A Little Early, A Little Late – An Unveiling

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Simple Living | 10 comments

When we made the decision to move back into our bus with our family of five, we knew of some specific shortcomings of the bus as a permanent living situation on a farm without other amenities:

  1. Laundry facilities – we do at least a load a day, and we cloth diaper the baby toddler.
  2. A real bathroom – a flushable or composting toilet (rather than chemical toilet) and either a bath or shower. With little kids, a bath is really a priority.
  3. Space for sleeping and for some of the kids things – we did manage to sleep the five of us in the bus for five months but the sleeping arrangements were far from ideal and not something we would want to do long term. We were also very short on space for storing clothes for five people. We put all seasonal clothes in Rubbermaid bins under the bed, and tried to downsize the amount of clothes each person had, but less clothes also means you have to do laundry more often (which brings us back to point number 1). The kids also have some bigger, nice quality toys like a dollhouse, castle and play kitchen that we didn’t want to leave in storage indefinitely.
  4. A Dining Table – we prioritize meals together, and while we could (and should) build a bigger table in the bus, the table in the bus is not the ideal place to eat meals with young kids on a regular basis. Because the place where we eat is the same space where they play, colour, read, watch movies, lounge, and goof around, it is very difficult to discourage that kind of up and down, wiggly behaviour at meal times. Spills were every meal occurrences and our seat covers have taken a huge beating. Imagine eating every single meal on your couch.

We decided to build an additional space to house:

  • a bathroom/laundry room
  • some hangout space & a dining area
  • a loft bedroom for the kids

We were originally going to build a little conventional style two room shed/cabin, but Aaron has had an interest in timber framing and natural building for many years and we thought this would be a good chance to explore and learn about building in those styles. Aaron had a book with complete plans for a small timber frame garden shed and we decided to give that a try.

We took the initial plans for a 12’x16′ shed and stretched to 12’x24′. We added 2′ to the height to give a little extra headroom to the 12’x12′ loft. We also added a 4′ bay window on one side (between two bents 12′ apart) and a 6′ porch on one end to accommodate our chest freezer, coat & boot storage, and to create an entry way for the bus. The bathroom/laundry room is 12’x8′ tucked under the loft.

Front door

Front door

monogram

10th Anniversary monogram

Porch

View from the porch, front door

main room

Looking from the porch into the main room

woodstove

Wood stove and porch

stairs

View of stairs cutting through the bathroom wall

bathroom door

Bathroom door and stairs to loft

main room 2

Looking across main room towards porch, front door and entrance to bus

bus steps

Entrance to bus

bathroom

Bathroom vanity

bathtub 2

Bathtub tucked under the stairs

bathtub

Tub surrounded by windows

**A word about materials: all of the windows, the bathroom door, the wood stove, the bathtub, the mirror, the washer and dryer (and our furniture though that’s not pictured) have been obtained through Craigslist or free from friends. The front door was bought from a used window and door retailer – it was a factory second, never even hung. The lights and bathroom vanity were all purchased new. All of the wood except for the 2×4 framing for the drywall was milled by a local sawyer from trees from on site at the farm.**

The resulting space (especially coupled with the space our bus provides) is by no means tiny. We feel very comfortable with this much space for our family of five. It is, in fact, very spacious. What we love about the design of this house is that, in the future, by removing the bus and adding kitchen facilities (either in what is now the porch, or in one corner of the main room), this house could easily be a wonderful small house for a couple – for us after the kids grow up or if we wanted to rent it out. We could also potentially add a kitchen and bedroom wing on to the back side if we stay here long term and eventually tire of having the bus attached (which is conceivable as we also dream of making a long distance trip with the bus at some point). For us, having a workable kitchen is important because of the priority we are putting on making our own food (storing in freezers, canning, buying staples in bulk sizes etc.) – you do need space to do those things. The bus kitchen is adequate for daily living but leaves something to be desired for some of those activities.

We’ve been living in the cabin now for about 6 weeks so this unveiling comes late, but as you can see from the photos we still haven’t finished so much: light fixtures, ceiling fan, a step into the porch from the main room, towel bars, coat hooks, shelving, and beds in the loft still need to be installed or built. We still have piles of boxes and make-do storage (think piles of towels, coats etc.) everywhere so for now, you’ll have to make-do with a single picture of the finished product:

dining area

Sneak Peek of the cabin after we moved in.

Tell me: how much space do you need? Could you live in a tiny or small house? Could you do it long term (5-15 years), or just short term? What are some areas where you would be unwilling to go tiny? (For us, because of the ages of our kids, and because of our desire to produce more of our own food, it’s the bathroom, laundry, and in the end, the kitchen).

10 Comments

  1. Absolutely beautiful. Stunning. A place I’d love to visit someday! Ha!

  2. This is amazing! I’m planning for a small house eventually, when we outgrow our tiny house and this is perfect. Well done!
    Kirsty´s last post ..Tiny House Level 1

    • Thanks very much. I look forward to learning about your projects too.

  3. I love, love, love the windows and the wood!
    Amber´s last post ..My Happiness List: January 2013 Edition
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    • Thank you. We love them too. The patio doors on the back side were a last minute addition. It was just a small window and we ended up cutting a hole in the wall and putting in the patio doors instead and we are so happy that we did. And I adored lying in the bathtub over Christmas and watching the snow fall through those bathroom windows.

  4. I can’t believe I just found your blog now. Our family of 5 is just about done converting our skoolie to live in full time. Our kids are 3,5 and 8 and we are determined to make it work so we can save up to buy something cash. Your new living space is beautiful! I think that’s a great way to transition to a built house.
    Though we have not been living in our bus yet, it seems like the space is pretty adequate and each of us has our own area. I also cook everything from scratch, buy in bulk and preserve. We will see how it goes. I have a decent sized kitchen and plan on using dehydrating as my main means for preserving.
    Eating on the couch will be a challenge, but we only plan on doin that when the weather isn’t nice enough to eat outside.
    I’m worried now that this isn’t going to work. We need to do it for at least 5 years, it seems.
    Jami´s last post ..I Can See the Light at the End…of the Bus

  5. Wow you have been busy! The cabin is beautiful, the wood is gorgeous.

  6. I like the place so cozy.. I would love to have a cabin as beautiful as that.

  7. Danmark online, http://sverige-apotek.life/apo-minocycline.html , malmö Danmark.

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