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.

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 Рa 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.


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!

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.


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.


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.




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.


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.


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.


The Tiny Bunch

Active building on the¬†tiny house has gone for eight months. Sure, the anniversary of buying my container went by this month… I count February as my start. Although life and conferences got in the way, it’s now really beginning to take shape. Now I’ve got new reason to celebrate. A parking space and a shared living situation is about to become real.

I’ve been sitting on this secret long enough. This is so exciting! In the next month, I will be moving my in-progress tiny house (which should also have a metal roof by then) just a few miles North to park next to my friends, Chris and Malissa Tack. I’m moving myself to a rented room in their new big house at the same property, after weeks of downsizing, on Halloween – spooky, scary!

We’re planning the below arrangement of our mobile studios, while we reside in the three bedroom house in front, as an experiment and educational tool to show what’s possible within cities, to one day create a tiny house community.

rendering, courtesy of Malissa Tack, © 2015
photo, courtesy of Christopher Tack, © 2015
photo, courtesy of Christopher Tack, © 2015

The Tiny Tack House, above, sits in place and is now ready for overnight guests. You can read all about their process of moving the house, while only 12 miles away, to its current location. It seems like it’s¬†meant to be exactly there. For more information, see the listing on¬†AirBnB. If you stay a weekend in the tiny house or the guest room of the main house and want to help me build my tiny BentoBox, I won’t complain.

In the last few weeks as we’ve been discussing all of this, I’ve dithered about the idea of plunking down money for a trailer versus a concrete pier foundation system like this: The system seemed inexpensive at first glance, and in researching more, it is something that needs soil samples, engineering to design the right size, and a crew with a jack hammer to install, on top of welding custom tie downs for the container, I might not save very much. Being ground-bound also has its downsides, and might then make the tiny qualify as an accessory building. Since we dint want to go down that road of red tape, a trailer may just be the best thing. Isn’t it fun that a container lets you delay a decision that would have otherwise been first a year ago when I wanted to start? It will also be easier to play musical houses on the site or take my house to exhibit at an event if it’s on a trailer. So I am 85% sure I’ll be getting a trailer soon. More details soon.

By the way, if you are in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to join our MeetUp group. We’ll be posting an open house event very soon. See you there!

The Torch of July

Sparks flew, loud kabooms rocked the neighborhood and there ¬†were plenty of oohs and ahhhs. Of course, I’m talking about more progress on BentoBox in the form of cutting metal. Oh, there was the Fourth of July too. I pretty much slept through the fireworks from exhaustion.

We used an acetylene/oxygen torch which was significantly faster, although much messier and slightly more dangerous (given two explosive gasses are at play). Luckily, my neighbor has significant experience and equipment for welding and cutting steel.

Note, I do advocate safety. Be sure to follow all precautions and wear your safety gear. I always do. I am not¬†responsible for those that don’t. For instance, when I¬†polished¬†the threshold where my new from door will sit, I used all the gear. Leather jacket/apron, leather gloves, face shield and hearing protection (see last photo). I also highly recommend grinding wheels with an added coarse grit paper on the wheel, like a¬†corner/edge grinding flap disc type.

The moment the torch breaks through is mesmerizing. We captured some of that for you, here.Just like my progress building and blogging, I bring it to you in living color and slow motion.

Intentionally left¬†the walls mostly up with just the corners attached for security. We did open the roof. Even though it’s Seattle, the current drought has meant I can leave the roof uncovered while adding the headers and framing above. More on that in the next post. You can see a hint of it in the last photo in the gallery below.


Is that a hat on my house?

Here’s a little update on the BentoBox progress thus far. The winter months are starting to fade away as the Seattle weather changes. A lot of prepwork inside has led us to where we are: 2×3 studs are attached to the container walls as the structure¬†for the insulation and siding, the window framing is in place and I am ready to cut holes for the kitchen and bathroom windows. We’ve had several comfortable days of sun and temperatures in the 60s F (15-20 C). That’s roof weather!



My house now has a little hipster hat. Yes, this will be the basis of a roof deck covering about an 8×8 area over the kitchen and bath. The design detail called for some extra head scratching to be sure. It’s important for me to ensure¬†the house width stays under the DOT standard of 8′-6″ (2590 mm). This gave me an opportunity to create a shadow line and a way to still have a continuous soffit vent.¬†For those of you inclined, I’ve attached the detail¬†below.



The deck joists at 12″ on center sit on perimeter rim joists. Simpson Strong-Tie products are used extensively. These include: A24 steel angles (which measure 2″ x 4″) and stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts (to prevent reaction with the container’s weathering steel) hold the rim joists to the container, and H1 hurricane clips and joist hangers are used above to ensure everything is stable, and will not uplift in the event of a strong wind (which is what will happen anytime the house is moved on the freeway).


The tight spacing of the joists meant it was very challenging to get a framing hammer in there for much of the work. A palm impact nailer, suggested by Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life did the job nicely. I had no idea it would be so different from a typical nail gun.


You load each nail individually, which allows using the proper nails recommended for the fastener system. Magnets and ball bearings hold ferrous metal nails in place so you can line up the nail with your work. It pounds the nail in with successive hammering action, versus a single quick burst of air. It’s a bit like the game “Operation”. Don’t touch the sides, and don’t touch the nail to anything you do not wish to drive it into. It’s very sensitive. ALWAYS wear your safety goggles.


Attaching hurricane clips. Hannah Crabtree of makes quick work of this with the new palm nailer.


I’ve purchased a very simple plastic trench drain – intended to be used on a driveway outside a garage opening. This comes in a 10 foot length. I do not plan to cut it until I’ve finished the tapered deck that will send all water to this. This is sloping at 1/2″ per foot and the built-up roof deck will slope at 1/4″ per foot toward the middle. A roof membrane will be laid on top. My next update will show how I am insulating, venting and flashing the roof to keep everything dry and cozy below.