The year was 2008. I thought that I'd build a few cottages to take a break from remodeling. It was not my idea. My friend Chris and his girlfriend wanted to start a little business selling backyard sheds and cottages. They asked me to put together their first cottage for the new venture. I jumped at the chance because I was burned out on the remodeling merry-go-round; demo, rebuild, paint, flooring, blah, blah, blah. It gets old doing the same thing day in and day out.
Their new idea of backyard cottages was super appealing. I found out immediately that it was fun, challenging, and extremely satisfying to see an entire little cottage appear from nothing and come to completion in less than 4 months. To understand how beautifully satisfying this is, you need to understand that a regular home build takes about 9-15 months and somewhere between 12-200 people to complete. There is no instant gratification with a conventional house build. And let’s face it, we all want to get a little of that now and then.
Every worker who walks into a conventional residential home build has a narrow specialty that they perform. Additionally there are even more sub-specialties within about twenty specialty fields. For example, in the drywall world, there are hangers and there are tapers. The whole sub-field process breaks down into miniscule fractals when a big development is going in. Those poor sons-of-bitches do assembly line work and rarely need to think beyond what the reptile core of their brain is doing on auto-pilot.
This tiny house building thing is done by 2 people in one of the four seasons of the year – it's a game changer for people like me who get bored easily. Maybe later I'll tell you about all the professions I tried in my adult life before tiny houses grabbed me. Record producer, IT Project manager, regular contractor, low voltage electrician...the list is painfully varied and inconsistent. Let's just say my family was constantly worried that I would come home with that restless look in my eye and announce I was doing something new. Again. “But this time I REALLY think I'm on to something,” I’d insist, “It’s what I think I always wanted to do but never thought about before.....” You get the idea.
I'm on year nine of this fantastic voyage (with a nod to Coolio). I've been building tiny since before the term “tiny house” appeared in the lexicon. Before that, we called them cottages, mother-in-law units, backyard bungalows and carriage houses. The concept of a small home is not new - in fact, it's ancient. I imagine the earliest human habitats were holes in the ground. After sleeping in the dirt for a while, we humans upgraded to caves. After a while, we started moving around and had to make shelter where there was none, so maybe because of our improving brain from the extra fat in our diet we designed and built huts.
I'm guessing that 300,000 years ago we were not building 2,200 square foot 3.5 bath houses for our family of 4.3 humans. I imagine we built the most efficient little shack we could throw together to keep the rain from drenching us, the sun from burning us and the sabertooth tigers from devouring us. Now that I'm speculating, it's entirely possible that the way the average American family lives does not have much in common with most of the world's idea of shelter. It's entirely possible that there are continents on the Earth where most people live in what we call “tiny houses.” I have to leave the North American continent soon, so I can see for myself if everyone else has a climate controlled mini-mansion with an interest-only loan that consumes 70% of the household combined take-home income.
If you think a tiny house is right for you - like it has been for most of humanity throughout all of human history - and you want to build it yourself - let me help you. Right now, my team and I are running a Kickstarter for How to Build Tiny. We’re looking to raise $40,000 to plow right into creating top-notch step-by-step training programs that will help you build your tiny house right the first time. Please head to Kickstarter and check out the rewards you can get if you contribute. You can get a once in a lifetime chance to access our program - before launch - at a value you will not see again. Thanks in advance! Oh - and tell all your tiny building friends.