This week I am bringing you another show that I was a guest on. This time with the House Maven Katharine MacPhail on her show, Talking Home Renovations. Talking Home Renovations with the House Maven is an educational and entertaining podcast that will ease your fears if you are planning a home renovation and are worried that you don't know what you're doing. Katharine had me on the show to talk about renovating tiny homes. It was a great conversation and I think you'll enjoy this week's show.
In This Episode:
- A tiny home build can be more challenging than a traditional home
- Why would you need to renovate a house so small?
- Does a tiny house fall apart when it's moved?
- Appendix Q: what it is and why it's needed
- Tiny home trends
- Would it really be cheaper to buy a used tiny house and renovate it?
Links and Resources:
Ethan Waldman is a tiny house author, speaker, and teacher. He built his own tiny house on wheels in 2012 and has been passionately helping future tiny house dwellers on their own journeys ever since. Ethan’s guide, Tiny House Decisions, has helped thousands of readers answer the big questions about tiny houses and plan each system in their future home. He’s also the creator and host of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, a show that brings you conversations with tiny house luminaries, builders, and DIYers. Ethan and his wife Ann live in their tiny house part-time in Northern Vermont.
Building a tiny home can be more difficult than a larger home
Most tiny houses have clever storage places
You must consider your climate when building your tiny home
If Ethan had to redo anything, it would be the ladder to the loft
There are many different parking solutions for tiny homes
Katharine MacPhail 0:00
At this point, people have been living in tiny houses what, like 20 or so years,
Ethan Waldman 0:05
Sure, I mean probably longer but as we think of it today as the modern tiny house movement, yeah, probably, you know, around the around the turn of the century around 2000.
Katharine MacPhail 0:18
Wow, that was 20 years ago already.
Ethan Waldman 0:20
I know. I know. I think I just blew my own mind a little bit.
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 176, Talking Home Renovations. This week, I am bringing you yet another show that I was a guest on this time with the House Maven Katharine White MacPhail on her show Talking Home Renovations. Talking Home Renovationswith the House Maven is an educational and entertaining podcast that will ease your fears if you are planning a home renovation and are worried that you don't know what you're doing. Katharine had me on the show to talk about renovating Tiny Homes. It was a great conversation and I think you'll enjoy this week's show.
Katharine MacPhail 1:14
Hello, and welcome to Talking Home Renovations with the House Maven. I'm Katherine MacPhail. I am your host. I am an architect my practice in Eastern Massachusetts. My specialty is additions and renovations to existing homes. This podcast was started in October of 2019 as a way for homeowners to get information that they needed before they embarked on a home renovation. So I had practical episodes on things like doors and windows, bath fixtures, skylights, things like that. This season is evolving more into, let's say, home renovation-related content. So I've been having people tell renovation stories on here.
And today actually, I am I talking about tiny houses. Because I was thinking, you know, are you looking at construction costs lately and thinking maybe I should just move into a tiny house? Or are you thinking of selling your house and then wondering where would you go? Maybe that's just me. I've been interested in tiny houses for years. And I wondered if tiny houses wherever renovated. I mean, they've been around now for a while. And if there's a market for us tiny houses, and then I came across Ethan Waldman, who runs the website, thetinyhouse.net. And I invited him to come on the podcast to discuss tiny houses. He started building his own tiny house in 2012. Now he has a website, thetinyhouse.net you can find guides and cheat sheets there, and his blog and his podcast, which is the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. So pretty much anything you'd like to know about tiny houses can be found on his website. Here's my conversation with Ethan.
Ethan, I really appreciate you coming on to to the show. I'm fascinated by tiny houses. And I mean, people must renovate their tiny houses too. Right. So I would love to hear about that. At this point. People have been living in tiny houses about like, 2020 or so years,
Ethan Waldman 3:23
Sure, I mean, possibly, probably longer. But as we think of it today as the modern tiny house movement. Yeah, probably, you know, around the around the turn of the century around 2000.
Katharine MacPhail 3:36
Wow, that was 20 years ago already.
Ethan Waldman 3:38
I know. I know. I think I just blew my own mind a little bit.
Unknown Speaker 3:42
Turn of the century. Well, yeah. So I guess first, tell me a little bit about what you do. Obviously, you have a lot of information that's helping people build and maintain their own tiny houses. Yeah. What's your, what's your mission?
Ethan Waldman 3:59
So I really see myself as first and foremost, an educator, a tiny house educator, and secondly, an advocate. You know, I built my own tiny house on wheels. Back in 2012, a little bit before the movement had gotten really popular, and started started writing starting, started putting out content, and then just really responded to a big need that I saw mainly in the form of just questions that I got people were just so curious. And, you know, there's a real DIY spirit to this movement. So people who have never built anything, are attempting to build their own houses. So they really need a more basic or a more kind of foundational education about you know, what is a building envelope, you know, what is a heating system, how you know, all these decisions, different kinds of insulation, different types of framing, different types of shells, like all these things that that a contract wouldn't even think about, you know, people who are starting from zero knowledge as I did when I built my tiny house, they need a lot more. And so, you know, I, my background is actually in adult education. And so I kind of leveraged the experience that I had building my own tiny house and started just putting together friendly, approachable content for for people to learn more about how to plan, build and live tiny.
Katharine MacPhail 5:33
Well, that's great. I mean, because people do need especially approachable information, because sometimes it just gets overwhelming with the technicality of it all. And so um, so that's a great service that you that you offer. So are you right now in a tiny house?
Ethan Waldman 5:48
Right now I'm in a tiny condo. My wife and I don't live full time in are tiny anymore. Mainly because the city that we really like to live in isn't very tiny, friendly. Yeah. But we're in about a 700 square foot condo that like it's the it's the most terrible layout, I would say half of it is a hallway. So like, it's a tiny house in its own right.
Katharine MacPhail 6:15
You want to keep you want to keep in, in shape. So you can just jump right back in.
Ethan Waldman 6:20
Katharine MacPhail 6:21
But they're very cute. They're very cute. They seem really manageable. They seem like if you've never built anything before, it seems like they look like you could build one until you go to build one. Right?
Ethan Waldman 6:32
Well, I would say that a tiny house is actually I think it's actually harder. It's a harder build than a bigger structure. Not well, it's a shorter build, because there's not as much of it. So you know, each phase, putting up the siding is takes less time, because there's less deciding to put up. But if you're building a tiny house that you intend to live full time in, it still has all those systems, it's got electrical, it's got plumbing, it's got heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooking, toilet, plumbing, just everything. And you're trying to fit those systems into a much smaller space.
Katharine MacPhail 7:11
Ethan Waldman 7:11
And so actually planning out the systems, figuring out where they go, where your plumbing lines are going to run. They're the kinds of things that in a bigger project, again, we don't have to sweat those details quite as much, because there's plenty of space, you know, like, yeah, like the plumber will decide where the plumbing lines go, the electrician will drill some holes through studs, but but in a tiny house, like my run wall of my tiny house where the front door is, the way it's framed. It's a set, it was essentially impossible to pass electrical wires, through the framing in this one spot where basically, the the king studs for the window and doors met the slope of the roof and created this just like solid corner. And like, I didn't want to drill through it because like, it was pretty structural and like, yeah, so you don't run into things like that in a bigger project. True, true. There's a little more avoid, what's not so packed with exactly.
Katharine MacPhail 8:17
Well, so have you been seeing a lot of people trying to renovate tiny houses? Do they buy them off of you know, aging free spirits? Who have decided to? I don't know, give it up?
Ethan Waldman 8:30
I've seen some renovations, I would say that there are a couple of different kinds of renovations that I'm seeing. The first is kind of the more unfortunate kind, which is that, you know, tiny houses are starting to build a reputation for having moisture issues, if they're not properly insulated and have a proper vapor barrier set up. And so, you know, what you're seeing is people are finding mold and water damage from condensation and having to you know, rip out cabinets rip out walls or about floors and and repair damage. Not so much renovation as in just repairs. Yeah. But I've definitely seen my one notable kind of example is this woman, Macy Miller, who's also kind of an early tiny house. I'm gonna call her an early tiny house blogger. She was kind of around the same time as me sharing her story at her website, which is I think minimotives.com. We can we can check on that. But her tiny house originally so it's built on a gooseneck trailer and it had essentially a covered porch. It was a shed roof. And so the shed continued out, and then the front door was there and then at porch continued, so she kind of had this porch. And then, you know, she had a second child and her partner moved in with her. And so they actually turned that porch space into interior space. So that was a renovation that they did they added a few feet to their tiny house.
Katharine MacPhail 10:22
Wow. Which is actually pretty big percentage of the tiny house.
Ethan Waldman 10:25
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like I tell people, like, you know, the the question of whether to put, and how big of a shower or tub Do you want to put in your tiny house? You know, it's, you might laugh, but you know, a 36 inch by 36 inch shower stall, in terms of square footage is a is a actual percentage of your overall floor? Yeah.
Katharine MacPhail 10:49
So what's the standard size? Would you say? I mean, I know there's no standard size, but people are still taking them on the road, there are certain measurements that are, you know,
Ethan Waldman 10:57
yeah, so, so for moving on the road, in the United States, there are some numbers that that most people try to kind of stay within and that is 13 and a half feet tall. So that's from the ground to the peak of the roof, and then eight and a half feet wide at its widest so that's you know, usually that is your your drip edge to drip edge, you know, your eaves. And that makes for a very skinny long structure. very skinny, yeah, many houses are. Now going a little over with, in, in many states. And this is the frustrating thing about the us is that the laws are different in every state. And then for towing, they're different in every state, but then actual building codes and, and regulations go down to the city level. In most states, you are able to go over with by a certain amount. And it's not that big of a deal for towing. You know, for example, in Vermont, you can go up to I think 10 and a half feet. And it's just like, you have to self register through the Department of Motor Vehicles online, you pay like 35 bucks or something and you they want you off the road by dark. So adding that extra couple of feet of width actually makes a huge difference in terms of just what you can do on the layout, you know, the house is kind of long and narrow. So it can be difficult to create, like those kind of L shaped faces where people can sit and face each other and kind of talk and that the house can tend to become kind of this long, like almost like tunnel. And so going a little wider, can help that a lot. I'm not seeing people go over height often because that's a pretty hard, like, you know, the bridge, the 13 and a half foot bridge ain't moving? To answer your question about size. So when when I built mine in 2012, it is on a 22 foot trailer. And so but the house actually stops a little bit before the end of the trailer. And then there's a covered porch. So it's about your money by seven and a half on the inside. And that was actually on the bigger side at the time. Now my tiny house is really tiny. And we're mostly seeing houses more in the 26 to 30 foot range.
Katharine MacPhail 13:37
I'm surprised to hear that that'll be that long, because that I mean, at some point, don't you cross the line into something different than a tiny house? Like 30? Well, he is almost as long as a what would you call a permanent house like a house that can't move? Yeah, a non mobile house?
Ethan Waldman 13:53
Yeah, I mean, the the extra length allows people to do things like put in full size kitchens, full size sides, but and i'm i mean i'm using full size, right even air quotes, but but at least use full size appliances. Whereas like my house uses like the the range is an RV range. So it's only like 18 inches deep. The fridge is a tiny little like built in fridge. But people are able to go a little bit bigger. It gives people more options for storage, putting in laundry putting in, you know, just amenities that make the house a little more liveable. And I'm really not seeing people move their tiny houses all that often. I mean, yeah, there are people who, who move them quite frequently. But the majority of tiny house Weller's are not moving all that often. I can use myself an example. You know, I built the tiny house in a couple of different locations. So it moved a couple of times throughout the build that and the build lasted 14 months. And then once the build was done, I found A site to rent that was about eight miles from where the build was. So it moved to the site in 2013. And it stayed there until last year, June of 2020, the land changed hands and the new owners asked us to move the tiny house. And so the house moved for the first time in seven years. The wheels, of course, allow, you know, if my house was on a foundation, I could, you know, moving, it would be a lot harder. But I do think that as houses get as the tiny houses get bigger, we start to kind of say, Okay, what are we losing the benefit of the mobility when we go this big because I'm at about 10,000 pounds, and that I don't own a vehicle that can tell my tiny house. Luckily, I live in Vermont, where there are a lot of lot of people farmers who have you know, trucks and are very friendly and willing to help out. knock on their door, you see a truck in the yard. I mean, like, isn't that like, some truck guys? Like greatest like dream? Like I would think Yeah. Joe, can you come Joe? My 10,000 pound trailer? They're like, yes, my, like, I've been waiting for this day. But it's true. Yeah. You know, when once you're above 10,000 pounds. In some states, you you're technically supposed to have a commercial driver's license to move a load that heavy. I'm a big advocate for hiring. Hiring a driver. There are lots of transport companies that can do this. It's it is quite a bit more expensive to have your towels professionally towed. But you also are getting insurance essentially with that. So you know, they are responsible for anything that happens to your house or to others while it moves down the road. Not Not you,
Katharine MacPhail 16:59
Do you mind if I ask you some stupid questions? Because these are, these are questions I have about and I could probably just Google it. I think I did before. But anyway, um, as a house is going down the highway at 50 miles an hour. It's essentially like the forces that are on it. Right? Because it's moving all around. Right and then also the wind right 50 mile an hour
Ethan Waldman 17:23
winds so it's likea hurricane cane and an earthquake.
Katharine MacPhail 17:25
Yeah, so So to me, it seems like that would that really made me nervous when I was when I was working on these rooms with these other guys that would, they didn't seem to be as concerned as I was, but I felt like you really have to design for that and engineer it so that it can joggle all around - if joggle is a word.
Ethan Waldman 17:43
Katharine MacPhail 17:44
Yeah. So how do you how do people deal with that? Especially people who are just doing it for the first time themselves?
Ethan Waldman 17:49
Luckily, we really haven't seen tiny houses moving down the road and falling apart. Let's Yeah, I mean, who knows like that that could have started happening, I'm sure if they were made out of like stone or concrete they might get there. But you know, a wood frame structure does tend to be kind of able to absorb that kind of stress. But of course, any good set of tiny house plans will call out using basically hurricane strapping like as if you were building a house in a high wind zone. So you know using one brand is Simpson strong ties, they're kind of a popular brand. So you know, tying your your floor system to the trailer with usually people use like a threaded, threaded rod threaded bolts and now it's the tiny house trailers are now coming with threaded bolts kind of pre welded into position so that you can just drill holes in your floor joists and just bolt the floor on and then again, metal clips to tie your your wall system to the floor, the rafters to the wall, etc, etc. Right? Alright, they also you're supposed to use tempered glass you know RVs use tempered glass is the same way that the glass in your windshield is tempered so it's not gonna like explode when it is broken. That seems like a great idea. Yeah, and then you know for for really frequent travel, particularly the windows that are going to face front and get like a lot of maybe stones chips things from the road is like either shutters or just like you know, putting up basically boarding up your window as if a hurricane was coming, you know, putting a piece of plywood over your window.
Katharine MacPhail 19:42
That makes total sense because things are going to be popping off the road. And yeah, or break your window probably. Okay, it's my second stupid question is when you get there unless you're gonna stay for two years or something like that. Do you then put the whole thing on a like the whole trailer on onto a foundation system, because obviously the tires. Well.
Ethan Waldman 20:05
I'll say one more thing about towing. And so before we get there is that another thing that people always have problems with. And when I moved my tiny house, I was like holding my breath, is that these utility trailers tend not to come with the greatest tires. They don't come with really high quality tires. And so people, you know, get their new trailer, they pull it into position, and they build their house on it, and then it sits for five years, and then they go to move it. And they end up getting blowouts on the road, which sucks. So one thing that I advise in my, in my guide Tiny House Decisions is, you know, if you're going to do a long journey in your house, and your tires have been sitting, it sucks, it hurts to buy four new tires, because they're not cheap tires, but put on new tires and grease your bearings, because that's another thing. You know, the the one hour journey turns into a day long journey, because you had to sit on the side of the road and wait for triple A to come and, you know, yeah, it's Yeah, so tires. So okay, so once you get once you get there, do you put your house on some kind of foundation system? Ideally, yes. Depending on what kind of utilities your house has built in, versus what you need to hook up to, you're going to need some infrastructure on site. Yeah, that's true. Most tiny houses use a compost toilet, so they don't require, you know, a way to dispose of that kind of waste. However, most tiny houses produce at least gray water. And, you know, some places do allow you to discharge gray water, you know, either onto the ground or into some kind of grey water system. But you will, you know, you're gonna need to figure out where your water goes. If you need power, you're gonna need to hook up to that. And then you know, if you need water coming in, in a lot of places, it's quite difficult to get water into your tiny house unless it's coming up from a pipe in the ground because you've got the issue of breathing.
Katharine MacPhail 22:14
Yeah, it seems like a lot of a lot to think through. Are there things like RV parks for tiny houses?
Ethan Waldman 22:22
Well, yeah, I mean, a lot of RV parks are allowing tiny houses to park there. And in a way, it's, you know, tiny houses don't like to think of themselves as our V's and they're definitely not the same thing, you know, RVs recreational vehicle right there in the name, they're, they're designed for temporary use, but RV parks tend to have the exact infrastructure that a tiny house would need, they've got a concrete pad, so you don't have to worry about your house, you know, sinking and getting unlevel. They've got you know, plumbing hookups, electrical hookups, you know, everything is is kind of there for you. But from a privacy perspective and aesthetic perspective, RV parks aren't always what, you know, tiny house two wheelers, kind of. Yeah, they don't seem that compatible. Right. Right. And, and we are seeing some kind of, you know, people are buying up RV parks and turning them into tiny house parks.
Katharine MacPhail 23:22
Okay, but then you still have really close neighbors and to be the image of being at a like a lake side site all alone? Like that's right. Really.
Ethan Waldman 23:33
Right. I think the image of being at a lakeside site alone is is certainly more the exception than the rule. In real life, tiny house living you mean real life, tiny house living and that's not everybody wants that. I mean, a lot of tiny houses end up parking in the backyard of another house. And because you do because your space is small, and there are certain things about it that are limited, be it maybe you don't have a tub or even a shower, you probably don't have I mean, now they a lot of them have laundry, but mine doesn't have laundry. So like you actually need to connect with your very local community as in the you know your neighbors quite a bit more when you're living in a tiny house. And and a lot of people say that that is actually a really a big benefit of living tiny because it connects them to the people around them.
Katharine MacPhail 24:27
So you can rent, let's say, your neighbor or somebody could put this the infrastructure they need in their house so they could accommodate and rent that to a tiny house. And then that tiny house person lives out there.
Ethan Waldman 24:39
Yeah, the dream is, you know, we face a housing shortage across the country. And in these cities. I mean, I'm in Burlington, Vermont. It's a perfect example like the cost of houses here have gone up so much that you can't really afford to buy a house here. If you work like a normal job. So there are all these neighborhoods that have backyard, you know, there's there's a lot of empty space, that could be infilled. And so here's the dream is like, you know, let let somebody who wants to rent their backyard to a tiny house family or a couple or a single person, they can get some rental income. We've added housing where there was none before and it's it's tends to be not transient, you know, it's it's people who want to be somewhere and be a part of the community.
Katharine MacPhail 25:33
Right. So they're there for years. Yeah, a couple of weeks. How do local zoning codes mesh with all that idea?
Ethan Waldman 25:45
It's a mess. Yeah, I can imagine because the total mass? Well, yeah, so let's get into it. Um, yeah, so you've got, you've got zoning, you know, that controls, like how you can use the land, you know, what, what can you put where, and then you've got, you've got building code safety. Right. And, you know, tiny houses can run afoul and often do run afoul of both. Right. All right. And so there is an effort, there are multiple efforts underway. And I think that what I see happening is that they're going to start to coalesce. But in 2018, a group of tiny house advocates successfully wrote an appendix for the 2018 IRC international residential code.
Katharine MacPhail 26:39
I saw that yeah. So that's good. That's a step in the right direction. Look,
Ethan Waldman 26:42
you've got your IRC book right there, right here. Woof. That is thick. So yeah, Appendix Q is what it's called. And it actually sets up some code guidelines for houses under 400 square feet. Yeah, tiny houses. It does not apply to houses on wheels, though. So this is just a little like an adu, basically. Yeah, in a way, but it's it's seen as kind of the first step because it would allow a municipality so so right now, there's an effort underway, because each state has to vote to adopt the latest version of the IRC, it doesn't just automatically disseminate everywhere.
Katharine MacPhail 27:24
I know. Yeah, that's true. Like in Massachusetts, we're just on 2015.
Ethan Waldman 27:26
Exactly. And there are some places that are still on, like 2008. So it's seen as a first step at or that it makes it easier for municipality to adopt that language and then amended to allow for wheels. And, and some municipalities are deciding, okay, you know, you've got to put the trailer up on blocks, you've got to take the wheels off. And you've got to put up a skirting so that you can't see the trailer, that kind of thing, kind of make it look like it's attached to the ground. And so that's, that's on the kind of residential and Edu side of things. On the other side of things, there are there is a body a certification body for RVs, that says existed since the 50s. It's called anti American, oh, man, I'm not going to American National Standards Institute. And they, they have a safety code that applies for RVs, and park models. And so these codes are actually a bit better suited to tiny houses, because they address the fact that the house in move, they address the movability. And they address fire safety in a smaller space. Now, the codes aren't, you know, the size of the egress window required in an RV is smaller than the size of an egress window that's required in residential home. So, you know, are the codes as strong, maybe not. But what we're seeing happening is, there have been a couple of prominent examples of, you know, the the city of Los Angeles, not the county, but the city of Los Angeles has actually said, tiny houses on wheels can be used as at use, as long as they are RV certified. So a lot of the professional tiny house builders are going toward, you know, getting their builds certified as RVs. There's an effort underway to create an RV code that is specifically for tiny houses, rather than trying to shoehorn the tiny house into the RV or the park model code. And, you know, I tend to agree that that once that happens once, there's like an actual Tiny House code that there's that more municipalities are going to jump on. Jump on it that way. Yeah. But those codes don't address at all things like wastewater lot coverage, these are all decisions and challenges that each city well and have to deal with.
Katharine MacPhail 30:22
Yeah. And that's, that could take a while means zoning changes take a long time, it seems like
Ethan Waldman 30:28
especially so what you're mostly seeing is that people are are just, for better or for worse, living illegally in their tiny houses. And for most people, nothing bad ever happens. You know, for some people, they get a zoning violation and get asked to move.
Katharine MacPhail 30:47
So that's not that bad, relatively speaking. So if somebody wanted a tiny house, obviously, they can build it themselves. Or they can buy one that, as you said, want the the professional, tiny house manufacturers are making, or they could buy one, a used one and renovate it to suit themselves. Right. So those are the three options, basically, yeah. Do you see people in retirement doing it? Or is it mostly still young people
Ethan Waldman 31:12
who, it's actually mostly people in retirement? Let's really seriously do those laughs cuz I don't think I don't want to sleep up there. Well, so there's a couple of things. I mean, most people are moving away from the sleeping loft, or if they are doing a sleeping loft, they are using a very compact staircase to get up to that. Yeah, rather than a ladder. I'm, you know, the ladder access loft is not convenient. It's not fun. It's one of the things about my tiny house that I wish I could change. If I you know, if I could go back, I would I would not do that.
Katharine MacPhail 31:51
Yeah, that would be hard. If you actually had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, let's say
Ethan Waldman 31:56
exactly, but what we're seeing really is that, you know, young, younger people like me, you know, I was, I was, like, 26, when I started on my project, and um, you know, I'm 36 now. It, you know, we are tending the younger folks are tending to build them, you know, maybe live in them for a couple of years, and then kind of move on to a bigger house or you know, and the the boomers, the people who are retiring are tending to be looking at tiny houses as a way to retire sooner, or just a way to retire at all. And they're really talking about like, this is going to be my house that I'm going to, you know, I'm going to age in place in this tiny house. So it's a more long term. more long term solution.
Katharine MacPhail 32:48
Oh, interesting. I mean, I, as I mentioned, I live in Massachusetts, so we don't have we, okay, let's just say where I live, because it's right next to Cambridge. So it's pretty dense. We don't have enough room even for tiny houses in most yards. And so I don't see any around here doesn't mean that they aren't happening. But I mean, I have I have heard that some people are living in the yard of their own house, but that's more of like an ADU, I think, but you could get a tiny house and bring it in there and then rent your big house out to a young family who needs the space. To me, it's pretty interesting. It's a pretty interesting idea. And maybe it's because those photographs are so... They give it this romantic air to the whole thing. And, you know, outdoor, outdoor dining with the colored glass and everything and meadow-picked flowers and stuff, but right.
Ethan Waldman 33:42
Well, as someone who also lives in New England, you know, that only exists like, two months of the year.
Katharine MacPhail 33:47
Yeah. And then one of those months is really bad mosquitoes. Yeah. But it looks nice. You kind of forget that, somehow. But yeah, there'll be another thing too is that is the climate would be challenge.
Ethan Waldman 34:01
Yes. More temperate climate like the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, there are a lot more tiny houses because it's, it's a lot easier to live in a tiny house there. Because you can pretty much count on being able to be outside much, much more of the year. So, you can set up more outdoor living spaces - outdoor kitchen, outdoor, you know, and essentially an outdoor living room if you if you want to. Whereas again, like here in Vermont, that might be useful three, four months of the year.
Katharine MacPhail 34:39
Yeah. Yeah. And otherwise, you'll have to build an ice palace outside like they have in Quebec or somewhere.
Ethan Waldman 34:45
Right. Exactly. Yeah. And you know, Massachusetts has been kind of, not super, not super progressive on tiny houses.
Katharine MacPhail 34:55
Ethan Waldman 34:58
And it's understandable. I mean, Boston, Cambridge, it's very dense, very kind of dense Old City. I couldn't imagine towing a tiny house through Boston.
Katharine MacPhail 35:09
Oh, no, I can't either. Or even down up down the road here in Arlington, that would be Yeah, people not being nice about it. Yeah, it would be stressful, stressful. Um, yeah, they don't even allow RV parking around in a lot of these towns near where I am.
Okay, I have one more question for you. So if I were a person who didn't want to build it myself, and I didn't want to buy a totally new one, and I want to save some money, would I save some money if I just bought a used one? And you know, quote, unquote, ""fix it up myself? So renovated it would that be? I mean, why would anybody renovate one versus buy a new one just because they can make it their own? Or what do you think?
Ethan Waldman 35:46
Right? So right now, as you're probably aware, the cost of building materials just skyrocketed. Yeah. So everything is a little bit bonkers right now, and the cost of buying a new tiny house has gone up a lot, because just simply because the material costs have gone up a lot. So you might you, I think, right now, you certainly could save money, if the person who's selling the tiny house is kind of pricing it based off of maybe what they spent on it. Rather than what would it cost to build this now, you know, we're not seeing tiny houses, they're not appreciating assets, the thing that appreciates about a house is more the land that it sits on than the house itself. That's true. And so tiny houses are maybe holding their value or depreciating more like RVs and cars than appreciating like, like houses. So you can certainly get one, you can get a deal, you can certainly find deals on unused ones.
But in my opinion, it's kind of a buyer beware situation, particularly if it was built by novices. It can be really difficult to know what's behind the walls. Did they, you know, did they do the electricity, that the electrical wiring themselves? Or did they, you know, did they hire an electrician, you know, all these safety things? So I would if I was buying a used tiny house, I would really want to at least say, "Hey, do you have pictures from when it was under construction? Can I see the build photos?" And then I might, you know, I'm not a pro I would probably hire, I would hire an electrician to look at the photos and say like, "Yeah, it looks like they did the wiring well." I would hire a plumber, you know, I would I would really scrutinize the photos. And then even buying a used tiny house that was built by a professional builder. There have been so many builders who have gone are kind of fly by night operations that you know, build a few tiny houses and then disappear, because people have complained or because they didn't work that well. And so I would you know, if I was buying a used tiny house from a builder, I would definitely, definitely try to find other people who worked with that builder and tried to just check them out and make sure that they're reputable.
Katharine MacPhail 38:13
So it sounds like you would be a little bit cautious about buying a used tiny house.
Ethan Waldman 38:20
I would definitely be a bit cautious about buying a use I like again, not saying it's not possible.
Katharine MacPhail 38:26
Ethan Waldman 38:26
But you know, kind of buyer beware baisha probably sounds like
Katharine MacPhail 38:29
maybe you should get like he should just take out all of the interior finishes and kind of look at everything. So it's almost like building it again.
Ethan Waldman 38:37
You could hire a building inspector to inspect it before you purchase it, you know, somebody who's going to come do a blower door test or you know, they have that thing that they can stick into the wall and check the moisture content of the wood, you know, all those kinds of things, I would do that.
But from a renovation standpoint, if the shell is good and well-built, and you just want to change the inside, that's very, very doable. It's a small space, it can be pretty difficult to move, you know, it's going to be difficult to move the bathroom from one side of the house to the other just because of the plumb line. But if you're going to keep the layout the same, and maybe put up new finishes, new walls, new trim, new cabinets. Yeah. Have at it. And you'll have a chance to see what's behind those walls when you do.
Katharine MacPhail 39:30
Which sounds like you might want to especially with the mold on water issues and things.
Ethan Waldman 39:35
Katharine MacPhail 39:36
Well, how can people get in touch with you? I mean, you have your podcast.
Ethan Waldman 39:43
Katharine MacPhail 39:43
Ethan Waldman 39:44
The Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. And that's, you know, in all the places that you get podcasts, but my website is thetinyhouse.net. So that's where you'll find things like my my guide Tiny House Decisions to find the podcast You'll find I've been writing a blog for years and years. So there are a lot of kind of meaty how to type articles how to pick a tiny house trailer, how to find parking for your tiny house, all those kinds of bases are pretty well covered on the blog. And
Katharine MacPhail 40:16
Yeah, you have a ton of information on your website. And on your podcast, how many episodes of that podcast do you have?
Ethan Waldman 40:23
Well, as of this, this Friday, I will publish Episode 158. So it's been a weekly show for just over three years. Yeah. There's a huge, huge backlog of information on the podcast. So in our tiny house super fan, I would say just start, you know, start with episode one and go for it.
Katharine MacPhail 40:43
Yeah. And there's pretty much any question you might have is answered, I would say, between your your website and your blog. So
Ethan Waldman 40:51
I would hope so.
Katharine MacPhail 40:52
Thanks for sharing all that with the world and for coming on and talking to me.
Ethan Waldman 40:56
You're welcome, Catherine.
Katharine MacPhail 40:57
And my listeners. Yeah, I just like to, I don't know if I'll ever live in a tiny house. But I like to, I like to think about it.
Ethan Waldman 41:04
Yeah. Even if you'll never live in a tiny house, just the thought exercise of thinking about, you know, "How would I downsize? What would I get rid of?" It can be really helpful for people and you can you could go through that process if you wanted to have you know, downsizing. It's very popular right now with Marie Kondo. And...
Katharine MacPhail 41:23
I tried that it doesn't work for me.
Ethan Waldman 41:26
Sometimes you we sometimes we need hard limits. Like I literally don't have the space for this thing.
Katharine MacPhail 41:31
Thanks again to Ethan for joining me and thanks to you for listening to the episode. I have links in the show notes for for everything and check out my episode enhancements, where I'll have photos and additional information that can all be found on my new website at www.talkinghomerenovations.com. I also have transcripts there, I have a speakpipe button where you can leave a voicemail for me if you have questions. We can play them in the future episode. If you have ideas for episodes, or you just want to give me some feedback, you can please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I definitely do want to hear from you. I actually especially want to know how do you feel about the types of episodes we're doing? recently? I have some other episodes that are more practical. What do you need to do during a home renovation type episode.
So that'll be coming up one on installation in a couple weeks. Anyway, as always, I'd appreciate it if you would share the show with your friends or co workers or anyone who you think would enjoy it. If you have the time and the inclination to leave a review or a rating that would help out the show as I look for sponsors, which I'll be doing in a couple of months and and if you're really a huge superfan, you could join my mailing list where basically I send out the episode enhancements and other little tidbits on a weekly basis right after I launch the episode. So I'll have a link to that in the show notes as well. Or on my on my website, you can sign up from there.
This show is a member of the Design Network. Discover exclusive architecture and design podcasts reaching creative listeners worldwide at design network.org. And as always, this episode is a production of my architecture firm Demios Architects where we believe architects are for everyone. Until next time, take care.
Ethan Waldman 43:54
All right. That's it for this week's show. Thank you to Katharine MacPhail for having me on the Talking Home Renovations Podcast. You can find the Talking Home Renovations Podcast with the House Maven in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen. As always, I am your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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