Category Archives: Tiny House News

Living off the grid can be illegal

peace-tiny-house-greenBy Emily Fox

Source: Michigan Radio

Energy use on the globe is expected to go up by more than 50% in the next 25 years. Michigan law is mandating a heavier reliance on renewable sources by next year. But some say that’s not enough,

Experimenting with sustainability

Rolf and Mari von Walthausen at their 12 x 16 square-foot cabin in Cedar Michigan
Take Rolf and Mari von Walthausen for example. They were a typical Traverse City couple. They worked 40-hour-a-week jobs and lived in an average-sized home. But one day they did an experiment.

“We moved all of our belongings into one room of the house and said, let’s see how it is to live in a space that is 12 by 16 [feet],” Rolf von Walthausen said.

Then they tried another experiment.

“There was a time that one summer at our house, we actually set up the tent in the yard and we lived in this tent for four months,” Rolf von Walthausen said.

Living off the grid

Then came the big test. The von Walthausens sold their house, quit their day jobs and built a tiny cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity. They got new part-time jobs teaching yoga and tuning pianos, they were living in the woods, getting their water from a stream nearby, gathering wood to heat their wood- burning stove, and using their compostable toilet outside.

Rolf von Walthausen said living off the grid is hard work, but he and his wife love it.

“This way you get to be out in nature 365 days a year and really get into those natural rhythms that we in modern society have lost,” Rolf von Walthausen said.

And they started getting closer to their neighbors. They trade things like tools for eggs and syrup. Mari von Walthausen said they began spending time with people around them more than they ever could before.

“Most people in most neighborhoods have no idea who even lives next door because you get home after dark and you just collapse,” Mari von Walthausen said.

Living off the grid was illegal

Life was good. Until the local zoning and health officials found out. Turns out there are two major problems with the von Walthausen’s lifestyle.

Clay McNitt is with the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

“A habitable dwelling should have running water to it and should have a means of sanitary disposal of the sewage. That’s  what our code requires,” McNitt said.

The second problem is that their 200-square-foot house is actually too small to be considered livable in their township.

Tim Johnson is the chairperson for the Centerville Township planning commission. He said the von Walthausen’s house is four times smaller than the township minimum.

“The ordinance was first written in 1976. It was first enacted, primarily, although no one will admit this, to keep single-wide mobile homes out of the township,” Johnson said.

Johnson and the von Walthausens fought the township board to get rid of the square-foot minimum. But the board voted against it.

Read More at: http://michiganradio.org/post/living-grid-can-be-illegal

Panels Are Up!

tiny-house-tiny-homeBy Jess & Dan

Source: Another Tiny House Story

When you get something done that you didn’t have planned? Always a great feeling.

Over the holiday weekend, Dan and I very much enjoyed the rainy 4th. Why, you ask? Well, when it rains one has less guilt about the long list of projects staring one in the face. One can say, “Oh gee, well would you look at that, I can’t work in this rain! Guess I will just sit back, relax, and catch a movie or something equally passive.” haha


And that we did! –At home. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought it would be a good day for a movie. We went, saw the the massive line, and after waiting just 3 minutes we heard a staff member call out, “Maleficent is sold out!” So, we headed off to do some other errands that had been adding up, then enjoyed a movie at home. 

We didn’t set our sights too high for the weekend. We have both been feeling the burn out set in. It’s been over a solid year of working almost every last weekend and several, several weekdays of putting in the full 8.5 then coming home and putting in another 3-4. It’s beginning to catch up with us! I’ll admit, I’ve had more than one semi-melt down day in the last month or two. A break is much needed. But the end is in sight!


Neither of us expected we would get the panels up over the weekend. There was a lot to be discussed and figured still. Or at least we seemed to think so. But on Saturday, as we puttered around, unpacking this, tidying up that, we kept staring at that stack of panels. Finally, we made our way over and started to discuss the strategy we had for mounting them. We leaped from one alternative to another, only to end up back at the same idea. The truth is, you can talk in circles all day long or you can just DO IT. Then learn from the doing. 


“Let’s just try putting up one and see how it goes,” I said nonchalantly, and thus the panel mounting began. We opted to use flat brackets, about 3 inches long with four different holes. There are only 4 holes to choose from on either side of the panel itself, so we had made our racking according to those lengths. 

First we secured the brackets to the back of the panel racking with the bolt and nut facing up into the gap created by the frame of the panel- that way, when placed onto the racking, that bolt head was flush with the panel’s frame. Once we had the panel in place, we used large wood screws to secure the bracket to the racking. The first one went up rather easily, as did the second, so we just kept going!


Due to our method of securing the panel, we had to have about 3-4 inches of space between each panel, so there was space to screw down the brackets. We alternated the height of the panels as well so the brackets of two adjacent panels could set under or above one another- otherwise the gap would have been larger if we kept them all at the same height and had brackets butting together.

Our two rows of racking are not symmetrical by any means either. We had to dig our post holes where we could manage to make holes period. So, we opted to leave a larger gap in the center of the back row, so as to sort of center the panels on the rack and also provide a nice opening for wind to come through- thereby reducing it’s impact on the panels. The front row of racking is shorter, so we kept the same spacing all the way across.


We had all but two of the panels up by the end of Saturday. We needed more hardware to finish the job, so we called it a day. We stood back and admired our work. No, they aren’t the picture perfect solar arrays you see in magazines where every last panel is immaculately lined up, centered, and even every which way. They are a little off here and there, like their owners. 🙂 Last I checked, the sun still shines just as well on panels that aren’t perfectly pretty in a row- as long as they are pointing at the sun!

See more at: http://livinginatinyhouse.blogspot.com/2014/07/panels-are-up.html

Tiny Home Estimation App

tiny-house-tiny-homeby Kent Griswold

Source: Tiny House Blog

With 14 titles all rolling off the shelves at brick and mortar bookstores and online retailers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon, somehow author Jobe Leonard still wanted more. This time he digitized the estimation process for construction of Tiny Homes.

“I have always lived in a tiny home and preached the benefits both financial and mental,” says Jobe. “Most people who see a tiny home immediately want one. It reminds them of simpler times with less stress, bills, and material possessions. However, no one has ever been able to pinpoint what it costs quickly and easily.” With that motivation Mr. Leonard set out to change the rules of Tiny Home estimation forever. The basis for his new software to help prospective Tiny Home lovers was set.

Jobe creating app

The App Jobe created has taken the Tiny Home world and opened it up to hundreds of thousands of individuals who never knew where to begin. After over a decade of building Tiny Homes made specifically of timbers harvested from sustainable forestlands, Mr. Leonard went harnessed his inner creativity once more. He created not only an App specifically for the Tiny Home Movement, but also a 200+ page workbook available in paperback, Kindle, and I-book. His work has consistently topped the charts for all “Architecture” books around the globe, not just the Tiny Home niche’,

Mr. Leonard undoubtedly will not stop here. He has 13 more Apps in development and 6 more titles on the press. One thing is for sure, there is never a dull moment in the Tiny House of author, builder, and tech developer, Jobe Leonard.

See entire article at: http://tinyhouseblog.com/announcement/tiny-home-estimation-app/