Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dog I Share My Life With

Three years ago my daughters and I went to the Humane Society to adopt a puppy.  There was an adorable girl beagle puppy there, so sweet, just right.  We got the paperwork going.  Before we left we looked at the other dogs.  It was so noisy from their excited barking that we had to shout to hear each other.  But one little dog wasn't barking.  He was cowering in his cage, just trembling.  He was a beagle too, a year old, and his name was Barkley.  I looked into his big, brown, sad eyes and knew I had to adopt him instead.  It worked out well since a woman who'd recently lost her old beagle really wanted the little puppy.  Yes, he'd obviously been treated very badly but we didn't get his exact story. 

So three weeks later we were approved and took Barkley home.  It was rough at first, but he is my best buddy now.  He is still very afraid of a lot of things, but he's very brave too.  He loves   Meaty Bones and rawhide chewies, cuddling on the couch, running outside, and playing with dog friends.  

Silly Barkley:

Brave Barkley:

Barkley when it's his night to cook - notice the scowl.  He isn't fond of cooking.  


Ready for the Renaissance Festival:

He is an angel :)

I Forgot About Solar and Wood

Yes, solar power is part of my plan.  Right now I have an 80 watt panel on top of my van.  I put it there a couple of years ago when we were camping a lot.  I have 2 deep cycle batteries and a 1,000 watt inverter in my van as well, and it has been great to know we can always have a fan, lights, laptop, etc. and not be taxing our van's battery. 

I won't be able to afford a larger solar and 12 volt set-up for a while, but for the time-being we will use electricity from our landlord's home.  I do not know much about wiring the tiny house for 12 volt dc, so if anyone can point me to some good informative websites, please do.  

I would also like to have the option of a tiny wood stove as well.  I'm looking at the 4-Dog Stove Company's wood burners.  They are 'portable' wood stoves, but they have an excellent reputation for strength and stability.  They have 2-dog, 3-dog, 4-dog, and 5-dog models - I think I'd be fine with a 2 or 3 dog.  

I have been in love with the Esse stove for many years... alas, I would have to really save up for this beauty.  


I also love the Baker's Oven.  

But I know for a tiny house I would need one of the smallest wood stoves out there.

Right now I have one of these (electric) :

It puts out a lot of heat, and I wonder if I may use it partially for heat in my tiny house?  I am planning on using one of these for our main heat source:

 And since I sleep with one of these, my night-time heat is covered :)  His name is Barkley :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Shed First

I am hoping to soon find a place to build and then park my tiny house.  I need a place in the country, and with access to electric service.  But what I'm thinking of doing before I start building my house, is building a small shed, very close to where the trailer will be parked.  

One of the things I really want adjacent to my house on wheels is a small hen house.  So I thought that if I build that first, then I can use it to house my tools and supplies while building the tiny house.  It will give me a secure place to store things and at 8' x 10' it will give me enough room to also work inside of it.  Once I'm done building I can fix up the inside to house my hens and still have an area for tools storage too. 

I have always loved designing and building pretty, useful structures.  In looking for a nice shed photo to place here I came across this:

Oh - my - gosh.  Have you ever seen a more gorgeous hen house???  You can buy the plans for this beautiful "chez poulet" here: http://heatherbullard.com/2012/11/at-home-chez-poulet-coop-chickens/

I think my shed will be of more simple design, but wow, is this a gorgeous inspiration.  I have always used bold, black hinges and handles on my fences, gates, and outbuildings, and would love to incorporate that into my tiny house.  And I might just have to put a cupola on my hen house. 

Using What I Have

I have some furniture that I really didn't want to part with, though I know someone else will be able to use and appreciate the pieces as much as I do.  But there are a couple of things I'm going to use for my tiny house after all.  Instead of having the usual kitchen cupboards and counter tops put in I figured I could use something I already have.  

I have a butcher's block that looks almost like this one:

This will be my main workspace.

Across from it, I plan on using a kitchen buffet I have for my sink area.  It looks a lot like this:

I'll use the top hutch piece elsewhere since I'll be having a window above my sink.  I'll cut out the wood top surface to place the sink in (and probably reinforce underneath it).  I'll take out the drawer and attach the drawer front to the hutch, and my plumbing will go in the cupboards underneath.  

I also plan on building or putting in a tall cupboard for a few shelves, and to house my small refrigerator. 

 And I'll use my small kitchen table and chairs as well.  

In my mudroom I'll be able to use my tall bench that I've always loved: 

 So I'll be able to keep the "farmhouse" or "cottage" style I've always loved, and put some of my old, favorite furniture pieces to good use.  They're kind of like old friends. 

The "Final" Plan

Today I made the sketch of my house plans much larger on the graph paper.  I included the full space of the walls so that I could really see how much living space is actually available.  I also marked out where light fixtures, electrical outlets and switches will most likely be, and I got my plan adjusted so that all of my plumbing will be along one wall - bathtub, bathroom sink, and kitchen sink (we'll be using a composting toilet, no plumbing needed for that). I wish I could take a picture of my drawing and post it. 

After making zillions of changes, over the past few weeks, I think I've got it figured out:
(the actual house size will depend on what size trailer I will be able to get)

- trailer size: 24'

- house size: 26' x 8' (I've been researching cantilevering - a foot on each end)

- total square footage including lofts, add-on pantry and mudroom: 330 sq.feet

- ~ 17' x 7.5' living & kitchen area (including my couch/bed)

- 4.5' x 7.5' bathroom

- 4' x 7.5' "downstairs" storage/clothing room for my daughter with stairs going up to her bed loft

- T 1-11 exterior, plywood and bead board interior

- pink, fluffy R-13 insulation (please don't yell at me, I'm on a tight budget) 

- asphalt shingles (something I have experience with vs. metal roofing)

- 50 amp electrical service (using led lighting and low wattage appliances)

- electric 'oil filled, radiator' heater (or one of the cute little "Envi" heaters)

- Eccotemp L10 propane tankless water heater with SHURflo water pump

- 40 gallon fresh water holding tank

- point well with hand pump for tank fill (I've put down 4 of these simple, useful wells in the past.  If you have a high water table they are cheap and work great - only go down max. of 25')

- a "large" 4.5' x 7.5' bathroom with a 40" tub, 18" vanity/sink, composting toilet and 24"            closet/shelving for clothes

-  2 loft areas - one 8'x8', the other 4'x8' with dormer roof line for added head space

- add-on pantry - a 5'x8' 'room' off the end of the tiny house, but attached

- a "mud room" built the same way as the pantry, built off the long wall of the house, where the front door will be

My time frame is tight.  I won't have money to start till probably September, and I need to get the shell built (something we can stay in) by the end of December.  At that time the lease on my townhouse will be up.  I plan on doing finish work inside throughout the winter and spring. 
I can do this, right?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My First Tiny House Purchase!!

Today my daughter and I went to our local Habitat for Humanity Re-store.  I'd forgotten how many building supplies they have there!  In just this one trip I found doors and windows, paint and hardware, flooring and cabinets and sinks... that I will be able to use in my tiny house.  I'm on an extremely tight budget so I will have to save every penny that I can.  Today I really wanted to buy just one small thing, a 'first' purchase for the tiny house.  Among the bathroom fixtures I found it... the perfect medicine cabinet, in very good condition, for just $10 - yaye!  It looks like the one in this photo:

This is some of the inspiration for my future bathroom:

I love bead board, farm houses, cottages, and big beautiful windows :). 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Pantry Like My Mom Had... will this work?

 In the house I grew up in we had a 'real' pantry.  It was a wonderful little room lined with bright, white shelves, and all of my mom's canning, and our other foods, looked so neat and organized.  My children's memories of being in Grandma's pantry are wonderful too.  I haven't had a pantry like it in any of the houses I've lived in since then.

I'm planning our tiny house kitchen to be pretty roomy, but even a few shelves will not be enough space for a larger food supply, and lots of home-canned jars.  I've always wanted a pantry like my mom had, and my daughter recently said, 'then you should have one'!  So I'm thinking of building an 'addition' onto my tiny house.  It would sit on the ground level, and butt-up to the  house's end wall (and there would be a door going out of the house into the added-on room, of course).  

Back in my farm days we built lots of outbuildings and a large barn, and then we often added a room onto a structure.  Because of the overhang of the roof, and sealing the added-on walls, we never had any rain leak through that area where the add-on joined the larger structure.  I thought that I could put an outdoor electrical outlet on the outside wall of the house, and when the room was added on it would then be 'in' the room.  Then I would be able to have power in the pantry for lights and possibly a small freezer.  

I haven't yet seen anyone add a 'room' onto the outside of their tiny house.  I could just get a longer trailer, make the whole house longer, incorporating the pantry into the house.  But I'm not sure how long I want the house to be - the more I add into the planning the longer it seems to get!  It seems like it will cost less to not make the pantry part of the actual house (because the trailer can be five feet less in length).  I don't plan on moving the tiny house often at all.  I want to build up a tiny homestead and 'stay put'.  The pantry add-on would be the width of the house (8') and 5' in depth.  It could be detached from the tiny house and moved on it's own, just like people move sheds built on skids.  Will this work?