Tiny houses are a hot topic these days, but is working or living in a tiny home (or building one) for you? Dawn Higgins, of Full Moon Tiny Shelters, has some great advice.
The trend toward downsizing, minimalism, and nomadic living has helped to push the idea of living in a tiny house into the eco-limelight, and whether you're looking to cut expenses, reduce your carbon (and physical) footprint, or afford a home of your own, tiny homes can be a viable option.
One of the advantages that tiny homes can have over larger, more traditionally-sized homes, is the reduced amount of materials that are necessary to build one, which cuts down on the overall costs and time. Another advantage of tiny houses is that because of the smaller scale, building one by yourself doesn't seem so intimidating, and most or all of the materials can be transported without requiring a large vehicle. And in many cases, at least some of the building materials for a tiny house can be sourced from salvage, or through scavenging or recycling, which often goes hand in hand with DIY tiny homes.
Building your own tiny house isn't something that everyone cares to do, or has the time and skills for, so for those who want one built for them, or who want to buy a pre-built tiny home, a number of designers, craftsmen, and builders are starting to meet that need, including Full Moon Tiny Shelters (FMTS).
Why do we do it? Because we believe that size is not everything and that tiny is beautiful. We do it so that some people can have a space they have always dreamed of. We do it so that other people can have a place to live. We do it because the world needs options. The world needs simplicity and beauty and anything that is executed to the highest standard. We do it because sometimes less is more. - FMTS
This young Nova Scotian company is focused on building tiny (under 200 sq ft) high quality shelters, including mobile ones, full of beauty and artistry, and one of the founders, Dawn Higgins, was gracious enough to answer some questions about their company and tiny house livability, and she has some great advice for DIY builders.
Why and how did the three of you decide to build tiny shelters as a business?
[FMTS] It started with Dawn wanting one for herself and from there the idea grew.
What sets Full Moon apart from other tiny house builders?
[FMTS] Quality/artistry. The tiny house movement began with the need for affordable housing and as such was motivated by financial restraint. The early designs were very basic & functional - which is great & necessary. What we do is take it a step farther and add, if not luxury, then certainly a level of beauty and artistry in the design and woodwork. Our goal is to create things that are well designed and beautiful. On such a small scale, it’s possible to surround yourself with hand made quality that might be financially prohibitive on a larger scale.
What are the most important features for a tiny house to have in terms of making them comfortable inside, along with working well as a home?
[FMTS] Obviously that will depend on your priorities as an individual home-owner, but generally…..
In our climate (half the year) you want it to be warm & dry - so a good, reliable, safe, heat source and the insulation to hold it.
A decent bathroom & kitchen that function well, using whatever methods you desire for running water, human waste & cleansing.
Smart use of all space…. multiple uses everywhere you turn.
Gratuitous beauty. There is something very sensuous about small spaces. They are innately intimate. Everything you touch, see, smell & hear (or don’t hear) should make you happy.
What has your biggest success been so far? How about your biggest mistake?
[FMTS] Our biggest success - so far, (and we’re getting supportive feedback) has been in the intelligence of our designs and the functional beauty of our work. Biggest mistake - starting most builds right about the time it starts to snow.
What should people consider when thinking about making the move from a regular house to a tiny one?
[FMTS] Why they want it. This seems obvious, but it’s not until you really sit down and ask "why” that you can begin to design with purpose. What are you trying to solve or improve? What is it you want to do in it? When you know the answer to these questions the design can unfold and the transition from large to small can have meaning.
What advice would you give someone who is considering building their own tiny house?
[FMTS] Remember your responsibility to the rest of us. Right now the tiny house movement is gaining popularity and it is important to remember that we want to keep the public perception positive. On a structural and safety level you can not build something that does not work, particularly if it’s also mobile. If your tiny house slides sideways off the trailer and hurts someone or if it makes headline news because it catches on fire, you do the entire movement a great disservice. There are a lot of people out there building for themselves and that is great, our advice would be to know when to ask for help. Talk to an engineer to make sure your plan will work, if you are not an electrician then find the money to hire one. You don't need to be a master woodworker, or even and experienced carpenter, but do your homework and seek help or advise when you are out of your comfort zone. The same responsibility applies to living in one. This is still a grey area and one that will hopefully become legitimized over time. We all have a responsibility to set the right example, to be a good neighbor.
And because Full Moon Tiny Shelters is a tiny house company, here's a tiny tour of their tiny homes: