[WRITTEN ON 11/1/2014]
We are Robert and Samantha and are both 28 years old. We met at Plattsburgh State University in 2005 and then completed our graduate studies in Buffalo, NY where we lived until 2012. We have been married for two years and currently live in a 665 square foot apt. in Yakima, WA with our live-in cat, Tobey.
We are both young professionals with full time careers. Samantha is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and I am an architectural designer. We travel (recreationally) as much as possible regionally, nationally and internationally. I am also a co-founder of our local Maker Space here in Yakima and am working towards architectural licensure. I bring all of this up to say that this project will be a primarily evening and weekend affair. As we write this on November 1st, 2014 we do not have a trailer. We do not have a place to build a tiny home. We do not have a truck to tow a tiny home or a place to put a tiny home and our combined construction experience is relatively miniscule. Yet, here we are, about to spend the next 12-14 months building a tiny home!
While I sometimes wish that we had an amazing epiphany that led us here, our reasoning for taking on the design, construction and occupation of a tiny home is a rather diverse list:
- The Dream: Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to design and build their own home!? And we want to be neighbors with all of our friends for a month at a time! Ok, so this reason may be a bit shortsighted but seriously, that would be pretty cool.
- The Money: The up front cost in just materials & equipment for a tiny home may seem surprisingly high at first ($10,000-$30,000) but the dramatically reduced expenses of living in a tiny home and the saved rent money means after 1-3 years it has already paid for itself completely. We are tired of renting. We are tired of lengthy leases. We are afraid of a mortgage (on top of school loans!?).
- The Education & Experience: The tiny home movement takes the “less is more” mantra to great lengths and my architectural interests align with smaller scale, sustainable residential design and construction. I can’t think of a better way to practice what I intend to preach. This project will be a great design exercise incorporating sustainability, material selection, spatial efficiency and flexibility as well as weight distribution and severe force resistance (taking a tiny home down the road at 60mph is like having your home be effected by an earthquake and hurricane at the same time). Add to that the necessity to know and understand local D.O.T regulations and zoning codes when considering transportation and placement and you have enough lessons to consider us full time students during this project. We are also brainstorming ways to turn this project into an educational experience for others, not only through the documentation on this website but also through presentations, open houses and hands on workshops for our community. A project like this also becomes an amazing exercise in ergonomics that has already started to make us hyper aware of our day to day environment. I carry a tape measure in my back pack to better understand the different dimensions of everyday objects and spaces. When you remove traditional standards and requirements, you are then able to design to your (bare) necessities, resulting in an incredibly intimate experience between body and architecture.
- The philosophy: Samantha and I have always said we will never own a king size bed because we don’t want the potential for more space to make its way between us. And we feel the same about the spaces we inhabit. Call it encouraged interaction if you will, and luckily, we really like being around each other!
- The challenge? We spent 30 days in 2008 living out of a Honda Civic and a tent as we traveled the United States, coast to coast and back. In 2010, we spent 30 days (legally) hopping trains from country to country in Europe with nothing more than what could fit in our 60 liter backpacks. We spent 6 weeks in 2012 navigating the rural towns, crowded cities and rugged landscape of the Patagonia region of South America, carrying all of our belongings over 1400 miles in those same backpacks. And in 2013 we packed up everything we owned into a 16’ U-haul and drove west from our roots in Western NY to Yakima, WA. One of us had a job, we did not have a place to live and we kept our mattress on top of our belongings in the box truck in case we had to spend a few nights in the back while we looked for a place to call home. Sooo…we really expected the decision to live in a fully functioning and furnished sub-200 square foot space would come easy, yet it turned out to be a more serious and lengthy internal debate than expected. This is new territory. It pushes its occupants to question traditional standards of habitation. It re-evaluates our notion of home. It tests traditional methods of construction and it questions archaic zoning ordinances. With that said, we have yet to dive into an experience we are unsure about and not come out on the other side thankful that we took the leap.
This marks the beginning of our tiny home journey…
-Robert & Samantha
P.S. Check out our Adventures Before SHED & Adventures While Building SHED & Adventures while living in SHEDAdventures while living in SHED to learn a little more about us and our interests other than tiny living!