Beginning a journey to live more simply…

A journey towards living more simply.

This project officially began about mid-July, 2010 when Gabby started talking about a cool little house she saw profiled on Yahoo.com. It was another hot summer day, and I’d just come in from some where out in Camp. When Gabby told me about the concept I thought she was completely nuts.

Gabby asked me to sit down and take a look at the website she had been visiting. She was right, it was cool. She was still nuts, though. How could anyone live in such a tiny space?

We explored several You Tube videos of Jay Shafer’s tiny houses. I was immediately struck by his passion for this type of living and its subsequent lifestyle. Gabby was onto something. The tipping point for me was a video focusing on the simplifying of one’s life. One of my passions in life is backpacking. I thrive on the opportunity that backcountry travel affords one to completely simplify to the most basic essentials. I find nothing in my daily life to be as rewarding as carrying only the things you need for your basic needs and immediate comfort. This guy might just have figured out how to do what I have not these many years: merge the two worlds of home and backcountry living. Jay’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are backpacks for your every day life! I was sold.

We officially ‘broke ground’ on our project mid September, 2010 and made very quick initial progress -having the shell completely up and roof on within the first 7 days. Big portions of the project took shape as more and more people became a part of a steadily growing community around build.

Over 50 people have had a hand in this adventure with us so far, and we’ve enjoyed so much interest and support. We have learned a ton, have had so much fun, and have enriched our lives exponentially. In short, this experience has been nothing less than amazing!

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As our project progresses, many folks vist our blog interested in the choices and considerations that play into building a tiny house. Others have questions beyond the construction, in particular the motivation for more simplified living and the rules and regulations that govern the potential of down-sized living. Many great videos address these questions, including those posted below.

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Comments on: "A journey towards living more simply." (24)

  1. […] A journey towards living more simply. […]

  2. Charley Marsteller said:

    I have lived in 170 sq feet including Bath, Hall; I have a microwave and sm.refrig. One wall is books, the other is 35 file cabinets (two piece plastic Storex from Staples). I have a million dollar view as I am 90 feet up with a 270 degree panoramic view unobstructed. I live in the City (SF, near the park) so if you cannot live in one of Jay’s Tiny Houses, you can do this in an apartment! Charley

  3. Mary C Charest said:

    Where is it legal to live in one of these — where are you living in it?

    M

    • Very good question. From what we’ve read/learned, it truly depends on the local codes in your immediate area. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company should have more info for you in this realm. We are actually going to be registering and utilizing this as a hand-made RV. We are interested in using it in a campground setting or in a friend’s yard where acceptable. There is an entire culture of RVers out there, we will be taking the lead from their example. Planting this and calling it a ‘House’ may not be the best approach in all areas, and we will be most respectful of this.

  4. I really like the modifications you have made — i.e. longer and more sturdy trailer, copper pipes, etc. Can I ask how much the total budget is (a nice rounded to the nearest ten thousand is fine)? I think I want to replicate what you are doing…Also are you in Illinois?

    • Thanks! We were very interested in making sure that the foundation to our little house would be sound. We took the advice of one of the folks commenting on the Tumbleweed web-site and opted for a car-hauler type trailer over a regular utility trailer for piece of mind. The other choices we made were in the direction of using as many ‘real’ materials as possible, staying away from synthetic options. Granted, these options would have been both cheaper and lighter…

      It is looking like we’ll be ending up somewhere in the 20 to 22 Grand area when it’s all said and done. A little more than we’d hoped, but we have come to terms with the fact that we are deeply satisfied with the material choices we have made.

  5. That is fantastic as all of the materials look very high end and the floor plan is larger, I expected much more than the $20k figure on the Tumbleweed site. Great job. Do you have a rough drawing of the modified floor plan?

    • We have tossed around the idea of doing a post about our floor plan design. We’ll do so in the next few weeks or so and include images of our drawings.

      It was very basic, however: We simply turned the bathroom to the side at the very back of the house, keeping the same dimensions. We then left 2″ for a bathroom wall, and measured out 54″ for kitchen counters. After that, working forward towards the porch, we allowed for 18″ of closet and shelf space. The rest was left open for the ‘Great Room’.

  6. Evan and Gabby,

    Thank you so much for all of your coverage on Oregon Shepherd Wool Insulation! We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming future!

    • You are MORE than welcome! We REALLY believe in and support what you are doing! Thanks again for providing a natural alternative and a great product. Best of luck to you guys.

  7. I am so excited to have come across your blog. My husband and I have been building our very own tumbleweed house for the last two years. (We only get to work on it about twice a month). We are just about to start our interior work and it is great to see what you have done inside your house.

    We are also moving toward a more simple lifestyle and it is inspiring to read about others doing it as well. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • Hi Laura,

      How fun to connect with you and your husband! I have visited your blog several times and have enjoyed seeing your project. It certainly served as motivation for us as we took on a tiny house project of our own. Best to you guys as you continue!

  8. Hey Evan & Gabby. Love the website. Thanks! Two questions:

    1) How do you find the land to keep the house on & get electric & internet ability?
    2) Do you have any pets? We have two cats (no kids) were wondering if others can do it with pets.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Great questions. First, we are looking at a couple of options. We’ll consider utilizing a campground that is open to the idea of a hand-made RV (which it will be registered and taxed as), or the back yard of a gracious host or two. These things will get more ironed out as we zero in on where we may be headed in the future and what kind of legal considerations there may be. For now, Gabby’s family has some land that we’ll pull onto until we learn more about Graduate School options and what’s next. Regarding electricity- a campground should have the ability to meet these needs. We wired the tiny house to be able to hook up to a 30 amp system as you might find in a campground (even a 50 amp system with an adapter) or simply plug into an extension cord coming out of a garage or a house. For internet? As wireless technology is advancing, this should be more and more of an easy problem to solve. We are thinking about looking into a mobile hot-spot device.

      Your second question made us both smile. We DO have pets. In fact we have two small cats (no kids). We are, of course, planning on taking them right along with us for the adventure. Gabby is fairly convinced they will be just fine in the tiny place. They like to spend much of their time in the coziest of places in our current house. I worry, however, that they will go stir crazy. I say this based on the varied moments throughout a day in which one or both of them spontaneously ignite and zoom around the house, paws thundering as they go. There’s just not that much room to zoom in a tiny house… We have built a small recession under the closet by the front door to house their stainless steel litter pan (complete with aromatic red cedar lining for smell!), and envision them really enjoying the small storage loft above the door. So, now the secret is out: We are not only trying out this tiny house thing as a couple, but cramming FOUR lives into one, very small space. We can’t wait!

      • I was wondering how the kitties would do in the tiny house! I love reading your blog Gabby + Evan! I hope when I volunteer this summer I can get a tour of your delightful new niche! Love & Heepwahs 🙂

        Beth Z

  9. Thank you for taking the time to document your project. I enjoy the photos and I see your house is coming along nicely. I read the both of you had no prior construction experience. Just two questions if I may:

    1) Did you attend the Jay Shafer’s workshop?

    2) If so, was the information form the workshop adequate, or did you require additional training?

    Howie Hu
    Taipei, Taiwan

    • Hi Howie,

      Thanks for your note. We’ve had a lot of fun with this project, and have enjoyed documenting the experience along the way. We did not have an opportunity to attend one of Jay Shafer’s workshops, though would have liked to very much. We, instead, have had an incredible amount of help with the project from our community of family and friends from Camp Ondessonk.

  10. Thanks for your site. It is quite an inspiration. We have been planning for 3 years and will just start building next week so I am very nervous now. I gave the whole ” Couples in a small space” thing lots of thought and decided we need to have two areas that are comfortable and kind of separate . The loft roof is curved for space and the bed folds into a couch. Storage everywhere + 2 desks one upstairs and one down. A cozy couch big enough for cuddling and for a friend to sleep over on. It has a bay window so the cats will love it too. We went with a french door on the side and most of the windows on the S.for energy efficiency + a full 22 ft x 8 ft deck that doubles living space. We made the space over the living room an upper deck so we can sleep out on warm nights and so our cats can play “outside” without getting eaten or run over. Those are the plans. Guess we’ll see if we manage to make all that actually work once we get it built. Wish us luck! http://catstinyhome.wordpress.com

  11. Mike Gannon said:

    Hey Evan & Gabby

    I’m saving money now so that I can build an Epu and I can’t wait to get going! The design is sooo kewl! For the past few years I have been living as a “canal gypsy” on an old 18 foot de-masted sailboat on the Canal du Midi in France. Space wise, the Epu would be a massive upgrade for me. I don’t even know if I have enough stuff to fill the place because, boat gear aside, I only own 113 things which includes all my clothing, a folding bike, my wallet and my passport. On my boat I use a “thunder bucket” with WAG bags as a toilet, my shower is an old hand-pumped fire extinguisher and I use kerosene lamps for lighting. I have no refrigeration (i buy my food fresh each day from country markets) and my “stove” is a single burner propane hiking stove. I am, however, happy as can be, totally free and live on about 400 euros a month since mooring on the canal is free if you don’t need services. I’m looking into placing the Epu on a floating platform that I can moor along the banks of the canal and move when the mood strikes me with an outboard motor. Love your blog and looking forward to reading future posts! A bien tot! – Mike G.

    • Mike! What an incredible life you have created for yourself!

      I found myself daydreaming about your adventures as I read through your post several times… Your embracing of simplicity is something to aspire to, for sure. I’m sure we can all find comfort at some level when imagining the freedom of a simple lifestyle. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and the inspiration that shines through it.

      Best to you,
      Evan & Gabby

  12. What you guys have done is fantastic.
    Can I ask, where did you park the home, on public land or on your own land?
    Also, how do I convince my wife to adopt the simple life? Sadly, she is under the spell of the mainstream.
    Thanks.
    Peter (Australia)

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question. We parked and rented a space in a local RV park for the past year and a half. Now the house is sitting on some privately owned family land out in the country. Various places will have specific local codes and rules. We take it on a case-by-case basis depending on where we live.

      It is a bummer that it can be so tricky. Living more simply in this manner should be more embraced, but is often misunderstood.

      Good luck bringing your partner around! I was fortunate- it was Gabby that convinced me!

      Best,
      Evan & Gabby

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