Posts by office

Length, Size Room (What’s it really like living in a Tiny Home)

Let’s start with the positives, if you selected a good builder then some of the great features of a Custom RV/Tiny Home is that having a deep kitchen sink for cleaning, decent appliances and insulation you are going to see the value of these items very quickly as you will use them daily. It’s a great feeling knowing that everything is working and that it’s like a normal residential home/cabin only very appealing because of its small footprint but also that you have a good roof and windows and can live in almost any climate.

Here in the North Carolina mountains, I have had mid 30-degree temperatures as well as low 80 degrees now as we get into warmer months. The mini-split AC / Heat Pump systems are worth every dime invested as an option as they heat the unit without much work…getting cozy in 200sf is really nice when it only takes 5-7 minutes.  Plus if you have neighbors with glamourous RV’s you can smile at home knowing that the energy loss of heat or AC evaporation is so much less than compared to a Class A or C model RV you might see.  Oh, forget the countertop refrigerator unless you eat somewhere else you are going to want a mid-size 15cu inch size with freezer or larger and more storage either on the exterior or in Tiny Home.

One of the take away’s from this is that Tiny Houses have it partially right, if they are constructed with best carpentry practices then it’s rock solid like a house and this is our distinction and value proposition against Class A, B and C, RV’s you can compare this all day long to the fiberglass laminate flashy RV’s, but pound for pound a residentially constructed Custom RV/Tiny Home home is better built by a margin of 20-30%, where this will really show up if properly maintained is in how long they last in 10-15 years as RV’s tend to start showing wear within 4-5 years

So let’s get to size one of the most overlooked aspects is that the RV industry can actually show us what are the preferred lengths from its buyers, most of them except Class B are 30-40 feet long, compare this to the Tiny Home industry where 16’, 18’, 20 and 24’ models are being built, unless this is a work trailer, you are a minimalist or short person you will outgrow this in 6-18 months.

After coming up on a month of living in my Custom RV/Cabin as I’m calling it (it’s licensed as a travel trailer ) but you know them as Tiny Homes.  I would not purchase anything less than 28 feet and really consider a 30-35 foot model and also make sure at the destination you either have a deck built on the land or have a deck built on either end of the trailer, possibly a drop down or modular one you can put on as needed,  again space your going to want it, if you are at an RV park some of them have decks already built.

Taking this a step further I would even suggest considering a 10-12 foot wide by 28-35 feet which put you in the Park Model category, but this will be sufficient for two adults with two queen size beds or a configuration of a queen size bed and an additional room with two single beds or futon sleeping arrangement. This also gives you the extra elbow room and living area you might need if staying beyond seasonal 6 months or longer.  People can easily live in this size longer periods of time approaching 10-20 years without needing more space unless the family grows or lifestyle change.

 

Some other takeaways, try to have your builder design larger windows, living in less than 200 square feet requires some adapting but if you have 3-4 large windows allowing both light in and an aperture to look out, with consideration for 3-4 smaller windows just below the roofline if you are looking at a loft model unit.  Otherwise, you may find yourself wanting to escape into the outdoors you pursued so passionately in the first place.  If you builder is skimping on this find another one, also make sure your electrical panel is rated up to 50 Amp’s but works with 30Amp, the cost difference is marginal but if you get on 50 amp service you don’t have to worry thinking operating your Combo Ventless washer and dryer and you just added more convenience…30 amp service will not do it.

Can I still start out with a 24-foot length model, yes just make sure you plan to have space so you can be comfortable in the living area, you only really use your bed for sleeping so you want room to unwind

Sea To Sea Homes now build up to 30’, 32’ and 35’ models and has the first Park Model finished.

Read more

Exterior Siding Options for your Tiny Home

Wood

Choosing what exterior siding to use on your Tiny Home can involve a number of different variables. Generally speaking there are three regions of the country the South the North East and Western/Northern states.

Many early tiny home builders have selected wood because of its natural appealing look and sustainability and there is still a large segment of Tiny Home buyers that like it. Beveled Cedar, Lap Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Knotty Pine are some common ones used. The main issue with wood is the maintenance required and it doesn’t hold up as well in harsh weather conditions such as  in the Southeast or Southwest where UV rays from the sun burn off urethane stains protecting it.  However a lot of high altitude and warm areas use solid color paints, and semitransparent stains which act like a protector.  Natural finishes may provide the most visual appeal but it requires more maintenance in the warmer climates.  Wood is also at the mercy of wood born pests, however cedar has resins that are toxic to termites and kill them so there are some advantages.

Professional architects and some builders still prefer to use wood. Architects being purists believe vinyl tries to be something it’s not, it is made to look like wood and is flimsy.

Sea to Sea’s 28 ft. Landmark Lap Cedar and aluminum exterior

Vinyl

Production and large builders prefer vinyl because it’s the most commonly used, low cost, ease of installation, and low maintenance required for the upkeep make it a popular choice. However, often the look is not as sleek or rustic looking as tiny home buyers like because trim pieces need to be placed at corners, windows and doors vs wood where builder can customize cuts. For many buyers it comes down to cost.

Composite

This type of siding has made huge inroads to the home building industry in the last 10 years – it is installed like wood composite comes in different materials including fiber cement, hardy board, metal, corten, aluminum and asphalt. Although manufactured in different shapes it mostly comes in shingles and boards with different trim accessories which allows builders to customize the look.  With tiny homes we are seeing this with two, three and four tone exteriors where wood, metal, and shingles are made into an artistic tapestry by new and innovative builders creating new models and adding them to their build line.

Corten Sample

Cedar Impression

At the top tier and most expensive is cedar impressions molded from real wood cedar shingles, having the look of natural wood and can be made into most architectural designs.  Designed as maintenance free, vinyl advocates claim it still needs maintenance but for both vinyl or cedar impressions soap and water should do it.

So where to from here?  If you like the natural look and don’t mind some preventive maintenance with staining and re-nailing from common wood withdrawal, then visually wood would be the choice based on the value of the look.   As an owner of an exterior beveled cedar Tiny home I would never give it up except to mix in with aluminum for an urban or more rustic look.

Custom Western Red Cedar timbers

What is important to remember here is that with a tiny home you only have 200-350 square feet of coverage area vs a single family home that has 1500-2500 square feet, the area is considerably less.  If its maintenance free you want,  you have three options – vinyl or a two tone look which incorporates both aluminum and lap cedar…Sea to Sea Homes have these in their standard options package in building the models.

Lap Cedar and cedar shingles

Read more

FEATURES IN TINY HOMES (Win a free kitchen design layout)

So, what are the most important features of a tiny home, is it the kitchen, the sleeping areas, the living area, the bathroom, the windows, does it have a porch or not or the roof?  This week I want to discuss the Kitchen design: In the coming weeks, I am going to be writing about these areas individually.

Design of Tiny Home Kitchens

So, what features of a kitchen would you want in your custom Tiny Home or where would you want it laid out?  Let us look, most of us are familiar with seeing the tiny homes that have the kitchen in the middle or on one end of the trailer, what are
the pros and cons of this?

From a, pro point of view having the kitchen in the middle opens more room on the other ends especially in living room area/ for larger furniture or desk/working area in addition to loft above if done right and will make a hallway that is easier to navigate when walking back and forth thru center of trailer. Kitchens in tiny homes are usually built on the driver’s side because the gray water storage tanks needed are set inline below subfloor kitchen cabinets that connect to plumbing and are close to water access panel and pump drain up by the utility drivers side. With proper cabinet design and measurement, you can have adequate cabinet storage and consider things like in-drawer dishwashers, wine coolers or washer and dryers.

The con on this is that if you really want a large kitchen then the middle of the tiny home may not be where you want it located?

But let’s say you like to cook and the larger kitchen is a bigger value to you as a feature in your tiny home design.  Then having it designed so it is in the rear will allow you to have an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen, possibly with a breakfast bar/seating area?  With this option, you can have counters on either side of you with the sink located in the back or side with accompanying windows to view outside and allow light in.  For the builders, they have additional buildout for plumbing and will need to relocate a gray water tank underneath the sink area, so some design work will be needed and this may cost a little more.  This opens more space for addition base and upper cabinets with additions for wine cabinet nooks, or exposed plate and dish racks etc., with more counter space and allows the chef his/her domain.

What about cons to doing this, the primary one, is that when you design the kitchen on the back portion of trailer you then shift more weight to the rear and this puts more lift on the front tongue when towing, so you could end up towing a trailer where you have what are called dolphining conditions where the trailer when it hits a bump in the road it may start to rise and fall as its being towed.  Some of the ways to overcome this are to use a weight distribution kit or hire a professional transportation company whose hitch is designed and rated for the weight capacity of your trailer.  Another option which should only be discussed with a transport company, could you use 4-5 bags of peat moss/soil/sand or mulch to help offset this in the front, possibly?  Could you then use that at your end destination to make a garden? (Dan Cartagena, Owner/Operator of Warrior Transport a professional transport company who’s moved hundreds of tiny homes sites an example where he had tiny home that had the kitchen and the bathroom built on the rear on a cross-country trip to California, he had to stop early on to purchase a bucket which he then filled with 5-6 bags of 100-pound sand and placed it up front to offset and stabilize the trailer.)

So, reviewing this you can really customize your kitchen so it looks like a modern luxury residential home, it’s just deciding what’s important to you and where do you spend more time? If it’s not cooking, then having the kitchen in the middle opens the back area for more living space with furniture.  Sea to Sea Homes can design the kitchen where you want it.

Would you like to win a free trailer design to be used in a tiny home, then visit our website www.seatoseahomes.com and send us an email or email directly sales@seatoseahomes.com

We will be doing a drawing on May 31, 2017, for a free tiny home kitchen design.

Read more

Staining / Preventive Maintenance, Tiny Home for move to NC mountains.

Getting ready to have the Harvest Tiny home moved from Florida to Boone, NC, one of the challenges of building a tiny with cedar for the exterior wood is that they say the moisture level Florida and sun can fade staining products faster and although I stained the exterior in January, I will repeat the process next week prior to move and check any cedar siding that needs to be re-nailed or caulked.  Its a little anxiety raising knowing the sun can really damage wood unless treated correctly, because we haven’t had a lot of moisture this winter and its been a milder winter season…….yet the UV rays of the sun seem to be the factor right now.  Although I write this I wouldn’t trade anything for the golden wheat color of the exterior siding because its gorgeous and looks so natural, I hear in place like Colorado that they have to stain all cedar shacks etc, twice a year at higher elevations.  I’ll know more once I get to 3500 feet how the stains hold up to dryer air and sun of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Read more