At last, it’s time…
The tiny house shows emphasize the building process, but 1) rarely do justice to the planning phase and 2) are typically very generic so as to be generalizable for tiny house planners in different communities. In this post, I want to share with you my experience of planning my tiny house so far and how I’ve been making it work here in Manhattan, KS.
Architectural and build plans
As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought a set of stock plans from TinyHouseBuild.com. Since then, I have been working with the wonderful Julia Day to modify them to fit my needs. Julia is an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University in the Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design department and has a ton of experience using Revit and drawing up plans. Together, along with one of her students, we came up with a rendering of the tiny house:
There are still a few windows yet to add, as well as some stairs, but I may end up going with a ladder instead.
The key feature of this house, which is different from many tiny houses, is the home office (left side of floor plan). I work extensively from home and have dedicated an entire wing of the house to the home office. The compromise was the size of the kitchen and bathroom, both which have been shrunk a little bit. However, I spend 10 minutes a day in the bathroom and, with this design, I still have tons of counter space to do what I need in the kitchen. Big win.
A feature I am very excited about is the deck that extends off the bedroom loft. The cantilever, which will be supported by some extra brackets (not shown), extends an additional 3 ft off the main structure. I have also cut in 2ft into the bedroom to create more space for the deck. In total, this will be a 5×8.5ft deck off the bedroom. Great for chillaxin all cool.
Gathering materials so far has been quite successful. I’ve saved a ton of money in several places, and haven’t even hammered a nail yet…
I just picked up the trailer last weekend. With but one small error (the floor joists are 3″ thick but are supposed to be 4″), it is the most bad-ass trailer ever built. Fact.
The only downside to the trailer was that it was built in Sikeston, MO at Retco Trailers, which is 7 hours away. I had to drive there to pick it up, which costs a lot of $ in fuel and other travel expenses. Nobody in Manhattan was willing to build it for me. Nice little road trip though, and also created an opportunity to score some other materials…
On the way back from picking up the trailer, me and my buddy Pablo stopped at a building materials auction in Baxter Springs, KS. There was a TON of stuff there, but we had little patience and made one, albiet significant, score: 2,344 ft of cedar T&G siding…
I got it at $0.80 per board ft. It’s usually anywhere from $3-8! In total, I have about 900 sq ft, which is more than enough to side the entire surface of the house and accounts for some crappy boards that I’m sure we’ll find.
A lumberyard in Leavenworth, KS was going out of business and having a liquidation sale. Found it on Craigslist. Scored 5 Andersen windows, an Andersen door, and a pocket door set for $550. I robbed them. And this arched window is the shit.
There are two pieces of land that I’m concerned with. The build site. And my living site.
The build site is currently in a friend’s backyard on Grandview Drive. There’s a nice concrete patio that’s nice and level. The problem is that, now that I’ve seen the trailer and maneuvered it around a little bit, I don’t think there’s a way to get it in to the tiny little space that I wanted to put it. Not without some serious damage to the lawn and/or the structure. I am exploring other options in or close to town.
The living site is still a work in progress. Some people might think it’s crazy to build a house before you know where you’re going to put it, but ye have little faith. There are a few potential options on the table already that friends and even strangers have generously offered after I tell them what I’m doing. A likely scenario will be living near town on someone else’s property and paying a small fee for rent and/or sweat equity, which is ideal for me. I’d love to have a garden and share the fruits of my labor with my host.
A significant amount of my time has gone into promoting the project and finding stakeholders and sponsors. So far, there is overwhelming support for seeing this project and the tiny house movement be successful. I have been sponsored by several local organizations and businesses including Habitat For Humanity, Orange Sky Yoga (who is letting me post a progress report in the studio every couple weeks), and possibly one local lumber yard, which is still in the works.
It’s been a lot of work, but incredibly engaging and satisfying. I don’t expect this project to be easy, nor would I want it to be. We’re always making decisions with incomplete information. I hesitate to say that it’s ‘stressful’. It certainly is, but it’s a different kind of stressful. I think about this house a lot, but I’m not worried about it. I also have a ton of support from my friends and family (instrumental and emotional), which has been a huge help so far. Special shout out to JDay, EU, Roberto, Pablo, Jess, and Brady. Buncha gangsters right thurr.
So far, I think I’ve demonstrated that there are ways to get the some of the essential materials and expertise you need in or near KS and also save a butt load of money on materials. Stay tuned for Phase 2: Prepping the Trailer…