Category Archives: Design & Construction

12/05 Tiny house friendly changes in IRC 2018

We are one step closer to having more lenient requirements for ceiling heights, lofts, and stairs in tiny houses that are on foundations. Voters in the International Code Council (ICC) passed the proposed appendix written by Andrew Morrison. Results still need to be certified and confirmed, but as long as that happens, the appendix will be part of the IRC 2018. Local communities can then adopt it if & when they choose to. It won’t pertain to tiny house on wheels and it doesn’t mean that tiny houses are now legal (as some are saying) but it is a positive step.

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12/01 Superior Concrete Tiny Houses Offers Tiny Homes in Multiple Designs to Fit the Consumers’ Living Needs

The Chisholm Trail Cabin by Superior Concrete Tiny Homes

The Chisholm Trail Cabin by Superior Concrete Tiny Homes

Superior Concrete Tiny Houses offers tiny homes in multiple designs to fit the consumer’s living needs and price point. All of their tiny homes are constructed and engineered from modular precast concrete employing cutting-edge technology to ensure they are highly durable and look good with little to no maintenance. Most of their tiny homes are built on a solid foundation…

Superior Concrete Tiny Houses aims at working closely with the clients, helping them get their desired tiny house within their budget. All of these tiny houses are prepared in the company’s factory that has been certified by the National Precast Concrete Association for more than 15 years.

A spokesperson of Superior Concrete Tiny Homes talked more about their tiny homes, “Once you make the decision to move into a tiny home, Superior Concrete Tiny Houses provides a range of options to help make the house your own. From the size and amenities to whether the home should be mobile or built on a fixed foundation, our design team will work with you to customize the tiny home to your specifications.”

Superior Concrete Tiny Houses uses decorative precast concrete to construct durable and beautiful tiny homes that are designed to last.

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11/29 Bowen Island company makes tiny homes made of hemp

A worker stands in front of a wall of hempcrete — concrete made of hemp hurd and fibres, lime, clay and about two per cent cement.

A worker stands in front of a wall of hempcrete — concrete made of hemp hurd and fibres, lime, clay and about two per cent cement. Photo by Hempcrete Natural Building Ltd.

Tiny, eco-friendly hemp homes are the made-in-B.C. solution to the housing crisis, according to some advocates.

Kim Brooks, the CEO of Hempcrete Natural Building, along with her partner, Jayeson Hendryson, have been building two tiny homes made of hemp since spring.

The company uses hempcrete — a type of concrete made from hemp hurd, fibres, clay, lime and a bit of actual concrete.

“We mix it, pour it into forms and then plaster it with our special type of plaster and then colour it with natural pigments,” she explained.

Hemp has a number of industrial uses — from fibres in ropes and textiles to paper and insulation.

The plant has been increasingly popular as a building material because it is considered eco-friendly, renewable and cheap to produce.

The main disadvantage is hempcrete is lighter than regular concrete and cannot be used on weight-bearing walls. It’s often used in conjunction with more load-bearing materials like wood, steel or brick.

In addition, the production of hemp — which is in the same family as cannabis but has a much lower THC level — has been a contentious issue. It was banned from 1938 to 1998, but since then the industry has picked up, with crops grown across central and Western Canada.

Brooks has lived in a hemp home since the early 2000s and says the benefits are worth it.

“The biggest benefit for me has been not using any allergens or petrochemicals. My lungs are very happy and healthy,” she said.

“It’s also insect and rat resistant because they don’t like the lime. In fact, it’s deadly for them to eat it.”

Eco-friendly tiny homes

The company has helped build many hemp houses across Western Canada before turning to tiny homes.

“A couple of years ago in Northern Alberta, we had a client who wanted a very tiny house on skids … that was a pretty cool idea.”

Brooks said the tiny hemp homes could help with the affordable housing crunch here in British Columbia.

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11/21 The Tiny House of Slow Town, for guests of the 2018 Olympics in Korea

tiny house in Korea

Slow Town Tiny House

The Tiny House of Slow Town, one of the ‘Slow Town’ projects, is the building of small houses that uses the least modules out of woods to expand the inadequate accommodations in Gangwon city, the host city for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, and also to provide an easy access to the geographical beauty of the city.

Gangwon city is one of the few clean areas left in Korea and it needs to be protected and kept that way. ‘The Tiny House Of Slow Town’ project has the purpose of providing accommodations with the maximized housing facilities while using the least materials that are environmentally friendly.

See all the great photos:

11/21 Tiny home trend takes hold around Madison

tiny house with yellow sidingOn a modest lot on Commercial Avenue, you won’t see any house hunters or celebrity renovators.

There is no camera following the carpentry work, nobody chronicling the do-it-yourself projects installed in each living space. But there’s a common thread between this Madison College construction and remodeling program and some of the latest home improvement reality TV shows.

“Not a lot of people know that we’re here,” program director John Stephani said.

Stephani, who is also an instructor, said building smaller homes was a perfect way to give students hands-on experience.

They started constructing the quick, compact units about 10 years ago after another instructor saw small cabins in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Now they work on tiny houses that range from about 400 square feet to 600 square feet.

“They are really a great fit for what we do,” Stephani said.

Before the tiny house movement gained popularity, Stephani said it wasn’t easy to get the transportable houses off the lot. He said from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, homes trended bigger and bigger, often serving as a status symbol. Even this year, the U.S. Census found the median home size across the country is 2,500 square feet, more than six times the size of some of the tiny houses built at Madison College…

Along with the savings in energy bills, Stephani said a tiny home unit can cost as little as $25,000. Even once the house is set on a foundation and basic needs (like water, septic and electric) are hooked up, Stephani said it runs around $110,000 to $120,000.

According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the average single-family home in Dane County costs $244,000, double the price of a tiny home.

“Is it a fad? Yes,” Stephani said. “But I think it also is a sign of a movement toward downsizing in homes.”

Lucas Ketrykowski sought out Madison College’s program after deciding he wanted to downsize.

“Just living a more simple life, downsizing, decluttering,” Ketrykowski said. “And really just having things that are more meaningful instead of a lot of things that don’t mean much.”

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11/17 Pitt County, North Carolina Planning Board recommends changes in RV, tiny house rules

Pitt County emblemPitt County’s Planning Board sent the Board of Commissioners two proposals that would increase who receives mailed public hearing notices and further define recreational vehicles and tiny homes…

Staff recommended changing the zoning ordinance text on recreational vehicles and tiny houses because the state’s departments for insurance and public health recently provided some guidelines clarifying how certain types of RVs should be set up and occupied, planner Mark Nottingham said. The county also fielded a request earlier this year to build a structure that was not a site-built home but also did not meet structural guidelines for modular and manufactured homes, he said, so the county defined it as a recreational vehicle.

The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle. The new definition states a tiny house and its foundation must comply with the state’s residential building code. If it is built off-site and transported, it must be inspected and certified under the state’s modular construction program. If it is built through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s manufactured housing construction program, it will be permitted and inspected as a manufactured home.

If a tiny house does not comply with either set of rules and is built on a trailer frame with axles and wheels, it is considered a recreational vehicle and is not acceptable as a permanent dwelling.

The definition of an RV park also is changed. Currently, a site or tract of land has to have spaces for 15 or more RVs or campsites to fall into the RV category and its requirements, Nottingham said. The staff said the number should be reduced to three.

The proposed changes require recreational vehicles to meet setback requirements for single-family homes, meaning the lots must have 30 feet to 40 feet in the front of the property and 10 feet on the sides and rear.

Recreational vehicles cannot be permanent residences until they meet specific building codes. Nottingham said there was not a clear definition of temporary occupancy so the county adjusted the definition and lengthened the amount of time a person could temporarily live in a recreational vehicle from three months to 180 days in a consecutive 12-month period.

John Powers, owner of Whispering Oaks RV Resort on Sunnyside Road, said he supports the changes. His property has 12 sites, so it doesn’t fall under the county’s RV Park definition and will be grandfathered if commissioners adopt the changes.

“I feel like our facility is a valued resource for Pitt County, especially ECU on game day,” Powers said.

Planning board member R.J. Hemby asked how the county would enforce the 180-day limits on living in an RV. Nottingham said it would be difficult to enforce and likely would require neighbors reporting violations.

The changes will go in effect Jan. 1 if commissioners approve the request in December. The rules are only for unincorporated areas of Pitt County.

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Tiny house kits and shells – a good alternative to building from scratch?

Building your own tiny house on wheels is a daunting task. Almost everyone reports that it takes longer, costs more, and is more difficult than they had expected. Sometimes the results are less than stellar, too — after all, construction takes skill and not all of us have the aptitude for it.

Understanding this, many companies offer partially built tiny houses to give you a head start. Do you have a preference for different materials than traditional wood framing — maybe steel framing or SIPs (structural insulated panels)? You can find all of those below.

But whether it’s called a tiny house shell or a tiny house kit, the package varies widely. Be sure to go over the details of exactly what is included with each company. Items like insulation, flashing or fasteners might not be included and could significantly increase your time and cost. In addition, if a shower is not included in an assembled shell, it could be very difficult to install later. If you have no building experience, instructions can be helpful, but even when provided, they might assume prior knowledge of construction terminology and how to use power tools.

Ask a lot of questions and if possible, get the answers in writing before making a purchase. Buying the right package will cost a bit more than buying your own raw materials and doing all the labor, but could save you a significant amount of time and effort.

Here are some tiny house kits and shells to look into:

  1. a flat pack of framing components (no trailer):
    Artisan Tiny House, Vancouver, Washington – uses SIPs
    Volstrukt Agile Framing Systems, Austin, Texas
  2. a flat pack of framing components and a trailer:
    Artisan Tiny House, Vancouver, Washington – uses SIPs
    Migration Tiny Homes, Winston-Salem, North Carolina – uses SIPs
    Robinson Plans, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada – uses SIPs
    Titan Tiny Homes, Elgin, Illinois
  3. a frame built on a trailer that you supply to the builder:
    Volstrukt Agile Framing Systems, Austin, Texas
  4. a frame built on a trailer that the builder supplies:
    AL Tiny Homes, Mount Olive, Alabama
    California Tiny House, Fresno, California
    Liberation Tiny Homes, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    Mini Mobile Mansions, Nashville, Tennessee
    Mitchcraft Tiny Homes, Fort Collins, Colorado
    Tiny Green Cabins, Lino Lakes, Minnesota
    Tortoise Shell Home, Cedarpines Park, California
    wood frame on a trailer

    California Tiny House frame on a trailer

  5. an open shell (frame, exterior walls and roof) built on a trailer that the builder supplies:
    AL Tiny Homes, Mount Olive, Alabama
    California Tiny House, Fresno, California
    Migration Tiny Homes, Winston-Salem, North Carolina – uses SIPs
    Mini Mobile Mansions, Nashville, Tennessee
    Mitchcraft Tiny Homes, Fort Collins, Colorado
    Rewild Homes, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
    Timbercraft Tiny Homes, Guntersville, AL
    Timberwolf Industries, Port Sydney, Ontario, Canada
    Tiny Home Builders, Georgia and Florida
    Tiny House Construction Company, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Tiny Houses of Maine, South Portland, Maine
    Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Wind River Tiny Homes, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  6. a closed shell (frame, roof, exterior walls including windows and doors and possibly siding) built on a trailer that the builder supplies:
    84 Lumber, Eighty Four, Pennsylvania
    Island Tiny Homes, Maui, Hawaii
    Jamaica Cottage Shop, South Londonderry, Vermont
    Liberation Tiny Homes, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    Migration Tiny Homes, Winston-Salem, North Carolina – uses SIPs
    Mini Mobile Mansions, Nashville, Tennessee
    Mitchcraft Tiny Homes, Fort Collins, Colorado
    Rewild Homes, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
    Seattle Tiny Homes, Seattle, Washington
    Timbercraft Tiny Homes, Guntersville, AL
    Timberwolf Industries, Port Sydney, Ontario, Canada
    Tiny Diamond Homes, Morrison, Colorado
    Tiny Home Builders, Georgia and Florida
    Tiny House Basics, Walnut Creek, California
    Tiny House Construction Company, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Tiny Houses of Maine, South Portland, Maine
    Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins, Spirit Lake, Idaho
    Upper Valley Tiny Homes, Pleasant Grove, Utah
    Wind River Tiny Homes, Chattanooga, Tennessee

11/07 Tennessee tiny house company can complete a tiny house in just 10 days

tiny home builder Randy Jones stands in front of one of his tiny houses under construction

Randy Jones of Incredible Tiny Homes

Randy Jones launched Incredible Tiny Homes in Morristown, Tennessee two years ago. The new business “represents a dream to provide an affordable and comfortable housing for everyone,” according to the company’s website.

Before 2008, Jones was building resort-style homes that were 20 times the size of tiny homes.

In the last 18 months, Jones and his team have built 37 homes. Requests have come from coast to coast, including recent requests in Chicago and Houston. HGTV featured their work on its reality TV show “Tiny House Hunters.”

In October, the Sevierville Convention centered hosted the Tiny House Roadshow.

Joanne Towber is one of those people who’s tired of living large. She decided to downsize, got rid of almost everything she owned,and moved from her 2400 square foot home into a 160 square foot tiny house.

“I enjoy it better than I did my dream home. This is my dream home. My tiny, little castle,” she says.

Now, her kitchen, bath, living area and loft bedroom are all within steps of each other.

She knows her lifestyle wouldn’t work for everyone.

“If they say maybe I need two tiny homes put together then I say, ‘well you don’t want a tiny home then.’ That’s not living tiny. But if you are willing to downsize and you want to travel and meet new people and just enjoy life – go tiny – it’s great. It’s very enjoyable,” she says.

Jones says Towber fits the mold of the tiny house movement. Most are women from their twenties to their sixties who are looking to simplify their lives.

But before you decide to go tiny, check the rules in your community. Jones says the regulations differ from place to place.

Read more and watch the video –

11/06 Maine 17-year-old uses mostly donated items to construct a tiny house on wheels

Lila Bossi

Lila Bossi’s high school senior project is building a tiny house in Brunswick, using reclaimed materials. “The freedom to really take your home with you wherever you go” appeals to Bossi, who is a student at the Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport. Photo by John Ewing.

Every young person needs a good foundation. Lila Bossi spent her life savings on hers, quite literally.

The high school senior is building a tiny house using materials she’s gathered from friends, scraps from her father’s construction business and yard sale deals. But she paid about $3,000 (“my life savings”) for the custom-made flatbed trailer she’s building the movable house on. “I really didn’t want to skimp on that because it is going to be holding a lot of weight, and I figured it should probably be new.”

We called Bossi up to ask how she got the idea for this project and what she hopes to do with a tiny house of her own.

IT’S ACADEMIC: Bossi is a student at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport (formerly known as Merriconeag). Her tiny house wheels started turning late last winter when the faculty there announced that rising seniors should come up with a big project. “I have always been intrigued by tiny houses, but I never thought about doing my own until we started thinking about our senior project for school.”

CURB APPEAL: Some students might do an oral history project involving great-granddad or take a crack at writing a novella or something. What appealed to her about a tiny house? Creating something with her hands, for starters. Bossi comes from a creative family – her father, Adrian, is a builder, her mother, Lisa, is a color specialist, designer and book illustrator – and she and her younger sister had a childhood of shared projects, “building little tables or very rudimentary dollhouses.” But on a deeper level: “The really simple minimalist lifestyle and the freedom to really take your home with you wherever you go.”

CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES: The hardest part was conceptualizing the Scrap Shack, as she’s calling it. An architect who is serving as her mentor recommended design software, but the tool he suggested cost around $700, she said. “That scared me.” Instead she downloaded a $10 app. “I tried that and it was so frustrating, I decided, I am just going to go old school and take scissors to paper. And I found that incredibly helpful.” She’s let herself be led by the items she’s found or been given.

THE KITCHEN SINK: Such as? Pine boards for the flooring, a mini fridge from a yard sale ($10) and an oval sink, appropriately tiny, “that my neighbor showed up with one day.” The house features some very cute windows, “quite a score,” courtesy of a Marvin Windows and Doors salesman her father knows. He was upgrading his samples, which included a bright yellow model. “I don’t know how popular yellow windows are.” For the less intriguing beige windows he offered, she found some chartreuse paint in the basement, and her mother gave her the thumbs up. “She is really helping me in consulting and refining my ideas and telling me which paint is OK to use.”

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11/05 Hempcrete founders look to go global with tiny house design

Rendering for a design of a 530 sq ft hempcrete house, with two loft-style bedrooms, built onto a metal skid that allows the house to be moved from place to place.

Rendering for a design of a 530 sq ft hempcrete house, with two loft-style bedrooms, built onto a metal skid that allows the house to be moved from place to place.

Sixteen years after delving into the world of natural building, Jayeson Hendryson and Kim Brooks say they are in full-on research and development road, and preparing to take their business to a whole new level.

This past week, the couple unveiled their plans for a “tiny hemp house,” one of which is currently under construction on their Bowen Island property.

The house is based on a smaller one they built for a mushroom farmer in Alberta. The current design is 530 square feet, with two loft-style bedrooms, built onto a metal skid that allows the house to be moved from place to place.

The walls, of course, are made from “hempcrete,” a material created by Hendryson, inspired by the couple’s quest for a “benign building material.”

“We used to live in a conventionally built house that had mold in the walls and I came down with pneumonia,” says Brooks. “So that was one issue. We also wanted something non-toxic, something that would last. And I hate rats, so we wanted something that was pest-proof – (lime is a primary ingredient in hempcrete, and it is toxic to rats and other pests, so they don’t bother with it. ) if rats or carpenter ants eat this stuff they die…”

The reasons for “hemp” as the material choice go on and on. For Hendryson though, hempcrete is as much about a solution for building houses as it is a solution for building thriving communities.

“In my early twenties I visited an idyllic yet disfunctional West Coast island – there was no adequate housing, the power was always going out, the food was expensive… there was this huge disparity of wealth. I started asking, what’s missing here? And I realized there is no real community, no long term attachment, if people are constantly forced to move. I started to think that from a place of strong shelter, a strong community could develop.”

Over the past decade, much of Hendryson’s work has taken him away from Bowen, often to northern BC and Alberta. Last spring, he says, he was motivated to drop his work there and re-focus on Bowen in part because of news about the housing crisis.

Hendryson and Brooks say they see Bowen as their “lab” for the Tiny Hemp Home, and they are continually improving and refining the product, but would like to bring this concept and the knowledge required to build these homes globally. They are currently in discussions with patent lawyers, as the research that has been done on the energy generation, septic, mechanical, ventilation and thermal solutions of their tiny homes work so well with their hempcrete that they say it is a patent-able, end to end system.

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