Right now Jeremy Jackson is traveling the U.S. towing his recently-built Tumbleweed tiny house. He built the majority of it himself. He did it in about one year.
Interview with Jeremy, the man traveling with his tiny house
In this interview with Jeremy you’ll be able to follow his story. You’ll get to learn about his struggles and what led him to where he is today. I hope you enjoy.
THT: What made you decide to start building a tiny house?
J: I woke up one day feeling frustrated with the world and my own life. My business was dying and I have been suffering from an industrial injury. Everything was crashing down on me.
I started to ponder about what would happen when my mother and siblings would pass because I am the youngest. At the time I was living with my mother. Well that evening I checked my email and stumbled onto the Yahoo! article which featured the tiny house movement and Jay Shafer.
I was instantly hooked from that moment on and I saw a spark of hope. I spent the next few months learning everything that I could on how to build a tiny house until I came up with a plan to build one myself because it made good sense to me.
I decided that if I were going to commit to building my own tiny house, I needed to get to it without allowing myself to over analyze the possible pitfalls. So I jumped in head over heals and started buying materials whenever and wherever I could get them.
So I sold all of my valuables, including the DJ and Karaoke business, and just started even though I am disabled and on a fixed income because I felt that if I were to survive, I had to take a risk.
THT: So how long did it take you to complete the tiny house?
J: It has taken me the best part of a year to complete it (mostly by myself) but finally, it’s done.
Photos Courtesy of Jeremy Jackson
THT: Do you have any dreams you hope to fulfill thanks to this project?
I encourage you to enjoy the complete interview (and photo tour) below:
J: As far as any aspirations are concerned, I’m not really sure yet. We Americans have allowed ourselves to become so burdened with life’s nuisances and its many stresses, that we have lost track of what’s important.
Happiness is an inward quality that has little or nothing to do with material gains. I believe that a free soul is the true definition of success and the minimalistic lifestyle is the fastest way I know toward achieving that.
Right now I’m a little frightened about where I’m going with it because I’m not really very knowledgeable when it comes to RVing or staying at public campgrounds, so I’m just taking it one day at a time from here but I do look forward to promoting the tiny house movement.
I think more attention should be brought to the government on our need to live sustainably without the burden of restrictive codes within our communities.
THT: What were the first few challenges that you faced when beginning to build the house and how did you overcome them?
J: I was instantly faced with the fear that if I built something like this I might run into problems with the government. Jay makes it look so easy, and maybe it is, but for me it hasn’t been. I don’t have a piece of land nor am I an RV’er.
I mean, could I even navigate to these backwoods campsites without disaster occurring? My house is 13’5″ high. Another fear was that the cost of gasoline would jump up an extra $1 a gallon. If I’m not careful I could end up spending the price of rent for a 800-square-foot apartment just driving around to find “home”.
Today, I’ve finished the tiny house and these fears still remain but I will not let it overpower me. I’m leaving soon so that I can find a tolerable place for winter.
THT: Congratulations on finishing your house. What are your plans now?
J: I am going to travel with my tiny house. I’m actually leaving in a couple of days. Target is August 31, 2011. I just installed a weight distribution hitch to relieve some of the tongue weight on the truck.
One obstacle I’m having to deal with is how to get my medications while on the road but I’ll figure it out. I’m really going to be winging it for a while because I’m not sure where I’m going.
Initially, I want to go on I-80W to Salt Lake City Utah then down towards St. George, maybe further into Arizona. I’ve been thinking about an Oregon summer too, but I could also head down into Florida where a member on my website (jeremystinyhouse.com) offered to host me. I thought that was pretty nice of him.
THT: Has anyone asked to buy it from you?
J: I’ve had a few people who have shown interest in buying it but nothing has materialized. Originally, I wanted to sell it so I can pay off all of my costs and finance another one for myself free and clear.
But to be honest, this one has about wore me out. I did most of the work by myself but was grateful to have the help of my brother-in-law. He helped hold plywood in place while I screwed and glued it. I wouldn’t have been able to get the structure up without him.
THT: Can you tell us about any other special plans you’d like to share?
J: I know there are a lot of folks out there who would love to build one for themselves but aren’t sure how to go about it. I thought of offering a service to help them in exchange for a spot to park my home during the building process with expenses and a modest wage.
Sort of a “Can build, Will Travel” idea. Maybe I will do that! We’ll see.
Anyway, most importantly, I just want to find a place in the sun. My own little piece of heaven.
THT: Can you tell us more about what you hope to do next with your house?
J: I think it would be fun to travel the country visiting all of the National parks and such but I’m really a very spiritual kind of man and would just like to be still and enjoy.
I have adapted my preference to limit my need for stuff and crave the less obvious spiritual world… if you will. In that world we are all one and connected.
Tiny house living closes the door to stress and opens the door to creativity. A place where dreams are born.
Anyway, we all have our own truths and none are more right than another.
THT: Any plans for singing after you are settled in somewhere?
J: As for my singing career, well… I think I’d have to hum a few bars of that and see if a song materializes!
THT: Were you able to hit the road yet?
J: I have, in fact, pressed rubber to the road and headed south into the wind. Lots of wind.
So windy that I wasn’t able to go more than 45 mph and my speedometer was going nuts. It stopped doing that when I detached.
I ended up making my first stop at an RV supply store to see if they had a receiver for my hitch that would allow the house to sit level without raising it above height limits. That cost me another $125 but the owner was nice enough to give me a wind deflector for the top of my cab which is helping.
I was able to reach 50 to 55 mph and I wouldn’t want to go faster than that anyway.
THT: So where did you stay?
I had my first Wal-Mart camping experience in Kokomo, Indiana. Then to another Wal-Mart in Marian so that I can get my medications. In both cases I asked permission to stay. They were most gracious and told me it was no problem.
After that, I went back to Kokomo where one of my friends live. I parked my tiny house beside his house for a couple of days.
THT: How have people reacted to your tiny house?
J: The interesting thing is how many people literally attack my house to try and get a look inside. I gave tours to probably 50 couples within two days. They had so many questions and I had so little time.
I really enjoyed showing it off and letting them have a look but there came a point where I literally had to hide so that I could have some privacy. I actually had one person ask me if I was Jay Shafer!
By the way I have just set up a Twitter account so you can follow my escapades there.
THT: Cool, give us the web address!
J: It’s http://twitter.com/tinyhouseguy
THT: How free do you feel right now?
J: It has been fun and liberating so far. As I laid in bed last night I noticed how much more relaxed I felt than I had in the past.
I didn’t have to lay there listening to the ramblings and chattering of my brain. I fell asleep quickly and had the best night’s sleep in a while.
I was able to jump up and begin my day without regretting having to do it. I have more energy than usually. But that doesn’t mean there’s no stress…
For instance, my 1500 Dodge Ram with towing package doesn’t seem to have the power to take me where I want to go. To be honest, it’s not capable of doing the job.
So I’m working on that but financially it’ll be another $200 or so a month. Another option is to head south so we’ll see.
THT: What are you taking with you?
J: Here’s what I’ve taken with me:
- 19″ flatscreen TV with built in DVD player
- All of my clothes, which is too many
- My iPod and docking station
- DVDs I enjoy
- My collection of books
THT: Cool! Thank you for doing this interview with us!
J: Well, I am too new at this small house living to make it more informative and exciting. I’m just winging it as I go. Hopefully, good things will follow and I’ll do a better job twittering. Yeah… Hopefully lol.
Until then I’ll be out there somewhere searching for my pot of soul and that square block of paradise that everyone seems to want singing “Somewhere over the rainbow…” Oh well, you get the jest.
Follow Jeremy’s Tweets to see what he’s up to.
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