tiny house community

My Journey to Tiny Cohousing

My Journey to Tiny Cohousing

Here at our tiny cohousing community, Going Places, we all share the main floor of the common house, which has a kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, and a flexible space called the Req Room (you Harry Potter fans out there know what we're talking about!) In addition to all this shared space, we also have two tiny houses on the property, The Lucky Penny and Tiny for Two (T42), which act as detached bedrooms.

Earth Day Texas Recap

Earth Day Texas Recap

his past weekend I had the opportunity to teach two sessions of the Tiny House Collaborative Tiny House Community & Zoning Workshop at Earth Day Texas (EDTx) in Dallas, Texas. Lee and I co-taught since BA was the coordinator for the tiny house village at the event.

A Tiny House Whirlwind

Christian Parsons of  Tiny House Expedition  snapped this shot of the Tiny House Conference.

Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition snapped this shot of the Tiny House Conference.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of tiny house events on both coasts! Four weeks ago today I was headed to the East Coast for Tiny House 101 in DC. Three weeks ago today I was on my way to Vermont to teach Tiny House Design-Build at Yestermorrow. During the 2-week course we constructed the shell of a tiny house on wheels for a fellow named Nick who, at 26 years old, is super clever about establishing housing stability and flexibility. I wish I had been so wise at that age! During the evenings we had studio time to explore tiny house design considerations and students worked on creating their own tiny house designs. If you'd like a sense of the day-by-day flow of this course, you can check out previous posts about Tiny House Design-Build.

We wrapped up there a week ago tomorrow and I flew across the country again to be back home in time to speak at the Tiny House Conference, which was in Portland this year. I've been at all four of the Tiny House Conferences now and it's neat how it alternates between the East Coast and the West Coast. I spoke about Tiny House Community on Saturday and then facilitated the Open Space session on Sunday. During the rest of the time I joined Track C, a new addition to the Conference this year for those of us who are already living or building tiny. It was fun to have conversations about the future of the movement and to swap stories of our biggest mistakes! The Conference is always a great opportunity to connect with fascinating folks from all over the place and I look forward to hearing updates about people's tiny house journeys!

On Monday BA Norrgard and I led a Tiny House Community & Zoning Workshop through the Tiny House Collaborative. We explored various tiny house community models, discussed zoning challenges and opportunities, and laid out some steps (and tips) for creating tiny house community. We were fortunate to have an awesome venue at the Cully Grove Common House so we were able to talk about creating community in the community living room of a very cool community! We also had some special guests join us, including Alexis Deharts Stephens of Tiny House Expedition who (along with her partner Christian) has probably visited every tiny house community in the country! We also had a panel discussion with four community members from two different tiny cohousing communities in Portland. Thanks again, Tony, Karin, Lori and Kyra! It was fun to show people our tiny house community and to have Pam Westra show off three of the tinies at Tiny Digs, Portland's other tiny house hotel. (I've written about Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel in the past and I love that tiny houses are so popular in Portland that we now have TWO tiny house hotels!)

On Tuesday I attended the Build Small Coalition meeting, which is a reconvened group previously dubbed the Space-Efficient Housing Working Group. This is Portland's collection of professionals working to support tiny houses, ADUs, micro apartments, and other space-efficient creative housing solutions. It was great to see familiar faces and hear their updates as well as meeting new folks who are taking on neat projects. I look forward to seeing what we accomplish this coming year!  I have a hunch it's going to be another big year for small homes!

Creating a New Tiny Cohousing Community

Creating a New Tiny Cohousing Community

A week ago today my fiance Isha and I got the keys to our new home and we're eager to tell you all about it! We had this vision in mind but we didn't expect that we'd manifest it so quickly! A couple months ago Isha spotted a property that seemed to meet our criteria. It was a beautifully renovated 1920s home with the possibility of creating a functional ADU, a fenced yard with garden beds, and we already knew some of the neighbors. So we checked it out, decided it would be an awesome fit, and placed an offer. Everything came together so quickly we were afraid to jinx it. Indeed at a few points we didn't think it was going to work out, so we were keeping it on the down-low. But it did work out in the end. 

Tiny Tours Near Asheville

cheers to living in 120 square feet!

I'm spending this week following the Tiny House Conference in Asheville, NC and working alongside fellow work-from-homers, Matt & Laura LaVoie. The past couple days they've been gracious enough to also take me on a couple of tiny house tours.

On Monday we drove to High Cove in Mitchell County, NC, about an hour northeast of Asheville. High Cove is an intentional community that a couple dozen households are creating on a lovely swath of land which emphasizes art, science, and lifelong learning. We enjoyed touring the common house and two of the homes on the property (both under 400 SF) before settling down for a good chat about community and tiny houses over a scrumptious homemade lunch.

High Cove provides guidelines for creating sustainable dwellings on the land, including a size maximum of 1200 SF. However, ADUs are allowed on each lot so you could, for instance, build an 800 SF house and a 400 SF accessory dwelling. One of the founders, Olga, is a city planner, so I enjoyed having her talk us (and, actually walk us!) through the plan for the community, which will include a village center. There are also plans for a tiny house cluster near the creek. It's a lovely spot and I think it would be great fun to be here with several other tinies nearby. Now I have fantasies of spending time in a wee abode in this community someday! I look forward to seeing how this community evolves. Meanwhile, if you're committed to community living and love the Asheville area, get in touch with Olga!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Laura and Matt's tiny house, also in the mountains near Asheville, but closer to the city. Matt and Laura built their home over the course of three years and Laura's been blogging about it at 120 Square Feet. It was one of the first tiny house blogs I came across and it's been fun to follow along all these years. So it was a real treat to get to tour Laura and Matt's tiny house yesterday along with Kristie Wolfe and Kelly and Chris of Just Right Bus. They did a beautiful job constructing their little home and it was fun hearing about the little changes they've made as they've enjoyed their wee home over the past 4 years.

As so often happens when I'm exposed to new and fabulous tiny homes, I'm inspired all over again. And the timing couldn't be better because when I get home I'll begin building my tiny house (again)! Isha, The Guy Next Door, and I will begin construction of our new tiny home, starting in April. If you'd like to join in on the fun, please check out our T42 Build Blitz or Tiny House Helper.

Tiny House Community Workshop in Ojai


Lee_Lina_Jamboree TINY HOUSE COMMUNITY WORKSHOP | Friday, November 13th 1pm-5pm | Ojai, CA

  • Are you a tiny house enthusiast or builder interested in forming a tiny house community?
  • Are you a landowner who would like to start a tiny house community?
  • Are you a city official interested in learning more about tiny houses and their potential in cities and towns?

Join us for a half-day workshop on tiny house communities and city zoning. All topics above will be covered during this comprehensive 4hr workshop.

Get your tickets to the Tiny House Community Workshop in Ojai here: http://www.vinastinyhouse.com/events/community-workshop/ 

Sol Haus Design is excited to bring two seasoned experts in forming tiny house communities. Lina Menard of Niche Consulting and Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios will lead participants through different models for how to form tiny house communities, how to look for available land, zoning considerations, and how to work with city officials and neighbors to set up a tiny house community responsibly.

Lina and Lee have both set up tiny house communities in the Pacific Northwest and in the Mid-Atlantic, so their knowledge covers both sides of the country! Come learn with us and explore opportunities for tiny house communities in California.

The workshop will be held in beautiful Ojai, CA at the home of Krishnamurti Foundation:

WHEN: Friday, November 13th from 1pm-5pm WHERE: Krishnamurti Foundation on 1098 McAndrew Road, Ojai, CA 93023 COST: $90 for 4hr workshop EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $80 If booked by Oct 31st.

Move In Day & Housewarming

Window Seat Six months ago I started building myself a tiny house called The Lucky Penny. And last night our Tiny Cohousing community, Simply Home Community, hosted a housewarming party. It was good timing, too. Portland has had the first wintry weather of the year this week, so it was awfully nice to have people warming the place up with compliments and congratulations. (Having the space heater running on an extension cord probably helped, too!)

It was great fun to share my little house with friends whom I've neglected because... well, I've been building my little house. I'm looking forward to wrapping up the last few absolutely necessary things so that I can start Settling Into My Tiny House AND resume my social life!

(Speaking of socializing, it was also neat last night to share tours of my house with friends of my landies and to discover mutual connections we already have. It's a tiny world after all! And of course, it doesn't hurt to have strangers say "Your house is gorgeous!" or "It's like a cathedral in here!")

When I My Tiny House Build Began, my work plan indicated that by mid-summer I would complete the first two phases: Get it Dried In and Make it Functional. I figured I'd give myself some extra time for the unforeseen and I'd begin Phase 3: Make it Home by the end of summer. But, of course, it's a construction project, so it's taking twice as long as I originally estimated.

Copper Canisters, Copper Sink & Faucet

It's now mid-November and my house is just now functional (if you consider that my house doesn't have to be fully independent because I have access to the kitchen and bathroom in the Big House). My friend Benn Kovko (who built Kangablue at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel) has been working with me on the plumbing and we're about 1/3 of the way done. We'll be working on it again today. Still on the list after plumbing: electrical, trim, and The Punch List.

But for the sake of the housewarming party I've already shifted into Phase 3: Make it Home. Yesterday I moved most of my possessions into The Lucky Penny and started the process of putting Everything in its Place. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to hang decorations yesterday morning!

I'm looking forward to Settling into My Tiny House! Stay tuned for catch up blog posts this winter sharing more information and photos about the build process.

Doing Life

I’ve been doing life. And I haven’t been making the time to post about it.

This summer, Life involved a five-week break from building The Lucky Penny. First I took a long weekend to make My Annual Pilgrimage to the Oregon Country Fair. Next I headed to Vermont to teach a 2-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. Then I headed to Seattle, my hometown, to catch up with one of my sisters, my best friend from high school, and several other old friends.

This is the little life.

And it’s a good one. So I won’t apologize for a moment for living my life instead of talking about it. But considering how many of you have asked me for an update in the past week, I suppose I probably should have said something.

The quick version is this:

  • I’ve moved into The Big House in tiny house community where I’ll be bringing The Lucky Penny once it’s complete

  • I’ve helped my friend Ben who is finishing up his tiny house (and will also be moving it to this great little tiny house community!)
  • I’ve built My Front Porch (which is already much better than a Shrinky-Dink Porch and solves the problem of Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street)
  • I’ve been working on Fancy Shingles
  • I’m planning Tiny House Work Parties all through September to get as much done on the Lucky Penny as I can before the rains return
  • I’ll be hosting a Tiny Open House in early October to thank My Tiny House Helpers and show off The Lucky Penny (in whatever state of completeness she is at that point!)

In retrospect, I realize it probably would have been a good idea to officially take the month of August off from blogging. After all, I knew that things would get busy once I resumed construction of The Lucky Penny while simultaneously ramping up to full-time work as the Living Building Coordinator for the Breathe Building. I might have imagined that blogging would be a good thing to set aside for a few weeks. But, alas, hindsight is 20-20.

Chances are, you were out there having fun and didn’t miss me anyhow. You were Doing Life, too, right? (If not, get out there and have some fun in the sun!)

On the other hand, those of you who have been following along for a while probably know that me not posting doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not writing. After all, writing is one of the best ways I know to process my experiences. So stay tuned for some backlogged blog posts to appear in the coming weeks! Meanwhile, Happy Summer!

Coming Full Circle... and Moving Forward

Two years ago this week I moved to Portland and this week I’m Housesitting the Tiny Barn at the location where my first tiny house was parked when My Tiny Adventure Began. So, in a way, it feels like I’ve come full circle. Once again the raspberries are dripping off their bushes and the tomatoes are vining as tall as the apple tree. Once again the school bells are ringing and there’s an excited chatter of children freshly back to school. Once again the mornings are starting with a smidge of crispness and the Canadian geese are honking on their southern migration. It’s nice to be here again, in this oasis of a garden, at the transition time between summer and fall.

And yet, so much has changed in 2 years, too. This garden has become even more glorious in two years. The raspberry canes are taller, the bamboo is thriving, and the day old chicks we slipped under a broody chicken (see April Fooling my Hen) are providing plenty of eggs each day. The tiny house I lived in here is back up in Olympia where Brittany Yunker is renting Bayside Bungalow out as a tiny cottage on wheels.

Meanwhile, the tiny house I’m caring for here this week is the Tiny Barn, which wasn’t yet a figment of anyone’s imagination this time two years ago. I helped my friend develop her design and boneyard materials the winter before last. Over my spring break that year I helped the owner and some other friends of hers construct the shell of the Tiny Barn in a week long tiny house building blitz. Her friends finished it up beautifully, so it’s fun to stay here in the same spot but in a delightful new house. And, of course, I have greater appreciation for this little house now that I’ve had the chance to live in other tiny houses in the past two years, including A Tiny Move for a Tiny House, My Summer Garden Cottage, My Home Sweet Yurt, and more recently Home, Sweet Pea.

Additionally, this week I’ve been site managing for Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel while Deb and Kol are on their honeymoon. The country’s first tiny house hotel wasn’t yet in the works when I first moved to Portland. Now I get to show off Caravan's Tiny Houses while I tidy up and visit with guests when they check in. They’ve come from all over the world to stay here and many of them stay specifically to try out living in a tiny house. In fact, I’m always a bit surprised when I’m talking with guests about tiny houses and they say “Oh, tiny houses are a thing?” Um, yes, perhaps I’m just caught up in this little world, but I’m pretty sure tiny houses are a thing.

While I’ve been in Cully this week I’ve had the chance to visit with several of my tiny house friends and make a few new ones. Only one of them had a tiny house two years ago and now I have six friends in the neighborhood with tiny houses!

A group of us gathered at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel earlier this week to discuss our dream of creating a Tiny House Community here in Portland, perhaps developing something similar to A Vision for Tiny Cohousing. Then a couple of us made a trip to the permit counter at the Bureau of Development Services to explore what the options might be and last night we visit a potential site, met some new additions to Portland's tiny house community, and toured their tiny abode. We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in the past two years as the Tiny House Movement Gains Momentum.