My Guest today is Betsy Barbour. Betsy’s tiny dreams began in 2017. After downsizing and selling her condominium, she moved into her 200 sqft tiny home in 2019. She has since lived in 3 unique communities in 2 states. Betsy has become passionate about tiny house advocacy and community development. On today’s show, we’ll talk about the different kinds of communities that Betsy has found, the wins and challenges that tiny living has presented for Betsy, and more.
In This Episode:
- Betsy's tiny house story
- How Tiny Circles are helping build tiny house communities
- Is your tiny home really built for all seasons?
- Not all SIPs are created equal
- The long road(trip) to tiny house advocacy in RV parks
- What it's like to live in a tiny house community
- Build your community before you need it
- Reasons you may want to rethink the loft
Links and Resources:
- Tiny House Industry Alliance (THIA)
- Jill Kanto and Abby Hobson from Tiny Estates on THLP
- Tiny House Alliance of Southwest Florida
- Tinyhouse.com Global Conference, October 1-3
- Comak Tiny Homes
Betsy’s tiny dreams began in 2017. After downsizing and selling her condominium, she moved into her 200 sqft TH in 2019. She has since lived in 3 unique communities in 2 states (Florida & Pennsylvania).
Betsy grew up in small-town America, spent 3 decades in Africa including living off-grid in a rural village for 10 years. Now based in the US, her day job, through her business Global SKILLs, focuses on cross-cultural communications and global community building. Drawing on her experiences, she is developing a subsidiary (Tiny Circles) working toward sustainable tiny community design and development.
A believer in lifelong learning and the power of community, Betsy loves to network, helps moderate several online tiny forums, and frequently participates in TH events.
She is also helping on a TH build while actively dreaming about her next TH and establishing a diverse, affordable TH community for the workforce and retired residents.
This Week's Sponsor:
PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house: running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper-quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable visit precisiontemp.com. While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping.
Betsy has lived in 3 different tiny house communities in two different states!
Her house was built in Florida
She's come up with some creative solutions for winterizing in Pennsylvania
Betsy Barbour 0:00
We figured the first thing we needed to do was find a place to put our tiny houses. So we spent six months researching any possible place, we visited over 50 sites.
Ethan Waldman 0:16
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 169 with Betsy Barbour. My guest today is Betsy Barbour. Betty's tiny dreams began in 2017. After downsizing and selling her condominium she moved into her 200 square foot tiny home in 2019. She has since lived in three unique communities and two states. Betsy has become passionate about tiny house advocacy and community development. On today's show, we'll talk about the different kinds of communities that Betsy has found across the eastern United States, the win and challenges that tiny living has presented for Betsy, and more. I hope you stick around.
I'd like to tell you about the sponsor of today's episode, PrecisionTemp. PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house, running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable, visit precisiontemp.com. While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. That website again is precisiontemp.com, coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.
All right, I am here with Betsy Barbour. Betsy grew up in small-town America, spent three decades in Africa, including living off-grid in a rural village for 10 years. Now based in the US, her day job through her business, Global Skills, focuses on cross cultural communications and global community building. Drawing on her experiences, she is developing a subsidiary called Tiny Circles working towards sustainable tiny community design and development. A believer in lifelong learning and the power of community, Betsy loves to network, helps moderate several online tiny forums, and frequently participates in tiny house events. She's also helping on a tiny house build while actively dreaming about her next tiny house and establishing a diverse, affordable tiny house community for workforce and retired residents. Betsy Barbour, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much, Ethan. It's an honor to be here.
Well, it's an honor to have you. We've known each other for several years now because you're very active in the online community that I happen to host called Tiny House Engage. And I've just loved kind of following following your journey. Obviously you joined after you were living tiny, but I was hoping maybe we could start with with having you tell us about your your tiny story. Why did you you know, why did you decide to go tiny?
Betsy Barbour 3:44
Well, back in 2017, actually, my son mentioned to me with concern that he was wondering if I was doing some planning for the future. I had a condominium at the time, which was kind of nickel and diming me and so I decided to look into options. And I came across tiny houses - that was in the fall, I mean the spring of 2017. So I just started looking online and seeing what was out there and really quickly got completely converted in a sense. So I put my condo on the market in 2017. And it actually took a year to sell. Which was okay because during that year and we'll maybe talk about this later, I did a lot of networking and community building, tiny house community kind of early, early stages of community building. And I hope the audio is okay, there's a guy literally weed whacking out my window right now. Anyway, welcome to my tiny community. So then I actually did find a builder in the summer of 2018. I went with him for my design, more or less, but then decided not to use him. So I went with the second builder then and ended up going with him. My house was built with custom design input for me in fall of 18. And I moved in in January of 2019.
Ethan Waldman 5:21
Nice. So I love that, you know, for most people, when you know your son maybe was thinking, "Are you going to sell your your condo and maybe think about like, where you're going to live after that," and you're like, I'm going to move into something that maybe you didn't realize was going to take more maintenance and more work to kind of keep going then then your condo? But but much less money. So that was that that was the key to that one. Yes, yes. Now I'm sure that that living in a off grid rural village for 10 years help to prepare you for tiny living, but maybe you could could you talk a little bit about how it prepared you?
Betsy Barbour 6:04
Yeah, that's interesting. Um, actually our house that we ended up building, this was in, in, in West Africa. And we did actually build our own house, because we knew we were going to be there long term. So the house itself was not tiny, it was probably about 800 square feet, maybe it was all but however, the off grid part, I think really helped me to just appreciate the lifestyle of being less dependent on really anything around you. And I think that's a great preparation for tiny living, and also tiny community building to kind of make your lifestyle work with the community where you are. And we were totally off grid. And it was, it was also an introduction for me to solar, we had one solar panel, that was about as big as a small, very small TV set, which ran our computer and our fan. It may sound odd that we had a computer in those circumstances. But our work enabled us to have cutting edge computer technology even. That was a long, long time ago, almost 35 years ago.
Ethan Waldman 7:15
What kind of work were you doing there?
Betsy Barbour 7:17
Yeah, this was linguistic work. So we were working on documenting languages. And the language that we worked on specifically for those 10 years was a language that was not written. It actually it had begun to be written. But we were responsible for establishing the alphabet and then establishing books and doing all that needs to be done to have a literature available for the speakers of that language.
Ethan Waldman 7:45
Wow. And is that complete now?
Betsy Barbour 7:48
Well, it'll never be complete. Because once you have a literature, you can always add to it. But yes, we've reached a critical mass, which was our goal for a literate population and also basic educational materials. And, and, and literate and talented, very talented. National writers in their own languages.
Ethan Waldman 8:11
Cool. So how are you- in the bio, it kind of talks about that, you know, you're kind of drawing on these experiences to develop Tiny Circles. So can you tell us about you know, what is Tiny Circles?
Betsy Barbour 8:27
Yeah, Tiny Circles is going to be a community design, kind of program process. Actually, I do three things. I do profile, processing, program. So basically Tiny Circles, the profile is that we look at what type of community people are interested in. And we do community building activities. We also look at our current community, our experiences from current community. And then when we get into process, we start looking at the dynamics of community building. And then when we go to program, we actually look at how is going to happen, you know, what are the what are the specific, right? So that's basically what Tiny Circles is, and it's, it's at the very beginning stages, but a lot of what I've done so far is the networking and the kind of online community building, which to me is a big part of being a part of the kind of national and global tiny house community.
Ethan Waldman 9:32
Yeah, okay. So when you say, community building and community development, you're talking more about the interpersonal, the nitty-gritty of community and not so much though. Like, okay, the tiny house is going to go here and the septic line is gonna run. They're, like architectural community development.
Betsy Barbour 9:52
Yeah, I mean, I won't be doing that because that's not my area of expertise, but certainly we would have a land designer as part of that team and looking at kind of all the different aspects. I'm a very big believer in putting together a team of specialists. And so we would draw in and even for the community building part of that we would be drawing in people like Jill Kanto who does a lot of training for intentional community. Hmm. So yeah, I'm a I'm a bringer together type person.
Ethan Waldman 10:29
I like it. Yeah, you You definitely play that role nicely and Tiny House Engage. Just connect people with other people who might be able to to answer their questions. And I'm so glad that you mentioned Jill Kanto. She actually was a guest on the podcast quite a long time ago. But I think her interview still holds up, Just all about kind of finding or starting intentional communities, which would be Episode 42. For anybody who's curious to hear it.
Betsy Barbour 11:00
Yeah. And she actually she's living her own life. Right now. She I believe she's joined the Tiny House Engage community, and she is building a community now herself.
Ethan Waldman 11:10
Oh, fantastic. I didn't realize that she was building her own community. That's exciting, I'm going to have to have her back on the show to catch up on that. It's interesting when you when you say tiny house community, that could encompass anything from an RV Park, where you just pay your rent, and get your spot, all the way up to an intentional community where you know, everybody's doing a community garden together and like watching each other's children. So when you think of community for yourself, of what kind of where you're looking to live in your tiny house, or your ideal, what is that for you?
Betsy Barbour 11:55
For me, it definitely is more on the end of an intentional community, where we've come together on a particular piece of property, it could be at an old RV park, for sure. But that we would come together and design both the infrastructure, the physical plant, as well as the interpersonal, as you mentioned before. And I would very much like to add that to include people that are interested in sustainability, that it's attainable for all of us, none of us are way beyond our budgets, so to speak, in terms of where we're living, what we're doing that type of thing. And if if we are then we're helping each other move in directions of having goals along those lines. And I did mention in the description that I'm very interested in focusing on the workforce population and also retirement early, early retirement, I myself am retirement age in about six months, but I will not be retiring. So for those of us that don't have that option anytime soon, to move in those directions.
Ethan Waldman 13:04
you envision the workforce and the retired residents kind of all coexisting in one community? Are you thinking that these are separate visions?
Betsy Barbour 13:13
Well, I really like the model of hybrid communities, where you might have neighborhoods, where you might have a workforce that might have families with young children, for instance, because I know retirees in particular from experience that I've had with many, many friends and also living in Southwest Florida, not often a good mix necessarily with retirees and people with small children. But if you have the different neighborhoods, and you have kind of boundaries, I think that works really nicely because then you've got that cross fertilization of multi generational, which is really valuable.
Ethan Waldman 13:53
So you when when we first met you were living in Florida, and then you relocated to Pennsylvania. And now word has it that you're you're considering a move back to Florida so can you can you kind of fill in the the details of that of that journey?
Betsy Barbour 14:11
Well, I bought my - I was based in Southwest Florida when I began this journey, and I bought my house in Florida. It was actually built in Florida and the community that I found was not where I was based. I wanted to live on the southwest Gulf Coast, but but there wasn't anything available. That was again affordable and for me sustainable. So I went to Central Florida and I was in actually two communities over the next year and a half and planning on just hanging out there. However with COVID all of our plans changed in many ways. And I have a son and daughter in law and grandchild in Pennsylvania and in September it became very clear that we needed to be together as a family. for the duration of the of, you know, the pandemic, so I came up here was my house and and worked out super well, that would have been the third time the house had been moved. And then now having gone through what I consider a very harsh winter, although you would not agree with that. We had a lot of snow was very cold in my house really was supposedly designed to be all weather, but it's really not this this house that I'm in, it needs to be in a in a more temperate climate. So yes, I'm going to make some kind of move. I'm not sure what yet, what that'll look like, but I want to be back at Florida winter.
Ethan Waldman 15:43
Yeah, I think that's great to kind of a warning to put out there to people is just like to understand the climate that your house is being built for. And if a builder tells you that this will work in any climate, ask more questions.
Betsy Barbour 16:03
Definitely. And the builder, by the way, was a Florida native, though.
Ethan Waldman 16:07
What kind of issues did you experience in the cold in your tiny house?
Betsy Barbour 16:13
Yeah, well, actually, it winterized really well. The things that I was able to do, I do have an in wall, AC, I do not have a mini split. So I have an in-wall AC which I winterize by covering it interior and exterior. We did a very clever little thing with my, the end of my plumbing track, I guess you would call it I don't know the technical term, but my toilet is the end of my plumbing track. And so we rigged it so it had a very, very slow constant leak in the tank. And so that kept my pipes good all winter, despite the fact that I do have some exterior piping and other houses right around me their pipes freeze. So that was great. I also have a heated intake for my drinking water. And we brought that up into the house. The actual nozzle was outside the house, but we pulled that up into the house. Okay. And then I had to space heaters, which which worked.
Ethan Waldman 17:14
Okay, got it. Okay, so you kind of had to do a little bit of a hodgepodge for heating.
Betsy Barbour 17:20
Yes, yes. And that unfortunately, for some reason that I'm still researching. My SIPs panel house actually radiates the exterior temperature. It's partially thermal bridging, but I really don't think that's the whole issue. There's something else going on. So anywhere that I'm near a wall, which is pretty much everywhere in my house is small. I'm having cold coming in when it's cold out. So that was that was the main challenge opener.
Ethan Waldman 17:51
So it sounds like the house is maybe just under insulated for cold climate.
Betsy Barbour 17:56
Yes, that would be the general I guess that would be the general terminology for it. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 18:02
Right. Because if your your metal SIPs, you don't have any studs, there shouldn't be any studs, creating thermal bridging. So it sounds to me like it just like not enough insulation.
Betsy Barbour 18:16
Yeah. type of panel. I mean, SIPs panels can work. I mean, with Minamiliste as an example, they use the SIPS panels up in Quebec. So we're gonna say, Oh, yeah, there's something going on there that I need to understand better.
Ethan Waldman 18:30
But what foam they put in that SIPs pannel makes a big difference.
Betsy Barbour 18:34
Yes. And also what type of framing a house with the entire interior and exterior.
Ethan Waldman 18:39
Yeah, absolutely. So you just embarked on on a road trip. And I don't know that anybody that I've heard of has ever done anything like this. Yet, although that I guess there really aren't. It's only recently that you could go on a road trip in Florida and visit multiple tiny house communities. Tell me about the trip.
Betsy Barbour 19:05
Well, actually, I'll preface that with another trip. It was actually it was a month worth of research that I did when I first got interested in tiny houses. Because what we did was and I met up, when I first got interested, I wasn't even on social media. I'm still very, very little on social media. But I did go on and I found somebody who was would already set up a Facebook group for tiny houses in the neighboring county. So I she and I became very good friends, and we're actually tiny house business partners at this point. Anyway, we figured the first thing we needed to do, as so often said, was to find a place to put our tiny houses. So we spent six months researching any possible place in our region, and that would be a toolkit. region, Lee and Collier counties in Southwest Florida, we visited over 50 sites. Those were RV communities, those were mobile home communities. And those were properties that were for sale. And in many of those sites, we talked to the people that owned them or manage that. So I have a pretty good idea of what's out there in that region of Southwest Florida. Then I moved to Central Florida when I got my house. And so I have a pretty good idea of what's available in Central Florida on really from coast to coast. So this time, what I needed to do is find out what my options were for my next move. And so I reconnected with several of the communities that were possibilities way back four years ago, which actually is a very long time in terms of what's been happening in the last four years. When we first started, you could not go into most communities mobile home RV in Florida and say you had a tiny home, you were interested, because they would immediately say. "No, no, we don't allow Tiny Homes." We literally did not mention it until well into the conversation. These days, though, we've got a lot of openness with that a lot of interest. And so I went back and visited, I think about four or five of the options that I'm still considering for my next move. And it was great, it was great to see what's going on. Don't have the perfect situation. But that's another may be key for this whole power of community. You have to be patient. And sometimes you know what you want and you're headed in the right direction. But the timing is not yours. You're not in control necessarily of that. So we have to be patient and it's paying off little by little. Yeah,
Ethan Waldman 22:00
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Yeah, well, so can you maybe give us some highlights? Maybe a couple of the communities that you did visit in Southwest Florida?
Betsy Barbour 23:40
Yes. Well, there's one that's not yet it's a it's a property. I'm sorry, it is an RV, a mobile home community. They have no tiny houses yet. But the owners are interested but there's a generational consideration going on. So the younger party owners who will be the future owners are interested. Okay. So I touched base with them. I do that about every six months. And they they've actually done some development of the infrastructure with the with the thought that they're going to be having a tiny house community there. And they've also done happily the gentleman one of the gentlemen is he says he's a professional certifier, but he's also on the zoning board. Okay, so it's so that was a great was just great to touch base and see that that's still a good possibility. Another community that I visited was one that I can afford. It's a mobile home community. I know a lot about it because a friend lives there in an RV.
Ethan Waldman 24:46
Can you share the names of these communities?
Betsy Barbour 24:48
I'm afraid at this point, I'm not free to do that. They're not really available. Okay. For a while, especially the first one I just mentioned. The second one to be really honest with you, I don't have the name of it on the top of my head. It's a mobile home community. And maybe it's, it's just as well for this example, because it really showed me in a sense, the reality of my situation because I have a limited income and a limited budget. And this community is what I can afford. But it's not nice, like I would like it to be. So it's, it's a place that I would have to kind of grow into in terms of thinking about living there. I know it's safe, which is important, right? It's just that it's a little bit more, I would say weatherworn. Then, okay. And it's also a cultural difference, a very big cultural difference for me, coming from where I'm coming from, it's not a tiny house community. So these people are not in the tiny house. Okay. So, anyway, so there was that one and then I go by, which I always do for inspiration, and I certainly can mention this Tiny Siesta. Yeah, which is in Sarasota, Florida. I've we've interacted my business partner, Lisa Salimone and I have interacted with, with the owner and the manager and been there many times, that is not a full time living community. It's a resort, tiny house, right. But it's always inspiring to see the physical plant and to see what they do what they've done there. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 26:26
Yeah. And I think that that's an unfortunate reality that a developer could make a lot more money developing a tiny house village or community, quote, unquote, that is for short term rentals, rather than for long term.
Betsy Barbour 26:48
Yeah. Right. Right. And that's where the hybrid model comes with, could come in really nicely, that you could be making your money but you could also be providing. And then I had a vision, actually, other community was kind of an epiphany up in Georgia, I was visiting my other son outside Atlanta, we went to a National Park, which is actually a very large, they call it an urban National Park. It's right outside Atlanta. And what I saw there was this beautiful National Park and also property where these, what I would call giant mansions have been built on, like one to two acre plot. And, and saw that they are okay, so that so it is a residential national area. I mean, for some somehow there's a mix there. And my thought was, there's a workforce right here in this national park and supporting the national park with hotels and restaurants and, you know, excetera. And wouldn't it be great if, if a if a community could be developed in the National Park to house, the workforce? The tiny house community? Yeah. So so that kind of vision of a design, which would be a sustainable community, you know, on site, meeting the needs of everybody, not just the people that want a nice house and the people that want to be in the National Park.
Ethan Waldman 28:17
I love that. That's a great vision. So you live, you live in Tiny Estates, right?
Betsy Barbour 28:25
Yes, I do.
Ethan Waldman 28:26
And they are a community that has shifted from the hybrid model of like, nightly rentals and some full timers to think just monthly rentals and full timers. Right?
Betsy Barbour 28:42
Long term rental, it has to be more than a month. Yeah. I mean, a month or more. Yes. Okay.
Ethan Waldman 28:48
So why why did they do you know why they change? Are you at liberty to say?
Betsy Barbour 28:52
Well, I think that part of it was just the upkeep and the talk about workforce, the manpower to maintain the tiny houses that were that were short term rentals. Yeah, that some of them were airbnbs. But most of them were owned by the property here and were maintained on property. And, quite frankly, the damage that was done to these units, short term renters coming in and it was just a huge, huge job. That wasn't really the vision of the owner. I don't think Yeah, so I'm not speaking for her, but I'm just imagining that, you know, she's in the tiny house business. She's not in the, you know, cleaning up people's mess, though. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 29:35
I mean, I had Abby on the show a long time ago. I You're making me want to invite her back on.
Betsy Barbour 29:43
Yeah, well, she's got a she's got her vision has definitely developed and yeah, and she's got I believe she has sold all of the units off now that were the rental units either to people that are now residing in them or that are resident managed for the long term rental So that's kind of the full transition. And I believe we're getting near having a full house in this space. She's got another face coming up to add more site. But yeah, we've got about 50 houses, I think.
Ethan Waldman 30:15
Wow. And so what's it like living living in it in a community with like 50 other tiny houses 50 other either people or families who are all kind of on board with the tiny house lifestyle?
Betsy Barbour 30:30
Well, it's very interesting, actually. Because there's, there's a very large continuum. I would say a lot of people are here, because they, it's, it's a good rental option. It's, for a lot of people, it's still short term, even the resident owners if this is not something they're planning on doing for the rest of their lives, which is fine. And that's, that's where a lot of people are with tiny houses. Yeah. But so there are some of us that are very much interested in moving forward, we have a tiny house builder, who I would love to mention in a minute, who's on site. And he's he's obviously very engaged in the whole tiny house. thing. So there's some of us that are what I would call really engaged in the tiny house lifestyle. Yep. But I have to tell you, I don't think they're I don't think it's it's pretty expensive for me to live here in terms of my own budget. Yep. However, I have something that you can't buy or pay for. And that is, when I look out my window as I'm doing right now. In the winter, I see 17 tiny houses. That's one window. Yeah. The other one do I look out and I see seven tiny houses. And the other one, I look out and I see eight tiny houses. So for me just literally being surrounded by this, this dream and this vision. And this life has been awesome.
Ethan Waldman 31:58
Nice. Nice. What What is the rent there? If you don't mind me asking?
Betsy Barbour 32:04
Well, it varies. It depends on your, your house size, and your lockbox, and it's the mine is, I think it's 650 a month. Okay. Which in Florida, if you can get subsidized housing, which you can because I'm I'm 55 plus etc. I was paying 200. Wow. Or, you know, for a similar size block. Now, obviously, I didn't have what I just said you can't pay for. You can't put a value on. But yeah, so it's, I would say it's absolutely in line with with probably better actually, for what you get here. with, you know, like if you had to rent a studio apartment in the area.
Ethan Waldman 32:52
Got it? Yeah. Well, that's, you know, that's a challenge. Because so many of us come to tiny house living for the affordability of it. But, you know, don't forget that, you know, once you have your tiny house, your if you don't own land, which most of us don't, you are going to have to find a place to put it and that does that is not going to be free. And in some cases, it's not going to be cheap.
Betsy Barbour 33:19
Yeah. And another interesting thing for cost if we want to just pause there for a moment, I paying a whole lot more for insurance here than I paid in Florida. Interesting. I changed companies. So maybe that was part of it. But insurance is another big consideration. And I know that in many of your podcasts.
Ethan Waldman 33:42
Yeah, it's it is interestingly. So, you know, our insurance on our tiny house costs more than our insurance on our small condo. But like, small condo is a lot bigger than the tiny house. I will say,
Betsy Barbour 34:03
Yeah, well, we we in the tiny house living don't look at square foot cost very much, right? We drive real estate people crazy. And insurance. Are you crazy?
Ethan Waldman 34:14
Yeah, you'll cry if you look at those per square foot cost.
Betsy Barbour 34:16
And it really To me, it's just not comparing apples to oranges. You know, it's just very different. Yeah. But yeah, definitely site site cost is an issue. And that's why we're working so hard. And when I say we have a friend, another friend and I were starting to look at ordinance and zoning change for local community here. Yeah. And also working very closely then with Thea, who we can mention more with the tiny house Industry Association and their legalities and zoning training. And when you look at all that, you want to look at the possibilities for a DUI. Yeah, for auxilary dwelling units. And even when you talk about community, you know, if you're anADU tiny house on a property? Your community could be all the other ADU tiny houses in that township? Or? No, it doesn't have to be contiguous necessarily. But it's the same type of lifestyle and the same commitments that you've made. Yeah. And as far as community gardening and stuff, you could certainly probably find a common space, that type of thing.
Ethan Waldman 35:25
Yeah, absolutely. So you've talked in Tiny House Engage and shared that you are starting to think about your next tiny house? So I'm curious if you could share, you know, what is your vision for your next tiny house? What, what will be different about it?
Betsy Barbour 35:42
Well, it'll be significantly smaller.
Ethan Waldman 35:45
Betsy Barbour 35:47
Well, my current one is 24 feet by eight and a half, and I'm going to go down, I hope to 16 eight, by eight and a half. And it's because I think I will be moving in the future, maybe once or twice a year, perhaps I'm not gonna drive around with it behind me and travel in America. But I, I do perceive the possibility of moves, I want that option. And me a smaller house for moving lighter weight, that type of thing makes more sense. And I just, I want to go smaller, I haven't arrived yet. Even in this house, I'm still working on downsizing some pretty serious stuff. That'll be ongoing now for another year or so. But I want, I do want to be smaller. And quite frankly, I don't need the space. I just find I live alone. I'm very comfortable in where I live. And I like I love the lifestyle.
So I do have a builder and a model that we're looking at. And he'll at least build the shell. I hope that's the dream. And I'm actually helping him right now on to build that he's doing the same. So he's doing the same house twice. And I'm helping with the photography and videography, and I helped Deaf temple insulation yesterday into the steel frame. Nice. So I'm learning a little bit at a time. And to me, that's another huge key with community if you want to, if you're interested in community, start getting involved. Now, before you're where you want to be, because it may take you a long time to get where you want to be. But working on this build is I never ever imagined myself as a DIY er, but I love I'm loving right now learning what I'm learning and seeing. What I'm seeing is the bill progresses day by day. And he's, he's got a time schedule. So we're not we're not we're talking hopefully, another month. He started to go. So
Ethan Waldman 37:54
yeah, no, I love that you said that. Because my very last interview, which will be last week's show with Angela Barnard just talked about how you know you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And so you're now surrounding yourself with what your advice was to surround yourself with the tiny house people, you know, around the builders around the community before you before you need it.
Betsy Barbour 38:20
Yeah, yeah. And also for maintenance fees. And that's been so huge. And that's why I so hugely appreciate the Tiny House Engage community because when I, I worked with my builder right at the beginning to kind of you know, fix certain things. But when that was no longer an option, especially when I moved up here, you know, completely different area. I knew I needed a community to support me, I needed a plumber, I needed people that understood tiny houses, and they could support me in my maintenance. And that's another consideration to begin early on. Don't wait until your pipe breaks or you've got a leak or whatever. establish those relationships early on.
Ethan Waldman 39:03
Yeah, absolutely. And the maintenance thing is is such an interesting one because when you're building a new house, you're not I wasn't thinking about maintenance. But you know, I'm at the point now where like, my siding needs to be refinished. And now I'm kind of like, Ah, you know, if I'd gone with a metal siding or you know, aluminum siding or vinyl siding, I wouldn't be having to like, do all this work. And we'll you know, in Vermont is there to do my sighting I need like three or four days of clear, dry weather. Because you have to clean it with this special solution and brush and then it has to dry completely. And then you have to re stain it and then it has to dry completely again. And like anybody who's been to or lived in New England knows that like three you know, like, it's Not easy to get a stretch of dry weather like that.
Betsy Barbour 40:02
Yeah, yeah, well, and that's the thing, I mean that the builds that we're doing are inside, which is great. They're in a big old barn. It's a little tight. But I said to him, actually, the other day was putting on his siding with his dad was helping him and it was like, he had six inches between himself and the wall of the house and the ladder and the siding and his dad. And I said, you win the prize for tightest fit tiny house build.
Ethan Waldman 40:30
That's awesome. That's awesome. So is this the build? This is the builder that you hope to work with as well?
Betsy Barbour 40:35
Yes, yes. And his name is Cody and his build. His company is called Comak. And he's, he's done some very, very creative thing. Beautiful interior work. And I just like his small his small compact design, very functional. Nice. The one big thing and he and I are going to work on developing is that it would be one floor. I don't want to sleep in a loft. Right. So but I already have a design for a Murphy bed desk because I run my business from my home as well. And that works great. And that will fit into into what we're going to be designing, though.
Ethan Waldman 41:16
Yeah, I think that the now are you in a loft now in your current house or your ground floor? Yeah, my house is one level. Yeah. And I think that that's, that is important for not just people who are retirement age. I think that the loft is problematic both for zoning and safety. A lot of times, you know, a few weeks ago talking with Jennifer Levini about egress windows, and you know, it is difficult to put the proper size window in that loft for for safety reasons. And climbing the ladder is is no fun for anyone in the middle of the night. No, it's cool. I'm looking forward to seeing your designs as they come together for the 16 foot.
Betsy Barbour 42:00
For sure. Nice. Yeah, yeah, one thing I was just gonna mention to, um, you might notice that I'm wearing a Operation Tiny House t shirt. I don't work with them. That's Zack Giffin's group.
I bought this from Zack at a tiny house festival about three years ago, I think. And I love to wear it. And that's another kind of building community concept to get yourself out there and let people know what you're doing. And so often I'll mention, I mean, if obviously, I mentioned it in context, but I'll say I live in a tiny house. And I'm still drawing blanks, interestingly enough in here in America, like, Oh, yeah, that mean like a little house. But on the other hand, obviously, because of tiny house nation and other shows. A lot of people know what a tiny house is. But I have to tell you in Florida, I was sitting in a restaurant about two weeks ago and talking to the person I was eating with. And this woman came by and she, she like nearly jumped at me like, oh, you're a tiny house person. And at first I forgot I had my shirt on. And I'm like, Yes. But we ended up having a really good talk and all that just say that if you let people know what you're into. And you can help inform the public and be and never know when you're going to make a friend and you're going to make a contact or somebody that might be interested or you can give them a resource. So it's another way to build community that I enjoyed doing. That's great.
Ethan Waldman 43:35
I like that advice a lot. So one thing that I like to ask all of my guests, and you've come very prepared, because you've you've You know, my game, you know, this question is, what are two or three resources that have helped you on Your Tiny House journey that that you would share with our listeners?
Betsy Barbour 43:53
Yeah, so um, so I want to mention the Tiny House Alliance of Southwest Florida that is a Facebook page for those that are active on social media. And that's the one that my friends started back in 2017, Lisa Salamone. And then we became friends and business partners. And that's a very good example of kind of a original tiny house builder. And it's not just for people in Florida, we have I think of almost 3000 members now. People all over but lots of good information posted and, and a great way to be online community.
And then there's the conferences, we haven't talked at all about conferences or festivals, but a great way to get connected to see the tiny houses to get resources. So I'd like to mention the Tiny House.com Global Conference coming up in October, and you've got the link there, Ethan. And that's the fourth such conference that they've done. And I find those at least to attend one I love going to them every time because there's different people in different presentations.
And then there's the Tiny House Industry Association, which I'm a member of, and I've been doing, attending a lot of their, they just did an amazing new initiative with libraries of all things using the platform of a library, district library, so lots of libraries, and giving them a tiny house, kind of tiny house 101 seminar. So he is doing great stuff. They got a lot of legal resources. And then the last one would be the builder I mentioned just in case people are interested in things and creative builds, that would be Comak Tiny Homes, which is based here in Central Pennsylvania.
Ethan Waldman 45:40
That's just C-O-M-A-C?
Betsy Barbour 45:42
Ethan Waldman 45:45
Okay. And all these resources will be posted on the show notes page for for the episode as usual.
Betsy Barbour 45:52
Great. Thank you so much.
Ethan Waldman 45:54
Thanks so much, Betsy. It's been it's been great to officially interview you for the show. And I'm sure I'll see you in Tiny House Engage. Maybe later this afternoon.
Sounds good. Thank you so much. Have a great afternoon.
Thank you so much to Betsy Barbour for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including a full transcript, photos of Betsy's tiny house, and more at thetinyhouse.net/169. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/169.
Thanks again to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring today's show. Don't forget to head over to precisiontemp.com to learn how PrecisionTemp can help make tiny living easier. And don't forget to use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping.
Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host Ethan Waldman and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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