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.
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”.
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.
Thank you Emily for contributing to THIA’s collection of What’s Your Tiny Story? We would love to know yours.
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.
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.
We want to document your story. We want to share the journeys and often monumental efforts it has taken for you to go tiny. We know the battle. We are making progress, let us share your personal story with everyone and it just might be the key to help someone else to keep forging on!
Who Do We Want To Hear From?
Did You Build A Tiny?
Are you alone in the woods wishing someone could see how you built a cabin from scratch, without construction experience at 80 years old? Yes, we have to see your photos and rejoice at your accomplishment.
Is your tiny story that you are a teenager and you are building homeless shelters for veterans? Yes- you could be such a great example for other teenagers.
Are you a woman that thought you could never in a million years build your own She Shed and now you are teaching OTHER women? Yes-please share your story.
Did you build a tiny for a senior and prevent them from becoming homeless? Yes-love your story all ready.
Did your convert an old bus into the coolest Skoolie ever and you want to show how it is done? Yes-We Love Skoolies
Did you manifest your tiny in a way that is so outrageous you have to share it? Yes Yes – Always encourage others to dream.
Are you a non profit that started a tiny home village for the homeless? Yes- Thank you for your contribution with the housing crisis.
Were you a mentor to your child and helped them build their own home to take to college that is mortgage free? Yes-Wow!!!
Are you a mentor teaching our youth a much needed trade for the tiny home industry? Yes- Trade skills have a secure future.
Did You Change An Ordinance Or Zoning For Your City?
Is your tiny story that you actually changed zoning to allow your tiny home to be lived in full time? Yes-share your story.
Did you impact your city by parking your tiny home at city hall and blow them away at the beauty of your home and changed laws? Yes Yes.
How has your tiny story impacted the future of the tiny home industry? Yes- we want to know.
Looking For The Unsung Heroes
We want to share the stories of the unsung heroes that have been diligent with the dream of going tiny. There are those that have worked in the trenches, volunteering their time and effort, not seeking attention but have made amazing accomplishments.
The pride that beams on all the faces of all the beautiful people touring their homes on videos is so inspiring and though tiny homes have been called a trend, we know better. Going Tiny is a collective movement that is making strides in zoning, building codes, insurance, financing, grants, safety and regulation and more and more people are saying I Want In!
I have only touched on a few examples above, so if you want to share something else, please let us know.
Please Like And Contact The Tiny Home Industry Association Facebook Page And Let Us Know You Want Your Tiny Story To Be Told And You Will Be Given Further Instructions.
Also If You Know Someone That Has A Story, Please Send Them Our Way