We’re changing it up a little bit this week! Lucy Lich interviewed me on her podcast, Tiny House Conversations. We had an in-depth conversation about some of the most important decisions you need to make to plan and build a tiny house successfully. We also talked through my best-selling resource, Tiny House Decisions. Lucy is a great interviewer and it was a pleasure to be on her show!
In This Episode:
- Ethan’s tiny house-building experiences
- A common misconception about living in a tiny house
- Which decisions are actually covered in Tiny House Decisions?
- Thinking of a tiny house as a puzzle of systems
- Trailers, zoning regulations, and tiny house security
Links and Resources:
- Tiny House Conversations on Instagram
- Tiny House Conversations on Facebook
- Tammy Strobel – Rowdy Kittens
- Dee Williams – PAD Tiny Houses
- Tiny House Regulations – Tiny House Conversations
- Andrew Odom – Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast
- Lina Menard – Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast
Every tiny house decision is part of the puzzle that makes up a tiny house
You may not live tiny forever, but it's possible!
There are a lot of options for tiny house security
Ethan now lists his tiny home on Airbnb
Ethan Waldman 0:00
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 week, we're doing something a little different. This week, I'm going to share a podcast that I was a guest on, and also just help to call attention to another great tiny house podcast. It's called Tiny House Conversations and it is hosted by Lucy Lich. Lucy contacted me and I was actually the first non-Australian guest on the show. And really, we just talked through a lot of basics. I go really in depth on some of the most important decisions that you need to make in order to successfully plan and build a tiny house. And we talk through my best selling resource Tiny House Decisions. Lucy is a great interviewer and it was a pleasure to be on her show. And so I am happy to share that show with you this week. And if you liked the show, you can learn more and subscribe at TinyHouseConversations.com. I'll be back next week with a normal episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast - you know, the kind where I interview a guest. but for this week, I am the guest and Lucy Lich is the host. So let's give that a listen!
Lucy Lich 1:23
Hi, it's Lucy Lich and this is Tiny House Conversations. It's the Australia-based podcast where I interview experience tiny houses, tiny builders and adventures in the tiny world so you can discover how to create, build, and transition into tiny life.
Hey, it's Lucy bringing you another episode of Tiny House Conversations. On the show today I have Ethan Waldman, who is an experienced tiny houser from Burlington, Vermont in the United States. Ethan is also 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 to sellers 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 and live in their tiny house part time in northern Vermont. Ethan's podcast and guide had been such big inspirations and valuable resources in my own tiny journey. And since there are many things to consider and decisions to make, especially when starting out, I thought Ethan would be perfect to join us on the show to talk you through some of those key decisions to make when building a tiny house or having one built for you and living the tiny lifestyle. And in this conversation we talk about Ethan's tiny house building experiences, a common misconception about living in a tiny house, Ethan talks us through the different sections of his ebook, Tiny House Decisions, and how you can start to think about or consider different decisions along the way, those big decisions, systems and construction decisions, and living the tiny life. We also touched on tiny trailers, tiny regulations, and security for your tiny house, and so much more. It was such an honor to have Ethan on the show, especially because I've been listening to his podcast for many years. And Ethan also happens to be our first international guest from the other side of the world in the United States. Now with all that being said, on to the show with Ethan. Hey, Ethan, thank you so much for joining me on Tiny House Conversations. It's so great to have you here.
Ethan Waldman 4:03
Hey Lucy, it's great to be here.
Lucy Lich 4:05
Yeah. So Ethan, I know you've been in tiny houses since I think it was 2012. And you've also written an ebook called Tiny House Decisions. And what I'd love to do in the conversation today is hear a bit more about your tiny house story, and then dive into talking all about Tiny House Decisions. So are you able to take us back to when and how you first came across tiny houses? And then what inspired you to build your own tiny house?
Ethan Waldman 4:34
Surecy? Yeah. It was, I guess it was 2011 Really, I was a couple of years out of college and a couple of years into kind of a corporate career. You know, typical office 8-5 kind of thing. And I was just finding that I wasn't very happy. And I was I was just constantly looking outside and saying, "Oh man, what a beautiful day. I would love Have to be going for a hike right now or taking a bike ride and then work later, tonight or when it's raining tomorrow." But just coming to the realization that that wasn't fitting my lifestyle and I decided to take a sabbatical from work and do a bicycle tour with my cousin, Dan, on the West Coast of the United States. And so I spent about four weeks cycling about 1500 miles from Seattle up to the end of Highway 1 in Lund, British Columbia, and then all the way down as far south as about Eugene, Oregon. And people, you know, when you're on a bicycle tour, people are always kind of interested in what you're doing and you get into a lot of interesting conversations. And a lot of people kept saying to me, "Oh, my God, this is going to change your life, this is going to be life changing thing." And at the time, I didn't really feel like anything had changed. I just felt really like hungry and tired all the time. But when I got home, and kind of reassessed, you know, coming home to the house that I was renting with a friend and just all my stuff, after spending four weeks on a bicycle, with just four little bags, and not that many possessions, I kind of realized that it was possible and actually enjoyable to live with a lot less. And I think I had already heard of tiny houses at that point. But when I found Tammy Stroble's blog, Her website is called Rowdy Kittens. And she, her and her husband Logan built, or actually had a tiny house built by Dee Williams, from from Portland Alternative Dwellings. And they were kind of an early couple living in a tiny house and blogging about it. I saw her blog, and it just, it just clicked for me I was like, "This is what I'm going to do this is, you know, I can build this house with the money that I have saved up, I've always wanted to learn how to build my own house." And, you know, I at the time, I figured I could do it with with the savings that I had. And so I just, you know, or maybe not the savings that I had, but that I could save really hard between, you know, the fall of 2011 and 2012, the summer when I wanted to start. And sure enough that is true. I did start the build in in June of 2012. And left my job right around the same time.
Lucy Lich 7:36
Amazing, it is. You know, what I find that is common speaking to a lot of different people is this, you know, assessing of what's important in life and then seeing the possibilities of what tiny house living could be. And I know that your build was, you know, a while ago, but I'm always curious just when I'm talking to different people, because I know that people are having different skill levels. Some people have no experience at all in building or carpentry or anything like that. Others maybe have experience in design. And so other than that they have, you know, transferable skills or a bit of an awareness and of other things. But I'm just curious for you like, what was your building process like? And maybe what were some of the main challenges that you experienced?
Ethan Waldman 8:20
Yeah, I would say that. One of the biggest challenges that I experienced was just a mismatch of expectations. My housemate at the time, this guy, Nate, you know, was a builder and a woodworker. And he was like, "Oh, yeah, I'll totally help you. And like, you know, we should be able to build this thing. And like, this summer, in a couple of months." And so, so in my mind, I was like, "Great, we'll start at the beginning of the summer, we'll start June, and then you know, it'll be done by, you know, it'll be done by the end of the year, for sure." As it turned out, Nate didn't show up all that often to help. And, you know, I don't hold that against him at all, because it's it is work, you know, it's just a lot of work to build a house. And, you know, the other thing is that I'm, I'm comfortable with tools, and I'm comfortable with all that stuff. But I was really in my head about it. I was really maybe overly analytical or concerned about every step of the process. So I was spending too much time trying to research and trying to know that I was doing it the right way and not enough time just actually working on the house. So by the end of the summer, by about August, I had the floor framed and put up on the trailer. And I had the two end walls framed and not up on the trailer. And I realized that you know, this is a lot harder and a lot more time consuming than I thought. And so around August is when I really realized that I needed to hire somebody to help me. I didn't want to hire someone to build it for me. And I was lucky to find this guy, Jason, who was really willing to come and work with me, essentially, and just teach me how to build as we built the house, and then kind of get me started on on the next piece, the next project and kind of let me run with it for a week, and then kind of come back the next weekend and kind of help me and get me started on the next thing.
Lucy Lich 10:31
I can imagine there's so many layers to the building process, right, and so many considerations. And I think that, you know, I always see when people build their tiny house, and especially if they don't have that much experience, it's you know, it's such a, an inspiring thing. And it must feel like such a, an accomplishment or an achievement, because I feel like and I talk about this on the podcast sometimes that you know, as humans in general, now we do have that capability to, and maybe this innate capability that we we can build our own shelter and grow our own food and collect things like rain water, and be on the land and all of that. And maybe, on some level, we've lost that along the way in the modern world. But it's, it's, it's really great to see that more people wanting to do the DIY thing. And I'm wondering for yourself, because it has been about 10 years, what shifts have you seen in the tiny house movement, you know, from when you first started your build to when you moved into now, and then obviously, you've got your podcast and you're talking to a lot of different people, and you're seeing a lot of different changes happening out there? What can you share about that?
Ethan Waldman 11:38
Yeah, when when I started, people didn't know what a tiny house was, like, when you said, "I'm building a tiny house," you were mostly met with just a blank stare. And, and now, I would say the majority of people, if you say "tiny house" to them, they are able to call into their mind's eye, this little house on a trailer, usually. And they're like, "Oh, I've seen you know, I've seen the show. They're so cute. I love tiny houses." So. So there's definitely been a mainstreaming or just a mainstream awareness of tiny houses that has come about. And I think with that has come just so much more interest in the movement, and so many more people pursuing living tiny and living tiny. And of course, along with that, laws have have slowly started, at least in the United States, to catch up. We've got both national state and, you know, town by town level efforts to to legalize living in tiny houses in one way or another. We're not there yet. The public awareness has really materialized. And then, you know, the, the houses themselves have have certainly changed in in both their features and their size. They've gotten bigger. When I built in 2012, my house is is 22 feet long, which was on the large end of tiny houses for the time, now a 22 foot house would be considered really tiny. And most houses are closer to the upper 20s, or even into the 30, 32, 34 foot range. So they've gotten bigger, they've gotten, you know, you're seeing a lot more kitchen appliances, like full size range, full size, fridge, tub, laundry, these kinds of things. And I'm not saying this at all as to sound like cranky or to say that you shouldn't have those things. But again, when I was building, it was you know, a lot of RV and marine size appliances. And, you know, you were kind of looking at the tiny house as a trade off and saying, "Okay, I'm not maybe I'm not going to have a shower in the house, maybe I'm going to use the shower at the gym, or, you know, maybe I'm you know, I'm not going to have laundry here because I can do laundry at my parents house or at my partner's house or there's a laundromat near my work," those kinds of things. And I actually don't think it's a bad thing that the houses have gotten a little bit bigger because, you know, on some level, I think houses like mine, the ones that they don't have laundry, they don't have a dishwasher, they don't have a big fridge, in some ways. It's harder to live full time in a house that's that tiny without those little creature comforts. And so, you know, I'm all for it. If you're building a 30 foot tiny house, that's going to support you living there for five or 10 or forever years versus, you know, a really, really tiny house that's maybe only going to work for a portion of your life or the next few years and then you're going to reconsider, then, then I'm kind of all for those shifts that and that kind of enlarging of the tiny house movement and of the tiny houses themselves.
Lucy Lich 15:13
Yeah, it does seem to be I think, especially you got, I think you guys were probably a bit ahead of us. Because given that, I think maybe tiny houses were made popular by someone like Jay Shafer over in the United States, and we're catching up a little bit here on this side of the world. But it does seem to be that I see a lot of tiny houses where you do have, it's just a smaller size, but we've all you know, regular sized appliances, and a lot of the same types of looks and features, but just maybe in a in a different way. And and I guess it is maybe a sign of you know, having a tiny house customizable to so many different situations, to different people to different lifestyles, different ways that people are living and all of that. So I guess it's cool to just see that there's lots of different options for for everyone, or for people that are at least interested in this way of living. And I would love to also know like, is there a misconception that you commonly hear about living in a tiny house?
Ethan Waldman 16:16
One of the misconceptions, maybe that I that I hear is people saying that they wouldn't be able to do it. And I think that anyone could do it, I really do. But it does require a shift in just how you live and what you own. And I think that the more you currently own, the harder it is to imagine a life stripped down of a lot of that stuff.
Lucy Lich 16:45
I think it's this assessing of, you know, how much do I actually need to be happy and, and it can seem like a really big jump, if, you know, tiny house living is so far removed from what people are used to, and all of that. But um, I would love to, you know, change gears a little bit here, Ethan and you know, talk a little bit about your ebook, Tiny House Decisions, and I know that you're being in Vermont, in the United States, there will be some things that you did or that might be in your local area that that may not apply, or might be a little bit different to where I am in Australia or other parts of the world. However I do you feel like there are there also many steps and things that people need to consider that can be quite common or similar or the same. And you know, I often get a lot of questions from people starting out their tiny house journey, or they're just curious, and they're doing their research. And in your in your ebook, you know, you talk about these different categories of decisions. And obviously, you know, we want people to check out your book. And but today, I'd love if you were able to just maybe give us an overview about some of the things that people consider and how they can sort of start to think about these important decisions. And so the first category of big decisions that you talk about is these big decisions. And you mentioned asking the question is a tiny house right for you? So can we start there, maybe just go deeper into that, and how people can figure out if this path is the right path for them?
Ethan Waldman 18:17
Sure, yeah. And if I may, I'll just back up a little bit on just Tiny House Decisions, to just give a little context about how it came to be in the first place. And why why I felt the need to write it if that's if that's okay with you.
Lucy Lich 18:32
Yeah, absolutely. That's a good point. Go for it.
Ethan Waldman 18:34
Yeah. So, you know, around. During my build, I started, I registered a domain, thetinyhouse.net. And I was like, "I'm going to be like the Macy Miller and, and Tammy Strobel, and I'm going to blog through my build." And I quickly realized that I could not handle that, like I was exhausted at the end of my build days. And like, I was just not up for writing about what I had done after I had done it. And so I settled on just creating a Facebook page and just posting some photos, you know, of the day's construction. And by the time I was done with my build, the page had about 5000 likes, that had come through just organically. LLike I wasn't trying to promote the page, I wasn't doing any intentional promotion. And this was actually a time when having like a Facebook page with 5000 likes maybe actually meant something like it was before the algorithms and before like people never saw your posts and so I was getting a lot of questions like you know, "What heater did you choose?" Or like, "Why did you choose that hot water heater over this other one? what kind of insulation is that?" And I was just getting a lot of these why questions and I recognize that you know, I was not an am not a professional builder. So So I have no business teaching carpentry or construction. But what I did do, I think a pretty good job of is thinking through the house and the systems in the house, and coming to something that worked well. And a lot of that I learned from the people who helped me design the house, people helped me build the house, but, but I felt like I had a pretty good handle on how to think through this so that you can, you know, kind of start the process and end up with something that is going to work for you. And so that's kind of what I set out to do is Tiny House Decisions. And, and yeah, the first section, it's kind of split into, it's now five sections in the second edition. But that first section is kind of the big decisions. And yeah, figuring out if a tiny house is right for you. I just kind of talk about various factors that you should consider before doing this. Just trying to be real, like, for example, you know, living in a tiny house isn't fully legal in most places And you need to be okay with that level of legal ambiguity in your in your home and living situation. And that's a big one to think through.
Lucy Lich 21:20
I think that yeah. And that can be a bit of a barrier to entry for some people as well, you know, there are there are there are people out there that are like, "Oh, look, I'm going to do it under the radar." And I think that's probably I'm not sure about over where you are. But I know that in Australia, I think that's a large percentage of people that are living in a tiny house, especially tiny house on wheels, doing it under the radar. But that's not going to sit right for a lot of people, there's going to be a lot of people that, you know, maybe don't want to have to like, you know, look, look over your back every day wondering if the council is going to come and knock on your door and say, "What are you doing here?" or a neighbor or something like that. So I think that's a really good point. And, yeah, like you mentioned before, like with the zoning and the regulations and stuff that in America, they're starting to be like little little shifts and more awareness growing. And it is similar here in Australia, although it's very, very much of a gray area still, you know, for us, we have state regulations. So for example, being in New South Wales, here in Australia, is slightly different to all the other states, but then within each local area, or local council, those councils interpret or enforce the regulations. And this is around caravans, by the way, that's what they're classed as here. They interpret them and enforce them a little bit differently. And so there's just and some counters are more friendly, and others are not. So there's just like this, this big question mark, I think for a lot, a lot of people, but what is that, like where you are, at least in your area?
Ethan Waldman 22:59
Yeah, so in Vermont, it's pretty lax in in most places. Vermont is a is a tiny state, in population and also in size compared to most other states. And it most of it is pretty rural. And so many jurisdictions, well, I'll back up and say that the way that the laws work here are it sounds kind of similar, like they're set at the state level. And then each town, each county can have their own additions to those state laws, they can kind of take them and then amend them, and then even more granularly, the towns within that county can then say, "Well, you know, we want to change..." They add their own stuff. And so you get this incredible patchwork, where, you know, no, two towns are the same, even neighboring towns in the same state and county. And so, in Vermont, many towns don't enforce building code. And here you have kind of two, you have two big restrictions to to what you do with your land, there's, there's zoning, which is what you can do with the land. So for example, like zoning would say, "Okay, you bought this piece of land, and it is zoned for one single family home. So you can't build a development of 10 houses on this land because it's only zoned for one house." Or, "Your house has to be 100 feet from the property line. And it has to be at least 1000 feet from any neighbor and blah, blah, blah." That's zoning. And then the building code, that's kind of the safety stuff, which is the like, "The bedroom has to have an egress window that you can escape from and there needs to be two doors and two ways to exit the house," and all that kind of stuff. A lot of towns here don't enforce building code at all. So it's kind of like you can build whatever you want and live in it. But zoning still applies in most places, in almost all places. The nature of Vermont is that it's very, you know, it's called the Green Mountain State. It's very, there's a lot of trees, it's very lush. So it's, it's pretty easy to be kind of hidden. And so I think the majority of tiny homes here in Vermont, are under the radar more or less like they're, they're behind a house, they're on a farm property. They're somewhere not visible from the road and nobody is exactly going out looking for them.
Lucy Lich 25:48
Yeah, yeah, it sounds kind of similar to a lot of parts of Australia here as well. And if anyone actually wants to listen to a little bit more on tiny house regulations, specifically here in Australia, but we also do touch a little bit on just what people can think about and look at, you know, wherever you are in the world, I have episode number 21, which I'll put a link to in the show notes. But Ethan, in the section of big decisions, you also talk about deciding, you know, do you want to have a tiny house on wheels on skids or foundations, can you go a little bit more into that?
Ethan Waldman 26:27
I think that as the concept of tiny houses becomes more accepted that fewer people will build on wheels. Because the trailer, unless you really do want to be mobile, and there are some other benefits of of building on the trailer, but it does restrict a lot of things about how you can build the house. And trailers are really expensive. They're really not like, designed to be the foundation of a house. And sure, there are many companies building great, tiny house trailers that are better designed, but but still, that's not really what a trailer is for. And so I go into that, the pros and cons of building on wheels, and just some other options to consider, such as building on skids, which is essentially building a house that could be basically loaded up onto a big flatbed and dropped down somewhere else. Like it doesn't have its own trailer, but it is essentially could be put on another trailer. And then also building on a foundation. If you own land, if you if you have a place to live, the thermal benefits like from an installation perspective, and utilities become a lot easier when you're when you're attached to the ground. You don't need to be mobile, and you've you've got a permanent place to put it. I do, in Tiny House Decisions, encourage people to consider not building on a trailer.
Lucy Lich 28:01
Yeah, and I think it's an important thing to highlight actually. Because, again, coming back to that, you just mentioned there someone has a piece of land or then considering like, "Where am I going to park my tiny house?" And you know, if if the regulations are not going to catch up so quickly that yeah, it is good to know and decide like which type of tiny house is going to work for you in your situation, in your location, in the context of of the way that you want to live and all of that too. So yeah, that's really great. You know, you mentioned also, you've mentioned trailers there, right and having a sturdy trailer. So I know that in your book, you talk about the decision between going for a brand new trailer or maybe having one that secondhand and salvage Do you have much to share about that and maybe just from your own experience and what you did.
Ethan Waldman 28:54
I went with a new trailer and I strongly encourage people to go with new trailers. Just because it is the foundation of your house and it it's not something you can ever really change out later. You know, a popular way to do a trailer for cheap is to essentially demolish an RV or I guess what you would call a caravan. You know, kind of basically buy a cheap old caravan, knock it down off of its trailer and then use that trailer. But unfortunately those trailers aren't usually meant to carry the weight of of a tiny house built like a tiny house is built, with wooden studs and wooden siding and sheet rock inside. These are much heavier materials than are used for recreational vehicles. I actually interview a guy in the book, Andrew Odom who, you know, kind of thought he was getting a great deal doing just that, salvaging a trailer and then after realizing that the leaf springs were are broken and having to get those replaced and then spending a lot of time and effort sandblasting the trailer and then repainting it, he realized that he was over he was he had spent as much money as it would have cost to just buy a new trailer. And so I don't. In the book, I really try to present the pros and cons of decisions and be less prescriptive. I say, like, "Here are the pros, here the cons, and here's what I did." On the trailer thing, I am a little bit more prescriptive. And I just say like, really, if you possibly can, you know, it's an important investment in your tiny house to have a really solid and good foundation. So start with a new trailer.
Lucy Lich 30:43
Definitely. And you wouldn't want to have to go get to a point where you're like, "Oh, gosh, I need to either go and buy a new trailer," or you need to spend more money than maybe what you would have on a brand new one if something goes wrong, or is not is maybe faulty or something like that from a salvage trailer. So yeah, definitely a good thing to consider. And, you know, the second category of decisions you talk about are systems decisions, and you categorize it into a few different sections. So heat, plumbing, hot water, electrical, and refrigeration, and then ventilation, are you able to just share with us and whether you want to go through each one, or just give like a general overview of like how people can start to think about these things, or what they should consider when they're making these types of decisions for their home?
Ethan Waldman 31:35
Sure, yeah, I'll kind of give an overview. In that, this is kind of the the heart of the book. And really, when you build a tiny house, you are forcing, you're forcing decisions to be made more aggressively than you would have to make in a bigger house. And like a great example of that is when like a single family house gets built, there's a room in the basement, usually. It's the mechanical room. And it's just a space. And it's not that well thought out. And the various contractors come through the, you know, the plumber comes through and installs the furnace and the hot water heater, and the electrician comes through and you know, and they all just kind of add their stuff to this room and it connected to different parts of the house and not a lot of thought is given to the layout of things. Whereas in a tiny house, you are creating this little space where you have to create this jigsaw puzzle of all these systems, all the systems of a bigger house hot water, heating, cooking, cooling everything into this tiny space. And so this the things that you choose, the way that you choose to heat, the type of plumbing, how you want to heat your water, etc, become more important decisions, because they will affect the design of the house. And they'll affect how much space you have to give. They'll affect how you can use the house like in what climates, it's going to be comfortable. And so I try to take the reader through each one of those things. And again, talk about what are the options? So like, what are the different ways you can heat a tiny house? What are the pros and cons of each option of that choice? And then again, what did I choose on my house and why? And, and I try to you know, people have kind of seen Tiny House Decisions as a great resource for people who are building in a cold climate, because Vermont is a cold climate. And it does have a lot of that knowledge, but I really do try to go beyond just you know, how to build a tiny house for the cold and just help people think through how to build a tiny house for what their needs are and what their environment is.
Lucy Lich 34:01
Yeah, for sure. And I know that you know the thing about systems, as well is, as you said, there's, there's so many things to consider. And each little decision could potentially affect another decision or another aspect of that system and not all systems are going to be exactly the same because it is going to depend on like you said the climate, what kind of lifestyle you want to live in, what kind of options you want to choose, and and what your budget is and so many different variables. Yeah, I think it's great that you broke it down into two those sections because I know for me, personally, that chapter in specifically was probably one of the most helpful for me because it is really overwhelming to kind of think okay, especially if it's something that's new, like you know, not really knowing too much about how all these different systems work and and what considerations we need to have. So yeah, I definitely appreciate the way that you broke all of that down. And in terms of the the next category, you talk about construction decisions. So this is really, I guess, specifically for those that are DIYing their tiny house, and you talk, there's lots of little subcategories within that, are you able to talk a bit more about the construction decisions around that, just an overview?
Ethan Waldman 35:24
Yeah, and I would definitely encourage, you know, if you are having a tiny house built, and you you happen to pick up a copy of Tiny House Decisions, don't skip the construction decisions section, because it will arm you with knowledge that will help you wind up with a better product, in the sense that it will teach you about different kinds of insulations. Different kinds of insulations are very different in terms of how they perform and what they can do for you. It will teach you about different construction methods such as you know, stick framing, versus SIPs versus steel framing. And these are all things that will really affect the performance of the house, how it will perform in both hot and cold weather, and are very important. And so yeah, I talked through the different construction methods, the common construction methods that are used for tiny houses, different types of insulation. And then really the probably the most important piece about in this section is talking about something called thermal bridging, which happens in a cold climate, where you essentially create a thermal bridge at every stud, every wooden stud, if you don't have some kind of insulation outside of them, each stud is kind of a cold point. And anybody who's ever drank a very cold beer on a hot day knows that a cold item in a warm space collects moisture, you know, the humidity in the air condenses. Which is all well and good because you can put a coaster under your glass of beer, but you can't, if that water is is collecting inside of your walls. And so that's, that's like the most important part about this chapter is just understanding. It's like a little lesson in building science and understanding thermal bridging and learning how to prevent it with different through these different construction methods.
Lucy Lich 37:28
Yeah, and I love how you actually mentioned that even if you're not DIY building, and you are using a building company, it is a really good point. Because I know for me, like I am going through a building company that's doing my my build in a few months, actually. And going through the design process with the company, actually a lot of that, like I had so many notes from your books. And I was able to ask about certain things like where in terms of ventilation or in terms of insulation and all the the different types of things. So that's actually a really good point. So whether it is DIY building, or whether you are going through a building company is super useful. And you get to learn all these new things that some things that at least for me, haven't hadn't really heard much about before, it just didn't really know much at all. So the more that you're able to, you know, have awareness of, you know, asking these different questions around how the things are going to be constructed, and what what's going to suit you best when you're working with a building company anyway, I think that, you know, that's a good thing. And the next section that you talk about is living tiny. And you know, there's lots of things in that whether it's, you know, preparing for your parking space when your tiny house is delivered, even insurance around tiny houses. And there's other things in there too, but you want to give us a little bit of an overview around living tiny?
Ethan Waldman 38:47
Yeah, so in this chapter, I tried this, this was one that I kind of added after the fact because, you know, I, when I initially wrote the book, I was very focused on the building of the house. And I realized later that there's so much more to it, especially with moving the house. So there's a there's a big section on just kind of an overview of how to safely move the house. It's not like it's not an exhaustive resource. And I point to some other resources. You know, I give people kind of an anatomy of a trailer just so they understand the terminology and some things about how to even talk to a professional mover about your trailer. And then again, as you mentioned, preparing a house site for a tiny house. If there is nothing there to start, it's quite a bit of work, getting those utilities, if you are going to hook up to utilities, getting them to your site, getting them hooked up to the house, getting the house leveled and stable and not sinking into the ground. And there's all these kinds of considerations that I never thought of when I was first building and even first living in my tiny house. I was just, let's just drive it out onto that piece of grass right there and put the jacks up and oh, okay, now it's spring and the house is literally sinking in the mud. So it's just kind of like learnings along the way of how to prevent some of those problems in advance.
Lucy Lich 40:15
Sure. I hear that a lot, actually. People say, "Oh, I didn't even consider this." But you know, something that you learn along the way for next time, or that you can pass on to other people. And yeah, there's definitely, there's definitely lots to consider once the house is kind of finally built. And are you able to share because this is something that I didn't actually consider until I read your book, you talk a bit about tiny house security. Are you able to share just a little bit more about that?
Ethan Waldman 40:42
Sure, yeah. And again, this is something that I, over the couple of years that I after I published the first edition, I just kept this running document of like things to add to Tiny House Decisions. And security was never something that I had ever been concerned about. Vermont, again, being pretty rural and pretty low crime. But over the years, I have seen many stories of stolen tiny houses. So you know, I wrote a section on what you can do to make your tiny house less, less stealable. In, you know, including putting a lock on the hitch, you know, literally a metal thing that that is locked to your hitch that prevents a vehicle from hitching to it. You can use wheel locks, there are alarm systems. And now it's like, even when I wrote it in 2019, getting GPS tracking was like something that you had to pay a monthly fee for. Now you can buy an air tag from Apple for 30 bucks. And literally, your house is now tracked using a dragnet of every iPhone owner in the world. So there are a lot of things in there that I suggest. Oh, also and security cameras to just how inexpensive now you can buy a $30 internet connected security camera and just keep an eye on your house.
Lucy Lich 42:06
Yeah, I think it is a really good point. Because I guess again, it's context dependent on the location of where you're parking your tiny house, if it's in an urban area, or if it's in a rural area, which seems to be more common than the rural area. But sometimes you just never know. And I think because tiny houses are so you know that they look so beautiful. They're interesting, they're unique. And a lot of people are kind of curious about if they see a tiny house, they want to let you know, go and look, have a look at it and all of that. And if you know, maybe the wrong types of people come across your home, it is something certainly to consider. And I know I've been looking into the the sorry, the recommendation of the wheel locks that you said, because yeah, I think that's something that yeah, is, you know, it's just a precautionary measure.
Ethan Waldman 42:50
Yeah, and, you know, after a couple of years, my tiny house was not my primary residence. And it was in a very rural location, but it was also sitting there. And you know, I would be there maybe once a week, or once or, you know, for a few days every other week. And so even though there, wasn't a lot of crime, there was a lot of time for somebody, you know, if they wanted to steal it, they would have all the time in the world to slowly take it off the jackstands. And, you know, lower it down and disconnect the power. And so, you know, adding those security features, just give you a little peace of mind, I guess.
Lucy Lich 43:28
Yeah, absolutely. Especially as you say, if you're not there all the time, and I'd love to go into something. So you've got some, like final thoughts that you've mentioned in the book as well. And something that I find super interesting. You talk about growing families and relationships too. And often, you know, when someone's building a tiny house or having it built for them, they might be just considering well, how what's my situation now? And you know, like, am I one person living on my own? Or am I a family? How important do you think future proofing your home is when you're having your tiny house built or when you're designing the tiny house from the start?
Ethan Waldman 44:08
I think it's important, but it's not something that you should obsess over, I guess is my answer. Like, it can be difficult to future proof a tiny house because for most people, for many people, if you're a single person building a tiny house now, and five years from now, say you're now you have a partner and multiple children, for example. I'm not saying it's impossible, but the tiny house that you would have built for just you or just you and one other person is much different than then the tiny house that you might build for a family. And so if you know that that's something that you're going to do in the future, then yes, maybe consider how you're going to address it but the beauty of tiny houses is that they are so affordable, relatively. And so it's not, it's, to me, it's not the end of the world if at some point, it's no longer right for you, and you, you move on from it in some one way or another and that doesn't mean that you sell it, it could mean that it becomes an Airbnb are a rental and a source of income for you, or it becomes a way for your parent to live, you know, in your backyard, or, you know, there are so many different ways that people adapt to tiny houses. Interestingly, when when I was building mine, it was my assumption that most people building tiny houses would be other Millennials like me, people who had graduated from college, right as the housing bubble burst in 2007,/2008, and woke up to the reality that the house isn't a guarantee of income and growth. And what I'm really seeing is that there are probably more so the the baby boomer generation, the, you know, people in their 50s 60s and 70s are looking at Tiny houses as a way to retire in a way that is way more sustainable. And, you know, the ability to kind of stretch their their savings much further and simplify because a lot of people who are at retirement age don't need as much space, they don't need extra rooms for their kids or for their families, because they've all grown. So that's been an interesting shift in the demographics.
Lucy Lich 46:45
For sure, I've seen that a lot over here as well. I'm seeing especially we had some recent tiny homes expos here in different parts of the country. And no one of the ones that I was at, there were people from all walks of life have so many different ages. And you know, many of them using the tiny house for or intending to use a tiny house for different purposes, whether it is an Airbnb, whether it's living, and certainly I saw and spoke to lots of different people looking at that option of maybe using it as a downsizing in retirement age and, and even what you mentioned, as well, like having this multi generational living, of maybe having your family on the same land as you are on the same property or next door or whatever it might be. So it is yeah, I think tiny houses are an asset and can be, can serve a purpose in so many different ways for different amounts of time throughout your life. And I know that you also talk about I think you mentioned earlier in the episode today, but also in your book, you said that sometimes tap tiny houses, they can be forever, but sometimes they're not. And that's okay. Are you able to talk maybe a little bit more about that in terms of your situation? Because you said that yeah, you're not you're no longer living in it full time at the moment?
Ethan Waldman 48:02
Yeah, well, you know, I built when I, when I started my tiny house, I was I was in a relationship that was that was new-ish. You know, we weren't living together. And I had kind of started on this quest and I intended to finish it. And, and she Ann, who is now you know, I'm married to since 2016, became involved in in the house project and loved it. But her work kept her in in Burlington, which is the kind of biggest city in Vermont, and it's not particularly tiny house friendly. And so, you know, as our relationship grew, it made sense for me to move in with her. And the tiny house became more of a retreat for us a place that we went for weekends or even longer. She's a nurse, so she has a kind of a flexible schedule in that way. That was great for us, we actually hosted our wedding at the tiny house on the property that we rented and had a lot of fun doing that. And actually, now as of the mid May, we've moved it a bit closer to where we are and are you know, trying out the short term rental thing and so our tiny house is now listed on Airbnb and we've been able to welcome guests in and kind of let people experience the the little house that we built.
Lucy Lich 49:26
That's great. And I think that it's it's really great to hear actually just like real life stories like that. Because you know, sometimes when you know me, you're super excited about the tiny house life and you're like, "This is going to be my forever home." The reality is that circumstances can change and, like you say, we're talking about like relationships and families and and maybe just being in a different stage in your life where you're like actually, you know, maybe this this way of living is going to serve me a bit more and maybe we can use a tiny house for another purpose and then it's great that you're able to offer it out to other people to experience as well especially if I know there's lots of Airbnb, tiny houses popping up over here where I am. And if people are also looking towards this way of living, but they're not 100% sure, like, "Can I actually live in a small space?" Being able to go and try it out for a weekend or a week.
Ethan Waldman 50:14
Lucy Lich 50:16
You know, as we start to close out the conversation today, Ethan, I know that you've got your tiny house community called Tiny House Engage? Are you able to share more about that with us? And maybe, you know, how can people get involved with that, if that's something that they're looking for?
Ethan Waldman 50:32
Yeah, absolutely. You know, Tiny House Engage is something that I started in 2017, when I realized that Tiny House Decisions kind of lays it all out for you. But it doesn't provide you with any, any support, it doesn't connect you with any kind of community. And I've really stepped back a lot from social media, you know, for a time, there are and were tiny house Facebook groups where you could kind of connect with other people. And, and now they're just so big, it's kind of like a fire hose. And so, you know, essentially Tiny House Engage is a very small, it's about 100 people, online community, where it's off of Facebook, it's kind of on its own platform, I guess you could say. And basically, that's kind of where I hang out and and help people with their questions and cheer people on and do kind of weekly office hours. So you know, answer people's questions, do Q&A. And it's, it's really cool because members have, have become friends and connect with each other outside of the platform. And we've seen many tiny houses completed by by members and, and it's just really fun. That is something that is a paid service that I offer, it's kind of like, I do a lot of stuff, a lot of things for free, including my podcasts. And then, you know, Tiny House Decisions is one of the products that I offer. And then Tiny House Engage again, is kind of like a small subscription community where people can kind of connect with other like minded people who are on the same journey. And also, what's actually really cool is that we have a lot of people who have are now living tiny, and they decided to stick around. And they're kind of there as resources to help answer questions and just cheer people on.
Lucy Lich 52:27
And I guess that, you know, you can have all this information and put all these things that have practice, but there are going to be questions that come up along the way, and to be able to have a place that you can go where you can ask that question. And then even especially from people that have maybe done it before you or you know, or on the same path is to, to have those those questions answered, and then also to have the support of the community and to maybe feel understood on a certain level to you know, because this tiny house way of living in this, this movement, it's not going to be for everyone, as much as we would love you know, everyone, you know, things to, to be like that right and to share this with so many more people. And so sometimes it can feel, and I guess this can go for so many different interests that many of us have, like, if were someone that's maybe in really into health and wellness or yoga, or whatever it might be. And sometimes it can be if you don't have that many people in your immediate life or your immediate community or family that have that same interest, it's really nice to connect with people, even if it's around the world, that do share that same interest and that same understanding and knowing that you're going through this journey together and to be able to help and support each other and, and, you know, celebrate those wins. And you know, help through those challenges and all of that. So I think that's a really great offering. Can people find more about that on your website?
Ethan Waldman 53:47
Yeah, basically, I open registration for about a week, every month. And the best way to kind of find out about that is is just to get on my email list. And you can do that at thetinyhouse.net/newsletter, I tend to just really promote it to people who are already kind of in my, in my ecosystem, and also podcast subscribers, you know, you'll hear about the community being open if you if you subscribe to Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, because I find that it's better to have people who do have some knowledge, who have either read Tiny House Decisions, or have been listening to the podcast and people who are a little bit more sure that this is what they want to do and are trying to make it happen. So it's not like something that I kind of plaster out there on Facebook and just on my website publicly.
Lucy Lich 54:42
Yeah, for sure. And look there, like you said, there's so many different tiny house Facebook groups that can be suitable for, you know, maybe a wider amount of people that are just kind of curious about, you know, this way of living and they can, you know, ask questions in there. So yeah, that's great. And are there any exciting projects that you're working on? One that are coming out for you guys there, or anything else that you wanted to leave our listeners with.
Ethan Waldman 55:05
Yeah, I've, I've developed a kind of live course version of Tiny House Decisions. And I've run it twice with somebody who I really respect and love. Her name is Lina Menard, who's also somebody who's an early tiny house movement person who's actually built two tiny houses for herself and helped out on many builds and has a background in in urban planning and design. And so it's called Tiny House Considerations is the name that we've given the course of the name might change the next time we run it. And it's, it's essentially a seven week long, live version of Tiny House Decisions where we meet once per week for you know, Q&A, and then kind of give you videos and worksheets and things to work through. And so it's like a highly if you like, really want your hand held and you really want to work through Tiny House Decisions, from start to finish, and really come out with kind of this packet, this like, this manual for you of your tiny house and how you're going to build it and what's going to be in it. It's a great, it's a great way to do that. And we're going to the next round of that is going to happen in October, actually. And I can send you a link that if you want to put a link to it in the on the show notes where people can basically sign up to just be notified when it's open for registration.
Lucy Lich 56:32
Absolutely, that would be great. So you've got your Tiny House Engage community, you've got the Tiny House Decisions ebook, you've got your Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, and then you've got the course the Tiny House Considerations, lots of really great offerings to the tiny community. And do you want to share just one last time, the best place to find you online your website? Or? Yeah, I think your website because you said you're not really active as much on social media at the moment.
Ethan Waldman 56:58
Yeah, I mean, I do post like, each week, I post a post for the new podcast episode. But that's not really where it's not where my heart is.
Lucy Lich 57:08
I hear ya.
Ethan Waldman 57:08
So my website is thetinyhouse.net. And the show is called Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. And you can find it in in any podcast app that you listen to, including Spotify, and all those.
Lucy Lich 57:23
Wonderful. Ethan, thank you so much for your time today. It's been really great connecting with you and for sharing your wisdom and hearing your story. And I really appreciate your time today. So thank you so much.
Ethan Waldman 57:36
Thanks, Lucy. I love what you're doing as well. I'm a big fan of your show. It's great to have another active tiny house podcast out there. I was I was all alone for a little while. And it was lonely. So thank you for doing what you're doing. And thanks for having me on.
Lucy Lich 57:50
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for saying that. And you know, I've said this to you offline that your podcast has been one of the inspirations and really great helpful resources for me as well as your Tiny House Decisions ebooks. So I really appreciate you know, being in this community with you. Even though we're on the opposite sides of the world, it's cool to know that there are you know, others, you know, living this lifestyle and and you know, within this community, so yeah, it's really great to be here with you. And if you're listening to us at home, make sure you go check out Ethan at thetiny house.net Go and grab Tiny House Decisions, go and look at everything that he's doing. Listen to the podcast. And thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us. If you want more tiny house conversations, make sure you stay tuned every Thursday as new episodes come out. And I'll see you next time.
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