Tag Archives: tiny house

Butler Pantry – Part 1

This was not my idea. I got the idea (and the name) from this blog here. A Butler’s Pantry is traditionally a space off the main door preparation area where precious or expensive things are stored and kept under lock and key with the Butler holding the key. I have long chaffed at the empty space above our basement stairs. It was bland, dirty and impossible to reach to clean. Over all, just an enormous irritant in a tiny house where every spot is precious. I decided to try to make my own Butler’s Pantry and make this space useful.

In some ways I had an easier time than the people I got the idea from because that floor level ledge is right beside the outer wall of my little house and three 2X10″ inch wood beams. I used extra long wood screws and four hinges to attach a carefully trimmed chunk of 3/4″ plywood to the outer wall. I then created two 2X4″ supports on the opposite side into another pair of 2X10″ beams using heavy duty lag bolts. The result was almost immediately workable, much to my delight.

The board can go up out of the way to access the basement, or be relatively easily lowered to cover the staircase opening.

The very first thing I did once I had a floor that felt solid enough to walk on, was to finally finally finally clean the entire space. It was dusty and awful and filthy and I had not been able to safely get at it since we moved in. In the process of walking back and forth to scrub the walls and ceiling walls I could feel the 3/4″ plywood board creaking a bit. My next job was to start adding some reinforcements and additional supports. I added some extra 2X4″ supports so the board rests on those instead of all the weight on the hinges. I also added a top rail and a wood blocking bit so it can’t accidentally fall onto our heads while we go up or down. This got rid of the slightly wobbly feel and stopped any creaking. I am going to add some additional cross supports at the ends of the plywood to further stabilize it and maybe add a couple of more in the middle similar to how the original looks but without disturbing my hinges that work just beautifully. I also want to figure out some kind of pneumatic lift hinge support so I don’t have to squat and pull to lift floor out of the way.

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A few things became immediately apparent. I now need to plan the best way to put in shelving for my pantry. I can put shelves into all the spaces above head height as one goes up and down stairs and in that back section. I need to plan what height and depth of shelves will work best for what I want to put in this newly accessible space. I have quite a few items that I need to keep but rarely use. These include my big red turkey roasting pan for company dinners, my pot distiller and my pressure canner and boiling water bath canner. Those can go up high on top. I’d like box for my recycle sorting bag instead of leaving it hanging on the wall. I could really use a broom closet and a dedicated spot for my vacuum.

I also need to add a light. With the board down, the new space is really dark. I am going to add at least one electric plug when I put in the light. I have been thinking this space might work very well for my seedlings in the spring if I set aside one shelf dedicated to that purpose and install my grow light above it. If I do that, I definitely need at least one plug. And of course the entire thing needs priming and painting to match my kitchen. The plywood floor will need some nice cover, maybe some pretty linoleum with tiny flowers or something.

I fell asleep last night planning my shelves and plotting the best path for wiring. I want to have it all figured out by the time we have to make our next trip to a city with a hardware store. That way I can walk in with a list of supplies, stock up, and drive home ready to start. The garden is under the snow now, but I have a brand new project to keep busy with. What fun!

Bewildered By Tiny House Nation

 

My husband and I have been watching an episode or two of Tiny House Nation in the evening before bed. The show is a lot of fun to watch. The reason is Hubby Dearest and I downsized and lived in a travel trailer for five years while we journeyed all over North America so that part is familiar. We also purchased a small house in a small town. Our house is 480 square feet so it is also a Tiny House depending on how one defines such things. We see much that is familiar on the show and we get some neat ideas for life in our own home. Still, I just don’t get these Tiny Houses.

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Sitting in a shower/shelter during a tornado warned storm in Alabama. Tiny Houses and Recreational Vehicles are unsafe in severe weather.

At the end of each show the proud new owners of the Tiny House get their custom designed Tiny House. As someone who has quite literally driven all over the USA in a travel trailer pulled by a pickup, I look at these houses and think, “No Way!” These Tiny Houses with all that custom woodwork, metal framing, appliances and everything else must weight a lot more than a travel trailer. Plus they are tall and that front flat and high peak is anything but aerodynamic. Between the weight and the lack of aerodynamics, it’s going to cost a fortune in fuel to go anywhere. Assuming of course it doesn’t just fall apart bouncing around on the highway or get the top chopped off going under a low underpass or tree. And all those custom modifications? When the new owners arrive the Tiny House is decorated with potted trees, and lawn furniture, a huge deck and stuff like flower pots on the window sills. You cannot go down the road with window sill pots because you have to be under that 8 foot limit for the highway. Who wanted to be taking all that inside every time you move? It’s just not practical. The only driving I can see with a Tiny House is to drive it to the nearest spot you plan to park it at and not move it again. And that will only work if you find someone to insure the thing.

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I just can’t see a Tiny House Nation tiny house competing with these guys on the highway.

The next puzzle I have it where do they end up parking it? In a few cases they are obviously parked in RV parks which is great for places like Florida. However, I have lived for months at a time in privately owned RV parks and they just aren’t that great. The space between plots is often so small you can touch your fingers on your trailer and the one next door. The fees are usually not much less than renting a studio apartment. Plus my experience has been there is no place with more rules and regulations than an RV park. So the idea of wide open spaces and freedom is just not there. We hated most of the private RV parks we stayed at. National Parks and State/Provincial Parks, which generally do have the space and freedom from silly little rules, have limits on the length of stay. Typically the limits are about 14 days. The other problem with parks is that unless you are in the south, most are not open year around. Where do you go in winter? Parking your Tiny House on private land is a possibility but you need to find that private land and you need to be in a place where local codes let you park and live in a house on wheels. Such places are few and far between.

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Exceptionally nice parking spot in a Army Corp of Engineers campground in Alabama. Most private campgrounds have much smaller lots of each camper and most don’t let you hang your laundry among a whole lot of other rules. The more expensive the campground, the more rules.

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This is the view of a typical private campground type spacing between parked rigs. In fact this park was actually on the more generous size. We have seen much smaller spacing. The fire in the background is a controlled burn by the campground owner. It’s his/her land and she/he can do what he/she likes without your permission. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave.

I also wondered about cost. They never bring up the money on that show. I had to go on line to find out. I was astonished to discover these deluxe Tiny Homes start at $100,000. That’s totally nuts! You can buy the very best top of the line recreational vehicle for life on the road. If you look in the right places you can also find small houses in rural communities in need of TLC for less than $100,000. These older small homes are grandfathered in so they can be under the minimum square footage most local codes require. Plus, if you buy a house on a piece of land, you no longer have to worry about your landlord because you own the land. We have our tiny stick house and there is a big driveway to park our travel trailer for when we go traveling.

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Our tiny house is 480 square feet. It has a full unfinished basement, a double lot with garden space and mature trees, a garage bigger than our house, and plenty of room for our travel trailer.

Watching the Tiny Nation I have concluded that Tiny Houses are really cute, creative and wonderful masterpieces of fun building. They are also totally impractical. If you want to travel around North America, consider saving your money and buying a good travel trailer or fifth wheel designed for the open road. $100,000 buys an awful lot of recreational vehicle. If you really want to live in a custom Tiny House, consider buying an old house and fixing it up or go for a neighbourhood where rules are changing to accommodate smaller Granny suites or garden suites whatever the name is for a tiny house and put it on a foundation instead of on wheels. The tiny house on wheels as shown on Tiny House Nation is a combination of the worst aspects of living in a recreational vehicle and living in a stick house with few of the benefits of either. That being said, I still just love watching that show.

Our tiny 480 square foot house, was built in 1960. We even added a heavily reinforced basement tornado shelter, just in case.

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