One year ago, Eric and I had our tiny house shell delivered to us. We knew that our journey was beginning, but we didn’t really know what we had gotten ourselves into until we actually started the build. Because we got the shell built for us by Movable Roots Tiny Homes, whom we HIGHLY recommend, that meant that we only had to finish the interior. When it was delivered to us, the exterior had been completely finished, weather-proofed, and painted. The inside, however, had only been framed, had the sub floor installed, had the rough-in electrical and plumbing put in, and had been spray-foam insulated.
Eric and I (and SEVERAL of our amazing family and friends) took on the rest of the tiny home build on our own.
We chose to finish the build on our own for two major reasons: Money and customization. The biggest reason was that we saved CRAZY money doing the build ourselves. We are lucky that Eric is an incredible talented woodworker and engineer though. If I had been in charge, we would not have been successful. The second reason was that we were going to need a lot of custom items to fit our needs. Often times, it was much easier and 10x cheaper for Eric to just create those things on his own (like our base cabinets for our oddly sized appliances).
Watch our Tiny House Get Delivered: Tiny House Delivery Day
Things We Like About Our Tiny House
This tiny home journey has been quite the experience, both good and bad. We are lucky to have made so many great design choices along the way. Below is a list of some of the things that we really like about our tiny home.
- Our storage stairs! Every element of storage is SO important to us. We store towels, medicine, extra toiletries, and odds and ends in these awesome stairs that Movable Roots built for us.
- Our GIANT PANTRY and fridge. Eric and I love to eat. That will never change. It is so nice to be able to keep the pantry stocked with all kinds of goodies and to have a huge fridge/freezer combo to use for food prepping.
- Our standing height bedroom. I can’t imagine not being able to stand in my bedroom. I have a bad back which means that I can’t be bending over all of the time. We decided to put our bedroom on our gooseneck section of our trailer so that we could have a full height bedroom. This also allowed us to custom make a bed that had storage drawers and boxes underneath it.
- Our bathroom. Confession, I HATE shower curtains with a burning passion. I want nothing to do with them ever again. They are gross and slimy and attract mold. Plus, I LOVE to take a hot bath. Literally every day that I get a chance to, I will take a bath because it is such a major stress reliever for me. It is a joy in my life that I was not willing to give up. That being said, we decided to make our entire bathroom a true tiny house luxury. It has faux-marble tile on the walls, black granite flooring, and a separate shower and whirlpool tub— all combined in a tiny space! The shower is a walkthrough shower that leads to our whirlpool bathtub so that we only need one shower door. We also got one of those fancy, backlit mirrors. The bathroom is truly one of our favorite parts of our build.
- Our under-storage. We designed our living area to be raised up a couple of feet so that we would have exterior accessible under-storage. Eric and I travel a lot, and he does a lot of wood working. This means that we have a lot of backpacks, suitcases, and tools. None of those things fit inside our tiny house, and we knew ahead of time that they wouldn’t. We decided to create a space for them under our house that was protected from the elements. This has been one of the best decisions that we have made. Because of this extra storage, we are even able to store a few Christmas decorations as well! We don’t even notice the loss of height in our living room because we have no loft above it. Our entire house is standing height except for the loft above the bathroom.
- Eric’s designated office area. Our loft includes our closet and Eric’s home office. His office actually overhangs the hallway so that he can have a two monitor setup for his computer and dangle his feet so he does not have to sit cross-legged while working. We didn’t know that Eric would be working from home when we designed this. We just knew that, on rare occasion, he would leave work early and work from home. One week after we moved in, we were quarantined. Eric has been working from home ever since, and we are so thankful for this space.
- The dog door. We had to put our Chow Chow rescue down the same day that we received our tiny house shell. We knew that she didn’t have much longer to live, but we also know that we are dog people. We designed our house to have a doggy door because, even though we knew we wouldn’t have a dog at the time, we would have another one soon enough. (We got a rescue puppy 3 months later).
- Having a dishwasher. I didn’t want a dishwasher initially. That was precious cabinet space that we would no longer be able to utilize. However, Eric won the argument and we added one. We have never once regretted having our cute little drawer-sized dishwasher. It has truly been a blessing.
Read more about the reasons that we went tiny: Going Tiny: The New Adventure
Things We Didn’t Like About Our Tiny House
- The width, it’s thin. Our house is exactly 8.5 feet wide in order to be considered “road legal.” This means that our interior space is roughly 7.9 feet. While we have no particular problems with this, sometimes I wish that we just had a little more floor space for the dog or for exercising (like yoga and whatnot).
- No designated area for laundry. While we had a designated area for a washing machine, we never actually designated an area for a laundry basket. To this day, we still don’t really have a specific area for it. I keep trying to find a cute place to put it, but the basket just ends up either in the loft or on a chair. It’s mostly in the way.
- Our two chairs don’t fit in our breakfast bar area by like 2 inches. Our house is only 40 feet long. For a tiny house, that is a HUGE house. For everyone else in the entire world, we are crazy to willingly live in something so small. That size our house means that literally every single inch counts. We measured basically everything we owned when designing our house. We messed up on one specific thing, our breakfast bar. We made this incredibly beautiful, live-edge breakfast bar to use as our dining area and bought these two cute dining chairs from Target. However, the chairs, when put together, are about two inches too wide to push in at the same time. It’s definitely a bummer so until we replace them, we store one on the other side of the entertainment center. It holds our shrine (Our obnoxious pile of comfy blankets).
- How hard it is to find a place to put our tiny. This one could be its own blog post so I’ll keep it short: Legally, it can be incredibly challenging to find a place to permanently park your tiny house. We live a tiny home community, but it was basically one of our only options.
Read More: Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Your Tiny Home
Things We Plan To Do
- We plan to add a washer and dryer combo unit. We had one designed into our plans so the hookup is already set for it. However, we put off getting one for money reasons. We truly regret not putting it in initially because now we have filled that space with other things (my shoes). We will have to downsize again just fit our original plan! Always try and finish your build completely before moving in. It become much more difficult once you have moved in.
- We still need to finish the baseboards. Like I said, once you move in, it’s impossible to finish the little tasks that you were supposed to finish before the build.
- We are going to build a shoe rack in our front entrance area because our dog has an affinity for shoes. Because of the space issues, it will be custom made by Eric (like basically everything in our household). If you plan on building your tiny home yourself, make sure one of you is an expert woodworker. It will save you a lot of issues later.
- Build an outdoor entertaining area/deck. We love having friends over and spending time with people. Because of quarantine, we haven’t been able to have almost anyone over to see our tiny home that we are so proud of. We have decided that we are going to expand our entertaining space by building a deck area on one side of our home where we can put a grill and a nice table and chairs set.
- We are going to add a shelf above our couch. This will provide a place to place our phones, add a few knick-knacks, and place drinks/food.
Things We Have Had To Fix
- We got water in through our doggy door which caused damage to our floor. After ripping up the floor in that area, Eric built a “dog house” overhang for the doggy door which solved the problem.
- When your house settles (after being moved) it is likely that the wood in the walls will begin to show the seams again. Just take your wood putty, fill in the seams, and repaint them, and you should be good to go!
- Both of our mini-split air conditioners ended up leaking. They are AWESOME systems, but we had to lift them up and restructure the way the tubes were facing to help the water with gravity. That has fixed the leaking issue.
Tips For Building a Tiny House
- Plan for significantly more storage than you think that you need. Seriously. There is never enough storage.
- Take inventory of every item in your entire house that you use regularly (including food and cleaning items)! If you don’t plan for a location for them, you won’t have one later. I’ve seen tiny house designs without a pantry to store any food. I’ve seen designs that have no location for a broom or cleaning supplies. These are things you need to keep a house running smoothly, plan accordingly.
- Don’t put your bedroom in the loft. I know it’s tempting, but having a standing height bedroom is truly a game changer. You never know if you are going to be injured or not able to climb the ladder/stairs to get up to it. Having a standing bedroom means that you are always able to go sleep in your own bed. Don’t sacrifice that for a few feet more of this “minimalist” lifestyle.
- Plan your hobbies and lifestyle into every element of your house. Your house is small, which means that every single piece of space needs to be utilized for something. We even turned our walls in our loft into recessed shelving for some knick-knacks from our travels.
- Test out a tiny home. We rented a tiny home for a week with our dog while we were still working in order to test what daily life would be like in a tiny home. This gave us an idea of what we really liked and what we would change in our own home.
That’s basically the whole story of our past year. If you have questions or are interested in building your own tiny house, please reach out to me!
Read our original ideas for our home and see how much was changed: Tiny Home Design Inspiration: A Sneak Peek Into Our Build
My nephew and his wife are building a tiny house in Washington state. They live in the country and have embraced the lifestyle. They are my heroes. You are too. I think y’all are 21st century pioneers. Blessings!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. Great detail and tips.
This is wonderful. We watched all the Tiny Homes episodes on Netflix and really got inspired. I’d love to do this some time. We’ve been thinking back and forth between a tin house, a Skoolie or an RV. It’s so awesome to see how you can make small spaces so functional!! Thanks for this fun story!