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I know there have been a lot of talk on here about tiny homes, and how neat they are to build and live in. Now lets look at some of the problems a person might have with them, and maybe some of the solutions we can come up with to over come them. Here are some thoughts I have to start things off. It seems that most people looking to build a tiny home, are looking to build a simple life. One of the big problems I see is trying to can food from your garden, and where to store them once canned. I think another problem might come, if it is owned by a growing family. What are your thoughts and concerns?
 

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I have never lived in one, but I see no problem with adding on to one as needed.

IMO it's a bit silly to build one as small as possible anyway, when going to the effort for construction, the cost of materials, will not be that significance over time. The house does not have to be huge, but I'm not sure of the advantage of one, that can be quickly outgrown.
 

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I have a few problems with tiny houses.

First is storage. You can pare down a lot but if you have to store your shoes and boots in plastic bins on the front porch then your house is too small.

If you have not got a bathroom (shower, sink, toilet or compost toilet) then it is not a complete house. Just ask any one with kids.

Second is that most have the entrance at the end which makes for a shot-gun inside. A side entry would create more separation of spaces. Living at the front. Door with entry closet. Kitchen/ dining and then bedroom and bath at the back. You can still have a porch at the back.

The other thing is when they only have a loft sleeping area. That is great for kids and young adults (and as extra space) but not so great if you are older or if someone gets sick. Changing a bed in a loft that does not have enough head space to stand up in is never easy and if you throw in some vomit and pee then it is even worse.

So IMO if you want to be able to tow your tiny house then might as well get a trailer. Otherwise built it a little bigger or in sections. Have two - one for living one for sleeping.
 
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I would be concerned that the family furniture could not be retained. I have my grandmother's old roll top desk, and it would be bigger than most of those kitchens appear!

We live in a 900 square foot house, that was DH's bachelor pad before we got hitched. It is about as small as I would ever want to get. When it is just the two of us, with three 70 lb house dogs, it fits us well. When we add an adult kid or two, it becomes a bit too close and cozy. We had to convert the third "bedroom" (think nursery-sized) into a walk-in pantry.
 

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As said, space for living is pretty scarce. Sure, one person can occupy a pretty small space and be pretty contented. What happens when they fall in love with their soul mate and they become two people. Oops. (Or if they are of child bearing age, 3 or 4 or 5?) Things change.

What about canning? How many jars can a person store? What about a freezer? Is there room for one? What about space for processing food to be canned or frozen? What about all of the tools a person would use in processing food for storage? What about a decent stovetop to be able to run a water bath canner or pressure canner? What about a decent sized sink to wash, rinse and cool veggies as they're being worked with?

Do you have room for a decent shower and/or bathtub? Bathing is important and being able to soak in a hot bath might be more than a luxury to some people.

What about space to just "hang loose" on a cold or rainy day that's not really fit to be outside? Do you have room for a comfortable chair? Do you have room for a desk if you want to work at your computer? Do you have room to store important papers and documents that you should be keeping? Do you have room for and room to appropriately use your TV if you have one? Books? Hobbies?

And also as mentioned, do you have room for people to come and visit you, that is if you want visitors?

With a bedroom area being a ladder to a loft, there is increased risk of falling in the night as we sometimes have to get up to pee. There is the annoyance of trying to change sheets or make up a bed in a small space where you can't stand and you can't sit but can't exactly do much when laying down. You might be able to read in bed if you're into that.

Maybe it looks "cute". But being practical, I wouldn't want to live in one long term. I live in an RV fulltime (9 years now) and know a little about living in small spaces. I much prefer the rv as they generally are longer and often have slide outs to make it wider making living more comfortable. It's still small but in one the size we live in, probably twice the space of even a large "tiny home". (I can stand up in my bedroom and walk around 3 sides of my bed. I like that.)

To me, if you want small and movable, the rv world already has everything a person needs to do that well. If you don't need movable, I don't see the point in making your home so tiny that it limits your ability to live well. And there would be no reason to limit your footprint to something that can travel down the road.

Having lived in an rv for so long, it has given us a different perspective on how much space we (don't) need. We're parked in a place that's only a few miles from a large shed builder. We've looked at some of his larger sheds numerous times and thought about how one of those could easily make us a nice home. They're probably closer to the size of a 2 car garage but way bigger than a "tiny home". Mostly, it's a BIG kitchen surrounded by a modest but functional living space, and that sounds good to us. We don't need a large home. But we would like more than the "tiny home" provides.
 

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My biggest concern with a tiny house would be when you are done with it - either by dropping dead or moving.

Trying to sell a tiny house would not be easy - unless you (or your heirs) found somebody that was just looking for a tiny minimal house.
 

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I could make do in a small house, but a true tiny house of only a couple hundred sq ft would be too small. I need storage, a bathroom big enough to stretch in, and room for grandkids to stay.
A couple of weeks ago, my son, his wife and baby daughter came to visit for the week. My DD and her two kids, 11 and 14 came and stayed on the weekend as well. two queen beds, a queen sized blow up mattress and two sofas were used to sleep everyone. My son and DD are very tall. Furniture had to be moved out of guest room to accomodate luggage and such, bedding had to be picked up and put away in living room daily, making piles in corners.

My house is 1500 sq ft, the smallest bedroom is storage, and we were cramped, even with spending lots of time on the porch and outside.

I could do fine with 700 or 800 sq ft alone, with no company, but I don't want to NOT have space for family to visit.

Ed
 
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I see some of the same problems mentioned in the above post. I understand the desire to live simply or in less space as space cost money. But to be honest some of the extras have seen added to these tiny homes certainly are not for the sake of economics. I have no problem with people wanting a certain style, just be honest about what your actual goal is and honest when explaining it. I live in a fiarly large home now although it is not completed as we just added an upstairs addition last year and I have not had time to finish it yet. My next house will be much smaller. My plan is to have a small house of about 12' x 24' with a full basement (concrete complete with concrete roof for storage of food and shelter from tornado's) To add living space I will have a large covered porch with a nice outside kitchen under the porch ( as in 24'x24' or so across the whole back of the house). This area will be set up as a main dining area and general lounging area. With a high ceiling and ceiling fans this should be a comfortable area most of the year. With no insulation or walls the porch, even partially enclosed by half walls, should be fairly cheap protected square footage. This is how I plan to build less "finished" area, which cost more per square foot, but still have usable living space.
 

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I did live in an 800 sq ft house and it was fine. Plenty of storage, 2 bedrooms, one bath, good size kitchen. I could have lost one of the bedrooms and still be fine.
I just read an article about a super small house that was used for a vacation rental. The worse problem that I read was that the toilet and common areas were so close that the odors where inescapable. The other thing was that one person who have to huddle in an out of the way place when the other was active, like in cooking and cleaning.
 

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After owning a few camps and a couple of houses in my life (and building some of them) I've got a few opinions.

1. I think about 600 sq ft, if done well, is sufficient for 1-2 people. But you really have to plan, both inside, outside and attic spaces.

2. I think small homes work for young people, especially if they are building one themselves, and building the house with a plan for future expansion.

3. Storage sheds and barns are your friends.

4. Build for the long haul. Never use a 2x4 when a 2x6 will do. Don't forget about the size of doorways and entrance points and how the house will flow when you're older. Always think about ease and cost of maintenance.
 

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Tiny Houses- Ideas, Designs, Plans and Help
This Facebook group is great. It has lots of photo and ideas.

Simple Solar Homesteading
This Facebook group also talks quite a bit about small houses. The group owner has one and also designs them.

Nancy
 

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It seems to me that the size of house depends on who you are. If it is a man, he can do with little space, I think of mountain men here. Add a woman and you need more space, add children and you need even more. Women have a civilizing effect on a settlement. You look at the gold rush or any pioneering history, when it's just men, they can live pretty primitive, add women and children then you become a community. I personally would have no problem with a small cabin and an out house, but it's not the thing for a family. Our house has a cellar, unfinished, a first floor, mostly living space, and bathrooms about 800 square feet in total, and a second story again 800 square feet divided into bed rooms, this worked well for our family of 7 growing up, or my family of 5. I wouldn't want anything less for them. Me only, I could just live in our kitchen and the adjoining bathroom and be happy.
 

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Most problems with lack of space can be overcome with money. lets face it, specialty items like hide a beds and the like are usually much more expensive than what a person can go on CL and buy a normal size bed for. For this reason and others I have seen, I believe most Tiny houses are not actually built as a low cost alternative to a larger house, but it is a personal choice to make a statement or experiment. That being the case, most of these issues can be overcome. There is an endless supply of new gadgets at the home depot type stores for actually quite ingenious storage methods and ways of dealing with smaller spaces. I believe someone earlier mentioned outbuildings. I will have to admit outbuildings certainly become more important when you shrink the actual house. For homesteading purposes they will become a necessity.

I remember years ago looking at a property my parents were thinking of buying. Not a tiny house, but an older smaller house (no one knew what "Tiny" houses were then, you just build what you could afford and made due. Anyway, they had added a seperate canning shed with a cellar underneath only a short distance across the yard from the house. If a person is really going to be self sufficient to any extent, this is a necessity. if you do not build a kitchen in your tiny house that can handle canning and meat processing etc. You will need to add a separate building for this. Not a bad idea in fact maybe preferable to a large kitchen inside the house, due to the fact that canning veqqies in the summer usually heats a place up, better to heat an outbuilding than the house.

This is my idea for making a tiny house work. A separate canning and storage building, a separate area for cleaning your produce, a separate area for butchering and packing meat. In the end it may not be any cheaper than building a larger house, but it will allow you to build and complete a project a little along as you have money and time. Sharing spaces is a good way to get full use of expensive finished interior spaces. But I have always liked the idea of specialty areas where everything you need for a particular task is always ready and always stored. No wondering where the meat cutting knives went to after last years fall butchering, no wondering where you stored your big pressure canner after last years garden was over. They are both right where they should be, in the butchering shed or the canning shed.

I am not sure my ideas are in the full spirit of the new fad of Tiny houses, but it works and has worked for many years. if you look at most any old 100 year old homesteads you will find many different outbuildings in various stages of interior finishes, all built for different task. I am quite sure also built, as time and money allowed. You may also note, you will find very few homesteads where they built a house for their car, which is so popular today with everyone needing a 2 or 3 car garage????
 

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Muleman, you have some good thoughts there. Thanks for your post!

I haven't heard too many people talk about multiple buildings when talking about tiny homes but that would make a lot more sense than building a 200 sq ft tiny home and forcing it to be everything a person thought they needed for a homestead.

Living in an rv parked beside my parents' place this summer, we made pretty good use of a pavilion right next to the rv. It was nothing fancy but was a roof over us with two picnic tables set up end to end where we did a LOT of work. That's where we shelled beans. That's where we processed our corn. That's where we processed our carrots and red beets. That's where a lot of "family time" happened while doing those things and many more. I set up a 60,000 btu propane burner out there for things like blanching corn and cooking red beets. It worked! And it got me to thinking seriously that an outdoor kitchen would absolutely be a wonderful thing to have on a homestead. It could perhaps serve more than one function if large enough. It could be screened or even walled in if desired. Lots and lots of possibilities.

That said, I'd still want a decent kitchen inside the home. There is winter time and the adjoining seasons when heat in the house is a good thing most places. It's good to have room to bake bread, holiday treats, and cook sizable meals for family get togethers. Plus, the kitchen is the hub of a country homestead anyway, isn't it?? :)

My wife and I go through the discussion fairly often... I say, why not just a nice small 2br for the two of us. She says, why not a 4 or 5 br for when family comes to visit so they'll have someplace to stay. I like having the big kitchen and a comfortable place to spend some time. But I've even tossed out the idea of having small "cabins" on the property that could serve as "guest rooms", perhaps resembling "tiny homes". We'll see what comes of it.
 

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Here is one of my out buildings. This is actually our stables. There are 6 stalls, a tack room and a feed room on the bottom, along with a tiny bathroom (sink and toilet only 4'x4'). Upstairs there is a 10' x 36' room. I took the back area and added a full bath with shower and the remainder is one big room with a small kitchenette in one corner. There is no stove only microwave and toaster oven and a mid size fridge. We normally have a meeting table set up with folding chairs. The girl that works for me uses it as a break room when she is here. We keep all of our medical supplies for the animals in back on shelves along with animal books and dvds (all in one place). We have a queen size air mattress on a frame (you know like the nice camping ones) and have used it for company to sleep on at times. Most guest will appreciate the sense of privacy a separate building gives rather than staying in a spare bedroom anyway?

This is what I am talking about as far as out buildings or sheds. They do not have to be this finished, build according to your need. We build this ourselves and it took about 2 years, as we worked on it when we had time and money. The main need of a family is shelter. Once you establish shelter in the form of a small house. These types of things can be build as time and money allows. Because you are not pressed to finish them (because we have to have a place to live NOW!!!) you can save on labor and shop around for materials. You may notice in the unfinished picture, the plywood is different colors, we used some salvage materials from tearing down another old building.

Insurance is a consideration also as depending on the structure, they may cover some buildings differently than others. For instance, because the upstairs room is built on wooden post they would not cover this the same as our home, but it is covered similar to a barn instead, just something to consider, before any project which you intend to insure.

As I said if a person wants a tiny house as a statement, build as nice as you like. If you want a tiny house for practical reasons, think of what you have to have to live now, and what can be added later in the way of additions or additional outbuildings. Even company and quest can be accommodated in these outbuildings, instead of spending the money upfront which you may not have to build a larger 4 or 5 bedroom house instead of the 1 or 2 that are needed at the time. To save money and still have a livable homestead, sometimes you have to think outside the box, many times if you look at how they did it 100 years ago you will come up with economical solutions, because I guarantee you those folks were not worried about what others thought, they build what worked for the least money.
 

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Muleman, you have some good thoughts there. Thanks for your post!

I haven't heard too many people talk about multiple buildings when talking about tiny homes but that would make a lot more sense than building a 200 sq ft tiny home and forcing it to be everything a person thought they needed for a homestead.

Living in an rv parked beside my parents' place this summer, we made pretty good use of a pavilion right next to the rv. It was nothing fancy but was a roof over us with two picnic tables set up end to end where we did a LOT of work. That's where we shelled beans. That's where we processed our corn. That's where we processed our carrots and red beets. That's where a lot of "family time" happened while doing those things and many more. I set up a 60,000 btu propane burner out there for things like blanching corn and cooking red beets. It worked! And it got me to thinking seriously that an outdoor kitchen would absolutely be a wonderful thing to have on a homestead. It could perhaps serve more than one function if large enough. It could be screened or even walled in if desired. Lots and lots of possibilities.

That said, I'd still want a decent kitchen inside the home. There is winter time and the adjoining seasons when heat in the house is a good thing most places. It's good to have room to bake bread, holiday treats, and cook sizable meals for family get togethers. Plus, the kitchen is the hub of a country homestead anyway, isn't it?? :)

My wife and I go through the discussion fairly often... I say, why not just a nice small 2br for the two of us. She says, why not a 4 or 5 br for when family comes to visit so they'll have someplace to stay. I like having the big kitchen and a comfortable place to spend some time. But I've even tossed out the idea of having small "cabins" on the property that could serve as "guest rooms", perhaps resembling "tiny homes". We'll see what comes of it.
I think the tiny cabin(s) idea is a good one.

In fact, depending on location, it could be a money maker. Kind of a mini-B&B.
 

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After giving this subject 50yrs of thought and many years of practice in an area where we must heat for 8-10 months of the year, there are a few MUST HAVES in our next house.
It will be on a sloping lot beside a lake, with a 8' wide basement door. Our current six foot is not quite large enough.
While the house will have two stories, the second will only be used (and heated) when company comes. The rest of the time the door at the bottom of the stairs will be closed, no balcony, loft etc.....Most of the time, that second floor is just dead air insulation.....
The official main heat source is going to be geothermal, with a lake loop picking up heat. The secondary side will heat hydronic loops, giving heat for domestic hot water, space heating and maybe some garage heat. These hydronic loops might also be heated by an outdoor furnace located on the downwind side of the house.
Within the house would be a free standing wood stove in the living room with surplus heat being sucked into ceiling vents and then blown down to the basement and thruout the rest of the house.
The house itself will have an eight foot wide porch on all sides, so you have a covered space for storing firewood, sunset watching, or boiling beets and maple syrup in spring and fall. This porch floor will also be the outer eight feet of basement ceiling, so the basement floor area is considerably bigger than the first floor. Basements are easier to heat than exposed wall and in the summer provide a cool air reservoir....
Master bedroom will be main floor with sliding door overlooking the lake. Other sliding doors thruout the house to provide cross ventilation....
This will be on grid if there is geothermal, but circulation pumps and an outdoor furnace can be operated off grid if you want.
A lot of these things we have now, but we have adopted them to an existing house and since I am now 70 yrs old with worn out knees and hips will probably not be building fresh.....
 

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People made a practice of canning outside in pioneer days up into the early mid 1900s.
We had what was called a cave, but was actually just an outside celler. A outside celler would take care of storing fruits and vegetables, and canned jars, be a place to hide out in bad weather. IF one built it big enough, they could have their clean jars on shelves on one side of the entrance, and the jars with food inside on the other.
 
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