Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by reepicheep »

Reep wants a tiny house. Reep does not have the confidence or skill to build one unsupervised. Well...I have the confidence, but not the skill. The result is likely to not be fully satisfactory to me at best, and to fall down on my head at worst. I have spent 29 years not able to reach the back of my kitchen cabinets, because I am 4'11". I want a house that meets 95%-100% of my needs. That means custom. It means expensive or it means skills. I am imagining that this will be the last time I move. I have moved 17 (going on 18) times in the last 11 years, since leaving my family home. I don't wanna anymore. I mean, the house can move, which is great, but all my stuff can stay in the same place for the most part, barring packing up and shifting around as part of road-movement protection. This is ideally my forever home. Or at least a realllllllly long time, possibly only ended when a tree falls and crushes my house and me. To whit, I am not planning on sleeping in a loft, because I might get old enough in this house to not want to climb a ladder in the middle of the night when I have to pee. I do not plan on children. Serious doubts about cohabitation with a SO, current or future. At best, I might park in the vicinity. That said, I am not *quite* old enough to be sure on either of these fronts, though I am mostly dating people who already have children and I am "meh" about those children at best, especially "meh" the younger they are. But still, a lot has changed for me in the last ten years. The future is hard to predict. Ma didn't have me until she was 39.

1. Reep is living in an RV at the moment. It's fine. It's also plastic and has no wood stove. Possibly I will be happier when the more robust dehumidifier comes in. Windows open, windows shut, fan on, fan off, heater on, heater off, doesn't matter, water everywhere. Too cold and wet up here for effective inner climate control. Mold a constant battle. Not helping is the fact that I am only a part-time resident of the TV show, because I have a crazy life in Portland that I'm also still living full speed. (Yes, this is unsustainable.) Cost to continue doing what I'm doing: $326/month in financing, $80ish in insurance, + rent on site ($400-$500/month -- includes some food and 80 acres of forest and a sauna and a hot tub and a garden and dog gets to be off leash all the time)

2. Participate in Co-Op Build out in Sisters. Buy shell. Build out interior over time as my skills increase. DIY. Hire a master carpenter from Eugene to babysit me/teach me stuff/mooch off professional woodworker witch girlfriend in exchange for feeding her sumptuously. Shell isn't fully what I want. Co-op builds limit my design options for the exterior. Company seems to know its shit, though. I am driving out there tomorrow to evaluate. Cost: ~30k for shell, materials cost for interior. My time. My sanity. Possibly my physical health, which is not as robust as it should be for a 29 year old who looks healthy at first blush.

3. Hire friend of friend who does custom tiny house builds. Work with him mostly full-time for 6 months. Learn as much as possible. Be fully supervised by someone who knows what they are doing. Be able to take days off whenever and know that building is still happening. Cost: $60-$70k (this is about 50% of my net worth, but I'm not really doing anything with that money as I get a pension on the reg. Thanks for paying your taxes and supporting foreign wars!) But like, what if I want to do something else with that money 5 years from now?

3.5 Finance the co-op build. Pay friend of friend in cash to help with interior finishing. Not spend 50% of nest-egg on interior design, which is what I care about more than exterior design. Still, how much of interior is influenced by exterior? Cost: Probably roughly the same monthly finance nut, maybe a little more, + whatever I both take out of nest egg and lose in investment income (not much, so scared of market).

4. Renovate this RV. Or sell this RV and buy a shitty cheap RV and renovate that one. Having recently helped Witch build a porch on top of foundations poorly made and not correctly leveled by someone else who didn't know what they were doing, I am loathe to try to re-do someone else's work. It seems like a huge hassle. Cost: Probably under 10k.

5. Buy already made tiny house for cash. Re-do what needs re-doing (possibly with assistance of friend of friend?), but try to find something that mostly meets my needs and is at least not made of plastic. A possible better alternative than spending 60k. But them am I going to say to myself, "I wish I'd just spent the money to get what I really want" after living in a place that I'm almost-but-not-totally happy with for 10 years? Cost: 20-30k

6. Alternatives I am not considering: Sleeping in a tent in the meadow, selling RV and moving back into full-time urban condo dwelling existence, moving into a dorm room or cabin on campus (not enough privacy, decaying infrastructure, not warm enough).

7. Other possibly irrelevant information: My hippie forest lifestyle supported by the garage in the house I own in Tigard. I co-bought with a guy I met off of OKCupid last year and friendzoned. He is living in the garage and renting out the three rooms in the house. I appreciate his hustle. I am helping him insulate and install drywall next weekend. We are going to build a platform for his bed so mine can go under it (adult bunk beds, sorta, my bed is a murphy bed). So I have a place to stay and keep some stuff in urban-world when I want to go play in the city.

8. Forum questions:

What am I not considering? What are my blind spots? What other information should I have included or thought about? (Yes, I've thought about where I would park this if the hippy forest TV show doesn't work out).

Info for engaging with Reep:

1. Reep wants your feedback
2. Reep promises to listen to and consider feedback
3. Reep doesn't care if your feedback is on topic
4. Reep doesn't care how roughly you deliver your feedback (though it's helpful if it's legible)

Peace. Love. Rock 'n Roll.

Posts: 757
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by ertyu »

Well-wishes to reep in the quest for reep's very own tiny house.

I am a lazy person deep down, so my chosen option in your shoes would be (5). Why: cheaper and faster. You can start living in the tiny house right away and then modify if and when you feel you need to. Maybe you will find a house you're happy with? Maybe you'll find workarounds and what starts out to be a meh compromise option will be alright after all?

To be able to tell whether this is indeed the best option or whether I'm just optimizing for laziness: what needs of yours do you anticipate a standard tiny house won't be able to meet? What would you want it to have that you think it won't have? What would it have that you won't need? How much pain would it be to convert? Depends on the tiny house. So whatever else you choose to do, my advice would be to make a serious effort to find a suitable tiny house to buy outright. Maybe you will find one that is easily to modify.

Keeping my fingers crossed. I'm a tiny-attic-room type more than I am a tiny house type, but I have considered this question, too: what state of completion do I want my property to be in if I am to buy property. Being lazy, I will probably choose the finished option. Good luck finding your best house whichever way you get to it.

Posts: 206
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by bostonimproper »

I would go with #5. You never really know what you want out of a space and how you want to change it until you're in it. Also, desires aren't static, so it's hard to justify huge premium on the "perfect" thing if what's "perfect" changes over time. Lastly, quick transition to tiny house will decouple the issues with your RV from the things you want/need in a perfect place to live. As someone who's tried to renovate a place before moving in (not, like, physically myself but hiring others), combining "what do I want out of a home forever" and "oh my gosh, I need this done so I have somewhere to move in FAST because my current circumstances are unsustainable/have a timeline" is a recipe for extreme stress.

User avatar
Posts: 2506
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by C40 »

Option 5.

We are enough years into the Tiny houses being very popular that there are now many people who lived in theirs for a year or two and decided they want more space. With patience, access to a (rental) truck, and time to fly somewhere and drive one home, you could probably find one with a design you like and a low price.

Also if you wanna just rent a room in a house for a while, I know a hip/smart/cool gal in Portland who I just saw post an ad to rent a room in her house. $525/month I believe. Would only work if you dog is not super rambunctious and is nice to her really old dog. PM if you want details.

Site Admin
Posts: 12247
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by jacob »

#5 ... There is a market now, but how liquid is it. Can you sell again?

Alternatives might fall under #6, but a canvas wall tent (with a wood stove) for pioneer style living or a yurt for more upscale and slightly less but still mobile living.

Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:26 pm

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by BMF1102 »

What are you wanting out of a tiny house besides being able to reach the back of your cabinets?
-Indoor plumbing? Composting toilet?
-How do you want to get electricity? Solar? Shore power? (Like when you plug in your camper?) Or hard wired to the grid? Perhaps a combination with battery storage?
-How do you want to heat it... wood only? Or a back up electric/propane back up as well?

Okay so you don't want a sleeping loft. Do you want it to be comfortable for averaged sized vistors? Or designed strictly to fit your height? If you want it on a trailer and you're only 4'11" you could keep the ceilings really low which would help reduce windage, making it easier to tow. Also would make it easier to heat.

I'll echo the other replies. #5 seems like the best option in your sitiation. Common advice when buying a boat or home, find something that is mostly what you want then use it as is for a year or so before making any modifications. Good luck!

Posts: 2138
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by ffj »

I will be building a house starting the first quarter of next year. I made this offer to somebody ( can't remember the name) years ago but they bailed and it never materialized, but if you want to build one of these I can provide the tooling and space.


I am in Ky. This is not Portland, haha, and a long way from the West coast

I will be very busy with my own house, and the time to help you will be limited, but I can definitely show you how to do things

There is a deed restriction on mobile homes, which means that you would have to have a timetable to build it and remove it. Fortunately, nobody is going to enforce this rule, but I want the upper hand for future neighbors.

You have to have a way to pull it away once its done

On the plus side:

We could invite any ERE'er to come help you ( which would be fun )

It's fairly private but still close to main roads, so if you need anything it's a relatively short drive away

You can camp out on the property or I have a barn you can stay in. Soon I hope to have a shop built

You can see what I am doing on my house to get an idea of how this stuff works

Any tools or machinery would be available to you assuming I am not using it for myself

If anybody wants to learn how to shoot, we can do that all day. I've got the space

I would strongly look at buying a used one however (no. 5) near you first, as that is the most logical and potentially cost effective. You could easily build one of these things for much, much less here in Kentucky but you have to get it back to Oregon which would be expensive, so something to consider.

Posts: 1161
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:49 am
Location: Switzterland

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by Jean »

Do you already know where to Park it? Cause that's the most stressfull part of such endeavours to me.
If yes, then just buy a construction site roulotte for 3000. And you should bé able to make it nice and confy for a few thousand more in a few weeks. You're small, so you could insulate it a lot and still have enough width to lay down.
I'de start camping in it and then picture how to use thé Space.

George the original one
Posts: 5318
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by George the original one »

Purchasing someone's single-wide and moving it is probably less expensive than a tiny-home. They're large enough to gut a portion of the interior for renovation and still have someplace to live while the renovation is slowly being completed.

You definitely have more unique needs for your tiny home, enough that I don't think you'll find the right used one in the timeframe you're considering. No sleeping loft is the primary dealbreaker for a used tiny home.

Posts: 694
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:12 pm
Location: Netherlands/Austria

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by J_ »

Hi Reep, we met in Holland.
Condensation in your home (RV) is irritating. So you want a dry one.
Think harder what you want or you will continu change, your next home will have other manco's
Skills costs years but gives life long pleasure.
The first skill you seem to need is how to get dryness in your very new RV. Become the best in condensation controlling.
Condensation is a simple physical given. Make something very cold in your RV and condensation will concentrate there, let the condensd water go to outside. Make every other spot warmer by insulation. Become the best in ventilation control. You’ve got already some tips.

Posts: 2643
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by bigato »

Never plan aiming the “forever” because you can’t anticipate what it will actually be. During my 20’s I had a lot of notions of stuff that I want for the rest of my life, and I was so sure of those wants because they hadn’t changed through all of my adult life. Fast forward five years and so much had changed, specially due to circumstances exterior to me, that a lot of my choices made thinking on the “forever” were not optimal. The same can or cannot happen to you, we don’t know, but it’s smarter to plan for change instead. Like, if you actually use it for 5 or 10 years, consider it a huge success in the exercise of planning. You can find yourself doing something else in five years, can’t you? Something in which the tiny house does not fit. It’s not so far fetched.

I don’t understand enough of tiny houses to tell if not having a loft is a significant design handicap to start with, but I do know that you should not build something mobile now thinking on your future self from 30 years ahead or something. Come on, as you age you should really be counting on and preparing for being fully able bodied for at the very least 20 more years. And that’s really a big stretch to trust that a mobile home will last 20 years without needing to be mostly redone. I mean, roofs the way they are build around here usually have to be redone at most every 40 years, and that is for static homes which don’t need to be mobile and thus can be optimized for sturdiness. And movement will stress the materials.

So, maybe don’t commit so much of your money to this project.

Posts: 1504
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by classical_Liberal »

If you are not planning on moving the home too often (ie leaving it at this co-op place), then I'd go with the GTOO option. Tiny homes are cute and en vogue. You have to pay a huge markup up for aesthetics and cool social vibe. However, they really don't provide any real benefits over a small, old-school, single-wide trailer home.

The only real question is, how much is being considered a cool hipster vs trailer trash worth to you? Since you're on the West coast, maybe it's worth more to you than it is to me, which is about $0.

George the original one
Posts: 5318
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by George the original one »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:10 pm
The only real question is, how much is being considered a cool hipster vs trailer trash worth to you? Since you're on the West coast, maybe it's worth more to you than it is to me, which is about $0.
Believe she mentioned that quinoa acres has a say in the appearance and they may not like traditional singlewides, but then they do allow her modern travel trailer, so I don't know...

User avatar
Posts: 4809
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by Ego »

#2, buy supplies, tools and a yurt second-hand over the winter when they are cheap. In the spring advertise as a host on Workaway for a few people with carpentry experience to exchange five hours a day of work for yurt lodging and food.

Posts: 2018
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by GandK »

I wonder if you might consider sitting down with a tiny home designer/architect, putting your needs to plans, paying for that... and then going with an inexpensive build-it-yourself option? Example: you and an architect could choose a shell that most closely met your stated needs, then your peeps could help you work off plans the architect helped prepare for that shell. I'll bet doing that would save money and trouble in the end, plus give you the customization you're looking for.

Posts: 205
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by mooretrees »

I like option 3. You might be able to feel more confident about building/renovating something if you have concentrated time spent learning how to build. Also, I've know a number of people, DH included, who just started small and learned about building from a simple garage or a shed. Patience and time are the keys to that pathway. The people I've observed learning didn't make big progress quickly and made mistakes. I see my husband's satisfaction when he fixes something or builds something and I think that satisfaction is special.

I also echo bigato's observation about how your wants/desires change over time. Perhaps you're someone who can predict what you want better than I, but I am positive my 20, 30 and 35 year old selves would be shocked at my life now. Something to keep in mind and relax about finding a 'permanent solution.'

Posts: 1532
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by theanimal »

I watch A LOT of tiny house videos. Almost all of them say something along the lines of "I've never built anything before." I wouldn't underestimate yourself. With the right plans, you're doing math and following instructions. You've found your way to the ERE boards so I presume you're very intelligent. It'd be a challenge, but I think you'd be more than capable of building your own.

That's an awesome and very generous offer by @FFJ. I'd take him up on that if I lived about ~3000 miles closer. :)

User avatar
Posts: 2506
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by C40 »

It sounds like FFJ would be a good guy to, at some point, host an ERE workshop type gathering.

Go there, set up a little tent compound or barracks in the barn and:
- Build a tiny house (or two?)
- Fix that motorcycle that's in his garage
- Help with some projects around the property for him.
.... and....
- Some kinds of socialization / party / ceremonies / rituals
- Division of labor/responsibilities. Some structure of organization/leadership..
- Further ERE indoctrination
- Someone to start making a uniform (matching clothing) for everyone
- Some to grow the mushrooms
- Group meditation ceremonies
- Sex ritual parties / animal sacrifices / ERE Sage ordainment ceremonies
- Recruit young locals to join for harem-building..

and then the first ERE cult will exist :-D

Posts: 2018
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by GandK »

Might want to nix the mushrooms. Go down that road and his wild neighbors would move in.

User avatar
Posts: 2506
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Reep's Tiny House Dilemma

Post by C40 »

Maybe. But discretion and secrecy would be important tenants of an ERE cult. I mean, ERE Intentional Community.

Post Reply