Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I guess I'll introduce myself; I'm Danielle, I'm from Austin but I live in Lubbock while I am attending Texas Tech University. Technically, I'm a sophomore in college, although I've been in school for 3 years now. That's just what happens when you don't have a sense of direction in your life. Anyway, I live in a 15x10 dorm with a roommate, and so far it has made me appreciate living small. Before moving up here I could hardly imagine living without all those special amenities that a 1,200 square foot house has but other than missing cooking and baking and showering in room with other girls it's been a good experience. I'll often find myself asking if I really need half the crap I lugged up here, and whenever I can I haul stuff the trash room and slap a "FREE" post-it on top. I've probably donated half of my wardrobe and definitely most of my shoes this past year. I grew up in a cluttered, emotionally stifled environment, and for a while I was pretty convinced I was going to end up as a hoarder. Things tend to collect in my house, and it all gives me the sensation of being strangled when I think about it.
So, anyway, why a tiny house?
Well, I was at that point in every dorm kids life when they start realizing that they can't live there forever. I needed to get a place to live lined up for the fall. First, I considered sharing an apartment with people, but I would most likely end up living with total strangers. My second idea was to rent a house with a group of friends but was ditched. That's when I remembered that people could be totally and utterly unreliable and I started looking outside of the box. 
I have always been fond of RV's and being able to live wherever you felt like living and being able to just pick up and go, no strings attached. I hopped on Craigslist and scoured the RV section for weeks, constantly e-mailing potential future homes to my dad, who promptly dismissed the idea. He liked travel trailers too, but he didn't exactly find the idea of living in one full-time to be appealing. When I stumbled across a picture of a tiny house in a google search of RV's I was instantly drawn in. I recalled seeing something about them on Oprah a few years ago and thought it was pretty cool but I never gave it a second thought. I began searching for more information about these adorable little wonders and I fell hook, line, and sinker for them. I was on the holiday break between the fall and spring semesters, so I had no obligations, and I was able to stay up night after night discovering this so called "Tiny House Movement". 
I think when someone first stumbles into the Tiny realm, they discover Tumbleweed Tiny Houses first, I know I did. I fell in love with the tiny windows about the lofts, the little porches, and the fact that they were built on trailers was icing on the cake. I gathered the courage to show my dad what I had found, knowing he would probably chuckle and go back to whatever he was doing. I was right, as usual, but I kept after him, listing off the reasons why this would be absolutely perfect for me:
1. It travels with me, and since I'll be in college for the next 8 years or so, it would be nice not to have to find a new place to live every other year. 
2. Going off of my first reason, it is stable. I would only have to adjust once to a new city when I move to wherever my vet school is. 
3. It's efficient. 'Nuff said.
4. It's adorable.
5. I can build it myself for less than the cost of living in a dorm for 9 months. 
6. Unlike prefab RV's I can design it to look however I want, and to whatever works for me. 
7.  RV park rent is 100% cheaper than an apartment or house. (240 a month????? Whaaaaa???)
8. I can finally get my cat out of their house... (She's old and grumpy)
9. It's cute.
10. It's completely practical, albeit not conventional. 

My boyfriend recently told me that he loves that I think outside of the box, to which I automatically replied that the box is too small. Truthfully, the box is stuffy, conceded, pig-headed, and oblivious. Everyone wants BIGGER, meanwhile, the available space on Earth is getting SMALLER. After a few days of hounding my dad practically non stop he finally decided to have a look at them. At first it was a way to make him give in to the RV idea, if he saw how adamant I was about the tiny houses. Then, I really became obsessed with them. I would show him pictures of the Tumbleweed houses, and show him people building their own. I didn't really grab ahold of the idea of building one until I saw the young lady that built hers for 3,500. That was when I knew I could do it. I found free plans, drew pictures, and took ideas from existing houses. I bought some framing plans for 10 bucks on Etsy, and the Tiny House Construction Guide and went on to show my dad. He still seemed hesitant but was definitely more open than my mother, who is always against absolutely any idea that costs any amount of money. I'm still amazed that I'm at a university right now. So, dad and I (mostly me) started comparing RV's and Tiny Houses. We even went to an RV sales place and when we saw the cramped, style deprived campers we knew that Tiny was the way to go. 
During those many sleepless nights of searching the web, one thing still bothered me. Would I be able to sleep in those narrow, A-Frame lofts? I slept on the top bunk most of my life but I'm still afraid of heights... When I discovered these things called "dormers" I knew that those had to be on my house. Protohaus was my first experience with dormers, then I found Chris & Melissa's Tiny Tack House and fell deeply, madly, in love. I bought their plans, though I got a lot less bang for my buck than I had hoped, and decided I was going to make my house exactly like theirs. 
The problem with copying someone else's design is that they built that for them, and it may not work for you. My dad kept asking about the porches he had seen on the Tumbleweed's, and in truth I did love them, so here we are today. We're using the Moschata floor plans and the Tack House wall and roof plans. 
I spent the rest of my break "procrastiprepping" by getting windows, my sink, an old ratty door (which we've decided not to use), and pulling up some free flooring from an old house in the country. I troll Craigslist on the regular and bog down my dad's e-mail with posts. He decided which ones will or will not work. We got a pair of tankless water heaters for $100, and they had never even been out of the box! Way to go Dad! As spring break got closer I begged him to find a trailer that he thought would work, and boy did he come through. He bought a 20' car hauler, it has no side railing or dovetail, for only $2379! I was beyond excited, as I could now frame the floor. This was our first foray into framing something, so we took a week on it but it was pretty satisfying to finish it. I'm back in Lubbock now, but though I can't help him, my dad is going to keep working on it. Since he's retired now and he is almost done re-painting the house, he'll have some time to do it. Words just cannot express how much I appreciate and love my dad. I am a daddy's girl through and through, no doubt about it. He's going to frame out the walls, and when my 2 months in jail -er college- are up we'll be able to work on it full-time to have it finished by the time Fall 2013 rolls around!