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Desc:Documentary on people who live in small spaces.
Category:Educational, Nature & Places
Tags:house, europe, america, small
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Comment count is 20
Binro the Heretic
I'm in the middle of drawing up plans to build one of these for myself. I moved back in with my parents after hurricane Ivan wrecked the place I was renting. I've stayed on so long to help them raise my sister's kids. (she has a lot of personal problems and refuses to get help) My mom's physical condition is deteriorating and she's just not able to maintain the house. and my dad still works fifty hours a week and the younger child has special needs, so they need all the help they can get.

I don't mind helping, but it gets kind of rough not having my own place. Sometimes, I just need a quiet place. It's not feasible for me to get a place somewhere else, so I've decided to put together a tiny house mounted on a flatbed trailer and park it in a far corner of the yard.

I plan to install plumbing and everything, but will only wire it for power while I'm still living here. I hope to get a little land I can just move the tiny house onto when my parents can finally get along without me.

I have the basic layout in mind. I'm researching stuff like solar panels, LED lighting, fold-up seating & tables, scaled-down appliances, etc. I also have to be careful and make sure it complies with all sorts of safety codes and other tedious shit.

It looks like the trailer is going to be the biggest expense. I'm hoping to pick up a decent used one that I can strip down and refurbish.
Mr. Purple Cat Esq.
Thats cool... cudos!... But I'm curious.. It what your doing really going to be cheaper than just buying an old 2nd hand caravan or mobile home?
Also it will b a lot of manhours building it and getting insulation/leaks and stuff under control might be a sisyphean task. Though maybe your from a part of the world where that is not such an issue. I'm an architect btw so I know a bit about building houses.

Binro the Heretic
I've looked into travel trailers. Most don't seem to be built to withstand long-term living. I think they're built with the notion that the people who buy them only plan on using them as little vacation homes. The things that are built with long-term use in mind are the big RV's, but those are horribly expensive and I'd have to worry about maintaining the engine and other systems.

While I'm no expert by any means, I'm well-practiced at do-it-yourself and have a decent knowledge of architecture and construction.

Putting this together will ultimately cost a little more money than just buying a good used travel trailer, but I'm trying to do a little planning for the future, here. While it will just function as a little decompression chamber/escape pod for now, I'd ultimately like to be able to just haul it out to my own piece of land and live in it when the time comes.

Wouldn't it be easier to just build a small house on a pad?

Oscar Wildcat
Ain't the 21st century grand, Binro?

For what it's worth, consider the humble ref-er truck trailer. They're pretty cheap used, can be towed by standard trucks to a site, and come preinsulated. You cut some holes for windows and voila, instant house. My old mentor used to buy them for equipment storage when his facility got too crowded. Ugly, but functional. You could fix the former part pretty easy if you've got any talent.

Binro the Heretic
@ Chancho:

Then it becomes a "structure" and is subject to all sorts of building codes and other bullshit. Also, it could affect how much tax my parents pay on the property. Or it could even be prohibited completely. I'd have to check what the zoning laws allow for. Ah, bureaucracy.

That's why I abandoned my original plan of getting one of those pre-fab sheds and fixing it up with wiring, plumbing, insulation, etc.

@ Oscar Wildcat:

I looked into those, but they're a little TOO narrow for my liking. Flatbeds are wider and still street legal. I just have to watch the height.

Oscar Wildcat
There's always the old school bus; but now you have an engine to maintain. I've seen those used for everything from hippie fuck shacks to (would you believe it) a giant matzoh oven?

But back to the trailer. If one is too narrow, buy two and cut out a bigger port on the side. Buy six, and make a small duplex. Or just dig a big pit, bury them, and you've got a hell of a bomb shelter.

If you do get some land, _then_ build the house, and live out of the trailer whilst in progress.

Binro, what state or, if you don't mind me asking, city do you live in?

There are many, many programs to help people in your position find homes or get grants to do exactly what you are talking about. You are smart enough to get one; a lot of people can't compose a sentence and don't know anything about grants. I have a bit of experience navigating the labyrinth of community improvement grants and loans...

Binro the Heretic
I'm in Pensacola, Florida.

It's amazing how some people can make living in a tiny box look so douchey and elitist.
Haha, I totally felt that way when watching this. The narrator began with: "When my parents retired to Wine Country, we all complained....." Yeah, okay lady.

Void 71
Leave it to the idle rich to turn living in a shack into a smug self-absorbed lifestyle. Where I grew up (Appalachia), we did this out of necessity, not because we derived pride from it.

I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but so far, it seems like everyone involved - from the narrator on down - is like one of those "yurt" hippies gone freegan.

Don't get me wrong, this is a really interesting idea, and I love the concept of doing a three hour documentary on tiny houses and the people who live in them! But I spend my week working with destitute, homless vets at the VA, so it's... kinda painful, physically painful, to watch Tiny-House-Kid call his parent's half million dollar home a "debtor's prison", or Quirky-Dread-Girl go on about how she had to go "to the junkyard" to get old-growth cedar for her three story demi-barn.

Does she ever get around to interviewing anyone who's NOT a total dickcheese?

Just to hammer my impotent rage home a little bit, take a look at the video submitted right after this one. For poesterity's sake, it's here: www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=117011

In the one video, we've got a guy who's living in a tiny home "with lots of storage space" because he wants to be able to afford "all the features" he's used to. Looks great parked in front of the organic food market! And he'll even design one for you, too!

In the other, we've got a guy who's in danger of drowning every time it rains. But it's OK! He's learned to adapt! (just don't try and grab the walls)

So, wait, what exactly is wrong with what they're doing? Are you seriously saying it would have been less offensive to you if that kid had spent half a million dollars on a home he didn't need and couldn't afford? My dad has one of those homes. No retirement, tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt and no way to pay it all off.

That the girl takes pride in the home she built doesn't seem like a personal failing to me. Are you just assuming she's got enough money to buy a house? Is that really a reason to buy one?

I don't really see how people not spending money frivolously should be offensive. When they start buying organic food, I'm with you, but this is an option that should be available to everybody. I would really love to live in a smaller space.

What's wrong is their attitude about it. They've found a way to turn "simple living" into just another flaunted status symbol. Like sjohnson says, they aren't actually risking anything by doing this; it's not like these people are strapped for choice or comfort or in any serious danger in regards to their health or their capacity to follow through with whatever surrogate life-goals they've decided to set for themselves. So, you've decided to live in a tiny house like millions of other human beings, who do so out of necessity. Regular goddamn Siddhartha's, you are!

I don't know if that chick could afford a posh house. I do like that she's getting all DIY and taking pride in her old growth cedar house building skills. But she oozes with elitist smugness, in her values, in her priorities, in the way she sees her place in the world. It's not a direct material failing, but it's still very unpleasant to watch - like Marie Antoinette playing peasant in her mock rural village; yeah, I guess it IS nice to see her churning butter for a change, but it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth, especially if you know what that sort of hard lifestyle *usually* entails.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I also hate Thoreau (HATE HIM grrrr!) and white people who like to discuss their "carbon footprint". The plot thickens!

Your points are valid, but I would still point out that in the end result, something positive does still come out of this: it shows that excess isn't required.

I know that most people who do things like this are really doing it to stand out, distinguish themselves as better or different and quirky instead of doing it for the right reasons and that can be annoying. I've been to shantytowns and slept on park benches, not because I wanted to be different, but because I got evicted from having no money. So when I see folks talk about their 'road days' or 'roughing it' when they didn't have to is aggravating. But just like almost all my art, I've had to separate creation from creator. Tarantino is a piece of trash, but his movies are pretty good. Bukowski was utter trash as a man, but I love his prose. These folks can be horrible idiots, but their trailers are cool and prove that you don't need a giant house and crippling debt.

Plus, if you roll further into the movie, not all of them are hipsters making trailers. One old guy carved a house into a cliff face like Petra. That's just cool.

All my FAVORITE art, this is. I don't make art.

Yes. They're risking nothing by doing this, thus there's not much interesting about the story at all. The fact that it's being portrayed as some kind of new innovative movement makes it a little more distasteful IMO.
Binro the Heretic
The impression I got was that they were trying to show this as a return to an older way of doing things before "the American dream" became a big house with a big yard in the suburbs.

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