Artisan Tiny House

Ordering Our T42 SIPs Kit

T42 SIPs Kit Shops A month ago today I sent the model for T42 (the tiny house Isha and I are building together) to Patrick of Artisan Tiny House so that it could be turned into a SIPs kit. Patrick knew this project was coming down the pipe so he was ready for it. When I said it was on the way he said, "Great! Let's get this wrapped up today or tomorrow!" I was all for THAT!

But we had some back and forth and it was finally Tuesday, almost a full month later, that we signed off on our shop drawings and sent our SIPs into production. This was due to three main factors:

  • The construction season is ramping up again and Premier, the SIPs manufacturer we work with in this area, is getting busier each week. They also had a couple people out due to unforeseen circumstances like jury duty and illness, so their turn around time slowed down.
  • Despite all I know about SIPs - which helps me make simple designs for my clients that are more affordable and easier to build - I can't seem to resist designing more complicated structures for my own tiny house projects. The Lucky Penny's walls went up in just an hour and a half on my SIPs Wall Raising Day, but the complicated curved roof with a skylight took another 6 weeks to complete! With T42, we have a set of windows high up in the wall, so Patrick, Matt, and I all spent time back at the drawing board figuring out how to turn my design into a set of SIPs panels. "SIPs aren't magic, just the next best thing," Patrick reminded me. Lesson remembered! The easiest way to get a SIPs kit is definitely to use one of the Artisan templates. (And, of course, it's always fun for me when my clients want to work with me to ensure that their tiny house shell will match their interior layout and suit their lifestyle!)
  • Just before we were about to order the SIPs, I spoke at the Tiny House Conference in Asheville, NC and I sang the praises of SIPs for tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) as I usually do. As usual, I had several people ask about toxicity and I explained that despite the fact that SIPs have one or two chemicals listed on the Red List (depending on the composition of the panels), even the Living Building Challenge - the world's strictest green building standard - approves SIPs for use in green buildings because they provide such good energy efficiency and the Red Listed chemicals are currently required by law to meet fire safety standards. But it got me thinking critically about this building system I love again and I pressed Patrick to get me some updated information about our options.

a photo from the Energy Vanguard article shows off SIPs made with GPS foam

Fortunately, Patrick shared an update that Premier has introduced a new SIPs option that uses GPS (graphite polystyrene) foam, which has a higher R-value per inch AND has swapped the previously used toxic halogenated flame retardant that was Red Listed for a poly flame retardant. (Stay tuned for more info on this product, but for now, please check out Neopor, which is the U.S. version of a product that has been used in Germany for many years now and read this post from Energy Vanguard). We also confirmed that the flame retardants are a hazard to us only if they're burning. We know that we can use a respirator when cutting the SIPs to accommodate the wheelwell, so that concern is easily addressed. (And if the house itself is on fire, we've got bigger fish to fry!) So we all breathed a sigh of relief and specified the GPS foam for this project. Patrick even agreed to cover the price difference for this one project since we agreed to be his guinea pigs for a new product. Despite the frustrations, we're both appreciative that we've had some learning opportunities. This is why I continue to do projects with Patrick: he's a generous and upstanding guy who wants to do right by people!

Patrick and Matt also figured out a solution to address my crazy SIPs layout and Patrick offered to come help us puzzle-piece it together during our SIPs Wall Raising Build Blitz. It will be great to have his expertise for this exciting wall raising scheduled for mid-May, which is just under 5 weeks away! If you'd like to join us, too, please claim your spot in the T42 Build Blitz!

Tiny House Jamboree 2015

2015-08-07 15.17.49 What an incredible weekend! In April, when Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios first invited me to speak with her about tiny house communities at the Tiny House Jamboree, there were 3,500 people signed up to attend. By the time she and I connected in the Denver airport and drove to Colorado Springs, there were 11,000 people pre-registered. So we figured a third of those folks would show up and that would be the largest number of tiny house enthusiasts ever in one place at one time. Little did we know. (No pun intended!) Turns out those of us who find tiny houses irresistible are in good company! By the time the three-day event wrapped up more than 40,000 people had passed through the gates of the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (which hosted the Jamboree)!

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And what a great crowd! There was incredible energy since everyone I talked to was curious, excited, and exploratory. The tiny house curious folks were just beginning to dabble in the tiny house scene. The tiny house enthusiasts came with sketch books, cameras, and tape measures so they could get serious about their design ideas. One woman even showed up, checkbook in hand, ready to take a leap of faith into the little life! I met people from nearly every state and a few other countries. (Oh hey, #famousfrieda!)

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On Saturday morning during our presentation, Lee and I shared 5 Models for Tiny House Communities and 5 Steps to Create a Tiny House Community. I also got to watch and listen as other presenters shared their expertise. Molly Orendorff shared clever tips for decluttering, Damon from Trailer Made explained tiny house foundation fundamentals, Kai Rostcheck of Tiny House Dating played matchmaker for a tiny house dating game, Zack Giffin of Tiny House Nation described the increasing interest in the little life, and so much more! I even got to watch as Andrew Odom performed a vow renewal ceremony for a couple’s ten year anniversary. (And the best part? Their three year old held my hand! Eep!)

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Part of the time I tabled with Patrick from Artisan Tiny House, who created my SIPs kit and kits for two sets of clients whose houses we put up this spring. Part of the time I tabled with some other great folks who designed and built their own homes and are now helping others do the same: Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios, Alek Lisefski of The Tiny Project, Vina Lustado of Sol Haus Design, and BA Norrgard of A Bed Over My Head. When I wasn’t tabling, speaking, listening to speakers, or exploring the tiny houses, I had great conversations with great people: Gabriel Craft of Small and Tiny Home Ideas, Gabriella Stupakoff Morrison and Andrew Morrison of hOMe and Tiny House Build, Byron and Dot Fears from Simblissity, James Taylor from The Company Store on Wheels and Orlando Lakefront at College Park (an RV park turned tiny house community) and hundreds of others!

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Yesterday I spent the day with Robin, a design client of mine here in Denver. In addition to identifying next steps for her house, she also took me to see Wee Casa and invited me to speak at the Denver Tiny House Enthusiasts Meet Up. That was oodles of fun, too!

It’s thrilling to see so many people exploring intentional living through tiny houses. I don’t think the timing could be better for Ramping Up Niche Consulting LLC. I’m honored to have been part of the first Tiny House Jamboree. We’re hoping that as soon as Darin Zaruba of EcoCabins (and his team - hey, Angela Alcorn, Coles Whalen, and Marcus Alvarado!) have a chance to get some sleep they’ll decide to host the second annual Tiny House Jamboree. I’ve already marked my calendar for the first weekend of August in 2016. See you there!


Tiny House SIPs Wall Raising Workshop

Lina & John with SIPsThink you might want to build your tiny house with SIPs? Ready for some practical, hands-on building experience? Want to have fun and feel empowered to build your own wee abode?  I'm teaming up with Angela Ramseyer of MightyMicroBuilt to lead a 2-day SIPs Wall Raising Workshop the weekend of April 25-26, 2015 in Vancouver, WA (near Portland, OR).

In this two day workshop we will show you how to properly construct the shell of a tiny house using a Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) kit from Artisan Tiny House. You'll learn how to use a variety of hand tools and power tools as we install floor panels, wall panels, and roof panels for a tiny house on wheels.

Space is limited, so claim your spot in the 2-day SIPs Wall Raising Workshop.