All electric appliances

  • Water heater
  • Heat & cooling
  • Induction cooktop

Galley seats 4+

  • Granite counter tops
  • Sink cabinet by Martha Stewart
  • Induction cooktop
  • 10 c.f. Vissani fridge w/ top freezer
  • KitchenAide small oven
  • Cushioned bench seats w/storage under

Bathroom w/ automatic venting

  • Moisture switch on quiet fan
  • RV-type low water toilet
  • Shower w/metal enclosure
  • Waterfall sink faucet, 3 towel bars

Living room

  • Hardwood floor
  • Hanging closet, boot storage bin
  • Storage under bench seat
  • Fold-out bench becomes guest bed
  • Easy plant space access
  • Mica-thermic flat wall furnace
  • Space for flat-screen
  • Remote control AC

Sleeping loft

  • Easy access from galley
  • Private “retreat” space, 2 clothes storage spaces
  • Queen-size bed included
  • Skylight opens for ventilation, plus windows
  • Plantation shutter vents from living room

Exterior with metal roof, fascia

  • SmartPanel siding w/50 yr limited warranty
  • 9 hi-efficiency windows, skylight
  • Insulated ornamental glass door
  • SIPs hi-efficiency walls & roof
  • Insulated floor, double thick subfloor
  • Attached green plant space
  • 4-wheel custom trailer, 14,000 GVWR
  • Electric cable 30A
  • Easy to connect utilities

Select images to enlarge 


Kitchen

Bathroom

Loft

Living Room

Vickers Tiny House Details

This Tiny House was built to create an example for others. After years doing residential design/construction, I found the Tiny House movement brought several subjects to mind. First, the adventure is very attractive, especially for young folks looking for freedom from the main stream. Second, there are a number of skill sets the average person might need and not have when starting out. Third, whatever it takes, the goal of tiny home ownership is worthwhile.

Of course it’s more satisfying to develop the skills and insights to self-build, but the learning curve can be difficult.

Build time and cost are likely to be critical. So concept, design, and methodology may become a tangle. Why to do it is almost as important as how. You don’t need to be an expert craftsman to gain a sturdy and comfortable Tiny, your key to sustainable free living. But you do need to know what decisions lie in your path and how each one can affect what happens next. Be prepared, as the scoutmaster told us.

When I decided to build this Tiny, even with experience I didn’t anticipate each design problem in advance. Stories of ambitious dreamers were familiar. Couples were spending all their savings and spare time on the build project while still holding down jobs, and enduring for a year or more under increasing stress, creating strains on newbie owners. Owner-builders is what we called ourselves in the Seventies, when for the first time we learned about being broke, tired, often wet and cold, and forever pressured to get the house into livable shape. The mantra in those days, “If you have the time, you ain’t got the money; and if you have the money, you ain’t got the time.” So which is it?

 


 

Tools

This Tiny house is a prototype. It did not require a major tool collection, just a few items picked up second-hand and a few cordless tools bought new. Here it would be easy to invest a grand or more. I used a chop saw, a contractor’s model bench or table saw, two Skill circular saws from pawn shops, two DeWalt cordless drills, a cheap compressor from Lowe’s and a finish nail gun. In addition, a hand sander two sets of bar clamps, a couple of hand saws, screw drivers, pliers, channel locks, speed squares, saw blades, tape measures, drop cords and other minor tools were already on board. Let’s say, even with my down-and-dirty collection, I had around $700-$800 in tools. A new builder starting out could easily rationalize investing three times as much or more, money that adds to the cost of building.


 

Materials

Where possible I used items “re-purposed” from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Things like doors, drawers, flooring, cabinets, round dining table and some trim came from Habitat, but the major components were bought new. That includes finished birch plywood for wall paneling, thicker finished paneling for interior walls and built-ins including convertible seating in the living room that expands to a guest bed, same in the galley, same overhead to provide the platform for the sleeping loft and the galley ceiling. We used 9 new windows, a new Andersen operable skylight, insulated exterior door, bathroom fixtures, electrical wiring and devices, water heater, electric induction cooktop, wall-mounted heater, air conditioner, apartment-sized fridge, sink, and all plumbing valves and piping, all new components. The structural walls and roof are SIPs panels with high-efficiency polyurethane foam cores and specialty skins: Smart Panel composite siding with long term warranty. Roof panels exterior is Zip-board, similar warranty, and the finished roofing is residential grade painted metal, with trim of the same material in contrasting color. The trailer is a dual axle, custom built to order, with electric brakes, corner levelling jacks, road lights, etc.

 


 

Methods

The trailer came from a commercial manufacturer and its package included a flat deck of 1-1/2” pressure treated pine, over which we applied a sill sealer membrane and standard ¾” Advantech subfloor. This was installed over the membrane and attached directly to the wooden deck. The floor is insulated with 2” closed cell rigid foam panels cut and fitted between the steel trailer cross-pieces, then glued in place with Great Stuff foam around the edges. The spray foam expands and locks the foam panels in position.

Because I had experience before with the company, we used panels manufactured by Eco-panels, Inc., and known for accuracy, high quality, and a couple of patented features including solid corner panels that extend 2-feet from the corner. This company made the panels with the skins we specified, different in the walls and roof. (Walls have exterior skins of SmartPanel, which comes paint primed and embossed with a cedar wood grain pattern. I specified the same sheets for the inside of the roof and applied two coats additional paint after assembly, and the Zip-board for exterior. Both the Zip board and Advantech subfloor are made by Huber, a major manufacturer of high-end structural materials. Eco-panel also has a steel clamping system which fastens the panels together and eliminates the need for nails or screws at vertical joints, so when panels are joined with bead of foam in the meeting face, a completely air-tight permanent seal can be made.

Luckily for me, the Eco-panel guys agreed to receive my trailer from its manufacturer and to install my panels inside their plant. There was cost involved, but the benefit outdistanced that. My Tiny home arrived at my build space an already assembled shell, done by the factory to my design specifications. We levelled it and within three days had the finished roof in place including the skylight, with windows installed in another few. One large benefit there is the materials are always weather protected, and even though we didn’t have all openings securely sealed, we easily heated the job in progress with a small electric heater.

 


 

Design Issues

Indoor air quality is always a concern with small tight spaces. I personally avoid combustion inside such a space. Another issue is moisture build-up which can result from keeping plants (which must be watered) inside, from showering, cooking, washing dishes or other water use, even from having pets and people in the enclosed space. As an old fart I am aware of issues dealing with getting up at night to go to the bathroom, and so ladder access to a sleeping loft is unacceptable. The tiny movement is developing so quickly that everybody seems to be racing the clock to solve design problems. One that bothered me at the outset was the ladder-to-loft solution, often a moveable ladder in the main living space, both dangerous and intrusive. So a few innovations seemed important.

  • Loft access & safety- It’s important for a tiny space to have some separate private or retreat areas. I chose a large loft space placed above the galley and bathroom, with an operable louvered shutter leading from the living room for ventilation but operable for privacy. Access is by a winding staircase from the galley and there is visual separation. The sleeping space should also have a means of emergency escape, which this does, and storage for clothes. Ventilation in the loft is important so I used a large screened skylight that cranks open, plus a window on each side of the space. There are 7 windows downstairs and two large openings which allow for excellent ventilation.
  • Moisture build-up- Inside a tiny sealed space moisture balance is important. Cooking, bathing, plants, respiration of people and pets all add moisture to the space. This can be controlled mechanically but the hardware designed for larger houses is excessive for this tiny space. Bathroom vent fans come in a variety of air-moving capacities and operating noise levels. Important here the model chosen should be as quiet as possible, vented outside, and used whenever moisture is being generated. I connected this one through an automatic moisture-sensing switch with a manual over-ride. The AC also has a dehumidifier setting for summer use.

It’s also important to be ready for plant-generated moisture. Esthetics are improved by having plants visible, so tiny spaces pose a challenge. In this case I chose to use a greenhouse attached to the front end of the building but isolated from the inside air. If the trailer hitch is pointing close to south, this 3-shelf greenhouse provides about 12-feet of planting space in winter. It is reached through the double hung window in the living room. If winter sun is warming the greenhouse then by opening the window you can capture additional solar gain and plant fragrance, but on cold nights when plants might be in danger it’s easy enough to prevent freezing by opening the window to spill heat to the greenhouse. Experience will teach us the right balance.

  • Lighting- new LED lighting is used throughout. This has extremely low energy demand. Some of these ceiling-mounted LEDs are battery powered, which means they could be solar powered by using a small solar battery charger.   There are background 110-volt rope lights at each end of the tiny for a candle-lit mood. This adds to the apparent space available if someone uses head phones with the TV while someone else uses the galley table for other purposes, two areas plus the separate loft.
  • Storage- The living room has a hanging closet, a small built-in storage chest for shoes, and a large storage area accessible under the bench seat. Likewise in the galley, bench seat storage, with separate access from outside for long narrow items, six drawers, two under-counter shelf areas, and two wall-mounted cabinets. Hidden above the seating is a long shelf running across the width of the space. This can be used as a pantry for food or linen storage. There is also a large horizontal storage closet about a foot deep, two and a half feet high and 88” long in the loft, and another clothes storage area about 32” square and 3’ or better tall.
  • Practical appliances- The fridge is a full height 10 cubic foot Vissani, rated as very low energy demand in its class. Many tiny houses use under-cabinet dorm-type fridges, but this has an actual freezer and large fridge for practical living. Beside that I’ve placed a small toaster oven made by KitchenAid, then the sink cabinet flanked with granite counter tops, and a moveable 2-burner induction cooktop for very low electrical demand cooking. The water heater is a 12-gallon tank-type rated for one or two people. Everything is 110-v electric.
  • Heat is provided by a DeLonghi flat-mount high efficiency micathermic heater, and cooling is by a 7,000 BTU air conditioner with remote.
  • Interior finishes – walls are paneled in factory-finished birch, painted ceilings, South American cherry floor in the living room and dark vinyl 20-year flooring in the galley. Where practical we used cabinet doors and drawers from Habitat for Humanity. Bench cushions are new custom-made. Three mirrors are mounted to eliminate the narrowness of the space, galley and bathroom.
  • Plumbing fixtures and faucets are highly reliable Delta as used in mid-range houses.

The general descriptions included here don’t cover every technical design or construction issue. My point is, while anyone can leap out into Tiny house building, questions will come up. Discussions can be complicated. This prototype addresses some practical unexpected points and skips others. It is not an off-grid design, but it does attempt to make efficient use of space and low energy consumption for a comfortable Tiny home. This is one solution from many possible options. I have tried to describe a few of the design aspects so that whether you purchase a Tiny house from a builder like myself, or decide to build your own, you can have some points to think over. I say congratulations to you for sticking with these descriptions and best wishes in your adventures!   Contact me if you have comments or questions. Thanks!

Price complete is $35K.

Larry Vickers 828-273-9318

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