Monday, July 28, 2014

Tiny Houses: How to Start When You're a Complete Beginner

People frequently ask us how to get started building a tiny house. Or, alternately, how we got started building a tiny house. I certainly don't know everything about building and I am not a professional or an expert but I do know enough to give someone a considerable head start.

Here are 5 steps you can take to start building your tiny house.
  1. Determine your finances. Sometimes people are surprised to hear that Matt and I spent 10 years of our lives saving money for this project before we even knew what we wanted to build. It started before we even moved to Georgia. We knew that we couldn't see ourselves in a suburban home working corporate jobs forever and the best way to give us an exit strategy was to start saving money. This gave us the opportunity to buy land in the mountains without knowing what kind of house we would build. It also gave us the flexibility to choose the right home when it came time to build.
  2. Figure out how much space you really need. Once we knew we were going to go tiny we needed to determine if we could fit our lives into that space. I'll admit, we kind of put the cart before the horse on this one. We bought plans for a 120 square foot house without deciding if we could fit in it. We just made our lives fit into it and it gave us a great experience learning to downsize and simplify. There was simply no going back.
  3. Read about other tiny houses. When we started our tiny house journey there weren't very many blogs on the subject. In fact, several of the blogs we used as our original inspiration are no longer around and I can't even point you to them. That is one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. Reading other people's stories helped us understand what we liked and didn't and could steer us in the right direction for us. Read a combination of blogs about how to build and how to live in a tiny house.
  4. Do a test build. Having had no previous building experience we decided to do a test build. We constructed a 6X6 deck that would be used as an outdoor shower. And let me tell you: it is the ugliest deck that has ever been built. But it gave us an opportunity to learn what we were doing. We got hands on experience, made lots of mistakes, and learned how to fix them when they happened. That's not to say we didn't make plenty of mistakes on the actual build but we were better equipped to handle them along the way.
  5. Just start. Finally, there comes a time when all the reading, planning, and everything else needs to translate to doing. Eventually we realized that we needed to pick up that hammer and start swinging or else we would never have a tiny house. We also realized that just reading and planning wouldn't guarantee a "perfect" house. In fact, building didn't even guarantee a "perfect" house. But the final step to getting started has to be getting started or else you'll just be planning forever.
What other steps do you think are important to building your tiny house? 

2 comments:

  1. I love the idea of doing a small test build, why hadn't I thought of that?!

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  2. I think a test build is important. I knew nothing about building, thought I was crazy to even try, but started with a 4 x 8 "bath house", designing it as I went! I used primarily repurposed (salvaged) wood. Wow, tell me about learning! I am now in the process of finishing out a 120 sq ft shed, and will start my own 98 Sq Ft Guest house in Sept. Boy, compared to when I started, I feel like an expert. The joy I get from building is awesome and so unexpected. I am 67 years old, and have disabilities! And I did not save anything and I am on a very small fixed budget. Impossible to build your own tiny house--I don't want to hear it! If I can, anyone can! You can see pics and hear my story at tinyhousetrisha.wordpress.com or on my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006383505543
    Eventually plan to have my own website. Hope you will visit me there!

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