Tag Archives: tiny house on wheels

Tiny house hero Dee Williams on her book tour

tiny-house-tiny-homeBy Janet Eastman

Compliments: The Oregonian

Tiny house hero Dee Williams will talk about the benefits of living simply in a small, efficient space and read from her popular book, “The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir,” on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Vintage Books in Vancouver, Wash.

This stop – which includes a walk inside her 84-square-foot house on wheels – is one of many she has made crisscrossing the country on a book tour intertwined with her ongoing efforts to educate about building, living and enjoying tiny houses.


The self-taught carpenter and founder of the respected resource center, Portland Alternative Dwellings, has lived in her solar-powered home for more than a decade. She cooks using a single propane burner and sleeps in a loft with a small window.

“The house looked gorgeous: just like an ad for pancake syrup or a painting called A Simpler Time,” she writes in her inspiring, funny memoir that resonates with anyone on a quest to downsize, de-stress, let go or feel at home.

People interested in green design and plans for an legal accessory dwelling unit can explore Williams’ tiny house, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Vintage Books, 6613 E. Mill Plain Blvd. She will read from her book and answer questions from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. inside the bookstore.

The event is sponsored by Vintage Books and Clark County Environmental Services’ Green Neighbors program.


Williams has been interviewed by networks and newspaper reporters and has addressed TED Conference audiences, telling her powerful story about selling her high-maintenance Craftsman house in Southeast Portland and gifting away most of her possessions after she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

We caught up with her days before she is to tug her tiny house to Vancouver.

Q: You’ve been on the road telling your story and reading from your book since April. What has been the biggest adjustment being on the book tour circuit?

Dee Williams: I think the largest adjustment has been traveling so much. I’m a homebody – a real “stick in the mud” is what my 20-something-year-old niece would say. But I’m perfectly happy to putter around in my garden, to scavenge wood out of the rubble pile down the street or to play firefighter in the backyard with the four-year-old boy who lives next door. I like being home and the book tour is a bit of a distraction from that normal, mundane, simple life.

The other adjustment occurred by seeing that the small house movement isn’t just people who want to build a tiny house (or already have), or people who like cute tiny houses; it’s not that simple. Instead, the tiny house movement seems to be a tapestry of openhearted people who are interested in community building; they’re interested in living more simply on the earth, investing in their neighbors (both human and natural); they’re rabble-rousers and non-conformists, and some of the most compassionate, inclusive thinkers that I’ve met in a long time. It was invigorating and humbling to meet so many awesome people.


Q. What is the most common question you are asked and how do you answer it?

DW: “Is that legal?” has probably been the most common question. And I usually answer it by saying something like… “ah dang it, not that question!” And then I’ll wax on about how much I like rules; that I’m an enforcement officer with the State, and I once cried at a stoplight because the idea of civil law is so beautiful to me – the way we all learn how to stop on red and go on green, and thereby save ourselves from having to tow our cars away in a heap.

So, I’ll explain who I am and then launch into how most municipalities apply travel trailer restrictions to wheeled tiny houses. They might restrict where you can park (not on the front lawn, in front of a school, too close to the neighbor’s house, etc.) and how long you can recreate inside the unit. If you’re living in the space for longer than 30 days or six months, you might be asked to move along.

I’d also throw in that there are a lot of cities that are looking for ways to redefine codes to allow for longer stays in tiny houses on wheels. They’re looking at ways to create better urban infill, and to create more affordable, sustainable, safe housing and little houses are a part of that discussion.

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Tiny House Trend Hits the Scenic City

tiny-house-tiny-homeWind River Custom Homes provides small, mobile homes

By Chloé Morrison

Compliments: Nooga

Chattanooga carpenter and budding entrepreneur Travis Pyke is building a business around the idea that the American dream of homeownership doesn’t have to come with a lengthy, expensive mortgage.

“It really does make life simpler when you don’t have so many bills to pay,” he said.

Pyke and his wife, Brittany, live in a 200-square-foot home that Travis built. They spend $35 a month on water and power costs.


Their tiny home sits on an 18-by-8-foot trailer, so it’s mobile. It cost about $14,000 to build.

The Pykes and their business partner, Jeremy Weaver, are joining the tiny home trend with their business Wind River Custom Homes.

“I heard about [the trend] about three years ago,” Travis said. “My wife and I live here … [and] we both didn’t want to have a mortgage.”

Tiny House by Wind River Custom Homes cozy interiorThe tiny home trend has been growing in popularity over the last decade, according to a Country Living article that recently featured Wind River Custom Homes.

The movement is also making news because leaders in Portland, Oregon, are considering building tiny houses for homeless and low-income citizens. Closer to home, the trend has begun in Rhea County.

The benefits

Travis built his home for $14,000 because he got good deals on supplies, he said. For example, he purchased reclaimed wood for 75 percent off, and he bought a relatively inexpensive used trailer, which acts as the home’s foundation.

Without those deals, Travis estimates that other homes will cost between $15,000 and $18,000 to build. Add in labor costs, and customers could get a dream tiny home for between $30,000 and $40,000.

“You could pay for one of these in rent in about three years, depending on how much you pay for rent,” Travis said.

In addition to the low cost, there are other benefits of living in small spaces, Travis said.

For the Pykes, living in the smaller space means they spend more time outside in their garden. And Travis said a deep clean of the entire house only takes about 30 minutes.

The mobile homes can also make travel easier, he said.

They can be hooked up at campgrounds the same way RVs can, and, in many places, they can be parked on private property without special permits—although the rules vary depending on the area, he also said.

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Tiny Houses in Portland for Homeless

tiny-house-tiny-homeBy Andrew Theen

Compliments: The Oregonian

Portland is preparing to endorse the construction of communities of tiny houses on publicly owned land to get homeless people off the street and offer low-income residents safe, clean and cheap places to live.

Josh Alpert, Mayor Charlie Hales’ director of strategic initiatives said the question isn’t whether the so-called micro-communities will happen, but when.

Tiny houses offer a cheap and replicable method of trying to address the city’s nagging homelessness problem, Alpert said. “Let’s figure it out.”

Alpert said the city plans to ask TriMet, Portland Public Schools and Multnomah County to share their surplus land inventories to provide options for suitable sites. Hales’ office also has organized a task force to investigate the legal and zoning challenges of making the micro-communities a reality.

“Lets’ be bold,” Alpert said, saying that the city is partnering with Multnomah County to make the micro-community vision a reality. According to county officials, representatives from the mayor’s office and Chair Deborah Kafoury’s office met Monday and agreed to “put it on the front burner.”

“Before people can get back on their feet and take advantage of job training and drug and alcohol counseling, they need a place to live,” County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said Wednesday. “This helps accomplish that.”

The actions from City Hall are a strong signal that the city sees the tiny house concept as a small investment with potentially big returns — helping to get dozens of the more than 2,000 people sleeping outside on any given night off the streets.

The concept could also be part of the solution for Right 2 Dream Too, a homeless encampment that the city has struggled to relocate from its prominent home at the gate to Old Town/Chinatown.

The Portland Mercury first reported Hales’ interest Wednesday.

Alpert said lots of unknowns remain, including the city’s financial role, but he said few obstacles are in the way. He hopes the first micro-community can be in place by February 2015.

Portland is already home to a growing tiny house movement catering largely to the young and the hip. Few options exist for residents living on the fringe. But earlier this year, a Portland housing advocate teamed with a metro area company to start pushing for what the partners say is a cheap and eminently doable idea.

Their plan calls for 25 housing units on a given property, with additional buildings for laundry, administrative offices and others services. The buildings would be roughly 16 feet by 12 feet, or 192 square feet total, and cost $250 to $350 per month to rent.


The prototype is engineered by TECHDWELL, a Sherwood-based company.

Mike Withey, a Portland housing advocate and executive director of the nonprofit Micro Community Concepts, teamed with the TECHDWELL founders to push the idea.

Alpert said Hales became “infatuated” with the idea after Withey testified before the City Council in June.

Portland and Multnomah County officials have already begun conversations with TECHDWELL.

Withey said his nonprofit and TECHDWELL are excited the city is moving ahead.

“If they want us to take the reins and run,” Withey said, “that’s fine.”

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Vina’s Mobile Tiny House is 140 Square Feet of Pure Charm

tiny-house-tiny-homeBy Lori Zimmer

Compliments: Inhabitat Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Designer Vina Lustado of Sol Haus Design has designed her dream Tiny House, which is 140 square feet of pure charm. Called “Vina’s House,” the self-sufficient abode is placed on an 8 by 20 foot trailer and clad in wood. Illuminated with skylights, the tiny home boasts a gas fireplace and lofted sleeping area that comfortably sleeps two. Best of all, this beauty can be transported anywhere with very little fuss.

Vinas-tiny-house-on-wheels-140-square-foot-8-x-20With a desire to create her ideal home based on the principles of simplicity and sustainability, Lustado created the tiny house as a personal project with a budget of $35,000. With the trailer as a base, the home was designed to give the feeling of a cozy cabin, with a luxurious feel and clean, modern lines.

The resulting mini home may only be 140 square feet, but boasts all of the comforts one could hope for. Storage furniture helps to eliminate clutter, and create extra space without crowding the interior and double doors that open onto a patio extend the living area, while bringing in fresh air throughout the space. The living area combines a storage couch (that doubles as an extra single bed) and a work area, with a built-in desk that can also be used for storage. The adjacent kitchenette maybe be small, but it has everything one needs to make a hot meal, as well as ample shelving for plates and glasses; it is also connected to a small bedroom. The gas stove divides up the space, while also serving as a heating source in cold weather.


High above the kitchen is the lofted bedroom, which feels open and airy with a window at both the headboard and over the bed in an angled skylight. The dreamy home is tiny, but has an airy and comfortable feel thanks to the warm wooden interior and ample windows.

Read more: Vina’s Tiny House

Building a tiny house one square foot at a time

tiny-house-tiny-homeBy Isaac Riddle

Compliments: City Weekly

Heather Wade grew up in the foothills of Bountiful, where a home’s square footage measures in the thousands. Now a St. George resident, Wade wanted a house but didn’t want to be house poor. After learning about the tiny-house movement, she found the solution in the form of a 160-square-foot house. Wade, a graduate of Southern Utah University, spends most of her time outdoors or traveling for her work in the blood-collection division of the American Red Cross, so the small space was appealing. Thanks to the help of friends Erin Elder and Ryan Bingham, both SUU civil-engineering students, her house was recently finished, and Wade will move in September. Her house will stay in RV parks until Wade finds land to accommodate it.

Tiny-house-on-wheels-build-as-you-go-st-george-utah-heather-wadeWhy a tiny house?
My dad was encouraging me to buy a house. I started looking at houses, but was so turned off by the homes I saw. Every house looked the same. I was very turned off by the idea of owning a home, the maintenance on a home, being in debt on a home. I came across the tiny-house movement, and it was exactly what I needed. I own my house outright; it is a pretty cool feeling to own your home.

Don’t you think you’ll eventually need more space?
I don’t need much more than a bedroom. I don’t want to get married or have kids. I don’t want all these empty rooms that I have to fill with stuff; you end up constantly purchasing things. When you have a small space, there is not a whole lot you can purchase because there is not a lot of room to put things. You are saving money, which can go to other things like traveling or helping friends and family when they need it.

There is more of a sense of freedom. I didn’t want to be one of those people confined to their house because they have to be spending their Saturdays doing yardwork or cleaning their home. Whereas for me, it will take me a few minutes to clean my house and I’m out the door. I won’t be in debt; in fact, I don’t have any debt.

What obstacles have you encountered?
The house is being built by me and engineering students; none of us have any sort of construction experience. It has been a lot of trial and error, frustrations with each other and the house itself. Everything we have worked on has been a challenge, because we didn’t always know what we were doing. I haven’t had a free Saturday in a very long time; every Saturday is dedicated to working on the house. Working on the house, I’ve been the most stressed I’ve ever been.

What have you learned form this experience?
For me it is the more simple the better. Downsizing and getting rid of a lot of my things has felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. I know that not everyone can live that way, but for me, I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing a lot of things. This is something I want to do. There is a sense of pride putting your blood, sweat and tears into your own home.

What advice would you give someone considering a tiny house?
Not everybody can live small. Be sure this is something you want and that you are passionate about. People who think they can just experiment with this tend to not stay in a tiny house long. If this is something you want, and you think might make you happy, then do it.

See story at: City Weekly