≡ Menu

Family Rebuilds with 3 Tiny Homes After California Fire

This post contains affiliate links.

Nicole and her family lost their 2,000 sq. ft. home in California in a fire. When they found out they were $500K underinsured, they decided to pivot and purchase three tiny homes instead of rebuilding. They get to stay on their land and have adjusted well to tiny living.

Her two older sons use the 250 sq. ft. homes when they are around, and otherwise, the homes are used as a big living room and an office. Enjoy the photo tour and make sure to read our Q&A with Nicole!

Don’t miss other interesting tiny homes like this, join our FREE Tiny House Newsletter for more! 

They Rebuilt With Three ESCAPE Tiny Homes

They have a nice large kitchen in their big tiny.

An awesome dishwasher in there.

There’s a nice futon in one of the smaller tinies.

There’s a sunshade on the bigger tiny house.

Another ground floor bedroom.

This one doubles as their office.

I love this electric fireplace.

I love the big window in the ESCAPE.

There’s laundry in one of the smaller ones.

Here’s the lovely living room area.

The loft bedroom.

A smaller bathroom in one of the little THOWs.

Here’s one of the 250 sq. ft. tinies.

You can see their three tiny homes.

Interview with Nicole:

What got you into tiny living?

Our home in Northern California burned in the CZU Lightning Complex in August of 2020. Everything was gone, including acres of what was once a lush forest. At first, we wanted to rebuild exactly what we’d lost–a 2000 sf home and detached garage. But after getting two quotes that showed we were $500,000 underinsured, we knew that if we wanted to return to California, and specifically home to our land, we’d need another solution.

I began researching tiny home living and after much thought, we decided to go that route. We have a 325 sf “Big House” witih full kitchen, a 250 sf second house for son #1 that also is our TV room when he’s not living there, and a 250 sf third house for son #2 that also serves as our guest house and office when he’s not there. This was not only affordable, but also a better solution for living in a fire zone. A foundationed home filled with treasures that you must defend to keep is a rough choice in a world that’s getting hotter every day.

Did you build your home or buy it? How long did the process take?

We bought all three from Escape Homes in Wisconsin. The first one took nine months and was delayed by nearly three months due to all sorts of supply chain issues related to covid. The second two took 6 months to build and deliver.

How has tiny living changed your life (for better or worse)?

I love living this way. It has a glamping feel, if I’m honest, but the smallness is calming. I feel held in the space. We also lost all of our belongings in the fire, so we fit into the small spaces easily. They’re cheaper to heat and cool as well and cleaning takes 20 minutes tops for all three!

What’s the hardest part of tiny living?

There aren’t big closets for things you don’t use very often and even though we don’t have a lot, for example, I don’t have a closet to store an upright vaccuum in two of the units. So we have a roomba. It’s okay, but I miss my Kirby. Room for exercise is also tough, I can barely fit the yoga mat but had to ditch my Peloton bike for jogging because there’s no room for the bike in any of the units. There’s definitely an adjustment.

What’s the most rewarding part?

Knowing that I’m living in a way that’s in balance with the land, especially land that is under the threat of wildfire. We can also move them elsewhere, should the climate not suit us anymore. I also love the clean lines and quality interior, I’ve never had such beautiful cabinetry before.

Any advice for people looking to go tiny?

Do your research and consider how you use the space. Is it okay to climb a ladder to your bed, or are you older? How many children do you have? If they’re older, perhaps they’d like their own unit. How will they look on the land? What are your zoning laws? Most places don’t allow tiny homes on wheels for fulltime living, so be clear before you go for it. Overall, I LOVE this life.

Learn more

Related stories

You can share this using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this you’ll LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more!

You can also join our Small House Newsletter!

Also, try our Tiny Houses For Sale Newsletter! Thank you!

More Like This: Tiny Houses | THOWs | Family Tiny House Living

See The Latest: Go Back Home to See Our Latest Tiny Houses

This post contains affiliate links.

The following two tabs change content below.

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • December 27, 2022, 11:25 am

    Great to have separate units to give their kids some privacy when they are around

  • Liz
    December 27, 2022, 3:39 pm

    Three homes not connected? A spare home for your son who isn’t living at home anymore? Seems like a Murphy bed for your son would have been smarter. Then you would have had room for your Kirby and Peloton. You also don’t have room for exercising indoors. You probably could have saved plenty of money by putting all three homes together as one. Silliest thing I have ever seen or heard of.

    • James D.
      December 27, 2022, 8:24 pm

      Well, they did mention that the units serve other purposes/uses when the sons are not there… Their home is just decentralized and not monolithic, which allows them to be adaptable and consider other needs, like Janet has mentioned, for things like privacy and can change things around as needed. So not for everyone but seems to work for them…

    • Alison
      December 27, 2022, 9:20 pm

      It makes sense to me. They could buy them from a distant location, thereby avoiding the difficulties of re-building in an area where lots of other people are also trying to get contractors. And they have private spaces for each of their adult sons, which will serve them well in the coming years. In a mild climate, walking between the three buildings would rarely be a problem. If I were them, I’d build one more structure: an exercise gazebo with a bit of storage.

      • Donna Rae
        December 28, 2022, 12:12 pm

        I had not considered the benefit of having a tiny home built in a location away from the sudden demand for contractors but it is a brilliant point! Kudos for pointing that out! I just love how these posts and comments help educate and inspire people to be creative about their living circumstances!

  • Donna Rae
    December 28, 2022, 12:07 pm

    I think this is a fabulous idea…not silly at all! First and foremost, if there is ever another major fire in their area, they can just hook them up to trucks and get out of harm’s way! Perhaps it would be a good idea for so many others living in places that have living challenges like wildfires and hurricanes. As the world faces rising sea levels, those who live near water can easily move when those challenges inevitably make life more difficult in their location. This family chose to have their tiny homes separated by quite a bit of space but I’ve seen people put multiple homes adjacent…in an L-shape or U-shape…with a large patio area they share. With imagination and a willingness to try something new…not everyone feels comfortable with that…you just might find a safer and, dare I say, more fun way of living. This family chose to build their tiny homes in different styles but I think I would choose to have all tiny homes similar, at least on the outside, so it looked like a more cohesive residence. But that’s a personal choice. Having variety in life can also be what makes it all more interesting for some. And isn’t that the beauty of this concept? Adjust it to what suits you. The thing that impressed me the most is the ability to get out of harm’s way. Perhaps those who don’t live where wildfires can ravage whole communities can’t understand what a comfort that is and so they can choose to live in a 2,000 sq. ft. home with a detached garage like what existed before this fire. And that’s wonderful for them! Others now have another option that will suit their more precarious situation. As far as the aesthetics of each of these particular tiny homes, I have seen floor plans that I like better and that suit my particular needs but again, tiny homes give everyone the opportunity to shape their environment so it gives them what they need to live comfortably. I hope more people who find themselves living in an area that can experience life threatening and life disrupting circumstances see the creative way these people have chosen to live and contemplate whether or not this could be a viable alternative to conventional housing. Honestly, seeing the destructive force of nature hitting the same areas more and more often these days, to not consider it would be the silly thing.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.