December Tiny House Mixer at ADX

On Thursday night more than thirty people filled the loading dock at ADX for the December Tiny House Mixer. There was a great November Tiny House Mixer which I cross-posted about on

This Mixer was the debut of what I can only imagine will be an incredible partnership between ADX and Portland Alternative Dwellings. PAD is committed to educating, inspiring, and empowering people to create tiny homes of their own. ADX is a collective workspace for builders, makers, and tinkers. I think PAD and ADX go together like butter cookies and apple cider. Yummy!

It's awesome that PAD's upcoming Tiny House Basics Workshops, Tiny Chair Workshops, and Tiny House Mixers will be hosted at ADX. There is already one PAD Grad, the intrepid Ben Campbell, who has claimed a tiny house building spot at ADX and he’s well on his way to a wee home of his own. You can follow along (or better yet, help him build) by checking out Ben Builds a Tiny House.

At the Mixer, Joan Grimm welcomed the crowd and shared information about PAD’s newest products and services, including a holiday sale on plan sets, a series of winter and spring workshops (including Tiny House Basics in February and March and a Tiny Chair Workshop in January and February), and PAD’s new Consulting Partners program. Then Dee Williams gave a teaser for her soon-to-be-released book The Big Tiny and reminded everyone to explore our world with curiosity and wonder.

Then I invited up a series of guest speakers who had 2 minutes to share their 2 cents. Nathan Miller of All-Ways Electric and Ian Bruner of Bruner Plumbing offered information about their tiny house services. Then Karin Parramore described building her wee home, Serenity. Ben Campbell talked about his experience building his vardo at ADX and Whitney Johnson talked about her project to facilitate insurance options for tiny home owners. (If you’re a tiny homeowner, please take her survey!) Four of my students from the 2013 Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow attended the December Mixer from as far away as Boston. We think that's quorum - or at least a reunion!

After the mini-speeches Ben offered a tour of his tiny house in the ADX parking lot. Then there was much mixing and mingling next to the snack spread. There was talk about tiny parking spots available and discussion about which on-demand propane heaters are the best. Many tiny housers also swapped tales of frozen hose woe (Portland had an unusual cold snap this year which left most tiny house folks hauling water for a whole week!) It was, as always, fabulous to see so many connections being made and I'm already looking forward to the January Tiny House Mixer at ADX. Please register so you can join the fun!

Tiny House Plumbing Workshop Recap

On Monday, September 16th, 2013 Shelter Wise, Portland Alternative Dwellings, and Bruner Plumbing teamed up to teach Tiny House Construction Essentials: Plumbing Systems. This micro workshop was hosted by Shelter Wise and used the Salsa Box, which was constructed for the La Casa Pequena workshop at La Casa Verde green living festival in McMinneville in April.

The workshop started out with Ian Bruner of Bruner Plumbing providing some basic information about residential plumbing. Ian showed several of the material options and tools available for tiny house plumbing and demonstrated how to use them.

Next Derin of Shelter Wise provided some tips and tricks for plumbing a tiny house based on his lessons learned from constructing the Miter Box (which is now located at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel and has been nicknamed The Pearl), the Salsa Box, and the current custom home Shelter Wise is building.

Afterwards, I shared some considerations for tiny house plumbing based on my experience living in a travel trailer, an ADU, a yurt, and 2 tiny houses on wheels. I addressed what to look for in a supply hose, what to do if your hose freezes, and what some options are for potties. Participants had a chance to ask each of the instructors questions in a one-on-one format as they tried the various plumbing fittings and explored the Salsa Box.

In addition to learning about plumbing a tiny house, I also appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with some graduates of past PAD workshops, including Sherry, Benn, and Wade who are all currently building their own tiny houses and Jack who is just about to start. I also had the privilege of meeting some new tiny house enthusiasts and I'm excited to get to know them better through future workshops.

Naj Haus Wall Raising Work(shop) Party

This post is an excerpt from an epic post from Kate Goodnight's blog about the first two weeks of construction for Naj Haus. If you want to read the full post Blood, sweat, tears, blueberries, and the most awesome three walls ever, you can find it on Kate's informative and amusing blog. Thank you so much Kate for the opportunity to be part of your tiny house raising!

July 5: Hitting the nonexistent wall

So here I was, the day before the barn raising, and I had no walls to raise despite my best intentions. I can’t remember when I was last that tired. I started having visions of the six participants looking around the empty barn. “What?” I’d say, “can’t you see the walls? They’re right there. Look harder. They are very fine walls and we’re going to raise them up.” I still had some deluded idea of getting one or two walls built that day so went weaving down the highway back to Home Depot where I just stood staring at complicated hardware and the empty rack of sheathing before returning nearly empty-handed. I was so tired I thought I was going to throw up. Dee’s other work party had just wrapped up so we talked about how to adapt things. We (I) scaled way back on our (my) expectations and decided to focus on wall framing and if we were really lucky, get one or two walls raised. Finally letting go of what I had envisioned, I got in an hour nap before Dee and Lina Menard, the other PAD instructor, arrived, followed later by Keeva and Sam. We spent the evening marking out the stud positions on the subfloor and crashed early.

The big day finally had arrived. I had gotten some sleep so was feeling a bit better. Now I had to wrestle with my control issues. I have been all-consumed for the last many months with the design and planning of this tiny house and I was going to have to now let go. Here were six complete strangers with varying degrees of building experience about to start chopping away on my studs and hopefully framing up something resembling squared walls. As I greeted each one I was wondering how steady their hands were, how keen their eyes. Would I soon be hearing muffled cries of “whoops…oh well” and see the bubble in the level crammed up in one corner as it rested on my new Dr. Seuss walls?

But you know what? Each and every one there took immense care as they assembled the walls, treating them as if they were their own. The more seasoned builders helped out the less experienced ones and all were carefully overseen by Dee and Lina, both amazing instructors. Within the first hour, I had ceased to worry. In fact it was a relief to turn over the reins for a while and know that it was all being done up right.

And we had fun. We did the teacup stretch and ran crazily around the tiny house, then around the outside of the barn, snagging blueberries along the way. When we went to raise the long second wall, Sam G. put on the Ride of the Valkyries and the wall was lifted in place with great operatic flourish. To my utter astonishment, the rockstar team was able to get a third wall built. When it was raised in place, it initially looked like it wouldn’t fit under the top plate of the second wall. Sam G. climbed up on a ladder and gave it a couple good thumps with a hammer and it slid into place like an arm into its socket. What’s more it was perfectly square and plumb, which almost never happens. I was now feeling pretty sheepish about having doubted this wonderful crew. They are a bunch of beautiful, good-hearted human beings, setting off on their own tiny house journeys. Several talked about how empowered they now feel. I love that their energy is part of my house and hope that I can return the favor in some way.

PAD Tiny House Basics Workshop July 20-21, 2013

I'm excited to be teaching another PAD Tiny House Basics workshop with Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings on Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21. Here's are recaps of the February PAD Workshop and April PAD Workshop. Read on for details about this weekend's PAD Tiny House Basics Workshop.

Tiny House Basics Workshop: Introduction to Design & Building

July 20th & 21st, 2013, 9:00AM - 4:30 PM

Do you dream about building a tiny house? Our Tiny House Basics Workshop is comprehensive but entry-level, introducing you to the unique design and building principles that apply to a house on wheels. We'll address:

  • How to properly anchor a stick-built structure to a trailer
  • Moisture controls and ventilation
  • Electrical, gas, and water systems
  • Cultivating a home - the place and the people who make community
  • Navigating codes, insurance, and regulations

The workshop includes one full day and one half-day of classroom-style learning, followed by a half day Tiny House Tour where the topics we've discussed are brought to life.

Read more and register here!

La Casa Pequena Shell Constructed in 2 Days

la casa pequena On Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 I teamed up with Derin and Andra Williams of Shelterwise, and Dee Williams and Joan Grimm of Portland Alternative Dwellings to put on a 2-day building workshop to construct La Casa Pequena. The workshop was part of La Casa Verde green building festival in McMinnville, OR. (Stay tuned for lots more photos!)

With Derin’s dad DK and seven fantastic workshop participants from as far away as British Columbia, California, and Utah we built the shell of a tiny house on wheels in just 2 days! (Of course, Derin put many more hours into designing this wee abode and prepping the workshop so that everything was ready to go. Derin had the sheet metal pan installed in advance and two of the walls pre-built. Thanks for your meticulous planning, Derin!)

La Casa Pequena has a simple form with a shed roof, symmetrical sidewalls, and the short wall towards the tongue end of the trailer for aerodynamics. However, the wall system is quite sophisticated since Derin is an expert in energy efficiency. He’s a stickler for building excellent wall systems so we included building science lessons along with construction tips. (You don't have to take my word for it! You can read Angela Ramseyer's and Dee Williams' recap of the workshop, too!)

The tiny house was constructed on a 12-foot long trailer custom built by Iron Eagle Trailers. (Read more about Rob and Iron Eagle Trailer in Trailer Lust.) We started out Day 1 by securing the floor box into the trailer frame with ½ inch bolts through the sidewalls of the trailer and insulating the space between the joists.

Next we finished constructing the frame, using one of the sidewalls as a template for the other. The workshop participants had varying levels of familiarity and comfort with speed squares, impact drivers, and saws, so we shared tricks for building in a safe and smart way.  By the end of the first day we had raised the four walls and secured them to the trailer and to each other with HTT tension ties and fastener plates.

We raised the roof at the beginning of Day 2 with the help of a few folks from Casa Verde booths. Together we hoisted the roof system up onto the walls and secured it with hurricane ties. Once the roof was in place we wheeled La Casa Pequena into the middle of the Casa Verde celebration. We wrapped the house in drain wrap and stapled it in place with plastic washers. (This house has its sheer panels on the inside so we installed the house wrap directly onto the studs without sheathing it first.) Then Tate from Dupont demonstrated how to install a window, using flexible flashing. (Dupont donated the housewrap and flashing for this build. Thanks Dupont!)

Installing windows is my favorite part of the construction of a tiny house shell because it add so much personality to the structure. All of the sudden the house comes alive. In this case it was also exciting to install the windows because we were able to wrap up the workshop once the last window was installed.

Throughout the summer La Casa Pequena will serve as a demo house for micro workshops on plumbing, electrical, and interior finishes. Stay tuned for more information. Meanwhile, we’re switching gears to prep for our upcoming PAD Tiny House Design Workshop next weekend!

La Casa Pequena Tiny House Construction Workshop

Here is a note from Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) regarding our upcoming La Casa Pequena construction workshop. I am so excited to participate in this workshop. Please join us if you're able!

We are super excited to let you know about our upcoming (first of the season!) hands-on tiny house construction workshop: La Casa Pequena. 

During this 2-day intensive building workshop you will construct the shell of a tiny house, including building the floor frame, installing insulation, framing the walls, sheathing the assembly, wrapping the house, installing windows, and anchoring to the trailer.  You will experience the building of many of the major components of a super tight tiny house.

Every workshop participant will receive personal attention and instruction from our tiny house construction experts: Dee Williams of PADDerin Williams of Shelter Wise, and Lina Menard of Niche Consulting. Whether you’ve never used a power tool or you’re a seasoned builder looking for tiny house building experience, this weekend workshop will provide you the experience and community you need to take the next step toward tiny.

There are only 15 spots and we expect it to fill fast, so register today! 

La Casa Pequena Tiny House Building Workshop will be April 19-20th, 2013, held during Cellar Ridge Construction’s annual La Casa Verde Earth Day Festival in McMinnville, Oregon. To sign up, register on the PAD website Keep in touch with us about your tiny house journey via email, Facebook, the PAD website, or an old-fashioned phone call.

Best regards, Team PAD Dee, Joan, Derin, Andra and Lina PAD Tiny Houses  | < |  503.381.9083

Partnering with Portland Alternative Dwellings

PAD Partners A few months ago Dee Williams and Joan Grimm of Portland Alternative Dwellings gave me the heads up that they would be restructuring their company. With Katy Anderson, PAD had been doing design and building work for tiny houses, but Katy has moved on to other projects so Dee and Joan decided to focus on workshops, education, and consulting for tiny houses and pocket communities. Check out the new PAD Tiny Houses website!

I was delighted when PAD Tiny Houses asked me to join them as a Consulting Partner and a team teacher for some of their workshops. In partnership with PAD I’ve already had the opportunity to do consultations with several folks dreaming about tiny houses. They live across town (howdy, Cully!), across the country (hello, New England), and around the world (cheers, Australia!) It’s really exciting to have Dee Williams to bounce ideas off and double-check my work as I do concept and schematic design work.

PAD has also partnered with Derin and Andrea Willimas of Shelter Wise, a tiny house building and energy-efficiency consulting company. We had a great time presenting together last fall at the Build Small, Live Large Summit, which got us talking about working together in a more intentional way.

Today all of us gathered to discuss our working relationships and scheme about shrinking the world. We’re excited about the upcoming Tiny House Workshop later this month (join us!), building a tiny house at the Casa Verde festival in April, and participating in the first ever Tiny House Fair hosted by Yestermorrow Design-Build School in Vermont in June 2013. Stay tuned as we carry out our plans to make the world a better place, one tiny house at a time!

PAD Tiny House Workshop in February

  PAD Building Workshop

PAD Tiny House Design Workshop February 23 & 24, 2013 (9am-4:30pm) Historic Kenton Firehouse

Are you dreaming of building your own tiny house on wheels but don't know where to start?  Are you wondering what other people are doing and how to avoid common pitfalls?

If so, join Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) for a two-day workshop packed with information about how to securely anchor a stick-built structure to a trailer, control moisture, and properly ventilate your tiny house. We’ll discuss electrical, gas, and water system design options, finding a place to park, and how to cultivate a place to call “home.”

You’ll also get a chance to tour POD49, a pocket community that includes a tiny house.

Cost is: $325 for 2 Day event/$175 for 1 Day. Deadline to register is Feb. 9, 2013. Space is limited.

To find out more and to register, visit the PAD Tiny Houses website.