Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel

Located in the funky Alberta Arts District of NE Portland, Oregon (map) is the first tiny house hotel in the USA. There you’ll find three tiny houses that encircle a small courtyard.Each house is equipped with a bathroom (flush toilet & hot shower), kitchen (hot plate, refrigerator & microwave), electric heat, and sleeping space. Each of the three houses has it’s own unique character too.The Rosebud – Traditional style, 120 square feet, Sleeps 1-2 people.The Tandem – A larger tiny house, 160 square feet, Sleeps 1-4 people.The Pearl – Modern style, 90 square feet, sleeps 1-3 people.Currently it costs $125 a night to stay at The Tiny House Hotel but check their website for current rates.Below: The RosebudBelow: The Rosebud’s InteriorBelow: The TandemBelow: The Tandem InteriorBelow: The PearlBelow: The Pearl Interior

Ecology of Colour

While this building is not a home, it’s filled with inspiring ideas. Ecology of Colour is located on Ecology Island in Dartford, Kent, on a previously neglected corner of their Central Park. The building has many uses.“Our proposal is comprised of organising a programme of events and workshops based around dyeing and wildlife; a small building that provides flexible accommodation for these activities; and planting a meadow of flowers and vegetables that yield natural dyes and beckon wildlife.The timber-clad structure is an outdoor classroom, dyeing workshop, art studio, bird-watching hide, tree house and park shelter all rolled into one.”The exterior is painted in a pattern of natural dyes. Inside the wood boards are left unfinished to allow a natural aging and stains that come with use. All the lumber was sourced from the UK.The upper level has simple doors, but when closed the exterior surface blends together to form what appears to be a windowless geometric form. When open they transform the space’s function and feel.For example on one side there are small bird watching openings that open inward and form a small shelf. On the opposite wall there are large doors that open outward that open the room with the feeling of a balcony. At the end of the room the wall opens up completely allowing in the most light. So the upper level can be transformed from dark to light depending on the needs of the current set of users.For the tiny house owner-builder this design carries with it some good ideas.Transformable Space – As the seasons change imagine a tiny home with interior or exterior shutters that conceal glass windows behind them.  This could allow a tiny home some advantageous passive solar advantages as well as allowing the altering of the use and feel of the home and it’s role in the place it occupies.Simplicity vs Minimalism – In the video, Je Ahn from Studio Weave points out that simplicity doesn’t necessarily require taking things away – a good reminder.Alternative Finishes – So many tiny homes are finished in wood inside and out. While many prefer this aesthetic the options are endless – so explore the alternatives if you’re looking for something new.Elevate Views – A tiny home would be easier to raise off the ground than a big one, so if circumstances allow consider going up.It was designed by the architects at Studio Weave. Photo credit to Studio Weave, Jim Stephenson, and faircompanies.  

Homesteading in Thailand

Owen Geiger is well known for his work in earthbag construction. He lives in Thailand and is building a sustainable homestead on a half acre of inexpensive low lying land that was once a rice field.During the rainy season the rice fields flood so to stay high and dry they brought-in about 200 trucks of cheap fill dirt to raise the property above the neighboring rice fields. The dirt came from a spot about a quarter mile away so even with so many trucks he reports the cost was low.The disadvantage of using cheap fill dirt to raise the property is that it has almost no value for gardening. To remedy that and keep everything low cost, they are making their own fertilizer and compost from fermenting food scraps, composting, and worm castings. Over time they should be able to breathe life into that sand & clay fill dirt.The house they are building is made from mostly recycled wood from an 50-year-old house they tore down. Some of the wood in the old house had been recycled from an even older home, so some of the hardwood beams are about 100 years old.The house was mostly designed by Owen’s girlfriend. They decided to divide up the various projects between them to speed things along. Owen took the garden, pump house, and barn – she took the kitchen garden and house. While the house looks fairly large it’s mostly porch. When complete it will be easier to see just how small it is.The pump house is an earthbag structure – actually a prototype for an emergency relief shelter and cost just a few hundred dollars to build. Earthbag structures can be built quickly and inexpensively from local materials and are strong enough to resist earthquakes and high winds.  These attributes make earthbag construction better than tents and prefab shelters for emergency relief.Even if you have no plans to become an expat in Thailand, Owen’s work here shows how cheap land can be transformed into a homestead for very little money and a lot of hard work. This model could be adapted for many parts of America and beyond. It wouldn’t be easy and might be the biggest do-it-yourself project imaginable – but as you can see, it can be done.They’ve started a new Natural Homesteading YouTube Channel to document the project. You’ll find a new tours of the property that show the initial stages and progress to date. You can find more updates and ask questions at the Natural Building Blog.Below: A view of the pump house.Below: Surrounding rice fields.

Phantom Ranch

Located 4,600 feet below than the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is a community of eleven tiny houses designed by architect Mary E. J. Colter back in 1922. This is Phantom Ranch – the only lodging facility below the rim of the Grand Canyon.You can’t drive there. The only access is by mule train, foot, or rafting down the Colorado River. It must be a welcoming site along the Bright Angel Creek with its bunks, fresh bedding, towels, and toilets. Showers are located centrally. It’s open year round but very popular so advance reservations are recommended.Inspiring little design with the robust rock corners and slight tilt up of the shed roof over the door. Lots of windows in the wooden walls must make the interior light and still connected to the surrounding beauty.Learn more about Phantom Ranch. Photo credit to the Grand Canyon National Park Service. View Larger Map

Uncut Tiny House Preview

The other day someone commented on Facebook and challenged tiny house designers to design houses with fewer angled cuts. They had spent the day cutting angles on their own tiny house.Since so many tiny homes are owner-built fewer cuts would make construction faster and easier. I found the idea was so compelling, I decided to attempt a tiny house design that required the builder to make no cuts – use no saws. In other words, a house design that just used material right off the store shelves.This is what I came up with; it’s only conceptual – I’ve not tried to build it. The tools you’d need are: a drill & bits, hammer, utility knife, level, measuring tape, ladder, and shovel (or post hole digger). In addition to the wood you’d need some building adhesive, foam insulation panels, nails & screws, lag bolts, plexiglass, hinges, door latch, metal roofing, roofing felt, flat roof membrane, wood finish.The plans for this concept will be available in the next few days. Below are the step-by-step assemble illustrations.

Uncut Tiny House Improved

The other day I posed the riddle… can a tiny house be built without a saw and off-the-shelf materials? That’s the goal of this design exercise. In my first pass at solving this challenge there were a few things that didn’t quite work so well, so I went back to the drawing board.I made the roof a bit taller so that the rafter overlap at the top was stronger. I also added H1 hurricane ties.I removed the 4×4 posts on the sides and reduced the amount of wood used.I changed the foundation to 4x6s on concrete piers.I added some windows on the side and there’s still a door on each end.I also made it longer, now 20 feet.I imagine that the floor, wall, and ceiling panels would be partially built before putting into place – then finished by insulating and attaching the exterior plywood siding. You can see those steps illustrated below. This approach would also make it easier to add electrical, plumbing, and exterior house wrap before attaching the exterior sheathing/siding.The partially built panels would also be lighter and easier to handle for one person, giving the owner-builer the opportunity to use fasteners to help secure the panels in place. The disadvantage would only be that the exterior siding would need to be lifted into place and fastened once the walls were wired, plumbed, insulated and wrapped.I’ll put all the details, materials list, and step-by-step instructions in the plans – should be available soon.In the mean time – those of you playing with SketchUp might enjoy a peek at the Uncut Tiny House SketchUp file. Be sure to review the scenes first, it will give you a quick look at the building process. Above: 4x6s on piers and floor supporting lumber. Above: Floor panels fastened. Above: Insulation foam panels glued into panels. Above: Floor decking fastened to floor panels. Above: Wall panels fastened in place. Above: Ceiling panels fastened to the top of walls. This would be a good moment to add electric and plumbing.(Note: the exterior ‘trim’ lumber will tie the walls and ceiling panels together. Don’t panic.) Above: Walls with glued in foam panels and plexiglass windows. This would be a good moment to wrap it with house wrap. Above: Walls sheathed. Above: Ceiling insulated. Above: Ceiling panels sheathed. Above: Panels and framing all tied together with an exo-skelaton of wood. If you wanted a flat roof you’d nearly be done. If not continue with the pitched roof. Above: Roof framing with H1 hurricane ties. Gable rafters have 2′x4′ plywood sandwiched between them to help support the foam board that will be cut to complete the wall. Above: Gables completed. Above: Roof sheathed. Above: Roofing added. Above: Deck porch added. Above: Doors added. Now your work would turn inside or to applying a finish to the exterior.

Uncut Tiny House Improved

The other day I posed the riddle… can a tiny house be built without a saw and off-the-shelf materials? That’s the goal of this design exercise. In my first pass at solving this challenge there were a few things that didn’t quite work so well, so I went back to the drawing board.I made the roof a bit taller so that the rafter overlap at the top was stronger. I also added H1 hurricane ties.I removed the 4×4 posts on the sides and reduced the amount of wood used.I changed the foundation to 4x6s on concrete piers.I added some windows on the side and there’s still a door on each end.I also made it longer, now 20 feet.I imagine that the floor, wall, and ceiling panels would be partially built before putting into place – then finished by insulating and attaching the exterior plywood siding. You can see those steps illustrated below. This approach would also make it easier to add electrical, plumbing, and exterior house wrap before attaching the exterior sheathing/siding.The partially built panels would also be lighter and easier to handle for one person, giving the owner-builer the opportunity to use fasteners to help secure the panels in place. The disadvantage would only be that the exterior siding would need to be lifted into place and fastened once the walls were wired, plumbed, insulated and wrapped.I’ll put all the details, materials list, and step-by-step instructions in the plans – should be available soon.In the mean time – those of you playing with SketchUp might enjoy a peek at the Uncut Tiny House SketchUp file. Be sure to review the scenes first, it will give you a quick look at the building process. Above: 4x6s on piers and floor supporting lumber. Above: Floor panels fastened. Above: Insulation foam panels glued into panels. Above: Floor decking fastened to floor panels. Above: Wall panels fastened in place. Above: Ceiling panels fastened to the top of walls. This would be a good moment to add electric and plumbing.(Note: the exterior ‘trim’ lumber will tie the walls and ceiling panels together. Don’t panic.) Above: Walls with glued in foam panels and plexiglass windows. This would be a good moment to wrap it with house wrap. Above: Walls sheathed. Above: Ceiling insulated. Above: Ceiling panels sheathed. Above: Panels and framing all tied together with an exo-skelaton of wood. If you wanted a flat roof you’d nearly be done. If not continue with the pitched roof. Above: Roof framing with H1 hurricane ties. Gable rafters have 2′x4′ plywood sandwiched between them to help support the foam board that will be cut to complete the wall. Above: Gables completed. Above: Roof sheathed. Above: Roofing added. Above: Deck porch added. Above: Doors added. Now your work would turn inside or to applying a finish to the exterior.

Tiny House Design on Facebook

I’ve setup a Tiny House Design Facebook page and now inviting all my Tiny House Living readers to join. You’ll get a sneak peek of the stories I run across during the week on Facebook before I write them up on Tiny House Design or Tiny House Living.  This is not a replacement for either of my two most popular blogs, just another way to stay connected to the tiny house world online.

Tiny House Design on Facebook