Our travels, exploits, and adventures

Erin and Dondi’s Tiny Home

To fill you in. . . the first half of 2012 has been nothing short of interesting. Dondi is pretty excited about our tiny home. Its been in the works (the thought at least) since January and we’re finally in the construction phase of the project which started on June 2nd.

Cutting down the 50 foot trailer to 29 feet for the foundation of our “tiny home”.

Dondi welding the trailer.

Erin using the angle grinder to prep the trailer for a fresh coat of paint (this is after 8 hours. . .)

Framing out the floor joists after a fresh coat of paint. Almost ready for decking and then the big floor flip.

Dondi, Erin and Sarah (a friend in FoCo) flipping the 500+ pound floor. . . that was brilliant. Could have used some brute force for help. . . Dondi and 2 girls was just a bad idea but we figured it out.

Erin– helping to set up wall #1.

Framing the wall with a very eery background. Day 2 of the High Park Fire about 15 miles west of Fort Collins that has now burned about 92 square miles of private land and national forest.

Erin scoping out the new composting toilet and 300 gallon water tank. This tiny home is going to be 100% off the grid.

Dondi cutting and laying out rafters for the roof of the tiny home.

Dondi framing out the rafters and contemplating on how to frame out the dormer (aka “bedroom”).

Dondi standing on the ridge beam after a long day of framing up the roof.

The floor plan for our 200 square foot tiny home.

That is all for now. Hope you enjoyed the pics of our new “home”!Β  Until next time, Erin & Dondi


46 responses

  1. Aunt Palli

    Wow, That is totally awesome, is there anything you two can’t do. Can’t wait to see the pictures when it’s finished. Love you both, Aunt Patti

    June 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

    • Thanks Aunt Patti– hoping to get it done by mid September. We’ll send some new pics along the way. Thanks for the well wishes!

      June 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

  2. Jana

    Great job – thanks for the update – let me know how the toilet works!!

    June 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

    • Will do. The composting toilet that we got has an electric fan and will be vented outside. We’ll see. . .

      June 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

  3. Anne

    Building your own RV .. who else wouldn’t tackled this. And off grid in addition. Very impressive.

    June 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    • Hi Anne. . . PLEASE don’t call it an RV. I’m trying to keep a very open (and positive) mind about our “tiny home” and trailer or RV makes it sound terrible. Yes– it will be entirely off the grid. Powered by solar, heated by propane and passive solar, and a 300 gallon water cistern for water. So in essence. . . its completely self-contained. Thanks for your comments! =) -Erin

      June 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

  4. Kathy

    What big news! Dad hasn’t filled me on this latest adventure. Glad you are keeping us posted with pics. Hmm, now do I plan a trip to visit before or after it’s done?…

    June 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • Good question Kathy. If you want a place to stay. . . I’d say visiting Colorado before September would be better than later since currently we live in a beautiful two bedroom condo. After that. . . a corner couch that converts into a bed might be the best we can do. Hmmm, or a tent. LOL.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  5. Debbie

    I just love that you both embrace life to the fullest and try new things. Thank you for keeping us all updated on your adventures, it is nice to feel apart of whats going on. Please keep the post going, will look forward to the next update. Love and Miss You Both

    June 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    • Thanks for your comment Debbie! I’m glad you’re “enjoying the ride”. =)

      June 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  6. Fred Miller

    Hello Dondi and Erin! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Erin….yet, and as it looks like you 2 are living closer to where I’m from than out here in NY, it looks like I won’t meet her for awhile. We’ll look forward to more pics as you finish your home! DO take care of each other.

    Fred & Judy Miller

    June 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    • Thanks for your encouragement! Can’t wait to meet you sometime soon. =)

      June 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

  7. Coolest people I know!!! Super fun working on the house when I have time to help out!!! Can’t wait until the finished product!!!

    June 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    • Thanks Sarah. . . you made the pics. =)

      June 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

  8. Shawn Russell

    Looks like you guys are getting down and dirty, creating sawdust and before you know it powering up that bad boy. πŸ™‚ It’s looking great and you’re making good progress. Keep it up!


    June 20, 2012 at 1:42 am

    • Hahaha. . . thanks Shawn. Yes, we’ve been going to town on it. This is our progress after just 2 and a half weeks. =)

      June 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

  9. Lauralee

    I forget how fast you work. Mom always says “If I could have Dondi for a week or two…” I forget that that is all the time it takes. It looks great. Before you know it Erin it will be time to pick out fabrics for curtains and couch cushions. You both are amazing and I am glad you can pull it home when the Colorado adventures are over. (Or if you have to evacuate). Miss you both

    June 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm

  10. Charlee

    A pleasure to meet you and tour your lovely tiny home today, Dondi. Looking forward to meeting Erin and also seeing some photos posted of those gorgeous aspen walls!
    PS I moved to Fort Collins in 2007 from Hickory, NC & your photos of your Appalachian Mountain adventures sure made me homesick, y’all!

    September 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

    • Hi Charlee, glad you liked our tiny home! It’s coming along and we’ll do another blog post with updated pics soon. -Erin

      September 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

  11. Hi. I’m VERY interested in your house and process. I am considering a tiny house, but not sure I could go THAT small. Anyways, is 29 feet the longest trailer you’re allowed to tow without a special permit/license? How tall is it off the ground? Seems the floor is over the tires, which increases floor space, but also cuts down on available height to work with. This seems like the biggest possible house you could build on a trailer. Where do you park it? How did you finance it? Were you able to get a loan and what kind? Thanks! Any info you could share would be amazing as I am still renting an apartment and looking to “be different”.

    August 6, 2013 at 2:38 am

    • Hi Steve, sorry for the delay (and I mean it)! We’ve both been slammed. I’ll see if I can help with answering your questions: 29′ is not the longest allowed trailer. Refer to your states’ DMV for regs. It is 8’6″ wide which is the max width for highway towing without a wide load permit. The problem with going longer is that you start to get a “tunnel effect” where the length dimension is so much longer than the width. The way we broke up our house with the stairs and loft, we avoided that for the most part. We also have a 3′ wide utility room at the front which cut down on our interior living dimension a bit. Height is NOT an issue. We built from max height off the ground- don’t remember exactly but the ceilings inside are 9’6″ at the peak. For parking, we have a land lease. It was self-financed as we went. Hope that helps! -E

      August 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  12. Coy

    What an amazing tiny house. It is great to see owner builders creating spaces. So many psychological benefits to doing this as Ken Kern wrote about in the “owner builder”.

    I just had to comment on the RV sensitivity. I have lived most of my life in a “Gypsy truck house”, “hippie bus conversion”, “VW camper tiny house”, or Yourt. All of these were portable/movable/temporary structures with crafted shingle/wood siding and skylights and other comforts of a small cabin. I still use/accept the term RV in mainstream talk at times because most people just don’t see much difference until they live or create it. RV is the most manufactured product and least creative term. You are either a luxury noise making non-social camper or trailer trash. I still try to educate people by saying that I am a owner builder and minimalist with some sustainable living practices.

    I am curious if you are going to do some water catchment with that beautiful metal roof for that water tank.

    August 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    • Hi Coy, thanks for the comments! And I totally agree about the “RV sensitivity”. We’ve had a ton of questions like “why would you ever want to live in a house that small?” or “why wouldn’t you just buy an RV instead?” or “how does it feel to live in a trailer?” There seems to be two types of people, people who “get it” and people who don’t. We don’t mind either way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the term “owner builders”. That is a great way to describe it. -Erin

      August 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      • Betty McGill

        Erin, do you have pic of the fin little house?

        August 13, 2013 at 9:08 am

      • There are lots of finished tiny house pics on our blog. There are a few finishing touches needed on the inside before “fin” pics. Sure hope they will be coming soon! That’s the hazard of moving in before its completely done! =)

        August 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      • Hi Betty, hope the latest blog post is the answer to your request for fin pics! -Erin

        August 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  13. Chokyi

    What an amazing and beautiful home you’ve built. It’s honestly one of the nicest tiny homes I’ve ever seen, and I’m so impressed that it’s completely off the grid.

    I’m interested in knowing about how much you spent on it from planning to inhabiting. I know you did a lot of the work yourselves. It is really well planned in all of its details and completely inspires me again to build a tiny house! Thanks for sharing your home with us on the Tiny House Blog.

    August 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    • Hi Chokyi, thanks for your kind words and comments! Glad to share our tiny home with you. We’re still finishing some of the minor details but a ballpark price from start to finish (minus the solar system) is between $22 and $25k. Dondi’s kept a running tally and we can share that when its completely done! -E

      August 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

  14. What a gorgeous tiny house, you two! And in my old state of Colorado πŸ™‚ My girl & I are planning to build a tiny also. Big question: Where does it live where zoning officials don’t bother you?? Out here in Massachusetts, the laws were all written before homes on wheels existed. So they’re not legal.

    So curious!!! Please advise us?

    Thx :)))

    Mark & Shea

    August 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    • Mark and Shea, thanks for your comments and questions! Please forgive the delay! “Homes on wheels” is a tricky topic with zoning officials because in some places living in a tiny home on wheels is considered camping. . . ugh. So, to keep it brief, zoning rules are very different in the city versus in the town or county. . . -E

      August 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

  15. pete

    I wonder if you could explain how this wall was framed/built (:Erin– helping to set up wall #1.:) Doesn’t look like 2x4s, and it appears that alternate vertical ones are mounted differently — one in front, next in back, etc. Why? Thanx.

    August 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    • Sorry for the delay Pete, I was hoping Dondi would be able to answer this question for you but I’ll do my best! The walls are framed using staggered stud framing for a few reasons. The walls are thin (only 3″ thick) so the studs are 2×2″ instead of 2×4″ or 2×6″ used in regular framing. They are 18″ on center (I’m pretty sure) with alternating interior and exterior facing studs. 1) this is lighter 2) the walls are thin so staggering studs and not running exterior to interior drastically increases the R value of the wall 3) allowed for spray foam insulation to penetrate wall spaces (including the nooks and crannies behind outside the studs) 4) easy to weave electrical and PEX plumbing through the walls 5) increased wall rigidity because studs are closer together. Hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t I’m sure Dondi could do a better job explaining it! -Erin

      August 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

  16. Carrie

    Would you tell me a little more about your water cistern and how it works, hook up and is it inside the house? We are building a little house and will not be hooked up to any public water or well. What are you using for heating. Thank you

    August 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    • Hi Carrie. There is a 300 gallon water cistern in the utility room of the house that is accessed from the back of the house by the hitch. We fill it with a clean water RV hose from a city line. Dondi installed a hose bib to the outside from the tank and also one on the bottom of the tank to attach the hose and fill the tank. We have not done anything to treat it since its chlorinated city water and have had no problems. Hope that answers your questions Carrie. -Erin

      August 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm

  17. Hilary

    Hi Erin and Dondi – I hope you are well! It was great to stumble upon your blog (it’s been a terrific resource – so truly – thank you thank you thank you). I’m in the midst of finishing the design of a similarly sized tiny house and was wondering if you could pass on any info about the water system in particular (the hot water heater you chose to use, etc.). We’ll be heating water for the shower and sink and have the option of solar electric or propane. Any thoughts? Thanks! Hilary hcorsun@gmail.com

    August 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    • Hi Hilary, great questions! About the water system. We have solar and batteries for electric and propane for hot water, heater, and stove/oven. Because our solar system took up just about all the south-facing roof real estate, we went with an instant hot water heater. It is also significantly less of a hassle than solar hot water on a small transportable tiny house. Since the house is movable, weight is also something to be aware of so instant hot water is a great solution and its working well for us! -Erin

      August 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm

  18. Creighton Calloway

    Hi Erin and Dondi! I must say that I think this is one of the best Tiny Houses I’ve seen so far! Great use of space and super aesthetics!

    Our family of three (me, wife, 5-year-old son) is considering building a tiny house, and many of the ideas in yours are absolutely perfect. Did you design yours yourselves or purchase an available set of plans? Also, if you did design it yourselves, would you be willing to share the plans? My background is in remodeling and industrial design (though I’m currently a kitchen designer), so having the plans of your home as a good jumping off point would be excellent so I could work in some of the modifications to suit my family (mainly a 2nd sleeping loft).

    One thing I haven’t noticed you mention is what you do with your grey water. Do you have a holding tank and connect to grid sewage?

    Also, how are you adjusting to tiny living and off the grid life? I noticed in one of your earlier posts that you seemed a bit apprehensive about it. My wife is somewhat on the fence… she loves the idea of efficient living (less to clean, less clutter, etc.) but is curious about it being enough space as well as water/power consumption issues.

    Thanks in advance, and enjoy your home! πŸ™‚


    September 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    • Thanks Creighton. Glad you like our design– we love living in it! Its small and everything has its own space. However, we designed it ourselves to suit our needs. . . therefore it is working out great. Its a super efficient use of space and everything we need (and most design features that we wanted) are included. Dondi is working on getting our plans build-ready. . . will update the blog with them when they are done. As for grey water, we have a small holding tank for traveling and otherwise we have a stone trench to infiltrate into the ground. We have no black water (aka sewage) since we have a composting toilet. Hope that helps get you started with your own design! -Erin

      September 16, 2013 at 10:57 pm

  19. May I ask if you know why everyone chose to use a Gabel style roof instead of something like a Gambrel style , which would offer more head room and storage options? Or even just continuing the height of your bedroom the complete length ..
    Just curious , John
    PS. I glad to see some one finally did storage stairs in one of these

    September 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

    • Hi John, we (and others) chose a gabel instead of gambrel style roof for looks mainly. Head room is no problem whatsoever. The ceilings are high and have plenty of room for storage to the ceiling (see our kitchen). Because tiny houses (on trailers) are often long and skinny, the gabel breaks up the roof line from the outside. I see no reason why a gambrel style roof wouldn’t work though other than the limited width to meet road/highway specs. It could totally work. . . -E

      September 16, 2013 at 10:48 pm

  20. Sara

    Hi Erin and Dondi, I really like the layout of your tiny home…I’m looking to build my own as well in the next year. Are you currently selling your plans? Also, how is the toilet situation going? I’ve been researching the different options and would like to hear your take on it?

    September 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

    • Hi Sara, glad you like the layout! Dondi is working on the plans. Will let you know when they are available.

      As for toilets, the composting toilet is actually working out great. It had a bit of a learning curve but we’ve figured it out and don’t mind it at all! No smell. No more difficult to use than flushing a toilet. -E

      September 16, 2013 at 10:44 pm

  21. Stephanie


    My husband and I are very interested in buying or building a tiny house. One of the things I”m a little unclear on is how the water works? I see that you installed a 300 gallon water tank. How do you fill it? How often? Is your water pressurized (for shower, sinks)? Thank you for your help as we try to start figuring this out! πŸ™‚

    August 26, 2014 at 10:54 am

    • Hi Stephanie- to answer your questions in short. . . yes, we installed a 300 gallon water tank. We fill it about once a month which equates to about 5 gallons of water per person per day (for 2 people). We use a potable water hose to fill it from an outdoor faucet. The water is pressurized for the kitchen/bathroom sinks and shower by a water pump. Hope that helps. Good luck! -Erin

      August 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm

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