Young couple living in a DIY Tiny House in Florida

I had first started seeing Tiny Houses on Pinterest. And I thought that it was such an amazing idea for people who wanted to save money, have a home of their own that is movable, and not have to pay an outrageous amount for an apartment or “normal” size home.


I (Christina) grew up in North Carolina in a small town my whole life, until I met Jon in the summer of 2015. He was doing an internship a few hours drive from me, and we started talking and hit it off pretty instantly; fast forward to him moving back home to Florida two weeks after we met. We had a long-distance relationship for three years while we were both in school. I finished my undergrad and half of my Masters, while Jon finished his undergrad as well. We always knew that one of us would move to the other, and it was easier for me to move down to Florida since he started law school in 2018. So, in the summer of 2018, I sold the house I had bought at 20 and renovated (my late great aunt’s house from the 1950s) and moved down with a lot of my stuff.


I had first started seeing Tiny Houses on Pinterest. And I thought that it was such an amazing idea for people who wanted to save money, have a home of their own that is movable, and not have to pay an outrageous amount for an apartment or “normal” size home. I started watching a TON of youtube tours and fell in love with the idea of a Tiny House on Wheels. In the beginning, my friends and family (and Jon) wasn’t sold on the idea since the whole building process was a lot of work, and I let it go for almost a year until the idea came up again. Then, Jon and his dad began to think of the advantages of a Tiny House and how we could build it ourselves, which started our Tiny House Journey.


The layout of the Tiny House went through several different plans, starting when I first started researching more about them up until a month or two when we were “done” building. I wouldn’t say that the layout was hard; I think the hardest thing to work around when you’re building on a trailer is the wheel wells. We had to work around them and ended up putting the cabinets and stairs over them in the end.


The building process went really well! Jon’s dad had a relatively new idea for the house by using Structurally Insulated Panels (or SIPs), which come in panels that you put together, and they are already painted, insulated, textured. They have a great R-value (25, I believe) in terms of insulation. The walls and roof were up in a day or two thanks to the SIPs! Overall, the build took around seven or eight months from start to move in. Jon, his dad, and I were the ones building it, and other than having a little help putting the SIPs up, we did the build ourselves using all new materials. While I do love the idea of using used and repurposed materials, we wanted the house to last, so we used all new materials.


The design of the house was designed to fit us and our family (me, Jon, our dog (Sammy), and our bird (Peter)). We knew that we would both be in school, so we wanted a two-person desk (that also acts as a kitchen table when we eat). The desk was just about the only thing that Jon wanted in the Tiny House, and I knew I wanted a bathtub, two lofts, and a real couch. One of the unique parts of the house is that the SIPs let us have more space inside, using up only 3 inches of wall. We also used steel beams for the lofts, which Jon’s dad welded together; this gave us so much more space in the lofts then you generally see in a Tiny House.


In a Tiny House, everything has to have storage and space-saving features, so just about everywhere you look in our house has a double purpose. We have storage in the stairs, in the couch, above and below the washer/dryer combo, in both lofts, and in a shed outside. I would say that my favorite part of the house is the “living room” or the kitchen; we have a super comfy couch and the living room window really helps brighten up the room, while the kitchen is spacious and homey. Jon’s favorite part of the house is the bathroom and the washer/dryer area because we can wash our own clothes and are able to have such an open bathroom with lots of storage and room for us both to get ready in the mornings.


We can accommodate guests! We have had two of my friends from North Carolina come and stay with us, and one stayed on the couch that pulls out, and the other slept on a blow-up mattress in the second loft. Another person could even stay on the couch as well since it could hold two people.


Overall, including the furniture and appliances, our Tiny House costed around 45k USD. It would have been a lot more if we went with a builder, but we were able to do all of the building, electric, and plumbing ourselves.


For me, the downsizing process was a bit challenging since I was living in a 1400 sq ft house alone, so I had a lot of STUFF that I didn’t need. Since the initial downsizing, I have gotten rid of things several more times after realizing the additional things I didn’t want or need. Once you learn that material things are just that, material, it is a lot easier to part ways. That being said, I still have a lot of books and craft materials that I cannot part ways with, which is why we have a second “craft/reading” loft, which I love!


There are so many great things that we love about a tiny house, mostly the freedom you get from having one. We could have the house moved if we needed to, and we will be able to save up a lot of money and travel more than we could if we had stuck with an apartment (which is super expensive in Florida). Another great thing is the community! We have met so many amazing people through the Tiny House, including people who live near my home town and the town we currently live in.


I would say that the worst part about having a Tiny House is the limited amount of places that you can park it.  I know people who have had hard times locating somewhere to rent, and we will one day have to find somewhere, but there are websites and Facebook groups to help with that.  


The biggest way that this lifestyle change has improved our lives is financially; it assures us that we can live how we want and pay off our debts over time while being able to save money. And once we have kids one day, we have a few ideas about how to incorporate them into the Tiny House! Additionally, once the day comes to move into a bigger house, we plan on using the Tiny House as a vacation home or renting it out as an Airbnb.


We are thankful for everyone who was able to put in the work to help us achieve this dream and everyone who believed and followed along with the whole process!


Some advice for fellow Tiny House dreamers is to do your research and try to stay in one even if it’s for a few days (we stayed in a Tiny House in Tampa, Florida for two nights before building).  Attend Tiny House festivals, and talk to people who own and are living in Tiny Homes! 


Our house is 32’ long, 8.5’ wide, and 13.5’ tall. We had the house weighed before furniture and appliances and it weighed 9,800 lbs, so I would guess that it is around 13 or 14k lbs now. Including the lofts, we have 395 sq ft.


You can find us on Instagram @tiny_house_journey

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