Michael Bartz cover

Michael Bartz talks to me about all things tiny houses, environmentalism, and climate change. When Michael hand-built his own tiny house on wheels, it set him on the path to thinking more about how what we do and how we live impacts climate change and inspired him to start his podcast, In Over My Head, to discuss that with others. In this interview, we talk about his show, his tiny house and its special features, and more.

In This Episode:

  • Tiny house, big impact
  • From trailer to hinges, Michael's tiny home is truly custom
  • How they found parking (It starts with relationships)
  • Tips to lower your environmental impact
  • Is off-grid really more environmentally friendly?

Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Michael Bartz

Michael Bartz

Michael is an actor, filmmaker, and environmentalist. In 2017 he took a big step towards lowering his environmental footprint by building his own off-grid Tiny Home. He crafted everything from the trailer to the reclaimed oak countertops, and after four years he had his dream home. But when it came to his goal of “saving the planet”, downsizing and minimizing weren't enough. So in 2021 with funding from Telus STORYHIVE, he launched the In Over My Head podcast, an interview-style show where Michael talks to experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines about how we can all make small changes that add up to a big environmental impact.



This Week's Sponsor:

Precision Temp Logo


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 any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping.


More Photos:

Michael's off-grid tiny home is parked on a farm, where he trades labor for rent

The cat door sits in a space in the bathroom wall

Almost every bit of his house is custom made


Off-grid is best where Michael lives – but the same may not be true for everyone!

The bathroom is elevated to allow for storage below

Some parts of the house run on propane, but may be swapped out for electric later on


The living room doubles as an office

More custom storage in the staircase up to the loft


Michael Bartz 0:00

As you talked about where a tiny house, the entire inside is a cabinet job, right? So everything has to be custom. Everything has to be mounted to the walls. You can't just go to Ikea necessarily and just pick out this and I'm going to just add that. Very custom. At least that's the way that I built mine.

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 198 with Michael Bartz. We will be talking with Michael today, all things tiny houses, environmentalism, climate change, and more. Michel actually built, hand built, his own tiny house on wheels. And it really set him on the path to think more about what we do, how what we do and how we live impacts climate change. And he's actually launched a podcast called In Over My Head to explore that. And so in this interview, we will talk about the show we'll talk about his specific tiny house and what its special features are, 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 or skoolie. 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 tiny living easier and more comfortable, visit precisiontemp.com. While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping. That website again is precision temp.com coupon code T H LP for $100 off any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.

Alright, I am here with Michael Bartz. Michael is an actor, filmmaker and environmentalist. In 2017, he took a big step towards lowering his environmental footprint by building his own off grid tiny home. He crafted everything from the trailer to the reclaimed oak countertops. And after four years he had his dream home. When it came to his goal of saving the planet, downsizing and minimizing weren't enough, though. In 2021. With funding from Telus STORYHIVE, he launched the In Over My Head podcast, an interview style show where Michael talks to experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines about how we can all make small changes that add up to a big environmental impact. Michael Bartz, welcome to the show.

Michael Bartz 3:10

Thanks, Ethan. You're very welcome.

Ethan Waldman 3:13

So I guess I'm just coming right off the bio. Does - and this is probably a loaded question with a long answer -but does living in a tiny home make a big environmental impact?

Michael Bartz 3:25

It absolutely does. Yes. Yeah. So the the fewer resources you're using as far as building materials, and as well as eating the space, electricity, all of those things, in a smaller space, you're using less of those things. So it does lower your environmental impact.

Ethan Waldman 3:41

Okay. And I, I wondered about that, when it came to the idea of building, you know, building a tiny house with new materials versus, you know, buying a house or living in an apartment somewhere that has already been built where those materials have already been kind of used used up?

Michael Bartz 4:01

Yes. In that case, it would, from an environmental perspective, it would be better to use the house that already exists rather than building a new house per se.

Ethan Waldman 4:11

Right. But but in terms of building a new house, I guess it makes sense that that building and living tiny would be the least impact.

Michael Bartz 4:20

Yeah. And then ideally, again, from an environmental perspective, even finding a used tiny house and buying that. That would be the best of both worlds because you could live training and you wouldn't be new any new resources.

Ethan Waldman 4:33

Yep. Exactly. So maybe tell tell us about and expand on your story a little bit. You know, going back to 2017, what, why were you thinking about going tiny and and how did that take shape for you?

Michael Bartz 4:49

For sure. So yeah, 2017 is when I actually I started the build and so about a year prior to that I I went through a life change and I was looking at doing something differently, wanting to maybe go back to school, maybe buy a house, I wanted to maybe do some traveling. And I couldn't quite decide and the idea of tiny living came up because perhaps that could satisfy all of those things potentially that could be learning. I could be living in that space, perhaps traveling in that space.

So eventually, I decided, yes, I'm going to build this off grid tiny house. Actually, I remember the time where I saw I saved for a year I saved $25,000. And I did as much research as I could, I went to the National Tiny House Jamboree in 2016. And the point where I said, "Okay, I'm actually going to do this thing, I could use that money to get to go back to school to put a down payment on a regular house, which is the least exciting part. I could travel with that money. But no, I've decided to do this thing. And I'm going to do it." Even though at the time, I thought, you know, there's no guarantees, because it's not a legal way to live. There's zoning issues sometimes. So it could be a risk. I could spend a lot of money and a lot of time and someone could show up and say I can't live here, right. But I decided that anything I do is a risk, right? There's no guarantees in life. So I'm just gonna do it. So I ordered the trailer parts, the axles, the metal, and I and I got to it.

Ethan Waldman 6:18

Wow. So you, you actually built your own trailer?

Michael Bartz 6:22

I did. Yeah. I would not recommend that for most people. I've been welding since I was a teenager. My dad's a Journeyman welder. So even that was a big project for me and him and I tackled it together. And he was very much going through with me checking my weld, so that it was more of that. I want to do as much as I can on this build, and why not build the trailer too?

Ethan Waldman 6:43

Yeah, I was gonna I was gonna ask about that. Because from I don't know that I've ever spoken to somebody who either built or refurbished a trailer who who recommends it or do it again.

Michael Bartz 6:54

Yeah, definitely not for the average builder for sure.

Ethan Waldman 6:57

Yeah. How? How long did it take to build the trailer?

Michael Bartz 7:02

That was actually pretty quick. We went pretty hard. It was the spring of 2017. And it only took a few weeks actually to build it.

Ethan Waldman 7:09

Nice. Well, that's not so bad.

Michael Bartz 7:11

Mm hmm.

Ethan Waldman 7:12

But that assumed that you kind of knew how to build the trailer. Like did you have a set of plans? Did you have a design on paper? Like how did that all work?

Michael Bartz 7:24

Yeah, we had to set a plan. I knew what type of steel I wanted to use. I knew everything that was going into it. I have to 7000 pound axles dually gooseneck trailer so yeah, I knew that. So it was pretty straightforward as far as building the actual structure.


A lot of it was actually, as you know, probably with like the Eagle trailers and such?

Ethan Waldman 7:45


Michael Bartz 7:46

Having a designated trailer that's built for a tiny house saves a lot of time when you're putting the house on top of it. So that was yeah, it was a pretty easy transition.

Ethan Waldman 7:55


Michael Bartz 7:56

One thing I did differently, which was nice about building my own, because I have that skill, was that I actually so I put the bathroom on the front of the trailer and actually built the bathroom two feet high and built that out of steel as well. And that way I have my maintenance rooms underneath so I could put my water heater, my tanks, my batteries, all that stuff under there but I didn't really know the order or how I want to do that. So building it in steel allowed me to leave that space kind of open and I could tweak that a bit and I ended up doing access doors on the north and south side. And so I could just open that up in there and one doors the whole the whole width of that space.

Ethan Waldman 8:37

Nice nice. So now is that conditioned space in there? Is it is it heated?

Michael Bartz 8:43

Yeah, it is heated slightly. Yeah, it's insulated and then the furnaces in there. So it just heat the space.

Ethan Waldman 8:49

Nice. Nice. What are some other, well actually so how long did it take you to do your build?

Michael Bartz 8:56

Yeah, so that that the trailer was quick. The the rest took a while so it was four years in total. And that was three years part time so I was still doing a nine to five job. And so it was evenings weekends whenever I could fit it in. And then 2020 That spring I decided it was I was done with with building I wanted to just get it done so I took that entire year and around other projects mostly was building so then another upgrade I put in over 1000 hours in that last year.

Ethan Waldman 9:25


Michael Bartz 9:26

Just in building but I like I mentioned aside from the trailer. I made everything I made all the furniture I made my own hinges for the for the cabinet doors.

Ethan Waldman 9:35


Michael Bartz 9:35

Yeah, doing the countertop that even that kitchen countertop probably took me two weeks of gluing the wood, sanding it everything else so it was a labor of love. But it took took a while.

Ethan Waldman 9:47

Yeah. And did you set out to kind of build everything yourself in that way or did that kind of happen along the way and then you know?

Michael Bartz 9:59

Yeah, I definitely going into I thought I want to build as much as I can. And part of it was just also, out of necessity, as you talked about where a tiny house, the entire inside is a cabinet job, right? So everything has to be custom, everything has to be mounted to the walls, you can't just go to Ikea, necessarily and just pick out this. And I'm going to just add that. It's very custom at least that's the way that I built mine. So I thought, I want it to look a certain way. I want it to be beautiful. And I have to make these certain sizes and dimensions. So why not just do it all myself?

Ethan Waldman 10:32

Yeah. So how, how is it insulated? And how do you heat it?

Michael Bartz 10:37

So I've got spray foam insulation, and then I heat it with just a forced air propane furnace.

Ethan Waldman 10:43


Michael Bartz 10:44

And it works pretty good.

Ethan Waldman 10:46

Yeah. And you're, you're completely off grid.

Michael Bartz 10:49

Mm hmm. Yeah, we have to top up the batteries once in a while, we're noticing, but in the winter, especially right now, but yet we run off of propane, and then solar as well. Everything is 12 volt. And then the propane powered. And I really tried in my design to limit how many electronic pieces that I'm using. Yeah, so we use a gas range. And then I have got a stovetop, popcorn popper, I've got a stovetop, toaster, I try to use as much at least in the kitchen, the stovetop as much as possible, whereas as opposed to using electric toaster and things like that. So trying to lower our electronic use, right. And hopefully our electricity and power use.

Ethan Waldman 11:25

Right, right. There's always that push and pull, environmentally but between, you know, using propane to allow yourself to be off grid, but then also not wanting to use propane. Or at least that's that's how I've always felt about it.

Michael Bartz 11:39

Oh, definitely. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 11:41

Do you have any plans to like increase your solar capacity over time? And then, you know, replace propane things with electric things?

Michael Bartz 11:49

Yeah, we definitely want to increase the solar part of this this journey, is that, you know, there's there's thousands of decisions you need to make when you're building your tiny house.

Ethan Waldman 11:58

Oh, yeah.

Michael Bartz 11:59

Even if you're, it's partly made, it's just it's just it can be overwhelming, you can feel in over your head about that. But that was like a non electrician, I did have help with the electrical, I did pull the wire, we hooked it all together. But I had a journeyman electrician helped me with that a friend of mine. And even he wasn't really an expert in solar. So I was I was trying to figure out as much as I could, as far as how much power am I going to need. And it's yeah, it's a little light. We could add more, I guess the one thing I wasn't aware of, I got a kit,

Ethan Waldman 12:29


Michael Bartz 12:30

And I wasn't aware that there was a limit to how many panels I could add, because of my charge controller because of the gauge of wire I had. So if I'd known that, I probably would have gotten a bigger system. In order to eat more easily at it, we can do it. And it's going to be a little bit of figuring but it would have been a lot easier from the get go to do that. So we'll probably ideally, probably double our solar and that's gonna make a big difference in the winter. Summertime. No problem at all winters a little bit. We got to top it up a little bit.

Ethan Waldman 12:56

Yeah, yeah, it gets. Unfortunately, cloudy in the winter and the days are shorter to boot.

Michael Bartz 13:01

Right. And super, super cool. It's yeah, it's very cold right now.

Ethan Waldman 13:04

Yeah. Yeah. So Where where are you located? Exactly.

Michael Bartz 13:07

We're in in Canada in Southern Alberta.

Ethan Waldman 13:10

Okay. Okay. So pretty far north, even though it's Southern Alberta.

Michael Bartz 13:14

Yeah, yeah, we're like right now, I don't know Fahrenheit. But in Celsius, it was minus 39. Yesterday, I believe. So it's, it's a bit cold. But actually, like with the spray foam things been quite nice inside. Yes, the furnace is running more but that's every house ever. And I think I tried as much as I could to build the house to be upgraded in four seasons in Canada in winter. So it's just the reality that we're going to use a little bit more utilities but compared to a big house far, far fewer.

Ethan Waldman 13:42

Yeah, absolutely. In terms of those those the building envelope what, what thickness are your walls and floors and ceilings?

Michael Bartz 13:53

Yeah, so I've got three and a half inches on the walls just a two by four.

Ethan Waldman 13:56


Michael Bartz 13:56

In the trailer I into that with insulated that with rigid foam insulation, that's probably 5 1/2 inches. And then the ceilings are 2x6s. I've got 5 1/2 and I I did hire out the spray foam. But I had them just go right to the roof. So there's a bit more in the roof.

Ethan Waldman 14:11


Michael Bartz 14:12

Mm hmm.

Ethan Waldman 14:13

And have you been happy with how it's performed in the winter? Is this your first winter in it?

Michael Bartz 14:18

It is yeah, so we I finished the build this spring and then this is our our first winter in the house. But so far, so good. Because I insulated that maintenance room. Got lots of you know, the houses well insulated, so, yes, the furnace has been running more, but it's been cozy and it's been nice and no issues.

Ethan Waldman 14:34

That's, that's great to hear. Congratulations.

Michael Bartz 14:36

Yeah, we'll see. The one challenge is we haul our water from from the farm that we're living on.

Ethan Waldman 14:42


Michael Bartz 14:43

So I put the water from one tank outside into the tank in the house. So that's where I could see a problem like I was it was about minus 15 degrees Celsius, and I was still able to fill the tank just fine.

Ethan Waldman 14:54


Michael Bartz 14:54

We'll see if it's minus 30 if things start to freeze up, but cross that bridge when we get there.

Ethan Waldman 14:58

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. that, that get water is a big challenge in the cold.

Michael Bartz 15:04


Ethan Waldman 15:05

So in terms of your parking, is this, you mentioned that you're living on a farm? Is this the kind of like we're out of view of, of the road and other houses? So nobody's gonna find us? Or what's the legal status of your parking?

Michael Bartz 15:20

Yeah, so we are tucked away in a farm in southern Alberta. And, yeah, the partly the reason that we ended up going out there as was was the zoning issues, of course, because although we built it in the city, I just, I didn't want to park it in the city, because that's where it's my thought of like, someone knocks on the door and says, I can't live here would be more likely to happen. So we ended up looking for a place out of town, partly to avoid that. And because we just we enjoyed the country, we enjoy that kind of quieter life.

But finding the place was was quite interesting. It's a fun story in that. So my, I'll start with my dad's a musician. And he's in his 60s. And most of his, his groupies are in their 60s as well or so are older. And I was at one of his concerts. And he asked, "Who still gets the newspaper?" And everyone's hands went up. And I looked at that, and I thought, hmm, because I always wanted to live on someone's property where I could give back to whoever I was living with. So so maybe like a senior citizen where they need their walk shoveled, they need help with a few tasks where they just can't do it themselves. So I thought, "I'd like to build that community and relationship instead of just paying money. Here you go, let's, let's get to know each other, I can help you, you can, you know, put give me a place to park." So that was my thinking.

So I one day just decided to put an ad in the in the local paper. And I was actually quite overwhelmed by responses. Because, essentially, because let me start again, in that. I said, I didn't say Tiny House, I said trailer. And I said, "I'd like to park our trailer on your property, and I'll do our jobs to pay for the spot." So essentially, they're getting free help, and I'm getting a place to park. So I had so many responses. And a couple responded. And we went and saw them and we liked them and they liked us. And so we moved out there.

Ethan Waldman 17:13

That's fantastic. And so when what kind of jobs have you ended up doing?

Michael Bartz 17:18

Oh, yeah, I've everything under the sun be it's a it's a crop farm. And boy, I because I'm a welder, I was learned to weld. I've done some welding fixed things. I made a fuel tank stand. I helped with harvest, but lots of like, little jobs mowing the lawn kind of whatever comes up fixing odd things. Alright, so just jack of all trades, I would say.

Ethan Waldman 17:42

Cool. And yeah, it's fun. And in return, you receive a free parking spot.

Michael Bartz 17:46

Yeah. So we don't have any we don't pay rent, we have no mortgage, the house is paid off. And they just give us a spot and we park and it's a great relationship.

Ethan Waldman 17:54

That's fantastic. And you keep saying we so I'm assuming that you live in the house for somebody else.

Michael Bartz 17:59

Yeah. So my partner Sarah and I live in the house.

Ethan Waldman 18:02

Nice. And did have you known each other from before you you built the tiny house?

Michael Bartz 18:08

No. So I actually met her in 2017. I probably I think I'd done the framing when we met so I started the project. And that's when we met to became friends and then became more than friends but she's always been a she's a traveler. She's from Spain, and she moved here to to work in research. She's a scientist, and she finished her PhD on their orchard in Spain and she was living there lighting the fire heating it things like that. So she was used to living kind of off grid.

Ethan Waldman 18:36


Michael Bartz 18:36

Not showering every day, things like that. So she was she was on board definitely with the project and was excited.

Ethan Waldman 18:42

That's awesome,

Michael Bartz 18:42

about our life together.

Ethan Waldman 18:43

Hmm, that's great.

Let's face it, most tiny house dellers want their homes to be small, but not uncomfortable. That means reliable unlimited hot water PrecisionTemp propane fired Hot Water Heaters reliably provide unlimited hot water, and they're specifically designed with tiny homes in mind. In fact, the NSP 550 model was installed in my own tiny home. And the reason I chose it was because it did not require a large hole in the sight of my home, like other RV hot water heaters. Instead, it mounts discreetly through the floor of the tiny house and works quietly and reliably. Right now. PrecisionTemp is offering $100 off any unit plus free shipping, when you use the coupon code THLP at checkout, so head over to precisiontemp.com and use the coupon code THLP at checkout for $100 off, plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.

How did having her involved in the building change change the house at all?

Michael Bartz 19:48

Not a lot. I think in some ways, I almost wish we could have designed it together. Because I already had a plan in mind and this is where things were going to be and there will at that point there wasn't a lot of changing it right. We did get some cats. And I had to add a few little things for the cats and tried to make it as Cat friendly as possible. But it was all kind of after the fact one fun thing is she wanted to put a cat door in the main door so the cat could get in and out. Yeah. And I said, No, thank you because that's just gonna let all sorts of air in and his I'm not putting a hole in this like my fiberglass brand new three quarter inch glass quarter glass door, right? No, sorry, not happening. So we started Googling and looking around. And they make cat doors for apartments to go into unlike a porch. And I thought that's interesting. And so I built a cat door into our bathroom window. Oh, and so she jumps on to the countertop in the bathroom. And then she jumps out. And I put a ladder outside and she goes down the ladder. So she has her little cat door. Yeah, we can open and close it. So a winter like right now it's very cold. We just close it and she can't get out. And that doesn't let any cold air out. But in summer, she's free to come and go as she pleases, which works really well.

Ethan Waldman 21:01

That's really cool. So is there a screen built into that somehow to prevent bugs from coming in? Or

Michael Bartz 21:07

Not really. No, it's a regular door has a bit of a gap. But it's just swings open and closed. So okay. It's not not really an issue. Yeah, it's just I built I took an existing cat door that swings. And then I just built a frame fourth and a stand on the outside that that fits inside that windows. I just had to custom build that. Okay, once we were on the farm, I figured that out. So now it works really well.

Ethan Waldman 21:30

Awesome. Yeah, I love I love hearing about those little customizations and things that people do to make their tiny houses unique to them.

Michael Bartz 21:38

Yeah, and things you wouldn't maybe have thought of normally, that's we've made a few little adjustments like that, that just making the space work a little bit better for us without making any major changes.

Ethan Waldman 21:46

Yeah, like what's a can you share another one?

Michael Bartz 21:49

Oh, I would say I'm thinking of in the kitchen, I actually originally put our recycling bins under in a drawer under the countertop. Okay, because I wanted to have everything in the house. But we said, we soon realized that we needed more pantry space. So those came out and those go outside now. And then we filled that with various pantry things. So that's one small example of, of how we slightly modify without making any major changes to suit our lifestyle.

Ethan Waldman 22:16

Nice. Nice. So can you little, I want to kind of shift gears now and talk about about your podcasts in over my head. You know, How long had you been thinking about a project like that? Is that something that happened during the tiny house build or after?

Michael Bartz 22:34

Yeah, it was it was during, in some ways in that I, when I was building, I always thought I want to do a documentary project around the tiny house and potentially take it on the road. And so I tried to build it as light and mobile as possible. As much as a tiny house can be

Ethan Waldman 22:51


Michael Bartz 22:52

Since then, I've realized that moving it to the farm. I was on pins and needles. And I thought I don't want to move this again, if we can help it. So I'd much rather not move the house. And even if I did that project, I'd probably go around on a bicycle or hitchhike or something. Because again, looking at the environmental impact me taking one term dually truck and pulling my house across the country probably not a good idea.

Ethan Waldman 23:15


Michael Bartz 23:16

But I always had that idea of yeah, I'd like to talk about tiny houses, I want to talk about environmentalism. How can I get that story across. And that was that was percolating and, and then in 2020, Telus STORYHIVE. For your listeners who aren't aware it's a it's a media company in Canada. And they primarily fund documentary work is how I knew them. But in 2020, they did a podcast edition. So they offered a grant of $10,000 and mentorship to produce season of your podcast. So you pitch it to us and, and out of 700 applications. I was one of 16 spots that was chosen. So fantastic.

Ethan Waldman 23:55


Michael Bartz 23:56

Yeah. And then, with that show, I didn't want to just be about tiny houses. Because as much as that's a big part of my life, it's not a part of everyone's life. And that maybe wouldn't translate to everyone. And in order to make an impact in saving the planet. They say environmentalism, we need everyone on board. And while I was building I was also involved with a group called environment Lethbridge from where I'm from. And so I was doing environmental work. And I thought, yeah, maybe I can talk about some of these stories and some of the things that people are doing because, as I talked about, in my show, feeling in over my head, the name comes from that, when thinking about saving the planet, I've downsized and minimized.

But then I thought I need to do these other things. And I need to grow my own food and make my own clothes and hitchhike and dumpster dive and all these things. But in the end, you just do end up feeling overwhelmed because you're one person trying to make a huge change.

Ethan Waldman 24:52


Michael Bartz 24:52

And so I started talking with these experts, and the more I learned, the more inspired and the better I felt and I thought, yeah, that's That's what the show should be about. That's the show. And I pitch it to tell us and they agreed.

Ethan Waldman 25:05

Nice. So what what are some of the small changes and things that you've learned about through through during the season?

Michael Bartz 25:12

Yeah. So season one, I talked with the local experts in Lethbridge, from Kathleen, which is the the very first episode she talked about. We talked about downsizing and tiny houses. And from or even just a small thing, I learned that yes, turning down your thermostat that does make a difference. Even boiling a kettle, instead of filling in all the way up if you just need one cup just just well, as much as you need. Right? Things like that. Just those little changes can add up for sure. With Bryce, we talked about solar power. And he talked about not using more than you need. So instead of getting this huge solar system, figure out what you need, try to use less and then have a system that works for that. What else did I learn? With Mandy from Lethbridge, sustainable living, we talked about permaculture. And she really one thing I didn't think about in not just the house design, but where we were living was how do how do we relate to nature and the environment? And what is our impact on that? Especially on the farm? Where are trees? And where are we getting our water from? And things like that? So thinking about that, and using the land and less technology can lower your environmental impact. And I know not everyone can live in the in the country. So we do talk about what people can do in the city as far as permaculture and and reducing their impact that way.

Ethan Waldman 26:34

Fantastic. Do you think you'll do a second season of the show?

Michael Bartz 26:38

Yeah. So actually, season two is out already.

Oh, nice.

That's all about transportation, I decided instead of doing the show, like like yours, I love your show. It's very great. You're doing a weekly show with different guests. And for me, I wanted to focus on a specific topic and do more of a deep dive. So I'm doing each season on a different topic, and talking with a variety of guests within that topic. So season two is about transportation. So I I broaden my scope, and I end up talking with people from across the country. So some from the University of Toronto, some from the university British Columbia, I had the climate change and policy analysts from the David Suzuki Foundation. And so I talked to these folks about how we get around. We talked about electric cars, we talk about public transportation, active transportation, trains, things like that, and lowering our environmental input, and lowering our environmental impact when it comes to transportation. So that's what season two is about.

Ethan Waldman 27:35

Fantastic. And how is it is it's how many episodes of season two,

Michael Bartz 27:41

I decided to go with with six episodes. I feel like that's a nice round numbers. The first season was six. So let's do another half a dozen conversations. And we can't obviously exhaust that topic in 6, 30 minute talks. But it's it gets us talking about it at least.

Ethan Waldman 27:55

Sure. Sure. And so plans for season three?

Michael Bartz 28:00

Yeah, season three. So in season two, I noticed that people were talking a lot about where we get our power from as far as electric cars and public transportation. And so I think, I think I'm going to look into the grid and electricity and where we get our power from is, is where I'm leaning. That'll be probably starting in January.

Ethan Waldman 28:24

Okay. And do you, you know, do you record the episodes and produce them and release them one at a time? Or is it kind of like the Netflix style? Like you you release all the whole season at once?

Michael Bartz 28:34

Yeah, Netflix style? Yeah, I just I just thought why not? Instead of releasing it all in over a month or over a period of time? Just do it all at once. So it's like an album or something? Yeah, just we make it a curated, I get to choose which episodes come in what order? Yeah. And then just put it out there and people can take it at their leisure.

Ethan Waldman 28:52

Yeah. How has living tiny affected, you know, your thinking about sustainability? Or environmentalism? Has it changed? At all?

Michael Bartz 29:03

Yeah, no, for sure. I think it has been met, living in the house, especially a house that I built and that it's off grid. It's tiny. I'm always thinking about it. Because it's not just a regular house, and I'm doing my thing. It's like that's so much of my life. And especially with the show, I think about a lot all the time, basically too much, too much. But it's good. I like it, it's fine.

Ethan Waldman 29:28

Do you think that that you'll ever do a season about tiny houses or alternative housing?

Michael Bartz 29:35

Potentially I do want to cover cities and how they're designed and that we could definitely talk about housing. Yeah, I've got a lot of different topics in mind, but maybe not necessarily tiny houses specifically, but that that could come up potentially very nice.

Ethan Waldman 29:50

Very nice. Back to your tiny house. Is there anything major that you change about it if you ever built another tiny house? And do you have any plans to build another tiny house.

Michael Bartz 30:02

But for this first question, the only thing I think I might change or have reconsidered is that because I planned on moving it, I built it within the RV specs where it's 8 1/2 feet wide, 13 feet tall, I built it to move. And now knowing that we probably won't move it that much, I may have considered making it wider. I mean, we're fine in the space, it's great. But we had two friends over and they had suitcases. And we put that in kind of the mudroom area, which is really the kitchen. And that just took up so much space. And so with Sarah and I it's fine. But then we start adding a few people and their stuff and it gets a little cramped. So knowing that

Ethan Waldman 30:45


Michael Bartz 30:46

and I just didn't want to get a wide load permits and go through all that, if we're only going to move it a few times a wide load permits, not a big deal, right. And that I've when I was in Colorado for the tiny house Jamboree, I was inside some houses that were 10-12 feet wide. And it really makes a difference in how the space feels. And and the usable space you have. So potentially, maybe I might look at making a little bit wider. Also, when I started building it, the idea was that we don't have everything that we need in our house, you know, you don't have a gym, you don't have an office, you go to those places you go to maybe other people's houses that if you want to get together. And since then that has changed a little bit and that Sarah and I both have our office in the tiny house now.

Ethan Waldman 31:32


Michael Bartz 31:32

So yeah, so now we're both working from home where we weren't before because she was at the Research Station. And, and I was working in post secondary, but now that I'm not doing a 9-5, I'm just doing these other projects, and she's having to work a lot from home. That's something that we weren't really planning for. So potentially, I would have planned for more of an office space that was a designated space. Right now we have our kind of living room that that converts into our office, which it works. It's fine.

Ethan Waldman 32:01


Michael Bartz 32:01

But I wouldn't want to record an episode and have her there. And it would be quite tight.

Ethan Waldman 32:06

Yeah. So are you recording this now from the tiny house or you have a different place you can go to do?

Michael Bartz 32:11

I've got a studio in town that I'm using today. Because only because actually, you wanted a a good Wi Fi connection. And that's something we don't have on the farm. And right now I'm recording my podcast just through the phone, which works well. Which is nice, because I don't have to rely on the internet.

Ethan Waldman 32:27


Michael Bartz 32:27

But I thought if we want a nice internet connection, I'll come to the studio in town. But normally Yeah, I do all the recording in the tiny house, which is which is very fun.

Ethan Waldman 32:34

Nice. Yeah. Well, I appreciate the quest for better Wi Fi. Mm hmm. It's always good when the guests are in the listeners in here what the guest is saying.

Michael Bartz 32:44

Yes, it will be the best sounding podcast episode you've had.

Ethan Waldman 32:47

Yes, yes. And I appreciate that. If that, you know, not many people get to actually see the video. But Michael has a sweet microphone setup. And his voice is sounding very sweet.

Michael Bartz 32:58

Very rich. Yes. And if you want to geek out about podcasts, I've got a it's a local recording. So I'm recording it here. And I will send it to Ethan. And it will sound amazing.

Ethan Waldman 33:06

Very, very, very nice. Michael, is there anything else that you were hoping to talk about today?

Michael Bartz 33:12

Yeah, one thing I thought about in our chat about environmentalism and tiny living was considering being off grid because a lot of people think that, okay, I want to build a tiny house, I'm going to save the planet reduce my environmental impact, I have to be off grid. And off grid is great. And it's very convenient. If you need to move around, or you don't know where you're going to be, we enjoy the sustainability aspect of it in that the sun is shining, we are powering everything. And it feels really great to do that.

But if you're someone who is on a limited budget, and you say that I want to live, tiny and reduce my impact, but I just I can't afford to live off grid, there's something you need to consider in in that, you need to ask yourself a very simple question, and everyone can answer it, it's where do you live. And depending on where you live in what state that's actually gonna depend on how your power is created. So Ethan, you're in Vermont. And actually, the power is made by hydro, biomass, some solar, so you guys are actually making renewable power, and then giving that onto the grid. Whereas if you're in some other states, West Virginia, for example, so much of their power comes from coal, and that's the same here in Alberta, a lot of our power is coming from coal. So if that's the case, then then potentially being off grid, we'll be more environmentally friendly.

But if you're in a state, where your power is made by renewable energy, plugging into the grid isn't the end of the world, it's actually potentially possibly more environmentally friendly than you buying a whole bunch of solar panels and extra things that had to be made in China and shipped and all those things. Just plug into the grid. So potentially, if you had a tiny house that either you made yourself or like we talked about You bought a used tiny house, you plug it into the grid, you're still doing okay. So don't be too hard on yourself. If you can't be 100% Off Grid, and you want to save the planet there, there are other things you need to consider. And really, anyone who goes tiny, is already doing so much more for the environment than living in a big house.

So perfect is the enemy of good in that you can't be perfect. There's, like I said, there's thousands of decisions you have to make. And you're not gonna always make the right decision. But if you feel overwhelmed about saving the planet, know that you don't have to be perfect. Live in a small house do that, I highly recommend that. But because you're lowering your emissions, how much energy you're using, and also just living in the house for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, that's a lot less of that that you're going to be using. So don't necessarily think you have to go off grid, look at where your power sources coming from would be my my one tip our listeners.

Ethan Waldman 35:58

Fantastic. Thank you. That's that's a great tip. Thanks, either. So one thing that I like to ask all my guests is, you know, what are two or three resources that helped you in the building or design of your tiny house that you'd like to share with our listeners?

Michael Bartz 36:14

For sure. No, I did a lot of my own research. I a lot of books that I purchased a lot of online YouTube channels about building tiny houses. Yeah, I think for me, the biggest thing was actually going to the National Tiny House Jamboree, meeting other people who had done what I what I was about to do, and actually seeing the houses because it's one thing to watch some videos and read some books. But if if you can, if possible, try to go and see a tiny house, even Airbnb, you can stay in a tiny house. Yeah, try to go and see them and spend some time in some of them. For me, that was probably the biggest learning that I could have done.

Ethan Waldman 36:57

Nice, but that is good advice going and seeing them and meeting other people.

Michael Bartz 37:01

Mm hmm.

Ethan Waldman 37:03

Awesome. Well, Michael Bart's thank you so much for being a guest on the show today.

Michael Bartz 37:07

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 37:09

Thank you so much to Michael Bartz, for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including links to In Over My Head and photos of Michael's tiny house. And as always a complete transcript at the thetinyhouse.net/198. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/198. 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.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

powered by

Subscribe to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast: