Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to go Tiny for CHEAP|Converting a prefab shelter into a tiny house

     About a year ago, my husband and I became fascinated by the tiny house movement. We loved the idea of down-sizing and even living off the grid. What we didn't love, however, was the high price on buying or building most tiny houses. The cheapest one that we are currently able to find is $25,000.00. For some people that's not a lot of money, but for many, such as our self's, its a lot.
     My husband and I took matters into our own hands and decided to buy some property and a prefab shelter, and turn it into the tiny house of our dreams. My husband found a great deal on some land in the Ozarks of Missouri. We scored 3 acres for under $1000.00. We then ordered a prefab barn style shed for $3000.00, but are able to make monthly payments, so it wasn't cash down!
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The day our cabin was delivered!
     Once we got the land and the prefab shelter delivered to it, the fun and learning began!
     When we first got the shelter, that's all it was, a shelter. It was hard to imagine what we could accomplish with these bare bones, four walls and a roof. No electricity, no plumbing, no insulation, just a fancy box. But, the experience has been amazing and we have learned so much.

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The first night with a single lantern.

The raw exposed walls.

We spent our first weekend in the cabin with a lantern and a denatured alcohol fireplace. It was cold and creepy, but it was also amazing. Spending the night with my husband and our husky, all snuggled up under the covers was the mark of the beginning of something tiny and great.
     After that first weekend, we immediately started devising a vision and setting it into motion. One of the first projects we started on was putting up the walls. We choose solid birch plywood planks to finish the interior walls. We decided not to use insulation because the cabin is so small, we don't want it completely air tight, for safety reasons. So far, we've gotten most of the walls up, but still need to frame out the windows.
     The next project was finishing the flooring. We got some beautiful fo cherry wood laminate flooring on discount and covered up the cheap plywood sub floor.

     After the walls and the flooring, we decided the next step was some sort of kitchen counter and shelves. We found some old wood pallets and re purposed them to be the facia for the kitchen counter, along with a matching shelf to mount on the wall above it. The counter continues across the entire length of the back wall. We also purchased a spicket water canister and are using an old enamel bowel for the kitchen sink.

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The completed kitchen counter and shelving.

     The most important aspect of making this tiny house work, however, is the solar power! We started out with a cheap solar power kit by Harbor Freight. The kit was $130.00 and included 45wats of solar panels, 2 lights, and a charge controller. We purchased 2 deep cycle batteries to store power and eventually added a Rynogy 100watt solar panel. This solar power set up is enough to fuel our lights, television, crock pot, and charge our electronic devices.

     The photograph to the left shows the Rynogy 100wat solar panel on the back of the cabin. You can also see the 45 Watt solar panels mounted on the top left.

     The photograph on the right shows Charles talking about the charge controller and the wiring that we have temporarily set up, going to the light and the batteries.
     We also have a generator wired to a standard 120v plug in the wall. We use this for higher capacity devices like the air conditioning and the electric cook top.

     On one of our latest trips out to the tiny cabin, we installed a loft window. The cabin did not come with loft windows and we decided that one would let in a lot more light and also a fresh breeze while chilling or sleeping in the loft.
New loft window with polar bear pillows.
     We've added a lot of cute and comfortable thing to make this off grid tiny cabin feel more like home, including a tiny house couch that we found at the thrift store for $10.00, Cut cabin decor, art from our friend Derek Diedrickson, and a lot more.
Frostbite trying to sleep on HER couch.
      Solar powered television and an electric fireplace.
     And everything we added to the outside...

     As you can see, it is possible to convert a prefab shelter into a tiny house. Whats best is how affordable and manageable it actually is. In all, we probably have around $10,000.00 into our tiny cabin in the woods. What important to understand is that we didn't spend this amount all at once, it has accumulated over time with every project we do. For us, it has been very manageable and even more enjoyable to work on this project over time. We still have to finish the ceiling, some walls, add to solar and make an indoor/outdoor bathroom, but were going to take our sweet time and hope that you will enjoy watching!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tiny house weekend vacation

                   Here is a quick video post of our stay at the tiny house this weekend.

     Charles and I stayed for a short visit this time at our tiny house in the ozarks of Missouri. We spent one night and two days. This trip was simply to get away; to get out of the city and away from the drama to enjoy the summer weather. We played around with starting a camp fire using a magnesium fire starter and hung a hammock in the woods. We made sure to head down to Black river and get in some fishing! Charles caught a huge walleye and I caught a nice orange eyed bass. I should also mention that our husky (frostbite) enjoyed her stay as well. she got to play in the woods and mark her territory, she and we ate the fish Charles caught (she loved it), and she got to relax in her favorite spot in the world! Even tho it was a short stay, the sun and activities whipped us out! We were exhausted on the way home and had to fight to keep each other awake. This was a fun little tiny house week end!
     To see all of our other you tube video including tiny house walk throughs, alternative heating, solar power, and more go to our you tube channel.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review of the Champion generator 1500 and 4000 watt

                                            The Champion Generator
For purchase details click here
     One of the first major investment that Charles and I made when we first started our off grid tiny house was the Champion 1500 watt generator. So, in this review, I'll be talking about the results we get from the 1500 model and what you can expect from the 4000.
     Ill start with Durability. This thing is a beast! We have had this generator for almost 2 years and used it almost every weekend in that 2 years. Its been banged around, lugged from tiny house to city house, and run dry over and over. The spark plugs have yet to be changed and we haven't bothered with cleaning the filter. We have pretty much treated this thing like crap! But, despite our abuse and neglect, it continues to run like a champ and power almost all of our tiny house needs when solar isn't enough!
     Power tools are easy for the Champion 1500 to run, we've used many of them. We have ran circular saws, jig saws, drills, shop vacs, sanders, and a lot more while doing construction on the tiny house, and we haven't found 1 that the Champion couldn't handle. Were at the point now, however, where construction isn't the MAIN thing were using the generator for. We've come to the point where, although construction isn't done, were spending more time hanging out and enjoying the small space. The Champion powers our window air conditioning unit and runs a trickle charger for the batteries during cloudy days. The 1500 watt gives 4-5 hours of air conditioning on a single tank, its safe to say that the 4000 probably doubles that.
     On noise level, this ones pretty quiet. If your standing right next to it, its loud of course, but 15 feet away reduces to a light background hum, and inside the house isn't heard. A tip; If you can find a cheap dog house craigslist or build one your self, it makes the perfect tiny tiny generator house and reduces noise level even more.
     For the low cost and portability of this generator, it has surely won us over and continues to deliver!
     Thanks again for reading and make sure to click to GOOGLE followers button on you right to stay up to date!


Nature power portable 40 watt solar panel review

Nature power portable 40 watt solar panel review

tiny house solar panel review
Click here for product details
 You have seen this product in many of our you tube videos and that's because we love it. Especially when we first started our tiny cabin/tiny house project and didn't have any electricity, we relied on products like these to get us by.
     Nature power has both a 40 watt and an 80 watt foldable panel, ours is the 40 watt. The panel is supper thin and the 5 sections fold together allowing for easy storage in most bags or to carry by its self.
     Its water Proof so that you don't have to worry about sitting it in a small puddle and has plug-and-play connectors to make it easy for any one to use.
     This solar panel is fully capable of charging phones, tablets, laptop computers and other small devices like e-cigarettes which I use a lot!!
     Now that our cabin is set up with solar power of its own, we no longer rely on it for life or death, but we still use it every time we go to the cabin. It also comes with us any time we go fishing, backpacking or camping to make sure our phones, GPS, and e-ciggs never die! (Maybe it is still life and death).
     We also use this in conjunction with a portable battery/fuel bank to insure multiple sources of power. We will do a review on the fuel bank in a future post. If you would like to see our progress on our tiny house (The Classy ShackClick HERE. Thanks again for reading and click the google followers button to your right to stay up to date with our tiny cabin project!