The Travel Bug

I’ve had the travel bug all my life, and been fortunate enough to see so many places in North America. The largest city in the world, Shanghai, was home for nearly two weeks once for work (and so much sightseeing). I also enjoy living vicariously through others. A group of my colleagues from NBBJ went to Iceland and now that they’ve returned are sharing many of the best of the best photos on the Instagram account: @nbbjoregano (because spice makes everything nice).

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I mention this because, I’ve done a lot of travel myself lately. Soul searching of a sort. In the last four months I’ve (all tiny house related) been to North Carolina, Oregon, Alaska, the coast of Washington, Arizona and even visited a new Hobbit House just 3 hours from home. I also went through a personal journey of some very difficult changes in my life. Not much time to share details, because I’m off yet again.

This time I’m heading to the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs. There, I’ll be hobnobbing, doing some photo journalism for the press, speaking on stage about Designing for Wellness, and signing and selling copies of Turning Tiny as part of my new début as a published author. What is happening to me? Just when I needed it most, all these amazing things come together at once. It’s such a wonderful time to be vibrantly alive.

So, the blog and the tiny house build are not receiving the love they need. I’m focussing more on self-care, and doing the things that give me joy: developing relationships with great people and travel. The house and blog will, though after this pause. When I’m back early next week, there will be so much energy and enthusiasm, you will probably ask me to ‘take it down a notch’. Haha.

IMG_8632 (1)I’ll be shooting lots of photos, and posting on my Instagram, Twitter and new sister Facebook page for this project, UnBoxedHouse. Catch up with you soon.

Behind the Tiny House Door

So, I actually have a door on my tiny house… For some of you this isn’t news, because I share much with the immediacy of Instagram and microblogging on Facebook. This site takes a little more curating. I’ve not been the best at self promotion in the past, however am getting better.

Below are a series of images showing the door from design to installation (minus the sealing and trim). I’ll return here after some travel (more on that in the next post) and update with descriptions. Enjoy.

Silent But Deadly, or Ten Years Later

I’m quite surprised that my blogging career has lasted ten years this month. I was also about ten years ago that I started working my way toward the west coast, by joining the large design software company, Autodesk. Many things have changed since then. I started initially blogging about technology in architecture, specifically BIM and computational design – which you can always find back at seandburke.com/blog. It’s really dry stuff. Certainly not as much fun as melting steel and charred wood siding. That’s beside the point.

What I really want to share with you is this amazing exposure BentoBox has had recently. I’ve joined the professional tiny housers circuit – apparently. Even though my house is far from complete, the community has been very kind to me and supportive of this idea. Apparently, it doesn’t suck. Some days I feel it might. Today, I’m on top of the world.

For a tiny house enthusiast, I certainly say the word ‘huuuuuge’ often. You’ll just have to listen. Here’s the podcast of all podcasts. Even if you don’t like them, give it a listen. It’s great for any activity – gardening, commuting, sitting on the pot. Oh, and that isn’t the only drug reference, so if you’re easily offended, heed my warning. OK, it’s not really that bad.

What’s really amazing and serendipitous? I am on the episode following Jay Shafer (episode 46), who many consider the founding father of the modern tiny house movement, and who’s newspaper article I first read in 1999 and was immediately hooked. Yeah, I’ve wanted to follow this path for a long time, and now it’s actually happening. Give a listen. I hope you enjoy!

Oh, one footnote – I didn’t name the episode, however it makes me chuckle. Good advice when in tiny enclosed spaces: always have a vent running. And you can feel free to call me “The Notorious SDB” as Derek “Deek” Diedricksen has dubbed me. I have no idea what was on his mind at the time.

Visit http://tinyhousepodcast.com for more info, the ability to subscribe on several platforms, including iTunes, as well as more episodes. It was a lot of fun recording this. And if you want to hear my very first podcast from back in the day, nearly two years ago, check out this post: http://unboxedhouse.com/2014/09/my-first-podcast/. Oh, how times change.

Tiny House Tour

We’ve been getting more use out of the outdoor spaces here. We had our first community dinner alfresco, although still missing the Carlson family, who are summering in Fairbanks, Alaska, they were here in spirit (their house is still here).

Last weekend we had a tour of the Tiny Acre Collective, showing off the three tiny houses on display. The Tiny Tack house was open for walkthroughs and many people asked questions about my BentoBox project. It was a portion of attendees from the two-day Tumbleweed Tiny House Company workshop taking place in Seattle. We made a few new friends, who are anxious to return and perhaps take part in some work parties. Jenna Spesard and Brittany Yunker were the hosts and instructors of the event.

Ahead of that day, my landies build the first section of our screen wall, which makes sitting in the courtyard so much more private and pleasant. Everything is moveable, so the tiny houses can be rearranged or swapped out if someone needs to move. When the cars are parked behind the screen in the driveway, you can hardly notice them. The shou sugi ban fever is in full swing here at the collective. We now also have a garden with three 6′ x 12′ raised beds, and some smaller ones, all charred with the same technique. I have also finished burning all my siding to go on BentoBox. Things are starting to look real summery and festive. Can’t wait for the plants and fruit trees to grow a bit more. It’s going to be amazing.

SDB_0007The day was heating up. June is apparently the new hottest month in Seattle summers. We’ve had a dozen of so days over 80 since May, and two topping 90. So, as a proper host, I provided organic lemonade and hard cider refreshments.

And just because… summertime! The power of positive thinking is all over this community. Have some musics to put a spring in your step!

It was fantastic event and we facilitated a group photo together of most everyone by lending my new fancy camera – a snippet from my Instagram account, below.

The tiny house community is such a blessing to be part of. I feel so much warmth from the people I encounter every day. How could people not be happy to see these little abodes? I know I feel great every time I walk out my door and see them sitting there around the seating courtyard.

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I have a renewed motivation with the weather change (and much less rain than last winter) to make significant progress on my house this summer. I’m officially dried in, and need to install windows and complete some insulation. Hoping to get to the interior in August. So exciting. #TinyOn!

On writing, and an intended quick update…

If you didn’t figure it out yet, that last post was just a silly April Fools. I do love me some donuts, though especially mini vegan donuts like those found at Mighty-O Donuts in Seattle. I digress… So, I’ve been doing some traveling (which I plan to share more pictures and possible a video or two soon), some thinking, a bit of building, starting a few new hobbies, and lately – although it may not appear that way – a lot more writing. Some of you may not realize that I’ve been freelance writing professionally for a couple of years now in the architecture world. Sure, go see, it’s not all boring software stuff – OK, most of it might be to my readers here. The most interesting assignment to date was to write about the state of women in the architecture profession, by attending an event in Seattle: Carve Your Own Path and Other Takeaways From AIA WLS 2015. As an advocate of equity in the working world across all spectra, this was a very challenging and hopefully respectful look at the challenges, opportunities and success stories for women within work and home life. I share this not because I want to boast, but because my incredibly talented and trusting editor, Wanda Lau, gave me the opportunity to stretch myself out of a comfort zone of technical writing. Being surrounded by and inspired by many excellent writers, you know who you are, I have found it a new passion and have sought further opportunities to “use my words” and hope one day to approach their poetic prose.

And so, begins another new chapter in my life of being a tiny house enthusiast. In addition to the writing I mentioned above, I’ve now begun contributing to Tiny House Magazine. Full-disclosure: there are now affiliate links on this page, including the magazine mentioned. The goal is to do my best to hace minimal impact on your reading, and will only display products and services which I would support. Please feel free to let me know if you have an issue with this direction.


One of my housemates, Malissa Tack, encouraged me to reach out to the editors of the magazine to share my voice. She’s also written a bit about our Tiny Acre Collective, and a few more recent photos of my BentoBox are in there. Yes, I’ll post more about progress, hopefully soon. In the current issue, number 41, I have a review of Ryan Mitchell’s new book, Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials in which (I’m quoting myself, and that seems so strange),

The book successfully stitches together a narrative
from these stories, gathered through interviews
conducted by author Mitchell and Amy Annette
Henion, in a way that keeps everything fresh and
interesting. The homes are all very different
expressions, while some have been made with
similar materials, all have a unique character…

.

And I’m already started on another article for the next issue. Stay tuned for more goodness. You can subscribe to the magazine as a PDF, for Kindle, or through iBooks for Apple devices (link on the home page).  As the tiny house community continues to grow in leaps and bounds, malong the opportunities for other new voices to join in, and the content in the magazine will always be fresh.

home-page-book-8-turning-tinyOne other thing I’ve been up to in the tiny house world; I’ve contributed to a nearly released book book (whuut?), named Turning Tiny, along with dozens of other contributors. I’m actually most excited to read all their stories and it nearly escaped my noticed that I’m about to become a published author. My brain melted, just a little. It’s amazing to feel starstruck when you then realize, we’re all stars in our own right for dreaming of something new. Some are in different stages of the dream. I just never want to wake from it – it feels like a warm mug of cocoa. I hope you all get your cocoa, with #vegan marshmallows, of course. 😉

 

Big changes are happening

3/23/16Announcing my new tiny adventure: #UnBoxed #TinyDonuts, made in a #tinyhouse. I can’t wait to get my Kickstarter project going to raise funds for all the tea lights and thimbles of oil needed to make my first dozen. Thank you all, my #tinyhousetribe for your support. I will have signup sheets for my mailing list on the third floor of the hotel at the #tinyhouseconference tonight.

Here’s my inspiration and why I think this will be a huge success!

Fresh: New Imagery

While progress photos are still to come (I have so many that I need to spend an evening to sort and tag), I’d like to share some new imagery. A bit of changes in the field necessitated adjustments to the Revit model to reflect where materials change on the exterior. We’ve had some great weather lately, great if you’re a fish, and taking advantage of that indoor time to add some shine to the feature rendering of BentoBox. If you’re familiar with the older version, we now have simplified the front elevation to have more Shou Sugi Ban treated siding, aligned the storefront window with the operable awning above and now by studying every rain drop that’s fallen in this record Seattle winter, we know where all the deep sills and flashing needs installing. Bonus.

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I also have decided to add a little (OK, Baylie told me to “go big or go home”) porch which will sit over the front of the house. This will server the purpose of sheltering as I arrive home, enable me to continue to build confidently in most any weather in this very intricate area where the front door, pop out bay window and utility connections exist, it also provides a nice covered outdoor space next to the courtyard that the entire Tiny Acre Collective – affectionately known as my landies (thanks to my wonderful friends at Simply Home Community for that term). I’ve started building this and still need to find the right translucent roofing material for this structure that is not a blue tarp – perhaps TufTex.

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I’ve started to order glass for the tiny house. Below is the preliminary design submittal for the product Kalwall, a fiberglass insulated panel system, which will be under the folding shed roof. I’m hoping it will make a nice daylighting effect and produce a warm glow from the outside in the evenings. it will be my contemporary version of the lighthouse to mark the way home and help avoid bumping the stone wall in the driveway with my car. I’ll share a higher resolution version of this once all the details are resolved and as always, the BentoBox designs shall be open source and soon available through the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

kalwall-submittal

 

 

Tiny is My Jam

Tiny can be your jam too. Join me at the 2nd annual National Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs this August. Tickets are on sale now and they will likely go very fast.

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I need you to do something for me. Please be in my cheering section. I’m so pleased to announce that I will be a speaker at this year’s event. It will be amazing! There were approximately 40,000 attendees last year and it was a blast. Like the first event, expect lots of fantastic speakers (my mentors, heroes and the tiny house rock stars will all be there), vendors, great food and drink, and of course many tiny houses to tour.

This year’s event is billed as even BIGGER (and tiny-er). I have no doubt it will not disappoint. Get your incredibly affordable tickets now as an early-bird insider.

Hope to see you there and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Thanks(for)giving

November is the first month we’ve exceeded 2,000 blog views.Appropriate, given the American Thanksgiving holiday. I am thankful to all of you for your tremendous support and encouragement. I believe 2016 will be a big year for UnBoxed. Can’t wait to share more of that journey with you all.

(Photo copyright: iStock.com/spacedrone808)

Going Mobile

So, I have finally made the plunge. I’ve ordered the trailer for my house foundation.

Designing a tiny house on wheels, THoW, is a decision many have to grapple with. Is your tiny house a building, an RV, or something else entirely? That of course will depend on where you live. Zoning laws regulate where one can build or park a tiny house, and if it’s seen as an RV or registered as such, for how long you can live in that place. Some call it recreation, and not living. Living requires a bedroom and kitchen, which by the legal description of them, I will have neither. I’ll elaborate on that topic in a future post. In many cases, you can only recreate in an RV in designated areas and not in others and for a limited amount of time.

We’ve been focused on building for so long, that eventually we’ll need to grapple with these questions. For now, no one is living in or recreating anywhere regarding my tiny house – especially with winter coming and not all the insulation or heating system installed. I’m just building. My full-time residence is in the shared three bedroom home, behind which this project will continue making. The living situation will depend on where we arrive with the town.

So, the trailer becomes important, for a couple of reasons. While not required for this build, as I’m below the minimum of 200 SF size necessary for a permit in this region, it will be incredibly convenient for the upcoming move, adjusting the placement on site and the occasional trade show and conference. Requests for appearances of the BentoBox has been flooding in, and I’m not even fully enclosed yet. I’ve a feeling that 2016 will be a big year!

Below is an image from the vendor’s site, Big Tex. My local dealer, Trailer Station, with multiple locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, gave me a fantastic deal and has been great through the ordering process. I strongly recommend them and looking forward to picking up my trailer soon. Video and photos will follow.


Specifics

While a lot more beefy than your typical tiny house on wheels foundation, I’m not building your typical tiny house. I settled on an 8.5×20 deckover trailer (approximate size in feet). It is 34.5 inches high, and my house will be just under the 14′-0″ Washington State DOT limits for moving without a permit. The trailer rating is 14k GVWR, meaning the trailer and combined load cannot exceed 14,000 lbs. My house in progress at the moment when empty is estimated at 6,000 and the trailer is 3,500 lbs. My budgeted weight for the completed house with belongings will arrive barely under the designed capacity.

Eventually, I’ll attach the four corner twist locks to the trailer frame, so attaching of the container is not only secure, it’s removable when the need arises.

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Next up, my roof gets installed and then I have to move to the new site in time for our community Open House on December 12th. Fingers crossed it all comes together. Here’s another teaser of the latest arrangement we’re looking to create.

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