Tiny House Workshop

Currently I'm in the Indian Trails bus, waiting to leave from the Chicago Greyhound terminal, after a two-day tiny house workshop - mostly focused on houses built on trailer frames, like mine.

I learned a lot, some of which was encouraging or inspiring, and some of which was scary or frustrating. Firstly, I think I'm going to have to make some modifications to my trailer (such as having brakes installed) which will cost money and delay construction. That's pretty stress-inducing, but perhaps less so than building the house sooner and then always crossing my fingers when I move it. Also, I think I'm gonna go ahead and spend the money for a skylight - according to the presenter, these lofts get pretty dark when they don't have ample windows.

I planned to spend the month of November on the house, but now I'm going to try to make sure I'm cleared to substitute teach in Holland as soon as the farm season is over, in case I don't have enough money left after the trailer work for the first stage of construction. In any case, it's very possible that sometime over the winter (when I've saved some and we have a stretch of good weather on the forecast) I can build the shell of the house (walls framed, sheathed, and wrapped, and roof built), enabling me to work more gradually, as money allows, from then on. I should be able to move into the house whenever it's either insulated and heated or warm enough at night - assuming I've found somewhere to park it. Then, I can iteratively shape the interior space as time and money allow and as I better understand my needs.

A lot of good design ideas came up that I jotted down. Some of the most intriguing: -Using a high-grade, finished plywood subfloor as the visible floor (instead of installing a floor finish over a plywood subfloor). Saves money and vertical space without looking too junky. -Fold-down bookshelves between loft joists. -Storage pockets beneath a tabletop. -Curtains to hide cluttered shelves - way cheaper and easier to install than drawers or cabinets, and easier to open in a small space. -Hammock for extra guest sitting/sleeping - easy to store when unneeded, easy to set up if the hooks are permanently installed. -Sweep hole in floor (basically an insulated plug you can pull out, making a hole to the outside into which you can sweep dirt, instead of using a dustpan). -Slide-out furniture, like a stool that fits perfectly under an end table, allowing you to slide it in or out without disturbing the other stuff stored below.

I had another idea recently (before the workshop) for building my composting toilet enclosure. The enclosure will be about 18" high, 18" deep, and 36" wide, with a 12" diameter hole in the middle (over the toilet bucket, with standard toilet seat/lid), and another hole at one side over the sawdust bucket, with a hinged lid. If possible, I'm going to try to find an 18" deep countertop at the ReStore or Closeouts & More, complete with the raised edge at the back (for a urine guard) and overhang lip at the front (for aesthetics). Then I can either leave the bottom open to slide buckets in and out, or attach the whole countertop piece to a hinge to open it. A countertop finish will make the toilet area easy to clean and will give it a very sanitary feel - important because I want my guests to use the toilet and think "This isn't so bad... I wouldn't mind a composting toilet in my home". The extra space underneath can be used to store extra toilet paper rolls. When I do laundry by hand in the "bathtub", I can hang it to dry over the tub, then later use the toilet enclosure - with toilet lid and sawdust lid down - as a folding surface, before putting clothes in the closet, which is located right behind the toilet.

Speaking of clothing storage - the reason I want that in the bathroom instead of the "bedroom" (loft) is because, 1) I don't want my clothes in a room not big enough to stand in, 2) the bathroom doubles as the laundry room (so I eliminate having to put folded clothes back in a laundry basket, carrying them, and taking them back out again), and 3) after taking a shower, my clothes are right at hand. I'll put a laundry basket on the ground, right behind the toilet enclosure. Above that will be hanging storage for pants, dress clothes, etc.; and shelves with mesh baskets for socks, underwear, handkerchiefs, T-shirts, sweaters, belts, ties, etc. All of the clothing I currently own should easily fit in this space - however, if necessary I could also store out-of-season clothing elsewhere to free up closet space. In any case, this "closet" will probably have either a curtain or accordion-folding doors.

In other design news, I'm becoming more and more confident that I can meet, and probably exceed, my goal to be able to seat and sleep 3 easily and 6 possibly. Hopefully soon I'll post some floorplan pictures with a few examples of how I can reconfigure things for guests or other special situations.