We did it! We dove in, put our money down and attended a Tumbleweed workshop. It was the first activity that really required us to put something on the line — specifically more than $20 and a whole weekend of our time. And we’re definitely glad we did it.
Though it wasn’t all excitement, there was some overwhelm in there too! We’re excited to get started, excited to be part of the tiny community and excited that Tumbleweed offers so many resources. We’re overwhelmed with estimates of how long construction will take for two people that aren’t experienced constructors. And we’re some weird mix of excitement and overwhelm, thinking about what building this tiny home actually means for our life.
Major takeaways from the workshop (Tumbleweed’s and our own interpretations):
- Friends — those experienced with a hammer and those that wouldn’t know what end of the hammer to use — are critical to the tiny house build process.
- Estimate how long you think it’s going to take you and then double that
- A common vision for why and how you’re doing this is critical
- Tiny homes are a lifestyle, not just a living situation
The most important takeaway for us after this workshop, is that we are ALL IN for this new tiny lifestyle. We’re into the minimalist philosophy, the community it creates, the lower overhead, the freedom and the idea that you don’t have to do things the way everyone says you do (i.e. buy a home on a 30 year loan and spend your whole life paying it off).
As far as actual concrete information covered at the workshop, below is the general outline of what we covered over the two days, right down to the kitchen sink –
- Personal stories with photos of people and their awesome, completed tiny homes
- Tiny Homes, Tiny Home RVs, RVs – learning about the official and unofficial categories
- Planning – salvaging vs buying new, financing through banks and other institutions, sample budget, finding a build site, tools, reasonable scheduling based on your level of experience
- Design – function and knowing your own needs, little extras to make it cute on the outside and more functional on the inside, ask “why?” about everything when designing your house
- Trailers – modifying vs buying tiny home ready trailer
- Build – preparing the trailer and building the floor
- Framing – leveling the trailer before you add walls, framing the walls, attaching everything securely, raising the wall, large objects (appliances) in before close it in, lofts,
- Sheathing – plywood, OSB, Zip Board, and house wrap
- Insulation – r-values, rigid foam, spray foam, wool, cotton, fiberglass, SIPS
- Roofing – shed style, gable style, framing, ventilation, standing seam roofing, corrugated metal, membrane roof
- Windows – vinyl, aluminum, wood, aluminum clad, fiberglass, framing, installing
- Doors – proportion, salvaging, making your own, installation
- Siding – wood finish, wood planks, vertical boards, hot roll steel, vinyl, shingles, and trim
- Activity – design your tiny home in the provided trailer grid
- Parking & Zoning laws – where to park, pros and cons to be a certified RV,
- Electricity – wiring, safety, exterior, appliances (cooktops, fridges, heaters, AC, fans and lights)
- Propane – installation
- Plumbing – schematic, PEX, water heaters (on demand or tanks), drain lines, gray water, black water, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, toilets (composting, RV toilets, residential, incinerating), washer/dryer combos
- Alternative Systems – solar (self contained units, on the grid units), wood burning stoves,
- Examples from presenter and other Tumbleweed presenters of what the did in their homes for their utility needs
- Interior finish options – wood, beadboard, wainscotting, sheetrock, plywood, clear plywood (aka paneling) for the walls and wood, laminate, carpet or tile for the floor
- Multi uses – make everything have double and triple uses (bench that pulls out to provide dining seating for four, stairs that are built in storage)
- Downsizing – question everything, downsize slowly, donate, repurpose, minimize clutter
- Remember why you’re doing this