Kate Bohn is among the voices that I've been eager to feature from Tiny House Engage, my online tiny house community. In this episode, Kate explains how she turned her tiny house dream into a reality, even after her original builder was unable to complete her build. She and her husband completed the build from an empty shell while negotiating rising costs and learning new skills.

In This Episode:

  • What went wrong with the builder
  • How Kate saved money amid rising costs
  • Interstate travel with an unlicensed trailer
  • Thoughtfully planning how you’ll use your space
  • Her favorite features and biggest regrets

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Kate Bohn

Kate Bohn

Kate Bohn and her husband got a shell from a builder and with the help of a plumber and friends, completed Lycaenidae in 10 months. She's now living in Arizona. There were a few bumps along the way, and she's still working toward being more off-grid.





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More Photos:

Kate's builder couldn't complete the entire home, so they negotiated on a shell

They finished the tiny house themselves

Including all the electrical work

Kate's aluminum cabinets are super light – and beautiful

The dog loves the electric radiant heat in the floors in winter!


Kate Bohn 0:00

I invested in NOAH and they were very, very good about being specific about what what you really needed to do, what you needed to be careful about. They inspected every step of the process.

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 today, my guest is Kate Bohn. I've been wanting to feature more voices from my community, Tiny House Engage and Kate is a longtime member who came to the community dreaming of a tiny house. And over the course of the last two years, has purchased a tiny house, shell completed it with her husband, and moved to Arizona. Kate actually wasn't planning to build a shell. He builder was supposed to deliver a completed tiny house, but kind of bailed on her - those are her words, not mine - and left her with a tiny house shell. Still, though Kate was really systematic and really planful about her tiny house build, and it shows in the end product. So in this conversation, we'll talk through the decision making process, how she approached building out the shell, how she saved money by finding used items on Facebook and in other places, and whether the reality of living tiny has met her expectations. I hope you stick around.

But before we get started, did you know that I personally send tiny house newsletter every week on Tuesdays. It's called Tiny Tuesdays. And it's a weekly email with tiny house news, interviews, photos and resources. It's free to subscribe and I even share sneak peeks of things that are coming up, ask for feedback about upcoming podcast guests and more. It's really the best place to keep a pulse on what I'm doing in the tiny house space. And also stay informed of what's going on in the tiny house movement. To sign up, go to thetinyhouse.net/newsletter, where you can sign up for the Tiny Tuesday's newsletter. And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time and I will never send you spam. And if you ever don't want to receive emails, it's easy to unsubscribe. So again, that's thetinyhouse.net/newsletter. Thanks and I hope you enjoy next week's tiny Tuesday's newsletter.

Alright I am here with Kate Bohn. Kate and her husband got a shell from a builder and with the help of a plumber - always a good friend to have - and friends completed Lycaenidae in 10 months. She's now living in Arizona. And there were a few bumps along the way. And she's still working towards being more off grid. Kate Bohn, welcome to the show.

Kate Bohn 3:41

Thank you.

Ethan Waldman 3:44

You're welcome. It's great, great to have you here. Because I feel like I've been following your tiny house journey since before a house existed at all. And you you decided to go with a prebuilt shell and then finish it out yourself. Can you just start by by telling us about why you wanted to go tiny in the first place?

Kate Bohn 4:08

I was kind of inspired by a friend. She started talking about, you know, minimal living and things like that. And I kind of booked into it. And I've been downsizing since before I'd even considered going tiny. So it really appealed to me like the less cleaning was a big one. And it also like energy conservation, water conservation. I'm pretty big on those things. So it it was, it was pretty inspiring. And then, you know, I saw all the builders that had gone before and they're all their stories, and it was just very, yeah, it was very cool to watch and see.

Ethan Waldman 4:57

Nice. So were you were you, did you own like a traditional home before the tiny home?

Kate Bohn 5:04

Yeah, we lived in about 1800 square feet.

Ethan Waldman 5:11


Kate Bohn 5:13

And, but it was a six bedroom house with two bathrooms. So it was,

Ethan Waldman 5:17


Kate Bohn 5:18

it was a lot of house even though it was, you know, it wasn't 2000 square feet, like a lot of them are, but you know, just the maintenance, or I want to say we had it just over 20 years. And I done everything, some things twice as far as like the roof. And we had like a septic system we had had to change out and things like that. So it was just a lot of constant labor with something that big.

Ethan Waldman 5:50


Kate Bohn 5:50

We also had renters at one point, just because we didn't need the space. And it was just a stepping stone.

Ethan Waldman 6:00

Got it? So can you talk about your decision making process around, you know, why you decided to go with a prebuilt shell and, and how you went about finding that shell?

Kate Bohn 6:18

Well, initially, I was trying to find a builder that would actually do all of the work because I had done all that work in my previous house for 20 years. And it didn't really interest me to actually do more building. But I, I yeah, but I started in probably about 2010 trying to discover everything that would make a tiny house like healthy, you know, everything I would need. And a lot of your podcasts helped me figure that out, like I've got, I've got an air system that's constantly going to filter, filter air, and I've got I put very, very thick insulation in because that's important, no matter where you go, to keep you cool or to keep you warm. And it's been really nice this winter.

I, I the the thing is, is that we ended up with a shell with the builder that we went with, because he kind of flaked out on us. And so I was just glad that I got anything out of it, because he kind of he wasn't, he wasn't specific enough, if I had to do it all again, I would definitely go with an even more reputable builder, and do more research for that before I got started. But I wanted very specific things for my house. And that's kind of why we ended up with the person that we did, because he actually worked directly with the company that does the steel framing. And that was very important to me, because steel framing is lighter and it's it's, you know, it's it's designed in such a way it's very, very sturdy. And, and that very much appealed to me. It was a little difficult to build out. However, you know, everything that we did pretty much involved a drill, and very long screws. So that that kind of took a little bit of time. And that was probably part of the reason we got flaked on. But, you know, I ultimately, even just getting the shell. And because he didn't have like all the things that he had, you know, that that I had asked for, none of that stuff got done, I was able to outfit it exactly the way I wanted to. I've got water tanks on either side of my house, I've I've got an electrical system that's pretty heavy duty. I'm getting solar put in in the next few weeks. And that was is going to tie in nicely, nicely based on the way that we did things. And that was all done in part because I invested in NOAH, which is that certification or one of the certifications you get are tiny houses. And they were very, very good about being specific about what what you really needed to do what you needed to be careful about. They inspected every step of the process. And so I've got a seal on my house that if I wanted to sell my house, which I don't, I love my house, it would be easier to do that process because they can literally go on the site, they can look at everything that that is photographs that you know, all the documents that I've uploaded all of those things and it just makes it a better process I think for both buyer and seller.

Ethan Waldman 9:56

Yeah, absolutely having having some kind of certification some kind of vetting process is very helpful, you know, for us tiny house and then also, frankly, for buying a tiny house from someone was, was the builder that you initially worked with also working through NOAH or working through your Noah?

Kate Bohn 10:16


Ethan Waldman 10:16


Kate Bohn 10:17

Yeah, he was he he had gotten NOAA certified, but they had changed how they were doing the certifications. So unless he had done the full build, I couldn't get the seal from him. So I paid him for what should have been the whole part of it. And I only got, like the first two and a half stages done, which, I mean, it was, it was a little annoying, but I, I would still pay the extra money to do the notice of certification. They are very, very, very knowledgeable, and very, very good at answering so many of the questions that, you know, come up as you're building a house, that it's, it's hard to know everything.

Ethan Waldman 11:05

Yeah, it is definitely hard to know everything. So when your builder kind of flaked out, can you say more? Like, what do you mean by flaked out? He just like stopped responding, just dropped the tiny house off and was like, "I'm done with this." Like, what happened?

Kate Bohn 11:23

So COVID happened.

Ethan Waldman 11:25


Kate Bohn 11:26

On the builders website, he said that he taught people how to how to build and do those kinds of things. So I was like, "Oh, that's great. You know, I'd love to learn how to do this hands-on thing." And when we negotiated our price, we negotiated it so that I would go to Oregon and I would work on my house while he was working on my house. And so we would work together. But COVID happened, but also his insurance happened. And they said, "You can't have her there. That's a liability. We won't allow it." And I'm like, "I think you didn't really think your business plan through." But because I couldn't do that and he couldn't, he couldn't finish it for the cost that we had negotiated. We settled on, "Well, he'll just build a shell, basically."

Ethan Waldman 12:19


Kate Bohn 12:20

With with a couple of things added in, but yeah.

Ethan Waldman 12:24

Got it. Got it. Okay, well, that. I've heard horror stories about builders and these kinds of situations. And that, like, sounds really frustrating. But it also doesn't sound like as bad as it could have been, or as bad as I've heard.

Kate Bohn 12:41

No, it definitely. I mean, like, I got a house out of it. It could have been a lot worse. But yeah, but yeah.

Ethan Waldman 12:49

So you mentioned earlier and I wanted to follow up, you know, what, what kinds of things would you look for in a builder if you had to do it again? Because you mentioned like wanting to do more research and do more, you know, educate yourself better. But, you know, you struck me as somebody who was doing a lot of research and was educating themselves before finding the builder. So you know, what, you know, for our listeners, who are, you know, in the before part of this journey, you know, what, what can you tell them of what to look for in a builder?

Kate Bohn 13:20

The biggest thing is, "What are their finished products?" Ask them for their references, ask, you know, talk to the people that they've already dealt with. I checked into Better Business Bureau with this guy. I checked, you know, I checked into other things. And he went bankrupt last year, too. So it was like, so, I mean, like, ultimately, he failed. It's not working out. His business model didn't work out. And I think and I know that COVID had a lot to do with it. Rising costs and inflation had a lot to do with it because he couldn't give people what he had promised. Because it was it just was simply too expensive. Like even- okay, he did some he had some plumbing work done in my house. And his plumber ended up like really way overcharging him for what they gave. And they, they installed the gas line wrong so and I, again, having a good plumber, who checked out all of that systems before we closed everything up, you know, like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times, because he's, you know, he was very much a stickler for that you need to have safety. Yes, I appreciate that. So like the builder had bad problems, too, on his side, just just with the people he outsourced with. And so I would definitely ask who he's working with.

Ask ask him for his full plan from beginning to end like what he's got do each week, make sure he sends you pictures if you're not on site, because I was in Minnesota, he was in Oregon. And I couldn't check, you know, at all really, what kind of progress he was making.

Ethan Waldman 15:12


Kate Bohn 15:13

And part of the problem was he didn't. He was supposed to start my build in May, he didn't start until July. And we didn't get it until Labor Day. So, I mean, that was clearly some breakdown. And part of that again, COVID, because he couldn't find people to work. The construction community is still quite busy right now. And so what he had what he had relied on in his business plan was pretty loosey goosey for finding contractors. And it just didn't work out for him.

I could have told him that because I started buying, seeing the inflation was happening, for all of the stuff that went inside of the house. And I discovered I was going to have to do it. I started buying in July. And so I bought everything in July, and made sure like, I had a garage that was a, you know, came with the apartment that we had. So I had storage that I wasn't paying extra for. And it ended up working out very much in our favor, because we probably saved thousands of dollars doing it that way. And I bought things you know, a lot of used stuff off of Facebook. I shopped deals, I got an Amazon card, so I could get like, you know, extra points and things. So if I bought big things, then I could buy a bunch of little things later, you know, this guy had all this cash back that I got that I could apply to that situation. So I yeah, I I saved a lot of money, seeing things coming and making sure that I had everything done. And then I didn't really stress because I didn't have to buy a lot of you know, extras.

The electrical was something that I had to do as I was doing it because we weren't really sure what we were doing. I had a friend that helped me.

Ethan Waldman 17:03


Kate Bohn 17:04

The plumber, I bought stuff when he was in the process of doing plumbing. But again, it was it was just odds and ends. It wasn't it, it wasn't anything that added up to a real expense. Like I think I spent maybe $1,500 on the like the the whole electrical system, just between wires, and I put in a huge amount of outlets and, and like the lighting and everything else. So it was actually inexpensive compared to like, trying to hire out an electrician for that. But again, costs were going up. And so we spent more on that. Like probably 10 to 20% more because I didn't buy it until like, November. And did you

Ethan Waldman 17:53

did you bring the shell from Oregon back? Home to finish out? Or did you did Oregon to finish it?

Kate Bohn 18:01

No, we we went we brought it home. I didn't have a license for it because I didn't have the title to it. Or you know, or any paperwork at all. I actually didn't get my you know, I've sold you my I sold you your house papers until we got to Oregon. So I had to call each individual like state and ask them what I needed to do to get permission to drive this trailer through their through their area.

Ethan Waldman 18:33

Wow. Wow.

Kate Bohn 18:34

The only the I think there was only two that we had to get like permits for I think it was Oregon we had to get a permit for and Idaho, maybe Montana. But everybody else was like, "Yeah, zoom on through, it's fine. It's not a big deal. You'll you're gonna get a title when you get back." But it was really nice because there are companies that do the title or do the permitting, for semis. And if you call them up, they'll actually tell you who you need to contact and what you need to do in order to get your your stuff even though they can't do it for you directly. So that it's always a good resource to have if, like, you don't have the papers, and you have to drive across many states to get it home. Or you don't want to pay to have somebody ship it to you. Because the cost of driving it home versus shipping. It was probably it was probably about $2,500 cheaper because I think at the time that was like 3000 to bring something across states or or whatever it is. I know you can't do that in like every state. I think there's like special laws for like New England area because of the way the roads are there. But like going from Minnesota, out west, you can do it yourself.

Ethan Waldman 18:49


Kate Bohn 19:05

if you plan before you do that, because I had everything in hand before we even left the state.

Ethan Waldman 20:00

What did you use for a tow vehicle?

Kate Bohn 20:03

I have a Ford F 350 dually.

Ethan Waldman 20:06

Okay. And did you buy that truck in anticipation of tiny living? Or is that the truck that you already drove?

Kate Bohn 20:16

I didn't buy it in anticipation, but I knew we needed one. My mom had one. And she was she had been using it for her fifth wheel. And so she just she didn't need it anymore. So I got I got it from my mom. It's a 2004. So you know, it's

Ethan Waldman 20:36


Kate Bohn 20:36

pretty old and used. But um, but yeah, I got lucky because family had something that I can I can use and and have. It was a little it was it was easier towing it from Oregon to Minnesota when it was completely empty versus like when we brought it back. It was probably like 6000 pounds when we brought it back from Oregon. Driving it from Minnesota to Arizona.

Ethan Waldman 21:02


Kate Bohn 21:03

it was like 11,582 or something. And I was like, "Oh, no, I got it up to like, almost the full towing capacity. Oops." But still, it took just fine. You just, we were going like maybe top speed of 60. Which I mean, you wouldn't go very fast with a tiny house anyway.

Ethan Waldman 21:23

Right. Yeah, you kind of wouldn't want to want to go much faster than that. No. So there's actually a question from a, a fellow Tiny House Engage member Lynn, who says, "I have a shell. Wondering what comes next. Electric?" And so I guess, you know, my question is like, first of all, a preface that not all shells are created equal and like what one shell might have in it is going to be different than others. But maybe you can talk a little bit about like, what what your shell had when you got it? And then like, what was your order of operations for how you how you built it out from there.

Kate Bohn 22:03

My shell had the waste pipe, because I have elevated flooring. So I can have more insulation. And so they they ran a waste pipe for me. And they ran water lines. For me, from front to back. Because my kitchen is on one end my bathrooms on the other, which I know, most people don't have. Everybody usually has everything kind of together.

Ethan Waldman 22:29


Kate Bohn 22:30

But I was able to do that just because everything's up in the floors. So there's nothing and everything's like out of the walls. So it makes a difference. Having that done first, because anything that you need to do with floors, especially like mine, where it was very much of a pain to like, pull up that that big, thick three quarter inch floorboard to try and get underneath and do things for that. So that was and then we had like the, the gas line that we had to get replaced. So that those those were the two things that were that were in my house when I brought it home. We didn't have anything else. It was just bare studs everywhere. And

Ethan Waldman 23:16

So no installation?

Kate Bohn 23:18

No insulation. And in fact, if you're going to do anything at all you want to you probably want to put in your wires and your and any plumbing if you're going to put it in the in the walls before you do insulation we had and again this was something that my builder did wrong. You're supposed to have waste pipes that that go up and out. Like it's just a thing. It's common on normal houses something you should have on your tiny house and he was trying to get away with like these vents that just kind of popped on and and no, it was like you really need the waste pipe. So that's something that I had put in first with by my by my plumber that I that I engaged and then I put in the electrical myself before we did anything else. And so we also had I also found somebody off of Facebook who did spray foam insulation. So we drove our tiny house to his house, had him spray foam it, and then drove it home and put it back where we had it. So that was kind of the order of what we did but we had like all of the electrical in place which means if you're going to have I can't think of the name of them now. But like they the airflow things that we have the sorry, brain lost it anything having to do with electrical that, you know, that's going to have to hook up, like, you should have the stuff for your smoke detectors because smoke detectors are supposed to be wired in, they're not supposed to be battery operated only. If you're going to have a fan, you know, make sure that you have like the vent for where you're going to put it in, you know, you should really be venting outside if you can help it just because it helps your your air be cleaner. Any of those, like, low system, things I would say are, are pretty important to do before you move on to like insulation. Having said that, we were doing our installation at like end of December. And so our house kind of sat for a little bit waiting because it was like -12, -15 for like a month and we're just like, Oh, we're not going to work on that. Wow. That's that's kind of why it took so long is we had like two months where we really couldn't do anything.

Ethan Waldman 26:01

But even even still, it seems like you got it done pretty quickly.

Kate Bohn 26:06

I was very motivated to get it done.

Ethan Waldman 26:09

I'm sure I'm sure. Tell me about your kitchen and your kitchen cabinets. They look they have a very unique almost, I'm gonna say industrial but I don't mean that as like insult. I really like how they look. But what are they? Or where, where are they from?

Kate Bohn 26:27

Well, I can kind of show you because I'm not actually in my kitchen. I'm in my kind of my bedroom living area. So my kitchen is right here. And yeah, they are kind of industrial. They've got, with the exception of like the little box that's under my stove, they're by design for mobility. I found a company that does aluminum cabinets called Moduline. And it was a little more expensive. Like I probably the things I spent money on were systems, my cabinets, you know, installation, but because they lock, you know, they they pop open and lock so they don't come open when you're driving down the road.

Ethan Waldman 27:25


Kate Bohn 27:26

And because they're lighter than wood camp cabinets. That was like, pretty much my infatuation with them. But yeah, they're, they're all all metal. I've got them in my kitchen. I've got them in my living area. And I've got like, one in my bathroom.

Ethan Waldman 27:43

Nice. Yeah, they're, they're really cool. I love I love how in a tiny house you you can find these, these kinds of products that you wouldn't necessarily think to put in a in a single family home. But you end up you know, it looks like you know, I Googled Moduline and it looks like primarily their use cases building cabinets for like shops and other industrial spaces, but they look really nice and your tiny house and and I can imagine that the aluminum cabinets are a fraction of the weight of a, you know, equivalent plywood box.

Kate Bohn 28:20

Yeah. When I got them, I could just like pick them up myself and, and just kind of like, flip them around. They moved around that garage place for four or five times, but yeah.

Ethan Waldman 28:32

Nice. Can you can you speak to the importance of just kind of paying attention to how you live when you design your house?

Kate Bohn 28:43

Um, I think that a lot of people when they live in their spaces, it's we don't have a lot of time, we're always pretty busy. And there's there's not really much focus on how we're how we're using the things around us to make our lives more effective even because when when you can plan for, "Oh, okay, this is this is what my routine is like in the morning." So I can set up my kitchen like a very specific way and you know, shave off 5 - 10 minutes of our day but, but also realizing that like I put in really tall cabinets, I'm a very short person. And I have lived in a studio apartment prior to, you know, getting into the tiny house. And their cabinets were also high and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be terrible because what you know, what about the things I need?" Well, I realized that I only need a step stool and it doesn't take very long like I can reach everything on the bottom shelves pretty easily. And so those are the things that I use the most. So I almost never go up in those top shelves. So it's, you know, it's like, if you plan your spaces for kind of the things that you use, the things that you need, a lot of times you, you can find out that they're just simply things that you don't need in your life. And so it's really easy to kind of reduce like, the, the clutter and the busyness of what's going on. And it makes it much easier to live tiny.

But, but also, like, I hate cleaning, I really hate cleaning. And it was really important to me to design a space that was very easy to wipe up. If I needed to, like, you know, having the two cats, like just bringing them in that I have, you know, like, I can sweep, it takes like 5 - 10 minutes tops. And that's it. Like I can do that every day. And it doesn't really add, you know, it doesn't take away from my ability to live in the space that I have. But when when you sit down and you plan for those things before you just, you know, before you design, you can really make your space work much better for you. And like I know a lot of people go in there, they'll like buy houses that that somebody else built and they're like, "Oh, but I wish the kitchen was more like this." You know, it's yeah, that's because that person looked at that space. And they were like, "Oh, this is this is how everyone is doing it." And that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way of doing it. It just means they didn't really put enough thought into, "Oh, this is this is how I'm going to live in this space."

Ethan Waldman 31:42


Kate Bohn 31:42

So like in in my house. I have like a huge open area. And I thought about, like doing a Murphy bed. And I you know, I looked into, well, lofts. And I thought, "No, that's a terrible idea. I'm clumsy, and I'd fall down." So we didn't we didn't put any lofts in our house. And I was like by design, we're gonna retire here. And when you retire, and as you get older, climbing is very, very difficult. And so that was like one of the thoughtful things that I that I did like, oh, before you before you design something that - oh just because everyone has has lofts know, what, what are you going to do with your space? And so that's, that's why it's, it's just super important to think about, okay, what, what is the end result of the house that I'm going to be in? Like, I know, some people like live outdoors. And so it's like, it doesn't matter really what their space is like, as long as they get a place to like crash. I don't have a couch. But I do have like a, like a foldaway memory foam thing that I can that I pop down every once in a while. I didn't pull it down today, because I feel like it I sit on my floor a lot. It's just, it's just fine for me. But we do have that that, you know, we can put on the floor. And it's basically a couch, but we can also put it away and it's not, you know, then we still have that free walking space. Like if somebody needs to wear crutches. And I've had to do that before. And I'm going to have to do it again. So I just thinking about what's the most likely scenarios for you living in a space? What's the thing that might happen that you just don't expect? And just kind of thinking Well, again, for me, it was crutches. So I tried to make this space, a little more handicap accessible. Just knowing that we're going to, you know, age out in this house.

Ethan Waldman 33:42

Yeah. So you made the move from Minnesota to Arizona. That's, that's quite the move. Did are you renting land? Did you buy land? what's your what's your parking situation?

Kate Bohn 33:57

My parking situation was it was the one thing that I didn't think about or that I couldn't think about because I was kind of too enmeshed in building.

Ethan Waldman 34:05

Sure, sure.

Kate Bohn 34:07

And my my mom and her boyfriend, they live on a fairly significant plot of land here in Arizona, and I just kind of said, "Hey, would you be okay with us moving the house there and us living there? And, you know, and we can kind of like, work out an arrangement." Well, and I was thinking when I moved here, yeah, I'd probably be paying some kind of rent on the land. But I ended up doing more of a bartering situation where I do a lot of the grocery shopping. I make most of the meals, and I clean up in, you know, around their house every once in a while. So that's kind of what I'm doing and in lieu of actual rent.

Ethan Waldman 34:49


Kate Bohn 34:50

So yeah, I'm just kind of sitting here not paying any physical money, but paying my time to help out some.

Ethan Waldman 35:00

Got it. Nice and and I'm guessing since you, you wanted a lighter weight tiny house, do you, do you plan to do any moving around in it?

Kate Bohn 35:10

Yeah, I would love to. I don't know what that's gonna look like because when I got here, I realized my mom actually needed more of my help than that she'd kind of led on to, but, but that's okay. And you know I'm, I'm here everything's pretty solid the house works really well like as designed and I'm pretty happier. And if I don't want to be over at the bigger house, they've got like 4000 square feet. It's a big house. Yeah, I just go home. It's it's a little much. But yeah, yeah.

Ethan Waldman 35:54

And how remind me how you're heating and cooling.

Kate Bohn 35:58

Okay, so that was one of my things that failed. Living in a higher elevation. If you've got propane, it doesn't work so well. And so one of the things I had to do after we got here was I installed like a, it's like a dual propane pressure kind of a thing on both of my tanks. So, like my stove works a little better. My water heater works a little better, but I couldn't get my propane heater to work yet. So I'm not really sure what I need to do with that. Or if, I don't know, maybe I just got a defective one. And I never needed to turn it on because it was 100 degrees when we got here. But I have in-floor heating, radiant heating that I put in.

Ethan Waldman 36:45

Okay. Electric or hydronic?

Kate Bohn 36:49

It's It's electric. And it works really nicely. Okay, really well. So yeah, I'm very happy with it. And the cats and the dog love it. So yeah,

Ethan Waldman 37:00

I'll bet and that's that's under your floors?

Kate Bohn 37:03

And that's under my floors. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 37:05

Yeah. Cool. That's like, over the years, my like, number one regret has shifted, but like, for them, I would say that it's settled on. I regret not putting in electric radiant under my hardwood floors the most. Because it's really not that expensive to put in and the floors of the tiny house are freaking cold in the winter.

Kate Bohn 37:32

Yeah. Yes. Now, the thing is, is that if I didn't, if I moved back to Minnesota, I would want my propane heater working because the the electric heat wouldn't keep up with the cold that that's there. But for here where like, the coldest days are like, maybe, you know, I think it's gone down to like 22. Which is nothing?

Ethan Waldman 37:58


Kate Bohn 37:59

It more than keeps up. Yeah, I just turn it a little higher.

Ethan Waldman 38:03

That's cool. Nice. And then in terms of cooling, do you do you have a mini split or window AC? Or how are you because 100 degrees is pretty hot.

Kate Bohn 38:14

100 degrees is pretty hot. We didn't have cooling when we moved here. And in fact, I just just in the last month I invested in getting a window A/C took a little bit because my windows are smaller because that's my big regret is I didn't put in bigger windows. If I put them bigger windows, everything would be easier. Like we had an egress Windows situation, I had a special order it and it took like nine months or something to get get the right window. So yeah, that was that was not a not ideal. Um, and I've had to replace let's see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... I've had to replace five Windows since since we brought the house already home in the last year?

Ethan Waldman 39:02


Kate Bohn 39:05

Well, one was we needed the egress window, which I understood, but my builder was not again, his mistake. He was like, "Oh, you don't need that. You've got that glass one." But no, it's like you need two egress windows in a house. Period. That's that's the thing. So and, and that's the big thing about people in lofts, when they're buying buying houses that are that are like older and used. A lot of those windows are not egress-friendly. And so

Ethan Waldman 39:35


Kate Bohn 39:36

like the safety is like questionable. So you always you have to have a very specific size window to be able to escape. And your door.

Ethan Waldman 39:47


Kate Bohn 39:48

Now here's the thing. Most of us will use our door to escape but yeah, if you're up in a loft and a fire starts in your kitchen, you need to be able to get out. It's a thing. But yeah, so part of that was So I needed an egress window. I had 4 broken windows. Two of them broke during the the coldest cold part where I wasn't able to work in my house. Okay. And I was really bummed out because one of them was my egress window I have like we had put it in. And then like a month later, it was broken. It just popped. Like, there must have been some kind of defect or something in that in the window that we got. And the same thing happened in the bathroom I came in, I was like, "Oh, no." And then as on the way here, one of our upper windows broke. Maybe just from moving or it's the house settled wrong, or something twisted, and it just it did it just cracked. But that, you know, not a big deal.

Ethan Waldman 40:49

You must be good at replacing windows.

Kate Bohn 40:52

I'm really good at it now. My plumber taught me.

Ethan Waldman 40:56

That's a skill.

Kate Bohn 40:57

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I would like to not ever do it again. But you know, I can if I need to.

Ethan Waldman 41:05

Right, right. Is there somewhere that people can see like a video tour of your house? We have a few pictures that we're gonna post on the show notes page. But if there is I'd love to embed, you know, a video in the in the description for the episode.

Kate Bohn 41:21

I haven't done that yet. But I can and I'll and I'll give you the link to it.

Ethan Waldman 41:28

Cool. I guess my my like, last question, or second last question is is more of an open-ended one, which is how, how do your xpect? How did your expectations of tiny house living match up to the reality of tiny house living? Like, what is it what you expected? Or are there things that you, you know, thought would be different?

Kate Bohn 41:56

It is pretty much what I expected. But again, that was a lot of like, you know, my thoughtful design about how I want to live in the house. So I can live exactly as I plan. Because I designed it to be that way. Like even the heated floors, I was like, it would be very cool for like the dog to like, sit and look out the window and like lay on the heated floors. So that that's what they do. So, you know, it's just that, yeah, I it, a lot of it went down to how I planned the space. And so probably the only thing that didn't quite pan out. I had hoped to use a normal sized toilet and just do like composting that way. But it just simply wasn't big enough. So I had to, I had to build like a box and I put a bucket in it. And that's what I'm using for composting.

Ethan Waldman 42:58


Kate Bohn 42:58

So I think that was probably the only thing I really had to change.

Ethan Waldman 43:02


Kate Bohn 43:03

I always planned to have a gray water egress. But I wasn't ever going to like flush a toilet in here. So and I and even like with my sink, you know, like doing my dishes, the blackwater, I had always planned to carry that water out and like dump it outside. So like, none none of that changed. You know, it's, it's, it's working pretty much how I thought. As far as that goes. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 43:35

Nice. You mentioned that you're putting in solar. Will that be your only source of electricity once that's in? And will it be able to, like run your radiant floors and everything?

Kate Bohn 43:47

Um, that's what I'm told. I was kind of like, I was kind of surprised. And like, "Really, you're sure about this? It's gonna work?" But this is a guy who basically travels around the country, putting solar and on RVs and planning out people's designs and stuff. And so he was like, "Oh, you've already got like, the panels and this that. And he's like, Well, here's, here's what you need to get." And yeah, he's, he's pretty sure that everything's going to work. Or I've got a really big lithium battery. So that when I get it all done, you know, it. I'll be able to like run stuff all night. And it won't it it shouldn't be a problem.

Ethan Waldman 44:30


Kate Bohn 44:31

Or so I'm told. So I'm really hoping that's the way it works. But I don't know enough about solar to like, question it too much. So we'll see how that goes.

Ethan Waldman 44:42


Kate Bohn 44:43

Yeah. It sounded pretty positive about it.

Ethan Waldman 44:47

Well, in Arizona, there should be plenty of sun for you to charge the batteries. I would I would guess that the the needs of the system for Minnesota would be a bit different than the needs for Arizona.

Kate Bohn 44:59

Yeah, for sure. I don't think that that system would hold up in any kind of climate that's going to be cloudy for days and days on days on end, like it is, you know, basically anywhere up north. But that's okay. Because I also, I do have the ability to plug plug into an electrical system if I need to, like I have an RV plug. So it's, you know, if it didn't work the way I was hoping I can just switch over to that.

Ethan Waldman 45:31

Got it. And would you mind sharing, you know, what your what your total? All in cost is? For the build? Not counting your labor, obviously.

Kate Bohn 45:44

Yeah, not counting that. That would be a lot more. Um, I think...

Ethan Waldman 45:48

Yeah, you can't count your own labor.

Kate Bohn 45:53

Dangit! Um, I think with with the current costs of like, you know, adding in the solar, it's probably going to be like, like, probably close to $120,000. But again, I got hit with the inflation. And, yeah, and those kinds of things and having to replace your windows multiple times does kind of add up pretty quick.

Ethan Waldman 46:26


Kate Bohn 46:26

It's part of, you know,

Ethan Waldman 46:27

Windows are not cheap.

Kate Bohn 46:29

That is a big part of the expensive that was extra. It just it just was so.

Ethan Waldman 46:34

Yeah. And and what was the price that you had negotiated? Where it was going to be the complete tiny house, but you are going to help?

Kate Bohn 46:43

Yeah, it was going to be around $79,000. So it was a big difference.

Ethan Waldman 46:50

But yeah, definitely, definitely a big difference.

Kate Bohn 46:54


Ethan Waldman 46:54

Well, I'm glad. I'm glad you made it through. And from the pictures I've seen the house house looks really awesome. And I'm just so happy for you that you've that you did it.

Kate Bohn 47:05

Yeah, me too. I'm glad it's over. Yeah, I can just enjoy it.

Ethan Waldman 47:12

The more time goes by the less, you'll remember how much of a struggle it was. And you'll be like, "Oh, I wasn't that bad. I could do another one."

Kate Bohn 47:20

I don't know about that.

Ethan Waldman 47:23

You'd be surprised.

Kate Bohn 47:25


Ethan Waldman 47:26

One thing that I like to ask all my guests is, what are two or three resources that that have helped or inspired you along the way that you'd like to share?

Kate Bohn 47:36

Well, your Tiny House Engage community was was really a really nice resource. I know, I wasn't always participating a whole lot. But I was kind of following everybody's progress. And, and I would, you know, like frantically search for answers for things and see what other people were doing when I'm when I was in the middle of stuff when I got a little bit stuck.

Ethan Waldman 47:58


Kate Bohn 47:58

That was one. What's her name? Dee Williams, I think?

Ethan Waldman 48:04

Yes. That is someone's name. Who's very awesome in the tiny house world.

Kate Bohn 48:09

Yeah, yeah, I read her book. Then there's another builder that's that builds like,

Ethan Waldman 48:15

It's called The Big Tiny.

Kate Bohn 48:17

Yeah, that was the that was what that was, like one of the first tiny books I read. And then there was also a deep, deep Odyssey. shoots.

Ethan Waldman 48:30

Deek Diedricksen

Kate Bohn 48:33

Thank you. He was another one that I you know, I kind of got inspired about how he uses spaces. But But then, of course, I also liked the Tiny House Nation, too. So I'm like, those are kind of the the ones that I kept track of when I was looking at things well, and your stuff, too. I mean, like I read everything I could get my hands on but yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Ethan Waldman 49:02

Well, awesome. Kate Bohn, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. This was was great to get to properly interview you.

Kate Bohn 49:09

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Ethan Waldman 49:13

Thank you so much to Kate Bohn for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including photos of Kate's house and a full transcript of the episode over at thetinyhouse.net/251. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/251.

One thing that you might not know about me is that I love coffee. And if anything I've written or produced has helped you on your tiny house journey, and you're looking for a way to say thanks, Buy Me A Cup of Coffee is a great way to do so. Head over to thetinyhouse.net/coffee where you can buy me a cup or chip in however much you'd like. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/coffee. And obviously this is not required. You can listen to the show forever and never do anything. Well, I hope you'll share it with your friends at least. But again that's thetinyhouse.net/cofee to buy me a cup of Joe. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman and I will be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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