Friday, July 31, 2009

Lakefront Cabin, 29.5 - 10 Pear Trees on front lawn.


5 acres in MO for cheap.

Excellent deal. 


I put an email to the folks at Rochester Truck to see if they can tell me the difference in distance from ground to deck between the inset trailer and the wheel-over model.

Fancy Freezer Fridge

Found one of these that will work stateside at 110v... now I just need to find a small chest freezer.

Here is a good description of the process.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Segmented Bathroom Design

This is a sweet segmented bathroom design. Obviously the layout provided is too large for our application, but it is food for thought.

More Zoning Complication Commentary


Found a great link to a DIY mod kit for turning a chest freezer into a fridge that consumes almost no electricity.


Cool flip-top loveseat/table conversion around 4:05 in this video:


Sinks for Tiny Homes forum post

Licensing of trailers/RVs, etc.

This thread focuses on the subject of whether the registration and licensing is of a cargo trailer or an RV.

Zoning; and a new Forum.

On that site, there is a zoning post that I think is worth a read. It kind of worries me, as one user states that he has had trouble getting approval in RV parks because it doesn’t look like an RV, ironically. They want their park to seem like an RV park, so they don’t want houses??

Park Models seem more and more ideal in this light... sigh.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things To Figure Out:

Trying to figure out the best dormer window arrangement. The options are:

  1. Full dormers on both sides, opening up the interior, letting in lots of light, but losing some heat containment due to the extra windows.
  2. Dormers ONLY over the back third, but on both sides. This opens up the loft for optimum sit-ability and light, but still runs the risk of being a bit chilly in the winter. We could just make sure to use some VERY insulated windows in the loft dormers.
  3. We could do a full dormer on ONE side, south side only. This will simulate the solar house design, allowing more light in the entirety of the interior, leaving the loft atleast partially sit-able, BUT it also has the potential to lose a lot of extra heat.
  4. We could do a partial dormer on ONE side only, and only over the loft. This would be the most heat containing option, but would only open up the loft part way and will result in significantly less lighting in the entire interior.
I am leaning towards option 1 or 2. I would like to keep the loft open and spacious so that we can comfortably sit in it and use it for private socializing.


I have been looking into Solviva's composting toilet designs. I think I like them better than the Nature's Head. They argue against peat moss, which is exactly what Nature's Head uses. I also don't think the stuff needs to be agregated, because it's properly layered, bulked, and aerated naturally by adding a little fill after every use. It also uses a 20 gal. holding tank instead of a 5, which means changing considerably less often as well.

I am unclear on whether or not the still feel the need for urine diverters. It seems like they would need one, and yet I saw no mention of one. I am assuming they use one... but maybe not. I will look into it more.

Wonderful New News

I just got an email back from my uncle. He said he has a pretty good idea of what we want now, and it's just a matter of getting him a trailer and finalizing our plans ASAP. He said he can build it in "very little time."

I was inspired by a picture posted at one point by Michael Janzen of Tiny House Design. He was considering designs to develop, and had posted an 8x20 design with dormer windows added to the roof. We are most likely going to go with a modified Sonoma Shanty design that adds dormer windows for loft head room and lighting.

I am now wondering if we should do full shed dormers on BOTH sides, REALLY opening up the loft and the whole house, but making it a lot more susceptible to heat loss.

On the other hand, we could do partial shed dormers just in the back third over the loft.

And finally, there's also the option of cutting back to one side of the loft for even more heat efficiency, leaving windows only on the south facing side.
While we do love the 8x20 solar house design that Michael is now offering, we really want to implement a loft for the extra floor space. And it seems easier to add dormers to the Sonoma Shanty than it would be to add a loft to the solar house, so we're leaning that way at this point.

I am still lost on how we are going to implement a grey water holding tank near the drain (so we can use it at RV parks and stuff) and also how to implement the electrical system properly so that it can be hooked up easily to a simple extension cord... wouldn't mind also being able to hook it up at an RV park, but I don't know what the standard is there either.


If anyone has any resources on these, please let me know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009


We are making some headway now. My uncle has pretty much agreed to construct it. He is pretty excited about the whole concept, and thinks it will be downright fun to build. His business is booked solid through the end of August, so he is planning to do it in his spare time as a fun build.

I sent over the Sonoma Shanty plans, which I purchased last night. I was a little disappointed to find out after the fact that the plans are only for the 8x16 model, and not the 8x20. However, I went ahead and sent them to my uncle anyway to see if he can work with them despite the discrepancy.

I am also inquiring about whether or not we can add dormer windows throughout the roof to give it a lot more head space in the loft and a more open and lighter feel in the main living space.

I have been looking around for a new trailer, because my uncle seems to think it is important to start with a new trailer that we can trust. I think it MIGHT be possible for us to just get a used one that is in good condition, but I have to admit I do not know how to recognize a quality buy.

If anyone out there in tiny-land has any suggestions regarding buying used versus new for the trailer, I am all ears.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Used Flatbed Trailers

Some unorthodox trailer sizes here. The latter two seem to be converted campers, which means they should be able to handle weight.




If we can get someone to help us look at these, I think we can get a good used trailer for cheap... possibly even considerably bigger than 8x20 if we use a camper conversion flatbed.

Edit: Sam, do you think your dad would like to look at trailers with us or you? Would you be willing to ask for his help in such a project? He's the only person I can think of who has a big truck and enough knowledge to recognize a good/bad trailer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Alternate Plans

So, it seems as though the Martin House (our Plan A) has indeed been sold. I'm pretty bummed about that... but with each closed door, another opens—I'm keeping myself optimistic. We're not exactly sure which of our other plans we will actually be going with yet... it all depends on which one works out the soonest.

James has talked with his uncle about building us something to match the Martin House, or something very similar. His uncle is in the process of finding out if he can purchase the materials for the amount we'd like to spend, so we're waiting to hear back from him. Once we hear back—yay or nay—then we can move forward with deciding which direction we're planning on going.

If he cannot build one for the amount we have to spend, then we're considering the Sonoma Shanty. This will give us a bunch of options.

• We could get the whole house built for somewhere around $25,000 (I believe, I can't recall the exact price)—that would take about 4 weeks for them to build.

• We could get the house, with the floor, walls and roof mounted on the trailer for $9000—that would take only a week for them to build. Then we'd have to finish building ourselves... while we live in it.

• We could get the kit, and see if James' uncle could build it up to a livable point before August 31st. Then we could finish it while we live in it.

I'm pretty sure all the Sonoma Shanty options mean James and I will be flying to California, renting a 1-ton truck and towing it back across the country. Building one here would save us that hastle, that's for sure.

Monday, July 20, 2009


90% Funded!

Our loan is up to 90% funded, and there's over a day left! There is no doubt in my mind that we'll be able to successfully gather up the money needed now to purchase our first-choice house... well, that is, if it's still available for us. Either way, we'll have the money to either build or purchase our second-choice house too.

What a relief!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yard Sale #1

Well, we had our first yard sale today. It wasn't bad—there was a lot of traffic wandering through. A few people bought bags worth of stuff. We made about $110.

We didn't sell as much as I had hoped though. I feel like there isn't much of a dent in the amount of stuff we still have to get rid of. Which just means, we'll have to get more creative with how we're selling stuff. We'll probably have more yard sales, but craigslist will hopefully be a good avenue for getting rid of things.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

High End "permanent" yurts. SIP and Fiberglass.

Found two permanent-style yurt setups:


Either one could be an easy solution to setting up a permanent structure for cheap.


I'm feeling really confident today.

Just knowing that there are 3 different possible paths for James and I to succeed at obtaining a little house really helps me feel like it's all going to work out okay.

These past few weeks, for both of us, have been pretty stressful—between trying to figure out what to do about a little house on wheels, and for me, dealing with an overdue deadline at work.

Yesterday seemed to be a great day for both of these things.

•At work, the team I'm working with and I finally got our booklets to the printer. It's been months of hard work to get to that point, and I'm SO relieved to finally be done with it.
• James' uncle got in touch with him, and they chatted about the possibility of building a small house from scratch.
• And as James said in the previous post, we told our landlord we'd be leaving.

All those things put together really lifted a big weight off our shoulders.

To boot, I talked briefly this morning with my creative director (Pam), and she was very encouraging. She really supports my decision to want to do this, and she wants to keep me as part of the design team as much as I possibly can—which was my intention also... so that works out well.

It was nice to get some feedback from someone since I first spoke with my boss (Betsy) last week. It turns out that Betsy and Pam talked about this when they were together, and they both very much want to keep me part of the company, however possible.

Oh, and also, our Lending Club loan is slowly continuing to grow. If you would, in any way like to help James and I on our adventure into financial independence, please consider investing in our lending club loan! It would greatly GREATLY be appreciated!

Deadline past.


I have been stressing out about making sure we line up SOMETHING before giving our notice on the lease.... but no more.

We have given our notice, and are now stepping out on the limb.

Faith is necessary now.

But it feels... nice. Now. I feel like the pressure is off, in a way. Kind of ironic, because now we HAVE to figure out SOMETHING... but the pressure is off, because I had built up July 15th to be this end-all-be-all dead line for figuring out a plan.

However, I really like that we are stepping out into faith in the idea that we will figure out a solution.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tiny House Free Design progress

The guy doing the custom free designs over at Tiny House Design has added an update regarding the solar house plan availability here.

Just from the drawings he posted there I might be able to get a lot more info out of my uncle.

If we can build something with that kind of roof, that would be awesome. It is tall, but I have to assume it's less than 13' total so it's road legal.


Okay, factoring in a high fruit diet, I think that northern California is the best place to be.

In the long term, A green house should allow us to grow the varieties of fruits we want to eat...

And in the short term, the tropical fruit availability is only half a state away. We should be able to easily ship in plenty of fresh produce from SoCal.

Finally, I believe that if I were there I would very likely work on an organic farm and maybe even make a living out of it, eventually buying land to build my own farm.

And odds are, if I work for a farm, they will let us live on the land in a tiny house. So organic farming could be a temporary solution until we have bought land even.

These have been a record of my current thoughts. :)


So far, no responses from my dad or my uncle. Can't seem to get ahold of anybody helpful!

I am going to call the Sonoma Shanty guy later today and talk to him about how much of it we could have done for 15k or so.

Also, as I increase my fruit intake again, I am becoming aware of the limitations of eating oranges and bananas back and forth endlessly. Realistically, when we move it should be to a climate that can grow what we need, or very close to it. I think the only reason we've been thinking that this area's fruit supply is effective enough is because we add so many cooked vegan meals in.

Eyeballing California again because of that.

Ah well.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Here's a great blog covering the developmental building process of a Fencl:

New Wave

Well, Julie Martin sold the second little house we were considering. So much for that. And she can't provide plans for the 2008 model.

So I've moved on... I'm now considering purchasing the Fencl plans from Tumbleweeds.

I will talk to my Uncle at lunch time and find out if it's feasible or not.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Airstream Basecamp

I could see buying one of Airstream's Basecamps and just road-tripping indefinitely for the rest of my insignificant existence.


Pretty much.

Easy Domes

Well, as we pursue an alternative option for trailer-mounted house, I am also perusing other possibilities of potential plans.

Easy Domes seem like an economically friendly solution that I can put up myself. I'm not sure hjow much they run, but I am assuming they're not TOO pricey. I will have to fill out their quote form at some point and find how much we're really talking.

But none the less, it can be assembled by us dumb folk without hammerin' knowledge. If it's technically a legal structure in the U.S., it seems like the best choice for building our own eventually. Obviously it cannot happen before the end of August, but when we want to build something it might be the best solution.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PVC Bike Guy

Ah... I needed a worthy distraction..:

This guy kicks ass. I'm going to build myself one'a them ground-scouring lean-backers out of PVC.

In other news, she sold the house we were hoping to purchase.

The Field Lab

This guy in Texas has built in a location where zoning laws are not an issue. He can basically do what he wants. He's also got a great page set up with lots of info. The Field Lab.

Small Living Journal

The Small Living Journal has a great article about the bureaucracy involved in a pursuit such as ours.

A useful quote I found:
"For example you might find that a lot zoned for single family residences require homes with a minimum square footage larger than you intend to build. But you may also notice that there are no minimum size requirements for properties zoned for multi-family residences. This is because these zones allow for duplexes and apartments and different rules apply to these kinds of projects. Theoretically you could use this to your advantage by getting a permit to build one tiny house and still leave the option open for building another later."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Basic Conclusions Re: Conposting Toilets

After thorough study, I've basically concluded that almost every commercially-designed automated composting toilet is highly prone to issues of all kinds. What's worse is, the companies making them seem to know it, and don't care.

I have concluded that THE best solution for a mobile composting toilet is either a) The loveable loo design, or b) Nature's Head, which is the only commercially designed composting toilet with a simple enough design to avoid most of the nightmarish possibilities of the more complex CT's.

The catch is, it would only serve as a mobile toilet, and would most likely not be acceptable as an alternative to a septic system when it comes to land ownership ordinances.

So... it can serve as a temporary solution while we are living out of the little house, and then I will have to build septic or sewer connections if/when we build a permanent structure on land.

Though here is a thought... I am wondering if an outhouse is an acceptable alternative to a septic system. We could use the Nature's Head inside for the most part, but have an outhouse to meet the needs of the town/city as well as giving us a place to dump the waste from the Nature's Head.

So far, that's the best I've come up with...

Leaving work now. :)

Composting Toilets

Glad to say that I've been educating myself on Composting Toilets. It turns out that most of them are problematic, to say the least.

The most efficient systems are home made, or involve separation designs where the urine is held separately from solid waste.

That seems like the best pre-made solution so far.

Building our own still seems like the best all-around option... though we probably run into some certification or legal issues if we go that way...

And a light.

With some luck, I might be able to avoid the loan process all together.


I am basically coming apart at the seams here. Everything that I do to maintain my health is unraveling. My addictive habituations are flaring way up. I am at risk of losing the progress I've made dietarily. (I ordered a danish.)

The stress of the impending deadline and our need for a loan is too much for the fragile mind that is left after weeks of trial and error based planning.

If nothing else, I will sit at home and call every god damn bank in the area. SOMEONE will give me a loan based on my collateral. We've just been too timid. I want my fucking money. If I can't get a loan I am going to speak to the people that owe me money directly about whether or not it's possible for me to get an advance on just part of what they owe me.

Hell, why haven't I done that yet? Damn. I'm calling them tonight.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Loans - not quite as easy as I thought

Finding a loan for this little house is proving itself to be somewhat of a hassle.

So far, I've tried some banks local to us, from which I've learned that they only provide loans for travel trailers that are purchased locally. One told me that this type of little house is considered a mobile/modular home rather than a travel trailer... I've been getting mixed reviews about that. According to the woman we hope to purchase it from, she suggested we look for travel trailer loans.

It's frustrating, but I am determined to get SOME kind of loan, so we may purchase this thing and get on with our lives.

My next step is going to be to look into banks closer to where we will be purchasing the little house FROM, in hopes that it will solve the *local* issue. The little-house company used to offer financing, but no longer does. James has contacted them to find out what bank they used to use to finance. I'm hoping that leads to something promising.

Fingers crossed!


At every turn, the system is designed to screw those who might not want to link in and commit to huge spending. and it's designed to screw anyone who tries to "do it yourself" as far as I can tell.

The latest hurdle is my discovery that you still have to install a septic system, even if you are using a composting toilet. What a fucking waste of money. Grrr.

Not to mention we are having trouble getting financing because what we are buying is technically neither a house nor a travel trailer. Sigh. It doesn't fit into any category. Can you get a personal loan without having to specifically tell them what it's being used for? Or even a loan that simply has a less rigid definition and therefore can be used to purchase a custom or home-crafted R.V.?

GARARARAR! I have lost patience.

Fueling The Escape

I didn't always have the energy necessary to pursue this. Over the last couple years, I've dramatically changed my diet to a high-fruit-intake arrangement.

We eat a lot of fruit. It gives me the energy so very necessary to make my dreams become reality.

Without the fruit, I was lethargic and morose. I came home from work and felt sad because my energy was all spent on someone else's interests, and now I had none left for me.

I eat about 2500-3000 calories in fruit a day. If i want other foods later in the day, I eat them. I don't restrict myself, but I do make sure to be realistic about making sure I get the fuel I need to function.

The more fruit I eat, the more efficient I am. This is an undeniable truth of my existence.


For those stumbling upon this blog, let me bring you up to speed:

Like many of you, for the last several years of my life, I have felt very uncomfortable within the defining systems and boundaries that most people come to accept as inevitable. You might even say I've always felt this way, but simply wasn't aware of it.

I'm talking about feeling obligated to jobs that make us feel like slaves, just to surround ourselves with an excessive amount of shit we don't need,  or really even WANT.

All of this was complicated for me personally by some serious setbacks to my physical development due to being hit by a car when I was 14 and breaking six major bones in half.

So, I started thinking outside the box a few years ago, trying to figure out a way to use the relatively small insurance settlement payoffs make it so that I can recooperate without being highly dependent on anyone.

After racking up about 7 grand in debt on credit cards, then waiting for some money to pay it off, I decided that debt is not for me and that I don't want any sizable amount of it.

Thus, mortgages for houses are no longer seemed like an option. It was a frightening concept--to be chained to the obligatory work week for 10 to 30 years just to pay off something that I might not even want in 10.

So... I started consider what I really want out of a living solution.


I realized that eco-friendly and green building solutions really appealed to me. I wanted a cheap house, relatively easy to assemble from unusual eco-friendly resources, that I could build myself. And it had to be legal, for the sake of longevity.


So it began. Sam had spoken of hay bail houses, so I began looking into it. I quickly shifted my attention to shipping container houses. I was fascinated with the concept of expandability and what was basically a poor man's version of modular building.

After quite a bit of research, I discovered that it wouldn't really work out because the costs to get to a finished point would still be really excessive, almost comparable to traditional building.


I then learned about Earthships. I was absolutely fascinated to learn about how Mike Reynolds transformed tires and dirt into structures that were completely self-sustaining. FINALLY, I had found something that involved building from recycled materials that would be cheap and easy to attain.

I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to watch this movie about him, Garbage Warrior. He is truly a wonderful soul, looking to help humanity in huge ways. He helped people rebuild after the big Tsunami hit India, and he's done his best to fight for all of our rights to build what we want on our own land.

Mike is truly a spiritual Warrior, and I am proud to live in the same age with minds like these.

Unfortunately... after I watched the movie, I found myself disheartened. It seemed to that building my own Earthship would not be possible for a complicated combination of legal reasons.


The search continued, as I looked into small, modern, eco-efficiency buildings built out of shipping containers. However, do to all of the work that must be done to make them work, the prices are simply unreasonable for most of the pre-built structures.


My patience had just started to wane when I found The Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. I was astonished by the concept. A tiny house designed for ultra-efficiency, that was also eco friendly! AND they were beautiful.

The problem? PRICE. Holy cow. The tumbleweed houses are really high cost if you don't want to build it yourself. I considered that, but we wanted to get into something sooner than later, and I don't know that much about building. (Yet. :) )

Little did I know just how close we were to an answer.

(to be continued.)