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I had the opportunity to speak with Alex from right here at Tiny House Talk the other day. We had a great conversation and he asked a lot of great questions. Some of the things he asked got me thinking about where this all started and just exactly how we got to a point in our lives where building and living in a tiny house seemed like the right decision.

Matt and I have been together a long time – nearly 18 years. We met in college and we were 19 and 20 when we started dating. It’s funny because a lot of people want to know how the two of us can live and work together but we just don’t think about it like that. We like spending time with each other so it just comes naturally. We have always had very complimentary dreams. Those dreams didn’t always include a tiny house; especially since we didn’t even know what a tiny house was back then, but they always included a desire to live in a more extraordinary way.

When I think back on it, I realize that the tiny house idea was really not that far from some of our earlier yearnings for adventure. Maybe it is possible that the concept was always in our DNA but until we discovered the tiny house movement we just didn’t realize it.

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Laura's Tiny House

Photo by Laura LaVoie

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Phil Thiel of Seattle, Washington, has inspired a whole fleet of tiny human-powered houseboats in the United States, England, and Germany. He calls his quaint canal cruisers Escargots for their slow speed and sells the building plans for just $150. Each 18.5′ by 6′ houseboat fits up to three bunks and is propelled by a combination of pedal and solar power.

The solar drive isn’t strong enough to allow for direct solar power propulsion and the best way to move about is to pedal. At a pedaling rate of 50 rotations per minute, Thiel’s design can puff along at four miles an hour. Keep in mind that the average cyclist pedals at around 60 rotations per minute and professionals can do nearly twice that!

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Human-powered Floating Home

A cute and cozy Escargot canal cruiser

Thiel, now 91 years old, is a naval architect who started enthusing about and building human-powered boats when he was a teenager. Born in Brooklyn and now relocated to Seattle, Thiel has only driven an automobile twice in his life. Houseboats, though, he’s steered plenty of times.

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I ran into this really cool urban house boat the other day. Here’s a little bit about the company right from their website…

Urban Houseboats Inc. (UHI) was created in 2007 by its partnering founders – Sean Conner and Rodney Hanscomb. Their desire was to design and manufacture a live aboard vessel that provided high end styling and mobility, with the feeling of home. UHI is now filling a void in a market that is not being met by any other manufacturer in the boating or housing industry.

As opposed to floating homes, Urban Houseboats are motorized and mobile. They are an alternative in the liveaboard market (floating homes and yachts) which can be limiting in the number available, high upfront prices, and ongoing cost of maintenance. Urban Houseboats provide the same rich lifestyle and million dollar views, but at a greatly reduced cost.

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