Tiny Houses, Great Idea

The Elm model, like all Tumbleweed houses, can be pulled just like an RV trailer.

If you haven’t head of tiny houses, then you’re in for a treat. Tiny houses are cute little things with big implications. They allow homeowners to purchase or build a home — a sustainable home — without breaking their budgets or destroying the environment.

Many of them, like the Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, even come equipped with wheels, allowing you to place them anywhere, moving them at a whim.

We had a chance to talk with Debby Richman, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tumbleweed Tiny House, about Tiny Houses before her upcoming workshops (see the end of the article for more information).

What are tiny houses?

Tiny Houses are tiny houses on wheels or foundations which allow their occupants to live, sleep, cook, eat, use the facilities and even take a shower. While small houses have provided shelter for eons, the modern tiny house community has developed and grown since 1999. Since then, the idea of living intentionally – in a very nice, tiny home – has taken root and grown.

Tiny houses on wheels are smaller than 200 square feet and are built on travel trailers. Like RVs, they may be driven without special permits and parked like RVs. However they look nothing like typical trailers because they are build as homes with 50-year lifespans. Cottages on foundations range from 200 to even 800 square feet, and have more square dimensions. Foundation homes need to get approved by local municipalities, who may have zoning and building restrictions.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company began with a single, archetypal home. Since the U.S. economic downturn, demand for living in tiny homes has picked up. Many people build their homes, even without prior building experience, and we believe there could be more than a thousand homes out there. Others want to buy their homes, and still live in a sustainable manner.

What are the benefits of tiny house living?

The main benefit from tiny house dwellers is the sense of freedom they gain. It comes from living in a home where everything has its place, knowing they are able to live on or off the grid, having the economic freedom to decide how to spend their time, and focusing on what matters to themselves and their families.

Most recently, we are seeing a huge age range interested in going tiny. These homes now accommodate options for sleeping downstairs and not just lofts, having private rooms in addition to open “great” rooms. They can accommodate two people and sleep up to four people comfortably. Yet their footprint is light, perhaps $30/month for all utilities when living in a four-season location.

Is living tiny doable and affordable?

Many people live full-time in their tiny homes, and others use them part-time for work, hobbies or vacation locations. Living tiny is doable and feels right because the homes are comfortable and build proportionally correct. There are many windows which creates a larger sense of space while inside. Scaling back belongings is important for living well in a tiny space.

From an affordability standpoint, anyone thinking of building should consider materials costs which may run to $25,000 depending on the house size. If building a home during a longer time horizon, then its possible to use salvage and build a bit less expensively. For a complete home with all systems ready-to-go, prices can go up to $66,000 for a 24-foot home. Tiny homes are designed well and materials and labor don’t come cheap since we (Tumbleweed) build our homes in the U.S.

Are tiny homes sustainable?

Definitely, tiny houses create both environmental and financial benefits. By moving into a tiny home, you may live within your means. On the grid costs are minimal and, after investing in alternative solar panels, off the grid costs are small too. What’s interesting is that you may still remain plugged into society with cell phones, TV, appliances and more. Tiny homes allow you to define what is self-sustainable.

They may be tiny, but Tumbleweed houses feature fully-functional kitchens, like this one shown in the Cypress model.

What is Tumbleweed?

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company was founded to make it easy to live in and own a tiny house! This year alone, we scheduled workshops in 30 cities to enable people to learn what it takes to build a tiny home themselves, meet like-minded people, and turn dreams into realities. We also offer CDs which show a home construction, as well as 23 different complete house building plans based on four exteriors and floor plan options. Based on requests, we began offering specialized trailers to safely build a home, as well as Amish Barn Raisers for those who want to jump start builds from a fully-framed and sheathed house shell. Over the past two years, there’s been increased demand for ready-made homes and we build them in Colorado Springs, CO.

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Melissa has a background in marketing, brand management, graphic design and photography. She left corporate America to pursue her dream of living a simpler life. Simpler doesn’t always mean easier but she enjoys every minute on her small homestead. She loves to cook, practice herbalism and gardening. Her passion is spreading the word about sustainable living and sharing her love of herbalism and living from scratch.

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