Questions and Answers
Living and building tiny is curious to folks and thus I get asked many a fine question. These questions inspired me to put together this clearing house page. Here I will cover everything from my tiny home philosophy to the nuts and bolts of construction. If you don't see your question here email me and I will answer it and add it to the collection.
Philosophy of Being a Full Time Tiny Dweller and Builder
Why I live in a tiny home?
I built Snails Away to protect the integrity of my empathetic nature as I glean ideas from the world, digest, and share. I greatly enjoy having a mobile space that lets me sketch different lives. My home is also an inspirational container for fellow humans to dream of there own spaces, which on occasion I have the honor of building.
Do I like living this way?
I adore it most of the time, though occasionally I get lonely and do miss having a bigger kitchen..
Why I build with only natural materials?
Snails Away is a blending of conventional building techniques and natural materials to produce a reasonably built structure that is near too chemical free. I feel healthy, beautiful structures are paramount to being a happy human.
What got me started in living tiny?
My first tiny home was an 8' by 8' cabin called Shackteau which I built to learn to play fiddle. This process of learning and instrument is called shedding and I shed many a fowl note in that dusty snug home. That space greatly inspired the music studio portion and overall feel of my current tiny home, Snails Away.
What will change if you have a family?
At present it is just me though partnership already has me desiring a bigger space. I expect if I were to have children I would certainly want a bigger home, though I expect that home may very well be flanked by tiny studios.
What are the challenges that you face living in your particular house?
Hands down the biggest challenge I have in living tiny is finding long term, stable places to park that are well suited for parking my passive solar home. Beyond that it is just the day to day maintaining of a home.
Tell me the funniest/most interesting story that relates to your house.
This is a big question but one particular thing people seem to love is that the roof line on the back of the house was made based on the shoulder of the fiddle and thus where my home gets its subtitle "the fiddlin snail".
Nuts and Bolts of Tiny Homes in Particular To My Own Home Snails Away
What are the overall dimensions of your house?
Snails Away is 16' long, 8' 5" wide, and 13' 3' tall. The width and height were chosen to stay within the legal dimensions road dimension of most states, 8'6" by 13'6". Any bigger and I would need a wide load permit, which in all honesty is not that hard to get and certainly not a deal breaker for deciding you want a bigger home.
Can you talk about the foundation?
Snails Away is built on a 16' car trailer with two 3,500 pound axles for a total capacity of 7,000 pounds. I bought this trailer used and recommend if possible that you get a new trailer.
Tell me about the walls.
The walls are typically framed 2x4 and 2x6 with sheeps wool insulation from Black Mountain. The north wall is an extension of the roof to provide strength for the structure. The walls are stiffened with let-in bracing. The exterior is 3/4" Poplar, Cherry, and Maple car siding that I harvested from my farm and had processed by the Amish. The wall system is called a rain screen and allows air to move all around the exterior siding. The interior is comprised of specially cut 5/16" siding to reduce weight and consists of Poplar, Maple, Cherry, White Oak, Red Oak, and Cedar.
Tell me about the roof.
The roof is reclaimed mini-corrugated steel from an old out building. The panels were straightened out using a socket and a hammer. The panels were then joined end to end using rivets to increase their overall length. The roof extends from the front of the structure down the back, north wall. This design provides a seamless roof and north wall, while providing increased torsion strength to the entire structure.
Tell me about the windows/doors.
The windows are reclaimed from a local window supplier and the habitat re-store. All of the windows are operable wood crank outs. I have found that it is important in small spaces that all windows be operable. I built the door from hickory I harvested from my family farm. The tempered high efficiency glass was purchased from a local windows dealer.
How do you heat/cool your house?
Most cooling is passive and provided by parking in shade and opening/closing windows at the appropriate time; however, I used a window AC unit in the summer. The heat is electric supplemented by passive solar.
What are your bathing/toilet facilities like?
There is a full size tub and a composting toilet that pulls in from the outside through the wall when needed.
Tell me about your kitchen.
The kitchen has a table that seats two and extends to six. Cooking is done on a electric skillet or in a large toaster oven.