Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How Much Money Did I Save by Buying a USED Trailer?


If you’re planning on building a tiny house on wheels (THOW) you have probably looked at flatbed trailers on craigslist (or elsewhere) and considered buying a used trailer.  However, you’re likely concerned that it might not be strong enough, or have enough capacity to haul your tiny house, or it might have damage.  And then you might have gotten some prices on new trailers and considered if the expense is worth the peace of mind.

So many questions, so few answers!!!!

For “My Empty Nest” I bought a previously-wrecked-but-repaired trailer and then altered my floor plan to accommodate it.  And, I thought I would be buying a new trailer for “My Tiny Perch” but then I found it….the one….the deal of a century that I couldn’t pass up…..even if it would take a ton of effort and time to make it work….it would be worth it.

If you have ever wondered how much it might cost or what steps might be needed to utilize a used trailer for your tiny house on wheels, this blog post is for you.

Instead of telling you a traditional “story”, let’s follow the money, shall we????

$3,000.00 - New Trailer Bid

This is the LOWEST bid I received from a reputable trailer manufacturer, for an 18 foot long, deck over (the deck of the trailer sits above the fenders) flatbed trailer.  The highest bid was $4,700.00. Yikes!?  Yes, there are many pros and cons for each design and feature but when I was reviewing them I was thinking to myself “It’s gonna’ take me a looong time to save this much money to even get started on my build!”

$80.00 - Gas Money

That’s what it costs to fill my gas tank, and Mark’s truck’s gas tank, to get me the 250 miles to go look at a trailer I found on craigslist.  Yes; 250 miles. It was a day-long investment.

$600.00 - Cost of Used Trailer

After a visual inspection and review of the paperwork for legitimacy, I paid only $600.00 for a dual-axle 2014 flatbed that used to be an RV that had flipped over on its maiden voyage with the new owner.  By the time I saw it, however, the RV body had been stripped off, leaving only the floor, subfloor, tanks, axles, wheels, tires, and frame intact.  The tires were almost new and there was NO rust to be seen.


 Tah Dah!  So proud!

$30.00 - Trip Permit #1

A WA trip permit was needed to avoid getting a ticket for towing a non-licensed trailer.

$20.00 - Dump Fees

After a bit of demo to remove flooring and rock guard and whatever else I could get off in two days, we made a trip to the dump.  The good news was that I discovered the location of the VIN plate in the process.  Yay!  I was hopeful that licensing in Oregon would be easy.

$50.00 - More Gas Money

More gas money for Mark’s truck, to tow the trailer the 165 miles to Oregon where it needs to be registered and licensed.

$30.00 - Trip Permit #2

Yep, another WA trip permit for the trip to Oregon.  Sheesh!?

 
Not sure if I should have done this much demo to the floor.
$138.00 - New Wheels

The previous owner warned that the two wheels on one side were bent in the accident and although he’d used the spare tired for one of them, I would likely need two new wheels.  I also wanted someone to do a more thorough inspection so this was money well spent.   It was during the wheel replacement that we discovered the axles were off center by an inch.

OK, so far, I’ve spent $948.00.

Still a bargain!!!
 

$160.00 - New Tongue Jack and Brake Cable

I took the trailer to a local company who manufactures and repairs trailers; for a more thorough assessment of the axles, their locale, and the rest of the braking system.  And, also, the tongue jack was broken so I’d need a new one because not having one is a pain in the butt!  They replaced the tongue jack, rewired the braking system, determined that the axle location would not affect the load, and replaced the emergency cable which was ripped off during the accident.  The trailer is now legal!

$10.00 - Trip Permit #3

While I was optimistic that the trailer would pass inspection since the paperwork clearly matched the VIN plate, the guy at the DMV was being VERY difficult and insisted that he had never seen a VIN plate in that location before.  So, he referred me to the State Patrol office for an inspection and to ensure that I had not, instead, stolen the trailer. (insert rolled eyes here!)  And, yes, I needed to buy another trip permit.  At least the OR one was cheap!?

 
Looks questionable to me!  NOT!!!

$10.00 - More Gas Money

In direct contrast to the DMV guy, the OSP was very accommodating and signed off the paperwork without incident or questions.  Another several hours, and more gas down the drain (merely because of a DMV employee’s out-of-control-power-tripping ego) and back to the DMV I go….

$119.00 - Licensing Fee and Title Transfer

Finally!  A legal, licensed, trailer that I can use for my tiny house!  I have no concerns, or questions, regarding its stability or ability to be used for my THOW. The GVW (gross volume weight) is only 7,000 lbs so we may need to replace the axles, but won’t know that until the house is framed and weighed. And I’m crossing my fingers that we can take enough steps to avoid having to buy new axles but if we do, we do.  I have a supplier so it’s just a matter of find the money, and the time.

 

Final Total: $1,247.00

Money Saved: Over $1,753.00

Totally WORTH IT!!!

 
Ready to go!  All 12,720 lbs...
 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Making Great Progress!


Sometimes it can be challenging to balance a “life” of work and parenting and all of the responsibilities of a breadwinner and employee. But, I keep reminding myself that building a 2nd tiny house is a CHOICE for me and even with sponsors on board, the pace is dictated by ME! 

Now, granted, I tend to push myself and my contractors way harder than may be necessary but the biggest push-victim is me!  How fast does one build a tiny house they don’t really NEED?  Am I going to get kicked out of the tiny house / minimalism club for having more than is necessary?  

(Rhetorical questions? Perhaps…..)

With that said, however, and despite the Holiday Season on us; I have been making GREAT progress on My Tiny Perch!

The Trailer

Every THOW (tiny house on wheels) project starts with the decision to design the trailer to the floor plan or design the floor plan to the trailer.  For my first build I did the latter, for my next one I’m doing the former.

As such, it gave me WAY more flexibility regarding the sourcing and then the pricing for a trailer.  I was so giddy to have found a flatbed that was the PREFECT size for only $600!  There was some risk associated with the missing VIN and the connection of paperwork to actual trailer. But, last week I “found” the VIN buried under the under-trailer vapor barrier and now my dots are all connected.  This weekend my flatbed will be delivered to me for DOT inspection and plates in OR. 

 
Demo is almost done and ready for lumber pick up!
Siding

Because I’ll be using T1-11 and because I’m losing my lovely / dry garage in a few weeks, I decided to expedite the process of painting the siding.  So, for the past several weeks, during TV commercial breaks, (seriously, no joke…) I pop into my garage and put another coat of paint on.  And, now I’m done!

Yes, my tiny house is painted before it is even built!  No need to fret over lack of dry painting weather in the winter. 

Yay! Me!
 
Painting...one sheet at a time!
Sponsors

Perhaps it goes without saying that the FIRST people I called to pitch my sponsorship proposal to, were the same companies who sponsored my first build.  And (GREAT NEWS!) they all said “YES!” or “They wish they could but do not have the budget.” 

So My Tiny Perch is off to a GREAT start and we have already secured sponsors for all of the following products:

Lumber and Plywood and OSB by Mr. Plywood

Windows and Doors by Parr Lumber

Countertops by Oregon Lumber Works

Electrical Supplies and Fixtures by Platt Electric

Kitchen Sink by Elkay

Composting Toilet by Nature’s Head

Paint by SherwinWilliams

Furnishing Hardware by Rockler Woodworking Hardware

SmallerLiving.org by donating $$$



Money!

And speaking of $$$$....

In the middle of my crazy life, and everything else I have going on, I just got a NEW JOB!  My two kids are moving out, I am moving INTO my tiny house to occupy when I am not at my boyfriend’s house.  So, in a nutshell, my expenses just took a nose dive and my income just experienced a spike. So, while the last build was challenged by finances that were not covered by the sponsors, I don’t anticipate this build will have ANY financially related delays. 

I’m still paying for it, in cash, as I go.  But I now have more flexibility to do so and that’s a great feeling!!!
 
Who'd thunk so much awesomeness could happen at once!?
Opportunity

Part of my “allure” to sponsors and affiliates is my ability to expose them to a LOT of people who will be watching my progress online and seeing their products in action.

And to that end, 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for me!

So far I have been asked to participate as a Speaker at a workshop in CA in February, as a Keynote Speaker at a Festival in March, and as an Emcee at a Street Festival in NC in April.  And, rumor has it, that MORE speaking engagements are to come. 

I just hope my new employer is as “flexible” as they say they will be. 

Wish me luck!!!??
 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Manic Rantings of a Sleepless Tiny Crazy Person


It’s 4:30 in the morning. I have been awake since 2 am and finally decided to get up and do something useful instead of lying here tossing and turning.

So, to clarify, “something useful” today is writing a blog article about how completely NUTS I am to consider another tiny house build. Right. Now.  In the middle of my already crazy life.
 
 
Financially it makes all kinds of sense.  When you consider what I can build it for and what I can rent it out for, it’s totally a no brainer. Emotionally and creatively, I am engaged and inspired and it’s given me a happy mental spot to go to when my job feels like it’s sucking the life out of me. Logistically, however, I couldn’t have picked a more messed up time to do this.

November is looming and, sometime between now and January 1st, I need to move myself and 2 children out of our 1700 square foot 3 bedroom rental home. They’re moving into an apartment together, and I’ll be moving into my tiny house; full time. I have done a fair amount of downsizing already, but I still have a lot of parts and pieces to move on this frantic chess board that is my life. But, seriously? I’m lying here thinking of all the stuff I need to get for My Tiny Perch and thinking “Where am I going to put it all?”  Yes. I can get a storage unit while I am building but that further complicates things in itself by placing another dot on a map of where I need to be, where I need to go, and where I need to stay.  I’m not even being sarcastic.  My life is a little complicated right now.
 
 

My boyfriend who will again be my framer lives almost 200 miles from me. I found a screaming deal on a flatbed trailer, the kind of deal that makes you drop everything and drive 3 hours to get the opportunity just to CONSIDER buying it. So, in the next 48 hours I need to drive up there, go see it, maybe get it, park it at his house, then drive back home because my upcoming weekend is already packed with other pre-move chores and car repair appointments. Then sometime in the next month or so I need to drive up there, get it, bring it to Oregon, get it inspected and buy plates in Oregon.
Then I need to swing by my lumber sponsor, pick up the lumber package, and drive the trailer and lumber (and windows) back to his house where it will be while it’s getting framed and dried in.  Then I need to move the framed tiny house BACK to Oregon for finishing.

All of this while packing, moving, and actively considering a career change.  Like now. 

I need a plan.  Like yesterday. But first I need to breathe. I need some lists.
I need a couple of days off work.

As you know, I have decided that this build will also be sponsored.  And, that alone adds a whole different dimension of complexity, organization, and obligation to the project.  I can’t take materials from a sponsor and then inform them that I don’t “have time” to build a tiny house right now.  And the first of a long list of supplies has already arrived, via UPS, yesterday.  It’s official.  I’m doing this.

 
I would be the last to admit that I love drama. I don’t. I hate it. But choosing to build a tiny house right now in the middle of my already chaotic life might suggest otherwise. But, really… I didn’t know I would find a deal on a tiny house trailer that would drastically expedite my plans.  Maybe it won’t work out. Maybe the guy will sell it before I get there. 

I am texting Andrew Odom as I type this.  We’re comparing notes to determine if I can build an 18 foot long single story tiny house on a dual axle trailer with only 7000 lb GVW rating. He says he thinks it’s “doable”. 

My mind has been spinning for hours.  Maybe it’s because I ate ¾ of a chocolate chip cookie before I went to bed.  Maybe because I’m a crazy person who seriously needs to get more exercise.

Here’s my dilemma: I need stuff for the house, places to store it, places to paint it and prep it. I need to get my car fixed so it can pass emissions because my tabs are due. I feel manic. Maybe it’s hormonal.
So, there you go.

If you have ever felt like you’ll never get to where you need to be, like the list of what needs to be done is longer than the hours you have available to do said list, like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, like your life is a bit out of whack (I actually forgot a massage appointment yesterday. Who DOES THAT?) or like your choices you make do not always seem to be made from a sane perspective; I do too.

You’re not alone.

I cannot attest to your sanity (or mine) but I can confirm, unequivocally, that there are many others just like you who push themselves beyond their comfort zone and then, every once in a while they stop and think “What the HELL am I thinking!?”

I seriously need coffee. 
I have podcast interview in less than 3 hours…
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oops! I'm Doing It Again!?


Could you live in 144 square feet?
Can one build a tiny house for less than $20,000, without sacrificing ANY amenities?
Do tiny houses really NEED lofts?
Since the completion of My Empty Nest last November I will admit to feeling a bit lost, and bored.  It’s not like I have nothing to do.  I am a VERY busy person and have remained very active in the tiny house community by attending events, near and far. (even as far as Vermont!)  I’ve written blogs, I still record the Tiny House Podcast every week, and have actively kept my finger tight on the proverbial pulse of the movement.

But, big creative projects are my vice. They’re what keeps my mind distracted from my otherwise very stressful life. (Ironic, I know.) So, for as much as I have going on in my life I have felt like I need something to scratch my creative itch! Problems to solve, challenges to overcome, etc… (ones that I can control!)
I have thought long and hard about what my unique contribution to the tiny house community might eventually be. I have had many people ask me if I plan to build, and sell houses. I’ve thought about writing a book or offering consulting services.  But, those are paths that so many others are following. I really want to contribute in a way that few people have, or can.  And, of course, I want it to ultimately create an income stream.
As I look at the people who are making money in the tiny house movement, they all appear to fall into one of four major categories: tiny house or trailer builders, consultants / workshop instructors, short term rental hosts (Hotels, AirBnb, and VRBO) and tiny house bloggers.  As I consider where I might fit into these categories I have to admit that I am drawn most to the social aspect of tiny houses; the hosts / hostess gigs. Yes, I love building tiny houses but what I love the most is TALKING about them!  (Side note: If you know me you are no doubt shocked that it took me any time at all to figure that out for myself. But I digress…) I love sharing my story and I love inspiring others with the idea that they too can build one for themselves!
So, without further ado, I am hereby formally announcing the launch of my next project:
My Tiny Perch!
 
My floorplan.
 
I have carefully considered all of the feedback that I see, and read, about my tiny house and others.  So many concerns about the tiny house movement appear to be focused primarily on zoning.  This makes total sense but there are others blazing those trails so it’s not something I can address with MY project.  But, what I can address or call attention to is the number of people who have trepidations about climbing stairs into a loft bedroom. So, my next tiny house won’t have stairs or a loft. My newest design is a single story tiny house, with a separate bedroom and a full bathroom. (and room for dining, for two!)

Next, hauling a tiny house is a HUGE undertaking and not for the faint of heart.  The bigger the house, the bigger the truck that is needed, and the potential pitfalls and nightmares.  Believe me, I’ve heard them all. (and, as you recall, My Empty Nest actually tipped over while being moved!) So, my next tiny house will truly be very tiny, only 144 sq feet. This means it will be lighter, shorter, and much easier to haul with my boyfriend’s ¾ ton truck. No need to hire a mover. 
 

So, what about the design / floorplan? As a beginner builder it’s pretty tough to wrap ones head around the trailer / house combo. Do you design the trailer around the floorplan or the floorplan around the trailer?  How does one account for the fenders in the floorplan? These are all tough questions. Questions, however, that I won’t have to answer because a single story tiny house built on a deck over trailer is a super practical and much MUCH easier way to accomplish a tiny house goal than building between the fenders and calculating the exact ceiling height needed in the sleeping lofts!
And, finally, who has over $50,000 to buy a tiny house? Not me. As the movement grows larger, so do the tiny houses and their sale prices.  Yes. I know. It’s ironic and odd but “practical”.  So here’s the bottom line: Can you actually build and live in an affordable, teeny, tiny, house without sacrificing any basic amenities? One that costs less than $20,000 to build?  I intend to prove that you can. I am designing OUT the costs of some materials like flooring and siding; and reducing labor at the same time.
 
My color and décor scheme.

So here I go again. And, to clarify I am starting out (again) with NO money. I am again seeking the support of sponsors and then augmenting my budget with money I earn through sources other than my primary income. Then, when it’s done, My Tiny Perch will be put to use as a short term rental to help others experience the tiny house lifestyle, even if only for a weekend. 
I can indeed be a builder, AND a blogger, AND a Hostess with the Mostest!
So, stay tuned! I’ll be posting pictures and how-to articles and this time I’m jumping onto the Instagram bandwagon.  
It’s gonna’ be a fun, but no doubt bumpy, ride!

 

 

 

Monday, January 25, 2016

When You Just Gotta' Go! (My Composting Toilet Story)


I met a new friend at a bar the other night.  She read an article in the local paper about my tiny house and reached out via facebook.  She is just starting to plan for her tiny house build.  She had so many questions! 

Most of them, however, had to do with how she might go about finding a host for her tiny house.  What would she tell them?  What did she need?  Should she build first and THEN look for a place to put it?

During this conversation I realized, more than I had before, how many of my initial decisions regarding the design and amenities for my tiny house were based on my goal of being as “low maintenance” as possible to my host. I wanted to make it easy for them to say “yes”. 

Lina Minard once said “All tiny house conversations turn to the subject of either poop, or sex, within the first ten minutes.”  And there I was, in a bar, explaining to a stranger, how to select a composting toilet, what it does, and how to become an expert on composting.
 
Reduce your water consumption by using a composting toilet.
Reuse the box as a collection bin for charity donations.
Recycle your old linens and pillows and extra household goods by donating them.
Win. Win. Win.

There really was never any question about whether or not I would have a composting toilet. I already have a portable RV toilet for my camper. And, I hate emptying it, so much, I have never used it.  And, I had no intention of using a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket.  So when it came to choosing a composting toilet, the main question really was “Which one?”
 
Hard at work on my water closet!
 
I turned to Google and YouTube and started my research. And, I discovered, out of all of the composting toilets out there, Nature’s Head had the best reputation and several glowing recommendations. 

You can do your own research as well but in a nutshell, here’s how it works:
1)      The liquid waste (pee) is diverted to a front-loaded and sealed container to prevent it from mingling with the solid waste. 

2)      The solid waste (poo) and toilet paper is diverted, via a manually opened latch, to a centrally-located tank where is it stirred, via a manual crank with peat moss to help remove the moisture and smell.

3)      A tiny fan runs 24/7 to remove smell and moisture from the solid waste tank.

4)      To clean it you just spray vinegar and water on the bowl after every use.
5)     Here's a link to a very cool and informative video review:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24LimUrb4LM
 
Almost ready, my Nature's Head toilet, sitting quietly in the background.

Here are the less than obvious attributes:
1)      Guests will need a set of instructions in order to use it properly.

2)      Male guests need to sit, to pee.  I can tell you that this is NOT a popular mandate in my tiny house.

3)      It is super easy to install!

4)      My guests are amazed at how you cannot smell it, at all!
The vent tube and fan are hardly noticeable!
 
As easy as it was, to install, I did have a few Oops moments:
1)      Don’t use Miracle Grow peat moss. I bought some and THEN read the manual where it says, several times in BOLD type, not to.  Doh!?  LOL

2)      You’re supposed to attach the toilet to the floor.  My floor, however, is glass tile.  There is a section in the installation manual that says I should attach it to a piece of plywood but, to be honest, I’m not sure why I even need to attach it to the floor.  It’s quite stable already.  I am sure, however, that I will eventually figure it out.  Maybe when I’m moving my tiny house and the full toilet tips over?  Note to self: empty toilet before I move my house again.

3)      I had to buy yet another tool, a hole saw, to install the vent tubing.  And, I find it very ironic that I spent so much time and money making a weather proof house and then have to drill big holes in it. 

4)      I read the instructions and they said to buy the converter if I would be plugging it in to a 110V outlet.  So, I went online and ordered one.  Then, when I went to unpack it I discovered that Nature’s Head had already sent me one, pre-installed on the toilet already.  Lesson:  Unpack the toilet, survey the supplies, read the manual and THEN buy extra stuff you may need to install it.
 
A throne to be proud of!
 
Larry at Nature’s Head is a great guy.  Heck, the entire staff is.  I received my shipment notice via email on a Sunday!

So, if you’re looking for a composting toilet that will last you a lifetime, from a company with a great reputation, and a product with unsurpassed quality; you really should buy a Nature’s Head.

Or you can use a bush.  My guy friends still do that and it works great for them…..

Friday, December 18, 2015

Window Coverings - They Matter More Than You Think


I’m not an interior designer. I would love to think I am, or go to school to be one, or get paid to be an assistant to one.  But, alas, I am not. 

I have, however, read a lot of books on design and space utilization. I understand the basics of color application, use of voids, and the whole color-texture-and bling concept. I’ve spent more than a passing afternoon on building and painting and designing my living spaces and would like to think I’m pretty good at it.
 

And while all of this sounds very high brow, and while the decision for what window coverings to use in your tiny space should be very easy; when you’re starting from scratch like I did, there are actually a LOT of considerations for choosing window coverings.

Here are some of mine:

My Inspiration

I started with fabric.  When starting an interior design plan, it’s a good idea to find a piece of fabric that embodies your overall design theme.  Flowered? Colorful? Modern? Bright? Neutral?  This fabric then becomes the basis for your overall design and from there on out the rest of the choices are easier.  You can choose paint colors, complimentary fabrics, fixtures, and even artwork using your fabric inspiration as your baseline.
 
Where it all started...
 
I chose a very modern aesthetic with a neutral cream and grey theme. The squares in the fabric were then repeated throughout my design with the tile and the storage boxes and even the “boxy looking” window trim.

Curtains or Blinds

Decorating a tiny space is a bit more challenging than a “normal” house with doors and individual rooms. When you have a normal house you can design individual rooms with their own color scheme or design theme.  Since most of the space in my tiny house is basically one big room I wanted to make them visually unique and yet blend well.

Since I have 11 windows in my tiny space, choosing a window covering that would blend well with any of my individual room choices was key.  And, since my theme was “Modern Nostalgia” I decided to go with cellular fabric blinds.  They would be less obtrusive than curtains, but yet still provide a soft glow and privacy.  I also hate, simply HATE, cheap metal blinds. If I would have been forced to use duct tape and bed sheets for window coverings until I could afford what I wanted, I would have.
 
Basic But Beautiful!
 
With that said, I love to sew curtains. But, since I wanted the window coverings to blend, rather than stand out, and since I have so many windows, having 11 sets of curtains in such a small space would have been visually quite heavy.

Where To Buy Blinds

Big Box stores are good for a lot of things.  Helping you make key design decisions is not one of them.  (in my experience anyways)  If, like me, your creative process involves staring at swatches for days and painting walls just to see how they would look with a particular color, then you’d probably appreciate Blind.com’s methods of helping you make a decision.

Their catalog is dizzingly large and amazing.  If you have questions about how to choose one blind style over another you can call them or watch videos.  Your level of engagement is entirely up to you.  Personally, I like to have my hands held while I walk through that kind of decision.
 
A snapshot of their selection page
 
I chose 12 different colors / styles of blinds and they immediately (the same day) sent me actual samples of each.  I fiddled with my decision for, literally, months. After endless discussions with myself and a day spent measuring and re-measuring the windows, I was finally ready. I emailed them the sizes, they sent me the order to confirm that no data entry errors had occurred between my email and their computer, and the blinds arrived within 2 weeks.

Easy Peasy!
Once I received the blinds, the installation was very simple.
Step One:  Screw the two or three brackets (depending on the size) to the top of the window.
Step Two: Snap the blind into place.  No joke. It was one of the easiest parts of my entire build.
 
 
So easy, a dummy can do it!
 
Step Three: (Optional) If you choose blinds with cords, you then screw the cord “wrangler” to the window frame.  No more dangling cords!?  Yep.  Problem solved

Oops!

I discovered that I had measured the kitchen window correctly, but a “1” looks a lot like a “7” when scribbled on a piece of scrap paper.  I ordered a 46 - 7/8” blind when I needed a 46 – 1/8” one.  They made a new one and sent it to me NO CHARGE!  They told me I could keep the other blind and donate it to charity or give it to a friend.  I can honestly say that kind of service is truly rare and I appreciate the lengths that Blinds.com goes to, to make the whole experience as great as possible.
 
I love my kitchen!

All the Final Touches

I love how my cream colored blinds blend in to the background, but stand out against the grey walls.  I love how their subtle texture provides depth and interest and a touch of class.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cordless blinds in the loft that can close from the top or bottom with the slightest of touch. They were so easy to install, they look amazing, and they’re warm and inviting even from the outside view!
 
 

I’ll never buy my Blinds from anyone but Blinds.com.  Ever.  And you shouldn’t either.  :o)~

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Tiny House Podcast - What Makes Us Tick?

Every Wednesday morning, three unlikely friends commute to downtown Portland to record the Tiny House Podcast.  In true Portland fashion, Perry pedals in on his bicycle; Michelle stops by with her coffee in hand on her way to work, and Mark’s beard arrives before he does. The first few hours of their collective day begins with a chat about the guest-of-the-week, 45 minutes of recording, and then concludes with a brief what’s-next discussion.


My name is Michelle, and I am the very proud hostess of the Tiny House Podcast, and this is our story…




I met Mark Grimes several years ago during a funding competition. I was representing my little startup company and hoping to capture the attention of investors. After my speech, Mark introduced himself and offered his time and resources and contacts within the vibrant startup community in Portland.  Needless to say I was more than grateful and our connection grew as we bumped into each other at various events throughout the city.


Mark Grimes, our Glue Guy


Mark is a fan of all things trendy, and unique, and quirky, and odd, and seeks out opportunities where ever they present themselves. Even if it means doing things he’s never done before and meeting people he’s never met before. That’s what I love about him the most. He almost always finds a way to say “yes” and he will say “yes” to finding time to connect with me during his very busy weeks; even if only 15 minutes’ worth.


During one of these 15 minutes touch-base-sessions, after not having seen each other for a few months, we were somewhat surprised to discover that we had a common interest in tiny houses. He and his business partner, Perry, were exploring the notion of a tiny house community of converted shipping containers.  Then, their research led them to consider tiny houses on wheels. 


Mark’s and my conversation regarding a podcast went something like this:


Mark:  “So. This Tiny House thing is pretty cool. Would you be interested in hosting a podcast?


Me: “Sure. But I don’t know anything about podcasting.”


Mark: “We’ll figure out the hard parts, you just have to talk.”


Me: “Deal.”


Mark: “OK, let’s sit down with Perry and brain storm some ideas.  Next week good for you?”


The following week all three of us met at Nedspace, Mark’s downtown incubator for creative minds. It was my first opportunity to meet Perry. We brainstormed the concept that we envisioned for our podcast and the words “irreverent”, “fun”, “funny”, and “informative” came up often. We knew we didn’t want to be boring or too politically correct. We came up with a list of creative questions, and people in the tiny house community we wanted to interview. We talked about the kinds of subjects and people outside the tiny house community that our listeners would relate to and enjoy. We agreed on a timeline, synced our schedules, and then met a couple of weeks later for our first recording session.


To say that we threw caution to the wind and mutually agreed to “throw shit at the wall and see if it stuck” would be a true understatement. Mark is our glue person (the guy who holds it all together) I am the hostess and keep close tabs on all things tiny, and Perry is the recording technology guru.

Perry Gruber, Mister Technology


Perry, is also the most socially responsible one amongst us. His passion for sailing and his lifelong goal of finally living on a sail boat is what drew him to the tiny house movement. His proclivity towards tiny spaces, his interest in all things unique and small, and his avid pursuit of a sustainable economy makes him the perfect third leg on our little stool of Portland weirdness. He is an artist, and an entrepreneur, and a true innovator who seeks to transform societal norms. And nowhere is that more evident than on his website; Copiosis.com. As in his daily life, he also has very high standards for the podcast. But, he is also patient enough to set them aside and allows me to be my zany, rude, and sometimes awkward self.  If you’re cringing while I am excitedly interrupting someone, yet again. So is he.


So, who am I?

Just little, 'ole, me.....


First off, I was raised in a family with 13 siblings. Competing for attention, talking loud and over other conversations, was a required skill set and one that I learned very early in life. Then, I discovered much later in life that interrupting is NOT skill set that is actually considered to be a social asset. Since early habits die hard, it remains my nemesis. So, now you all know why I am what I am. As embarrassing as that is. I’m working on it.


But enough about my need for therapy…..


I am a single mom, first and foremost. I have two college aged children who still live at home but someday they will fly the nest and I will live in my recently completed tiny house named “My Empty Nest”. By day, I spend my employer’s money working as a Buyer, and by night I do more than most people can imagine will fit into a single lifetime. I am a patented inventor, entrepreneur, published author, public speaker, Glamper, craigslist stalker, foodie, blogger, coffee enthusiast, wine drinker, tiny house designer/builder, and lover of an amazing guy named Mark. (Not the podcast one, another one) People often ask me if I ever sleep and I have to admit that I sleep more than most. I am VERY grumpy if I get anything less than 8 hours of solid sleep and I fervently protect my downtime.


If you’ve listened to one of our podcasts, you know that the dynamic between Mark, Perry, and myself is pretty comfortable and I personally consider that to be one of our best assets. We laugh, we have good days and bad, eat breakfast during the show, drink our coffee, make fun of each other, confess our desires, share our lives, and enthusiastically try to produce an entertaining and valuable addition to your day.


Want our recipe?


Take three creative and fun people, put them in a tiny padded room, add a dose of common interest, throw in a recording device that works (Thank you, Perry!) sprinkle in some super informative and funny guests, and BAM!......out comes the tiny house podcast.


If you have NOT listened to our podcast, then you totally should.  But, of course you knew I’d say this.


We interview VERY cool people in the tiny house community, movers and shakers on the forefront of socially responsible living, and creative types who will hopefully rule the world someday.


Seriously.  What are you waiting for?  Like……go listen……  Right now.