Monday, June 30, 2014

94. Living in a Tent (TINY HOUSE EDITION!)

Well folks, Dumptruck and I are the proud owners of a Tiny House. We are open to suggestions for names for the house. It's like Mary Poppins' carpet bag, the Tardis, or Hermione's beaded bag: it looks tiny from the outside but from the inside it feels huge. It is way more than enough space to live in, feel comfortable in, and party in. If you are curious about all the ins-and-outs about how everything works, check out the Tiny House FAQ!

It's basically the driest tent I've ever slept in.

We bought it in February, and have been steadily working on it since that time, and moved in this past weekend. I have put in some "before" photos at the end of the post, so you can see the amount of work that we put into our little house. We know fully understand the meaning of the phrase "Do It Yourself." We DIYed all over this mother. Every single construction thing Dumptruck did himself, installing all of it with his own two hands. I helped with the design, moving it all into place, painting, etc., but Dumptruck did absolutely all the math and construction, sitting in front of the house with a jigsaw and circular saw on the ground.

Let us all bow our heads in thanks to whatever deity you believe in that he still, against all probability, has all of his fingers.

The house is 8 feet by 18 feet, which is just about the same footprint as a Chevy Suburban. I don't know if that makes me feel weird about myself, or makes me feel weird about America. But in either case, there's that little fact to ruminate on. The house has a kitchen, dining/living room, bathroom, bedroom loft and storage loft. It also has a wood burning stove and a chimney.

We (personally, with our four hands) built and installed storage benches (one of which can roll across the floor with hidden wheels), a fold-up table that folds down and locks into place, a sink, a ladder to the bedroom loft, created a closet, created an entire separate bathroom with a shower and marine head toilet (called an Air Head). Dumptruck even wired the entire house for electricity, and it's fully lit. The house had no electricity before this, whatsoever. Dumptruck spent the last several months ripping out a huge amount of construction inside the house to rebuild it to make it good for 2 people. We even added a set of jumping shelves for the cats to be able to get up to the loft. They've done it many times already, and have made me question my own level of athleticism.

We moved in on Friday (which was an insane escapade, which is why I didn't have the energy to post last Friday). I was so exhausted after all the move-in process that for dinner I sat on the floor with a loaf of bread in one hand and an entire block of cheese in the other hand, just taking alternating bites of each, while Van Morrison played in the background.

If you're on a computer, you should click on the photos to enlarge them to full size!

We had to take down the chimney to be able to move the house, and the
last thing we have to do is re-install the chimney.
You can seen the cat-leap shelves on the left!
To the front you can see the white wall that separates the bathroom.

Climbing up to the bedroom loft.

Storage benches. Tools in the left bench. Winter clothing in the right bench.
Table folded up on the right!
(Look at that outlet on the right! It is one of many! Woo!)

Bench rolls out and to the side to allow for 4 people to sit and eat easily! The table
folds down and locks into place, so the support can't be kicked out.

Fridge and sink on the right. If you have more questions about how we'll do water,
feel free to ask! I'm happy to explain it, it's just not the most interesting for folks
not looking to try and make the same thing happen.

Bathroom, toilet and shower! The green curtain closes as a door for the bathroom.
Our shower is a 2 gallon weed sprayer with a shower head attached to the end of the hose.
You pump it up and it gets great pressure! We do 1.5 gallons cold water and 0.5 gallons boiling water
to make a perfectly hot shower.
The average American uses over 100 gallons of water a day. We will now (two people, with two cats), will cumulatively be using less than 9 gallons of water a day. 
We do "ship showers" in which you get wet, stop the water, soap up, then rinse off!
The water drains to a tub under the house that we remove and dispose of in an underground
grey water tank that Dumptruck installed.

View around the bathroom wall, toward the book/clothes shelves!

Our closet, clothing hamper, and cats, view toward the kitchen.

Kitchen counter and shelves!

Sleeping loft!

View out the front door!
Panorama of the kitchen/dining room! The storage loft is directly above me,
on the right.

Basically: after you live in a tent for 6 months, this is like a palace. I don't know if I ever would have even considered this as an option before long distance hiking, but the AT really taught me that you don't need a lot of space or a lot of things to be happy, healthy and feel at home.

Clever Girl

Oh, and here are the "before" photos. This house was built by an incredibly talented, very VERY thorough builder in Maine who has built two full homes before, and built this tiny home for himself as a camping little bachelor pad (hence no hookups for water, bathroom or electricity). It is built like a tank, and has 4 inches of insulation in the walls, floor and ceiling. It was insulated to survive easily in the Maine winters. After he found himself a lovely lady, the bachelor pad went up for sale. We SNAGGED it and turned it into a home.

 We turned the wall to the left of the cabinets into a ladder.

This bed was screwed into place. Dumptruck removed all the wood and ripped
out that entire left set of cabinets to make the bathroom. 

No benches, no table! No electricity! The pull-out drawer on the left is double wide, and Dumptruck
made it half as wide to make room for the sink.


  1. Where's the house number? May I suggest 2180....

    1. We don't have a house number! We definitely need one. What's 2180, is that your guys' house number?!

  2. Long time listener, first time caller errr... poster. You guys are awesome, so is your house. I'm glad you have space for a little bit of LEGO (priorities).

    1. I cannot express how delighted I am that someone noticed the lego VW Bus. We worked hard to build that! No way we were leaving it behind! Tiny house in a tiny house.

  3. Love your tiny house! What do you do about cooking? If I had a tiny house, I would at least want a tiny microwave. :)

    1. We have a little shipboard alcohol-fuel stovetop with 2 burners. It works fabulously! We have been able to cook everything we've wanted to cook so far!

  4. I found my way over here via a tiny house blog.

    I love your little digs. It reminds me of our little house in Panama. Although this is way better built.

    We had an outdoor shower booth and we would heat water on the stove and then add it cold water in a five gallon bucket. We then ladled the warm water over us as the "shower". I love the idea of a fertilizer sprayer as a shower head; very efficient! I should pass that on to current Peace Corps volunteers.

    I love your skirt and camisole combo in the photos. I used to wear outfits like that a lot. I should again! I should also make a quilt like the one on your bed. I wish I could see it better. It looks gorgeous.

    I should also build a tiny house or refurbish an existing one. This little house was a real find.

    Now that we have two small kids, I envision building a small house to park on our property and rent out to a local college student. Then when it is just the two of us again and we can move in and downsize to the foot print of a large SUV.

    You are very inspirational.

    1. You are so sweet, this comment made me super happy. Your shower sounds awesome, that's a great idea. I love that you had a little house in Panama! I definitely recommend getting into building/refurbishing a tiny house. It was a heck of a lot of work, but it was really fun to do.

      I'm so glad you like the quilt! It was actually a wedding quilt handmade for us by one of our friends Sammi. You can find out more about her quilting and wedding quilts here!

  5. Great job! How'd you guys do the water/plumbing?

    1. Thank you! All the info on the plumbing and water can be found here, at my Tiny House FAQ!

  6. What a beautiful little house. You guys did a terrific job finishing and refinishing. I love the kitchen space, especially. The wall section with the sink is very like what I've been playing around with my own build.

    How about La Petite Maison? If my tiny home wasn't named Oliver's Nest, I would have named it that. A pretty name for a pretty home. :)

    Oh, and I too would like to know how you did your plumbing. I'd like to hear all the gritty details!


    1. Hello there! Thank you so much! Your project looks like it's really coming along, too. Hooray for tiny homes! The info about our plumbing and all those gritty details can be found at our Tiny House FAQ at:

  7. Thank you for sharing your lovely home! After many years of hemming and hawing over the idea of living in a tiny house, it's finally "clicked" with me. An old friend of mine from Wales shared your site with me this morning, and I've truly enjoyed it.

  8. Hi there and thanks for sharing. I was hoping you could tell me a little about what you've learned about zoning laws for tiny homes in Maine. I have been considering going tiny for a while now, but have been concerned that finding a place to park will be challenging, especially in Maine/New England. Where are you currently set up, and how did you learn about what restrictions there were in your area. Thanks!

  9. you should make plans available for others... I would like to build one

  10. you should make plans available for others... I would like to build one

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