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What’s the Deal with (tiny house) Roofing!?

10 Sep

I’ve been spending a lot of time considering what kind of roof I will have.

My tiny house design with a Box Gable Roof

In my design I have a pretty traditional gable roof or a box gable roof technically since it hangs over the open porch. I feel like I want to go with the typical symetrical slopped roof because I think it might be a bit more aerodynamic and may be easier to drive through areas with low lying trees. I’ve seen the Lean-to roof that Macy is building and blogging about over at

Macy’s Lean-to roof at

Then there is Jay Shafer’s Fencl design which features a Dutch Gable roof or should I say double-Dutch (no pun intended…really).

Jay Shafer’s Double-Dutch Gable Roof

Or the gabled roofs with a raised gable roof pitch in the center or a gambrel roof like these.

Gable roof with higher pitch in the middle (left) and a Gambrel roof (right)

At the moment I like my design but #1 I have yet to actually step foot in a tiny house to feel it out and #2 I want mine to be a bit more aero dynamic because I will be traveling a lot with it. I can’t really get a feel for the interior space, headroom, various window heights and door positioning without being in one so I may take a trip to the nearest TH with occupants willing to give me a tour in the next month or so.

What are other people’s experiences with roof shapes? Is there any wear on the hitch side of the roof edge where the wind hits it? In this picture there is a roof end cap but I see a lot that don’t appear to have any extra protection there.

Is high speed wind conditions an issue or no? Obviously there are hurricane or tornado winds much faster than my highway driving speed but when you are combining high wind and highway travel say on the drive between Los Angeles and Palm Springs where they have a HUGE wind farm (which is obviously there for a reason) or along the Grapevine on your way north out of Los Angeles County where high wind is an issue for any vehicle. I’m not worried about the entire structure because well…it’ll be 7-8,000 pounds. But I just wonder what the best roof shape and installation practice is for these situations to ensure it wont loosen over time any more than normal roof wear and tear.

I mentioned a youtube video where a gentleman’s tiny house survived a tornado and it held up very well. his roof looks like this.

It may be a bit hard to see (couldn’t find a better or clearer angle) but he has end caps and a ridge cap on top. He does not have anything on the bottom edges and I don’t even know if they have anything to put there but it is something I’ve thought about.

Anyway, does anyone have any advice, thoughts or considerations for tiny house roofing.

Also Please check out my new voluntary simplicity documentary film Simple by Design and please donate to and help spread the word about our Kickstarter Fundraiser. I will be raising $28,500 to build and filming the construction of my tiny house as well as interview other voluntary simplicity supporters and create day-in-the-life segments of them. Learn more about the film and the project at

Thanks for your support!


Getting (re)Inspired

8 Sep

Somehow in all my Kickstarter madness I put all my eggs and dendrites into the ‘go project go’ basket that I forgot, if only for a moment, to let myself be inspired. One thing that I so loved about rediscovering tiny houses and falling in love with voluntary simplicity back in February of this year is the wealth of examples of people that have come before, done what I want to do and lived to tell the story: blog about it, take pics, have tiny conversations in abbreviations, acronyms and incomplete sentences via Twitter and Facebook…you know…

I’ve been so consumed with my new 9-5 and getting the exact science of getting a Kickstarter fully funded that I forgot to have fun, take breaks, feed my tiny house obsession daily and occasionally…eat.

I’ve consumed 2 packs of gum in a week leaving the right side of my tongue completely raw. I felt like a chain smoker, getting the other one primed and ready before I was finished with the last. I don’t even like gum! Nerves I guess.

Other than picking a college, going on Semester at Sea or deciding to move to Los Angeles I feel like this is one of those defining moments for me. No huge immediate change, but you’ve made the jump and things will never be the same. I’m excited, nervous, emotional and giddy as all heck.

Anyway, I’m remembering what it feels like to search 20 variations of “tiny house on wheels” on Google instead of “final cut 7 FX render error” or “Kickstarter statistics”.

So what am I inspired by this morning? Let me show you…

Jenine Alexander’s tiny house cost her less than $3,500 to build. I’ve read her story a dozen times but now that I’m on my way to raising the money I’ll be re-examining how she did it and scouring Craig’s List for my own share of free or almost free recycled building materials.

Macy Miller, who’s been out of commission for a bit, is back on her feet and working on her tiny house…and a shopping bag hammock. Very cool. Glad to see you up and on your feet again Macy! and their entry “Learning to Slow Down“. It’s a hard lesson for me and one that most people I’ve lived with, worked with or dated probably don’t even believe I am making headway on but I have. I’ve learned to say NO to a lot of things, be a little more patient and get out a bit more. This blog is a good reminder to do that.

This is the home of blogger, entrepreneur and creator of, Tammy Strobel and her husband

This is one of the first tiny houses I’ve seen that has a front that looks almost identical to my design: the covered porch, using the above area as interior space (I’m surprised how many tiny house designs don’t do this), windows flanking the door and a gabled roof. This is the home of the creators, awesome site.

Small House, Big Adventure is a blog written by a grad student who is building a tiny house as part of her Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management. I love this website because I’m very engineering minded and they really outline and take pictures of everything, all the nooks and crannies and typically “boring stuff” that I totally dig.

Becoming Minimalist – pretty self explanatory but I really appreciate the sincerity and relatability of this blog. Just good, REAL people. Not all blogs are like this so I think if you are new to simplicity/minimalist culture this is a great start.

A friend once told me to spend one hour each day doing something for me. At the time I wasn’t making any disposable income and simply watching tiny house videos online effectively made my day so that’s what I did. For one hour each day I would just ogle and drool on Tiny House Swoon, Tiny Rev, Tumbleweed (even though I’ve probably memorized every single page on that site), browse Alex’s Tiny House Talk archives and surf the tiny house blogosphere.

Somehow in the planning of my dream I forgot to actually dream. Now that I’ve got my groove back I am officially redeclaring myself a tiny house geek. (almost) Everything else is filler.

– Half-Price

Kickstarter, a step in the right direction

25 Jul

I dont know if I have ever been so nervous in my whole life. Possibly because this is the first time in a long time that I feel I am on the road to something good; that simultaneously feeds my soul, helps others and is an outlet for my creativity. I finally took the plunge and started the Kickstarter process (and it IS a serious process, even just to get the project live takes a long time) which has seemed to be the release for a blockage for everything else in my life. I’ve been using work, editing, transcribing, general fidgeting and fiddling, to avoid starting and the second I decided to GO everything else fell in line. Two new clients, got offered unexpected money from someone else…things are just moving right along…

In terms of the house, my design is done although over the last couple months I’ve considered modifying it a bit more. The budget is as accurate as it will be considering I’m using as many recycled and green building materials as possible. I’ve made a few visits to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. By the way…they have AWESOME stuff. Some of it’s brand new, left over I assume from large orders at nearby building sites. Recessed and track lighting in perfect condition. Doors and windows galore. Sconces in unopened boxes. And I’ve got 3 resources for recycled lumber for interior and exterior siding that I have yet to visit.

This is the camera we used on a project I produced back in ’09. I’m hiding behind the camera (you can see a sliver of my brown skin & blue shirt, lol). For my upcoming doc I’ll probably choose something a bit more manageable 😛

As for the project, it has grown so much bigger than I could have ever imagined and I still have yet to start the fundraising! What started out as me documenting a building project with my filmmaker friends has turned into a full fledged go-green/sustainable living documentary, with a growing list of interviewees, a good friend and AMAZING cinematographer has signed on to shoot it, and I’ll be taking the house on tour to teach sustainable workshops in LA communities and schools starting next year. Things grow fast when you’re on the right path!

So anyway, lots more to do with the Kickstarter prep but I’m a lot less nervous since I had a gift brainstorming session with a friend. So there will be some REALLY awesome stuff in addition to the typical finished DVDs that most film Kickstarter projects offer.

As for interviewees my lips are sealed at the moment for who I’m contacting but if you or anyone you know personally or in the tiny house/sustainable living blogosphere might be interested in sharing their story please do let me know. You can read more about the film specifics here. Check it out and see if your story is a good fit for the film!

Tiny House Film & Furniture

27 Apr

I’d almost forgotten the allure of being on a film set; the butterflies the night before Day 1 (I could never get a decent night’s sleep for fear of sleeping through my alarm and missing my call time), the build up to “Action” and then the silence as the camera rolls, the beauty of a finished film that took dozens of individuals and often years of hard work to bring to life. All wrapped up in a seemingly neat little 80-120 minute package. It’s been over 18 months since my last real film project and I haven’t really missed it. I’d been scarred by narratives too many times and decided to go industrial/corporate for a while. Oddly enough I’m now on set three days straight working for friends in LA.

When I posted my Tiny House Plans on my Facebook page I got a very warm reception from friends and family, found out an old acquaintance was also planning to build her own tiny house and even got a few offers from friends to help out. I was very surprised. This combined with the fact that all my friends are creative types, mostly filmmakers, and all will probably want to document it at some point, I figure…why not just go ahead and do what I do best: Produce a movie.

Work is good, income is great, working on projects I care about…Priceless. So with that in mind I have some plans in the works to bring my love of film and my obsession for tiny houses together. I have a lot of meetings to schedule to make this project go so more on that later.

Lucky for me in the midst of all my busy-ness I have a MLHP unposted entries backlog. The post below is from Friday the 13th.

Yesterday was a long and tiny day. I did admittedly spend all day creating floor plans on Icovia, researching furniture, fixtures and appliance sizes…really just trying to get all my measurements down so I could settle on a general floor plan. I also have a few pages in my idea journal devoted to tiny house add-on & efficiency ideas: hidden storage and storage tips, ladder designs, skylight ideas, multi-use interior design aspects, furniture, etc.

Speaking of furniture…I found a lot of awesome seating options along the way…and a couple really great blogs. The first blog, Small Space Living, is now defunct but still has all the old content up, including the 3 designs below, and is a really great resource. The other, Ikea Hackers, has great ideas about how to mix & match, modify, etc. to create exactly what your space needs and not just what the catalogue dictates. Two thumbs up.

I was introduced to cubed furniture yesterday through my blog surfing and two designs really caught my attention:

The first one is a tad big, about 28 x 28 x 28 in. if my approximate measurements from the picture are correct. Since it’s only 3 furniture pieces and all seem to be geometrically straight forward a properly equiped & patient DIY type would be able to put this together in a couple long weekends. Plywood, wood glue, nail gun & compressor, jigsaw and your other run of the mill tools along with a steady hand could get this done no problem.

The second is smaller, more efficient in its design size to seat capacity ratio and way more complex. Would be much harder to recreate and probably worth simply buying. It would also make a great ottoman in its constructed form if you have a cushion for the top. If my math serves I believe it’s just small enough to go under the square ottoman covers that Ikea sells.

At the end of the day I probably wouldn’t use either but it was interesting to consider. Now here is one that I think is actually worth a serious look. Pretty great.

A word on couches. I found a lot of places selling day beds, futons, convertible couches…but none seemed to really fit what I was looking for. In this video you see a tiny house with a bathroom on one side and kitchen on the other (which makes for a more narrow hallway). With a typical shower stall on the left that makes the left wall space 36+” deep which when a couch or bench is introduced in the main area you dont feel like you lost any space because the couch, typically 34-38 deep, is flush with the hallway wall. In my design (bathroom on the hitch end, 24″ deep kitchen on one side & 24″ deep storage on the other a typical couch or even a “wall hugger version” seemed a bit obtrusive. So an idea for a convertible couch popped into my head. I dont think it super unique but I haven’t found one like it yet and certainly not in the size I want. 30″ max from wall, 6 ft wide. It would convert to a queen sized bed. And a second design popped in my head earlier this morning that would be very easy to assemble with some welding knowledge and scrap metal and still convert to a queen sized bed…so I looked into classes and there is a workshop a few miles away that does evening classes at a reasonable price and has open workshop days. AWESOME! This may actually be my first successful tiny house project since I’m still in search of a building location (interior or exterior) and gathering funds. I wonder what else in my tiny house I could weld…wall sconces for the interior, porch light housing for the exterior…maybe the railing on my porch can be a custom design or reworked ornate fence pieces instead of wood….ohhhhhh! Good idea! All this can be made from scrap metal and lots of elbow grease.

With a basic welding class and a few trips to the hardware store and a local scrap yard I could make this couch frame for under 100 I think. Foam for cushions I’ll still have to research and I have a few friends that can sew me cushion covers with zippers. Or I could just give the specs to someone else and have them make it for me. But what’s the fun in that?! I build myself a house to suit my own needs but not my a couch? I couldn’t back away from such a challenge.

~ Half-Price

Tiny House Plans

20 Apr

UPDATE 4/25/2016: Interested in the tiny-house lifestyle? Self-reliance? Zero-waste? Going off-grid? Check out my new podcast, A Sustainable Mind. Listen online at or subscribe via iTunes.

I have been prepping for the few weeks for an event that I am now out of town for so my posts have been sparse. Today I’ll post some simple fun stuff. My tiny house plans!

I made these on Icovia’s The Make Room online software and then made a few corrections/alterations in Photoshop and SketchUp. I’m new to Icovia but have learned to use the program very quickly and enjoy it for 2D drawings a bit more than SketchUp. I’ll be going 3d on these plans soon. Icovia is free, you can save several layouts, group components and copy/rename docs to create simple multiple versions.

There were a few things that were very important to me in designing my tiny home:

Able to sleep 5 comfortably

I wanted to be able to sleep a few guests comfortably without sacrificing living space when I’m awake by myself in my tiny house. As you can see I have a queen mattress in the sleeping loft (2), I have a convertible sofa (2) and the 2nd loft above the porch is obvious storage but big enough to be a very comfortable sleeping/reading loft (1). I actually think this will be my favorite spot in the house and I plan to situate the window to take full advantage of the view from there. For the convertible sofa I couldn’t find anything that fit my criteria: only 30″ deep, 70″ wide and a style that I liked so I think I’ll make my own. I’ve completed the simple design I just need to learn how to weld (LOL) and upholster 2 cushions. When laid out it will be 3 inches short of a queen sized bed…not too shabby!

Kitchen with high countertop, utilitarian sink, fridge & oven w/ hotplate

Taller countertop space (36-37″) is easier on my back and that of my family. I’m 5’6″ but am the shortest of my close family (except for my grandmas). So that was a must and actually ended up being a gift because then I can stack a 20 inch refrigerator cube and my 15.5 inch oven with hotplate on top and still be able to cover this area when I’m not using my hotplate and use this it as countertop prep space.

My one concern is creating enough space between the fridge & oven for ventilation. The oven’s feet give about 2 centimeters as is and I may add a bit. As for the sink, I’m thinking of a plain double basin turned sideways. The back basin will be a dry rack/storage for plates. I plan on having my foldable faucet extend from the wall as opposed to the counter so with a cover this can also be countertop prep space.

Open Kitchen to Living Space 

You can’t see this in these 2D layouts but there is a bookshelf in the wall between the kitchen and living area and that bookshelf is only 36-48″ high. When my friends and I get together at someone’s place we cook together and I felt like I wanted to keep this area open to encourage conversation between the two spaces. Also with a TV swing arm mount I can view the screen while cooking. The bookshelf on the couch/closet side goes all the way up to the loft and may double as a ladder if my movable one is being used in the 2nd loft.

Covered porch as interior space

The Fencl model has this but at an angle. I plan on having mine completely vertical. I got the idea from Johnathen to put my electric box here and would still have plenty of space for hanging out up there, for plants or an indoor herb garden, storage or just a shelf for some of my unnecessary but super cool stuff: statues, guitars, and whatever else I like to look at on a daily basis but don’t really use.

I spend so much time looking up fixtures and appliances and really laying out everything. I’m inviting in money, resources and a workspace to build and in the meantime I am having the time of my life getting creative with space usage…really fun.

Here is a video of something that would open up a 6th sleeping spot if I were to incorporate it and is definitely worth considering in any tiny house with multiple occupants. Long video but interesting interview. Skip to 6:30 to hear about their sleeping layout.

It’s a “drawbridge” bed that stows away snuggly under the loft taking up zero space when stored…brilliant and totally doable.

Okay that’s it. I have a few posts in the chamber but they are unfinished, unresearched, unspell-checked…I should have more time next week.

Tiny House Interlude #3

11 Apr

I started this entry yesterday after finishing an 18.5 hr overnighter finishing up a site for a client so I was not gonna “get into too much detail on anything”. Just list a few awesome tiny house links, resources, videos…with a bit of commentary of course, and a personal update. But then again the tiny house underground is quite large and I couldn’t help myself. So, first a word on interior aesthetics. For those uninterested you can skip to the next section.


It’s odd, I never considered having a home with an all wood interior until I started researching tiny houses. When I thought, “wood” I always pictured the faux wood paneling or the traditional log cabins…neither of which I liked very much. And then wood was pretty much all I saw for probably 100+ tiny house videos…and I never really thought twice about it. It’s probably one of the most obvious characteristics of most tiny homes…other than the fact that they are tiny of course, and somehow it totally felt right. Obviously, for those who are using recycled/reclaimed wood, building more green in general and want a more hand-crafted look this seems to be the way to go. Just recently I saw 2 tiny homes with drywall interiors. Here’s one of them. The most obvious difference: more light.

Personally, I’m not a fan of light. Odd I know. I love solar energy but to be out in the sun isn’t really my thing and it really saps my energy. Yes, I know that I live in LA. However, I’m assuming as I get older and my life simplifies I will start appreciating sunlight and lots of windows more than I currently do. I’ll just call it planning ahead.

So at one point I did ponder the possibility of drywall inside a tiny home but the main utilitarian purpose of drywall is as a fire barriar which…in a tiny house…good luck. (Jay Shafer did say in a video that his bedroom window, which was pretty tiny, was big enough for him to crawl out of in case of emergency. Good thinking Jay.) So then it must have other benefits, right?


-It’s not green. And if you are a less experienced builder/DIYer and you break the pieces poorly you will probably notice all the fiberglass inside.

*Further research: Drywall is usually paper-faced or fiberglass-faced. Fiberglass-faced is more mold resistant so it’s sometimes used in basements, hurricane territory, per local building codes I assume…the restaurant I did construction on used it in parts of the kitchen and bathroom…(in my experience you know it when you see it because the face is green or blue/purple instead of white [you see this in a lot of unfinished basements] and it costs more but reading the label is always good to be sure.) Then there is ‘monolithic’ drywall (disperses cellulose throughout the gypsum so I guess no facing is required). Seems to be a few select companies though and was designed mostly for under-tiling and is not the standard for walls.

-Not so hand-made looking. Although if you like a contemporary feel this is probably the way to go.


-Cheaper…unless you get sustainable/eco-friendly drywall which costs the same as the non-eco, high end stuff: $14-20 per sheet according to some sources in 2008.

-Light weight in comparison to wood which would be good for hauling weight (this is assumed, i still have to research it).

*After more research I found that drywall is about 3.4 lbs/sq ft and pine interior paneling ranges from .75-1.75 lbs/sq ft (per various current manufacturer’s specifications)

-Reflects light better inside if painted a light color. Even darker colors I think would reflect light rather well because of the smooth surface.

-Repairs are easier when you can just cut a hole through and cover it up seamlessly. Repairs in wood are a bit more difficult and take preplanning if you want to allow access to main utilities throughout for future maintenance & repair.

-It can be painted or given a textured finish.

For all the positive attributes I still like the idea of a wooden interior but it seems a bit busy, visually too much for me to handle long term. And that’s a lot of material to use to decide in a few months that you don’t like it. All in all I need to see one in person and then the lighting and eco issues will guide my decision.

Another thing about this house…great storage options. Look closely at some of their photos (1, 2, 3, 4) to see what I mean.


I’m really lucky to have laundry on the other end of my building but after yesterday and last night that was the last thing I wanted to do…in the rain. It reminded me to look into this. A mini washer, no electricity or plumbing needed. It has a warranty & money back guarantee which makes me feel a bit better but the reviews are great so…definitely something to look into.

Tiny House Blogs

A few awesome tiny home blogs I’m either just discovering or just now getting around to actually reading.

Tiny Home Builders – more than just pretty pics, they have good info if you’re willing to click around for the real content

Sarana Park – Two Los Angelenos build 2 tiny homes and head north. One tiny house has wooden interior, the other drywall interior. Very nice site.

Forge Ahead – Tiny houses by Jenine Alexander & Amy Hutto. They’ve got 2 under their belt, one is rented, the other sold and Jenine is finishing the interior on a 3rd which was constructed on a boat trailer! Might be a good possibility with so many boaters here in SoCal.

Tiny Houses: Small Spaces – found on someone’s tumblr. Haven’t gotten too far into it but this site seems to have a lot of great videos.

Can A Tiny House Withstand Natural Disasters?

Video of tiny house after a EF3 tornado by Travis162002

The Compact Kitchen – Best thing since sliced toasted bread

Avanti Appliances – I saw this in a youtube video and I was able to make out the logo so I visited their website. They also have countertop ovens which are the same size as or smaller than microwaves, which I dont use, so I’ll get one of these instead.

Tiny House Drafting

This free online drafting software from Urban Barn was written about in the Tiny House Blog. Much faster than SketchUp for drawing up multiple rough floor plans for comparison.

In other news…

Macy is making awesome headway on her tiny house flooring and going vertical! Congrats Macy!

My dad is teaching my cousin to drive this week…yikes. After doing one of his typical freak outs and making lots of annoying sounds in the passenger’s seat she kicked him out of the car. He sent me pics. He did the exact same thing when he tried to teach me to parallel park between 2 metal barrels.* Hilarious. 

I finished some insane WordPress site integration and tons of branding & marketing materials for a client (hence my 18.5 hr long day) who has a huge event later this month…it’ll be good publicity, I’m looking forward to new clients 🙂

I’m totally addicted to this new app, Scramble with Friends (by Zynga, the Words with Friends app people). I think I’m 3 and 7 since I started 3 days ago. I’m not great at it but it’s fast paced so it keeps me interested at all hours of the night.

*for the record I turned out to be an AMAZING parallel parker…thanks dad

Tiny House Interlude #2

2 Apr

The Galapagos made by Tortoise Shell Homes. All steel studded tiny houses.

I was on Think Big, Build Small: A Tiny House Community on Facebook this morning and joined a convo about “why haven’t you built your tiny house yet?” The consensus thus far seems to be lack of starter funds or still in planning phase. I happen to claim both of those as well as trouble finding a place to build it. I’ve been looking into warehouse space within reasonable driving distance of my current residence and there doesn’t seem to be much of it. At least not with a 14 ft. garage door so I can haul it out once I’m done.

Anyway, I mentioned enlisting the help of others or getting sponsorship & donations and one lady in Oregon wanted to know how I would go about doing that…you can read my responses and all the comments thus far here.

I’m hoping the strategies I mentioned there plus a few others will ultimately cut my building cost in half from 20K to 10K. That is if I stick to the traditional stick-built plan. I am also considering drawing up plans for advanced framing (preplanning to minimize lumber usage to build the same structure) and steel framing to compare the cost and incentives. Not sure how road worthy that would be though…hmmm.

Future Posts:

Traditional Wood vs. Steel Studs vs. Advanced Wood Framing (apparently steel being costly & bad for load bearing walls may not be true, more research needed)

My Tiny House scaled model! Starting it this week to work out layout ideas.

LA Housing codes…an answer once and for all