I love sharing insightful interviews of everyday people who are living in or building tiny homes in different and unique ways. Tina Quintana is a teacher who has maximized the potential of her tiny abode as a studio space, a guest room, a full-time tiny home, and even a virtual classroom. We dive into why she opted to build out a shell and how it works for her. Tina offers valuable information and encouragement for those who lack building experience but still want to be involved in their tiny home build. 

In This Episode:

  • Origins of the name DogStar
  • Building out the custom shell
  • A great place for crafting and teaching
  • Working toward legalization
  • Maintaining a wood-clad tiny home

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Tina Quintana

Tina Quintana

Tina Quintana grew up loving tiny spaces, anything from building forts to traveling in a VW bus and now a Tiny House called the DogStar. Her intention was not to live in it full-time but to use it for traveling teaching gigs, a studio, a guest house, and a possible pop-up shop. In the future, Tina would like to have a larger Tiny House to live in full-time and to have her DogStar together on a piece of property. Tina’s Tiny House is about 5 1/2 years old and is a shell from Liberation Tiny Homes that she and her husband completed. She is a textile and practical arts teacher in PA. Her Tiny is parked in the backyard of their “big house” and is loved and enjoyed every day!


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More Photos:

Tina's DogStar is a shell from Liberation Tiny Homes

She and her husband did all the plumbing and electrical work

They customized pre-built cabinets for the kitchen


Tina needed plenty of storage for craft supplies

The clear coat on the wall looks brand new!

The matte finish on the walls make the whole house feel like a cabin


Tina Quintana 0:00

What would I put in it? What kind of fixtures? I would go to like stores and go online and take pictures and I kind of had a big folder of pictures. So when the time came, I was so clear on what I wanted, that it was able to go quickly.

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 253 with Tina Quintana. Tina is a Tiny House Engage member who completed her tiny house shell about five and a half years ago. And she is a textile and practical arts teacher in Pennsylvania. And her tiny house is actually parked in the backyard of her "big" house. She uses it as a studio space as a guest room, and has also traveled in it when she has taken teaching contracts. In this episode, we'll really dive into how and why Tina decided to finish a prebuilt shell, Tina has a lot of great encouragement for those of you who are not experienced builders who want to have a hand in the building of your own tiny house. And we talk about why a shell is such a great option. I love sharing interviews with you of regular people who are living tiny or building a tiny house and using it in different and unique ways. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Tina Quintana as much as I did.

Hey, it's Ethan. I'm a tiny house author, speaker and teacher, and I'm the host of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. I've been making the show for free for the past five years. But one thing that you might not have known about me is that I love coffee. 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, a coffee is a great way to do so. Head over to thetinyhouse.net/coffee to buy me a cup. I really appreciate your generosity and kindness. The Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast will always be free. And I bring you a fresh new episode every Friday morning. If you are able to chip in I really appreciate it. Again that website is thetinyhouse.net/coffee. All right, let's jump into this week's interview.

Right. I am here with Tina Quintana. Tina grew up loving small spaces anything from building forts to traveling in a VW bus and now a tiny house called the DogStar. Her intention was not to live in it full time but she used it for traveling, teaching gigs in the studio, a guest house and possibly a pop-up shop. In the future Tina would like to have a larger tiny house to live in full time and to have her DogStar together on a piece of property. Tina's tiny house is about five and a half years old and is a shell from Liberation Tiny Homes that she and her husband completed. She is a textile and practical arts teacher in Pennsylvania. Her tiny is parked in the backyard of their big house and is loved and enjoyed every day. Tina Quintana, welcome to the show.

Tina Quintana 3:28

Hi, Ethan. Great to see you.

Ethan Waldman 3:33

Yeah, good to see you.

Tina Quintana 3:34

Hi, everybody out there.

Ethan Waldman 3:35

Yeah, all the all the future listeners - future and current listeners, there's members of Tiny House Engage can listen in live and then the rest of the audience hears it on a podcast. So thank you so much for doing this. Tell me, tell me about the name DogStar. Is that a reference to to the book The Dog Star?

Tina Quintana 4:02

No, no, it's in reference to the idea of the Dog Star. So when I'm traveling for teaching, and I look up at the sky, okay. I'm looking at the same stars that my family is looking at.

Ethan Waldman 4:16

Nice. I like that. It's a good name for a tiny house.

Tina Quintana 4:20

Yes. So I was when I was thinking of the name. I thought about when I'm traveling and staying away from home. And I'm looking up at the stars. The Dog Star my family is looking up at the stars and they're seeing the same ones. That's where it came from.

Ethan Waldman 4:38

I like that that's sweet.

Tina Quintana 4:40


Ethan Waldman 4:42

So tell me about your you know, kind of pre Tiny House journey and what you know what really made you pull the trigger and kind of jump in on on doing a shell.

Tina Quintana 4:55

Okay, the pre journey feels like so long ago. I can't even hardly remember.

Ethan Waldman 5:01


Tina Quintana 5:02

Well, I guess you know. So the last, or the only movable tiny space I ever had was my Volkswagen van, which I always miss. Unfortunately, it was totaled in a snowstorm in Vermont. And I always missed it, I missed the idea of just getting in a vehicle, which is my home, I can stay in and traveling. So that was sort of on my mind. And then you know, being an art teacher, there's always a chance when you know, the budget is tight that the art programs get cut short first. So I just started thinking about tiny houses again, because I knew something might be coming up. And also at that time, the shows started to become more popular. And I started watching the shows, and then there were books at the bookstore. And then there was the magazine and lots of stuff online. And I was just like, This is it. This is it. You know, I had the taste of it when I had my Volkswagen van, and I really want to do this. But you know, I'm settled my husband and is settled here at his job and my daughter, and I thought, you know, we can't really travel, you know, continuously right now, or move to where tiny houses might be allowed because really five and a half, almost six years ago, really, there weren't too many places to park a tiny house. Actually, I didn't know any. Yeah, so all of that kind of got everything going. And then I found out there was a builder, Liberation Tiny Homes not too far from my house about 40 minutes. And I went to an open house there. And that's when things really started to go. So that was kind of the beginning.

Ethan Waldman 6:51

Yeah, lucky you living right near living right near like a good reputable builder.

Tina Quintana 6:57

Yeah, definitely. And we were able to go up there. You know, as each phase of the build changed, we were able to actually go up and look and make decisions and you know, just see what was happening, which was awesome. I know a lot of people don't get to do that.

Ethan Waldman 7:15

Yeah, yeah. So talk to me about the decision to do a shell. What you know, what was the house like when you got it? Was there? Was there plumbing and electrical? Or did you have to do all that too?

Tina Quintana 7:30

Hopefully you were able to download all the pictures I sent. There is one there.

Ethan Waldman 7:34


Tina Quintana 7:34

that shows the, the shiplap. The walls were in, but the pipes for the plumbing were sticking out in the kitchen in the bathroom.

Ethan Waldman 7:43


Tina Quintana 7:44

All the electrical where the light fixtures are were just boxes with wires sticking out. We originally were going to put the walls in ourselves, but it was taking so long to get the build. And as it turned out, I was going to do a travel teaching job.

Ethan Waldman 8:02


Tina Quintana 8:03

So we asked them if they would put the walls in for us which they agreed to. But originally the reason we decided on the shell was one of course the cost. What a huge difference. And two, two, you know, we have, we have our bigger house that we could build out the inside. We have a garage right there that has electric so we knew that we were going to have that opportunity. But on the other hand, we had never done electrical work. We had never done plumbing work except you know, fixing things in the house. So we were kind of a little nervous about it but we were like you know it's ours. We're not renting it out on Airbnb, we're not selling it. It's ours. So you know if you know the trim is a little off or the floor isn't perfectly cut, which it's not, that's okay because it's ours. And we just kind of took that approach the whole time.

Ethan Waldman 9:02

Nice nice that's that's the only way to do it or that's a really good way to do it is to just kind of put one foot in front of the other the other and enjoy the process as much as you can.

Tina Quintana 9:14

Yeah, I just wish there were as many things available back then when we were finishing it out as there are now.

Ethan Waldman 9:21

Yeah, are there are there any like products or appliances in particular that you that you are coveting?

Tina Quintana 9:29

Hmm Not really. I have to say I'm really happy with the Envi heaters are nice. I've had a few different heaters and these are really amazing. They're they have no sound. There's no fan so there's not like blowing heat in one area that actually really evenly warms the temperature in the house. They're amazing.

Ethan Waldman 9:55

Nice and they're they're like an electric radiant panel heater right?

Tina Quintana 10:01

I guess what it does is it draws cold air from the floor. So you have to install them fairly low down on the wall. And it pulls the air up through it and then sends it out warm. They're really amazing.

Ethan Waldman 10:14


Tina Quintana 10:15


Ethan Waldman 10:15

And how many how many of those do you have in the house to stay warm?

Tina Quintana 10:20

Well, I actually have two, but the second one I have by the bathroom and I only use it when it gets below maybe 25, 24 degrees.

Ethan Waldman 10:31


Tina Quintana 10:32

And I have it there because that's where all the plumbing is.

Ethan Waldman 10:35


Tina Quintana 10:36

Right? So when it gets really cold, I'll open the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom cabinets, and then that wall gets heated really nice. So that helps. Otherwise really, I only need one. And they're only like, $150 or so cheap. And they're so great.

Ethan Waldman 10:52

That's awesome. So, how long did the did the finish work? Take you and your husband to do?

Tina Quintana 11:01

Hmm, gosh maybe about six, six months or so.

Ethan Waldman 11:12

Oh, wow. That's really fast.

Tina Quintana 11:15

Yeah, I mean, you know, we put in the floors, and the loft and in the living room of the whole downstairs. We put in a sink, we put in a shower, we put in kitchen cabinets. Our kitchen cabinets, I love them, we bought the premade cabinets at like a big department store like Lowe's. And we cut the backs off of them. So that they were a little bit narrower. Because it's pretty, it's pretty narrow back there by the bathroom and the kitchen. We cut the backs off, we installed them, we painted them and they're just they look so great. I'm so happy with them.

Ethan Waldman 11:55

That's awesome.

Tina Quintana 11:57

And then we just put risers on the stairs and yeah lighting and all that but you know, I have to say probably it was probably like two years that I was thinking about what do I want in a tiny house? You know, what do I want it to look like? What would I put in it? What kind of fixtures? I would go to like stores and go online and take pictures and I kind of had a big folder of pictures so when the time came I was so clear on what I wanted that it was able to go quickly.

Ethan Waldman 12:28


Tina Quintana 12:30

Really helpful do your research way ahead of time.

Ethan Waldman 12:34

Yeah, and where, at that point you know, I know it's it's five and a half years ago so it's a long time but you know where were you getting your research where were you know wherever you finding helpful helpful knowledge and instruction on how to complete the shell and get the tiny house kind of up and up and running?

Tina Quintana 12:51

Hmm, probably books more than anything else, like electrical books from the bookstore. Yeah, you know, they have these really great manuals that have like everything in it how to install a fence how to install floor

Ethan Waldman 13:07


Tina Quintana 13:07

how to do plumbing? And really probably that more than anything else and maybe asking a few questions here and there. But yeah, it was probably books because like I said there really wasn't much back then. I think YouTube also. We watched some YouTube videos but really not that many. It was mostly books.

Ethan Waldman 13:27

Yes shells, I've been hearing more and more from from people who are planning to go tiny that they're they're really thinking about a shell. And I think that it's they're great because they combine this you know they combine some of the heavy lifting that's done for you and gets you kind of a little bit further down the road of the project but then they also still let you get your hands on some building materials, personalize the tiny house in ways that that a professional builder might not do for you, and you know and save some money. I'm curious you know do you do you have a sense of of like, how much you saved or like a percentage of what you saved by doing the shell versus you know having the whole house built professionally?

Tina Quintana 14:16

Well not compared to what they were charging for our completed one back then but in total I don't think we spent more than $28,000. And this is like an eight what is the eight and a half by 18?

Ethan Waldman 14:31


Tina Quintana 14:32

I think it's pretty great inside

Ethan Waldman 14:34

That's with the shell?

Tina Quintana 14:35

That's what the shell and everything, totally everything that's in it.

Ethan Waldman 14:39


Tina Quintana 14:40

Even little furniture and the heaters everything.

Ethan Waldman 14:43

Wow. That's amazing. I'm I'm inspired and I also want to want to tell people that unfortunately, those numbers are not not the same anymore. I was actually, when you, when I saw that it was a Liberation house, I popped onto their site just to see and they are a good builder. I've had them on the show, I think their least expensive shell is $48,000. And that's without windows or roofing or door. That's like, a really basic shell. And then it goes up from there if you want, like, other things in it. I mean, the cost of building materials has gone up a lot. And they also, you know, that's a 26 foot house too. So it's not, you know, not comparable size either.

Tina Quintana 15:32

Yeah, well, I think that when I just got the shell from them, it was around $24k.

Ethan Waldman 15:37

Yeah. Yeah.

Tina Quintana 15:38

So you can imagine, but on the other hand, I don't know if this mattered, but I actually bought plans from Dee Williams, for her Sweet Pea house.

Ethan Waldman 15:50


Tina Quintana 15:51

It was so similar to what I wanted. Yeah, that I bought the plans. And then when I took it to Liberation, I explained to them all the things that I wanted to change, so it's really loosely, you know, it's kind of a loose version of it. But I don't know if that helped the fact that I actually had plans for them when I went to them.

Ethan Waldman 16:12

Yeah. So this is a custom shell no less.

Tina Quintana 16:16

Right. It's a 2.5. Shell.

Ethan Waldman 16:20

Nice, nice.

Tina Quintana 16:21

But I still think Ethan, I still think it's so much cheaper to, you know, like I said, if you if you're not into everything having to be perfect. And if you're not, you know, renting it out, I still think it's such a good thing to consider. Because, you know, it's okay to learn as you go and take the time that you need. And you really do. I mean, you save thousands of dollars. Thousands.

Ethan Waldman 16:49

Yeah. Do you have, you know, a message, I know that a lot of listeners are kind of in this boat where they like, they really want a tiny home. They're not sure they can afford it. And they they see that the DIY route is is certainly the best chance that they have to do it, you know, for cheaper. But I think that they have a lot of fears about their ability to, to learn and to actually do the work. I'm curious, and I don't know, I don't want to make any assumptions. I don't know how old you are. Any any message for you know, somebody like you who who is maybe a little scared to do this, any thoughts about you know, how it was for you?

Tina Quintana 17:35

In some ways, I feel like it comes down to like, how bad do you want it. Um, I'm just the kind of person if I really want something like, I will find a way to make it happen. I'm just like that, or even though I'm scared, I'll just do it anyway. So I think part of it is my personality. But if you have a place to park the shell and work on it, and if you have time, before you have to live in it or use it, then really what's to stop you you know, you work a little more, you save a little more money, and then you work on it. Yeah, you know, it's different. If you really need it by a certain time and you have to move then it's kind of tricky, because things do happen. But yeah, you know, I'm in my 50s. And I hope I'll live a long time and I can stay with it for a long time have a lot of uses that I want to get out of it. But yeah, I think the two most important things are you need to have a place to have it while you're working on it. And you need time. And that's really it. Even if you're scared. You know, go online, talk to people, there's so many things you can do to find out how to do what you need to do or maybe finding other people barter exchange service. You know, maybe you so or maybe you're a painter and someone's a plumber and you can kind of switch. I just feel like there are so many options, so many possibilities. It would be a shame to not do it. That makes sense?

Ethan Waldman 19:07

Space and Time I like it. Yes. It almost feels like we're getting metaphysical with space and time. I'm curious are there any features in your tiny house that that are that are super unique for you and your husband or just you know, anything that you're really proud of in the build that you feel is special?

Tina Quintana 19:34

Um, well I thought that was pretty cool how we cut the backs off of the cabinets and made them fit better.

Ethan Waldman 19:42

And can you talk about that?

Tina Quintana 19:44

Yeah, so when I bought we bought the cabinets from Lowe's you know if you buy premade cabinets there are certain width.

Ethan Waldman 19:50


Tina Quintana 19:51

But you know, if you have a narrow space and a tiny house, you know, it just makes it tricky. So we just said well, we need more space. And again, that was one of the scale Everything's because what if we cut it and we ruin the cabinet. But it really was not that hard, we just, you know, measured twice, three times and used sharp tools and cut the back off. And you know, it was amazing how easy it ended up being. And then the other thing is I love you'll see behind me my built in bookcase. Me, that was the best thing because as an art teacher, I have books, I have magazines, I have fabric, yarn, I have so many things. The thought of keeping them in something enclosed and having to take them out all the time was not really what I wanted to do. So even when we moved the house when we've moved it at least I don't know, six or seven times. I just put a big sheet of masonite board in front of it, pushed the couch in front of that to hold it in place, and I don't even take everything off of it. It is amazing. And then the closet.

Ethan Waldman 20:57

Okay. Yeah, tell us about it.

Tina Quintana 20:59

So behind the bookcase is a closet, which also goes from the edge of the bookcase all the way to the wall. So I have a hanging closet. And then in the stairs, I built in storage. I have a folded, folded clothes closet. So I have two closets in here. Which is really amazing. I think for a space so small.

Ethan Waldman 21:22

Nice. Yes. And it's important to remember those closets I famously forgot to put a closet on my first floor of my tiny house. So I have, I have two closets in the loft. One of them is for hanging clothes. And one of them is for folding clothes. But it'd be really nice to have like a standing closet on the ground floor for like a broom and a mop and like, you know, other closet items that you might want to want to have that are tall.

Tina Quintana 21:53

Yeah, definitely. And actually, my my fuse box is in the back of the closet. So if I blow a fuse or power goes out, I just have to open the closet door and reach right in. Which is great.

Ethan Waldman 22:07

That is that is very convenient.

Tina Quintana 22:12

Yeah, let's see what else? Yeah, I don't know. I think everything else is just kind of standard.

Ethan Waldman 22:18

Yeah. But it's also it's also about like what you've put in the house. So you you definitely have a collection of books. And you know, you strike me as a real maker, somebody who does a lot of crafts and projects. Like, what, do you use the house for as a as a studio space?

Tina Quintana 22:35

Oh, yeah. Well, every day.

Ethan Waldman 22:37

Nice. What do you what do you make there?

Tina Quintana 22:40

Well, if I'm working on a quilt I can, I have a table that folds up. And I can well I can unfold it and stretch it out and lay a quilt on it have a sewing machine out. And then when I'm done sewing I just get up and walk out. I don't have to, you know, close it up and put it away because no one else is really using the space. Yeah, sewing and knitting and wood carving. I do a lot of wood carving out here. I use my staircase for that. I have a really small wood carving bench that fits on the edge of my staircase and yeah, I just carve. There's a puppet on my shelf. Can you see him?

Nice. I don't know if you've

Ethan Waldman 23:23

The video's not on right now but it will be in the in the video replay.

Tina Quintana 23:28

Yeah. Oh, good. Yeah, so woodcarver, I think I can do almost anything out here. Beading jewelry making everything.

Ethan Waldman 23:36

That's awesome.

Tina Quintana 23:37

It's a great space. Yeah. Great space for that. And then,

Ethan Waldman 23:42

you know, in terms of living in it, Have you have you thought about living in it? And what are the you know, what are the legalities of your of where you have it parked now?

Tina Quintana 23:54

Well, I actually lived in it for two years for a teaching job.

Ethan Waldman 23:59


Tina Quintana 24:00

Yeah, the it was about three hours north of here.

Ethan Waldman 24:03


Tina Quintana 24:04

So I was able to come home on the weekends, which was great. So I would go up there, teach during the week and then drive home on the weekends. Plus, I have summers off and school breaks. And basically, when they when I had my interview at the job, I said, well, they offered me the job. And I said, "I'll take it if you can find a place for me to park my tiny house." So one of my colleagues offered for me to park at her house. She lived on this, you know, small back road in the country and said nobody really comes down here unless they live here. And so yeah, I parked it up there. I brought it home in the summer, brought it back when the school year started. And it was awesome. I mean, I didn't you know, I didn't set out a lot of things outside. I really didn't try to draw attention to myself in the house that someone was living in there. But yeah, at the same time, you know, it was in the middle of nowhere. And yeah, I lived there for two years, and then COVID hit. And then we went online. So I said, "Well, you know, I don't need to stay up here. If I'm teaching online, I'll just go home and teach in my tiny house." So I taught all of my online classes on zoom out here. So that was awesome.

Ethan Waldman 25:22

Oh, nice. Did your teaching studio?

Tina Quintana 25:26

Yep. So it was great to live in it full time. I learned a lot, especially when the weather was really cold.

Ethan Waldman 25:34

I'll bet.

Tina Quintana 25:36

Yeah. But you know what, I have to say, Ethan, all that time that I took to really plan, what do I want? What do I need it paid off? Because that just worked perfectly. It was, it was just perfect. I can't even explain to you how I did that. But the only thing that I would change is I would get a mini split. I would have put a mini split in in the build. That's about it. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 26:02

And that that seems fairly standard now like, or at least in my in my opinion, you know, whenever I advise anybody. That is that should pretty much be your default heating and cooling option for your tiny house. Unless you have some other you know, if you're trying to be off grid, for example, it can be difficult to run a mini split off of solar, and then start looking at propane as heat but right, they do work wonderfully. Have you thought about adding one? And would it be possible to add one?

Tina Quintana 26:35

Yeah, actually, I have been thinking about it. And you can add one afterwards, the only thing is, some of the piping will be on the outside of the house, which is fine, because you can just build a box around in insulate that. And then you actually don't really have to tear apart the walls, you just have to drill a small hole. So it's really not not a big problem. The thing is that if you want to pay someone to do it, it's expensive.

Ethan Waldman 27:03


Tina Quintana 27:04

But I think it's a good thing. And not that my heaters aren't good enough. But you know, I have a cabin theme. So I don't have a lot of big windows and to take up one of the windows in the living room for a little air conditioner is really kind of a pain and the cold air doesn't really circulate well from a small air conditioner in a window. Because the ceilings are so high.

Ethan Waldman 27:25

Yeah. Yeah.

Tina Quintana 27:27

So I think having the mini split and having the unit up high, really helps to move the air around. And also, it's also a dehumidifier. I think, a humidifier or dehumidifier. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 27:42

The minis, but they I mean they essentially dehumidify because they're, their air conditioners dehumidify. Okay, and so min splits do, too.

Tina Quintana 27:53

Yeah, that's what I thought because let me tell you right now, right now, my humidity is about 30. It's usually between 25 and 30 in the winter, but in the summer when I put an air conditioner in. I mean, it can go way over 50 which is which is pretty humid.

Ethan Waldman 28:09

Wow. Yeah. Have you ever had any humidity issues in the winter there?

Tina Quintana 28:14

No, I haven't actually. My insulation is rockwool. Uh huh. And I think that that's, in some ways. I mean, most of the people I know that have that kind of insulation don't have a lot of condensation. I hear more from people who have spray foam. Yeah, so it must breathe a little bit more with a

Ethan Waldman 28:36

Yeah, yeah, it probably does. Hmm. So a fellow Tiny House Engage member Betsy Barbour is kind of listening to the live stream and is chiming in with lots of helpful things, questions and things to remind me. According to Betsy, you are leading the effort in your small town to to address the regulations around tiny homes. Are you can you talk about that work that you're doing?

Tina Quintana 29:07

Well, I mean, actually really just begun.

Ethan Waldman 29:10


Tina Quintana 29:12

My tiny house is parked in my backyard. And it's legal as far as no one can live in it.

Ethan Waldman 29:18


Tina Quintana 29:19

They have no problem with with me going in and out. You know, I'm out here late. The lights are on. You know, we do sleep out here sometimes too, but legally, we can't live in it. Now, my town is a really interesting town because it's a river town. We're really close to the Susquehanna River. So there's a lot of great walking trails and biking and things like that. But there are very few housing options as far as if you want to rent in this town. And be here there's very little it's just a tiny little town. It's like a little pocket town. But everyone has like the houses are close to the road, but we have these Long, long backyards, and then there's an alley at the end of the backyard.

Ethan Waldman 30:04


Tina Quintana 30:05

So there's tons of space to put tiny houses. And we have some mobile homes in the, in this town also. And I'm kind of excited as the mobile homes go. I think replacing them with a tiny house could really be a great option. We could have more, you know, options for people to come and stay more affordable housing options. And also, we sometimes have flooding from the river. I mean, it takes a lot. It takes like a hurricane. Hurricane Sandy, we had flooding. But the great thing about a tiny house in this town, and I think it's a big sell is so if a flood is coming, usually there's a little bit of time, you know, people can have something set up ahead of time so that their houses are then just moved, move to higher ground, which I think is yeah, so I mean, that's a good sell, I think, and it's great for the town and brings people in and revenue. But you know, it's safe, because you can move them out of there were the mobile homes that are here, you know, they're just they'll just float.

Ethan Waldman 31:11

Yeah, yeah. I mean, as long as you know, as long as you don't have enough advanced warning that the flood is coming. Yeah, tiny homes can definitely be moved.

Tina Quintana 31:20

Yeah. So you know, we're a sleepy town, but it's waking up. And I just think there are so many great reasons to have tiny houses here. And we have some new people coming into the town leadership. So I have a good feeling that we'll be able to do something. I don't know how long it'll take. But if we have mobile homes, I can't see why you can't have tiny homes.

Ethan Waldman 31:45

Yeah, I agree. It seems like they could could be a direct replacement.

Tina Quintana 31:49

Oh, yeah. So Betsy is in the group. And we're starting to meet and look at zoning. And it's exciting. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what, you know what changes we can bring? Because I love tiny houses, not just for myself, but I just think they're great for so many people, for so many areas that I really want to help where I can.

Ethan Waldman 32:11

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's amazing what I'm hearing. When I talk to people, it seems like it doesn't matter whether it's a big town or a small town like rural, urban, suburban, it's like, there's not enough housing everywhere, it seems. And, you know, tiny houses are such a wonderful solution. They're not for everybody, obviously. But you take, you know, willing backyards and put really nice livable houses in them. For those who want to live tiny is such a would make such a dent. It's such a big difference.

Tina Quintana 32:49

Yeah, in fact, you know, this is a historical town. So a lot of the houses close to the river are on the Historic Register. So I can even see tiny houses being built with a lot of the features that would help them fit into the town. I mean, it could really just be amazing, I think yeah. Yeah, actually

Ethan Waldman 33:09

Love it, like colonial tiny houses with slate roof.

Tina Quintana 33:12

Yeah, and exactly knows, the possibilities are endless. But I actually went back to school and graduated with a degree in corporate communications during COVID. And I wrote my thesis on tiny houses as affordable housing options.

Ethan Waldman 33:32

Oh, awesome.

Tina Quintana 33:33

So that was really fun to do a lot of research. Yeah, I researched here and also internationally, too. So that was exciting. Okay. So that probably wet my whistle.

Ethan Waldman 33:47

Yep, yep. Any particular any findings or any, any bits of research that surprised you?

Tina Quintana 33:56

I guess just you know, how unaffordable and how much a lack of housing there is for so many people. And it's not, it's not a matter of being poor. These are middle class people.

Ethan Waldman 34:08


Tina Quintana 34:09

And even upper middle class and some areas that just can't afford the housing that's out there. And also, you know, it's amazing how many people really don't want these giant houses that most builders are building, they really don't want all that stuff. You know, people just starting out. And also older people who are getting rid of some things they want to downsize those big houses really only fit a small amount of the population. Most of the population doesn't really want those. So that was kind of I was glad to see that in my research.

Ethan Waldman 34:43

Nice. So you've got it parked in in your backyard? Is it hooked up to power? Is it hooked up to water? Where does the water go? Those kinds of don't talk us through the utilities.

Tina Quintana 34:58

Okay, so the power is hooked up to the main house. The water is hooked up to the main house, use a heated hose in the winter. This summer, we're planning to actually sink a water line because we've have had problems with the water freezing when it gets really cold.

Ethan Waldman 35:16


Tina Quintana 35:16

And that's kind of a bummer. Yeah, I actually had that happen to me when I was living in it full time. And that was really bad. So it's not good for the pipes, either. You know, doesn't matter if you live in your house full time or not. You don't want that to happen. And I have propane just for my hot water heater.

Ethan Waldman 35:37


Tina Quintana 35:39

Yeah, it's pretty simple.

Ethan Waldman 35:40

And then one challenge that that a lot of tiny houses face are gray water. You know, what, how do you how are you handling the water that comes out of the house?

Tina Quintana 35:51

So when I was living in it full time we, we built, we dug a French drain, we did the gravel and the sand and all of that jazz. And that was pretty good. It worked really well. But having it here at our house, you know, we never know when we're going to move it not just somewhere else, but around the yard. We've had it in a few different places. So we really didn't want to go that, that deep. So one reason to move it around on our property is the trees. You know, the leaves, we have a black walnut tree, you try sleeping when in the morning when the squirrels are dropping black walnuts on a metal roof.

Ethan Waldman 36:35

Got it.

Tina Quintana 36:36

So you know we might move it at a different time of year. What's happening right the acorns now I'm under an oak tree and I have acorns. Anyway, so I kind of did an experiment, I I have a hose that comes out. It takes the water from the bathroom sink and shower and the kitchen sink. And it actually drains right on the ground. And there's an oak tree there. And we have plants around the oak tree. I'm trying to think of the name of it to me and that'll let you know anyway, we have these plants around the oak tree. It's kind of like a a thick grass, a low grass.

Ethan Waldman 37:23


Tina Quintana 37:24

And so I'm mostly vegan. So there's no fat from meat or anything, eggs, things like that going out of the drain.

Ethan Waldman 37:35


Tina Quintana 37:36

Everything that I wash gets wiped down before I actually wash them. And then I use biodegradable soap. So I kind of did this as an experiment to see and over time. And Bestsy can tell you, the plants just are so healthy even now over the winter. They're winterizing much better than any of the other plants. So all that water that goes out, and maybe those little bits of nutrients from you know what I don't wipe off the dishes is actually feeding the plants. And they're doing really well. I have a nature's head. So there's no black water going out. It's really just, you know, kitchen sink and bathroom sink. And I'm just really careful about you know, what goes down the drain and it's working out just fine.

Ethan Waldman 38:26

Excellent. I'm glad to hear that. Well, I'll throw some numbers at our listeners. This will be episode 253. So if people want to see photos of Tina's house, they can go to thetinyhouse.net/253 and the show notes will be there a transcript and the photos that Tina shared in the house. The house is really beautiful. And then this mysterious Betsy that we've been talking about was actually also interviewed on the show and has had quite a journey with her tiny house and living in different places in it. I mean, that's episode 169 So thetinyhouse.net/169 for that conversation. Now I noticed and and again like I feel like I'm cheating on this interview because Betsy is in the chat like feeding me like topics of conversation because she knows that's like my interview fairies sitting on my shoulder. That's so your house has a lot of wood you know wood siding, wood interior. How has the upkeep been on your your wood and I'm asking this also because I also have a wood clad tiny house that has had some has had needed some maintenance and also probably has some deferred maintenance at this point.

Tina Quintana 39:45

Hmm, well, that's a very good question. Actually. I would say last year we should have re stain the outside and also added more poly clear poly on the inside but We got too busy and we didn't do it. And now I'm really seeing the color of the stain is really starting to fade. So that's really important. Yeah, I think I would say every three years, really, it should be re stained, if you're going to have a stain. I believe that the wood on the outside of my house is cedar.

Ethan Waldman 40:20


Tina Quintana 40:21

So that's helpful. And that's also why I didn't paint it. That's why I opted for the stain. So I think it actually works better. It does its natural thing better when it's the stain. Yeah, so I would say every three, three and a half years, so this year, we will re stain the outside. And then the inside, you know, I really didn't want that shiny shiny look on the word I really wanted to feel like I was in a cabin. So I did the matte finish clear coat. And that, that seems to it almost looks like it's not even there anymore. So now I'm considering if I want to add the shiny the semi gloss or the glossy one.

Ethan Waldman 40:59


Tina Quintana 41:00

And then in the shower, I should say to in the shower, I have a special waterproof coating on the wall. So I actually have the shiplap in the shower. I don't have you know, one of those white plastic or whatever those things are, I actually have the wood walls in the shower, and they're coated and it's, you know, over five and a half years now. And it looks like the day that it was coated. And someone I knew actually did a spray coat for me. But I think that's pretty much it. You know, the trim around the windows also should be not necessarily re stained unless you have direct sunlight on it. But I think you know, adding definitely that clear coat or poly coat whatever you're using is probably good every I don't know, maybe four years, five years. It's not that much, honestly.

Ethan Waldman 41:53

Smart doing those maintenance projects. For me at least that's like the last thing that I ever want to do. I know is so important to do.

Tina Quintana 42:02

Yeah. I think it's also really important to powerwash or get up there and scrub your metal roof also. Yeah, depending on where you're parked. If you're under a tree, you might want to do it every year or every two years.

Ethan Waldman 42:19

Yeah, the trees can drop a lot a lot of gunk, huh? Yeah, I do. You know, I do want to put it out there that you know, it's like if you're a person who really doesn't like doing those kinds of maintenance, things like repainting, re staining, at least for the outside of the house, there are certainly other options for what you can inside the house with that, you know, don't require the same level of maintenance as wood, you know, there's, there's vinyl there's, there's all kinds of different there's metal siding, and it can look quite nice, you know, if you, you know, kind of use the right theme. So, you know, just because our tiny houses are covered in wood doesn't mean that everyone's does have to.

Tina Quintana 43:04

Right, and actually the cedar doesn't work for everything because this past summer I had carpenter bees drilling holes in the eaves, just under the roof. So, you know, this year, we're going to clean those out and plug them up also, and I'll probably put like a little trap

Ethan Waldman 43:22


Tina Quintana 43:23

just outside but yeah, they they really liked the tiny house. And then the spotted lantern flies. Well, we have to check because they're there. They're a little patches on there that they've laid their eggs now. And I have to go make sure I scrape them off. So there's definitely some stuff to work on outside. But really, it's not that bad compared to a big house. That's for sure.

Ethan Waldman 43:45

Yeah, yeah. Same issues just smaller.

Tina Quintana 43:49

Mm hmm. Exactly.

Ethan Waldman 43:52

Well, I I've really enjoyed speaking with you and kind of hearing about your, your tiny, tiny life, your tiny lifestyle. Do you have any any big moves or projects coming up?

Tina Quintana 44:05

Um, well, as part of this group that's working on. Hopefully having tiny houses legalized in the area. I'm also hoping to be able to use my tiny house as a pop-up shop for a lot of the things I make. I actually my house is a 10-minute walk from the school that I teach at. So, you know, to be able to have a shop and invite the whole school out. Could be a really good thing for me. So that's something that I hope and if, if I'm not able to do that with my tiny house, my husband has a landscaping trailer. And I'll probably do this anyway. I'm planning to build it out. So it's like a little kind of like a like what someone might bring to a farmers market to have like bins with vegetables and things but I would have yarn and fabrics and fibers and things like that.

Ethan Waldman 44:59


Tina Quintana 45:01

And I'll probably start building something like that this summer, so I can travel around also and sell things. That's pretty exciting project.

Ethan Waldman 45:10

Nice. Very exciting.

Tina Quintana 45:14


Ethan Waldman 45:15

Well, one thing I like to ask all my guests is, you know, what are two or three resources that have helped inspire you in your tiny house journey that you'd like to share with our listeners?

Tina Quintana 45:26

Well, you've heard these names plenty of times. But they really are important to me. And I would say the first is Jay Shafer. He's the first tiny house person that I read about, and I love his way of thinking about designing a space really made me think about my own space. I think without, you know, reading some of his books, I think I have to, I don't know that I would have thought about it as deeply as I did. So definitely Jay Shafer. And Dee Williams.

Ethan Waldman 46:00


Tina Quintana 46:01

For sure. Not only for her designs of her house, but just for who she is. And, and again, her, her whole focus. And her story really is just really inspiring, you know, and for those people who are afraid to jump into building, I mean, if you read her story, if anyone should have been afraid to it should have been her, but she did it. And yeah, it really, it really was a great thing for her.

And then the last thing I would say, you've had her as a guest on your show, Melanie Copeland, her book trailblazing tiny. I think it's such a great book for not only new people, but people who own tiny houses, because it's not just a book about living in a tiny house. But it's a workbook that actually, you know, gives you things to think about and actually work on, and there are pages that you can fill in in there. And you have then everything in one place, which I think is really great. So, you know, I'm using her book a lot, when I'm thinking about my, you know, my travel shop, and my next house, which will be quite a while from now. So those three things, I think.

Ethan Waldman 47:21


Tina Quintana 47:23

And, of course, you know, our group here online, and I think it's great, you know, you know that I tapped into a plumber on this show on this in our group in

Ethan Waldman 47:35

Tiny House Engage.

Tina Quintana 47:37

Yeah, Tiny House Engage. Sorry, is that time of day, Tiny House Engage, I was able to get help plumbing help. And yeah, all kinds of help. I think it's really such a great resource and a great thing to be involved in. So those are four things.

Ethan Waldman 47:53

Well, we're always grateful that you're there.

Tina Quintana 47:57


Ethan Waldman 47:58

Well, Tina Quitana, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. It was it was so fun to get to chat and I can't wait to share this one.

Tina Quintana 48:05

You're welcome, anytime.

Ethan Waldman 48:09

Thank you so much to Tina Quintana for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes over at thetinyhouse.net/253. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/253. There you will also find a complete transcript of the episode and lots of photos of the inside and outside of Tina's tiny house. Again, that website is thetinyhouse.net/253. 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

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