Tiny House Living, Three Months In:         The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We’ve been living in our tiny house for three months now.  Before we moved in, we prepared ourselves for three months of hell before things settled down.  We knew it would be complicated and we knew we couldn’t predict or prepare for some of the complications.  

Luckily, we never dipped into hellish territory, but we’ve certainly had our hands full!  Here’s an overview of all the things that we’ve been occupied with since moving in.  There aren’t many resources out there on tiny houses, especially when it comes to troubleshooting – so we hope this helps others learn from our successes and failures!


Delivery and moving in:

  • Upon completion, our house was moved across the country (from Nashville, TN to Boulder Creek, CA).
  • Our driver refused to take it up the last three miles of mountainous road and we had all of one day to find a local service to do it.
  • Luckily, we found a local pro and a team of good Samaritans helped us out – they spent a whole day chopping tree limbs to get the house up the mountain without a scratch.
  • Finally got the house set up, cleaned up, and ready to film with HGTV!  We hadn’t seen the inside of the house yet (the reveal was actually real, though we did more than one take). Lots of fun and a truly unique experience!
  • One month later, we had to pack up and move the house to a different spot on the property.  This was so much more difficult than anticipated...

Troubleshooting:

  • Repaired two different broken drain lines under the tiny house (damaged during delivery)
  • Three days of tinkering with the plumbing before we finally got hot water to the whole house. Then last week, the pipe from our hot water heater burst and sent water pouring all over our floors (and out the sides of our house!!)… so it was another two weeks of cold showers.  As of yesterday, all is fixed.
  • Minor repair of our washing machine
  • Fixed a leaky bathroom sink
  • Resealed the shower door to prevent leaks
  • Minor repair to our dishwasher
  • Lots of tinkering with our waterless toilet (we have a Separett) -- talk about yuck factor! -- more on this later.

Improvements:

  • Built a deck!  350 sq.ft. of western red cedar (bigger than our house)!
  • Set up a Stout Tent to expand our living space.
  • Mined gravel from hillside and used it to cover over 4000 sq.ft. of dirt.
  • Designed a zero-scape Zen garden.
  • Installed curtains for the garage door and shade sails for the deck.
  • Assembled and stained our Primo grill for outside cooking!
  • Trenched hook-ups and septic (so it doesn’t look like our house is plugged in anymore)
  • Set up trash/recycling stations

Our current to-do list:

  • Chimney the vent from our toilet above the roofline
  • Get our house of its jacks and on to block
  • Beautify our entryway with planters and possibly a small deck or walkway
  • Build a playground for Escher!

After three months, we feel like we’ve finally made it through the initial gauntlet.  And we’d do it again!  Through sweat and stepping out into the unknown, we've built a little private paradise for ourselves in the mountains.  We love where we live, and are fortunate to be close enough to spend a lot of time among the ancient Redwoods in Big Basin and at the gorgeous beaches along the Santa Cruz coast.  We relax on the deck, lounge in the tent, and grill most of our dinners.  It truly feels like a dream home (and not so tiny), and we’re just getting started!

We went into this not knowing what to expect.  Now that we’ve done it (for three months), we’re convinced that this is a powerful new solution for housing.  If only there weren’t so many barriers – if tiny house hopefuls could simply get a mortgage (instead of taking out personal loans) and fit into their city’s zoning codes.  Imagine if land was easier to find, and if people with extra land could easily turn a profit by renting it out to a nice tiny house dweller!  

We’re hoping to provide helpful resources to others interested in going tiny, to make their decision and transition easier than our own.  We’ll be posting a primer on buying a tiny house soon, but for now, feel free to reach out to us directly if you’re interested in talking about making the tiny migration yourself.