How a 21 Year Old Student is Building a Tiny House and Wowing Me!

I don’t know about you guys, but I can assure you that at 21 years old, sustainable living, gardening and living simply was not what my 21 year old brain was focused on. That is a sad truth that I must live with. I figured all is not lost and though its taken years, I finally get it. I finally get that what is important in life is not what sits in our closet, or the car I drive, or the amount of money spent on stuff. What truly matters is family, love, humility, community, kindness, generosity, God, the planet. All things that don’t cost anything but have tremendous life enhancing value. This is my goal, to live a life where stuff does not dictate my joy or peace. A life where I will be more connected to people, service, community and writing. A simpler tinier richer life.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a pillager nor was I someone who spent my days in a mall. Well, except when I spent 15 years in retail which I can tell you, were painful. I never understood the days when we had a One Day Sale and people would line up outside the closed doors hours before so that they could purchase “stuff.” To this day I find it incredibly disturbing when people camp outside of stores overnight, just to get the biggest television. I don’t get it. Don’t get me started on Black Friday! What is that? Bizarre and unconscious, that’s what it is.

So, hence, my absolute awe of Sarah. A friend of mine was in Massachesetts on vacation and see’s an ad in a diner, while having lunch that said, “Got land for my Tiny House?”- on that ad, is the story of a young woman who is building a tiny house as her thesis for Architectural Studies at Mount Holyoke College and seeking land to put it on after it is complete. My friend snaps a photo of the ad and sends it to me. Immediately I am excited and email Sarah, who kindly shares her story with me and invites me up to visit her tiny house on the school campus where she was granted permission to build until graduation day. This was her first building experience and WOW, what a job she did. She did have some help – her father would drive down every weekend for almost a year and work with her on her project. She also had some local sponsors but she did most of the work along with her dad. She quickly became one of my heroes.

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I went to visit Sarah on a beautiful day in April with my friend Bob, who happens to also be an architect. Her home was not yet completed, she had gotten as far as wrapping the exterior and some of her electrical was wired. Her bedroom which was genious, as she had a gooseneck trailer (which was purchased used on craigslist), allowed for a light and spacious room with a wonderful huge window, that was not in a loft like many tiny houses, was finished. Her windows were purchased from a local restoration site and she used many recycled materials to build. I was in awe not only of her beauty, both outward and inner, but at her youth and vision and the fact that she designed her own home at 21. Mind blowing to me. No offence but I have never met any 21 year old who was that together. Heck, I don’t know many adults who are that together and actually “get it!”

Going to Sarah’s open house was another confirmation that I was doing this. I remember walking into her house and thinking, “wow this is huge.” When you see a tiny house and think it is huge, well I think that is a sign that you are ready to live tiny. You have no preconceived ideas of wanting more of anything. The more tiny houses I see, the more I know that a 20 footer is perfect for me.

Bob and I hung around talking to other people who were there for the open house and that is how I met Doreen, an artist and art teacher who lives in Rhode Island who is also in the planning stages of building a tiny house. Doreen and I hit it off and have since then developed a beautiful tiny house friendship. We were all so impressed with Sarah’s journey and her immence tenacity. She inspired us! We all left having made a new friend, some connections and another validation that yes, we can do this. We can live Tiny.

I am going to visit Sarah in her now finished tiny house in her new location in August. I have seen photos of her amazing new home site and I can only say that it is going to be a treat. Stay tuned!

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Austin: Food, Music, Murals and oh yeah…Tiny Homes

I am so lucky to have a sister and brother-in-law who live in the wonderful city of Austin, TX. Not only do I have a great place to visit but also a wonderful awesome family who indulges my search for Tiny Homes. As soon as I land and by soon I mean by the airport exit, my sister happily says, “I have to take you to The Noble Pig“. Whaaat??? Pork belly and fried egg, yup! Let me just say that my sis feeds me something awesome and fabulous as soon as I get off the plane.

chicken tenders (Franks Hot Dogs)

chicken tenders (Franks Hot Dogs)

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Incredible Dog @ Franks

Incredible Dog @ Franks

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Ah Delicious

Ah Delicious

image imageI have digressed because Austin food is amazing. Not only are they known for food trucks but they have amazing music festivals(Austin City Limits). And, if you need a really good walk (or if you are like my sister and need to reach 25,000 steps on your fitbit), well you can walk miles and miles and miles searching the many murals of Austin. Make sure to bring some ice water (for those wonderful HOT days) or grab a snow cone along the way.

So, back to my visit to Austin – other than food, music and murals, Austin has an amazing tiny thing going on. My sister and brother-in-law, though their home is far from tiny, indulge me and support me in my tiny home enthusiasm. So, when I share with them that we must go seek out a local tiny house builder – Bo Bezdek, my sister drives me to go find Bo. At first, we thought; we must absolutely be in the wrong place as we were on a dirt road that google maps happily put us on. But, as we drive past a big gate, I scream “STOP, I see it” –  two tiny houses in the back of what appeared to be a home. There is a number in the front and I call and leave a message. My sister, brother-in-law and I go grab a bite (of course we do) and Bo calls me back and even though it is late, he kindly invites us over to view the tiny homes he’s working on.

Bo and his lovely wife greet us at the gate along with their dogs and cats and gladly give us a tour. He explained that he was working on several projects. His office, he built from mostly recycled materials was his first building on the property to be built in a sustainable fashion. He explained that prior to building tiny homes, he was in the business of building big homes. He had another vision. A vision for a more sustainable and simpler life. Bo and his wife are currently building a tiny home on this same property for their family of five.

He then took us further into his property where he was working on two tiny homes, one was about a 14 foot home that someone started but realized they could not finish. It was TINY! Then he showed us one that a young couple asked him to build, with plans that they purchased from another company. Bo tweaked the plans to meet the couples needs and their own design ideas. I can tell you that Bo is building that house for about half of what it would have cost to have another company build it. He explained electrical and plumbing things to me. He also shared that a side entrance gives you much more floor space. He shared the practicality of using certain materials as opposed to others. He told me to research local kitchen, window and door companies, who will sometimes sell materials for a lesser cost because they could not use it on a particular job and now were stuck with it. Some great tips and things to consider!  Stay tuned to HGTV where in July, Bo and this tiny house will be featured. He is an incredible talent. If you are in the vicinity of Austin and are planning to build a tiny home or are just thinking about it, please check him out at Austin Tiny Homes.

I can tell you one thing that I have found about this movement; people are gracious and always willing to talk to you about the process of going tiny. I have found most people to be so generous with their time and knowledge.

A special thanks to my sis and brother for not only supporting me and driving me around, but for being especially inquisitive along with me. A special thank you to my sister who, may think I am slightly crazy because her closet is about the size of my dream home, but, her husband secretly would love to live in a tiny house 🙂

Stay tuned for my next post; Austin Tiny Home Community that Rocks!