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9 Ways You Can Use a $200 Micro Shelter

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The filmmakers behind “TINY: A Story About Living Small” just visited Derek “DEEK ” Diedricksen, author of “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks“.

Derek has built several micro houses in his backyard out of reclaimed materials. In this video interview, Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith give you a glimpse into Deek’s world.

Micro Houses & Backyard Forts

What I like the most about small structures is all of the different ways that people can benefit from them. Many of the micro homes that Deek creates cost less than $200 to build.

If you’re willing to look around with an open mind, you can find lots of your materials for free as long as you have the time and willingness to look around and talk to people.

9 Ways To Use a $200 Micro Shelter

  • Backyard office
  • Children’s playhouse
  • Micro storage unitDeek's RelaxShacks Micro Cabins
  • Chicken coop
  • Micro Cabin
  • $100 Homeless Hut
  • Occupy Wall Street Shelter
  • Tree house
  • Micro camper

What are some other cool ways that people can use these micro houses? Share your ideas in the comments after you watch the video.

Photo Credit: Me

Video Interview with Derek “DEEK” Diedricksen

Length: 4:31

Source: Derek “DEEK” Diedricksen: Micro-Architect & Tiny House “Mad Scientist”

TINY: A Story About Living Small

Meet Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith, the filmmakers behind “TINY: A Story About Living Small”.

Plus I want to show you how you 1) help fund their documentary and 2) how you can can receive one or more of the following as a thank you for supporting them:

  • Access to the online premier of the film
  • Access to behind the scenes footage
  • DVD of the final product
  • An entire weekend in their tiny house

If you want to learn more go to their Kickstarter campaign. To watch a preview of their film, visit my post on their tiny house documentary.

Also check out Derek’s blog over at RelaxShacks.com. Last thing, before you go…

What would YOU use a micro shelter for?

What would you use one of these micro shelters for? Or do you have any other cool ideas other people can use them for? Comment about what you like about micro structures below.

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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!
{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Jo
    November 23, 2011, 2:43 pm

    We ALL may be living in one of these one day! I know, not that funny, but you have to find something to laugh about in these hard times!!!

    • November 23, 2011, 3:27 pm

      My hope is that people will use these ideas to create abundance in their lives at whatever level. If micro structures help the homeless I think that’s great. If tiny houses help college students and retirees, awesome. Thank you for reading Jo!

  • John Mauldin
    November 23, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Deek and I share a fascination with small spaces and the creativity that can be applied. It is almost like a canvas, just different media and dimensions.

    I am very glad to see he is doing something with himself in a field that offers so much promise. Keep up the good work, DEEK! JM

    • November 23, 2011, 3:28 pm

      Hey John, thank you so much for reading and leaving your thoughts!

  • Carl in SC
    November 23, 2011, 3:28 pm

    Good ideas from Derek if used as childs playhouse or small greenhouse, even storage. For a backyard office or getaway I’d want something larger than those micro units he has. Maybe 6 to 8 ft high and 8 x 8 minimum, with room for a desk and chair and single bed perhaps, but that might be considered a tiny house.

    • November 23, 2011, 3:58 pm

      Great ideas, Carl, me too… I’d need it to be a bit bigger for an office too. Thanks!

  • jim sadler
    November 23, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Probably the greatest of all struggles may rest in getting zoning laws and neighborhood associations to permit tiny homes. Whether on wheels or installed on a foundation this could be a huge issue in many places.
    Generally speaking if it works well and is efficient the system is always against you.

    • November 23, 2011, 5:05 pm

      These issues are what stop lots of folks from doing it, Jim. Especially because hardly anyone knows somebody who’s doing it. But the people who are and have done it, have found it to work in many areas, including communities. There are ways.

  • Jane Walker
    November 25, 2011, 12:42 am

    I wish every homeless person had one of these houses but where could they put them? I’d love to have one for a “get-away” in my back yard but it sure as heck wouldn’t be used for a Occupy Wall Street shelter!!!

    • November 25, 2011, 8:24 am

      Yeah, not sure where’d they put it either. In the woods, I guess… Until they’re “found”. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  • November 25, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the post Alex…. and yeah, finding a place to situate homeless shelters IS hard- as there are many liability issues- but not impossible. Again too, most people miss the parts where I explain, I guess, but these tiny shelters are mere examples or prototypes to show what can possibly be done with recycled materials, on ANY scale/size- I just don’t have the time/money/yard space to build full scale tiny houses each time. More recently, I have been working on a few more “traditionally” sized tiny structures- a few videos to come….thanks all- have a GREAT HOLIDAY too!


    • November 25, 2011, 3:27 pm

      Thanks, Deek.. As always, looking forward to your upcoming projects and videos. Have a great time w/ your family!

  • Danielle
    November 26, 2011, 8:18 pm

    Really cool houses. Art meets practicality! I would use one as a camper, my tiny car could tow it no problem as they are so light!

    • November 27, 2011, 10:29 am

      Yup, they make for a great alternative to a teardrop camper that just about any vehicle can tow. Glad you came by and checked it out, Danielle!

  • sesameB
    December 13, 2011, 2:28 pm

    Excellent. I love all of Deek’s work! This is the future, at least it is for me here in rural Arkansas.
    Derek, here is a true story from my files about a very close friend and mentor. She was the first squatter I ever met in my life back in the 1980s in Florida! She refused to live in a big house or any house!
    Homeless by choice
    Tuesday, February 13, 2001

    An American Beach original
    Mystical figure fights for history

    By Alliniece T. Andino Times-Union staff writer,
    She threads a wire through part of her dreadlocked gray hair to loop it up and around to the side. In the 1970s, Betsch moved to American Beach after she lost the Jacksonville home she inherited from her father. Betsch couldn’t afford the taxes. Any money she inherited she gave away to environmental causes, from land preservation to saving butterflies, a practice she continues. A trailer her sister bought her for shelter is the area’s Black History Museum, as the black marker lettering on its side proclaims. Betsch stuffed the trailer with pamphlets, books, articles and fliers until she no longer fit. “She likes nature. She doesn’t really want to be boxed in by a house,” said Thompson with a chuckle. “She’s her own person, that’s all I can say.”

    • December 15, 2011, 7:01 am

      Thanks for sharing SesameB! We love ya!

  • Gail
    May 23, 2014, 8:22 pm

    As woman of a certain age with physical challenges, I wish there was a class somewhere I could take to learn rudimentary construction skills. Back in the day, I attended an all girls’ school, so of course I didn’t have access to shop or anything like that. Although the nearby local high schools have continuing ed classes, they always seem to be computer related, or something like that; maybe no one teaches shop anymore.
    I would like to build a micro-house on wheels, with the most whimsical design I could find. I’d paint the interior and exterior with bright colors. Once done, I would fill the interior with shelves to load with books, and cover the floor with a bright carpet and knitted poofs.
    Once I had the shelves stuffed with books, I would hang out my shingle for “The Traveling Free Library Lady.” I might even get a bell, like the old ice-cream trucks used to have. On clear evenings, I’d drive through neighborhoods, ringing my bell. For practical purposes, I’d have to designate a stopping point within the community online, but the bell would be so happy. Once I’d reached the neighborhood stopping point, I’d invite readers in to select a book and leave a book, just like the Little Free Library program. If I got a lot of children, I could pull my rug out and have an impromptu story hour. While telling stories, adults might be able to browse the selection for adult books.
    This is obviously very small grassroots, only applicable to a couple of blocks at a time. Maybe it is too idealistic, and no one would come. But sometimes little dreams shared are lasting.

    • Barbara Mann
      July 11, 2014, 11:57 am

      Gail, this is an awesome idea, an awesome dream. And I don’t think it’s idealistic… people still like to read! Maybe you should start talking to libraries and see who would like to work with you on this. Don’t let go!

    • alice h
      July 11, 2014, 12:52 pm

      Have you ever read “Parnassus on Wheels”? I think you might enjoy it. http://manybooks.net/titles/morleychetext04prnsw10.html

      • Gail
        July 11, 2014, 1:44 pm

        Thanks alice h, I love Parnassus on Wheels, and had re-read it shortly before I wrote my original post. The novel makes it sound like such a fun life, but we all know the realities of running a bookstore.

        • alice h
          July 11, 2014, 4:21 pm

          Had a used book store for a few years, definitely a lot of reality to run into. I used to dream of having a double decker bus with living quarters upstairs and a bookstore café downstairs. I wanted to have bistro tables and chairs to place outside under a canopy or umbrellas and have tea and baked goods. It would also have sold incense and funky imported goods and craft supplies. Oh well. Other dreams came along and the opportunity never presented itself.

  • Sky
    July 11, 2014, 10:08 am

    Gail, I like your Traveling Free Library idea!

    • Gail
      July 11, 2014, 1:42 pm

      Thanks; I’m trying to find a street legal golf cart I can adapt.

      • Paul
        July 11, 2014, 8:51 pm

        Golf Cart? Street Legal?? Armour Gird!

        Yip, Praise the Lord and Hallelujah, hope ya have success… : )

  • Anthony McCarthy
    July 11, 2014, 10:51 am

    I love Deek’s tinkering and trying with maximal use of recycled, reused, repurposed materials and I like the funkiness of the results, though I’d need a lot more insulation at my age and in my climate. I’ve long wondered about people who have lived very long term in the tiniest of micro-homes. Any chance on some life style stories?

  • alice h
    July 11, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Some of these have possibilities for a sauna. I could sure use a mini workshop that expands with one of those fold-out roofs so you could work outside even in the rain. Or have a summer canning kitchen.

    Here in Vancouver BC we have a lot of laneway houses, usually more small than tiny. Maybe we could start having driveway houses instead, tiny ones like one of Deek’s structures, or other tiny houses on wheels. Get rid of the cars, put in more housing. The next step in infill housing?

  • Brian
    July 11, 2014, 3:38 pm

    The first thing that crossed my mind was these would make great shelters for homeless people. Would sure beat a park bench and give a homeless person somewhere to store their possessions. Thanks for sharing Deek

  • Glema
    July 15, 2014, 5:09 pm

    You do a fine job Deek thanks for sharing your works. For the scornful, it’s easy to preach from the armchair what life is about, now go out and live it?. hmm thought not. God bless us all. Happy Trails!

  • Michele
    July 20, 2016, 8:32 pm

    What if there were an organization in your community where landowners could volunteer to share a small space where someone could park their micro shelter…

    • Alex
      July 21, 2016, 1:47 pm

      That would be AWESOME! Zoning may still be a challenge but doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to overcome it. Go for it! Thanks Michele!

  • Mz. G
    June 15, 2017, 10:22 am

    Hi! Great content, on every level. Thank you. I’ve tried to reach Deek, there was trouble with my connection. I could really use a $200 mini while I build my dream tiny. An email for him would be appreciated. Also, I’m interested in his workshops. Where can I find the calendar of future classes? Thanks again for this priceless resource.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 15, 2017, 11:05 am

      I’m afraid I can’t get you in contact with Deek, but you can find out more about what he’s doing and his workshops here: http://relaxshacks.blogspot.com/

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