Janet Thome cover

Janet and I have been talking for a while and we've decided that it's finally time to pull back the curtain on the efforts that she has been working on for the last several months and do an interview on the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. Janet is the Founder, President, and Treasurer of Tiny House Alliance USA and is currently leading an exploratory initiative to develop new global building standards with ASTM. Before your eyes glaze over, I encourage you to stick with this show because Janet does a great job of explaining what ASTM International is, what standards are, how they would impact the tiny house building industry, dwellers, DIYers, not just in the United States or North America, but in the entire world. It's a really exciting effort. I think there's a lot of potential here and we need more people to get involved.

In This Episode:

  • What is ASTM and what do they do?
  • Codes vs Standards and their effects on everything
  • How ASTM works and who is involved
  • The stakeholders that are involved in the global building standards effort
  • Making sure that codes and standards don't conflict
  • The ICC and their relationship with tiny homes
  • Could tiny houses and cannabis have some things in common?
  • About Janet's tiny home village

Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Janet Thome

Janet Thome

Janet Thome is the Founder, the President, and the Treasurer of Tiny House Alliance USA. She is leading an exploratory initiative to develop new Global Building Standards with ASTM. Janet is also the founder of Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins. She is a tiny home sales consultant representing builders across the country to fulfill the needs of clients that want to go tiny or looking for a community or legal place to live. Finally, Janet has a small tiny home village in Washington State and loves dogs.




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Tiny House Decisions Cover

Tiny House Decisions

Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!


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Janet Thome 0:00

I think somebody is going to finally see when we have these standards developed that there's gold in those hills. I mean look at all the people that have flooded to the cannabis industry. And it is now a thriving industry that is respected.

Ethan Waldman 0:15

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 181 with Janet Thome. Janet and I have been talking for a while and we decided that it's finally time to pull back the curtain on the efforts that she has been working on for the last several months and do an interview on the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

Janet is the founder, President and Treasurer of tiny house Alliance USA, and is currently leading an exploratory initiative to develop new global building standards with ASTM. Now, before your eyes glaze over. I encourage you to stick with this show because Janet does a great job of explaining what ASTM International is, what standards are, how they would impact the tiny house building industry, dwellers DIYers, not just in the United States, not just in North America, but across the entire world. It's a really exciting effort.

I think there's a lot of potential here. And we need more people to get involved. We need advocates, we need stakeholders to join, not the fight, but join the process. And I'm excited about it. So I hope you stick around for this interview with Janet Thome.

I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan, design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is a guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know like how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it. You know what construction technique Are you going to use like sSIPs or stick framing or steel framing, Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for listeners of the show, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD To learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.

All right, I am here with Janet Thome. Janet is the founder, president and the treasurer of Tiny House Alliance USA. Janet Thome is leading an exploratory initiative to develop new global building standards with ASTM. Janet is also the founder of Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins, is a tiny home sales consultant representing builders across the country to fulfill the needs of clients that want to go tiny or looking for a community or legal place to live. Finally, Janet has a small tiny home village in Washington State and loves dogs. Janet Thome, welcome to the podcast.

Janet Thome 3:31

Thank you so much for having me.

Ethan Waldman 3:34

You're very welcome. Thank you so much for being here. I know you're you're very busy working on this exciting opportunity for the tiny house movement. I was hoping we could just start like really high level for listeners because I think I mean, I didn't really know what the ASTM was until I started following this initiative. So can you explain you know, what is the ASTM?

Janet Thome 4:01

ASTM International is a standard developer. They're nonprofit. They started in 1898. And how it started was a group of scientists and engineers got together when the railroad was going across the country. And they did the first standard on steel for safety reasons. ASTM has been drilling, developing standards for 120 years, we have a relationship with 150 countries. And they were the one of the largest anti-predatory standards developers in the world. They published over 13,000 standards. And as of 2018, I think 40% of the ICC building codes are ASTM reference standards.

Ethan Waldman 4:45

Wow. Okay. So that means that like, the ICC building codes basically are like, Is it just like word for word that the standard or does it just kind of reference what the ASTM says?

Janet Thome 4:57

Usually a standard is kind of the How to In a building code. So a good example is a code will tell you that you need something, but a standard tells you how to do it in the simplest terms,

Ethan Waldman 5:09

Interesting, okay? So a code tells you that you need your walls to be are a minimum of R-30. And a standard says, it has to be 2x6 studs or SIPs that are this thick using these different materials. yada, yada, yada.

Janet Thome 5:27

Good example.

Ethan Waldman 5:28


Janet Thome 5:28

And there were like six types of, of ASTM standard could be a test method, classification, terminology, guide specification or a practice.

Ethan Waldman 5:39


Janet Thome 5:41

A great real world example would be cannabis.

Ethan Waldman 5:45


Janet Thome 5:45

Cannabis has a committee with ASTM. And they are, it's very exciting. If everyone knows that industry, very similar. Our industry kind of a rogue group, "don't regulate me out of" group. Who does that sound like? Right?


And what's impressive is they have 900 members in 30 countries. And they have nine technical committees. And they have 75 standards in development right now. Okay, so what's what's so exciting about this industry is they now have standards for test methods, cultivation, dispensing, lab testing, analytical methods, quality assurance, devices, security, packaging, pharmaceuticals, government liaison, and this is global. It's very exciting. And this is the potential that the tiny house industry has, is to become an industry to create conformity without borders.

Ethan Waldman 6:46

Okay, can you say more about that? Like can you say more about what the opportunity is for tiny houses around the world with with the standards?

Janet Thome 6:57

Right now we're using RV standards. So the RV industry feels that we are co opting their standards. RVs are usually meant for temporary use where a tiny house is, people want a tiny house as a residence. And with this crisis right now, with needing 7 million affordable housing units yesterday, tiny houses could be an answer for affordable housing, and is very needed.

And so we don't have standards. So we have a mosaic of rules and laws all over the country. And we have no uniformity. Perfect example, in Minnesota, you can build to a headcode modular for site-built, they don't allow an Park model standard, even though a lot of the builders step up the minimum requirements of that RV stipulates because as you know, a lot of the builders are built with it can be basically a house, the quality of the builders are out there. But there's not trust, because we don't have our own standards. And so we're, we're, you know, kind of pitted here and put it there.

And, you know, like in California, there's been a lot of great progress, you know, with tiny houses in a backyard, or you can do it to an ANSI an FDA standard. But then other parts of the country that are more conservative, don't want that approach. But it couldn't be a better time with a lot of the states getting rid of the single family dwelling stipulation, and, and they're trying to find solutions for housing. And they're desperate for it. And who, who's going to mandate the standards are going to be the city council members, the mayor's the county commissioners, that's who's on our side to get these standards developed.

Because as you know, if you've ever looked into those, they will spend two or three years in think tanks and affordable housing summits. And we all come back empty handed from the meetings because we don't we still don't have our standards that you know, which will create financing for us, which is very needed. And and, and mainstream insurance. Insurance is a buyers market right now, that's pretty easy. But the lending situation is still a problem because it was considered temporary use. Right?

Ethan Waldman 9:21

Yeah, no, that's that is true. We're 10. I mean, we're like over 10 years into the modern tiny house movement here. And it's still very difficult to get a loan to build a tiny house.

Janet Thome 9:35

It really is. I mean, Liberty Bank of Utah is one of the best but unfortunately, they cannot give the loan until after it's built. And the builders in a situation where they've they've made they've gotten 20% down but they can't build a tiny house for 20% down so they're they have to float that money and you know, they have to get a line of credit.

So I think somebody is going to finally see When we have these standards develop, but there's gold in those hills, I mean, look at all the people that have flooded to the cannabis industry, people with a lot of financial capabilities. And it is now a thriving industry that is respected because of the uniformity.

Ethan Waldman 10:17


Janet Thome 10:18

And the tiny house industry has that same opportunity here.

Ethan Waldman 10:23

Can you speak to how you know how this process works from start to finish and kind of where we are in it?

Janet Thome 10:31

We have been to speaking to new business development with ASTM. Since February, I've been speaking previous to them because I had to show them first, our need for standards. And I think we are the poster child of an industry that needs standards, because that's what ASTM does.

What ASTM does, is they bring experts of an industry together. And they go through a creative forum to facilitate a fair process to write develop voluntary consensus standards. So where we're at, which is kind of exciting is they already have 140 technical committees. But we do not quite fit in the existing committees that they already have. So who had been talking to his new business development, to get us ready to send our proposal to their governing board is called COTCO. And they're the ones that grant new committees.

So our long goal here is to be granted a brand new committee just for tiny houses, we're not going to be just doing a standard and then we're done. This will be this will be a committee that will go on indefinitely. And the exciting thing is we will develop standards and maintain them. And if you can imagine the excitement of shipping to Canada, exporting from Australia, having the same certification having the same way they're built, where we address all life, health buyer safety road safety regulations, it's quite exciting the opportunity.

And we call it exploratory because we you know, we haven't, we haven't received approval yet. And so we're hoping that we're going to get approved, we just have a few more meetings we have to attend. And then they will present our proposal to COTCO. A few other industries that they've developed is nanotechnology, 3d printing, and also commercial going into space, believe it or not, it's very exciting, the opportunity here.

And so we're hoping that if we do get the committee, we will be granted a brand new committee, and then we'll roll that to officers will be a main committee will have a co chair, a chair, a member, Secretary and a secretary. We write bylaws. And then each type of work that needs to be divided. We have different subcommittees.

For instance, we want to do a subcommittee on tiny houses on wheels. Want to do a subcommittee on tiny houses on foundation to then we want to have a standard on certification. And then another standard, another committee on microgrid utilities and one on tiny home communities. Very important.

So basically, the desire is to standardize our entire process. So we can integrate all the information and create uniformity, to integrate the jurisdiction, the consumer and the builder all together. And that saves the jurisdictions a lot of money too, because you can imagine how many how many calls are they fielding a day? "Do you accept tiny houses?" If you look around how many summits are occurring, how many think tanks are occurring, but but the missing part is the standards that we don't have.

And then we put out a notice for the different countries that want to be involved. And we have to use the essential requirements of Anssi, which means the standards have to be written with openness, a lack of dominance, balance, coordination, harmonization notifications of standards, we have to publish our intentions. We have to have we have to have all views and objections have to be dealt with. We have consensus vote appeals is goes through a public comment stage. Every voice is very, very important. We need stakeholders from the end users, the builders, material suppliers, lenders insurance, we need government officials. We need the third parties. We need anybody that has a vested interest interest that will be affected by our standards development.

That is the beauty coming together where we all write this together. ASTM does not write the standards for us. They facilitate a fair and open consensus process. And that is the beauty because you cannot come in with the most amount of money and and be the dominant force one of the most important essential requirements is a lack of dominant position in the standard development. You can't come in with you know millions of dollars and say I'm my voice is more important than the DIYer. We're keeping very much in mind what the DIYers want. Because there are a lot of our stakeholders, it's very, very important to represent the DIYers.

Ethan Waldman 15:31

Yeah, that's, that's really exciting. I it's, it's so high level or it's just, it has the potential to touch so many things that I think it's it's a little bit hard to conceptualize exactly what it is. Would the standards, for example, speak to I don't know, how to safely ventilate a tiny house or what the minimum insulation is for a tiny house?

Janet Thome 16:00


Ethan Waldman 16:01


Janet Thome 16:02

Yes, yes. Like, for instance, on the tiny house on wheels standard that will address all life health, buyer safety, road safety. In fact, in NFPA will, as you know, when we get this rolling, if and when they will come in and help but that's the beauty. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, we we can reference other standards. You know, we don't have to start from ground zero, we can reference other standards, and obviously, all the most important is life, health, fire safety and road safety.

And we need to do is we're going to also do a standard for tiny houses on a chassis, which is very important. We're seeing we're seeing so many unsafe things happening that we keep hearing about I don't know if you hear about that a lot even but, you know, people, you know, buy in tiny houses and they don't have enough axles, they can't move their house, or the house is falling apart or someone didn't use a vapor barrier. There's just it's a constant problem.

And, you know, we there's so many people that want to be in this industry. So it's just time for us to grow up and become a substantial industry. This gives us an opportunity to grow as an industry have a fair and open market and create housing for people that are desperately need.

Ethan Waldman 17:22

Yeah. So who are the stakeholders right now and and who are you looking for? Or who is the process looking for to be represented?

Janet Thome 17:33

We have a lot of that. We have a lot of the third parties, agencies that are with us, which is very exciting because they all have experience in standards development. They do the testing inspection certification for modular manufactured homes, park models, and they understand that process. I mean, these are like PFS, Chico, and Radco. They have, you know, 45,35 to 44 years in the industry. Very, very exciting.

We have a lot of different builders. We have a lender as a stakeholder. We have different countries that are involved in the Australian Tiny House Association with the New Zealand Tiny House Association, Tiny Home Alliance Canada, we have the Washington State Tiny Association, and many, many lifestyle tiny home communities. Think Wales, just a modular builders. We have SG blocks which is an amazing modular builder that had the very first ICC tested PSR for container homes. So, the expertise that we have is amazing. We have PFC Consulting Engineers, and Neville Taha is an engineer that has 40, over 40 years experience in structural engineering.

And so we have, we have the architects, we have Paul na ulicy with Diggs prefab, and he's practices architecture and has a manufacturing facility in California. So, our standards will obviously be only as good as the as the as the people that write them. And in fact, one thing I didn't get to finish, when I was describing the committees, as each committee will have a task group, the task group will do the heavy lifting and actually write the standards. And that's we really have the quality of people to get this done. And that's going to take the architects and it's going to take the structural engineers, and it's going to take the builders that have already been building these for a long time that know how it needs, they know they know what's missing, you know.

Ethan Waldman 19:49

Can you speak to this standards process and, and how that maybe goes hand in hand or interacts with other kind of legal efforts around tiny houses?

Janet Thome 20:08

Okay, so say that again?

Ethan Waldman 20:11

Just how how this ASTM relates - you explained it a little bit before - of how it relates to ICC codes and things like that.

Janet Thome 20:24

Well, one thing that we're going to do possibly in our proposal, and our proposal basically is just, we got together and wrote a proposal to present to COTCO as in once the committee if and when it is officially approved, will have been rewritten and balloted and voted on again.

But one thing that we we do want to do is we want to perhaps write a standard that complements and supplements an Appendix Q tiny house. Appendix Q tiny house was approved for inclusion in the 2018. IRC, they provide regulations for standard for tiny houses on a foundation or 100 square feet or less. And so not to be in conflict with that code. We have to do this carefully.

Because that code has been that has been adopted in more than half the country already has been very, very well received. I call that our crowning achievement for the industry. And what we want to do is how we're not in conflict with that is we create a standard that meets the cold requirements, and complements it without being in conflict with it. In other words, we could add diagrams, we could add testing, we could add a checklist for inspectors, we could do a white paper, and then we can take that standard. And then we could create a new standard and reference that for the rest of the world not to be in conflict, because most of the world does not have an Appendix Q tiny house, or they don't have a standard for tiny houses on a foundation.

So this is going to be that is that is one thing. Another thing that's very important for you to know is we've got some major letters of endorsement or steel from the state of Colorado, from Chris Kennedy. And from Kathy Kip, from the house representative in Colorado, Colorado, endorsing what we're doing, what this does, they want they want to create housing. And what's really exciting is Chris Kennedy is actually promoting the use of definitely the tiny houses on wheels. So that's very important.

So how that ties in is a is a standard can be adopted into a law, or like I said, a model act or land use, and it's this. So that's how these standards become adopted and approved, and become real for our industry. And we have, we're gonna have some help, because because that way, they don't have to figure out if you if you ever if you just Google, the amount of meetings that are occurring across the country, trying to solve this issue and, and trying to find, you know, what works. I mean, a perfect example is Sitka Alaska. They did this amazing ordinance in 2019. And I talked to the plan that was pretty exciting to see.

And he told me, he was trying to do some research and you couldn't find anything that was all the information is all over the place. So he wrote an ordinance where you could build a tiny house on it on wheels, from the floor joist up to Appendix Q and have a third party certified that adheres to that chassis to an engineer, you know, trailer.

Ethan Waldman 23:37


Janet Thome 23:37

And that was very innovative. And that sounds and sounds very simple, doesn't it? But yeah, that wasn't out there before. You know. And so that's how this is going to help the standards back because then we have something to provide another perfect example, Washington State tiny house five, there was a tiny house bill. And they in the bill, they mandated that Washington State create building codes for tiny houses. And I actually talked to the code officials, and he told me that tiny houses on wheels made him want to pull his hair out. So he didn't really they didn't, you know, usually code officials see, they see. They wanted to deal with structures. They don't want to do they don't want to deal with vehicles, which are tiny house on wheels as a vehicle. And so they ended up writing, they ended up amending and adopting Appendix Q for Washington State. And then you can build a tiny house on wheels to a modular code, which is the local building code of Washington State, but they really didn't, they don't really have that you have to have that engineered so there's a lot of extra money. So we that's why if we had the standard, we could give that to Washington State and said, Hey, this is the standard that you can use.

Ethan Waldman 24:51

Got it. Got it.

I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It starts with the big decisions, which is, you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help?Is a prebuilt shell a good idea? Is a house on wheels better than on the ground? and what works better for you deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in the in part 2, we get into the system so heat, water showers, hot water, toilets, electrical refrigeration, ventilation, and we're only two thirds of the way through the bug at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions talking about nails versus screws, SIPs versus stick framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing. We talk about how to construct a sub floor sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, Windows flooring kitchen, I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive Tiny House Decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages. It contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions using the coupon code tiny, when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD. That's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check ot at thetinyhouse.netTHD.

What's the timeline that that you expect this to kind of roll out on? Are we talking about a year? Many years decades? How long will this take?

Janet Thome 26:51

I'm hoping that our committee will be approved in the next two months.

Ethan Waldman 26:56


Janet Thome 26:57

And what I've heard is that usually they can you can develop standards between nine to 18 months. And the beauty is is these committees do not hold up the work of another committee. In other words, let's say this, the tiny house on wheels standard is finished first, the tiny house on community standards in development will not hold up anything because they can all be published at different times. That's another beautiful day, beautiful day.

So I think more than anything is just going through this process and making sure that everyone is you know, notify that we're doing this and that they're welcomed, every you know, voice is important. So that's the longer process is getting started and getting this breakthrough, rather than the actual developing the standards. And I've heard from both from ICC and FDA, who also are their standards developers. And they say that the process is, you know, they mean, I mean, ASTM has been doing this for 120 years, so they really know what they're doing.

And with the online capability now, it's pretty exciting. Because people can work on at their own pace and online. And it's going to be pretty exciting. And the other beautiful thing about working with this globally, is can we kind of ran into something with Australia, Australia sees the standard development a little bit different than we do. And you know, they would base how they see it as they want the same standard for tiny houses on wheels and on foundation. And but a lot of the builders really want to use the nfca and the anti standards of the RV standard.

So but the beauty is we figured out how Okay, Australia, we can all have way one because all Australia has to do is she can they can do the standards from the floor joist up the same and then they can adopt sections of the tiny house on wheels standard. That's the beauty of this. You can you can see standards as a building blocks. You can adopt sections. And as team standards can be adopted or immediately after publication they can be amended to fit country's needs. Cool. So

Ethan Waldman 29:09

the ICC does know uh, yeah, I'm still like figuring out and understanding these different acronyms, these different organizations. So ICC, which is the international code Council, do they also create standards?

Janet Thome 29:26

Yes, they do, actually.

Ethan Waldman 29:27


Janet Thome 29:27

In fact, they have, there's two news, they have a new they had a new committee that started two years ago, called the off site and modular construction Standards Committee, and actually is a tiny houses were first excluded from that committee, then included, and then after, and they've been working on for a couple years. And then when they presented a proposal to one of the hearings, the building officials voted it down. And so now they have a state now they have removed all the terminology of tiny houses Tiny Homes and Appendix Q from the standards, which is really not a negative thing, because a tiny house can still be built to a modular code, which is basically just the look, you know, if wherever it's shipped to it's that logo is the local building codes of that jurisdiction, but it shipped to, yeah, so we didn't lose anything there.

But it just kind of shows you where the building code officials still see tiny houses on wheels as an RV. And that's what the co chair told me. I'm excuse me, the the chair told me that the code officials still see tiny houses on wheels as an RV. So that's why I love ASTM, because we, you know, we don't have to wait through a code cycle change that happens every three years, or wait till state, you know, we're doing some state there, all the different states are on different types of different years of the IRC, right? And they don't have to wait for that state to adopt that new IRC. So, yes, and they do, like I said, they do develop standards, and don't they are going to probably in collaboration work with us when we do the standards. Because there are some standards that we might want to have referenced and two building codes, and they can help a lot of other countries. Right?

Ethan Waldman 31:18

Right. Do you see this as as duplicative in any way of like, what ICC has done at all?

Janet Thome 31:27

Not at all, because ICC, okay, if you can't mention the word tiny house, tiny home, or Appendix q tiny house, but you could be included? That's really not being specific. And we're going to be at ASTM, we're going to be 100% specific. So there's where and I've actually talked to the director of standards. And I asked him that question, because that was asked of me. And this is what the answer he said, he goes, you really can't tell if a standard is a duplication until it's written. And then what happens is, when you when you a standard is written, you put out what is called a pin notification, if you want it to be adopted in jurisdictions and to be ANSI approved, right. And so you have to fill out the name of the standard. And then there's a public comment stage, and that what happens in is, if they find a duplication, then the two standard developers will delegate. And that's how you avoid duplication. I mean, ICC and ASTM, we've been in a lot of communication regarding our standards development. I've had a meeting with ICC and ASTM. Regarding this. And I think there's a lot of room for collaboration with both standard developers.

Ethan Waldman 32:44

Cool, cool. And who will own the standards? Like? And will, will they be free for people to read? Or will they be something that's kind of marketed and needs to be purchased?

Janet Thome 32:57

Well, this is how is it understood, there's no cost to us to do for them to develop our standards, except that we have to join to become a member is like $75 a year. So it's a pretty amazing deal, but nobody can really sell the standards except for ASTM.

Ethan Waldman 33:17


Janet Thome 33:17

And that's how they recoup their investment and their time with us. They do have a free Reading Room, though.

Ethan Waldman 33:24

Like a physical location where you can go to read them?

Janet Thome 33:27

No, I think it's online. It's Yeah, it's, I guess, if you're in Pennsylvania, you can but there's a free, you know, access online.

Ethan Waldman 33:35

Interesting. Okay. Yeah. Cuz I'm just thinking of like, you know, cuz you talked about how these, these standards will be applicable to DIY builders as well. And I'm just imagining a DIY builder. You know, usually the, by these code books and things is prohibitively expensive. The pricing is usually more geared towards like, governments and companies buying access.

Janet Thome 34:01

No, I don't think they're actually I haven't really, I don't think they're actually all that expensive. And, okay, one of the standards that we want to develop was, is a global assurance program, quality assurance program, which every builder when they are certified by third party, that's one of the requirements that they have in how the tiny house is built and, and that is going to be a very help the affordability of tiny houses, because if we do a standard like that, that will save the builder a lot of money because if they don't have that there's a lot more work they have to do with their third party. And the third party will approve this global assurance manual that each manufacturer has to have.

And so I don't think it's going to be that expensive. I don't know how I don't know how this is going to work. I mean is the and usually a DIYer might want to be certified by a third party and That could possibly be included in their cost. You know, all everything is up in the air? I can't that's just an example of what could happen.

Ethan Waldman 35:08


Janet Thome 35:08

But obviously, it's written yet. So I don't know how to answer that until it's done.

Ethan Waldman 35:14


Janet Thome 35:15

But we do have them in mind. And we do have some, some some definite di wires in our stakeholders group. And that, like I said, they're very, very important to our industry. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 35:26

So what what's the best way for our listeners? Be they DIY builders, or tiny house builders? Or even people working with professional builders? You know, what's the best way for them to follow this process and support it? flash? Or do they want to go one step further and get involved? Maybe you could talk about, you know.

Janet Thome 35:49

There's different levels of involvement.

Ethan Waldman 35:52


Janet Thome 35:53

I mean, you can have them contact me, Janet@tinyhouseallianceusa.org. And I will put them on stakeholders list. And then they can I mean, I'm also well, you know, willing to have a call kind of cut people up, have a one on one talk with people. I really enjoy getting people up to speed with this. And they can decide how deep they want to be involved in this. Do they just want to join the main committee so they can vote? Do they want to be an officer elected? Do they want to be in the Task Group, a lot of the people are so busy, they don't really have time to even come to our meetings. They're like, Call me later when this is done. And, and they're the people that want to help write it. So there's all these different levels of involvement, and everyone can make that decision that's best for them.

Ethan Waldman 36:47

Cool. So it sounds like it's it's kind of an open process. Nobody is excluded. Anybody who wants to be a part of it can can be a part of it at this point.

Janet Thome 36:54

No one's excluded at all. Not at all.

Ethan Waldman 36:56

Very cool. Very cool.

Janet Thome 36:58

In fact, I mean, stakeholders are people that are for and against it. So yeah, there's that because they want ASTM needs to hear opposing views to make their decision.

Ethan Waldman 37:09

Got it.

Janet Thome 37:10

So that's welcomed as well.

Ethan Waldman 37:12

Are there are there stakeholders that are against it?

Janet Thome 37:15

Yes. That might be another thought. That might be another podcast, though.

Ethan Waldman 37:19

Okay. Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. What happened? I asked you what what, you know, what are you most excited about recently? Because I know like, I'm on the stakeholders list, I get the emails. It seems like there are new developments that happen pretty regularly. What, you know, we're talking in mid September 2021. You know, what's, what happened recently? And what are you looking forward to in the next couple of months?

Janet Thome 37:49

Well, I'm pretty excited about the letters of endorsement that we got from Chris Kennedy. And Kathy Kip, because I, you know, the beauty is that I mean, make it there, Colorado is already showing the signs are probably the first state to adopt our standards. And a pretty good, a good example, Salt Lake City just adopted a standard in a draft form that the ICC, offsite and modular Standards Committee developed before it was even published, which is pretty exciting, because of their need for affordable housing there. So yeah, there is an urgency and affordable housing that that is, I think, the window, but not be better.

And the fact that ASTM is kind of because of COVID, they've gone virtual as well. So I'm excited about so many things. I'm excited about the endorsements, I'm excited about the the level of quality stakeholders that I have. They're supporting this. We have a not a tiny house Association, we have 39,000 members that support this initiative. We have a lot of people that want to see this happen. And so every day I'm getting a you know, someone that wants to tell me that they're going to help us. I've got a new stakeholder from Finland, which is very exciting. Mechanical Engineer. Cool. I don't know, I think I think I guess the last thing we haven't talked about is maybe like, what, what what, what, how do we see the future? when this is all said and done?

Ethan Waldman 39:23

Sure. Yeah. Let's, let's go. Let's go.

Janet Thome 39:26

Let's look at that. Let's look at that future. Okay, that future. Once again, I'll compare it to the cannabis industry. We will have mainstream financing. Because, you know, as I was listening to a video just recently about the cannabis standards, I really urge you to do that. Even you'll enjoy those. They're talking about how now that cannabis is becoming a standard as not having standards is attracting the people in the industry with a huge amount of financial input for the industry.

And I feel the same thing. happen for the tiny house. So someone's going to finally realize, oh my gosh, there is. So there is, you know, gold in those hills and get into our industry and let's let's have some financing and have some you know, it'll also, you know, hopefully, I mean I for me personally, I love an open market to keep because it keeps everything a little bit more affordable. I don't like exclusivity. And I really like an open market feel.

And I see that we're going to be one important, very important standard that we want to do is a tiny home community developments because I think the future of affordable housing will be shared infrastructure. Yeah, place for tiny house to go to. And what's really exciting is there's already already standards, NFPA standards that exists for tiny home communities. And so we don't look at once again, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. So and then micro grid utilities is shows you how to connect tiny houses in a cluster formation for utilities. So what I see is that we'll finally close the gaps of the gray areas that have plagued our industry, where I mean, where can you fact check what is really real and what's correct. You can't with our industry, because of our mosaic of laws. And it I want to trade all those hours that the 50 officials are spending on summits and the think tanks and answering the filming the calls on saying yes, here's our tiny house ordinance. Yes, it's allowed because we have faith in a life health, fire safety, road safety.

One other thing I would really feel it is important that we do is we create a guide for the jurisdiction that will mirror the global assurance program that show the jurisdictions what we're doing in our industry. In other words, you know, the manufacturer needs to get a world manufacturer ID number they need to become a dealer, they need to, you know, have that chassis engineer, you know, things like that has it's all lined up for the jurisdiction in a uniform, integrated information, tribal knowledge, they call it, I think. So. That's what I'm looking forward to an industry that's grown up.

Ethan Waldman 42:17

Yeah. Well, thank you for your effort in doing this work and kind of hurting these cats to get this industry on that path to growing up.

Janet Thome 42:29

Yes, thank you. It's, it's had some challenges.

Ethan Waldman 42:33

Yeah, I'm sure I and, you know, I think I'm still just struck by I think it's kind of cool that, you know, nobody can say, hey, this, we're being excluded, or like, we don't like this idea. Because if they don't, they can become a stakeholder and express that. I think. And I think that's pretty cool.

Janet Thome 42:54

Absolutely. And if you don't like your proposal, we one thing we did here, they said their proposal was too broad. Well, you know, if we it has to be brought, we're going to get a committee that last indefinitely. Like, you know, cannabis has 75 standards in development. It's a pretty exciting opportunity.

Ethan Waldman 43:13


Janet Thome 43:14

And the other exciting, exciting thing is, you know, what, haven't we thought of what is a tiny house always have to be on a foundation or a chassis? What is that? Is there something in between, like a retractable trailer or something? Look at the look at the cost of a chassis.

Ethan Waldman 43:28

Yeah, there are some companies doing it, and it's brightly exciting.

Janet Thome 43:33

And what's exciting is, you know, as team standards are not just always about the construction, or they're about lifestyle changes there. I want to do in the future standards that for multigenerational aging in place. Yeah. You know, wonderful standards for ADA compliant houses 3d printing, because as Tim has done a lot of standards for 3d printing, we could do a standard 3d printing tiny house. So there is room for innovation. There's room for invention, there's room for future thinking. In fact, if if someone out there has a standard that would fit a tiny house, for the tiny house industry, we can actually write a standard for their product in our standard development. How exciting is that? So that's what I want people to get excited about because why do we have to just always put it on a chassis and then you have to put it on a found sometimes you have to put on a chassis and a foundation

Well, I want to also mention we have some pretty cool stakeholders that have some innovative foundation systems. There is a product called diamond peer Foundation, and that all ground stop digging ground screws, screws. Both these companies are stakeholders and what's really amazing about these foundation is they can be a tiny house can be movable, permanent and mobile Again, because these foundations are movable. So that way we can keep our hybrid stretch status. Yes, we're hybrid, but we can, we can meet the requirements of a jurisdiction. And then later if we want to move again, we can move. Yeah. And we can move the pins from the diamond pier foundation. and off you go. I'm sure it's not as simple as that. But anyway, I just if anybody's listening here and you've got an invention, and you have something you want to create. It's time for us to be inventive.

Ethan Waldman 45:33

Yeah, very cool. Very cool. Janet Thome. Thank you so much. I loved that. You know, we were talking doing our standard soundcheck and you explained how to pronounce your last name is like the word "home" with a T in front of it: Thome, and there's t tiny home, right in your name.

Janet Thome 45:54

I know it's pretty I never even thought about that until someone pointed out to me recently. Must be a destiny thing. Yeah, yeah. But I love this industry. And I really, really want to help the phone calls that I get every week, you know, saying that I'm being priced out of my rental home, or I want a mortgage or I you know, I'm gonna I'm 80 years old, I'm going to go live in my car. I want to be part of that solution. I feel like it's going to take all of us to be a part of the solution. Yeah. And I feel like ASTM is gonna give us a path to create it. I feel like it's gonna change the face of affordable housing forever. Cool.

Ethan Waldman 46:41

Cool. Well, one last thing that I would love to ask you about is just your own tiny house village. And you can you tell me about it and what you know how many houses are there and what's it like?

Janet Thome 46:54

Yeah, I live in a smallest incorporated town in Washington State is called Marlin. It comes up as Krupp. The population is I think, 50 people and we probably have more feral cats here that we have people. And it's very sweet. I have two tiny houses. One is on wheels. One is on like a little ADU. And then I have a little lot with someone brought their little tiny house.

And it's really cool because we're all you know, I love living this way, because everyone has their own sovereign place. We're all different ages, and we all were kind of loners. Basically, it's funny, we're all kind of we would like to keep to ourselves. But if you need a ride to town, or if you need something, or we're there for each other, and everyone you know, has their own cooking, sleeping, you know that wash your clothes independently.

Ethan Waldman 47:47


Janet Thome 47:48

But I think it's just a wonderful way to live. It really is. I just enjoy it so much. And it's beautiful here. And we all love animals and we have chickens and it's so exciting to have chickens. Their chickens are really a happy animal to watch. And yeah, yeah, feral cats, obviously. And sweet little town, middle middle of nowhere. And I'm very happy here.

Ethan Waldman 48:11


Well, Janet Thome, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. I really appreciate it.

Janet Thome 48:16

Thank you so much, Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 48:19

Thank you so much to Janet Thome for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes including a complete transcript and a lot of supplemental information - Janet publishes long, researched and cited blog posts about her efforts and I'll link to a few of them that help explain where things are all - at the show notes page at thetinyhouse.net/181. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/181.

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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