To Do This Summer: Build a Tiny House

In this recession, companies aren't the only ones who should be downsizing. Trading in a McMansion for less spacious accommodations may not be your decision, but if it has to happen, you might as well make sure your new abode is humble -- and cool. But even if you're just looking for a shabby-chic tool or writing shed, you can dream bigger, er, more interesting...
Basic resources, plans, and workshops after the jump... [image via Tiny House Blog] That's the Igloo Satellite Cabin. Pretty nifty.
mini goog.jpg
Only requires assembly.
But why not go for the gold and create the mini-house of your dreams? You can pay any number of these companies to create a basic set of plans. One option that appeals to the lazy guy in me is to get someone to build the timber framing for you, then just fill in the blanks. Kind of like paint-by-numbers, only with a lot more sweat. And possibly blood and tears. Or you can swipe any number of the free plans and PDFs posted to Tiny House Design. (all you have to do is agree to hang a CC license logo in the window*). I'm not going to advocate you build a "Earthbag" house, mainly because it involves living amongst dozens of dirt bags, but go ahead if that appeals to you. [insert joke about deep V-neck tees here] If you want more guidance than a book, photos and web links. Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed hosts $200+ one- and two-day workshops across the country that are supposed to be helpful, especially for beginners (via This Tiny House). Here's one guy who learned to build a "tiny house on wheels" and swears by Tumbleweed (note: it is not me). Upcoming Tumbleweed Workshops:
  • Vancouver, BC - May 9 & 10
  • Boulder, CO - May 30 & 31
  • Chicago, IL - June 6 & 7
  • New York, NY - June 13 & 14
  • Indianapolis, IN - July 11 & 12
  • Washington, DC - Aug 8 & 9
  • Seattle, Washington - Sep 12 & 13
  • San Francisco, CA - Oct 10 & 11
*No you don't. I made that up.
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16 Responses to To Do This Summer: Build a Tiny House

  1. Elvis Pelt says:

    When I’ve been downsized into a cardboard box (soon!) I’m going to insist on drinking Old Milwaukee.

  2. nutbastard says:

    my whole thing with the tiny houses: i haven’t seen one with proper plumbing. i mean, come on i need only the following: A bed, electricity, toilet, shower, and a little tiny fridge. Grill outside. what good is my own tiny house if i have to go somewhere else to shit?

  3. artbot says:

    Why are tiny camping trailers without wheels called houses?

  4. haineux says:

    All the tiny houses have a toilet INSIDE THE SHOWER.

    Yes, this is not as convenient as a “real house” but it cuts the size of the bathroom in half. And the shower door seals off the smell.

    But by all means, you can find more generous “tiny house” plans and just add a toilet in a corner somewhere.

  5. jimkirk says:

    The apple hut and igloo cabin remind me…back in the 60s there was a TV show called “The 21st Century” with Walter Cronkite. Sponsored by Union Carbide, they had some terrific commercials.

    In one, they show a crew half-inflating a weather balloon. Next a guy sprays expanding polyurethane foam. Another crew with chain saws cut a few rectangles in the shell, and a door and a couple windows are installed.

    Insulated shelter in under an hour.

  6. jjasper says:

    Used Volksagon van – $4000

    Portable camping toilet – $50

    Portable solar heated hot water shower – $50

    Portable gas powered grill – $35

    All available on ebay. Modding to sleep in them plus adding power ports should cost about another $1000 tops, which is still cheaper than any of these tiny houses.

    They’re cute, but they’re not an answer to real questions about the recession. They’re toys for the upper middle class. Fun toys. Pretty toys. They even look humble, unless you stop have to think about it.

  7. nutbastard says:


    you can do essentially the same thing with a pile of earth and cement. just pour it over, let it set, and dig out the dirt. throw some rebar in halfway through. it’s not insulated, of course, but that’s trivial to rectify.

  8. dculberson says:

    Re: the CC logo; I lol’d. I actually thought you were serious and it didn’t seem like a bad idea.

  9. strider_mt2k says:

    I knew the Russians were looking for places to market those leftover Soyuz capsules!

    Tell me you wouldn’t look natural camping out next to this thing in an environment suit with a four-day beard while you wait for the helicopters?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hats off to JJasper.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

  12. Joel Johnson says:

    I’ve lived among dirt bags, myself. I don’t recommend it, although you do get used to the Natural Ice.

  13. Hellblazer says:

    Can’t believe this isn’t already here —

    “I just wanna make an omelette!”

  14. Rodney says:

    I left the North
    I traveled South
    I found a tiny house
    And I can’t help the way I feel

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think the Apple Hut is based on the ship from ET.

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