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 living off the grid. What we didn't love, however, was the high price on buying or building costs for most tiny houses. The cheapest one that we were able to find was $25,000.00. For some people that's not a lot of money, but for many, such as our selves, its a lot.
     My husband and I took matters into our own hands and decided to buy some property. We bought a prefab shelter, and started to 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. We are able to make monthly payments, so it wasn't  more than 300 dollars down!
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The day our cabin was delivered!
     Once we got the land, and the prefab shelter delivered, 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 bare bones, four walls and roof. We had no electricity, no plumbing, no insulation,  it was just a fancy box. 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 plan and setting it into motion. One of the first projects we started on was putting up the walls. We choose solid birch plywood planks. 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 cherry wood laminate flooring, on sale, 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 fascia for the kitchen counter and a matching shelf to mount on the wall above. We also purchased a spigot 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 Renogy 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 Renogy 100wat solar panel, on the back of the cabin. You can also see the 45 Watt solar panels mounted on the top left side of the roof.

     The photograph on the right shows Charles talking about the charge controller and the wiring that we have temporarily set up.
     We also have a generator wired to a standard 120v plug that is mounted on the wall. We use this for higher capacity devices: like the air conditioning,a electric cook top or to top off our battery bank.

     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 more fresh air and serve as a safety exit.
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. One of our finds including a tiny house couch that we found at the thrift store for $10.00.  Cute 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 is important to understand is that we didn't spend this amount all at once, it has accumulated over time with every project. For us, it has been very manageable and even more enjoyable to work on this project , rather than just having one built. We still have to finish the ceiling, some walls, add to the solar and make an indoor/outdoor bathroom. We are going to take our sweet time and hope that you will enjoy watching each advancement to completion! Please subscribe to our youtube channel and watch the rest of the journey and if ya have a moment check out our other content!
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