What to do if you desire the freedom to travel, explore and do more of what makes you happy? Simply live big with less. More and more people are embracing the tiny life philosophy and the freedom that accompanies the tiny house lifestyle. Living in tiny houses is becoming a social movement and it is so much more than just living in a small space. We asked Ramon a couple of questions about his self-built tiny house. If you are curious about the tiny house movement or want to build your own, read the interview below.
Why did you choose to live in a tiny house and what does tiny living mean to you?
Two years ago on my cycling trip in Barcelona, I realised that I don’t need much space to enjoy life. This experience got me thinking about my current lifestyle — living in my apartment in Rotterdam seemed overrated. After some research, I went to France to attend an exhibition about tiny houses and learn more about this way of living. Then it hit me — this is exactly how I want to live! When I got back, I immediately started making plans on how to build my own tiny house. This idea of tiny living really appeals to me. Now that I am actually living in my self-built tiny house it feels like everything has fallen into place. For me, tiny living means more freedom to do what I want.
How did you start designing your own tiny house? Did you encounter any challenges while building it?
First, I checked out some similar projects to what I had in mind for inspiration. Found some really cool ones and merged them to fit my idea of a tiny house. I am most definitely not a structural engineer myself. That’s why I also looked at other projects that had already been built successfully and within reason of what I was able to accomplish with my skills and knowledge. So I’ve set a realistic goal to finish my tiny house within a year. This goal was also taken into account when designing and building my tiny home. I can proudly say that I’ve met my deadline. My tiny house is about 24 square meter ‘small’. 😉 I added a bedroom above my kitchen, which adds 9 square meter to the house.
Strangely enough, during the building process, making the sofa was my biggest challenge. Sewing is not my forte. This was honestly my biggest challenge. I’m not kidding. Building the whole house, that I can do, but decorating… Well, I needed a bit of help with that. Luckily my girlfriend was so kind to help me out.
Of course I encountered other small challenges. For example finding the right screws for the exterior. I met a guy in a store who advised me to buy certain screws based on his own experience. So I did, but then the screws started to rub off on the wood. I had to replace them. It was a good reminder to not just blindly trust what others say, but to back it up with your own research and choose what you think is best.
What does sustainability mean to you and how did you combine it with your tiny house?
My aim was to use all natural and plastic-free materials. But then I encountered a problem with isolation. It turned out that natural materials insulate much less than something that has already been produced. So I started looking for leftover materials from other projects to recycle and meet my sustainable goals anyway. The entire tiny house is made up from materials that can easily be reused in the future. If the house ever gets dismantled, all the materials can be recycled. The tiny house also had to comply with the Building Regulations. Which includes some checkboxes for sustainability in order to get the approval. So yeah, it was required to build it in a sustainable way, but it also feels right to reduce my ecological footprint as much as possible.
Next to that I want my tiny house to be completely autonomous. I want to live off-grid and be as independent as possible. I will install solar panels in order to produce my own electricity and build a natural water drainage with a filter that does not need sewage. As for the toilet, the ‘liquid’ part is filtered while the rest goes into a compost bin. After a year this compost can be used to grow greens. My wish is also to filter the collected rainwater, but that is something for the next phase.
What is one of your favourite things about your tiny house and why?
One of my favourite things about my tiny house is the location and the people whom I share it with. I’ve chosen a location where like-minded folks are living. It’s inspiring as we learn a lot from each other. In my opinion the best thing is to be able to share your experience with others who have the same approach to life.
What advice would you give to someone who also wants to build their own tiny house?
Building your own tiny house is a lot of hard work. My advice is to book a stay in a tiny house and experience how it feels. This way it’s easier to decide if tiny living suits you. If it does, then it’s best to start with finding the ideal location first. I’ve learned that finding the right location for your tiny house is almost as difficult as building it. Once you’ve figured out the location, and still convinced that tiny living is the way for you. Then go to the beach or find another quiet place to visualise and draw your ideas. Put your imagination to work and come up with a ruff sketch for yourself. But more important; have fun while doing it. It’s often the case that you start off with the craziest ideas. In the process these ideas will be fine tuned. My tiny house doesn’t look exactly like my first design either.
I find it important to design the tiny house in a way that you won’t feel claustrophobic. My tiny house has lots of windows, a high ceiling and patio doors to the garden. It feels spacious to me. During warm temperatures the doors are often wide open and letting the fresh summer-breeze in. This kind of living gives me a holiday feeling every time. In the evenings I sit outside and watch the sunset, surrounded by the sounds of crickets and frogs. Nature is amazing.
In the virtual world, you can find Ramon on Polarsteps where he shared the building process of his tiny house. Currently this adventurer is making an astonishing journey on his trusted bike towards China. If you are curious, feel free to give him a follow.
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