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  • Writer's pictureJim Martin

We're Going Tiny!

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Okay, not right away, we’re going to take this slow. But we are going tiny! And because we thought it would be fun to document the journey with all of its joys, decisions, challenges, and surprises along the way, we decided to start this here blog.


Over the next year (or so), we’ll be going through the process of preparation, design, sourcing of materials, and construction of our tiny house on wheels. Along the way we may have a few things to say about other stuff (like the Enneagram, baseball, and the joys and challenges of parenting), but we’ll try to keep it interesting!


So let's begin with a question that may be on some of your minds:


What the heck is a tiny house?


Basically, a tiny house is any living structure under 400 square feet.


What distinguishes tiny houses from campers and RV’s is both their intended uses and the manner of their construction. While campers and RV’s are typically used a few weekends out of each year, tiny houses are intended to be lived in full-time. They are constructed using (relatively) normal residential construction techniques and expected to last just as long an any “stick-built” house regardless of its size.


Often tiny houses are built directly on trailers—which not only makes them mobile, but can simplify or even eliminate the complexity and expense of the building permit process. (If you are thinking about launching your own tiny house project, check with your local state and county for specific regulations.)


This is just an example, not the house we are planning to build.

(Note this is the interior and exterior of two different tiny houses just to offer an example.)


Tiny homes built on trailers are limited by trailer size (obviously). Each state determines the size limits of trailers allowed on their roads. Fortunately, most states have agreed on a set of standards. The entire width of the house including trailer fenders, roof overhangs, trim, etc. must not exceed 102 inches. The height of the house (from the ground) must not exceed 13.5 feet. Length is the most flexible dimension and can go up to 40 feet (as long as the house and tow vehicle do not exceed a total of 60 feet). Essentially a tiny house’s width, height, and length must all fit within the imaginary space a semi-trailer would occupy on the highway.


Why Go Tiny?


Over the past 20 years or so, a growing movement has formed around the catalytic link between simpler living and increasing financial freedom. Early pioneers of this movement found that downsizing their living space and possessions had the natural aftereffect of downsizing (and eventually eliminating) their debt, thus freeing up time and resources which could then be applied to more meaningful things than simply working to pay the bills.


Add to this the obvious resonance of the recent Marie Kondo “Tidying Up” phenomenon and it’s easy to see that a simplified, de-cluttered life is something many of us long for!

We’ll plan to keep links to a minimum here (because we assume you know how to use the Google). But if you are new to the whole tiny house movement, you may want to look at a few pictures just to get a sense of what these tiny houses are like inside and out.


We’ve found tinyhomebuilders.com to be very helpful. They offer everything from basic education, to plans, trailers, workshops, e-newsletters, and a wonderful downloadable .pdf that serves as “the book” on how to build a tiny house. There are also some great photo galleries of completed houses you can buy directly from tinyhomebuilders.


Looking ahead


We aren’t necessarily planning to downsize into our tiny house as soon as it’s finished. The short-term plan will be to use it as extra living space while we host aging parents, our young-adult kids and their many friends, and the many other visitors that come our way.


Over the next five to ten years, however, we do expect that the tiny house will play a significant role in our next major transition as we sell our “normal” suburban home in the Metro DC area and look to re-settle back into Massachusetts among family.




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5 Comments


Jim Martin
Jim Martin
Sep 01, 2019

Thanks, friends! More posts coming soon...

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Melinda J Hawkes
Melinda J Hawkes
Aug 31, 2019

hey Jim (Jenna), This is so exciting and something we have toyed with as well. So excited to follow your journey. Blessings Melinda (Mesick) Hawkes

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Darlene Dee
Darlene Dee
Aug 31, 2019

That is SO COOL! Looking forward to watching your journey!!

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Jim Martin
Jim Martin
Aug 31, 2019

Thanks, Beth! We still owe you a visit at Cape Cod Beer. We'll have to make that happen soon.

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Beth Marcus
Beth Marcus
Aug 30, 2019

This is awesome.. and something we were just talking about. We're not ready to tiny house it yet either.. but like the idea of it.. and am excited to watch your progress. Best Wishes.. and watching from Cape Cod.. Beth (Melvin) Marcus

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