Tiny Dreams

Before I go on about how pleased with myself I am to have an initial floor plan complete for my tiny house project, let me first tell you a little about myself to give this all some context.

A few months ago I quit my job so I could start writing and have a professional blog that would hopefully one day pay the bills.  I suppose there is a whole life style thing that I have involved myself in.  I am a nutritionist, I am an introvert, I am an environmentalist, and in the past few months I have started heading down the path of minimalism.  I suppose as a means to provide myself with the security to indulge in all of these facets of self I have decided that, at this time in my life, the best way for me to proceed is to build a tiny house.

Alice in Wonderland has grown to large to fit in the tiny house.

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue magazine.

Currently I am twenty five, I still live with my parents, and, worse yet, so does my fiancé.  We are getting married at the end of next month and I just can’t imagine wasting the first few years of our marriage renting.  I can’t imagine throwing money away to live in some busy area of the city; feeling trapped by the city lifestyle.  I tend to pride myself on knowing the difference between needs and wants and ensuring my indulgences are few and far between but also that quality is always the highest priority when I do buy something for myself.  In other words, I am a frugal person with incredibly high standards when it comes to function and performance.  Since I left my job in the customer service division of private laboratory in the alternative health industry I can’t say I’ve gained all that much….  I have many DIY wedding projects half finished, or half started if you are a pessimist, but otherwise all of my aspirations have been left to simmer on the back burner.

I had been facing a mounting level of depression and sadness (which might be evident on this blog by my lack of other entries) and, despite the overwhelming stress of so many tedious and incomplete projects, I was finding it increasingly difficult to greet each day with any shred of enthusiasm or motivation.  At least that was until two weeks ago when my fiancé shared that he might be interested in tiny living.

I have spent the last week solidly focusing on three important projects – my revenue generating website, laying out plans for a meal planning app that I have been tossing around in my head for a few years, and plans for our future living spaces – and my mood has really taken a turn for the better.  It just goes to prove that spending your days doing non-fulfilling or purposeless tasks will take a heavy toll on you as a person.  It is funny because that was the reason I left my job in the first place, I hadn’t realized how readily I would fill that space with something equally unappealing.

But, back to my plans!  The end goal for me is to have a large piece of land as far outside of the city as my partner will allow.  We will build a house much smaller than most homes today, probably around 600 square feet, built into a hill like a tunnel with walls of windows on each open end.  There will be room for us to have our family over for family dinners but when we are alone it will be a quite, peaceful, scenic space.  Derek, my fiancé has been kind enough to go along with all my crazy ideas, although to him the amount of land we have is of the utmost importance – to a baffling degree.  Why in a hill you ask?  Well, it would be an environmentally friendly home with a composting toilet, grey water recycling, and renewable power.  The hill part helps with heat efficiency but I think it will be massively appealing from the outside as well, which is important because we are both nature nuts.

The problem with my dream is that we are a young couple and we can’t afford to buy 20+ acres of land near the mountains, build our relatively cheap (I will give an initial estimate of $100,000 building cost in total) and make a long commute into the city each day for work (that would be Derek commuting, not me – another perk of all my fanciful writing and developing stuff).  But, I also refuse to accept “the house you want” being something for adults in their 50’s or 60’s and a pipe dream for everyone else (like my family keeps saying).  So rather than renting we have decided that building a tiny home (which tend to cost around $30,000, though this is all variable of course) will be our best bet for now.  I recently accepted a part time position with my local food bank to run a program for elementary students so I am tied to this area for a year or two and Derek is looking for a promotion at work that would tie him down for at least a year as well.  Come September we will begin building our “tiny” house (our house will not be that tiny compared to most tiny homes which are around 100-150 square feet, ours will be close to 300 square feet).  Derek’s parents own a spare lot in a town 25 minutes away from where we live where we will be able to put our flatbed trailer (the foundation for our tiny house) and work on it over the weekends.  It will be a rush to get all the framing and exterior completed before winter but we should be able to recruit some of our friends and family for a few weekends to help us with the project.   Both of our fathers are very handy so they should be able to provide some guidance and expertise, which will be great because neither of us really have much experience outside or random projects or helping others with their projects.

It is either because I like having projects to fill my time with or because I am crazy, but I would like to film the whole ordeal and maybe do some filming afterwards to shed light on tiny house living.  It is kind of a weird project because I know that other people who have shared their experience with minimalism (a process in which you slowly cut down your possessions until you are left with whatever the basics are for you, and in the process become a happier person – hopefully) with the cyber world only to receive backlash about how they have not cut out near as much as so and so and therefore have no right to speak about minimalism.  Who would have thought minimalism would be so cut throat?  The tiny house I have set out to build is not nearly as tiny as most other tiny houses because I have planned it out so that it is not rustic in comparison to most other tiny houses.  In order for my spouse to be happy living in cramped quarters I don’t think I could just pull what most would consider civilized life to be out from under him like a rug.  Though I can’t quite use him as a cop out either, because I will require a functioning kitchen in order to blog the way I would like (about lifestyle and food).  That puts me in a spot that may, or may not, be tricky.  My family is currently questioning a lot about my decisions.  My sister is pregnant and her husband wants to know how I will spend time with my nephew if my living space is only comfortable for two, my father doesn’t understand how I will heat my water, my mother thinks I am doing this to avoid having to cook Christmas dinner for the family…  While on the other hand, the tiny house community might feel that my house hardly qualifies for tiny and that I am missing the point of the movement if I have a washer and dryer in my home.  I might end up as a bit of a black sheep to the tiny house community and to the regular community.

That really isn’t what it is about for me, it is about living with less as much as you can so that you appreciate the things you do have.  Which is why I would like to film it.  I would like to show people that you can have a tiny house that still has everything a house has – a shower, a fridge, a washer and dryer, etc.  You can cut back in your own way and it isn’t reserved for people that want to bathe in a basin or live out in the bush.  For me, tiny living is about being free from the typical payments you are associated with, it is about being comfortable, and it is about the flexibility to move if you need to without uprooting your life or to leave a job you hate without a huge financial burden.  I think a lot of other people would value those things too.  And another great thing about it is that when we do find the perfect spot to build a permanent home we will have a place to live during the construction and afterwards it can become a guest house for family.

It took me two long evenings with a free online design tool to create a workable space for two people to live in with a full kitchen, laundry, three piece bath, living area, and sleeping/storage loft in a maximum footprint of 25′ x 8’5″, but I did it.

I can’t wait to show my fiancé so he can decide if he feels he could live there so we can start the real planning!

Wow, I guess that is it on the gushing with pride I mentioned in the first line….  That seems like a pretty long entry of context….  Congratulations if you made it all the way through!


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