The actually tiny project starts with seven core principles:
Our tiny house is light and heavy at the same time. The envelope is built with advanced framing principles to minimize the bare house weight and maximize room for insulation. The inside of the tiny house is furnished with heavy slab wood, steel pipe details, and a concrete hearth to add thermal mass. The combination of a lightweight well insulated shell, a heavy interior, and passive solar design significantly improves overall thermal performance. Making all the interior furnishings removable allows us to easily transform the space for various uses, and shed a few pounds if needed for a particular tow situation.
Inexpensive and versatile
To put it bluntly, if we had 100K we wouldn’t spend it on a tiny house. Tiny Houses are poor long term investments and they are often sold at a substantial loss as peoples needs change over time. Keeping this reality in mind, we decided a budget of $20,000 dollars would allow us to use high quality, energy efficient materials for a simple, solid, long lasting little house. Our actual build came in closer to $25,000 but we used a lot of expensive, high end products. A budget version of the same house could easily be built for $15,000. By avoiding built-in furniture the space can easily be transformed into a studio, office, or variety of other uses to maximize it’s value over time.
Simple structures are easy to build, less expensive, and more thermally efficient. Conversely, complex tiny houses, and especially complex roofs add significant weight, expense, build time, and thermal losses to a structure. The actually tiny house shows that with good exterior and interior design a simple frame can be every bit as attractive as a more complicated build.
Energy Efficient and Energy Independent
Air sealing, maximizing insulation, reducing the number of openings, and framing carefully to minimize thermal bridging are our main tools to minimize energy losses. Deliberate thermal mass added inside the envelope helps to even out the heating and cooling cycles. Taking energy responsibility a step further, we reduce our overall energy footprint further by adding photovoltaic connectivity, solar/wood-fired hot water, solar/wood-fired cooking, wood heat, and passive solar design.
Choosing renewable, low toxicity, low embodied energy products can make a real impact on our footprint on the planet but only if the whole energy lifecycle of the product really delivers on it’s promises. Trying to decipher between green and “greenwash” can be surprisingly difficult. One of the most overlooked ways to make any structure “greener” is to build it to last a long time. We look forward to sharing our thoughts from this, and many other projects where sustainability is a strong focus.
Beautiful and Livable
How small can we go and still feel spacious? How do we feed our love of salvaged industrial steel, and thick reclaimed wood, in a space that needs to be both small and lightweight? How much beauty and versatility can we pack into this tiny box? Smart window placement, open floor plans, light colored walls, no eye level cabinets, and a moderate height/aspect ratio all contribute to making this small space feel much bigger than it is!