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Bob and Susan’s Tiny House


This is the story of Bob and Susan’s Tiny House!

It’s how they ended up building a Tumbleweed tiny house of their own and why they built it. So here it goes… Enjoy!

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Bob and Susan’s Tiny House Story and Tour (Exclusive Interview)

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Our goal is to create a Tiny House Community for people in need of housing by connecting with people in our area interested in the project. The next house we build will be smaller and less expensive, designed for someone who doesn’t cook as much as Susan!  It will also be easier to transport so it can be used for demonstrations. Once people experience a tiny house, it is the best education. Building tiny houses and establishing tiny house communities is a local way to help people in need of affordable housing. Especially on a cold night in January in Massachusetts, I feel great empathy for people without housing. Stay tuned for an update on our next chapter.

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One of my favorite design aspects is the open staircase that Bob built from a photo on Alex’s newsletter. It creates a nice open feeling, with some storage below.

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How did you first become seriously interested in tiny homes?

My friend Denali offered Miranda, a tiny house builder/dweller, a place to park her tiny house. We brought Miranda dinner in her tiny house. She became our mentor — we copied her model in our construction.

Another motivation- at the time, we were hosting AirBnB in our main house, on a pond, and need a place to go when we rented our main house. We built the tiny house in our backyard. We are no longer hosting AirBnB, but have spent about 6-7 weeks living in the tiny house together. Another motivation- we needed a project to focus on to distract us from a major life tragedy in our family. We are both retired, and still in our sixties.

What type of tiny house do you have or are you working on?

We built the Tumbleweed, with no front porch.

Why did you go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of it for yourself?

1. We went tiny to have a place to stay when we rented our main house through AirBnB, about 90 days a year. We are no longer AirBnB hosts…

2. We wanted a project to focus our energies after a tragedy in our family.

3. To be a model for affordable housing. I’m a prison volunteer, and many people who leave prison have nowhere to go and end up in homeless shelters. We are Unitarian Unversalists and believe in helping others. We have a vision to create a tiny house village.

How long did it take you to finish your tiny house?

7-8 months working 0-20 hours a week, with some help from friends and family.

Bob is a former contractor, home repair guy, kitchen and bath specialist. He has the knowledge and ability to do EVERYTHING required, including plumbing and electrical work, as well as design and construction. His know-how guided the project.

How much did it end up costing you to build it? (optional)

Cost: $30 K because Bob has high standards and wanted it nice.

Bob designed it based on Tumbleweed model. He led the building, did all of the high-level construction and made the big decisions.

I was the assistant, along with occasional assistance from friends and family to do more grunt work.

How did you figure out where to put it? Do you keep it in one place or do you move around?

We initially put it on town land, a paper street that is between our quarter acre and our neighbor’s eighth-acre. He didn’t like it there. Our son brought his 8-cylinder truck and we spent a day tearing up two lawns to move it to a better spot, completely in our yard.

What’s been the most challenging part about your tiny house so far?

Good question. Zoning. If there’s no zoning for something in our town, it’s considered illegal. As you know, our home is neither a shed or an R.V. What is it? Thus far, the town has left us alone. We barely have enough space for a tiny house on our land. Designing a staircase upstairs was difficult.

Bob probably has a different answer than me. But Susan is answering this!

What benefits are you experiencing from it so far?

1. The experience of building it.

2. The thrill of completing it and staying in a dwelling that we put so much time and energy into constructing.

3. Sharing it is fun, yet we have barely begun that journey.

What helpful piece of advice would you give to others who are interested in going tiny? What mistakes could you help them avoid? 

Get as much help that you can from other tiny house builders.

Ask for help when you don’t know the answers.

Follow Alex’s listserve and look at one tiny house story a day for ideas.

READ READ READ Use YouTube videos – they’re fabulous.

The day we put on the metal roof, which was a new skill for Bob who had always done asphalt roofs, he said at lunch, “I want to look at the You Tube video again on how to install a metal roof.”

I said, “Please do!” because one of the main warnings was “YOU CAN LOSE A FINGER” doing this.

Investing or borrowing good tools is valuable.

There are cheaper ways to do it. Bob opted NOT to use recycled materials.

Construction of the Tiny House

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As someone who doesn’t build much, I learned to measure five times and cut ten! It was so frustrating to put up the wood shingles to get them to fit exactly, despite my best efforts to measure and cut accurately. Experience helps.
One of Bob’s favorite expressions I learned: “To persuade something to fit!”

Our big thanks to Bob & Susan for sharing!🙏

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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!
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Jackie
    January 22, 2020, 1:18 am

    Is there any tiny house work shop going on around this area code 38663??? I would enjoy helping with the project.

  • Avatar PMorris
    January 22, 2020, 9:30 am

    I love this story with the photos and commentary by the owners/builders and wish more were like this. Lovely little house with good design and look reflective of its owners. 😊

  • Avatar Ron McCleary
    January 23, 2020, 4:08 am

    I own 0.92 acre in Nikiski , Alaska my property needs some work but the right person for the job can build a few Tiny homes on my land and can take over half of the land under contract plus help me and my wife out on building a tiny home. The house showing is absolutely cute

  • Avatar Theresa Perdue
    February 14, 2020, 9:42 pm

    Impressive

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