This is one couple’s DIY Tiny House in Ecuador! James is from Ireland and built the home with his Polish partner, Monika.
The two are in living tiny in Ireland right now after spending five and a half months on their Ecuadorian home. There’s more to do when they return, but in the meantime, enjoy James’ build story and our interview with him:
It was built from mid-September 2016 to mid-February 2017. It essentially started out as a truck trailer, these types of trailers are quite common in Ecuador. Once the trailer was purchased we essentially just built a little house around it.
Neither of us had really done anything like this before, and I have never worked in a trade or anything so it was quite an undertaking for us, especially in the quite short time we had available to us. We had to get some hired help for a few weeks to speed up the process, but we did a lot of the work ourselves, including the furniture and loft.
It’s quite basic compared to some of the Tiny Houses out there, but needless to say we are very proud of it. Unfortunately we had to leave Ecuador just as it was completed (a friend is living in it at the moment) but we plan to make it back in the near future.
We use Eucalyptus wood for most of the construction, with some Pine in the roof structure to keep the weight down. Bamboo was used on the inside of the roof, and the walls are insulated with foam and covered in wooden board. It’s quite spacious inside.
Also I like to think that someone who has never built something or perhaps doesn’t have building skills per se, could look at our house and say ‘Hey I could do that!’. We built the house for $6500.
The rest of the interview is below the picture tour of the home’s construction. Enjoy!
One Couple’s $6,500 DIY Tiny House
What are your name(s)?
James McSherry and Monika Dziatkiewicz
How many people (and animals) will are living in your tiny house?
At the moment a friend of ours is living there. We have moved back to Ireland at the end of February 2017.
Where do you live?
We currently live in Ireland. Our tiny house is located about 1hr 15 mins drive from Quito in Ecuador. It’s on a piece of land I bought next to the Rhiannon Permaculture Community in Ecuador.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
I have come to love the simplicity of smaller spaces. They make a lot of sense to me, financially and from a lifestyle perspective. Living in a small space forces you to appraise exactly what you need to live. There’s no room for a load of stuff you don’t really need. I am interested in simple living and have been slowly ‘downsizing’ in different ways over the last few years.
How did you first learn about tiny houses?
The process of going ‘tiny’ probably began when we lived in a small bungalow in Dublin. I have often lived in smaller spaces, when travelling and at home. A friend of mine is an architect who specializes in the construction of smaller, low impact houses. I worked with him a bit at his place in the West of Ireland site and understood that the tiny house movement is really a reflection of an approach to life, the tiny house is really a product of this approach to life. His two ‘Sheltermaker Manuals‘ are a fantastic resource on this front.
How long did it take to finish your tiny house?
Five and a half months.
How did you find a place to park and live in your tiny house?
I own the land. While the house started out as a trailer, it’s not going to be moving anywhere now!
Before going tiny, what was life like?
Life felt a lot more cluttered. We are about to move into a small apartment in Ireland and I am in the process of clearing out most of my possessions at home. When we lived in Ecuador building the house, we also lived close by in another tiny house at the Rhiannon Community.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
I think we are on the path to potential financial freedom in the future, life feels less cluttered, and genuinely feel that there’s more time and energy to focus on living, rather than stuff. For me, its hard to overstate the feeling of freedom that comes with moving onto this track. It’s not something that happens overnight, I probably started consciously downsizing about 5 years ago.
What about some challenges?
Our house in Ecuador is basic. We only had running water, but no other services. We bought an electricity generator during the build for power tools.
It can be a bit challenging opting for a more downsized life when the message we so often hear runs contrary to this. Friends and family etc. might find it an unusual to being with. I think the reality of the need for smaller housing options, as well the benefits make tiny houses a real alternative to more mainstream options.
What makes your tiny house special?
The view from our porch! It’s pretty spectacular. Like anything you make yourself, I think you’re pretty proud of anything you build yourself. We had to work with logs of eucalyptus, which had to be debarked in some cases. I think the framing work we did is attractive, in a rough and ready sort of way. It’s damn hard wood and takes quite a bit of work.
What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
The loft bedroom part I built. It took time and patience and was the first time I had attempted something like that, so was happy with the result.
What, if anything, would you change about your tiny house now that you’ve lived in it?
To be honest, there’s so much more we wanted to do, but didn’t have the time this time around. I cant think of much we would change, perhaps installing a stove would be a great next step and something I would have love to have implemented if we had the chance. There’s still lots of work to be done on the outside, including finishing off the porch. That will come in time.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Try it out first, and get some practise at living in a downsized fashion. Sell lot of stuff! Have a go at building yourself if you are in a position to do so. Building the home was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
- James’ Blog: Occam’s Last Razor
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