Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You know you live off the grid when...

Your wear your headlamp over your towel in the morning and you put you makeup on with a headlamp.
You sled down the hill to get to your car so you can go to work.
You wear gaters over your stockings. 


So my friend gives me this sled which is great because we were going to use it for carrying water and wood to and from the house.  One night my boyfriend had to go to work because he works nights and I said why don't you take the sled it will get you down the hill faster.  Its a mile up to the top. So he did.  The next day he tells me of his adventure getting down the hill.  He said he went to work in a really good mood because he got down off the hill in 5 minutes. It was the most fun he had in a long time.   He said he was flying like he was on an olympic luge and screaming like a little girl all the way down the hill.  It was at night so he had a head lamp and all I can think of is the look on our neighbors face as he was flying by down the road with his headlamp on screaming.  Since then we have done some sled shopping. Now we have 5 sleds and I'm currently looking to buy a toboggan for our sixth one. Finding sleds that will fit adults has been a tricky thing though.  Also ones that are tough enough and practical.  Finding one with real brakes and steering would be great.  They have these ones that are from Germany that have hand breaks and steering but are more pricey. They have some cheep ones with brakes/steering but they don't really fit adults very well and you are taking your life in your own hands trying to get down the hill in one piece.  

Note to self:

Remember that the eyes looking at you at night from the woods are most likely only deer.  
No but seriously there were at least 5 pairs of eyes.  I couldn't tell what they were.  I was walking across the field to get to my house which is about 500 feet away. Well it felt like 5000 ft. When I looked into the woods and noticed the eyes looking at me and because I had a head lamp I could see the eyes but not the bodies. Any-hoot I hightailed it back to the car as soon as I saw them. LOL! My heart was beating really fast. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do.  I contemplated sleeping in the car...I texted my friend on the land trust and told her the situation.  She responds LOL and said thats hilarious! but you gotta know she is a tough chick and lived up here during the winter in a tent! She said they were probably only deer because it was rare to see coyote eyes and that if they didn't move they were deer and said if you sing a really loud song any coyotes will take off too.  So she gave me the courage to get out of the car and walk across the field.  So I sang a really loud song on my way across the field about how I was going to eat them if they came close which is a lot to say for someone who is vegan. Needless to say I made it alive without getting eaten back to my tiny house.

The Land Trust

So we live on a land trust.  It is beautiful here and so far we have not had issues with any building officials.  We hope that we are remote enough so that they do not bother us and I mean remote.  We have to drive to the top of a hill to get to our house and much of the time you need to have chains on your tires in order to get to the top during the winter. Though you don't have to live at the top if you don't want.   We wanted to.   The land trust has been great.  Essentially we said we were going to move here and everyone basically said Ok.  We didn't have to have a deposit and it is very inexpensive to live here..  $130 per person per month.  Though that does not include the another $30 per person per month to put into a land trust fund so that others can make more land trusts.  But that is it.  $160 per person per month max.  What a deal! If you are interested in living on a land trust and don't mind snow give me a shout.  I mentioned to the other people on the land trust that tiny houses are looking for a place to be and I think they would be open to more of us around but they don't want trailers because they have had issues with them in the past (I think because of heating issues and they are not that efficient)  and I don't think they want yurts here either. But I think yurts are cool.  I think they are looking for more hardy permanent houses and I think my tiny house has won their approval and set a good example.  We have access to spring water and when we get our water hooked up it will be coming out of our tap! How awesome.  Also at the top there are no hookups but you could probably get internet if you wanted to. At the bottom you could get electric if you wanted. 

The wood stove

Its cold up here in the North.  We heat with wood.  It took us some days to get it hooked up so we were cold for a little while but now we are HOT. It really heats up the house.  I would say the loft area is like a sauna.  We have to keep the windows open even with a little fire.  We have a little French wood burning stove.  This is a "Mirus" stove.  It is iron with a porcelain finish.  It is a sea foam green color.  There is a company in England that is refurbishing them so they have a website.  They are not cheep but they are soooo cool and I love mine.  I found mine on ebay and had the steel fire box inside rebuilt so it ended up being about the same price as what they charge.  We use it for every thing right now heating water, cooking our food and heating our house.  The wood stove had issues originally and I would urge anyone putting one in a tiny house to be sure they have taken as many safety precautions as possible with them.  Very Very glad I put heat shielding around the stove because the clearance has to be less for smaller spaces.  18" regular 9" with shielding but it's still hot and crazy to know that if the heat shielding was not there the house would catch on joke.  We had an issue with the stove in that it didn't come with a baffle so the flames were shooting through the T-flue and turning it bright red.  That heat shielding probably saved our house.  So we fit a baffle in the flue collar.  Now the flames have to work to get around it but we still have good draft.  Also we initially didn't have wood to burn so we had to find wood around.  The problem with little stuff is that it burns to fast and too hot.  
Lately we have been having issues with the creosote.  We are burning hard wood but sometimes in the beginning we were burning douglas fir scraps.  Not good because its pine. Secondly sometimes our wood is wet and thirdly we can't really burn it that hot to burn the creosote off because its too hot and we are afraid of starting a chimney fire.  We were using a creosote remover and cleaning it with a pellet stove brush at least once a week but that didn't seam to really be doing anything because one day my partner took the chimney apart and there was only a one inch hole for the smoke to go up! This was only after a months time!  That explains why it was not drafting and backing up tons of smoke.  We are so lucky that nothing has happened.  
There is another manufacturer that I think I would recommend for wood stoves for tiny spaces and that is Kimberly stoves.  They seam really safe for a wood stove and the clearance required for tiny spaces in minimal.  

My boyfriend/partner has lived in small spaces before with them.  Actually there are some funny stories and some not so funny stories that I want to tell.  I'll tell the bad one first to get that out of the way but it is important I share it with you so you understand the potential danger with wood stoves and tiny spaces.  He had a wood stove outside but somewhat close to a refrigerator truck that he refurbished the inside of and lived in. He somehow pumped the hot air inside.  It had a metal finish on the exterior. One of those white delivery truck things.  The wood stove heated the metal and the polyiso insulation up and caught the thing on fire.  His dog beat the door down and made it out the door alive but he lost everything else.  He said it raged and they are lucky it didn't catch the woods on fire.  I guess the fire burnt for days.

Ok the funny ones. There was a time that he lived in a pickup truck.  A regular one.  Well not really that regular.  He had extended the truck where the gate was and had a cab over the bed of the truck and somehow enclosed the gate too.  He lived in it with his big german shepherd and somehow he had put two solar panels on the roof.  I guess he painted it white so it looked like a space ship.  He lived in parking lots and wherever he could. He would watch a movie but sometimes he didn't have enough battery power and he would have to stop the movie before it ended.  He would try to save up enough battery all day to watch a movie and would pray that he would get to watch an entire movie from start to end in one sitting.  So a few funny things about the wood stove situations were that he had the wood stove in the passenger seat and it melted the dashboard.  Sometimes when he was driving down the street the wind  would rekindle the flames so you would see smoke coming out the stack.  Another funny thing was that people would come up to the window on really cold days when it was below zero and ask him if he was ok and he would open the window and he would be wearing a T-shirt practically slathering on the suntan lotion because it was so hot inside.

I realize I am probably turning you off from having a wood stove in a tiny house but I would still do it and I think its a necessity where I live though the propane one for the tumbleweed houses might work but it would have to run all the time.  I think it is safe if you take enough precautions and install and maintain the wood stove safely.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Move

The move didn't go so smoothly. I thought I had way less stuff.  Well you realize how much stuff you really have when you move.  There comes a point when you just have to move it.  The stuff I kept I wanted but because the inside is not done yet I can't put in in the house yet.  The bed is in the loft though but all my belongings are out in a tent or under tarps. Slowly much of it is getting ruined anyway because of the rain.  I lost several more books.  We plan on getting storage tents to put the stuff in but haven't gotten them yet.  So you ask...Why were we in such a hurry to move? The answer is this.  We were moving to a land trust way on top of a hill through a field.  We wanted to get here before the snow flew.  Also we lived and built the house in the ghetto.  It was only a matter of time before it got vandalized.  We are lucky the tires didn't get slashed or that they didn't break in and steal stuff or break the windows.  They did try to get in through the windows though and tore the screens out to try but they didn't break the windows.  So we made it out of the ghetto in the nick of time.  Also...our apartment was in the ghetto so we really wanted to get out.  There were shootings out front and constant noise pollution, rap music, people fighting, people doing all sorts of things that lived above and below us, sirens, cars, babies crying.  It was the city.
So now here we are in the very quiet country.  It is very peaceful here.  My cards said I would be having a time of well deserved peace.  The only thing you hear are the coyotes at night during the winter. I imagine summer you will hear the crickets and the frogs. How very lovely it is. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In the beginning...

The Tiny House Saga Begins

Who Built it:
Hi. My name is Maggie. I went to school for Interior design and have been doing interiors and Architecture for almost 20 years.  I would like to help others with designing there own perfect tiny home.  You can contact me through this blog if you interested in my help.
I am interested in designing unique homes with a lot of character.
I built and designed my tiny house myself. My boyfriend Andy helped with the building process. Mostly framing and roofing it.

Why I built it:
I wanted the flexibility to own my own quality built home and be able to move with it. I love to travel and I thought it would be amazing to have everything I needed and wanted with me yet pick up and move when I wanted. I wanted to be financially stable without having to spend money to house all my unused things.

Where I built it:
I built it in the Ghetto in Syracuse NY and moved it into the country at the end of the fall 2013

When I built it:
Summer 2013 from June to November. The interior is not yet completed but I am living in it anyway.
I plan on finishing the interior by spring/summer 2014

What I used to build it:
It's built with 2x4's on a new 10,000 gvwr trailer. The walls are mostly insulated with R-15 batt insulation. The roof with rigid insulation. The floor with rigid as well. There is a rain screen design with the exterior siding. The exterior siding is pine painted.  The house is bolted to the trailer in several locations with Simpson Supports also.  The roof is metal.