Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Believe In Yourself...

I just learned a big lesson in believing in myself today... I guess everyone goes through life sometimes not reaching as far as they can because they fear they will fail.
I tend to dream big with things and I've learned a lot of disappointment comes with that, but I still try even if I do not believe in myself. It is kinda like the lotto... if you don't play, you don't win... Although that is probably a really bad example since I never play the lotto.
Well today I became the top finalist in the 10 Squared design competition http://shelter.inthekoots.com/10-square-juried-finalists-announced/ and I am still in awe. I find it fun to draw designs by hand as you can see from other blog entries and when I saw the competition advertised I figured why not give it a shot... But then after the entries were posted I saw them all rendered in 3D or fancy sketches and figured my 2D hand drawings were not even going to make it anywhere. Well I am very surprised and happy, so thank you very much to all those that believe my design concept was unique enough to stand out from all the others.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Weight of the Matter (Part 1)

So to broach the subject while I am thinking about it many tiny homes on wheels are built using typical building materials used on regular houses, but there can be one problem with this... WEIGHT. In the state I live in someone has to get a special license to tow anything above 10,000 pounds, which if you are building a family tiny house and add all of the stuff you will be putting into it (like toys, cloths, food, etc.) the weight limit restricted on your average drivers license may be exceeded. Also if you plan on hauling it places on an occasion (something I am considering since I want to visit state and national parks regularly during the summers) then the less it weighs the less gas you will be spending on hauling it. So here is a list of things I have thought of to reduce the weight of the house.

  • Thin wood panel for walls, such as a beadboard or wainscoting. I know we all think of the hideous wooden walls that looked like fake wood paneling, but some of these can look really nice and you can find boards that are completely flat and paintable.
  • Recycled cardboard shelves for light weight books, DVD's, and CD's. If you are handy at crafting things then take cereal boxes or other cardboard materials and build a small box using masking tape, glue, and various papers (make it colorful if you want) to cover it. I'm sure if you look around on the internet there are crafting sites that can give you step by step instructions on how to make these kinds of things. Once you have several of these boxes made you want to put the bottom against the wall and put two screws in the bottom spaced evenly apart, then put another box next to that one and so on and so forth. Light weight and cheap shelves :-)
  • Using air mattresses instead of regular mattresses. You can find some pretty durable air mattresses that can be used on a regular basis or finding a good memory foam to put on top of those thin camping air mattresses might be kind of comfortable. Either way these options are bound to be lighter and easier to put in or remove from a tiny house.
  • Light weight steel framing. I have no idea how to work with this stuff although I have seen it in pictures of tiny houses on wheels and I would assume this is much lighter then regular lumber.
  • On the note of eliminating lumber it could be possible to make the kitchen area out of plexiglass which can come in various colors other than clear.
  • Another idea is to use fiberglass panels for the exterior and roof. Also I am not sure if it is possible and I will look into it some more eventually, that it might be possible to use some sort of fiberglass flooring. I am not sure if it would be more light weight than regular wood flooring, but it would not hurt to find out.
So just a few ideas right now, I will add another blog on this as I am able to do more research on light weight materials for building with. Please feel free to add more ideas in the comment section cause the more ideas the better for all who want to make their home light weight and portable.

    The Smallest Family House

    So I really got to thinking about what is the least amount of space I could use for building a tiny house on wheels and this is what I came up with.

    As you can see this house's interior is only 9'x7.5', but it has all the amenities needed to live. If necessary a family with 2 children could call this place home, but I would only recommend this size for possibly a single parent with one child. If there were two children I would expand the interior to at least 12' (only adding on another 3 feet) on the end with the door and make that into a "living room" space where the children could play. That opens up variations with lofting above the "living room" so there are two play spaces. Either way this makes for a very small and portable family house.

    It is very efficient with use of space although some might find it to be too cramped. My idea (if I ever get around to building it) is to make it as light weight as possible so it might be towed behind the family mini van so we can travel and not worry about the expense of hotels... or heaven forbid there was ever a disaster we would at least have a home to live in wherever we went.
    Some thoughts I have had about heating, plumbing and such is that on the front end where the trailer hitch is to put in a small storage space where the heating unit could be stored and warm air can be blown into the small space so there is no risk of overheating with whatever is used. Toilet would be composting or incinerating and have a small water tank above the toilet for showering. I'm still thinking about other aspects of this trailer, so I'll post more as I get ideas.

    * As usual if you have no idea what you are doing please seek professional help as I am not a professional and my ideas may not be sound in their safety.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    The Aneirin design

    When I was a kid I had a friend who had a play fort under the stairwell at her parents house and we loved to play in the fort all the time. I was thinking about that the other day and an idea popped into my head, why does the sleeping space have to be in a loft? So I designed a space where the kids room is under the floor of another level.

    Kids Bedroom
    So my thoughts on the kids bedroom are that two twins and some shelves would fit into the room with a little space at the end of the beds to play. Being on the ground floor it is much safer for smaller children so there is not a risk of them falling out of a loft bed and with the living room at the end it extends their play area.

    Living Room
    All the same features as some of my other living room designs, nothing fancy.

    The one thing that is not seen is a table and that is because a small folding table and chairs would fit nicely in the open space on the kitchen floor. As for the rest of the kitchen it is the same as any of my other designs

    This is just the basic composting toilet in the shower bathroom, but no washing machine. I will come up with other designs at some point that may include a washing machine since this is first concept of my idea.

    Loft Bedroom
    The space is basic with enough room for a mattress and a small shelf for books and a flat screen TV. The one great thing about this loft is the steps are not as much of a climb as other lofts.

    So overall this concept is just that... a concept. I have no idea how well it would work out for someone and I am not sure how much weight a second floor can handle. It may need special braces underneath which would limit the size of the kids room, but it may be good for dividing the room for two children. If anyone wants to add their constructive criticism I welcome it.

    * As I must say as before that I am not a professional and if you do not know what you are doing then you should consult one before building something like this.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    The Branwen design

    So I've been thinking about designs for single people and couples and this is what I came up with.

    I figured that some people may not appreciate the more sparse space that some of the other tiny houses on wheels have to offer that I have seen, so I gave my design a little more "luxury".

    This house I would either use a flat roof or a roof that has one slant on it to give height for the shelves, closet, and storage bins. As with my other design I love to put in shelves in the bedroom because it is great to just reach up and choose a book to read while lying in bed, or to watch a little TV snuggled up with someone. One thing I have thought about is that with the new flat screen TV's that it may be possible to mount one of those to the slanted portion of your roof so you can lay in bed an look up to watch TV, but I would consult a professional first before trying it.

    One thing that really got me thinking about why people would not want to live in a tiny house on wheels is the kitchens were less than desirable. To get an idea what kind of space this kitchen has I have drawn up a side view of a similar kitchen on the "Carwyn". The fridge is a good size and there is a three burner stove with oven and a medium size sink with space to put a dish drainer to the side and if you put covers on the sink and stove then you have ample space for food preparation. Another feature I added was an extended small counter top along the one wall that is perfect as a table with some bar stools for eating at. If someone wanted a nice view while eating a large window right in front of the table would be great for this, but I guess it would depend on where you were to put your house.

    Well the necessary evil of a house is the bathroom and like I have said before I really like the spaces people have designed where you have to walk through the shower to get to the toilet. A easy remedy to make sure nothing gets wet is to buy a shower curtain for a tub and use it as a wrap around from the entry to past the toilet. The other design feature is the small washing machine and a linen closet that make life so much easier. I used the dimensions of my portable washing machine (the ones that roll and hook up to the kitchen sink) because it can be made stationary with the right hook ups and it does well with washing cloths twice a day when need be. One thing I have been thinking about in the washing machine department is finding a small front loadable washing machine to put into one of these houses because it saves some space above it since the door does not open on the top, so more space for linens or laundry soap.

    Living Room
    So most people consider the living room a place to relax, so I could not skip this important space when designing a comfortable "luxury" tiny house on wheels. You have an entertainment center for a TV and stereo for those that could never do without and a desk if you like to sit down and work on things, or just need a space to put your laptop. The couch would be a built in with removable cushions to access the storage underneath and with shelf space behind it favorite movies and CD's can be stored. One thing I did not label is that between the desk and ladder to the loft there is space where small fold up tables can be stored. These things are great if you want to eat dinner and watch a movie, or need a little extra table space while working on a hobby or project.

    *Disclaimer, just so everyone knows I am not a professional in any way, so if you do not know how to build things I would suggest getting someone that knows how.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    The Carwyn design

    So to make a long story short since I was a teenager I had a knack for designing spaces, but I never attempted to turn it into a career because I was afraid I would no longer have fun doing it. Well now with the tiny houses on wheels I discovered recently I can use that talent to help others see what can be done with such a tiny space. My first venture of a design is a family house I call the "Carwyn", which can house a family with up to three children (maybe four or five if you really like to live cramped).

    Loft Rooms
    My thoughts with this to maximize head space is to build a flat roof, and if it is necessary in colder climates with snow you may have to shovel it off on an occasion.  With the children's room I would make the twin beds fold up into the wall, by doing this you can allow for play space. Much of the spaces are made so there is some privacy for everyone even though it is small. I personally grew up in a house where all the kids had their own room, but our rooms were big enough for our bed a closet and a few of our things and I was quite happy to have my own space. One feature I added for the adult bedroom is the shelves to put books and maybe a small flat screen TV for unwinding from the kids, cause as any parent I know will say they just need some time to themselves.

     Living Room/Bedroom
     The wall  in the living room/bedroom is entirely one shelving unit built in with a fold down twin bed, which I figure if you can build the rest of the frame work for a house on wheels this will be easy. (I will post at a later time different ideas on how to design a wall like this) One thing I would factor in is that there is little room for a couch or chairs and if you let your kids watch TV on an occasion then I would lower the TV on the entertainment center because everyone can sit on the floor and you want it at eye level. This might be a place where you would want to invest in a nice cushy rug so sitting is comfortable for the adults and children have a nice place to play when weather does not allow for them to run free outdoors.

    One idea I liked very much that I have seen in other designs is you have to step into the shower to use the toilet, so this definitely saves space and a wrap around shower curtain can keep the toilet and entry dry. I also put in a washing machine (I figure a family with kids is going to need one) and linen closet, but I used the dimensions of my portable washing machine (those ones that roll and hook up to the kitchen sink) which is small and can be converted to stationary. I also hang up all of my cloths (indoors too because I live in an area I cannot hang outdoors) to dry because it saves on electricity and it saves on the wear and tear on the clothing. I put up shower curtain rods in my hallway and hang all the cloths on hangers and for linens I have a short line hung up to hang them with cloths pins, also I use a fan hanging nearby to assist in drying.

    This space can be minimized a lot and I have a design below to give you an idea. The only thing that is not in the design is a pull out pantry which many "up scale" kitchens are using now and I thought was a good space saving device. Also I would put in a table that folds down from the wall so there is open space for the kids to play when the kitchen is not being used.

    So as you can see the kitchen is fairly self explanatory, although what is not shown is the space to the left of the sink where you can put a dish drainer and extended cabinets all the way over to the pull out pantry you can see on the main design. I would also get a top for the stove and the sink so I could use that space for food prep. I put in a decent size fridge since kids tend to eat a lot and if you don't keep it cluttered a trip to the store once a week should be sufficient.  I and my daughter also do not drink lots of soda, juice, or other drinks so our huge fridge looks sparse most of the time, so I am going on this to gauge what is a necessary space for keeping cold things.

    Outdoor Space
    One feature that I do not have on the design that I would recommend for any family with children is if the house is usually stationary then build an enclosed porch where you can put a table and have more space for the kids to play.  I know that many people who have camping trailers in a more permanent spot do this too and it is such a convenient thing to have.

    *Just to be proper and everyone knows that I am in no way a professional at this, so please consult one if you have no idea how to build anything.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Getting rid of stuff...

    So yesterday and today I went on a bit of a clean out of my kitchen and I am getting rid of quite a few things. My rule for getting rid of stuff is if I have not used it in a year (some things I have never used ever), then I will toss it in my pile of things for a yard sale. The list includes a deep fryer, a big and small crockpot, a rice cooker/steamer (I found at a yard sale a wonderful crockpot/rice cooker/steamer all in one that replaces those appliances), popcorn popper, various pots and pans, and many other little things.
    I cannot believe the pile of things I am getting rid of, but when I really thought about it I realized that all these things have just been gathering dust in my kitchen for years now. It feels good to get rid of all of these things... next stop the rest of the house.