Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. I also like 'Proper prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.' There are a lot of examples in the broad Tiny House Community of people making it up as they go along, adjusting their design on the fly and making their found and reclaimed materials fit into their build. We certainly want to try and make use of some reclaimed materials (tip shopping is an institution in Tassie), but that is getting a bit ahead of things. Lets start at the very beginning...
There is a lot of information out in the web-nerverse about Tiny Houses. There are lots of opinions, lots of philosophies, lots of experiences, motivations, perspectives and beliefs. As with any corpus of knowledge, we think it is best to use critical thought and exercise rational decision making to differentiate between opinion, belief and evidence based, testable fact.
Throughout our research phase we have looked to a variety of different sources through the lenses of 'does this align with our other knowledge' and 'is this right for us?' Hopefully this blog post will give you some insight into how we arrived at our selected design constraints and some resources we found valuable.
Tiny House University
Ruth and I have worked through the complete 37 units of Fred Schultz's Tiny House University course. The three hundred bucks for admission is well worth the cost and I am more than sure that we will save at least that amount in not making mistakes during the build. We would super recommend to anyone thinking of building, commissioning or buying a tiny house to work though every unit of this course before spending any money on anything else. Some key takeaways from the course for us:
- Trailer Design and Australian Design Rules for legally registrable Caravans. Which have big impacts in terms of your tiny house not being a building, being legal to tow on the road and getting insurance as a caravan. We have seen heaps of examples of tiny houses that don't satisfy VSB1 and can not legally be a caravan. Most commonly doors on the wrong side, opening the wrong way and an absence of outline marker lights.
- Design your tiny to a reasonable level of detail and do a weight estimate before ordering or purchasing a trailer.
- The legalities of tiny houses in Australia - where to park, where to find information.
- Considerations for off grid tiny house design and living.
- Construction techniques and details for tiny houses.
Once again, super highly recommend taking this course if you are at all considering building, commissioning someone to build or purchasing a second hand tiny house. Probably tax deductible if you are a builder/carpenter/electrician/plumber/designer/trailer fabricator etc.
Living Big in a Tiny House
The most famous Tiny House YouTube channel. With a reason. Bryce Langston is a great interviewer and super passionate about the topic and Rasa Pescud captures everything wonderfully to give you a real sense of each of the spaces they visit and the people that live in them.
We made a deliberate effort to watch as many of the tiny house tours as we could with a critical eye in terms of both the philosophies of the owners (often the builders) and the finished space. We would sketch each layout and write three columns - what we liked, what we didn't like and ideas it had given us for most of the tiny house tours. Eventually this ended up in a spreadsheet.
Through this process we came to firmly believe that buying a tiny house 'off the plan' from a builder is most definitely not the way to go for something to live in full time. It might be okay if your goal is to have a tiny AirBnB or guest space. The ones we feel are done best are designed to suit the lifestyle and needs of the people who live in them and are as individual as their owners.
Here are some examples of ones we liked elements of the most:
Erin and Jake - NZ
Likes - Lots of thought and planning before building. High roof in lounge. Couchy arm rest bit. Galley Kitchen. Jar Shelving. Fold up table with cable instead of leg.
Not for Us - Lots of different woods. Black cladding. Big TV. Limited bathroom storage.
Annelies - Christchurch - NZ
Likes - Recycled materials. Wood oven.
Not for Us -
Paul and Annett - Byron Bay (Link 2)
Likes - Totally off grid. Spacious lounge. Not too much storage. Deck space.
Not for Us - Steel frame. Lack of detail in finishes - oven surround, pantry drawers, tile splashback.
Gina - Bay of Plenty NZ
Likes - Size. Lagun Table. Shower Dome. Shower Screen.
Not for Us - Hammock net. Laminate Countertops. Exterior Cladding. Colour Palette.
Rebecca - British Columbia
Likes - Wilderness. Natural materials. Open kitchen. Room for yoga.
Not for Us - Horse trough bath (shower curtain). Separate Toilet.
Matt - Tofino British Columbia
Likes - Philosophy. Reclaimed Materials. Woodworking. Internal finish.
Not for Us - Cladding. A bit large.
Jessica - British Columbia
Its a pretty great space. She is a pretty rad human.
Bryce isn't the only channel that explores tiny houses, hit that search bar!
If you are interested, here is the spreadsheet.
We have been using the library to get some inspiration from the words of Jay Schaefer, Dee Williams and Bryce Langston.
We have now moved on to construction type videos, some we are really enjoying and getting a lot of learning out of are:
Two Hands and a Tiny House
Next time we will look at the design constraints we established were right for us.
All our Love,
Adam and Ruth,
Foraging for Vegan Treats
Season 3 Statistics:
Mortgage purchase attempts: 2
Funds raised through selling stuff we were not using: $700
Tiny House University Units Completed: 37