Well it's been quite a while since I've posted, and I've made a lot of discoveries and progress. As a result of working with Cushman Design Group, I think I'm going to be building a much better house than I would have. However, these upgrades don't come free.
Every time I do a gut check, I wonder “do I really need this, or does this defeat the purpose?”. But I always end up wanting to take the better (higher quality/ better quality of life) option. After all, this is going to be the house that I live in, and I'm only building this house once.
Sometimes I worry that I'm defeating the whole purpose of the tinyhouse movement by doing all this shopping and purchasing for the tiny house.
Some examples of these decisions:
- Wanting to go with an on-demand hot water heater instead of a tank (which is just 6 gallons.. that's a quick shower). On demand: $995. Tank heater: About $300
- Wanting to go with a propane refrigerator (~$1200) instead of a conventional AC model (~$600). This will make my eventual transition to Solar much more possible.
- Wanting to have a water system with a tank on board and a pump, instead of just a city water hookup. This adds about $300.
- Wanting to use high quality, energy efficient windows that match, rather than salvaging on Craigslist (windows will probably cost around $3,500)
- Wanting to design the electricity system to be hybrid AC and DC, instead of just DC. This again serves my future desire to convert to solar.
- Wanting to start the project with a brand new Trailer. The quote I got from my local trailers shop for the custom 22'er was $4000. Though it's super pricey, I have decided that this piece of the house is crucial and that I want to start off with the best foundation I can.
It's also really interesting to see how one decision can impact another.
For example, I want to get the house spray-foamed for insulation (will probably cost around $2k). This will cost significantly more than using poly boards, but it will make the house much, much tighter and also act as a moisture barrier.
However, when a house is super-tight, you risk having smells, germs and other bad things hang around in the air. Thus, in most conventional tight houses, people install sophisticated whole-house ventilation.
These types of systems simply do not exist for the RV market, so now I have to decide what to do. Great insulation and bad ventilation, or okay insulation with okay ventilation?
Another trade-off is with the propane fridge. Besides the fact that it will need a propane hookup, it needs an AC outlet as well as DC power to handle the controls. It needs not one but TWO vents- one for intake and one for exhaust. So that's two more holes to cut in the wall.
I could go on and on about these tradeoffs but I think you get the idea.
One thing that I'm realizing that there is nothing SIMPLE about TINY.
Sure the house is just a fraction of the size, but it still has to have most of the things that a normal house has. And to add to the challenge, there is very limited space for those things!
When I started planning this project, I figured: I'll just buy Tumbleweed plans and that'll be that. But now I'm realizing that to really design a house takes a lot of work, and there are so, so many decisions to be made.