The Fasten Seat-belt Light is On. My own Tiny House Story is about to begin, but in a substantially different way.
I’m sitting here on a plane during an 8-hour trip back to Orlando, overflowing with thoughts about the past three days – needing to express them to someone. Certainly, it can’t be this kid sitting next to me snoring underneath a backwards windbreaker, nor his mother sitting in the next seat over who keeps strangely, yet obsessively, re-covering her son’s face with the windbreaker’s hood each time he blows it off.
So I’m publishing this blog. Welcome to my tiny house story.
Not even 2 hours before I boarded this plane, I had just left the end of the 2015 Tiny House Convention – completely in a state of shock. I had only become interested in the Tiny House Movement last summer when I came across Andrew and Gabriella Morrison’s TinyHouseBuild.com blog where I watch a 20-min video of the Morrison’s tiny house tour. I was completely enthralled – it was a mini-mansion! On wheels! The whole layout in the Morrison hOMe just worked and I could definitely see myself living in it for a time – especially considering the claim of it only costing $35000 to build and furnish. What immediately hooked me was the full-sized kitchen and storage staircase – two things I would commonly find missing from other tiny houses I had seen up until this point. (funny enough – I had built a tansu step chest a few years ago. It’s dead-useful for storage but also happened to be a great way to access my top-bunk loft bed)
Fast forward to last Thursday as I land in Portland, Oregon for the convention, brimming with confidence that the past several months of web browsing about building techniques, land acquisition, and tiny house success stories would all be explained and explored. I knew that after this conference I could take home the knowledge and experiences of other owners and begin my own journey to owning my own tiny house.
I feel bad for my past self, knowing that my confidence came crashing down around me mid-afternoon today.
I really appreciated meeting and listening to all of the speakers and owners of tiny houses at the convention, but the air always became heavy when it came to discussing two of the most important topics I had questions for: Land and Legalities. Knowing that each state worked differently in housing regulations, it was unanimous across the nation that tiny houses were in a legal grey zone. They weren’t illegal to have or build, but there were certain restrictions to how you could live in one and where you could have one parked – even if you owned your own land. I was listening to stories from some owners about how they were always living in fear each time some official looking car drove by their property. Some people were lucky to barter a piece of land from a farmer in exchange for being a groundskeeper or finding land in a rural mountain – away from the prying eyes of authorities.
The prospects of finding a place for my home, especially in the suburbs of Orlando, was quickly becoming dull.
I just sat there in the middle of the convention with crushed spirits. I didn’t want to live in a ticking time-bomb, always in the state of fear. I felt like I had hit the proverbial brick wall and quietly left the convention to the airport. As I sat in this seat, pondering, I suddenly came to a realization that would give birth to this entire post. I had to ask myself: Why did I want to build a tiny house? Many tiny home owners have different reasons – smaller carbon footprint, mobility, quality of life, etc.
Myself? What appealed to me was the efficiency and cost. I am a perfectionist and also a professional packrat – space in my home must not be wasted and must always serve a purpose. Paying for space in a house that I wouldn’t use, or to just stick a piece of useless furniture in it to fill the space seemed like a waste of money.
Did I need my home to be mobile? Did I need it to be less than 200 SQ FT? No. I just wanted something that I could pay for that would be financially and spatially efficient.
So why not build it on a foundation and to code? It could be a bit bigger than the normal tiny house, I’m fine with that. But I wanted to take inspirations and ideals from the tiny house movement and design something with personal flare that would break the norm – a home that would sit right on the fence between the tiny houses and the McMansions.
I have 3 hours left of this plane ride. I’ve been eagerly doodling potential floorplans and I’m overflowing with renewed spirit. I’m freakin’ going to do this. I just hope we don’t crash because that would just suck.