Small Home Weekend Wrap Up


tiny house on Portland's Park Blocks during Build Small, Live Large Summit What an action-packed weekend it was for little houses!

On Friday I enjoyed visiting with other small home advocates and enthusiasts from all across the country at the Build Small, Live Large Summit. Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute and Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings laid the scene perfectly in their Keynote Address: The Power of Small. I especially appreciated that Alan’s point that small housing is so often illegal and his encouragement to think really BIG about how we can move forward housing options that are better for people, communities, and natural environments. It was hard to pick between the concurrent sessions, but I’m glad I went to the one about demographic shifts and housing trends because it was really interesting learning about how certain trends (towards smaller households, larger homes, longer lives, delayed marriage and childbearing, increased desire for walkability, etc.) are impacting housing choices.

The five panelists for the Space-Efficient Housing Policy Round Table (Eli Spevak, Jean-Pierre Veillet, Danell Norby, Liz Getty, and Rachel Ginis) did an excellent job describing the regulatory challenges they face in their daily work as they attempt to create small homes. They also presented clever solutions to address or work around these challenges and we left the audience with Tangible Ways You Can Support Space-Efficient Housing.

The Courtyard Clusters session with my heroes Ross Chapin, Mark Lakeman, and Eli Spevak was full of incredible ideas and images. I tried frantically (and failed miserably) to capture the poetry of how smart land use creates sustainable community. I also learned new words like “pre-legal” which I have already begun employing. (Thanks, Mark!)

The Best of Small Design Slam was fabulous, too. As he was ducking out at the end of Mark Lakeman’s presentation, Mayor Charlie Hales leaned over to me and said: “I know a vacancy coming up soon and that guy would be a good candidate to fill it!” I completely agree, Mayor Hales.

On Saturday Eli and I both lead Guided ADU Tours with 14 participants, showing them a great line-up of accessory dwellings. Many of the people in my group are considering creating an ADU on their own property so they had lots of questions about the ins and outs of the upcoming Accessory Structures Zoning Code Amendments and the impacts of Multnomah County’s new method for assessing property values on properties with detached ADUs. It poured down rain all day, so we ended up soaked, but morale remained high as we went to as many ADUs as we could fit in.

That evening we celebrated Simply Home Community’s 1 Year Anniversary with a party at our place. It’s always fun to get our friends together to mix and mingle. We hosted little parties in our tiny houses (at one point I had 17 people in The Lucky Penny!) as well as activities in the Big House. And, of course, we had singing and s’mores around the bonfire to wrap up the night.

Yesterday during our Simply Home Work Party we donned our rain coats and put our garden to bed. (Amazing how much we can get done quickly when working together!) Then Jake, Isha and I hunkered down at Bison Coffeehouse in the rainstorm to work through our Tiny House Considerations Lesson & Challenge for Week 2. (Since I've fallen in love with The Guy Next Door, I'm going through the same process of scheming a tiny house as the other participants in the E-Course!) We had a great conference call for Week 2 of the Tiny House Considerations E-Course and I look forward to sharing the Lesson and Challenge for Week 3 because it’s full of fun design exercises so participants can consider what’s most important to them. The bell rang for Community Dinner just as the conference call wrapped up, so we trooped inside for one of Lindsey’s fabulous meals. Our Heart Meeting after supper focused on capturing our Values in preparation for upcoming conversations about Vision and Mission.

If my weekends are going to be so full, I'm glad that they're full of great things and wonderful people! With a good breakfast in my belly (fried green tomatoes from yesterday’s garden harvest) I’m ready for a brand new week! Happy Monday, everyone!

Small Home Weekend in Portland

This weekend is jam-packed with small house events! Some folks are even referring to it as Tinypalooza! Build Small Live LargeThe Build Small, Live Large Summit on Friday, Nov 6th will take place at Portland State University. I'm moderating the Space Efficient Housing Policy Roundtable, which includes a great line-up of panelists. On Saturday and Sunday Dee Williams' company Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) is leading a Tiny House Basics Weekend Workshop.

OADU Tourn Saturday, I'll be leading a Guided ADU Tour, showing off 11 fabulous ADUs in Portland. I've lead Guided ADU Tours a couple times now and they're always a blast. This one should be, too, because the ADUs on this tour are beautiful and use lots of clever space-saving tips which I get to point out. Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project the past two years has been a fabulous experience! I've learned a great deal about the challenges related to ADUs as well as the creative solutions homeowners, designers, and builders have developed. It will be fun to share these tips, tricks, and cautions with the group of people joining me for the tour. My guided tour is sold out, but you can still Register for the ADU Tour and take yourself on a self-guided tour. If you can't make it, keep reading the ADU Case Studies to learn about how other people have created second dwellings to create community, housing flexibility, and additional income.

TandemFinally, on Sunday Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel is hosting a Tiny House Tour and they've asked me to be there. It's always fun showing off Tandem, the tiny house I helped finish out for Orange Splot when I had my Summer Dream Job: Tiny House Design-Building.

I look forward to the chance to geek out with so many other small home lovers this weekend. Will you be there? If so, what are you most excited about?

Build Small, Live Large Summit on Friday, Nov 6th

Build Small Live LargeA couple years ago I participated in the Build Small, Live Large Summit, hosted at Portland State University. This Friday the event is happening again and it's sold out! If you didn't manage to snag a ticket you can still tour tiny houses in the Park Blocks. Meanwhile, for those of you who got one of the golden tickets, I'm excited to be serving as the moderator for the Space Efficient Housing Policy Roundtable. Here's a description:

Although demand is growing for small homes and creative residential developments, there are sometimes regulatory barriers to innovative, space-efficient housing options. Our panel of experts brings a wide range of experience with the very latest solutions in small housing policy, from affordable housing advocacy to regulations pertaining to tiny houses on wheels. This “fishbowl” style panel will acknowledge regulatory roadblocks to small housing, share how successful projects navigated those challenges, and brainstorm policy changes to help small housing options flourish.

Our session, which begins at 1 PM, will include five fabulous folks, with a wide variety of backgrounds, including affordable housing, development, real estate, and policy making.

Presenters: Liz Getty, Urban Nest Realty Rachel Ginis, Lilypad Homes Jean-Pierre Veillet, Siteworks Danell Norby, City of Vancouver, Washington Eli Spevak, Orange Splot

These are the folks I love geeking out with about the challenges we're facing in the regulatory landscape. I look forward to hearing their suggestions for policy changes that would support the creation of more small housing options. Please join us if you're coming to the summit!

The Guy Next Door

The Guy Next Door: Isha in front of the Rustic In June, when we hosted our monthly Tiny House Community Tour, we let everyone know that Tony’s tiny house, The Rustic, was available for rent. At the end of the tour, one of the fellas expressed interest in renting it, so I told him that we’d invite him over for dinner to get to know him better. He came over a couple days later for supper and a game.

By the end of the evening our whole community was pretty impressed with Isha, so the next day we invited him to move into the tiny house next door to mine. My only hesitation was that I had a little crush on him, but I didn’t mention that in our deliberations about Isha. I figured it would quickly dissipate as we lived together.

How wrong I was!

A couple days later, Isha began the process of downsizing from his 300 SF condo to Tony's 120 SF tiny house. He also started showing up for work parties and cooking us dinners on the night he claimed. We quickly learned that Isha is thoughtful, clever, witty, hard-working, organized, responsible, and articulate, not to mention a great cook.

My crush got worse. But I was going to be traveling for work nearly all summer. (See Five Weeks in a Carry-On and How to Travel with Just a Carry-On for more on that!) Surely the time and space away would help me get over Isha.

Wrong again.

Shortly after he moved in, Isha confessed a crush on me and told me it was futile to ignore all the ways we’re an excellent match. I knew he was right. So we decided that when the time seemed right he would check in with our landies to see if they would give our relationship their blessing.

Fortunately, our landies were thrilled for us. As Karin put it. “I love you both and I want you both to be happy, so I’m thrilled that you want to be together!”

Lina, Isha, Bell Rock

Isha and I had all summer apart for a new-fashioned courtship (a game of 20 questions by email, google chats, Skype dates, texts, and phone calls). We found that absence truly made our hearts grow fonder.

Isha and I had our first kiss at the airport when he picked me up at the end of my travels. The past two and a half months, living in his and hers tiny houses at Simply Home Community, has been a blast!

I’m so lucky to have fallen in love with the guy next door! Now we’re scheming a tiny house for two. We’re planning to design this winter and start building next spring. Stay tuned for updates as our design develops and our relationship grows!

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: 

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.

Tiny House Considerations E-Course Kicks Off Nov 1st

Tiny House ConsiderationsEarly Bird Pricing (20% Off) Available Through Friday, Oct 30th Register for Tiny House Considerations!

This course is specifically designed to help you explore the plethora of options, considerations, and decisions surrounding your design and build.

We'll talk about our inspirations and aspirations as we discuss layout, size, shape, and siting. We'll dig into fun design considerations related to windows, doors, kitchens, bathrooms, and built-ins. We'll also help you noodle through the plethora of building options and make smart choices about your systems for water and power. And, of course, we'll help you figure out if a tiny house is right for you by discussing regulations, cost, and timelines.

The best part is you'll get to do this with the encouragement of other people who are embarking on a similar journey. These folks may well be helping you build when the time comes!

This eight-week e-course will include a weekly lesson, a weekly challenge, and a weekly check-in with your fellow tiny house enthusiasts. The November course begins on November 1 and runs through December 20th. Check-ins are Sunday evenings at 5pm PST (8PM EST). 

The course price is $200. Through Friday, October 30th you can take advantage of the Early Bird Price of $160 (a 20% savings)!

Helpin' Keep Portland Weird


Welcome to Lucky Penny This past spring I had the opportunity to do a video interview with an awesome German film team from WDR who were here to explore what makes Portland, OR so, well, weird!

And, of course, why we like it that way! Today they shared the video that resulted from their explorations of Portland, including footage of the World Naked Bike Ride, zoobombing, and, of course, tiny houses.

I'm proud to be featured as one of the folks keepin' it weird in Portland. If you want to check out my part but your attention span is short after the naked people disappear, you can scroll to the 10:05 minute mark. Enjoy!


Home Is (Still) Where Your House Is

Raffi's New View One of the perks of living in a tiny house on wheels is the ability to have a change of scenery. But I’ve gotta say, I’ve felt a little topsy –turvy in my house the past couple days!

On Sunday morning The Lucky Penny went on A Tiny Move for a Tiny House. The layout has remained exactly the same, of course, but my house was rotated 180 degrees from how it was in my previous spot. So it’s strange that I now turn west to walk through My Arched Door and east to curl up on My Pull-Out Bed! It's not that I'm getting lost in 100 square feet, but things do feel a little backwards!

I imagine that most people wouldn’t be as disoriented as I am in my own darn house, but I’ve always associated my relative directions and the cardinal directions. It all started when I was four years old and my babysitter attempted to teach me the difference between my left and right hands. We were heading west on a walk to the park and I immediately began confusing left and right with north and south. So I got very disoriented about right and left remaining relative to my body when we were turned around and headed east while walking home. Fortunately, I got it sorted out over the years, but most days it’s still easier for me to point west than it is for me to remember which side of my body is the lefthand side!

Oak Tree through Skylight

I went through as similar period of disorientation the first time I moved a tiny house. After six months of living in Bayside Bungalow, we moved the tiny house a few blocks away and oriented it 180 degrees differently. Fortunately, I’m discovering now, as I did then, that Home is Where Your House Is.

And I love my house in its new spot! It’s also now oriented for how I originally designed the house. My bed is to the east, making it easy to wake with the sun. The porch is to the west so I can enjoy sunset skies. And the kitchen is to the south so I can enjoy sunshine on my face while making lunch or I’m doing my dishes. (Also, the sun now can’t shine on my food jars and degrade the contents. I was never particularly worried about this since I eat through my dry food fairly quickly, but it’s not ideal for the sun to be beaming right on it!)

This orientation and location have a few other advantages, too:

  • Serenity via Door Window

    The Lucky Penny is now closer to Karin’s house Serenity so we can say hi from our porches.

  • I have a big beautiful oak tree overhead, which will block summer sun from blazing through my skylight.
  • I’ll get more winter sun through my south window than I did when I was tucked just north of The Big House.
  • I have a great view of the community from my southern window, so I can see people coming and going.
  • I am more nestled into the garden so I’ll be more observant of it.

Thank goodness home, is (still) where your house is!

A Tiny Move for My Tiny House

moving tiny houses sometimes requires superhero strength! Today during our Simply Home Community Work Party, we moved my tiny house, The Lucky Penny, from its original spot, tucked between The Rustic and The Big House to another location on the property.

I had already secured things inside before our work party began. This process involved:

  • bungee-cording my tansu drawers shut,
  • setting my dish rack and toaster oven safely out of harm's way,
  • removing heavy items from the upper cupboards and tucking them into My Teeny, Tiny Tub with my towels packed around them,
  • popping my half-pint jars into the drawers of My Plug-and-Play Kitchen, and
  • nestling the copper canisters I found on my Tiny House Treasure Hunt into the space between the mattress and the wall


During the work party we started out by clearing the new space and setting aside the storage totes I keep under my house. Aline and Lindsey pruned the pear and plum trees on either side of my new spot and cleared away the brush. Then we flipped up My Flip-Up Front Porch and hooked the tongue of My Custom Vardo Trailer to the tiny house mover - a power dolly that has moved many a tiny house at this point.

I was going to captain the move, but I wasn’t big enough. Really and truly. I don’t have the weight to keep the power dolly on the ground! So Tony did the maneuvering for the tiny move for my tiny house. Isha, Jake, and I spotted the front and sides of the house while Tony pulled the house out from its spot and got it pointed down the path.

Stuck In a Rut

All was going pretty well until we hit The Hiccup. (In my experience, it’s not uncommon to encounter The Hiccup when you’re moving a tiny house on a piece of property!) In this case, The Hiccup was that one of the wheels got caught in a sinkhole where the soil was loose. The whole house pitched to one side, the wheel spinning in place. The jack on one corner was nearly touching the ground and the house was so tilted to the north that all my kitchen drawers were wide open. (Fortunately, the kitchen drawers all have stops so they couldn’t actually fall out!) We were literally stuck in a rut!

We took a brief break to fortify with burritos from the place around the corner. Just then, Karin returned from a work party at Good Life Medicine Center and pointed us to The Other bottle jack. It took us nearly an hour of minuscule tweaks to jack The Lucky Penny up high enough to wedge concrete chunks underneath and get traction. Fortunately, we worked well together as a team and we managed to get the house oriented properly in its new spot just as our first guests were arriving for our monthly Tiny House Community Tour. Karin helped me level the house enough that the drawers would stay shut so people could come inside to look at her. There will still be some details to sort out as I settle into my new spot, but so far I’m glad Home is (Still) Where Your Heart Is.

Simply Home Community in Mother Earth News

Simply Home Community in Springtime (photo credit: Guillaume Ditulh Tonight I brought the most recent issue of Mother Earth News to Simply Home's Community Dinner so we could all marvel at how WE'RE IN IT! How exciting!

It was fun to do the interview with K.C. Compton last spring and even more fun to see our tiny cohousing community featured in this awesome publication. Tony was especially excited because his parents actually met via the classified ads in the back of Mother Earth News several decades ago, so the magazine has a special place in his family's heart.

Check out the Mother Earth News article Joining Forces for More Sustainable Communities to learn more about our community and the six other awesome "Homestead Hamlets."