It's been a long time in the works, but we finally have pulled together and list of frequently asked questions. Take a peak- we may have answered one of your questions!
[THIS PAGE IS STILL IN PROGRESS]
What are the dimensions of your tiny house?
The Pod is just under 16 feet long by 8.5 feet wide. Our ceiling height is 10 feet 2 inches.
How many square feet?
To be accurate, we will include the loft in our measures. We have 128 square feet on the main floor and another 56 square feet in the loft, giving us a grand total of 184 square feet.
What kind of trailer did you use?
We used a 16 foot flat bed heavy duty utility dual axle trailer. It can hold 10,000 lbs.
How much did it cost?
As of July 2014 we are at $11,400 and the only things remaining are the siding. We do not count the cost of our solar power system in this number. Structure costs only.
How long did it take to build?
We made the decision to do this in October of 2012. Within a week we bought the trailer. We spent the rest of the fall and winter designing, collecting materials second hand on Craigslist, and experimenting with certain aspects like no running water. We started building on April 19th, 2013. We built almost exclusively on Saturday and Sundays until about mid August. Then we started putting in time after work during the week because we wanted to move in by October. Our apartment lease ended then. We were able to move in on September 30th, 2013. It wasn't completely done, but livable. We completed the interior around the beginning of February 2014. The siding continues (and is quite time consuming since it's recycled pallets), but as of July 2014 we have about 65% of the siding done.
What do you use for power?
Currently, we are plugged in to the main house on the farm. We plan to complete the setup of our solar power system within the next couple weeks.
What do you use for heat?
We have two different sources of heat. We have an eco-heater which uses just 400 watts and works great for temperatures as low as 25 degrees. This past winter when it got much colder, we supplemented with a Little Buddy Mr Heater propane heater. We use precautions including a combo smoke/monoxide/o2 sensor, the heater itself has an o2 shut off, and we crack windows to allow air flow. The heater provides enough heat to off set the cracked window. We do not recommend this however, due to the safety risks, and also the amount of condensation that is created without direct venting. For next fall we hope to install a wall mounted direct vent heater or a small wood stove.
What do you have for plumbing?
We don't have any traditional plumbing. That means no running water. We did a test while still in the apartment to see if we could manage it. Turned out to be pretty easy. We store our water in water bricks. We fill them either at work, the gym, or a family members place. When we need hot water for dishes and such, we heat it on the stove first. We have a camp shower setup that we can pull out and use for showers, but neither of us have done it yet. We make use of the showers at our local gym and at work, or sometimes a family members place.
No running water?! What about your bathroom?
We have a very simple naturally composting toilet. In short, it's a five gallon bucket hidden under a bench with a real toilet seat on it. After each deposit, we add wood shavings. Thanks to thermophillic bacteria that naturally exist, the composting process is carried out. We have to take the bucket out to a larger composting bin about once a week. The compost will sit for a year, after which point it has turned into some of the richest soil additive on the planet. For an in depth understanding of this process, we highly recommend reading The Humanure Handbook.
Doesn't your house stink with the compost toilet inside?
No more than a normal toilet! Just like a regular bathroom, there is an intial smell that immediately follows doing your business, but that fades within a few minutes. It's all science really. If you balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio- you have no smell. Our deposits are primarily nitrogen, and carbon can come in many forms- wood shavings, straw, dried leaves or grass clippings, etc. Carbon effectively neutralizes the smell.
We had a pair of neighbors who were very curious and a bit skeptical that our house didn't smell. I happen to have a full bucket that needed dumping, but I decided to leave it and invite them in. They poked their heads in with apprehension as they entered, but then couldn't believe that there was no smell. Just the fresh earthy smell of our beautiful wood interior!
What if you two get into a fight?
Believe it or not, Dan and I don't fight very often. Even when we do, it is usually a minor tiff that is resolved or simply disregarded after a few minutes. If you're going to live with someone in that cozy of a space, you better get a long well! There was one particularly heated disagreement, at which point Dan left and went for a drive. We could just as easily go for walks, or if we wanted a sense of our own space, one of us typically goes up in the loft while the other stays downstairs.