Emily Gerde’s Tiny Story

Emily Gerde’s Tiny Story

Tiny House, Big Moments

Written By Emily Gerde

When choosing a name for our tiny house journey I didn’t realize how truly accurate it would be. I thought Tiny House, Big Moments was catchy and fun but I soon came to realize just how big the moments would be in our tiny house journey.

I’ll start back at the beginning where it all started. We had a 2,200 square foot house and I was running an organic daycare in my basement and coaching gymnastics part time. My husband was working full time and in grad school and we had a newborn. This was the tipping point! So many jobs and no time to actually enjoy our beautiful property and home that we were working so hard to pay for. We needed a solution and the tiny house movement caught our eye as a possibility. Fast forward a few months and we found the only builder at the time in Minnesota who had already built several tiny homes and we got to see their model. We fell in love with the minimalist lifestyle and so began our journey.

Emily Gerde

We started our tiny house build August of 2014 and moved in May of 2015. We stayed in several backyards which was fine at the time but the goal had always been to either have some land or create a tiny house community. We had some sketchy run ins with rent disagreements and people not honoring their contract but overall it was doable and affordable to live in back yards. We never had anyone call on us and never got caught. We even stayed a summer in a tiny house builders parking lot. We have friends who found great spots on farms and animal sanctuaries but we wanted to find a legal place to ease our mind after 3 years of “hiding”.

Emily Gerde

While we were searching for a more permanent spot we decided to store the tiny house and live in an RV  next to my parent’s house. We were in suburbia Minnesota so we knew we couldn’t hide a tiny house. Luckily, no one figured out that we lived in the RV, so we stayed in it for the winter. This was an eye opening experience on the differences between a tiny house and an RV. We had no issues with our RV for recreational use but after a week we had issue after issue. First off, it was not made for the winter and the lack of insulation created a lot of problems… including mold which we didn’t figure out till later. With the cheaper materials RVs are made of, we had a ton of things break just in the few months we were in there. The air quality was awful. Luckily we were only in it for night time and spent the days in my moms house. We were very thankful living in the RV was temporary, especially with the mold and chemical smells from the nasty glues and cheap vinyl. We had a greater appreciation for our well constructed tiny house and couldn’t wait to get it to Colorado.

Living next to my parents was a huge blessing because it allowed me the time to write my book, “Minimalist Living For A Maximum Life.” I love sharing how we downsized and minimized clutter, toxins, stressors, and debt thanks to tiny house living. We also spent this time at my parent’s place to figure out the best places to settle in Colorado. We finally found a spot come spring of 2018 and off we headed to Colorado to find adventure! We stayed at a farm, a tiny house builder’s parking lot, a family’s back yard, an RV park, and now a mobile home park. Moving to Colorado made me truly see the housing issues we have as a society. We were sheltered from it in the Midwest, but here in Routt County we have been in several situations that gave us much more empathy for those trying to survive and find housing.

Tiny house living has provided so many freedoms and yet there is that inherent issue of them not being legal in most areas. I started my advocacy back in Minnesota and helped a city allow tiny houses as ADUs. Then in Colorado I connected with the American Tiny House Association and presented to Jefferson County (along with Joe Callantine ) on the need for moveable tiny home communities. They were very excited about the concept and Joe took that on as his mission. Our family moved just outside of Steamboat Springs where we connected with a local tiny house developer, Michael Buccino, and have been doing what we can to help encourage tiny homes in the county. Now in Hayden, Colorado we have been able to get tiny homes allowed in mobile home park zoning (stay as long as you like), and RV parks (Maximum of 6 month stays). There is much more work to be done and I am honored to help out the Tiny House Industry Association in their mission to Make Tiny Possible.

There is much more work to be done as we work together as an industry to create a tiny house code, work with municipalities, and collaborate with builders. There is a stigma of tiny homes that municipalities are having trouble getting over. There is the “not in my backyard” mentality. Through education and the success of current tiny house communities, we can show the world how tiny houses play a role in attainable, healthy, high quality housing. Tiny houses offer the same quality materials and construction of a “regular” home in a pint size version. Be sure to support the Tiny House Industry Association by becoming a member and you can support my efforts by purchasing my book. For more insight into our journey, you can find us in all social media @tinyhousebigmoments.

May abundance flow to you with ease! May you follow your bliss, and live the life you always dreamed of.

Emily Gerde

Thank you Emily for contributing to THIA’s collection of What’s Your Tiny Story? We would love to know yours.

Emily Gerde’s BIO 

What’s Your Tiny Story?

Related: Cheney Creek Tiny Homes Approved In Routt County

Appendix Q Adopted in Routt County

Magestic Hills Tiny Home Community Coming Soon!

Magestic Hills Tiny Home Community Coming Soon!

Located In Willis, Texas: One Hour From Houston

Written By Janet Thome

Magestic Hills Tiny Home Community- is in the development stage with a projected date to be finished by November with move in dates for tenants by January, 2020. Great location, just minutes from Lake Conroe and only an hour from Houston.

80 Lots For Lease Available

There are eighty lots for lease available. You will be required to purchase a 399 tiny home on wheels from Magestic Hills, to be able to lease a lot. The homes range from $ 40,000 to $80,000.

They will have 10 models to choose from. You will also have the choice to have a garage or carport built.

Magestic Tiny Home Village


Magestic Tiny Home Village

  • Gated Community
  • Beautifully Landscaped And Maintained
  • Community Center
  • Pool
  • Dog Park
  • Weight Room
  • Extra Parking

More Information Coming !

Magestic Tiny Home Village

I will be updating this information as it becomes available.

Please call Korey Freels if you would like more information at 936-718-8171 and to see the community.

Magestic Tiny Home Community
13625 African Hill Road
Willis, Texas 77378


Cedar Springs Tiny Village: New Paris, Ohio

Cedar Springs Tiny Village: New Paris, Ohio

Interactive Tiny Tour October 26th, 2019

Cedar Springs Tiny Village- the first tiny home village in Ohio is offering an interactive tour to meet their tenants, tour their tiny homes built by Cedar Spring’s list of preferred builders and visit the beautiful Lakefront village on October 26th, 2019. The event will be from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Hors d’oeuvres provided at each site.

Gerald Brubaker has enthusiastically brought to life his vision of the “tiny” community, as the founder of Cedar Springs, with 27 sites currently established for lease.
Cedar Springs is Located in New Paris, Ohio,  centrally located within 1.5 hours of Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis, and only 40 minutes from Dayton!

Amenities Include:

  • Lakefront Views And Mature Trees
  • Walking Paths
  • Community Garden Access
  • Private Parking With Each Lot
  • Recycling Program
  • Water, Sewer, Power
  • Grounds keeping And Maintenance Included

Power will be paid by the tenant

Preferred Builders

  • Modern Tiny Living
  • Liberation Tiny Homes
  • Maverick Tiny Homes
  • Tiny House Life. Org
  • Incredible Tiny Homes

Three Steps To Go Tiny

1) Schedule a tour. They  would love to provide a personal, guided tour of the Cedar Springs Community and determine which member(s) of our builder group will be the best fit for you and your dream tiny!

2) Reserve your site/construct/relocate your tiny

Cedar Springs offers a 3-month “free” reservation of any site with a $1,000 deposit.

Whether you need a little extra time to relocate your existing tiny, or your tiny home is not quite completed, we want to ensure that you can still stake a claim on your favorite site!

If you’re still looking at your funding options, check out the Financing Resource Page

3) Move in and enjoy your tiny life!


Resident Review

Kimberly resides in  a stunning custom 28 foot build known as “The Fox” which was created by Modern Tiny Living.

Biography – tell us a little about you!

“I have been a HGTV fan for many years. I started watching the tiny house shows, it was the very first time I have even heard of such a thing. I was hooked. I lived in a tiny apartment in Indianapolis and loved it. I just like tiny spaces, they are easier to clean, easier to decorate, and easier to move. I plan on retiring to Maine, and now I don’t have to start all over. I can take my Tiny with me and know that it will be a home I love. I don’t have to give up anything.”

What is your favorite thing about living at Cedar Springs Tiny Village?

“My favorite thing about living at Cedar Springs Tiny Village is the surroundings. It is in a beautiful place with a beautiful view of the lake. I love all the trees and the yard is gorgeous. I really like where my house sits and even though it is in New Paris, it feels like I live in the country.”

What advice would you give to a potential tiny homeowner?

“My advice it to make sure you talk to your builders so they know exactly what you want. Stick to your guns, don’t let anyone talk you out of your dreams. Ask questions about everything, even the appliances. If they don’t want to answer your questions, get another builder. I learned the hard way that the really cool washer/dryer combo (you see them on all the HGTV tiny shows) doesn’t use heat to dry, so nothing ever gets dry. I had to buy a clothes dryer and place it on top of the really cool washer/dryer combo. The builders knew this, but since I didn’t ask about it, they didn’t mention it.”

Additional Reviews

Cedar Springs Tiny Village

Joe Callantine’s Tiny Story

Joe Callantine’s Tiny Story

Visionary And Founder Of Life Size: Tiny Communities

Written By Joe Callantine

My tiny story started back in my mid-twenties but at the time, I didn’t really know it was part of my tiny story. I had a world view that cursed “the man”, cursed the “machine” and was not a big fan of society as it was. I started stock piling books on homesteading, bush craft, off-grid survival and the like. I swore that one day it will be “every man for himself!” Also, during this phase of my life, I was starting to refine my own personal passions. Those definitions came out of my end goal of being completely self-reliant and not dependent on the system.

It started with how I was going to power my homestead. The most obvious option was solar power. This set me out on the mission to learn a lot about solar, it’s operation and how to maintain a system. I embarked on a 3-year adventure of higher education and obtained a degree in Photovoltaic design. Throughout that process, I asked the question “what if my solar equipment breaks? Who works on this kind of stuff?” Electricians! During the 3 years I was attending college, I became an electrical apprentice at a small, local electrical contractor and started attending trade school. At one point, I was working full-time, going to college and trade school at the same time. Talk about a frenzy of chaos those couple of years!

I continued to learn about renewable energy and my interests further evolved into a love for electric transportation and while I dug more into homesteading, I found solid science in the field (pun intended) of Regenerative Agriculture. I was raised in a small farm community in rural Ohio and quickly learned that how we grow food today is a far cry from how Mother Nature operates. With organizations like the Rodale Institute and Regeneration International continually educating and advocating on practices that help heal the planet AND produce more nutritionally dense food we could have a solution to many of the modern-day problems in our society.

We’ve officially arrived in Denver by this time and I was introduced to the Tiny House Movement. While researching the finer details of tiny houses, I realized that there was one HUGE problem. No one knew where to put these things. It seemed that most cities and counties classified these structures as Recreational Vehicles which, in most cases, prohibited full time living. So, I set out to fix this.

While researching local zoning requirements and building code, I came across a local builder who appeared to be working toward the same goal. At the time, it made sense to join forces and make forward progress. Without delving into the emotionally charged details, a model home came out of the short-lived partnership. My tiny. Meraki – Greek – To put a little of oneself into what you do. Since the departure from the organization, I moved on to launch Life Size: Tiny Communities as a method and vehicle to solve the primary issue for tiny houses locally as well as nationally.

With the Limited Liability Company created, my name and voice well known in Jefferson County government, an engineering firm, attorney and real estate office at the ready, I was poised to start the next step of nailing down capital. I created business plans, financial estimates, investor pitch presentations and attended various groups, MeetUps and an accelerator program put on by the Denver SBDC. During this process, I’ve learned a lot about business and have grown to respect people who obtain a degree in business management.

Together, with my engineering firm, we created a conceptual design and started accepting “soft” reservation for Denver’s FIRST tiny house community. All in, I have 40 individuals who are willing to be founding residents. Which is nothing to scoff at! I have also managed to sign the official paperwork on LSTC’s very first investor, which happened just last month (Sept 2018). Throughout this whole process I’ve also been able to forge a partnership with a couple of individuals who have created a Real Estate Investment Trust, Seed Equity Properties, LLC which is managed by Budding Equity, LLC. This trust not only will be working to provide a reasonable rate of return for it’s investors but also aims to provide positive impact in the community. The partnership, in my opinion, will help poise LSTC for considerable growth in the future as the need and demand for tiny house community grows.

Along with that partnership, I also currently work with Bildsworth International for tiny house inspection and certification. We have to maintain standards of quality and safety within our own industry to ensure that these structures are safe, healthy and durable. Plus, we don’t want anyone’s house burning down! On the topic of standards, I also sit on the board of directors for the Tiny Home Industry Association, who is mobilizing to engage regulatory bodies such as ANSI, NFPA, IRC, etc so we can start nailing down building code specific to mobile tiny houses.

I’ve come to know many people in my own backyard and realized that I’ve finally found my tribe! I have finally found a place where I belong. A place where people believe in the same things that I believe in and a place where people see that things have to change in our culture and in our society if we are to maintain a new and sustainable status quo. The adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” no longer applies. There are many things in our society that are very much broken, just because that’s how it’s always been, doesn’t mean that is how it should be.

Joe Callantine

I’m choosing #mytinylife because I want to be the change that I want to see in the world. Sustainable, healthy, happy and prosperous.

Let’s all work together to forge this movement into the industry it deserves to be!

Joe Callantine is a Board Member Of THIA and you can contact him through his website.

Thank You Joe, for contributing to THIA’s What’s Your Tiny Story? series. We Would love to know yours.

What’s Your Tiny Story?

Seattle Desires To Streamline The ADU Process

Seattle Desires To Streamline The ADU Process

Removing The Barriers For Attached Or Detached ADUs

Written By Janet Thome

In July, the Seattle City Council passed Council Bill 119544 for ADUs, taking away the barriers and making it easier for more property owners to build backyard cottages (detached accessory dwelling units or DADUs) and basement units (attached accessory dwelling units or AADUs) and therefore provide more housing options for people living in Seattle.

What Is An ADU?

Backyard Cottage ADU

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a separate living space within a house or on the same property as an existing house. These units aren’t legal unless they have been established through a permit process. A legally permitted unit in the home is called an attached accessory dwelling unit (AADU). A legally permitted unit on the property (but not within the home) is called a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) or backyard cottage. Tiny houses, with foundations, are considered DADUs.

The Legislation:

  • Reduces the minimum lot size required to build a DADU on a single-family lot from 4,000 square feet to 3,200 square feet;
  • Increase the maximum size of DADUs from 800 square feet to 1,000 square feet, excluding any parking or storage areas;
  • Removes the owner-occupancy requirement for ADUs;
  • Removes the off-street parking requirement for ADUs;
  • Allows two ADUs on one lot (either one attached and one detached, or two attached) if the second ADU meets a green building standard or will be affordable to households at or below 80% of area median income;
  • Increases the maximum household size permitted on a single-family lot from 8 to 12 unrelated people only if the lot includes two ADUs;
  • Increases DADU height limits by 1-3 feet, with flexibility for green building strategies;
  • Allows design flexibility to preserve existing trees and to convert existing accessory structures to a DADU;
  • Require annual reporting on ADU production and requires that the Office of Planning and Community Development and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections conduct a survey of ADU owners and occupants within 3 years.
  • Introduces a Floor Area Limit (FAR) for all new development in single-family zones with some exemptions (this regulation has a delayed effective date until March 1, 2020);

Accessory Dwelling Unit Webpage

Effective March 1st, 2020

The regulations for accessory dwelling units were updated by Ordinance 125854 and the majority of the requirements are effective as of August 8, 2019. The updated requirements to floor area limits in single-family zones SF5000, SF7200, and SF9600 will be effective on March 1, 2020.

Executive Order To Encourage ADUs.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s July 2019 Executive Order calls for other actions to encourage accessible and afford-able ADUs. In addition to pre-approved DADU plans, they  are developing an affordable ADU financing option, creating new online tools and resources, and monitoring ADU development annually.

To simplify and streamline permitting, the City is developing pre-approved DADU construction plans that offer a faster, easier, and more predictable design and permitting process.

Public Comments Welcome: Survey Open Until October 19th, 2019

Here’s how it works:1.The  public survey informs design principles and criteria we will use to select plans. 2. They  invite designers and builders to submit DADU designs.3. Permitting staff pre-approve 6-10 plans chosen based on selection criteria.4. Plans become available for homeowners, who can connect with the designer to create a site plan. Homeowners choosing a pre-approved DADU plan get a shorter permit review process and reduced permit fee.

Plans selected for pre-approval will be featured in an online gallery on the City’s ADU website.Why encourage ADUs? ADUs offer Seattle residents several opportunities: »More places to rent in neighborhoods where housing is often unaffordable»For owners, a path to generate income and wealth»Homes meeting the needs of families with children, aging in place, multi generational households, and people with disabilities.


The process to create an ADU can sometimes feel complex or intimidating. To simplify and streamline permitting, the City of Seattle is developing pre-approved construction plans for detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs), often called backyard cottages. Using a pre-approved DADU plan will provide a faster, easier, and more predictable design and permitting process.

This fall, we will ask the design community to submit DADU designs that the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will review and pre-approve. But first, we want to hear your ideas for design principles we should encourage through this process.

This survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will inform how we evaluate the design submissions. Thank you for taking this time to support this process. To learn more, read our summary.

Take The Survey

ADU Fair: Resources For Creating Accessory Dwelling Units: October 19th, 2019

Want to learn more? On October 19, OPCD and other departments will be attending ADU Fair: Resources for creating accessory dwelling units, a free event at Southside Commons from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Come by to learn about ADUs, talk with staff, or even take the survey. You can also email  at DADUplans@seattle.gov, read our summary, and visit the SDCI website on ADUs.

Photo Credit: Clayton Homes