What does Build Tiny mean?

When Nathan Cluss (check out his FB page) painted the Build Tiny wall he asked me what does Build Tiny mean to me. I told him that was a complicated question and that I would get back to him with my answer. Here it is.

Build Tiny is more than one thing. It is a company and it is a concept.

The company is here to build quality tiny houses as well as to provide a place people can come to gain confidence and knowledge which they can apply to their own build. I hope people view Build Tiny as a place they can come to ask questions and share ideas.

The concept of Build Tiny has been with me for much longer. It permeates my thoughts and actions in everything I do. It is the base from which I view the world. I suppose it could be thought of as building a tinier carbon footprint.

Now let me say that I am definitely not the poster child for green living. I live in a large house and drive a diesel truck. So how can I state that I am building tiny?

Well, because each day I try to do better than I did the day before. I work in the construction industry and my truck is a necessary evil. On some days it is larger than I need and I feel guilty driving it around. On other days I am thankful that I have such a large vehicle so I only need to make one trip to the recyclers or the Restore. I also make sure my truck is properly maintained to assure that the emissions are as low as possible and I plan my trips to minimize my driving.

As for the house, I bring in more people. Because my house is larger than I need, I have other people living here. Some live here all the time and others just pass through when they need a place to stay during a transitional time. I have room for tiny houses to be parked and to work from home building tiny houses or specialty pieces for other houses. I try to use my house and property to help as many people as possible. This does not lower the resources needed to maintain my house, but it does make the consumption of those resources benefit more people.

As for my building, I spend time thinking through every design looking for ways to minimize material usage, maximize existing resources and to work in a manner that promotes efficiency. I attend classes to continue my education and keep up with the latest sustainable building practices. Any waste that is generated is sorted to either be recycled, repurposed, composted or, as a last resort, discarded.

None of these things are going to set me up for any green living awards, they are just little things that I do every day that I believe make a difference. And that helps me to feel better about how I live my life and keeps me on track to continue to Build Tiny.


Welcome 2014! We have plans for you.

Now that the holidays are behind us and winter has settled in, it is time to plan! This time of year with the colder temperatures and shorter days I find myself more willing to build less and plan more. I like to spend time in my warm, quiet office drawing up plans for current and future projects. It is never too early to start working out those details that will be part of your next project.

2014 A little time with a pencil can save a lot of time with your other tools.

A little time with a pencil can save a lot of time with your other tools.

Some of the things I am working on are:

  • Putting together another Build Tiny workshop. Please check out the workshop page for more info.
  • Talking to my SIPS supplier to decide where I am comfortable with price vs service. They offer a range of services when manufacturing their panels and each aspect has an associated cost. A little math now can let me go forward with my ordering knowing that I have explored my options and am confident in my decisions.
  • Gathering pictures of trim samples to show customers. There are many different types of trim styles and materials available. Good pictures and/or physical samples are a great way to assure that my customer and I are on the same page. Trim can also be stained or painted during bad weather and set aside until needed. No need to lose build days just because your tiny house is not yet dried in.
  • Researching local mills to find one that has some salvaged barn wood to use for flooring. I am hoping they will also have some rough sawn lumber to create a false beam.
  •  Reading to do to keep current on the changes in codes and requirements. As monotonous as that sounds, it is rewarding when I find that there is a new way to do something that will result in a better product. Even after many years in the trades there is always more to learn.

So that is how I am spending the indoors hours. But the reason I choose to make my living building is because my favorite place to be is outside with my tools in my hands. So don’t be surprised if even on these cold winter days you still find me out there putting my plans into action!

What a workshop!

Our Build Tiny workshop has come and gone. We watched our students on thursday progress from being a little timid around the tools to running a saw and nail gun and many other tools with skill and confidence. It was exactly what we had hoped it would be. I hope our students were as satisfied with the day as we were. And then the 3 day workshop started on Friday. We had our 18′ trailer parked in the barn so the rain really didn’t slow us down. We ripped down a couple of the boards that had been removed from the trailer and used them to form our floor joists. We then cut and installed a layer of 1 1/2″ rigid foam insulation. After that we cut out 3/4″ tongue and groove sub-flooring and put in in place. This formed the base for our next project. During this same time Larry and Lee were busy in the wood shop designing Lee’s cabinets. They began constructing them once the design was completed. Our next project was the same house that will sit on the ground instead of a trailer. So we cut some 6″x6″ x 7′ pieces and laid them across the trailer. They formed a base on which we set the 20′ 6″x6″s that are the skids that support the house and allow it to be pulled around the property where it will live. Saturday morning started with floor framing. We cut all the floor joists and again reused some of the pressure treated boards for our rim-joists. We laid out all the joists and got it all assembled and squared and then again, we cut and installed our 3/4″ sublooring. Now we once again had a flat work surface and it was time to build some walls.   We first built one of the 16′ walls, framing out for our windows and door. We had windows on site ( purchased from the Habitat for Humanity Restore for very little money) to confirm our framing measurements. Once we had the framing complete and the walls squared we installed the sheeting. And then we did it all again to form the other 16′ wall. Throughout the day we each took some time to join Larry and Lee as they built Lee’s cabinetry. By the time we finished all that we were ready for dinner. Sunday morning we finished framing up the walls and moved our trailer out from the cover of the barn and parked it under a huge tarp that was stretched across our new work area. Then it was time to stand up the walls we had built. It wasn’t long before we had a complete open topped enclosure. We once again checked our squares and fastened everything together. By this time most of the group had already headed home. Those of us who were left, admired our progress, picked up our tools and called it a day. I consider the workshop to be a tremendous success because I watched a group of people transform themselves from tiny house admirers into tiny house builders. There will be more Build Tiny workshops! DSC_1551 DSC_1532 DSC_1511

It’s workshop day!

It is finally here- our first workshop day. The first attendee, Amanda, arrived last night and she spent the night in Steve’s tiny house. I can’t wait to hear how she liked it!

So now it is time to cook breakfast, then it is out to the workshop where we have 2 tables loaded with tools. We are going to explain the names and usage of each tool and then put them in the student’s hands and have them use each one as they would while building a tiny house. We also have all the power tools ready and waiting. Thank goodness for our large indoor work area.