The “average” tiny houser…

Hi everyone!  

Please take a minute to complete this survey!  Tiny house folks are hoping to compare the “average” tiny houser to the “average” American.

Open House Pictures

Better late than never!  These were taken by Phil Nebe ( who traveled from Richmond to see the wee house.  Thanks for the great pics, Phil!

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And these are from Anne, one of my mom’s friends who was kind enough to share them:

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Virtual Tour


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Tiny Open House

The time has come! I am delighted to announce that the house is done enough to have folks come check it out.  Anyone who is willing to make the drive (short or long) can come see the house, ask questions, and enjoy some refreshments.  I know it’ll be a very short tour, but it’ll be fun nonetheless!  Details:

When? 12/15/12 from 8 – 4 pm

Where? Newport Hardware & Supply: 108 Spruce Run Road, Newport VA 24128 (phone number is 540-544-3000)

There’s plenty to do in the area for you out-of-towners thinking about making the journey.  Virginia Tech is super close, Mountain Lake (where they filmed Dirty Dancing) is even closer, and I’ll let you google the rest.

It’ll be officially for sale at that point as well.  I’ll nail down a price closer to time.  So bittersweet!

Almost finished! …and what’s up with tiny house prices?

We are getting so close to finishing the house!  Since my last post, we trimmed out the interior doorways, finished the quarter round on the floor, and installed shelves in the closets.   The doorway trim was really the last major use of my pallet pieces…it’s kind of sad actually.  But they look great and I’m very glad to not have purchased new wood for them.  I had some extra stain left so I threw it on the solar panel stand just to pretty it up a bit.   Next I put two coats of polyurethane on the stair treads (and added some tile…I just couldn’t help it!).  Dad and I also finished putting the quarter round down on the floor and then installed shelving in the closets.  The shelves are made from scrap materials we had from previous tiny house tasks.  Even the rod is leftover from another project!  This is exactly why you should think carefully before just getting rid of construction scraps.

On a slightly different note, I’m now nailing down a sales price for the house because we’ll probably finish everything this weekend or a few days into next week.  I’m not at a number yet, but I will let you see why many tiny houses are as pricey as they are…here’s the break down of just the labor involved:

Let’s say I worked on the house an average of 2 hours each day since the beginning (I think it’s more, but for argument’s sake…).  Started in April, so that’s 8 months at 30 days each = 480 hours for me.  Add that for dad as well and we’re at 960 man/woman hours.  The average construction worker’s hourly wage is a little over $15.  So 960 x $15 = $14,400!  Add in the cost of materials which for most folks is $15k – $25k, and you’ll see why these are priced the way they are.  Of course, there are exceptions out there (so don’t jump on me if you’re building a tiny house and don’t fall into this cost range).


This is mostly going to be about the super awesome floor (because, well, it’s super awesome).  In all seriousness, let me backtrack for those not familiar with the master plan.  I originally wanted to use old pallets for practically everything I could think of (cabinets, flooring, trim, siding, etc.).  After a ton of work to use said pallets as interior window trim, the vote was to just use them for trim and flooring.  Pallet use is controversial because many are treated with chemicals…simple solution is to check them for “HT” which means heat treated.  Other stamps usually mean chemicals, but also keep in mind that a ton of pallets are just plain naked and fine to use as well.  Another thing to keep an eye out for is where you get them (i.e. from stores that sell chemical stuff, you’ll probably bet that their used pallets had chemical containers and such on them).  Avoid pallets with dubious stains as well.  I could go on and on about what I learned from this process, but I’ll spare you unless you really want more detail.  Heat treated or naked + planing 1/4 inch + sanding + stain + polyurethane = safe pallets pieces to use inside.

Anywho, the process for turning a pallet into flooring is actually really painful – sort pallets, deconstruct pallet, cut out sections with metal, rip down to same width, plane boards for thickness, sand smooth, apply stain to all sides (to seal it well), glue/nail to floor, apply polyurethane coats.  Dad found some really great eco-friendly glue and water-based polyurethane and both worked quite well.  I actually had to pry up one board that I split when nailing, and the glue was so strong that a layer of subfloor came up with it…whoops. I hope you enjoy the pictures!  Tonight I put the final coat of poly on the floor so tomorrow I should have some final shots I can post.

Late October Update

Got a lot of little stuff done at the end of October!  Most exciting is starting the flooring 🙂

There will be an open house in about a month at Newport Hardware. Details soon!

Early October Progress

We had another trip to prepare for, so in went the stairs/ladder and we finished up the exterior paint (aside from the door and touch-ups).  After getting back from the northern VA adventures, it was time to finish the propane lines!  Finally we could test the water heater, oven/stove, and the Newport P9000.  As much as I wanted a woodstove (and still have the one I bought sitting in storage), this little heater is a good option for tiny houses because of how little clearance it needs around itself.  I ended up buying the woodstove from myself to save for another house down the road 🙂

Besides all these pictures, I have a video treat for you all coming up.  If only I could get it to load…I took today off from work, so I’ll do my best to post the vid today sometime in between my various construction projects.


Dad and I had a blast taking the house up to Manassas and Charles Town!  I got to share it with my friends, coworkers, and random tiny house enjoyers.  On our way up, we stopped at a gas station and ended up giving an impromtu tour!  As for the media coverage, let me say that it got a little hectic but everything worked out and I think it went really well.  I spoke with someone from the Patch, the Washington Post, WJLA, and Jefferson Spirit.  Am I missing anyone?  I hope not!  So here are some links to the main articles:

…I think the Washington Post article is how most of you fine folk found my blog.  Welcome to you!  If you’re ever down near southwest VA, let me know if you’d like to stop by (before I sell it).  Speaking of selling, lots of interest in that arena, probably due to this news stuff.  So thanks news people!  Here are some pictures from our adventure:!/media/set/?set=a.477555945608187.109868.111238175573301&type=3

Tiny House Tour

Dad and I took the house up to Manassas, VA last week. What a trip! We were interviewed by several reporters and had a blast letting everyone see it.

With this media coverage came some interesting questions from commenters that I’d like to address. This might step on some toes, but here goes:

My school isn’t a diploma mill. AMU is regionally accredited and respected by students, organizations, and businesses. A lot of folks have issues with online education in general, and I totally get that. Please don’t bash my school specifically though when you don’t even bother to research it. Also, my BA is from Virginia Tech and I graduated when I was 19…ok, off my soapbox.

Second, I don’t live in a McMansion and I don’t plan to park this house in someone’s yard as a secondary home. I live in a 250 square foot apartment in a very eco-friendly cohousing development. How’s that for a small footprint?

Third, yes I hate that I’m selling this house. I wouldn’t hesitate to live in it full time! The reality is that I need to return the money I borrowed to build this house. I do not expect a huge ROI and do not plan on building and selling more of these as a business. Also, I can’t disclose how much I really have invested in the house because it’s not done yet 🙂

Fourth, this is way better than a camper. Perhaps a used camper would be more environmentally friendly, but now how would that be a good thing for a whole Master’s thesis?

I did in fact do most of the work. My dad was absolutely key to the success of this project, but he taught me to do everything on it by having me do the physical work. I can now frame walls, install siding, wall panels, trim, plumbing (sort of), painting, wiring with my own knowledge. He’s been a great teacher!

Finally, I am so thankful for all the positive feedback I’ve received. To all the haters- pretty sure you’re just upset you don’t get to do an awesome project like this!

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