We both had come across the concept of tiny homes separately. Clara was secretly dreaming of them through her Pinterest boards. Edwin had done some research on them and how people were pursuing financial freedom through them. Before we had really talked to each other about tiny home living, we had both been fantasizing about them.
Edwin grew up in Northern California. He is the eldest of six siblings. From the very beginning, his greatest joy was setting up adventures for his younger siblings. This ignited the passion and love for extreme sports such as paramotoring, bungee jumping, rock climbing, etc. For the past eleven years, Edwin has run private bungee jumping trips, off remote bridges in California. For his main job, he is a co-owner of the Tiny Home business. He and a team of four are working on producing a line of high-end, timber frame tiny homes.
Clara grew up in New York and Alaska. She, like Edwin, was home-schooled. This allowed her to travel the world at a young age. New Zealand and the Dominican Republic were a few of her favorite places. During this time she also developed a love for adventuring. She has guided white water rafting trips, sea kayaking, and spelunking tours. She loves to cook, be in nature, read, and travel. She is currently on the path to becoming a nurse.
Clara was working a 9-5 schedule half the week, and taking a full class course load the other half of the week. Edwin was attending the University of San Diego, pursuing Environmental Engineering. We spent most of our days catching up on bills and staying on top of our course work. On top of being excessively busy, living in San Diego was slowly draining us. We missed the Northern California wilderness. The “concrete jungle” lacked important undefinable aspects from the wild outdoors. One day Clara came home from work to find Edwin working away on his school work. Clearly stressed and unhappy. Both of us began the conversation about switching things up. Neither of us had been adventuring lately, and this weighed on us. Shortly after this conversation, the talk about going tiny began to get more serious.
This was a multi-month process. First, we needed to isolate the aspects of the Tiny Home we wanted to invest in. The key factors in priority order came out to this:
- Temperature, if a space is too hot or too cold it will be uncomfortable to stay in, regardless of the size.
- Bed, if a bed is not sufficient in providing a good rest then that would be a deal-breaker.
- Fridge and kitchen, can the home hold all the food you need and be accessible enough to prepare and cook.
- Bathroom (shower!), the bathroom is a critical space. We were living in an apartment with a small crowded shower, which was a big reason that prompted us to build a luxurious two-headed shower stall in our tiny home.
- Hosting, having a place where friends and family could visit and feel like they could relax and enjoy themselves was important. This is what led to innovations such as the awning wall and the guest loft above the bathroom.
- Aesthetics, since the home was a personal creation, the feeling of the space needed to reflect feelings of comfort and grandeur.
The most challenging aspect of the building process was not being able to afford our own time. We were living pretty much paycheck to paycheck in San Diego. We had little to no savings to work with when we started this project. We had to constantly trade between working to pay rent and building the tiny home. The constant workload was quite challenging. By the end of the week, both of us were exhausted. The lack of savings also prolonged the project by at least a year.
We set out to build a tiny home in one year. However, after we chose to build a timber-framed structure with many high-end features as well as only building part-time on the weekends, our timeframe got pushed way out. It ended up taking us two years and three months to complete our build.
One of the most distinct aspects of our tiny home build is the unique cedar timbers we have inside our home. Each of those timbers came from trees that were felled and milled by us. We only cut down trees that were already dead (from a fire that came through the area in 2015). This helped make the build an environmentally friendly process, something that was important to both of us.
The design revolved around building one of the first timber-framed tiny homes on wheels. The building style of Timber Framing or Post and Beam, has been around for 10,000 years. The exposure of the wooden beams and grandeur it evokes was too beautiful for us to pass up. The other advantage of timber frames is their longevity. We wanted to build a home and an heirloom, something that could be passed down generations. Another aspect that we tried to tackle, was creating a sense of spaciousness inside a small space. That’s what led us to dedicate a large amount of open floor space with high lofted ceilings.
The series of five timber frame bents is typically what catches the eye first. Not only is timber frame a highly unusual build-style for a tiny home, but going with a hammer-beam truss is over the top. Another unique feature we are proud of is the large window that extends up into an awning with a book-matched bar table extension. This allows for a fun and comfortable hosting experience.
We have plenty of storage. For example Two 5ft long drawers underneath the main bed. These drawers span the whole width of the bed. This allows ample room for clothes storage. The stairs that go up to the main bed can tuck up and be stored under the bed easily. When the stairs are stowed, there is enough room to pull the hammock chairs that hang from the ridge beam, which is one of the most comfortable ways to lounge in the house. The bathroom shower is quite large for a tiny home, however, because of the seamless transition from the bathroom floor to shower floor, the shower adds to the total bathroom space rather than crowds it. We take the most advantage of our ample vertical space in the kitchen, where we hang all of our pots and pans high on the ceiling. All of our lower drawers in the kitchen also function as steps, to access the pans above.
Clara’s favorite part is the cozy high loft above the bathroom. Edwin’s favorite part is the spacious shower.
Being able to accommodate guests has been one of the most successful features of our tiny house build. We love hosting and both of us also have large families. This equation led us to focus on how we could accommodate a large group of people. We have a spare bed in the loft above the bathroom. As deceiving as it seems, it actually fits a California King mattress. This little nook allows for a bit of removal and privacy for our guests. In terms of hosting dinner parties, that’s where the awning wall comes into play. We have a deck on the outside of the tiny home. Once we open up our awning wall, the deck allows us to host people on the outside of the tiny home. We have a detachable bar table that can plugin if we are entertaining people and need more space. That being said, the most we’ve hosted so far have been about 7-8 people at one time.
The house is posted up in the middle of a forest in Northern California. Surrounded by a variety of Cedar, Pine and Oaks at the foot of a large meadow have made for a “dream-come-true” reality. This property is owned by a family friend and we are currently going through owner financing to buy the property.
Because the home is so removed from civilization, everything is off-grid. This means the house electrical power completely depends on our solar system. Water needs to be accessed from a stream on the land and the heating elements are done through propane. The cost is heavy in the beginning as we set up our systems, but after they are complete we will end up coming out ahead.
Prior to moving into our tiny, we lived in a studio apartment for about 3 years. Because of the length of time we lived there, we accumulated junk. This is pretty normal. We were consciously aware that once we moved tiny, we had to let a lot of things go. For this reason, the downsizing process was pretty painless. We had been anticipating it and thinking about it for a long time before it happened. As a couple, we don’t actually have too many clothes or trinkets. However, we did have to build a whole shed outside of our tiny home JUST to store our climbing gear, backpacking gear, paramotor, and other adventure equipment that we were unwilling to let go of.
In Clara’s opinion, the best part about living in a tiny home is freedom. There is a sense of freedom that comes with detaching yourself from stuff and junk. When you only have what you need, there is a simplicity that comes into life. Everything becomes more about collecting adventures, not things. The worst thing about living in a tiny house is monitoring our power usage from the Solar Panels and dealing with our water. Going off-grid is challenging. It is a steep learning curve. Things that you normally take for granted, all of a sudden become challenging to figure out.
For Edwin, the best part about living tiny is the pride in living in something he created as well as the financial freedom that comes with it. The worst part about living in a tiny house isn’t so much the house, as it is dealing with the off-grid systems. Securing power and water is expensive and challenging.
If we could choose our appliances over again, we would turn all of our cooking appliances to propane instead of electric. Cooking uses quite a lot of power. If we were to have our appliances run off of propane, cooking would be much simpler. Other things that we would change if we could, would be the light fixtures, switches, and plumbing design.
For me (Clara), the main way that living tiny has improved my life is pride. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished. It’s fun to have summited a mountain like this, at a young age. It makes you feel like you are capable of so much more than you realize. I now know we have the skills, patience, and fortitude to accomplish far-reaching goals. I didn’t even know how to use a screw-gun before this whole process started. I have learned so much about carpentry and I am proud of what I contributed to this build. In this experience, I am most thankful for our friends and family. They were always there to cheer us on in tough times. So many of them threw in days of hard labor to help us reach our dream.
(Edwin) We made a few naive decisions at the beginning of this build. The biggest one being, ‘let’s build a timber frame tiny home!’ If we realized the extra work and strain that decision would cost us, we most likely would not have followed through with that idea. However, it also ended up paying off more than we realized as well. After the success of the first build and the attention it garnered- it led to the creation of a team backed by an investor to build more timber-framed tiny homes. The moral that I took from this is, sometimes good ideas have foolish beginnings.
For anyone who is interested in going tiny, our biggest piece of advice is to get clear what part of a home is important to you. What area of a house are you most drawn to? When choosing or building a tiny home, there are areas that you can expand on and others that can be simplified. For example, an aspect of our home that was important to us was the shower. We went with a large shower design which took up a bit of our kitchen space. This tradeoff was okay with us, because of the importance a nice shower was to us.
Our Facebook and Instagram Handle is @Tinyhomewildadventures. We are currently working on a blog also going to be under the name Tiny Home Wild Adventures.
If anyone is interested in purchasing a timber frame tiny home they can visit our business website: postandbeamtinyhomes.com