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Tiny Studio Update #1

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Lost in the excitement of the Polar Vortex was the excitement of a major development in the construction of the tiny studio: trailer delivery. I have never been so stoked about sheet metal struts and one-inch pins.

A brief review: my kids drive me nuts, I can’t find a space to write, I have too much on my plate, I’m building a tiny house in my backyard this summer.

Step one to building any structure is to lay the foundation. Well, that’s not true. There is planning, architectural drawings and designs, materials to buy, etcetera. But I bought the plans from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and I’m building it at the treeline in my backyard, so we can skip a few steps. Fortunately, I’m able to breeze past another: pouring concrete. The foundation for these tiny houses is a custom trailer, minimal work required.

I did not plan to buy the trailer so soon. It is the single most expensive piece, and I won’t get to building the thing for several more months. But I had to snag the opportunity while it presented itself, as I may have gotten the last 14′ trailer to come off the factory floor.

Interesting factoid about the tiny house movement in America – people want tiny houses, just not too tiny. The smallest designs were proving significantly less popular than the larger options, and so several product lines (and not just from Tumbleweed) have disappeared. It turns out (only in America) that not only is the average size of the single family home increasing, so is the average size of the back-to-modesty return-to-simplicity tiny house.

When I began researching plans this summer, I fell in love with one particular model, the Epu, on the smaller end but well proportioned and perfectly sized for my needs. By the time I got to buying the plans this past fall it wasn’t listed on their website anymore (*small heart attack*), and I had to place a special order for a dusted-off set discovered in a back room. Spare plans are easier to find than spare trailers, however, and Tumbleweed warned me that the 14′ model (the one I needed) was available at that moment and maybe never again. Additionally, a large order was about to finished and shipped to Pennsylvania. If I wanted in I needed to order now.

Buy a trailer now, get it transported across the country for free and have it sit in my driveway for six months? Or not get one at all? The choice is easy.

The distribution model for tiny house trailers resembles the nineteenth-century westward migration in reverse. The order is placed from California. They are manufactured in Kansas and sent via flatbed to an Amish farm in central mountainous Pennsylvania. From that central hub, they are delivered via wagon wheel spoke to customers up and down the eastern seaboard. Tumbleweed will get your trailer to Pennsylvania, but then it is up to you to find someone to drive it to its final resting place. Fortunately, they know a guy who knows a guy. I have never talked on the phone so much, especially to Amish guys who only check their tape recorder messages once a week.

Snow and ice delayed the shipment across the plains. The vortex delayed the trip from Pennsylvania up to Buffalo. But eventually Ken, the guy known by another guy, backed my trailer into my yard, and there it sits until spring.

Next step: supplies list. Anyone got a suggestion on a good vintage woodstove?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Katey Schultz #

    Check out wood pellet stoves or Jotl stoves. I ultimately decided to heat my Airstream, also a Tiny Studio, if you will, with a small gas furnace instead of wood. I’ve heated with wood most of my life but suddenly the thought of open flame within arm’s reach of everything I own made me feel anxious. I’m happy with the furnace. I have a campfire ring out back for when I want the real thing. Also, if you need to talk bathrooms, I’ve got loads of info on the best, compact, waterless composting john around.

    January 22, 2014
    • I’m actually going to skip the bathroom and save myself a bundle of dough (the house will still be 200 ft away, after all). I also have tons of actual wood, chopped down and split, because I naturally lose so many trees. So I’m going to be economical and skip the pellets and try to use the real thing. But this “open flame next to life’s work” issue is one I had no consider. Soooooo, maybe I need to rethink it.

      January 22, 2014

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