How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A Large Body?

Whether you are considering height (or lack thereof), weight, pregnancy, or the growth of children into teenagers, all changes in size should be considered when downsizing your living space. Many people wonder, and I get asked a lot, “How big is too big to live tiny in a large body?”

As a large female who is comfortable in my frame, I am happy to field this perfectly reasonable question.

In our experience with tiny house builders as well as our spending the better part of the last year living tiny, it all comes down to five things:

Bathrooms

No matter the height of the shower, the width of the bathtub, or the placement of the toilet, someone of size needs to consider the available space in a tiny house bathroom. Certain brands of toilets (like the Nature’s Head) sit up higher off of the ground, whereas a homemade composting variety can be build to suit. On the other hand, with low ceilings in most tiny house bathrooms, the shower height will be lower than most traditional home builds and the bathrooms, at their largest, are usually the size of an RV tub. This leaves little room for a relaxing bath for a new mom or for multiple kiddos.

Bedrooms

If you are of a large stature of any variety, the bedroom can be tricky business, but it can be done. Those who are tall should consider than many tinies, unless built into a custom design, won’t host a king sized bed or mattress. This leaves some of high stature with their feet dangling if it isn’t taken into consideration early on. Additionally, if a plus sized couple were to be in a full or queen bed, they may be less comfortable at night so keep that in might to allow more space during your build to walk around the bed or equip the room with a larger mattress.

Ceilings

Standard overall height for road capable THOWs (Tiny House On Wheels) is 13 feet. That is the maximum for being street legal (with up to an 8.5 ft width). This means you have to deduct the height of the roof, insulation, drywall and framework, etc.

Additionally, many tiny homes have one or more loft spaces for bedrooms or living areas. This can lower the overall interior height in some spaces down to under five feet (although, traditionally they stay at 6 ft.). This is an easy solve for taller home buyers/builders with the addition of the adjustable loft. These spaces can be raised and lowered by a variety of means such as pulleys or even removing the loft entirely. Many parents opt for this type of loft so they can enjoy the headroom in an upper bedroom until their lower level kiddos are tall enough to require the height adjustment.

Doorways

This concept follows along the lines of the ceiling heights. While many doorways are standard sized, some are shrunk for the purpose of space so front doors may have less width or a hallway might be more narrow. This includes the addition of galley kitchens or bar eating areas as space savers.

We have found the addition of pocket and/or sliding doors allows the privacy desired without the need to a non-adjusting or smaller sized door or hallway.

Seating

Many tiny homes use a bar style seating, foldable table or counter space, or stools for chairs. This can cause some struggle for short folks as well as those who are taller or weigh more than average. The simple solution is to adjust the height of seating or tables and to keep these in mind when building. We actually removed our original table, after finding it less than comfy and replaced it with a custom-built table that folds from a bar to a dining set with ease. It provides comfort and plenty of space and cost my husband less than $50 to make.

As with anything custom built, you can pretty much do whatever you want with your design. So this is a great way for people of all ages and sizes to experience the freedom tiny living has to offer!

How To Build A Killer Roadschool Room When Space Is Limited: 4 Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Area

Living tiny with kids is something many argue cannot be done, but here we are–a year in and loving it. We have chosen to Roadschool our kids so we are able to continue traveling and exposing them to different cultures, a variety of customs, and real world learning. I work full time from an office space that has to be organized.

However, what do we do when it is rainy or when lessons involve the unavoidable worksheet or pen and paper classwork? We created a killer Roadschool space inside our rig that can accommodate our individual learner’s needs. So, keep in mind that every student learns differently, but these tips can be applied to creating everything from a preschool area to a high school room, a professional office to a crafting space in your tiny.

Make Large Items Foldable

Desks and shelving can take up a lot of space in a tiny home so making the best use of vertical space is crucial. A wall mounted desk can save on both space as well as create a place for storage. Many of these desks have internal storage for office supplies as well as the work space.

Shelving can also fold down and back up for when they are being used or when they need to be stored to travel.

Organize The Small Things

Whether you choose bins, containers, or totes, small things can get lost in a tiny house so keeping them organized is important. We recommend using a small metal rolling cart and magnetized bins, buckets, and small containers so the inside and outside of each shelf are most efficiently used.

Visibly Separate Space

Use items like rugs and shelving to break up a larger open space into smaller more divided rooms without putting up walls. We use a large rug to separate our office/Roadschool space from the rest of our kids’ room. Open shelving that you can see through are also a great option for dividing space.

Make The Space Creative

Whether you brighten it up with paint, decorate it with decals, or create a photo collage, make the space somewhere you want to be. We use a bright color palate, kid-friendly wall decals and trendy items like a globe and succulents to bring the outdoors in. Always incorporate natural light whenever possible as well in order to make a small space seem larger.

Whenever Possible, Make Space Multi-Functional

So our Roadschool room doubles as my office space just as much as the bar area in our kitchen is used for studying and eating dinner. Whether you use large items like a Murphy bed that doubles as shelving or storage that is also decorative, in a tiny home, real estate is a hot commodity so most designs need to be space-saving and multi-functional.

So You Wanna Go Tiny? Let’s Talk Toilets!

When catching up with tiny house builders across the country, they all agree on one thing: They talk about toilets…a lot!

Why Are Toilets Such A Big Deal?

When building a traditional home, toilets are pretty much basic outside of fancy upgrades like a dual flushing. When you are talking about a build that allows your house to move around, you have to consider all of the options for plumbing since many aren’t connected to traditional water and sewer/septic. This can also come with a hefty price tag so, in the tiny house world, toilets are actually considered a luxury item for many interested in saving space and saving money.

Things to Consider

-Cost: Handmade composting toilets can be built for under $50, while some other types can cost up to $3500. Your budget can be seriously impacted by your choice of commode, so choose wisely.

-Odor: Many people worry hard about how their toilet might smell, depending on what type they choose. Do your research. Composting toilets, if maintained correctly, shouldn’t smell. Incinerating toilets have their own smell. You have to choose how important this is to your quality of life.

-Emptying Options: Make sure you have someone living in your tiny who is comfortable emptying the waste, whether it is being drained outside or taken to the compost pile. If not, choose traditional flushing and have plans for plumbing and sewer hook ups.

-Space: Depending on your choice and brand, some toilets can be large since they hold the waste in a self-contained tank. Other options can be built to suit or can be moveable within your bathroom space. This should be a priority consideration when building a home under 400 square feet.

What Are Your Options?

  1. Homemade Composting- This is the least expensive option and the easiest to maintain, however it is the one that freaks people out the most. For this, you can use anything from a bucket with a foam seat to building a box set up with a traditional toilet seat and use pine shavings to cover odor. A urine diverter will help with smell and when you empty the waste.
  2. Working/Active Composting- This is a more pricey choice, but it has minimal upkeep and thus is a very popular choice among most tiny home builders. You can get one that is self-contained, or remote. Self contained are larger because they contain the waste in the bottom of the toilet, while remotes hold the waste in a separate location-typically outside or underneath the THOW.
  3. Incinerator- Another pricey investment, but with no worries of emptying compost, this toilet type burns the waste into an ash deposit. That being said, this does come with its own odor and can require a significant amount of energy to run.
  4. Traditional Flushing- This is just like what anyone is used to but it does require a full time hook up to sewage or septic. So, for THOWs, it really isn’t an option.
  5. RV Toilet- It is what it sounds like. For this option, you will need a holding tank and a place to brain it when it fills up. It does use minimal water per flush but you will need to consider special toilet paper so it breaks down fast in your holding tank.
  6. Dry Toilet- Another option to allow you to live off grid and without the requirement of plumbing, this type of toilet uses cartridges filled with silver liners that, when flushed, wraps the waste SUPER tight to prevent odor from escaping. Once the liners are full, you simply empty them out and replace the cartridge. These toilets are cheaper to install, but the liners are a maintenance cost to consider.

What Do We Use?

Since we are currently living in a 36 foot fifth wheel while saving to build, we use a traditional RV toilet. We really appreciate the water conservation aspect and we use a draining service for a separate large holding tank (500 gallons) when parked. This allows us to drain our tanks while we are on the road but also have a constant system when we are parked for longer periods of time.

What Do We Recommend?

Nature’s Head Active Composting Toilet This is one of the most popularly installed toilets for tiny home builders across the U.S. because they are more affordable than other brands/types and easy to maintain. While some models can rung in closer to $1200, this one won’t break the bank during your build at $975.

Founder and CEO of Titan Tiny Homes says, “The main reason we have decided to use natures head toilets as our go to composting toilet is because it is the only toilet officially recognized by the RVIA.”

 

Surviving Winter in a THOW-4 Tips To Keep Things Toasty

Tips for Winter Tiny Living!

Spending our first winter living tiny in Ohio has taught us some hard and fast lessons about surviving the snow and negative temps when your house is on wheels. This winter has had record breaking negative wind chills that were set back in the 1800’s. This is not a drill. We found ourselves in real-life survival mode.

In hopes that others will be better prepared for their wintry life on the road, here are four tips to staying toasty in the winter in a tiny house on wheels [THOW].

Heat Your Hoses

In the first two weeks of winter alone, we suffered frozen pipes, a frozen spigot, and frozen drainage hoses. This resulted in having no water at all for two weeks. Friends, we have two kids and a dog living with us, so this posed an incredible challenge with daily temps hovering around -15.

We carried our water in, kept bottled water and gallon jugs on hand, made bath time fun after heating water on the stove, and learned to save even more water than we had been before. While this was an inconvenience, we did appreciate the lesson in conservation.

Black insulation around copper pipe for keeping tiny home pipes from freezing

The frozen drainage hose resulted in an explosion that was a less than savory situation. This is where investing in quality equipment up front is worth the money. We only use THIS type of hose since then, and they are our number one recommendation.

Before you have the same issues, be sure to keep water on hand and plan ahead. We bought a heated hose which was a total game changer. We tried to avoid the investment, but since making this purchase, we have had beautiful flowing water every day. They are available in 25, 50 and 100-foot lengths and arguably one of the best investments for winter on the road.

Insulate, Insulate, and Then Insulate Again

When building your THOW, you should consider insulation as a valuable expense during the planning stages. You can use everything from spray foam to fiberglass, wool to denim. Be sure to check the R rating on whatever you decide to go with because this will tell you what temperatures your house will be able to handle. You need also to ensure that the undercarriage is insulated or you will suffer from cold feet and freezing floors.

 

After you’ve chosen the right insulation in the walls, or if you are buying used, your pipes should be the next thing you protect. We went with a sturdy foam pipe insulation with a silver R-rated heat tape for our pipes. This allowed our water to flow freely.

The most terrible thing to tackle is underbelly insulation. If you are on the road, the best investment is skirting because it goes on quickly for when you park and comes off when you’re ready to ride again. However, if you are going to stay stationary for the winter months, using a more structured form of insulation is best. Many recommend hay bails or wood, but we were worried about the fire hazard involved. We used 1 1/2″ insulated foam board like THESE and measured around the bottom of our rig. These cut easily and can be affixed to your THOW or simply wedged underneath.Rolls of insulation for the underside of a tiny house

No Matter What, Stay Dry

Many THOW owners find a learning curve involved when it comes to proper ventilation and windows. If your tiny isn’t vented properly, condensation can build up inside single-paned windows or in between panels of double-paned. We ended up having to scrape frost and ice from the inside of our tiny before we learned how to prevent this.

Do not leave anything up against windows because that tends to attract more moisture. Additionally, be sure if your windows are not well-insulated, that you use insulated bubble paper to cover them (we did this on the inside and outside of windows that wouldn’t dramatically reduce our sunlight). This will drastically improve your ability to keep heat inside.

Once your windows are covered, you need to be sure your fridge isn’t working overtime. Whether your THOW runs from propane, electric, or solar, the winter can take its toll. So be sure you pay special attention to set temps correctly and not overfill a small fridge.

We ended up losing a freezer full of food to ours defrosting because of this very thing. We ended up storing our frozen goods in a cooler full of snow (because we’re classy) until it was fixed. This is easily preventable trouble so avoid it if you can.

Optimize Your Heat Sources

When planning your build, consider your heat sources with the larger expenses. A heat/ac split can be costly, but it may make a difference over time. We went with propane as our primary heat source but ended up with a slow leak that could have been very dangerous had we not caught it in time.

We also use small space heaters that are safe and efficient to not overwork our heating system. These heaters, paired with heating blankets (30% off HERE) on our bed and our kids’, have proved to keep us tucked in and toasty throughout the snow-covered nights. Click HERE to get the one we use for over 75% off!

Have A Plan B

Whether your alternative route includes showering at your gym or having an outhouse and a wood stove, you need to consider these things if you plan to live full time in a THOW during winter.

We didn’t have anything lined up, so we had to come up with a plan B on the fly when we had frozen pipes and no heat. We did laundry at my folks’, showered at the gym, and bought extra space heaters while our propane was being fixed.