From infatuation at first sight… to floor!

I’ve been in love with the idea of tiny houses since my mom showed me a newspaper article with Jay Shafer and his original Epu about a dozen years ago. I pored over Tumbleweed floor plans on the website, trying to decide which one was perfect for me. I got absolutely giddy over tiny appliances, tiny sinks, tiny spice jars. I cheered as the tiny house movement grew and more people chose to resist the pull (or push?) to keep up with the Joneses in the 5,000-sf monstrosity next door. In short, just thinking about tiny houses made me happy. But I wasn’t entirely sure what I would DO with one. Did I need a guest house? A vacation home? I had a 12-acre farm with a cozy, almost-completely-renovated 1,000-sf home and a fantastic 4-stall barn with indoor riding arena. I have always wanted a farm, and I loved mine! Until… I started adding up what owning it was costing me, both in money and in time, and all I could see ahead was a terrific “get into debt” plan. And it wasn’t always fun doing a lot of the work by myself, or having to call on my generous (but long-suffering) parents to give up another of their Saturdays to help me with some project or other. So… then comes November 5, 2011. I’m doing my daily meditation practice when the answer comes, so clearly and rightly that I haven’t questioned it since: Sell The Farm, Build the Little House. Whoa. The farm is on the market two months later.

Fast forward about 15 months (ugh to the housing market downturn), and the farm is no longer mine. The little house, by now already dubbed “Casa Chica” by the Design Team (me, my designer friend and my builder friend), is still very vaguely on paper, so I’m housesitting around. My stuff has been widely dispersed to relatives, Goodwill, Craigslist buyers, etc. and everything I own is in about 20 plastic bins in my parents’ basement. Fast forward again to now, and after about six housesitting gigs and a two-month stint in a yurt I’m still in much the same situation. Except! I’m renting a room at a friend’s house, and Casa Chica is no longer a figment of my imagination (and Sketchup)! It Is Begun.

The Casa Chica design started as a Tumbleweed knock-off, especially after the Design Team attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Madison, WI. After several iterations, we settled on a design influenced heavily by the Tall Man’s Tiny House without the bump-in entry, dormer or sleeping loft (I want to be able to stand up in my bedroom). We also decided to throw maximum road width to the wind and have made it 10 feet wide. It’s 27 feet long, mostly because that was the length of the used trailer I found on Craigslist.

I’ll add posts later about other design and material decisions that have been made, especially as they relate to designing for the cold winters here in western Wisconsin. I’ve found only a handful of people who are planning to live year-round in their tiny house in similar conditions, and I’ve learned a lot from what they’ve shared. I want to add to that body of information, and I plan to keep posting after I’ve moved in about what works and what doesn’t. But for now: there’s a floor!

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