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"It's awfully small..." "I'd say it's awfully.. cozy!"
August 8, 2010 10:41 AM   Subscribe


 
The books in my library would build a larger house than the one he's living in.
posted by Fizz at 10:42 AM on August 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


How did he get an Upper East Side apartment into the woods?
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Previously
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:47 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yet again, I see a design which involves putting a refrigerator inside an enclosure. Isn't that supposed have a really negative impact on the efficiency of the fridge?

Otherwise, it's adorable. Certainly living in such a space requires a certain skill, but probably no more skill than living full-time in an Airstream. "Everything in its place, and a place for everything."
posted by hippybear at 10:48 AM on August 8, 2010


Thanks for that Dr-Baa. Though some of the links are no longer functioning.

I wonder if this is really living. I'm all for helping protect the environment and minimizing the human impact, etc. But is that really a comfortable way of living. I like to breathe and walk around my house. I could never live in such a tiny place, not out of choice.
posted by Fizz at 10:50 AM on August 8, 2010


I just measured, and my room in the apartment I've lived in for 2 years is less than 90 square feet, including closet space. I have a full size bed and enough floor space to lie down/spread out a project if I need/want to. I have lived in smaller rooms than this. I'm mostly a room-dweller, so when I see stuff like this I think, "hey, that's totally something I could do!"

And then I remember: KITCHEN. And: BATHROOM.

I'd like a nice bit of distance, and maybe a door, between where I crap and where I bake cakes, please.
posted by phunniemee at 10:51 AM on August 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


That looks like a profoundly uncomfortable place to live.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:52 AM on August 8, 2010


Part of the problem, phunniemee, is that your room has some stuff in it, but that house both has stuff in it and is also carved up by walls. There's a hundred square feet, but it looks like there's maybe one place in the entire house with more than twenty contiguous square feet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:53 AM on August 8, 2010


I would totally dig living in a place like that.
posted by brundlefly at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2010


It looks very similar to living on a sailboat. Only without the part where you get to sail.
posted by Babblesort at 10:55 AM on August 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


Compact and bijou, Mostyn, compact and bijou.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:55 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know how when you have a party and there are only a few people over....so then someone goes to the wash-room and the person who follows knows right away whether the previous person in there was standing or sitting. If this guy goes to the wash-room, the entire house knows about it.
posted by Fizz at 10:56 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I'm also making the assumption that this guy can throw a party where there's more than three people in attendance.
posted by Fizz at 10:57 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or is anyone else getting a creepy scary vibe from Jay?
posted by nomadicink at 10:58 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn that's dreamy. And nomadicink- I think it's just you, he seems like a really sweet guy.
posted by nzero at 11:00 AM on August 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


If this guy goes to the wash-room, the entire house knows about it.

Fortunately, he seems to be surrounded by several acres of Wild, Untamed Washroom.
posted by griphus at 11:00 AM on August 8, 2010 [18 favorites]


It's an interesting exercise but there's no way that I'm maneuvering my 6'2 235 lb. frame around in there.
posted by octothorpe at 11:02 AM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have shown these guys' houses to others before, it's a great personality barometer for me. About 20% exclaim "this is awesome, I have to get one, how much are they" and the rest are completely aghast at it, think it's uncomfortable, why would anyone do this, etc. Kind of like cilantro.
posted by neustile at 11:03 AM on August 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


Fuck cilantro.
posted by Fizz at 11:04 AM on August 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Don't exercises like this kind of miss the point? Square footage is not the scarce resource here. The problem with large living spaces is the amount of crap with which we fill them up, not the airy, open interior.
posted by fatbird at 11:07 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tiny chairs next to tiny fireplace looks like fire waiting to happen.
posted by sanko at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Heeeeyy I partied with that guy one time, at someone else's house naturally.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Where does he keep all his D&D gear?
posted by LordSludge at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fatbird, the airy open interior requires lots of energy to heat and cool.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:16 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


fatbird - square footage can be an issue in terms of environmental impact - the amount of space taken up by a roof, the way that it affects drainage after rainfall, the amount of heat that roofing material absorbs/reflects, the amount of foliage/plant life that that square footage displaces. Additionally, large houses tend to have large yards with similar problems, but that's more an effect of zoning laws.

But I do agree, putting lots of crap into large spaces is a big problem, both in terms of environmental and financial sustainability.
posted by baxter_ilion at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2010


I would totally dig living in a place like that

Me too. Just think - a basement could almost double the square footage.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:18 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


fatbird: Cutting down on square footage decreases the amount of air that needs to be heated and cooled, reducing energy costs. You don't have to spend as much time/money on cleaning, either.

Environmental factors aside, I see spaces like this as an exercise in creativity and efficient use of vertical space. Very cool, but practical only if you live alone.
posted by phunniemee at 11:18 AM on August 8, 2010


There's a tiny tiny house in my neighborhood (parked in the driveway of an (sorry) actual house) that looks pretty much exactly like this from the outside. Now I have some idea of what it must be like inside. Pretty neat.
posted by gurple at 11:18 AM on August 8, 2010


Great for a singleton.

You couldn't raise kids in it tho.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:23 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


How much of this is actually about the environment versus the shock value of telling people you live in a place this small...I wonder.
posted by Fizz at 11:24 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The end of that video looked like the beginning of a tiny sex tape.
posted by Taco John at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


It looks very similar to living on a sailboat. Only without the part where you get to sail.

Exactly. Not only that, all the people I know who live on boats have a storage unit somewhere for the rest of their stuff. Long-term you have to be extremely zealous about not accumulating stuff to maintain this level of simplicity.

Speaking as someone who spent a couple of years being able to fit all her possessions in a small car. That gets really old after a while.
posted by ambrosia at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love this and would totally want to live in one if it was available for rent in my area. I wonder how often he has to go to the grocery store.
posted by lizzicide at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that tiny house proponents will always butt up against a social/psychological barrier of private versus public space.

Nobody, except those who work from home, housewives, and the otherwise homebound spends more than 4-6 waking hours in their home on most days, so investing a lot of money and energy into a huge space doesn't make that much sense on the face of it, especially given that there are plenty of other places where one can escape to if they need actual square footage (restaurant, library, movie theater, church, park, etc.)

However, most people want the ability to spend those 4-6 hours in privacy. That's why we invest large houses.

Break down that barrier, and I think these houses could catch on.

Also, as St. Alia says, these houses aren't good for raising kids.
posted by baxter_ilion at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: the idea of hauling my seven-months-pregnant body up and down that ladder every time I wake up to pee in the middle of the night? No thanks.
posted by ambrosia at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2010


@LordSludge "Where does he keep all his D&D gear?"

I know you're joking, but that;s the same thing I've always thought of this guy. (I first heard about him a couple years ago) How do you have any hobbies? What if you play an instrument? My God, what if you play drums? It looks like he has room for a few books, and anything would have to be on his computer.

I'm a hobby hoarder, so while I think the idea is really neat, there's a HUGE roadblock for me.
posted by toekneebullard at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Make mine a Garden Pub, and we have a deal. Okay, it's more than 100 sq. ft., but still.

(Sadly, all the links in the the MeFi post about Garden Pubs from '02 are dead. Long live the Garden Pub.)
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tiny fireplace is gas and that looks like OK clearances to me.
posted by warbaby at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2010


You couldn't raise kids in it tho.

you'd actually have to not quite double the square footage for a family to make it work : )
posted by msconduct at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


oh, lovely! I've adored the tumbleweed houses for ages, so it's awfully nice to really see inside one :)
posted by kalimac at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2010


I've made a jokey comment upthread, but I actually think it's quite badly designed. In particular, if you've got limited space, put your chairs flush to the wall. Create as few internal walls as possible - in this case the kitchen is hidden away, but it wastes space.

The fridge in another cabinet is also inefficient. Caravan, motorhome and sailboat builders understand that. Also, I noticed in the video he had space for something like 12 glasses. Why?
posted by MuffinMan at 11:45 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brilliant. But the video gave me claustrophobia... and I'm not even claustrophobic.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:50 AM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


you'd actually have to not quite double the square footage for a family to make it work

I don't have kids, but when I do, I'm pretty sure that any situation where my partner and I would have to have sex in a wall-less/door-less "room" less than 8 feet away from my children would not be "making it work." Yeesh.
posted by phunniemee at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


ts;dr claustrophobia kicked in
posted by Cranberry at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2010


i really love shafer's tiny houses, and i really, really, really want to put a guest house in my backyard. i have several obstacles to this, including both cost & zoning, but where there's a will, there's a way. it will be bigger than this by almost double, but shafer's designs (and ethos) are the best i've found so far. if i ever do get it done, it will sleep four, and in addition to the wet room (bathroom), will have an outside shower. i want to be able to incorporate storage/shelf space between the framing somehow, so if anyone has any ideas about a thin insulating material for the walls, please hit me up with a memail.
posted by msconduct at 12:04 PM on August 8, 2010


this makes me feel sad.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:09 PM on August 8, 2010


I agree that it would be better with a basement for extra space and maybe some furniture that folds up into the walls when it isn't being used. I wouldn't want to spend much time in a house that tiny but if all you wanted to do was sleep and have the occasional meal it would make a great vacation spot.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:09 PM on August 8, 2010


I don't have kids, but when I do, I'm pretty sure that any situation where my partner and I would have to have sex in a wall-less/door-less "room" less than 8 feet away from my children would not be "making it work."

Unappealing, maybe. But that is a good description of how a large percentage of the world's population lives -- except that you're having sex not just next to the kids but also your inlaws and maybe a couple of cousins.

At least in warm places you can have the kitchen and bathing areas outside, so indoors is just for sleeping, sitting out of the rain, and storage.
posted by Forktine at 12:10 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


"as long as I have tiny plates, it seats four people." so tapas, then?
posted by stargell at 12:10 PM on August 8, 2010


There's no egress window in the sleeping area and that always creeps me the f**k out. Especially if you live in a wooden shed, filled with things made of wood. In the woods.
posted by fshgrl at 12:12 PM on August 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


I like this tiny house better. I used to walk by it.
posted by oflinkey at 12:23 PM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


How did he get an Upper East Side apartment into the woods?

100 sq. ft. per person is extreme, but not at all unusual in many big cities. I have plenty of friends who live in flats about this same size. My family of four lives in about twice this space (per person) and it is enough for us. We have a few walls for privacy and it keeps our footprint on this Earth to a minimum.

It forces us to be minimalists in our use of heat, electricity, and stuff - one does not collect a bunch of crap when you have no place to put it. On the other hand, it also forces us to be maximalists in our use of public parks, playgrounds, and libraries. Of course "force" is not the right word - we choose to live this way. But the question "where would we put it?" more often than not results in us not making a purchase of something we do not really need.

City living is the future. It is gratifying to see the efficiency of city living being exported to the countryside. Now if we city dwellers could only convince those country folk to get rid of their cars...
posted by three blind mice at 12:27 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my day, we called them sheds.

Also, I've met families living in the same amount of space in '1st' world countries. I remember a Filipino family in Switzerland that lived with 3 children in a space the size of an average living room.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:27 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ugh, not being able to just walk place to place easily in my home would suck.

Is it just me or is anyone else getting a creepy scary vibe from Jay?

When he said the bed comfortable sleeps two, I got a weird leery vibe. Not sure why.
posted by amro at 12:30 PM on August 8, 2010


I get slightly put off by Jay, who puts a little too much emphasis on the "green" side of tiny house living, like a lot of people advocating tiny living. The places are green, in a roundabout way, but building tiny houses on a large scale would cause horizontal gigantism, which ultimately isn't green. If you really want to live green, live in an apartment in New York.

Living small as a way of living simpler, and changing up your material perspective, on the other hand, isn't a bad idea at all. I've lived in a 400 square foot apartment for twenty-two years now, and there were times I thought, man, I could really use one extra room in this place, because I could have a little space for my studio, or a place where I could leave my sewing machines set up, or a place where I could…but it turns out, after living here for a generation, I don't need a special space for any of those things. When I want to sew, I fold out the leaf on my table, pull out my machine and my sewing box, and work. When I want to write or make some music, I fold up my sofa bed and set up my percussion controller and my live rig.

Granted, I have a living environment that I've tailored over two decades until it tailored me, but I love how I live. I live in a converted house that has five small apartments, which was owned by my father until he died and the bank took the place from my mother, and I stayed here as the resident manager/building super under a new guy. Now it's owned by my ex, who lives upstairs, next to my previous ex in the other upstairs apartment. My sister's ex-husband lives next to my apartment, and a slightly-nutty D.H. Lawrence scholar/janitor lives in the apartment across the hall.

Me, I live in 400 square feet that get a little cluttered when I'm working on a performance piece, surrounded by the occasional wiggly stack of books that rise like stalagmites from the floor to remind me that, one of these days, I'm going to build some killer built-in shelves and unbox some of the thousands of books I keep boxed in the closets.

When I get the urge to buy some crazy piece of furniture, I have to think about what I'd need to get rid of to get it. I have a longtime lust for a lovely chaise longue, which I think would be the most perfect piece of furniture to have if I ever hope to be discovered in sybaritic repose, deep in thought with a quill pen tucked behind my ear, by my adoring fans, but I'd have to get rid of the garish Victorian pump organ that I keep primarily as a stand for photographs and an excuse to make puns to the uninitiated about my enormous organ.

There's this in-built evolving calculus at work, a line of questions for people who love stuff and yet have very little space for it:

Will a proposed new object be worth more than what it displaces?

Is this cluttery thing worth more than an empty space?

Do I really need this thing?

People who live in large spaces don't get it. They think they're not collectors, and that they live pretty simply…until they move, and see how much stupid, pointless shit they own. Bread machines, rice cookers, giant TV sets, lamps, lamps, lamps, lamps, pre-fab bookshelves that sit two inches from the wall because of the moldings. Junk, junk, junk, and we define ourselves by this crap, and love this crap, and treasure this crap, and think we'd just be heartbroken if something happened to it, but it's all just stuff.

What gets me is how bent out of shape people get when you show them something like this, or announce to family that you're just fine with your 100-200-300-400 square foot place. People actually sputter, at least intellectually, as if they want to stamp a foot and holler "preposterous!" It's a little like announcing you're not interested in having kids, or that you're a vegan, or that yes, you have heard the good news about Jesus Christ, but your soul is doing just fine, thank you. People just have to save you from yourself.

Time will tell if Jay abides in his little place, with his mate in her little place next door, and if Tumbleweed Houses will keep at it, or if Tiny House Blog keeps blogging, but time and familiarity have a way of making things that work work better.

My kitchen is a nanoscaled thing. It's about five feet by nine, a little galley with zero counter space and a giant cast iron sink/drain board, a giant old stove with broad enameled shoulders, and an oversized fridge put in by the guy who owned the place between my family and my adopted family. The only working space is the two ten-inch wide flanks of the stove. I cook extravagant, intricate things, though, and I do it by cooking like Julia Child on TV.

I cut up each thing I need, one by one, stocking up little bowls and saki cups with my ingredients, which I line up around the edges of the stove. When I'm ready, I fire everything up, get my burners going, the oven preheating, and all that, and it's like conducting a little food orchestra. Everything's in its place, and I'm in my frilly apron, and yes, I do comment on my work as I go along in my fruitiest Julia voice. I am an utter fag in that department, dear hearts, and that is just fine.

I was briefly shipped down to Atlanta to run a job site for six months, and I holed up in a neat modern open-space apartment next to an insanely-expensive restaurant, with a giant, super-modern kitchen, with acres of counter space and a dishwasher and a microwave and other nightmare wonders, and still, I cooked in my tiny kitchen. My ex would come home and see me there, working in a tiny corner of the place, assembling the spices and ingredients for my completely kick-ass mattar paneer with homemade paneer, and he'd just sort of laugh.

"Don't you want to spread out a little?"

"You know, I tried, but it felt weird."

"You're weird."

"This is true."

So sure, my very occasional dinner parties look like AA meetings, with mismatched chairs in a circle, and sure, I have twenty-seven manual typewriters in a closet, which means my hoardy Collyer-like demise will be under a stack of German typewriters, and sure, I have to keep my dutch oven under my bed (hee hee hee), but I don't feel cramped at all.

I'm building a tiny house, too, out on my postage stamp of property palatial mountain estate in West Virginia. Over the last four years, every time I did contracting work, I raided the dumpsters at the end of each week, salvaging plywood formwork and 2-by lumber from temporary walls, building up a little stack that will yield me a nice little 8x8 foot cabin with a kitchenette, a convertible table/bed, and a loft bed, as well as a finely-crafted outhouse that will make you want a case of the trots and a great book, and I think it'll be one more of those things you learn to use like any other tool.

That's what a tiny place is, by the way—it's a tool for training the mind to recognize the difference between the necessary and the frivolous, or the flame of desire and the value of each and every thing, action, and impulse. There are people who do that on their own, and in giant, empty warehouses of space, and I salute them, but some of us just need (and prefer) something outside ourselves as a form for our madness. Your mileage may vary, and I have to think that some people would be bouncing off the walls and strangling their mates, but I've loved little boxes since the first refrigerator box my dad gave me in 1975, and I'm not really working the mate angle just now, so it's all easy for me.

Jay needs to ditch those awful Ikea armchairs, though.
posted by sonascope at 12:31 PM on August 8, 2010 [54 favorites]


Cute. The house too.
posted by yesster at 12:34 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


100 sq. ft. per person is extreme, but not at all unusual in many big cities.

Yeah, but that's way easier with three or four people because everybody can have a bedroom and maybe a bath (or share a bath with someone) and then you can basically pool your leftover space for living and food areas.

As ever, living with other people makes a lot of things easier.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:35 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks! I'd been looking at tiny house designs and photos online but this gives me a much better sense of what being inside one would be like. I would be banging my head and elbows all the time. I don't like the way you have to flip things open and shut just to get at the fridge or toaster oven. The stove top is a level down from the counter, so you couldn't use any pots or pans that might overhang the sides by even the tiniest bit. It's just a bit too small for me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:35 PM on August 8, 2010


This seems more like he's doing it for the sake of the hobby rather than anything with the environment. I'd be interested to see what he'd do with 400 or 900 square feet. At that point, we'd be talking less coffin-like living and something people might actually start considering, especially if you can start building developing countries. Then you could start seeing some kind of environmental impact, especially with reducing the costs of heating/cooling.
posted by yeloson at 12:39 PM on August 8, 2010


My playhouse when I was a kid was bigger than this, and also featured a fridge and a stove. No bathroom though. Priorities, priorities.
posted by tejolote at 12:44 PM on August 8, 2010


This seems more like he's doing it for the sake of the hobby rather than anything with the environment. I'd be interested to see what he'd do with 400

This is the size of place I live in now. It sucks, if you like books, or as people have pointed out, have any hobbies at all. But, it's livable.

Don't plan on bringing anyone home though. I get all sorts of rude responses, not even counting the discomfited body language, and this is in Seattle, where living spaces are generally smaller than anywhere else I've ever lived.
posted by tejolote at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was with him, all the way up to "I do it because I don't like vacuuming or dusting." That's a stupid reason. He says that this is the 3rd tiny house he's lived in in the last 10 years. I suspect that if he did a little more vacuuming, he wouldn't have had to abandon his other houses.

I also noticed that he had a little trouble turning around in his bathroom/shower.

I think it's great that he can live in a place that small, but I can afford to live in a little more space.
posted by crunchland at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like it. I've always liked tiny things, miniatures, and if I didn't have a gal and lots of stuff, I could totally see myself living in something similar. But that 100 sq ft is just a tad too small for me -- bump it up to maybe 200, and it would be completely livable for me.
posted by davidmsc at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Extremely poor value for $44,000. I think precious is the best way to describe this. I've lived on all sorts of boats, and as others have pointed out, he violates some really basic rules about designing for maximum space/energy efficiency. These are basically travel-trailers, which he acknowledges himself ... Because they are on wheels, they are considered travel trailers, and do not require a building permit. You can pretty much put one anywhere you can place an RV.

More practically, one could achieve pretty much the same thing with a used $2500 truck-camper, which would be more comfortable and environmentally sounder than a brand-new, purpose-built structure such as this. Living on the ocean as I do, for less money, and way more romance, I'd get something like this.

posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just chiming in to say this is bigger than my girlfriend's East Village apartment.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:52 PM on August 8, 2010


I lived in a dorm room-like studio apartment for seven years. No stove, and I had to get the two-burner hot plate out of a cupboard if I wanted to use it on top of the microwave (that was already there.)

It was great for the time I lived there, although having guests made me a little claustrophobic. Every time I bought something new, something had to go. Moving into a house made my stuff expand exponentially, although I do try to edit it pretty severely every few years. I don't feel nostalgic for that tiny space.
posted by pinky at 12:52 PM on August 8, 2010


Tiny is as tiny do.
posted by Splunge at 12:53 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with sanko and fshgrl. I don't need much space---hell, I lived on a submarine for a large portion of my life---but all I could think of when he climbed into the loft was "oh, good god, no" from a fire safety aspect. Especially with the small kitchen and toaster oven in a cabinet? Tell me he takes that out and puts it on the counter top to use it, then waits for it to cool off before putting it back. Shudder.
posted by ctmf at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


yeloson, re: I'd be interested to see what he'd do with 400 or 900 square feet.

shafer's houses go from 65-to-837 sq ft. the enesti, for instance, is 681 sq ft (with an optional addition of a little less than 100 sq ft) and can be configured for 2 or 3 bedrooms.
posted by msconduct at 1:14 PM on August 8, 2010


I'm not wild about this design because it feels like the interior spaces had to conform to his need to make the exterior look like a cutesy miniature traditional house. The porch is a massive waste of space* and because he made the window openings proportional to the exterior, the interior feels dark and closed in. This is especially noticeable in the bedroom which only has a tiny church window on one side when it could just have easily had a huge skylight.

Small dwellings can be really neat but they work better when they are designed from the inside out. There's a neat one in SF (which I unfortunately can't seem to find a link to atm) that demonstrates this well.

*from his specs, the porch measures 7.5' x 3', or roughly 22 sq feet which could have gone to space better used to not having to eat off a TV tray.
posted by jamaro at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree. I actually would live in that house in a heartbeat IF it wasn't so ridiculously expensive. I think they would be a great idea if they were also affordable. I can't imagine they really cost that much to construct (but then again I know very little about building). $15K, I think would be a reasonable price. People who wanted to own a home without going into to debt forever, could. As it is, they're probably sold mostly as novelties to rich people who fancy themselves "green".
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2010


Oh. Very cute. I want 20 of those.

OK that kind of misses the whole point, doesn't it.
posted by contessa at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am reckoning he'll very soon need to think of expanding into 110 or 150 or 200, nay 3,000 sq. ft., judging by his reaction to the female who shot the video. It's not for nothing that she giggled. If they're involved, let's hope he can't convince her that two can live as stifflingly as one.
posted by drogien at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2010


Tiny chairs next to tiny fireplace looks like fire waiting to happen.

Tiny fire, though.
posted by danb at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Around here, $44,000 will get you a three bedroom house with a garage on a nice lot on a quiet street but I realize that not everyone wants to live in the post-industrial rust-belt.
posted by octothorpe at 1:36 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


More practically, one could achieve pretty much the same thing with a used $2500 truck-camper, which would be more comfortable and environmentally sounder than a brand-new, purpose-built structure such as this.

From reading about these houses and from other people who have tried your solution, the problem is that the truck-camper doesn't have the insulation necessary to keep the interior comfortable. One person in particular talked about waking up inside his Airstream in upstate NY with ice all over every interior surface. I'd think that keeping the cold and the damp out is worth a lot of money.
posted by KathrynT at 1:40 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect that house is so expensive mainly because it involves a crazy insane amount of trim carpentry the labor for which is figured into the price. I'm sure you could build a similar (or more functional) space without all the detail work for under $10K, but then it wouldn't be as "homey."
posted by localroger at 2:00 PM on August 8, 2010


Is it just me or is anyone else getting a creepy scary vibe from Jay?

It is just you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:05 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am going to stick with the lifestyle which allows me to own over four pairs of shoes and keep some food in a pantry.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fizz: "The books in my library would build a larger house than the one he's living in."

Having read a lot of books is something to be proud of. Owning a lot of books is not.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


This guy's a fucking amateur, and this is giving me horrible flashbacks of when I lived in Chinatown for 2.5 years. Okay, so he's fucking cramped. Boohoo. We had far less room per person. That's not even it though--that's not even it! You can get used to being cramped. The thing is, if he feels cramped, he can take a little stroll and then he can walk straight back into his house.

I had to walk up 89 steps.

Up 89 steps every time I left the house. Figure I left the house on average twice a day, that's 178 steps a day. That's roughly 65,000 steps a year. Yeah, holy shit, I had to double check those numbers, too. Living there for two and half years gives me a conservative estimate of 162,000 steps. Plus, I developed a horrible lung condition half way through my time so the last 80,000 steps or so probably felt twice as hard. By the end of that, cramped living + 89 steps + lung condition, man, I was fucking made of bricks. I could take anything you could throw at me.

Something tells me this guy ain't built like that. He's all Mister Green out there in the woods in his little shack, but I give him 3 weeks carrying up groceries in 100º heat before he calls it quits.

We had good reasons for moving there (which I doubt interest anyone), and I don't regret it. But, my god, do I love not being cramped. But even better, I love living on the second floor. It's the best thing ever. And yes, I sometimes use the elevator to get there. I practically wept with joy the first time I used it.
posted by milarepa at 2:58 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, everybody's talking about living in the house.

Yesterday I went on a bit of a tour of the 1900-era preserved cabins in Cade's Cove, TN. Now, even the smallest of them is bigger than this. But one thing that I'd known before, but that was brought home to me all over again yesterday, was: you didn't live in these. These were where you kept your stuff and slept and sheltered from the more extreme of the elements. You lived outside.

I think the same thing is going on here. You don't sit in your tiny house for eight hours a day after work. You get your food and a book and head outdoors. And, if that is your thing, I don't think the tiny house would be that bad.
posted by frobozz at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


i want to be able to incorporate storage/shelf space between the framing somehow, so if anyone has any ideas about a thin insulating material for the walls, please hit me up with a memail.

You can sort this list of thermal conductivities by thermal conductivity. The best insulators are stationary gasses, and the simplest gas to get is air. Most insulating materials basically work by keeping air still - materials on that list like expanded polystyrene, foam insulation, wool and fibreglass all rely on keeping air still.

Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to find any materials better than expanded polystyrene.


I'm not wild about this design because it feels like the interior spaces had to conform to his need to make the exterior look like a cutesy miniature traditional house. The porch is a massive waste of space* and because he made the window openings proportional to the exterior, the interior feels dark and closed in.

If he'd gone for a practical design and duplicated a travel-trailer, it wouldn't have got posted on MetaFilter because it wouldn't be interesting.

That said, I agree that it isn't really any more practical than a poorly designed travel-trailer, it's just much more awesome.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:00 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The reason they cost so much to construct is the same reason I question whether these are too small to be as green as their goals. By increasing a footprint from 10'x10' up to 14x14' you increase the internal space by 96%, but only increase the amount of exterior walls floor and roof (assuming a 12:12 simple gable end) by 50%. In other words, your cost per square foot goes down by 33%. Obviously, there is a point where this equation starts breaking down as spans become long, etc. but this isn't it. Likewise, in a home the cost of heat and cooling is largely dominated by the amount of exterior enclosure, so that house that is nearly double in size would be only 50% more to heat.

As noted above, the optimal strategy is more space and sharing. Also, living near lots of other people saves on transportation expense. I'm way more impressed with the numerous Japanese tiny house designs I've seen.
posted by meinvt at 3:12 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am going to stick with the lifestyle which allows me to own over four pairs of shoes and keep some food in a pantry.

Way to wreck the earth, monster.
posted by codswallop at 3:14 PM on August 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


These were where you kept your stuff and slept and sheltered from the more extreme of the elements. You lived outside.

Sure, but then why bother with the 2 chairs + tiny fireplace living room, separate kitchen, and foldout table that seats four? I'd just make the whole thing a roomy bedroom with a closet for the bathroom. I like the "whole thing is a shower" design, pretty clever. The rest is just being cute.
posted by cj_ at 3:16 PM on August 8, 2010


sonascope...for living in a small space you sure write BIG copy...
posted by shockingbluamp at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2010


Substantively, I'd love to have an efficently-built, small studio apartment about this size where I live (Washington, DC). I can't find one on the real estate market, and certainly not an affordable one: it seems like, the further you live away from the central city, they just ramp up unnecessary amenities (42'' plasma TV! Exercise suite! Granite countertops!) to the point where the apartments just cost the same and get bigger.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


My friend Zoey lives in a Tiny House in my backyard. Her blog documents the entire building process, which used mostly reclaimed, reused materials. It's a wonderful space and quite functional. I'm a big guy and I'm very comfortable visiting with her. While I couldn't live there myself (I have a wife and a set of speakers bigger than Zoey's fridge) it works fantastically well for her.
posted by Revvy at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Revvy, your link doesn't work.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2010


The way he has to turn sideways to walk around in his house makes me feel cramped, just watching him.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:32 PM on August 8, 2010


The Enesti I could live in. My college apartment was 500 sq. ft. and it was plenty of room for me. Less than 100...don't think I could do that.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2010


lizzicide I love this and would totally want to live in one if it was available for rent in my area. I wonder how often he has to go to the grocery store.

Just drive it there and park.
Or, get it outfitted with an engine, wheels, steering... ta-DA!
(Does anyone remember The Goodies?)
posted by Drasher at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2010


Revvy, your link doesn't work.

Dang. Should be livetiny365.com
posted by Revvy at 3:39 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


sonascope is my hero
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2010


the problem is that the truck-camper doesn't have the insulation necessary to keep the interior comfortable.

I'm a skier. What we do is insulate the vehicles we use for these purposes, or buy or rent winterized ones. It's not rocket science.

when he climbed into the loft was "oh, good god, no" from a fire safety aspect.

This. A thousand times.

Especially with the small kitchen and toaster oven in a cabinet?


Yep, incredibly annoying, or dangerous and inefficient.

I suspect that house is so expensive mainly because it involves a crazy insane amount of trim carpentry the labor for which is figured into the price. I'm sure you could build a similar (or more functional) space without all the detail work for under $10K, but then it wouldn't be as "homey."

Fully agree. Once again, a far better solution is to re-purpose an existing vehicle, and invest the dollars in the aesthetic and functionality upgrades instead. This was precisely the route that my buddy used to finance his first vessel. He started with an old school bus, and converted it into a travel home, following the tried and tested methods of mariners and recreational vehicle designers. People would be stunned when they entered it, it was exactly like stepping into the saloon of a Thirties era yacht.

He designed it specifically for traveling from ski hill to ski hill in the winter. We had to open the windows in that thing in January to cool it down. We used it for about 5 years while he built the hull of his 42' ketch. Then he sold it for a considerable profit, and used the proceeds and skills he'd acquired building it finish off the interior. He now has a business doing precisely this with old unlicensed fishing vessels. That $40,000 converted live-aboard I linked to above? Done right, with some judicious recycling and re-purposing, his cost would be around $15, 000 or so for something like that.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:52 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


thanks, revvy! and since you mentioned your friend zoey, it reminded me of zoe outdoors, which has tiny cottages starting at around $7k. i think they also spun off a sister company, but a quick google isn't turning that one up. (and these are designed as stationary dwellings, unlike shafer's mobile home.)
posted by msconduct at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2010


The rest is just being cute.

Yeah, I agree. One room would have made more sense and been a lot more comfortable.
posted by frobozz at 3:54 PM on August 8, 2010


I was with him, all the way up to "I do it because I don't like vacuuming or dusting." That's a stupid reason.

Me too. Living like that requires far more discipline and maintenance than dusting. And because you have to be so careful, it's got to be a terrible place to come home drunk to. You'd destroy the joint just having a pee, making some toast and going to bed.
posted by bonaldi at 4:04 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an aside, this is the current project vessel, The Norking, a converted 109' sub-chaser. It's anchored out in Ganges Harbour; free moorage, and we have our own swimming dock tied up to it. It came fully equipped, right down to charts and spare batteries, and it was free.

The little run-about he is hand-feeding the swans from? Also free. We live in an incredibly wasteful, throw-away society, the greenest thing you can do is to save stuff like this and re-purpose it.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:16 PM on August 8, 2010


I first saw this guy on HGTV's now defunct "Small Space, Big Style", in the same kind of house, with his girlfriend. She did not seem amused.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:18 PM on August 8, 2010


Just think, if he had a kindle, how much space he could free up for more stuff.
posted by etherist at 4:19 PM on August 8, 2010


Now it's owned by my ex, who lives upstairs, next to my previous ex in the other upstairs apartment. My sister's ex-husband lives next to my apartment

Holy crap.

That sounds like a nightmare. I guess sometimes those things work out.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2010


Wow PareidoliaticBoy, where the hell do you get a boat like that for free? Down here in Louisiana thanks to the Gulf catastrophe we have a lot of boats with nothing to do this year but I don't know of anyone who's giving 'em away.
posted by localroger at 5:00 PM on August 8, 2010


I agree with others that the design for this house could have been so much better (i.e., more windows, all open space on the first floor except for the bathroom, and with the kitchen and bedroom fire safety concerns addressed).

In my twenties, I spent close to five years living in a rooming house. I had a 10' x 15' room to myself and shared the bathroom and kitchen with the other occupants. The house itself was in Forest Hill, which is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Toronto, and had been built in the 1920's. It would have been a high-end house in its day and still had a decayed elegance to it.

I do have the discipline to keep my stuff down to a level that suits whatever living space I have. After five years in my one room, I still had a couple of empty drawers. But I couldn't host family events at all or have people over very often, and I hated that because I like to entertain. And when you have so little stuff you are constantly scrounging around for ways to get along without it, which is a drag. You have to borrow and impose on others. It was nice to barely have to spend time cleaning. I worked a lot of overtime and took a lot of courses and volunteered and went out more in those years, things I don't do now because I'm constantly workiing on home renovations. I also saved a LOT of money in those days. With my rent ranging from $380 to $420/month, I lived on $900 a month and saved the rest of my income.

I think if I'd had a self-contained apartment that was no bigger, I could have been quite contented and not in such a hurry to buy a home of my own. I wasn't happy there — it was the other occupants who make me deeply regret staying there for so long. Most of them were very poorly socially adjusted thanks to a host of mental health and addiction issues. There was literally blood on the basement walls because the police had to take one guy away and he thought they were RoboCops who'd come to get him and fought back. I used to refer to it as a "neo-gothic house of horror".

How much space you have really has so much less to do with your happiness than how wisely you use the space and whom you live with.
posted by orange swan at 5:17 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I first saw this guy on HGTV's now defunct "Small Space, Big Style", in the same kind of house, with his girlfriend. She did not seem amused.

If I were involved with him, we'd be spending most of our time together at my place.
posted by orange swan at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2010


Wow PareidoliaticBoy, where the hell do you get a boat like that for free? Down here in Louisiana thanks to the Gulf catastrophe we have a lot of boats with nothing to do this year but I don't know of anyone who's giving 'em away.
posted by localroger at 5:00 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


It's a function of the collapse of the salmon fishery, the cost of commercial fishing licenses, and changes in the economics in fishing practices. Many long-time skippers have lost the ability to be competitive, and their vessels have become liabilities rather than assets. The engine seized on the Norking, it was abandoned, and was deemed a hazard to shipping. Basically it was salvaged, as was that bow-rider run-about, which was sinking at the dock, with unpaid moorage.

Its amazing what you can get for free with a little ingenuity and hard work.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2010




You know, Hobbits have better design sense.
posted by bwg at 5:45 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the idea. I don't wanna do it myself.
posted by jbickers at 5:47 PM on August 8, 2010


Sorry, but this one is way cooler.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:40 PM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would just like to say that this video is making me feel a lot better about moving into a 500 sq ft. apartment with another person and a crazy cat in 3 weeks.
posted by janelikes at 10:27 PM on August 8, 2010


I found myself asking how he washes his clothes and wondering how the plumbing works. Also, what if you needed to clean the mattress for some reason? How would you get it down? I kind of agree with what crunchland said, that this being the third tiny house he's lived in in ten years is...a tiny bit suspicious (Oh HO!).
I'd rather just get a decent sized trailer and a 13 foot tall yurt. Use the trailer to haul the yurt and any possessions, then when you unpack it, you can use the trailer for storage or extra space.
posted by Demogorgon at 11:20 PM on August 8, 2010


reductiondesign's link shows much more imagination and is much more livable. I could live there without too much sacrifice, I'd go insane on a boat or in the tinyhouse.
posted by maxwelton at 1:33 AM on August 9, 2010


I'm currently living in a 185 sq. ft. cottage, and the only thing I miss about having more space is having a decent freezer. I've got one of those bar fridges with a freezer box which manages to give me melty ice cream and freezer burned peas. Jay's tiny house does seem poorly organized though, it really comes across as claustrophobic. The apartment therapy site has a lot of small spaces that look much more livable.
posted by anotherkate at 1:44 AM on August 9, 2010


"I said hop in."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:54 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]



"I said hop in."

Ah ha hah!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2010


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