A Trip to the Tiny House Builder

Back in June, our apartment manager offered us the option to upgrade our kitchen appliances to brand new ones if we re-signed our lease for another year. We had already decided to stay, and given that our oven can take 2 hours to bake a potato and our fridge is a throwback to the 80s, we jumped at the deal. Little did we know that as of this post, we’d still be waiting on those appliances.

After two months went by and no appliances, I started rethinking our decision to stay. The rent is too high, maintenance is lacking to say the least, and the last time Angie got in the hot tub, she got sick; so not even the amenities are keeping us here anymore. As I pondered options, I opened the file I keep on my desktop of tiny house builders and clicked the first one, a builder less than 4 hours from our home. I immediately noticed that they were now offering tours, so without hesitation, I booked one for mid-September.

In the weeks leading up to our tour, I rechecked the zoning laws in our county, rechecked the subdivision rules for my mom’s neighborhood (where we would like to put a tiny house), and rechecked our funds for making this idea a reality. All were a go. I also took some time to attempt to figure out Sketch Up, a 3-D drawing tool for creating scale drawings. That part was not a success so I borrowed a plan from another website and began adapting it to suit our needs. After that, I did extensive research on composting, incinerating, and dry-flush toilets. I had all but decided on the incinerator until I found out it won’t work with solar.

My attempt to design a very simple tiny house (based on Ana White’s Quartz Tiny House pictured above).

By the time our appointment rolled around on the 14th, Angie and I were ready to get down to some serious tiny house buying business. And then the Universe intervened…again.

First impressions are everything to me. If I learned nothing else from my mom’s contractor debacle, it was to always trust your gut when it comes to hiring someone to build or remodel something as important as the home you live in. When we arrived at the builder, we couldn’t find the door to the office and the woman with whom we had the appointment was not there. The owner of the company came out to give us a tour of the 3 units they were building. He was very cordial and answered all of our questions but I can’t count the number of times he talked about demanding clients, impossible timelines, lack of building space, and the madness of being busy all the time.

When I think of tiny houses, I think of slowing down, living with less, and doing only what makes you happy. Until that moment, I guess I didn’t realize that not everyone shares that philosophy. For some, building houses, tiny or otherwise, is simply a way to make money. Talking with the builder, I felt like I was back in the corporate boardroom again, blowing off steam with my fellow overworked colleagues between strategy sessions for the upcoming quarter. Needless to say, it was quite the opposite of how I expected the meeting to go.

Once we concluded that we were not interested in discussing our tiny house dreams with this particular builder, we simply decided to enjoy the tour. It’s not every day that you get to see a tiny house being built and definitely not every day that you get to meet someone you once saw on HGTV. And aside from his running commentary on the woes of operating a business (and dirt, for some reason), this guy was really knowledgeable and he did talk at length about solar power, composting toilets, and sourcing quality materials at a reasonable cost – all things we were very interested in. He even gave a few insider tips and tricks that were worth the entire drive alone.

We’ve thought about going tiny for quite a while now, and the truth is, for as much as I can picture what a tiny life would look like, I can’t quite settle on a tiny house as the way to get there. If you were to browse my internet search history, you’d find an equal number of searches for vans, RVs, yurts, converted sheds, shipping containers, houseboats, and probably any other unconventional housing option you can dream up. Last week, I even looked at a treehouse. Maybe I love the idea of going tiny more than the actual lifestyle itself. Or maybe, I just can’t decide the type of tiny that fits us best. I don’t know. It’s a puzzlement even to me. Hopefully one day, we’ll decide (or at least decide not to decide).

So no, we were not upset or discouraged by the turn of events that day. Just the opposite, in fact. We’re extremely grateful that it happened. Meeting with the owner of the tiny house company kept us from spending $35K on a tiny house that may or may not have met our needs. Instead of a new home, we left with something way more valuable – the renewed knowledge that where we live doesn’t matter as much as the memories we make while we’re there.

Speaking of memories…we took this opportunity to do a little camping and explore parts of TN we had never visited before. To read more about our adventure, check out A Pit Stop in South Pittsburg

Tiny House, Big Questions

The “Gothic Castle” tiny house that was featured on Tiny House Nation in 2015 is up for sale. It was only a few months ago that we found the house. It wasn’t exactly hiding, it just isn’t in a neighborhood where one might expect to find a tiny house. The asking price is $99,900, which includes the lot, a beautiful privacy fence, and a nice storage shed. I haven’t toured the house but from the video, it looks quite nice…if you’re into the medieval vibe. Take a look…

What you can’t see in the video though is that this gorgeous little house is in an awful neighborhood. I sincerely apologize if I offend anyone who lives in this neighborhood but seriously, this is at the end of the street…

All of the windows look like this and people actually live here.

And this is the house to the left of the Gothic Castle…

The tiny house is right next to the City’s recycling drop-off center. We go there every week and never knew the tiny house was there until a former police officer told us about it. He was just as surprised as we were that it was located in such a run-down part of town.

So I got to thinking…maybe the land was cheap. I looked at the tax records and the lot was purchased in 2014 for $9,000. To me, that’s not all that cheap. Maybe they put it there because it’s close to the bypass to Nashville. Maybe they thought the neighborhood would improve if they built there. Who knows! Whatever the reason, I’m now find myself pondering, what happened to the family who was so excited to build this tiny dream castle? Did they simply decide to upsize again? Or did the neighborhood get the best of them?

And better yet, who will be next to buy this semi-famous piece of real estate?

I’ve always heard that it’s better to buy the worst house in the best neighborhood than the best house in the worst neighborhood. What do you think? Would you build your dream home in the worst neighborhood in town if the price was right?


Food Waste Update

The grocery store next door is still under construction so once again, we have a week with no dumpster finds (though we did check twice). 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 38 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.