Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making It My Own

And so, my mind was made up. I wanted the Cypress 20 Tumbleweed but still had no idea how I would build this thing. I mean, in the age of the "Youtubes" that we live in, I believe you can learn to do pretty much anything. Under the tutelage of Professor YouTube, I've learned, among other things, how to clean my new Marlin 336, humanely butcher a chicken, do effective squats,  build a snake trap, crochet a granny square, prep and cook a raccoon, tie an Eldridge knot, tan a hide, do the various chicken dances from Arrested Development, play the theme song from The Office on the piano, as well as a day in the life of the honey badger and some river dancing chimps thrown in for good measure. But building a house using online instructional videos? I wasn't quite sure, even though one of the scenes from "Tiny" depicts Christopher working on his electrical system while watching a video on his tablet. 

If there's one thing people who know me will tell you, it's that I like to learn the right way to do something. I read instruction manuals everytime I buy something new and actually enjoy it. If there's something I'm interested in, I will take a class at the community college or sign up for a workshop somewhere. I like to be able to learn from someone who has done it before and be able to ask questions of a flesh and blood human being. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers workshops that are hosted by other tiny housers with their own professionals on hand to answer questions too. The workshop goes from start to finish through the whole house building process and discusses various ideas as well as their suggestions for what materials to use and what others to avoid. This was right up my alley! I wasn't sure when I would have the funds to attend but I was determined to make it happen before I start building.

I went ahead and purchased the plans for the Cypress 20 from Tumbleweed. This is when I found out one of the things I love about Tumbleweed. When I added the plans to my cart on their website, a window popped up offering a CONSIDERABLE discount for the workshop ticket. Sweet right??? Just like that, I had my plans purchased AND a seat reserved at their upcoming workshop in Dallas, TX! The workshop was GREAT. But I digress ... more on the workshop later.

Now, back to the plans. They offer several floor plans and I decided on the Overlook.

I really liked this layout and yet, a few things nagged at me about it. So the wheels in my head started turning. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't like the idea of stepping out of my bathroom right into the kitchen. Getting dressed in the kitchen after a shower just didn't sit well with me. Also, I like to have friends over and to cook. I could just see me trying to get around in the kitchen while my friends tried to get in and out of the bathroom. Not to mention the idea of certain odors emanating from the bathroom while I'm preparing food. Gross. 

One thing I knew for sure, I wanted as much natural light as possible in my house. I love sunlight and it helps a space feel fresher and bigger. I've heard from my roofer friends that skylights are a pain in the butt and ALWAYS leak. I as that I could use to take in the sunrise in the morning and stars at night from the comfort of my bed. So, I opted for the dormers in the loft area. I liked the idea of having slightly more head room and windows that I could use to take in the sunrise in the morning and stars at night from the comfort of my bed. I also plan to figure out how to make those windows open so I can take out an occasional deer or wild hog from up there. Don't judge me. This IS Texas after all!

I went ahead and attended the workshop in Dallas in August. One of the MANY things I learned was that the plans are really just a guide. What I mean is, window and door placement are typically static (with some exceptions) along with the construction of the exterior walls but the interior is fully customizable. No interior walls are load bearing. There can be one completely open space with no walls to divide the areas if I want it that way (of course I don't, because using the toilet could become somewhat awkward while entertaining guests). The people at the workshop had another wonderful tool they provided.

Cypress 24 with dormers
Loft with dormers
There was a couple, Meg & Brandy, who had recently ordered and received an "Amish Barnraiser" from Tumbleweed. Out of the kindness of their hearts, they volunteered to drive their little house up to us and allow us the opportunity to walk through it and look around. And it just so happened that the house they were bringing was the Cypress! I was so excited. Although, they purchased the 24 footer and I will be building the 20 footer, it was still a great experience to step inside the house and feel it out. We were all so grateful to them for doing that for us. Check out their blog at

Cypress 24 on a triple axle trailer
Being able to walk around an actual tiny house was very helpful. It did feel a little "cozy" but I realized that once the windows are installed, the space will open up a lot. I also decided I would move my kitchen to the front of the house and the bathroom to the back of the house with the living space in between. This idea completely resolved my problem with the layout. I have also picked a color scheme for the exterior.

Subject to change at ANY moment
This is where I am as of today. I plan to hang my TV on the wall to the left and install several 12"x12" cubbies or shelves under the TV for storing my folded shirts and pants. I will pick out cool and random pieces of fabric that I will hang across each cubby. Not sure if you can visualize it but I think it'll be cool.

I'm also tossing around ideas of putting some cubbies of the same size along the leading edge of the loft that I can use for storage too. Any of these ideas could be adjusted or just completely thrown out when I shoot straight up in my bed with a better idea in the middle of the night. Or when one of you suggest something I like better. Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for stoppin' by! Up next, as promised...drumroll please...TOILET TALK! To compost or not to compost...that is the question.

-Big Jerm

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let The Research Begin!

And so, my research began. Immediately, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with the amount of pictures and designs I saw online. Soooo many great ideas and cute designs. I went back and wrote down some of the names and companies that appeared in the documentary "Tiny: A Story About Living Small" and began to narrow my search there.

I kept seeing images of this one AWESOME house I was totally in love with. It was all over the place but I had no idea whose house it was. I saw it on random Pinterest pages and other tiny home sites. The colors were just great and the amount of natural light the house let in was beautiful. Pictures of this house simply inspired me. I loved this little house so much that I downloaded every image I could find of it to my iPad. I had read from multiple sources that it's useful to have some cool tiny home pictures on hand at all times to show people who are interested (or skeptical). I used those pictures to show my concerned family and friends that I didn't intend to live in a teeny weeny tiny uninteresting box. I felt that this house was the epitome of what I was going for in my plan.

My research continued. I perused lots of sites and saw lots of sketches and plans. However, most people suggest against buying or using any plans that don't come with pictures of the finished product. Many times a structure works on paper but just is not functional in real life and the designer has no way of knowing if they never actually build it. It was about this time that I came across Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and I was excited to find that they had a customer showcase. When I clicked on the link, there it was, big as day (so to speak) little dream house!!! I found out it was the Cypress Tumbleweed. More specifically, it was Brittney's Cypress (previously known as the Fencl).

Isn't this the CUTEST house you've EVER seen????

Wicker furniture is cool
Love the little bench in the nook

Skylights are awesome - lots of natural light

Brittney's Floor Plan

And so, just like that, I was sold. This was my house. I had found what I had been looking for. The cost of these plans wasn't cheap, however, when I found out I could make 12 monthly payments, I signed up. Once I made my first payment, the plans were immediately made available to me in pdf form. That was pretty cool. At that time, I also purchased the book, "Tiny House Design & Construction Guide" by Dan Louche. When I purchased the paperback book online, I received a free download of the ebook. I began reading the ebook and when the paper version arrived, I handed it over to my dad so that he could start reading too (he still hasn't OFFICIALLY agreed to help me but seeing as how he lives 2 doors down from me and he's pretty handy, he has no choice).

So my plans were purchased and now the customization process begins. I had some changes I wanted to make to those plans. Stayed tuned for my next post about my design choices (so far) and still to come...toilet talk. Thanks for stoppin' by.

-Big Jerm