Pro Tips: A Tiny House Dweller Shares 7 Lessons Learned

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Extra-small homes – that you can get for a pittance – are becoming big business across America. A builder and his wife who have joined the movement offer tips on how to reduce your load and design the miniature home of your dreams.

The average American spends between one-third and one-half of their income on a roof. So it’s not surprising that the tiny house movement has been a big hit. Such is the case with Travis and Brittany Pyke of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Refusing to pay thousands of dollars in rent, Travis, a carpenter and construction worker, built a tiny bungalow for the couple in 2013. “What other newlyweds can own their own home without a mortgage?” enthuses wife Brittany. About a year later, Travis and two friends teamed up to launch Wind River Tiny Homes, creating tiny homes for others starting at $40,000. But what exactly is tiny? Between 100 and 300 square feet for a ready-to-roll home and 500 to 600 square feet for a home with a permanent foundation. Because living large in a small space takes some adjusting, we asked the Pykes to share their strategies for living happily in a tiny home.

Have your reasons
Living in a tiny house obviously requires depending on a lot less stuff, but don’t think you have to give up things. “Make a list of your life goals,” Brittany explains. “Mine was to be debt-free by age 30 and to have the freedom to travel. Knowing what your biggest dreams are can help you cut back on spending.”

Reduce expenses by category
You know you need to live with less, but where do you start? “Cut back in stages to prepare for a move to a smaller home,” says Travis, who advises learning to live with less by cutting back on one type of item at a time. “For me, it was easiest to start with clothes; for you, it might be kitchen utensils or office supplies,” he says. Starting with the easiest category will put you in a positive frame of mind when you succeed. “Take stock of each item, considering its true importance. If you haven’t used it in the last month, you don’t need it,” Travis says. “You’ll find that living with less makes you feel like you have more, because you’ll use and love every item you own. No more junk. No more clutter.”

Make your home fit your life
As with building any home, but especially with designing a tiny house, every nook and cranny, every material and every design must be tailored to your needs. The two most crucial considerations are lifestyle and location. “Where do you spend most of your time?” asks Travis. “Do you cook and entertain a lot? Do you want storage space for a certain hobby or collection?” Knowing your needs and wants will help you allocate appropriate space in your home. The location then determines things like insulation, windows, utilities and the set of materials used. “For example, a tiny home in Vermont might have closed-cell spray foam insulation, strategically placed windows to let in the sun’s heat, durable siding and amenities like a wood stove,” Travis says. “A tiny home in Florida could have lighter colored siding to reduce heat, installation of solar panels, and more outdoor living space.”

Pay attention to space
The key to designing a small home is to eliminate dead space. Almost every nook and cranny can accommodate some sort of storage or shelf. “You can also get creative with functional shelving, such as a bookcase that doubles as a ladder to the attic,” Travis explains, “or a shelf table that folds down against the wall to provide entertaining space. And as long as you don’t compromise your insulation, you can even build things like a spice cabinet or fold-down ironing board between the wall studs.”

Understand your utilities
Most tiny house utilities work like those in a regular house, except for how the water is connected and drained. “The connection can be as simple as attaching a camper hose to an outdoor faucet and screwing it into your tiny house,” Travis says. “A composting toilet removes ‘black water’ or, if your zoning allows, you can make your own gray and black water disposal field.”

Heating and cooling options vary and tend to depend on the climate. “Propane and gas heaters are very efficient, and you can find aesthetically pleasing units, such as those made for sailboat cabins,” Travis says. “For cooling, you can have a typical window air conditioner, a mini-split system, or simply strategically placed screens and fans to maintain good airflow.”

Pay attention to space
The key to designing a small home is to eliminate dead space. Almost every nook and cranny can accommodate some sort of storage or shelf. “You can also get creative with functional shelving, such as a bookcase that doubles as a ladder to the attic,” Travis says, “or a shelving table that folds up against the wall to provide entertaining space. And as long as you don’t compromise your insulation, you can even build things like a spice cabinet or a fold-down ironing board between the wall studs.”

Understand your utilities
Most of the utilities in tiny houses work like those in a regular house, except for how water is connected and drained. “The connection can be as simple as attaching an RV hose to an outdoor faucet and screwing it into your tiny house,” Travis explains. “A composting toilet removes ‘black water’ or, if your zoning allows, you can make your own gray and black water disposal field.”

Heating and cooling options vary and tend to be climate dependent. “Propane and gas heaters are very efficient, and you can find aesthetically pleasing units, such as those made for sailboat cabins,” Travis says. “For cooling, you can have a typical window air conditioner, a mini-split system, or simply strategically placed screens and fans to keep the air flowing.”

Enjoy the closeness
Tiny house enthusiasts find that privacy is overrated: “I think our marriage is richer because we can’t hide in another area or floor of our house,” says Brittany. “We deal with small disagreements as they come, and our communication is improved. And while we both appreciate the space for me, mine is simply a chair in the corner of our little house, where I can curl up under my favorite blanket with a good book.”

source : Photo: windrivertinyhomes.com

The key to living comfortably in a tiny house is keeping the space organized and tidy.