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Covet This: Tumbleweed's Tiny Kit Home

8/23/2011 12:45:38 PM

Tags: Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, tiny house, Tiny House Blog, Jay Shafer, small home, tiny home, tiny house kit, kit house, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailWhen Natural Home put out a call for entries in our Natural Home of the Year contest in 1999, Jay Shafer sent in a few photos of an exquisitely built tiny house and an essay about why he chose to live in 89 square feet. He gave all the usual reasons--building small saved hime money, kept junk out of landfills, reduced his overall environmental footprint and allowed him to build a solid, heirloom-quality home. He built Tumbleweed, the 8-1/2 by 17 by 13-1/2-foot home that we honored with a Special Award for Philosophy and Innovation, for $42,000. Its small size allowed him to put five times more money per square foot into quality materials and construction than is allowed for most standard-size homes. This was radical thinking at the time.

“My main reason for building such a little home was nothing so grandiose as saving the world, or so pragmatic as saving money,” Jay wrote. “Truth be known, I simply do not have the time or patience for a large home. I’ve found that, like anything else that’s superfluous, extra space merely gets in the way of my contentment, for it requires maintenance and heating and ultimately demands that I exchange a portion of my life for the money to pay for these luxuries. I wanted a place that would maintain my serene lifestyle, not a place that I would spend the rest of my life maintaining. I find nothing demanding about Tumbleweed. Everything’s within arm’s reach and nothing’s in the way--not even space itself.”

Jay went on to create Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, now the flagship for a tiny house movement that’s sweeping the nation. His superbly designed and built homes can be found from coast to coast. This week I received an email from Jay with photos of his newest model, the Tumbleweed Box Bungalow, which is 7 feet by 14 feet (about 98 square feet). The Craftsman-style microhome is available as a modular kit, with flexible kitchen and bathroom placement. 

Do I even need to say how much I want one?

 bungalow box exterior 
The Bungalow Box has Craftsman details. Photo courtesy of Tiny House Blog.

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John Sealander
8/24/2011 5:51:08 AM
Yup Keith, you hit the nail on the head. The question I often ask myself, after reading yet another silly article from this mag (a "Special Award for Philosophy and Innovation"-really? For a $42,000 tool shed?) is, why do we even bother? As a survivor from the 60's who lives a self sufficent life on five beautiful acres in a comfortable home that is 14 times as large; well I think they have just lost the original vision. Alas. An award for "Asinine and Rediculous" is more like it.

Keith Karolyi
8/23/2011 11:17:04 PM
I'm slowly shaking my head at the idea of spending $42,000 for a room the size of a prison cell. This is innovation?? It's actually a very old idea that has been enshrined in our language for over a century with the phrase "built like a brick outhouse." If I move into the tool shed in my yard that I built for $500 do I get an award for Philosophy and Innovation too? Perhaps if I live under a tarp made of organically grown, sustainably harvested, chemical free, non-GMO, fair trade cotton and REALLY reduce my footprint on the environment, someone will grant me an honorary chair as the Philosophical Minimalist in Residence at the University of Wherever. Seriously though, is living in a kid's playhouse all we aspire to in this world?? Or do we see the handwriting on the wall that says that this is all we'll be able to afford as our wages are gutted to the level of the Chinese?

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