your daughter? It looks like just room for two.

  • Debbie April 22, 2015, 2:09 pm

    Great use of space. Love the wardrobe under the stairs and the kitchen. The reading nook is amazing. And the second loft as a TV room /den keeps the bedroom as a quiet space instead of a noisy spot with a TV.

  • Susanne April 26, 2015, 11:47 am

    What about taking out the little dividing wall out between reading nook and dining table, (losing alittle extra storage) to make the dining table longer for guests…and adding more padding so it acts as a couch? I am wondering if the couple spends more time up in the lofts when not working at the dining tables… This would mean wasted space in an already tiny area. Have a couch but also longer table to eat/work on and accommodate guests.

  • CJ May 17, 2015, 12:47 am

    I like your design but I am perplexed that your design is obviously made just for two people. The dining area only has two seats. I understand that your oldest is away at school but your youngest must surely reside with you, but there is no room for her. I did see on one site that you built an additional house just for her, but that isn’t exactly family living, although it gives parents more privacy. So… does this mean she has her own bathroom and living quarters? What is the combined living space of the two buildings?

  • Star June 20, 2015, 1:37 am

    Good idea, only for some. Lots of separation in that house, and straight up sitting; not that great. Got to be more comfort. But love the idea, just need better sitting areas.

  • Leila liauw October 17, 2015, 2:16 pm

    Muito interessante, formidavel para duas pessoas no meu caso….

  • Theo November 2, 2015, 8:59 pm

    Yet another sleeping loft, and more steps with no handrail.

  • Nanny M November 3, 2015, 11:49 am

    Wow, what a great kitchen! And clever dining table.

  • Gigi April 14, 2016, 9:40 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful photos and the interview. I applaud you, Andrew and Gabriella, for your rational approach to leaving the rat race and establishing a life on your own terms.

    What many of us forget is that not everyone can do this successfully. It takes a lot of introspection and the willingness to challenge our preconceived beliefs to be able to change our way of life. And, of course, not all of us have the building experience to carry out our dreams. Congrats on a beautiful build!

  • steven October 10, 2016, 4:56 am

    if your lucky ,there are some 7.5 mtr insulated containers around which can be modified into this style of home..I have one in my backyard..great money saver…I paid $2,500 aus..short by about 1 yard,but great project,and right price.shop around and you can buy these bulk..was selling here x 10 for $2k each..good little bussiness

  • ZACHARY E MOHRMANN October 13, 2016, 8:11 pm

    I have seen this one a couple of times but it is one of my favorites… It is also prof that it does not cost a fortune to have a beautiful house … I love it when I see houses like this built with cost in mind but yet with all the comforts need to get to calling it a home after you have moved into and added your touch, and still with out spending a fortune….!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie October 14, 2016, 6:58 am

      Yes! Tiny homes can be built inexpensively! — Tiny House Talk Team

    • Barnie November 3, 2016, 5:16 pm

      Ditto all around, Zachary. This one’s long been at the top of my favourites list too.

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