Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Making Big Friends in Tiny Houses

Hello friends!

A lot has happened since my last post.

First, I am so very happy to announce that I am BACK IN TEXAS! My stint in Washington served it's purpose but it feels great to be home. The day after arriving home, I was running errands around town in the sunshine and found myself smiling and greeting everyone like a lunatic. I actually explained to the folks in line at the Post Office that I'm not a crazy person. It's just that I've spent five months in a cold, wet, dark state and I'm just so ecstatic to see the Texas sun. It feels like the governor called and gave me a stay of execution!

Second, my trailer is in line for production and should be ready for pick up at the end of March or early April. I went ahead and ordered the 20' utility trailer instead of the low-wider. (See my previous post for more info about that). I realized that, for over a year, I had my mind wrapped around the utility trailer and was fine with it until the new low-wider trailer was introduced with it's 11 more inches of width. I don't really need those 11 inches. The point was made recently that if you add more space/storage, you WILL fill it with stuff. So I reassessed my needs and went with the utility trailer.

Third, I started a separate Instagram account for my tiny house postings. Click here to find it. I plan to post longer videos and stories on this blog but brief things and photos there on Instagram.

Fourth, I attended the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company "Dream Big Go Tiny" Workshop in Sacramento on February 6th and 7th. 

I had a really great time and got to meet some really cool folks. The information was very useful. As expected, the Tumbleweed people were amazing. I arrived early on Friday and got to hang out with Art Cormier, who was the presenter, and Mario Soto, who brought his tiny house from southern California to the workshop! Mario and I had been communicating back and forth online and we actually ran in some of the same circles back when I lived in Los Angeles. It was super cool to finally meet in person. 

When I arrived at the hotel, Mario invited me to come down and hang out with him and Art in his house. I had a great time discussing philosophy, the purpose of life and the origin of the universe. Nah...not really. But we DID eventually migrate to the hotel lobby, have a couple of beers and talk about our own lives and tiny houses. I couldn't have picked a better way to spend a Friday night in an unfamiliar city.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to spend a little one on one time with Mario and his house. I want to share that with you. I also recently purchased a GoPro camera to be able to document my building project so I tested that out a bit.

Mario opened his house up both in the morning and evening to visitors. The workshop attendees all got to take tours but a lot of random folks driving or walking by stopped in too. At any given time, there were up to 15 people in there!

Sun rising over the Lime Chili abode
Love the dormers!
Better look at the dormers

Mario ran LED lights under the eaves of his roof to provide light outside of his house at night. The lights are controllable from his iPhone and have a multitude of colors they can be changed to. He runs the same LED strips on the inside of his house. By using these, he avoided needing to install light switches at all. Pretty cool.

Cool welcome mat
View from the loft
From the floor looking into the loft. You can see the added space the dormers give. You see the LED lights?
Living space

Mario designed that moving cabinet holding his washer/dryer combo himself. It rolls into his shower space when not in use. Pretty ingenious use of space, don't you think?

You can't spell comfort without bean bag

In addition to being able to control his lighting with his iPhone, Mario has this controller. Each button controls a different lit area and the remote doesn't use any batteries or need charging. Every time you push a button, you can feel a click inside. That mechanism you are feeling is creating just enough juice to power that action.

Maintaining good air quality is imperative living in such a small space. One way Mario has solved that is by having this skylight on a timer that opens every so often, automatically. It also has a sensor that will close it if it starts raining. The motor is solar powered too.  

This is a different way to deal with access to the loft. Some people don't like the idea of having a ladder hanging smack dab in the middle of their living space or having to move it all the time. Mario has his ladder up against the wall on one side and cut a hatch through the floor of his loft. I'm thinking of doing something similar but building some of those cool storage stairs instead of a ladder.

Mario's house has so many other cool things including some salt water batteries that give him 2.5 days of power from a full charge. I am soooo not smart enough to explain those to you so I'll just direct you to his page for that. Here's his blog and his Instagram.

That's all for now. The countdown is starting. I'm pricing supplies and tools and getting very excited! Stay tuned. Thanks for stoppin' by!

- Big Jerm

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Country road, take me home!

Mt. Rainier, volcano waiting to explode
Greetings and Salutations from Lacey, Washington in the terrifying shadow of the beautiful Mt. Rainier!

Some of you know that I temporarily left Texas for some work opportunities to boost my tiny house fund. It's been a cold, dark and wet 5 months but the time has come for my triumphant return to the Lone Star State. My happy dance is in full effect right now.

I'll be making the drive from Lacey, WA back to Texas next week with a few touristy-type stops along the way.

However, before that happens, I'm very excited say I'll to be flying to Sacramento, CA this weekend to attend a Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop. I attended this workshop once before in 2014 in Dallas back when my tiny house dreams were just a few sketches in my notebook and I was searching for ANY way to avoid using a compost toilet. How times have changed, huh? The workshop was great and I got to meet a lot of people in the Dallas area that were interested in the movement. I still have all my notes but a lot of what was discussed, I can't remember. As I get closer and closer to my build date, I realize I can use all the help I can get so I decided to attend again.

I would like to take a moment, once again,  to tell y'all how awesome Tumbleweed is. I'm not sponsored by Tumbleweed. I don't get anything from them for saying that. That is just my opinion and I want you to know. Every interaction I have had with them has been polite and helpful. In fact, I really feel like they have gone above and beyond for me more than once. I purchased my plans from them and plan to purchase my trailer from them as well. They definitely value my business. The woman that I've been working with even commented on how much she enjoys reading my blog! Awesome right?

Ok...where was I before that brief detour? Oh, right...the workshop. So yea, I'm going to Sacramento this weekend to get educated again. I'm hoping to sit and chat with a representative there about ordering my trailer. I did a little research and found a few shippers, using the UShip app, willing to deliver my trailer to me for around $500. I'll probably do that.

That being said, let's talk trailers for a moment. I purchased the plans for the 20' Tumbleweed Cypress and originally planned to build on the Tumbleweed Utility trailer. The utility trailer gets you the lower overhead clearance to allow for a loft but requires that you build within the wheel wells, leaving you an interior living space that is 6'8" wide (it's bigger than you think...but not much LOL).

Imagine my excitement when I got an email introducing the new Tumbleweed Low-Wider trailer! This new trailer allows you to build on the outside of the wheel wells while still maintaining the overhead clearance and highway compliance exterior width of 8'6". That means more interior space to the tune of 7'7".  You might be thinking, "11 inches?! What's the big deal?" But in a space that small, 11 inches along the full 20 foot length is a decent addition.

Tumbleweed Utility Trailer (Credit:Tumbleweed)

Tumbleweed Low-Wider Trailer (Credit:Tumbleweed)

So, I decided this was gonna be it. The new Low-Wider trailer had my name written all over it. Until I contacted Tumbleweed to ask some questions. As it turns out, introducing a new trailer is one thing, getting all of your different model plans up to speed to match the specifications of said trailer is another. They told me that some people are just making the adjustment themselves. Yea...I don't have those kinds of skills.

This is me making adjustments to the plans myself
They anticipate having the Cypress plans up to date by this summer. I planned to start building in Spring. I'm not sure I want to start a project in the Texas summer heat. I'll blow my whole budget on bottled water and ER visits for heat stroke! Also, as we all know, deadlines are seldom met. Good intentions aside, I don't want to postpone my project just to find out the plans are taking longer than anticipated. I plan to discuss all this with a representative this weekend and see what they recommend. I'll keep y'all posted. 

That is all for now. Please share any thoughts you have on anything in this post. Follow me on Instagram if you want to keep track of my cross country drive and other random antics.

Ok this time for real, that's it. Thanks for stoppin' by!

-Big Jerm