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Young Family Build $7k Tiny Cabin in 2 Weeks

Wow! A mere $7,000 to build a weekend getaway destination in just two weeks!? Almost unbelievable, and certainly amazing!

Tammy and John built this tiny, 180 square foot tiny cabin (with the help of a friend) to use for weekend trips with their two small children and dog. The cabin itself is obviously very small, but many features make it appear more open, such as translucent corrugated fiberglass panels and an attached deck and yard for the children and dog to play.

The plans John chose to build the cabin were actually inspired by designs for sheds! The costs were kept at a minimum, due to bargain-hunting, homemade curtains and bed linens, and even trash-can diving! I think you’ll agree that the cabin is truly a work of love and partnership!

Young Family Build $7k Tiny Cabin in 2 Weeks


Images © Tammy Everts/Apartment Therapy

familys-7k-tiny-cabin-02 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-03 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-04 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-05 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-12 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-06 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-07 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-08 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-09 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-11 familys-7k-tiny-cabin-10

Images © Tammy Everts/Apartment Therapy

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Pamela is a writer and blogger and Tiny House Talk is excited to have her on our team helping us share more inspiring tiny houses and stories on simple living with you.
{ 80 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    March 7, 2015, 3:05 pm

    Very nice Summer Glamping Spot. It’s the way that I was brought up with wee abodes that were used only under the BEST of weather conditions.

    I highly recommend clicking the *link* and reading about the experiences; very enlightening. 😀

  • Lisa E.
    March 7, 2015, 3:53 pm

    The first thing that came to my mind was, “What state is this in? What state will allow this kind of off-the-grid build without a whole lot of hassles?” Then it occurred to me that we need a list of states with areas or counties that still allow TH and THOW builds on a private parcel without the City Council and Chamber of Commerce creating problems.

    • Dawn
      March 7, 2015, 4:02 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. But I’m noticing more and more people cashing in on the tiny house movement. Looks like we can only get it if we pay. (I won’t share that link) Maybe someone out there knows where we can find the info for free?

      • just me
        October 8, 2016, 11:29 pm

        Entire counties in the state of TN have opted out of the building codes. Plus no personal income tax. Come to TN!

        • just me
          October 8, 2016, 11:40 pm

          For more info, go here and click on “Complete List of Jurisdictions and Inspectors”:

        • Storm
          October 12, 2016, 12:18 pm

          Not true. Ooltewah is squashing the tiny house movement as well as Hamilton County deciding now how to charge for these plus taxes to impose on air bnb. No state taxes but food is taxed at the rate of 7 percent or higher in some counties.

    • carrie
      March 7, 2015, 8:30 pm

      Ditto and the place feels warm through the ‘tablet’ so it MUST BE…very good job! Love it.

    • Kristy
      March 7, 2015, 10:52 pm

      Lisa & Dawn, I don’t know what part of the country you are in but there are plenty of places in the southeastern U.S. The key is to stay away from metro areas and look in rural areas. I live in TN and most rural counties allow you to do what you want on your property. Only requirement is a septic system has to be installed in order to pass electrical inspection. However a THOW is considered an RV so you wouldn’t even have that requirement. It’s not a big secret you just haven’t been looking in the right areas. 🙂 Another person posted below that they live in Kentucky and have the same requirements. Look for properties zoned A1 which is agricultural. These are the properties here that usually don’t have any restrictions on what you can do on your property (at least where I live).

    • CG
      March 8, 2015, 1:20 am

      Perhaps I can save some of you some money. If you are building on a trailer, that is one thing, but building on your land….there is something called the International Residential Code that is in play internationally…..no matter where you build. Do not let someone lead you astray or tell you otherwise. The IRC can be accessed online. The last printed edition was 2012. There are other codes for electric, plumbing, etc. that are coupled with it, but the IRC is the MINIMUM allowed for any area. If someone tells you the building codes do not exist for a specific area, they are LYING! Follow the IRC! There may be areas that are not prosecuting you….yet…..for not following the IRC, but as they are advertised, they will be investigated. Since the IRC contains minimum requirements, many states and local jurisdictions (county / city) are fully within their rights to require tighter requirements in any area of the codes. Hope this helps you save some money. Living tiny is a great idea, but if you build a structure that is not up to code according to the IRC plus the local and state adopted code books, be aware that problems could ensue. If you are going to use solar power, check the codes for that. If you are using composting toilets, make sure the minimum code requirements are met. Building codes may seem a nuisance, but are there for your safety (at least that is the way they were written). I am planning to build a tiny home very soon…but am attempting to incorporate safety into my home. Some of the things I see in some homes do not match my definition of “safe” for me. Hope this saves someone a few bucks. You can go online and check a given area / state for their building codes.

      • jerryd
        March 9, 2015, 8:55 pm

        CG, you are just wrong. There is no code for everywhere. Even in the US large parts, 50% or so, have no code.
        The rest have their own codes from easy to PITA.
        Nor should there be as it only stifles innovation.
        Luckily many places will allow small or different than norm now, except richer areas, designs.
        Much of Fla has minimal codes once outside populated areas. On many buildings there is no code especially under 100-150sq’ Of which I have 2 TH of and soon 2 more and that is in a very populated area just SE of Tampa.
        So I’m telling you there is no international code that can be enforced anywhere unless the locals say so.
        And locals rarely like giving their power away and certainly not to an international body.
        Fact is unless you are connected to the grid, gov water/sewer, you don’t need inspections in most places.
        My friend built an old FG Carvel IceCream dome hut kit and when time to get an occupancy permit, found he didn’t even need one as nothing connected that need inspecting, approval.
        So anyone building anything the only thing you need to do is locally adopted codes, nothing more.
        I suggest you go to your local CE office and show them it and they will laugh at you as not worth the paper it would be printed on.

        • CG
          March 10, 2015, 3:13 am

          Jerry, Sad to say, but I am not wrong on as many points as you may like me to be wrong on. The IRC is not the only code out there, but it does offer an international forum for professionals in the business to discuss prescriptive code requirements, an arena to debate proposed revisions, and “…encourages international consistency in the application of provisions.” The latest edition, 2012, will be followed by the 2015 edition…..which is currently under discussion and debate by professionals. Yes, I attend meetings several times a year. If you check carefully, you will find that state legislatures do vote on the building codes for that state. They do exist. The IRC is not the only code out there, but was drafted as a “…stand-alone residential code consistent with and inclusive of the scope of the existing model codes.” Sometimes states choose alternate code books to follow, but the reason is often because those codes are more comprehensive than the IRC. The IRC deliberately is the minimum requirement. If you read the entire 900+ page code book, you will find that there are many areas local and state jurisdictions wish to have tighter controls…and do. The process begins at the state level with the state legislature voting on the codes for that state. The local jurisdictions are bound by law to comply with those minimum codes, but may add in their own tighter controls. Please check your facts carefully. The exclusions you have referenced may not have been due to the lax attitudes of the local jurisdiction, but may have been due to an exclusion for that area, or in general. For example, I cannot build a shed on my property over a certain size….but if I know the codes well, I can build any size shed on skids…and I don’t need a permit for it. You need to know the exclusions for the local area….which translates to the IRC or other international codes in general. There are other players in the field with the IRC…..such as ICBO, SBCCI, BOCA, NFPA, ICC, NAHB, etc. Please don’t believe it when people tell you there are no codes for an area. If this is true, please publish the list here. I would love to research and check it out. No, I am not the “code police”, but I know what I have learned and applied regarding building codes. Always looking for more information, especially if what I have been told is not true. So….please share!

      • Dee
        March 10, 2015, 8:45 am

        I completely agree with what you are saying…I recently bought a .25 acre of land in Oregon and plan on building a cabin. Have been doing my research on house building and it really is a simple formula for a small house. Our ancestors did it with basic materials and supplies. I believe it really is about these big banks and contractors blinding the American public so we can buy and become tied up to a mortgage for 30+ years. I’m in my early 40’s and there is no way I’m going to get into a 30 year mortgage. I want my land and house paid for and hopefully try to be as self sufficient as possible. I’ve seen many THOW that are remarkably constructed with safety in mind. Like you said, banks and mortgage companies see THOW and small cabins as a threat to them. ( (Their pockets)

      • yurisan
        March 12, 2015, 8:01 am

        I second the notion of following IRC codes. People seem to be equating not requiring a building permit with “I can therefore build anything I want”. I have a project in New England and the town doesn’t require a building permit under 200 sq. ft. Well and good! Doesn’t mean I can violate sound building practices as evidenced in the poorly supported loft joists pictured above – either use joist hangers or rest the bottom of the joists on top of the wall plates. If you want quick and cheap, look up “OVE” Optimum Value Engineering, a very useful HUD initiative from the 60’s – great ideas that are technically sound.

      • Marsha Cowan
        March 20, 2016, 10:55 am

        I totally agree…

      • Ericc
        March 20, 2016, 2:10 pm

        A heads up for people who did not follow the big tin home convention in Colorado 2015, there was a guest speaker Jay Schafer who created Tumbleweek Tiny Homes. In his own words, he stated that in 2015 the IRC was amended to allow residential construction to have 70 square foot rooms and this would cause a great influence on construction code across the nation for tiny home builders. I agree in that some unzoned lands in the us do not restrict you living in a one room house. It will be up to the individual who wishes to build to consult ALL the authorities and choose your home location carefully with full knowledge of the codes that would apply on your land. There are too many bureaucratic controls on residential homes, but if you have patience you can be successful & legal. Remember there is always the ‘variance acceptance’ available when if else fails.

      • jerryd
        March 20, 2016, 9:12 pm

        While there may be a code like he says, the only ones that count are your local city, county codes.
        And there are places with no or almost no codes.
        Saying otherwise is misleading.
        There is no way to enforce an IRC code and has no legal meaning.

      • Rev
        August 7, 2016, 8:27 am

        Jurisdictions don’t have rights. People have rights.

    • Janet
      March 8, 2015, 2:14 pm

      That is a very good point. A list of states and counties in these states that does allow these types of builds would be helpful to many. I own land in Maine and it is zoned 2 hurricane and I would not be able to put this kind of a small home or a house on wheels as a year round home.

      • Lisa E.
        March 8, 2015, 3:08 pm

        This is really good information, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to share it. Is it just your county that is Zone 2, or is that the whole state? People looking should know these things so they don’t waste their time looking at land that is basically unavailable to them.

    • Rev
      August 7, 2016, 8:29 am

      Jurisdictions don’t have rights. People have rights.

    • Rev
      August 7, 2016, 8:50 am

      Lisa E.:
      This is in your free state, that place occupied by your heart. As in “…necessary to a free state…” (from the second amendment to the USA constitution.

      No, but realistically, I followed the provided link, and read the information provided by the owners/builders/residents. This is an island in the far side of nowhere, Canada.

      So, get access to an island, and you are set. Simple.

      And bureaucrats only “allow” because we allow them to get away with it. Dig?

  • AL
    March 7, 2015, 4:27 pm

    Lisa & Dawn, I completely agree. My family & I would love to live off the grid & have researching where to do this for some time now, but often find contradicting information. I even went to tiny house workshops (paid) hoping to learn a lot & find out some possible locations where to actually do this. Yet, locations were kept hush-hush, as if national security depended on it. I certainly understand why some people wish to keep locations quiet, yet it would be wonderful to have some firm ideas of where we can live the dream also. Best of everything to you & everyone! 🙂

    • Lisa E.
      March 8, 2015, 8:32 am

      The Tiny House Movement may have had very humble beginnings with no idea that it would take off in an explosion of interest, but now that the THM is in full swing, I also think we need a stand alone course on zoning laws and building codes. Hopefully in a format that isn’t as dry as the desert! This could be in the form of a lecture and/or a PDF file with specific state references and/or the tools to research a specific state.

      It would be a big undertaking, but one that we really need. Possibly two states could be reviewed; one that is fairly easy to get a variance and another that is particularly difficult to get a variance. This way, people would be familiar with the extremes of the problems involved; understand more about the administrative and legal set up of these codes, know how to navigate them, what to look for, who to talk to, where to begin, a glance at the fees involved, etc. There is a lot to this aspect of building, owning, having a THOW or a TFH (Tiny Foundation House) and at some point, this is going to have to get addressed as part of the whole TH experience.

  • Misha Nova
    March 7, 2015, 5:26 pm

    When pioneering anything that bucks the trend, any trend, there is always the chance that there will be someone who wont like it. Some of them have some legal authority, some are just trolls. Keeping a location quiet sometimes keeps you safe from both.

    I have been researching my own tiny habitat / shelter to become first a lifeboat in bad times, second a place I can live when my kids move out on there own. I will try to do things all on the legal side, but I am aware that is not always possible, I have slept under a bridge before due to the trends others have accepted for there own reasons, I refuse to do that again.

    I love the tiny house movement and you can count me in.

    • jake
      March 20, 2016, 9:34 pm

      This is for all interested. There are so many threads. Hard to know which one to reply to. Hope this finds you well.
      1. IRC is adopted by all 50 states. It’s an attempt to focus on safety, not comfort.
      2. Recently the IRC reduced the minimum size for a “habitable” room from 120 sf to 70 sf because the former minimum was founded on a subjective basis of a “normally accepted” size, not an objective, scientific basis of “safety”.
      3. Take courage. The envelope is widening, but it will need continued candor, courage, calm, and clear thinking; not caustics..
      4. Proceed.

  • Gail
    March 7, 2015, 5:32 pm

    What an ingenious way to bring in all that natural light with the corrugated plastic roofing on the wall!! I’m adding that to my notes, for sure! Great job!

  • March 7, 2015, 6:40 pm

    I don’t know about the rest of Kansas, but the county where I live has no building codes if you’re outside the city limits. Yet, anyway.

  • Gabriele Napier
    March 7, 2015, 7:08 pm

    In Kentucky you can do whatever you want on your own piece of land as long as it is not within city limits of some towns/cities or when you buy a piece of property in a zoned area. The Cave Run Lake Area east of Lexington, KY has all kinds of A-frame cabins and tiny homes used for week end or vacation get-a-ways. The only restriction I know of there is, that you have to have a septic system before you can have your power installed. Lots of people live their full time.

    • Kristy
      March 7, 2015, 10:45 pm

      It’s the exact same in Tennessee or at least in Northeast TN where I live. The key is to stay away from metro areas and look in rural areas and anyone can find plenty of places without lots of codes and zoning rules.

    • Eric Williams
      May 22, 2015, 1:33 pm

      So what is the connection between septic and electric such that one depends on the other? That sounds like scratching your foot because your head itches….

      • Doug
        April 4, 2016, 8:37 am

        In some places you have to have septic installed to get water. I live in central Arkansas and recently moved my house to a piece of land that had no septic but I was able to get power and water. There are no building codes outside of city limits here. Even in some small towns there are no codes or permits needed. Of course if you’ve ever been to some of the poor areas of this beautiful state you might realize why building codes may be needed.

  • k9jayne
    March 7, 2015, 7:13 pm

    I like the fencing around the deck. Perfect for my dog! Inside, I like the pots and pans storage, and the light available through the clear plastic stuff. I agree that there should be a shared, free, list of states, counties, whatever, that allow off grid building. Keeping it secret smacks of Cultism and will only hurt the movement.

  • russ
    March 7, 2015, 9:56 pm

    Im in the NE of US, the places are out there and not publicized because it would draw too much private AND gov involvement. Towns don’t want sudivisions of tiny houses (less tax receipts) and gov doesn’t like under the radar divergent thinking. You need acreage to do this where there is no city water and city sewer, and enough acreage to dilute septic or a holding tank allowable code. Think very rural, and research whats allowed for a “primitive camp” or cabin. Get outside the commuting
    radius of good jobs (over 1.5 hrs) and land can drop to $1000/acre

    • AL
      March 9, 2015, 3:46 pm

      Thank you for the advice & thoughts. That is what we have been doing recently. We will continue on & succeed! …Ha! Always knew I had “divergent thinking”!!! 😉

      • Kathy Skinner
        March 10, 2015, 1:39 am

        In the township in central Michigan where we live, you are allowed to build a “shed” allowing 174 sq feet of structure on the ground. We took those measurements and then built upwards with a sleeping loft and have ample room. We are not required to have electricity, well or septic, however we did have to obtain a permit for our privy. We are using wind and solar and after 3 years had a well drilled.

        • March 10, 2015, 10:13 am

          That’s awesome! We’d love to see pics of your shed 🙂

        • March 13, 2015, 12:20 pm

          We have a blog if you are interested.

    • MARK
      August 7, 2016, 1:45 pm

      $1000/acre yes but you usually have to buy about 20+ acres, nobody would bother selling $1000 of land…. unless maybe a friend.

  • March 7, 2015, 10:38 pm

    Very cute place. I would STRONGLY suggest they change out their charming stained glass window in the loft for one large enough to be an emergency exit, or make the wall around it open outward. And I hope they have several extinguishers around the house, since, I am guessing they are a bit away from town. Better to be prepared than to not.

  • Brian
    March 8, 2015, 12:08 am

    Wow that sure is some feat in just 2 weeks. It looks great
    and well designed from what I can see. Thanks for sharing
    and cheers from Australia.

  • Greg
    March 8, 2015, 12:41 am

    In many jurisdictions there is a special building code requirement for ‘vacation homes’. This is true in our county in Cape Breton and others. The ‘vacation home’ code in our county allows for any number of houses to be built on any property, and is exempted from many building code issues. Anything that does not have a foundation or built in footings seems to be exempt. There is no definition of a ‘season’ for vacation home, so they can be year round residences. Just a thought for anyone who is thinking of building or towing a tine house in/to Cape Beton, NS, where we have low prices on very good waterfront and water view land.

  • Lisa E.
    March 8, 2015, 12:48 am

    When I go off grid, I want to use solar power and have and Incinolet; no (black) water, no mess, no trouble, no leaching bed, nothing to be disposed of (save an ashtray’s worth of ashes every so often) and very sanitary; line with a bag, utilize, incinerate. Easy peazy. I don’t want to have to rely on the town or city (or a leaching bed that will have to be dredged at some point down the road) for anything. I want to be totally self-sustaining. I will probably put in the hook-ups, but I really don’t plan on using them.

    • Varenikje
      May 23, 2016, 2:12 am

      How would water running into the sink or shower be disposed of? Wouldn’t that require some kind of water disposal?

      • Lisa E.
        May 23, 2016, 8:39 am

        If you use Seventh Generation in your sink and shower you don’t have to worry about it. Seventh Generation is biodegradable and non toxic. And on one TH video I saw, they were draining their bathtub directly into their garden; she reported that the plants were growing even better because of it. Seventh Generation is plant based. Evidently, it acts like plant food.

        • Varenikje
          May 24, 2016, 2:41 am

          But if the house is in a cold climate the water wouldn’t soak in, it would freeze. Where I live (I am in Nebraska) it is a bit on the cold side. I suppose if you were out away from the town then the ice would melt after a while and it would soak into the ground. Right? Would a town or even in the country would this be allowed?

    • Lisa E. to Varenikje
      May 24, 2016, 4:50 am

      There is a woman named Anita. She lives in Oregon. She built a house called the “Lilypad”. In her video she talks about her waste water system. Google “Lilypad Planet” and see if that video is still up. Hers is called a “French Waste Water System”. It’s like a mini in-ground leaching bed but is tiny by size comparison to a standard bed. It snows in Oregon, so I’m assuming this system would work for you in Nebraska. If you can’t find the information/video on it, then the builder was Walter Quade (in Portland, OR,) he’s a green builder; he’s totally awesome. His business is called “Small Home Oregon” and his phone number is (503) 201-6635. He put this French system in for Anita and would be able to give you all the info and specs, etc. (maybe for a consulting fee?) Hope this helps. 😉 Let me know how it goes if you decide to follow up on this. Best wishes and good luck!

  • Karen
    March 8, 2015, 7:09 am

    Built our tiny home (under 700 sq. ft.) on a private New Hampshire lake. The state required us to have a shore line development permit which is about $100 per foot. Cannot cut one piece of lumber or move dirt until you have this !! To have the permit you must submit a septic design and well layout and all must be approved before any work done on the lot. For our half acre lot the cost was staggering, but it was our dream to be on this lake (pond really) and if I had to do it over again I would probably have just used the land as a picnic/rec area and built on a larger parcel of land without this code. Be careful of WHERE you choose to build and who will be your neighbors. Our tiny home is close to being finished, but at a cost I didn’t anticipate for permits and fees. Still worth every penny of it !! Less is best !!

  • alice h
    March 8, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I saw this in a magazine a few years ago, might have been Sunset or one of those. It’s on Gambier Island, actually fairly close to Vancouver BC but a couple of ferry rides away and the second ferry is passenger only (plus dogs and bikes). There are also water taxis from Horseshoe Bay, where the first ferry leaves from. You can get to the ferry or water taxis there by city bus. Building materials or anything else large needs to come in by barge or other private vessels. This place still shows up on Tiny House Listings, posted in 2012. http://tinyhouselistings.com/gorgeous-micro-cabin-5-acres-on-gambier-island-british-columbia/

    Some current listings on Gambier http://www.rew.ca/properties/areas/gambier-island-gulf-islands-bc/sort/price/asc/page/2

    Gulf Islands are overseen by Islands Trust http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/

    • Cahow
      March 11, 2015, 2:47 pm

      Hi, alice h! (I’m trying to bring the conversation “Back On Topic”)

      What a Super Sleuth you prove to be! And what a memory!!!

      Question for you: the listing for this property is dated ” 3/5/12″: any idea if the above family SOLD it? Is the article “old news”? I’m just curious if you know anything more.

      Always a delight to read your comments. 😀

      • alice h
        March 11, 2015, 8:09 pm

        Not sure if it’s still around, I guess you’d have to contact the info on the listing but it seems an awful long time for something to sit unsold. That was kind of the peak of recreational property sales around here, has crashed since (opportunity!!). I didn’t see it on any MLS listings but it may never have been placed there. With the exact address you could check it out on the BC assessment site, which shows what sold for how much and when. Very interesting site, I like to snoop on various areas now and then http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca/ See what the neighbours got for their house and all that.

        By the way, I always enjoy your down to earth (and occasionally earthy!) comments as well. I have little patience for some of the “rantoric” that the odd post seems to attract.

        I had a copy of the magazine with the article lying around the house for the longest time but I may have dragged it over to my own island shackteau. My aunt saw it and thought I’d be interested and she was right. When I was looking for my own little chunk of paradise I checked out Gambier, nicely treed, hilly little island. I found what I wanted elsewhere and after 8 long years am finally about to build the Nouveau Shackteau (9×12 skid shack) to replace the 13′ Boler trailer this summer. YAY!!!! The Boler will be a writing shack for a friend and move to another corner of the property. I may have my own building story on here one day.

        • Cahow
          March 12, 2015, 9:55 pm

          Dear alice h: Being able to read about YOUR personal story would be incredible! All the best to you in this next part of your journey. 😀

  • Mitch D.
    March 8, 2015, 1:21 pm

    Off grid indicates to me that you are doing this farther away from the city. The closer you are to a municipality the more difficult it may be to live without hassles from the city government. After all they are providing services to those that chose to live in that area and therefore do have a responsibility to have permitting, laws, covenants etc. The farther away from services you get the easier it will be to just blend in to the area where you chose to put your home. The home in this article does not have a toilet or running water so far as I can see which makes it a shed. The size also looks to be small enough that no permit would be necessary. So long story short, decide where you want your home to be and check the codes for everything you can think of that you are trying to do. If you want to fight for your rights to do what you want then push the limits of the laws and try to change them. If you don’t want to fight then live within the laws set for the area that you chose.

  • Janet
    March 8, 2015, 2:10 pm

    In the area of Maine in which I own land homes on wheels or these types of small home would not meet up to code. Seeing that Washington County Maine is a hurricane zone 2 area. I love this low cost home but I didn’t see a bathroom and showering outside in Maine’s winters would not be a good thing.

  • Coleen
    March 8, 2015, 5:47 pm

    I really like the back wall of this tiny cabin. The plastic panelling lets so much light in and I noticed its facing into the woods (privacy!). Although it doesn’t have any insulation value, the idea is great for warmer climates or summer gateaways.

  • jerry
    March 8, 2015, 7:21 pm

    I have 30 acres in Arkansas and I can build whatever I want lol.no zoning laws at all unless your in a city limits that goes for Louisiana and a bunch of states just like this in the south, its called freedom. There is no agency in Arkansas that’s going to except let alone enforce a international law in Arkansas.

  • March 8, 2015, 8:24 pm

    Thanks Cahow for advising to go to their link for the full story and tour.
    I love what they have created!
    For 3 years I lived without electricity and running water. Of course I was much younger. 🙂

  • Sandi B
    March 9, 2015, 2:13 am

    What a great little retreat. Well thought out for what it is. I like the idea of using rebar for the deck railings — would not have thought of that.

    The corregated fiberglass is interesting — however it is extremely cold in those islands in the winter time and there is not going to be any house heating with a boat propane heater in the wintertime no matter how much you run it — I do not think you could haul enough propane. They are going to wind up insulating that little cabin if they use it in the winter and that outhouse will be mighty uncomfortable. I am from the Pacific Northwest and am very familiar with the islands. They will need to find a way to cover that fiberglass wall for the winter. But, all in all they built themselves a great little get away.

    Now, I think that cabin cost a lot more than $7,ooo when you look at all they had to buy, the barging of the materials etc., etc.

    All the talk about zoning and the IRC’s, which have been in place like forever no matter where you find yourself and I agree one had best build with those codes planted firmly in their heads or there will be you know what to pay down the road. AND, those codes will be inforced. I would suggest deciding what State you want to live in, what part of that State suits you and then research the zoning laws. I know that both Colorado and Texas have towns that have changed their zoning laws to allow for TFH and Thows. If you build on a trailer then you need to be willing to put it on a foundation — I think they want the wheels off, but you can always put them back on. If you are willing to live a little further out of town, maybe 10 to 20 miles than you can keep the wheels on your Thow. However, everyone got off the subject of the great little vacation “cabin” and into this major discussion. Following the tag in they told a great story regarding the decision to build and the building of thier cabin and the reason why — very interesting and worth reading.

    Kudos to you guys and I hope everything is as you want things to be and to go. God Bless, Take Care and Stay Safe!

    • alice h
      March 9, 2015, 12:48 pm

      It rarely freezes in the Gulf Islands so I don’t think I’d call that “extremely cold”. Having lived in the Eastern Arctic for a few years and the Yukon for over 20 I think I can safely say that I’m familiar with extreme cold. It may feel uncomfortable because of the dampness but it doesn’t hurt to breathe or freeze your eyelashes or anything. You can even lick metal without sticking, should you be so inclined. I’ve left my water out on the deck in 5 gallon plastic jugs under a tarp all year round for the last 8 years and have never had a problem with them freezing up or cracking. If you have a wood stove you can keep it comfy in winter too, but yes, propane would be quite wasteful. For full time living the panelling wall is not a good choice but for a vacation place it’s fine. Plus you can always put up a layer or two of plastic over it for the season.

      I’ve used outhouses in Yukon winters (the secret is a Styrofoam seat or keeping the toilet seat inside) and using one in the Gulf Islands has never been an issue. Might not want to use an outdoor shower in winter but it’s easy enough to rig up something inside. I’ve used my gravity feed shower in an unheated wash house in winter in the Gulf Islands, not something I’d do regularly but it was definitely possible.

  • Don
    March 9, 2015, 7:42 pm

    Love the Tufftex behind the entire kitchen. Does that face to the south and do you get decent insolation during the winter months?

  • jan popps
    March 13, 2015, 1:28 pm

    Love the tiny houses…but what I don’t understand why the builders don’t put a Gambril type roof…like a barn roof on them? It would increase the head space upstairs, without increasing the height…give a bit more of an option to stair placement…and eliminate some of the claustrophobic feeling in the sleeping loft…as far as support for the roof with such a small span it wouldn’t be an issue…if there seems to be a need for extra support it could be placed in the ends and or from the puppet floor to the lower rafters, without taking up any useable space.

  • April 9, 2015, 7:18 pm

    This roughed out cabin is charming and the setting looks gorgeous. However, I see this idea of building a Tiny house quickly posted again and again. It’s a bit misleading. If you do what they have done, it is possible. With 3 people that have some experience, you can build a tiny shell like this with 1 plastic wall, no interior or exterior finish work, no insulation, no plumbing, and probably just extension cord electric from a generator? There will be no comfortable winter dwelling and a strong hail storm will crack that plastic wall.

    This is a wonderful, rustic little summer cabin retreat that those kids will cherish ~ absolutely. I take nothing away from their hard work and what they have created here. But it is far from being a fully functioning Tiny House and gives folks the idea that because a house is Tiny, it can be built very quickly, with little experience. Doors and windows still need hung, flooring needs installed, electric and plumbing needs run, roofs need shingled, insulation, wall board, showers, toilets. . . every part of building a large home goes into a finished Tiny and it takes time. The only real difference between building a tiny house and a large one is less material. That and your mindset 😉 Cheers, Ron

    • Cahow
      April 9, 2015, 7:31 pm

      A bouquet of e-roses to YOU, Ron! It appears that there are very few people who believe what you and I use as our standard for a HOME. A great portion of posters feel that if something is better than “a cardboard box” under a bridge, it qualifies as a HOME.

      If that’s the case, than I guess every Deer Stand and Duck Blind in the state of Michigan qualifies as a “tiny house.”

      Again, GREAT thoughts and post, Ron. *clap-clap-clap*

      • April 9, 2015, 8:40 pm

        Ahh, Cahow, I’m a bearded blusher from the applause, thanks! Don’t tell anyone, but I always wonder why the THOW’s bunch dream about building a house in a weekend. The reality doesn’t meet the dream. I am all for DIY folks and I really believe with enough reading and help, you can build a Tiny yourself, but the idea that it’s easy and quick because it’s small is a misnomer.

        For me, a home can be whatever you live in, from a cardboard box to a tree stand, to a McMansion. A house however, IMO, is a different story. A house needs to be anchored to some kind of foundation, finished to a minimum, permanent degree inside and out, and on a lot that you preferable own. If it isn’t, no matter how well it’s built, it’s an RV, or a boat, or a really nice Tiny house on wheels, all of which can be wonderful homes. The industry calls them Mobile Homes, not Mobile Houses which kinda makes my point. The cottage in this post isn’t finished ~ It’s a shell, not a house 😉

  • Eric Williams
    May 22, 2015, 1:43 pm

    I know people make a million justifications for zoning and such and I understand building codes (for commercial builders who plan to sell their products), but I cannot rationalize the connection between such actions and the term “free country”. A nearby town has a zoning code that yard sale items cannot be stored in a trailer. Another has limitations on the colors of flowers one can have on what is presumed to be one’s own property. Yet another local ordinance doesn’t allow pick-up trucks even in people’s garages… I grew up in the cold war hearing all the warnings about what would happen if communism took us over, and these are exactly the things I heard. I know some places determine the size house you must have as a way to artificially inflate property taxes and some because they want copycat cookie cutter snob divisions, and if that is what the nation wants and everybody gets a vote on it, ok. People just need to quit ranting about “Freedom” and being a “free country.” Can’t have it both ways. The tiny houses just seem sensible, especially with ever growing prices and our ever increasing encroachment on Mother Nature…..

  • Jim
    May 22, 2015, 3:34 pm

    Most states in the southeast openly rebel against enforcing a law that is national or international but not theirs. Just don’t expect any utilities or county services. Stay out of incorporated areas and expect some hardship, but make it neat. This one looks like a good fair weather retreat.

  • Elle
    May 23, 2015, 12:43 am

    Re: “Click here to read the details…”. Thank you for taking the time to share the beautiful photos of your vacation home but I want to thank you as well for sharing in writing these “details” of your amazing journey .

    In reference to your achievements you wrote, “Heck we’re not even that smart”. I would’ve disagreed with that even before I read your delightful and well written synopsis of this labor of love. Smart? More than that, you put the ‘extra’ in extraordinary! From conception to reality your story is brilliant.

    You shared not only photos and information but revealed a strength of character, courage of conviction -and plain courage, generosity, perserverance and enlightenment rarely seen. I sincerely believe your journey is documentary-worthy. I find everyone’s TH adventure inspirational but yours goes above and beyond the extent to which I’ve seen anyone dare to follow their dream and see it through.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the easy, flowing description of your journey and equally, the warm, humorous and surprisingly modest way in which you tell it. The humble manner in which you matter of fact-ly include how you “re-purposed” and handmade nearly 100% of every item you use as well as the structure itself made it seem as though I was watching every step of the process as it was being narrated rather than written. You’re as gifted a writer as you are courageous in your undertaking.

    I laughed at your description of ‘the view from the loo’ and also encourage you to maintain the location regardless of what manner of ‘potty’ you eventually install. It’s breathtaking.

    I can’t praise you and your husband enough for the legacy you’re creating for your boys not the least of which are the experiences, memories and values they’ve already absorbed from this journey. Maybe not yet but one day they will truly understand and cherish this priceless gift they’ve been given that will keep giving, for the rest of their lives. Their unimaginably wonderful story will be a hard one to top when it’s their turn to tell their class “what I did” or “where I went” over the weekend or the summer. I’d enjoy sitting in the back of that class. 🙂

    A (no doubt unforgettable but) one-time trip to Europe for a family of 4 would easily cost the amount of money you’ve spent on this real-life fairytale adventure that your family will enjoy for lifetimes to come -including Dodds’s care while you’re away. He wins too. 🙂

    It’s apparent that you’ve savored every nail you’ve hammered, every stroke of a paint brush and every stitch you’ve sewn into every wonderful detail of the unique paradise you’ve created and upon which you can take so much pride. I do hope you’ll continue to share all of the wonderful plans and additions you wrote about, and hope you’ll continue writing about them as well. Best wishes.

  • Patriz
    March 20, 2016, 7:03 pm

    I’ve looked at areas where there was no zoning and pretty much people put all kinds of things on their properties there. Unfortunately, these places where I looked had too many rusty old cars and machinery all over the place. Many of the properties looked like shacks ready to fall down. I chose not to live in that type of area but I admired the freedom to do whatever on one’s property.
    I had a tiny house built in a large metro area, as a structure in my back yard on half an acre. I had to go through all sorts of hooplas with permits and variances, inspections, insurance, etc…The tiny house has electric, no plumbing. In the end, it was worth it, as the structure is beautiful and a necessary extra space. However, I would not go through this process again near or in an urban area. The council in my area passed legislation after my TH was built, so that others could not follow. Sad, because these structures are often very nice and give needed space in small areas, as well as being affordable housing options. I can see where they would be especially useful for elderly relatives as an alternative to going into a nursing home.
    I hope the TH movement really takes off and legislation supports this housing venue. Banks are keeping citizens prisoner with mortgages. Eventually, I will have another tiny house built on land to live in, away from zoning requirements.

  • Theo
    March 21, 2016, 12:15 am

    Two weeks, and $7,000, sounds fantastic. It’s all relative tho. When I was a kid my grandfather bought some land in the north of the state. He designed a cabin using pallets. Some pallets were whole, some cut, never could figure out how he designed it. The materials were hauled 300 miles north, we slept in a tent that night, with about 2 feet of snow on the ground. Next day I think it was 5 adults that laid a foundation, then assembled that pallet wood cabin, complete with door, windows, and a sheet metal heating stove. We all slept in it that night. Next day it was covered with rolls of felt paper, and it was essentially finished. It was about 20 X 20 feet. Later a wood cookstove was added, along with two double bunk beds and, I believe, 2 couches. It would sleep a total of 12 people comfortably. It was used for many years as a vacation and hunting cabin. As far as I know the only real cost, besides the land, was for the new heating stove, and later the used cookstove. Probably less than $200, total. After a log cabin was built, probably about 20 X 40 feet, it was used for storage, and sleep space for extra guests.

    For the log cabin he bought enough logs, which I believe cost somewhere around $200, delivered. None of the logs were straight. No problem, they were cut into about 3 foot sections, the cabin was framed on a concrete slab, with 2 X 6 inch framing. The log sections were put between and spiked. I believe it took 5 days from start to finish, again with maybe 5 adults. It also wound up with 2 double bunk beds, maybe 3 couches, and an arm chair or 2. It wound up with electricity, for lights, and a used fridge. Heat and cooking were propane. I seriously doubt there was $500 in it. It was used for years, then eventually my parents bought the whole package, land and all, for $3,000. They kept it for a few years, then sold it for something like $7,000.

    The ground there had so much rock it would have been fantastically expensive to drill for water, or put in a septic tank for indoor plumbing. So all water was brought in, and it had an outdoor loo. For those who think outdoor loos are ‘cute’, you have obviously not used one – they stink in warm weather, they always have at least onc wasp net, always spiders, cold in winter, always have a cold draft up your rear in winter.

  • Donna
    August 6, 2016, 6:27 pm

    What state is very this tiny house very in?

  • Anthony Simone
    August 6, 2016, 7:58 pm

    nice house.

  • Abi
    August 7, 2016, 1:11 am

    I really love this little place – the simple style would be just perfect for a get away retreat or transitional home. The only issue for me would be the absence of a loo. Much as I love the covered deck and double glass doors, how viable would it be to steal a little of that space to accommodate a very simple toilet? I’d have no problem using an outhouse and outdoor shower during the warmer days but hiking to an outdoor toilet at night with a five year old in tow, not so much. Any thoughts/suggestions friends?

  • jm
    August 8, 2016, 3:55 pm

    I like the framing. I know it is only used for weekends but my concern would be to make certain that wastewater not contaminate some stream or body of water. Animals and plants rely on clean water. If no one is concerned with that then we’ll all be living in our own sh*t. And by the way, if I was a neighbor I’d want to know where everything flows.

  • Jody
    August 18, 2016, 12:14 am

    Wow impressive! Want to come and help me? 😉
    This looks really great! There sure are a lot of comments on this one.

  • Neville Cameron
    October 8, 2016, 6:46 pm

    Remember the law prevents the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges!
    In New Zealand we have increasing building standards, and lower affordability.
    There is no doubt that the established building companies and their politicians are driving this.

  • Vicki Lingle
    October 9, 2016, 10:54 pm

    Let’s try to stay away from labeling people. There are people of all sorts, some conservative, some liberal, some from a European background, some from backgrounds around the globe. None, including you, want to be categorized and placed in a box based on your job or where your family came from. Zoning is done to protect the nature/makeup of a community. In the case of the woman who was allowed to place her THOW in the back yard of her friend, the city doesn’t want to see everyone placing a mobile home in their back yard and renting it out as affordable housing. If it were your city, you probably wouldn’t want that either. Continuing on with zoning, do you like that your house is in a neighbourhood where your neighbour can’t sell his/her house to someone who might build a slaughterhouse? Or a warehouse? Or worse, an all night strip club? It’s zoning that protects you. Do you live in a nice neighbourhood, with nice schools for your children, where everyone has to follow a few rules to keep the neighbourhood looking as the developer built it, and as a result, your home maintains its value? It’s zoning that protects you, and your children.
    If you don’t like the way your community is going, stop complaining and get involved. Communities are made up of people, and are good or bad depending on the people and their actions. If things, like zoning, need to be updated to keep up with the times, economy and cost of housing, get involved and help create a good solution to affordable housing, which includes small housing of all types.

    October 12, 2016, 8:39 am

    Yea…! The American dream lives…. Put that in your pipes and smoke it, big custom builders with those hefty price tags….

  • Mimi
    October 12, 2016, 4:37 pm

    It’s cute but……where’s the potty? I don’t consider anything a home without one.

    March 29, 2017, 9:50 pm

    I remember this one, I really like the job they did building this tiny house…!

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