There are many ways to go about building a tiny house, and I'm pretty sure we considered most of them. One popular way to is to purchase plans online and then build it yourself. The kits come with detailed materials lists and instructions, but you source all the materials yourself. Hello, endless hours scouring the internet, Craigslist, and dumpsters. We first seriously considered this option when we came across Shelterwise's Cider Box.
We were especially attracted to its shape, which we knew would fit well in our backyard. We liked that we could source our own materials and could modify the design according to what we could find locally. This is a great lower-cost option, especially for those with prior construction skills, or the time to learn. Let's be honest. I'd like to say we're pretty handy but not that handy. And we're new parents. Case closed.
Another popular solution involves modifying a shipping container. Because, who wouldn't want to re-live The Boxcar Children in their own backyard? There is even a local supplier here in Phoenix that can insulate, wire, add windows, and modify the shape as needed at a very reasonable cost. We toyed with this option for a while, even tinkering around with Ikea's build-your-own kitchen software. However, a shipping container would significantly limit our vertical space and eye-catching shape options. Plus, we don't need children's mystery nostalgia to be our main draw. Moving on.
Repeatedly, we had remind ourselves of our mission: we want to promote living minimally through thoughtful design and to provide impeccable hospitality. While we love exploring design and building things, expanding these skills is not the basis of our mission (unlike many tiny home dreamers, where this is a major draw). Our limits in these areas may even inhibit our goals. However, if we invested a little more up front, we could better serve each aspect and do so significantly sooner. Better design and build quality would mean finer hospitality and a more enjoyable tiny living experience for our guests. Still drawn to that "wow" factor, we had to come to terms with the fact we couldn't do it alone. It was becoming clear we needed some help.
At this point, we've been searching for several months for the right team to join us in this project, meeting with architects, designers, contractors, and even a sculptor. One guy can build a small dwelling completely out of insulated foam, perfect for the desert, with limitless shape options. A design firm sounds promising—their portfolio is impressively beautiful, and they seem to be very knowledgeable about building permits and tiny house restrictions. However, we would have to find our own contractor, electrician, plumber, etc, which sounds overwhelming, and unlikely to meet our budget. We are confident the contractor would do excellent work, but are afraid he's too busy. The sculptor has made a career for himself with installations all over the world and has built an incredible small home for him and his wife. He graciously invited us over for a tour of his property, his microdwelling, and several enormous steel sculptures. I loved chatting with his wife about her interior design choices and their simple, yet rich empty-nester lifestyle. We love his ideas but aren't sure he's the right fit.
While each of these prospects are familiar with the Tiny House Movement and intrigued by our project, no one has actually built a tiny home on wheels before. It was proving rather difficult to find a team whom we can convince to design and build something custom, not on a typical foundation, under 200 square feet, undefined legally, and budget friendly. And look super suave. And have it done by Spring Training. Eeks! We were kind of hoping to find someone newer to the business, who already had an interest in tiny homes on trailers, and possibly wanted to "try out" this relatively new venture on us.
Then we met Wake | Floyd. Architects Damon Wake and Hunter Floyd, that is. In 2014, they collaborated on their own microdwelling project called The Cinder Box, which appeared in the Microdwelling Expo: A Builders' Showcase of Alternative Spaces for Simple Living. The unique design evoking the familiar gable of a typical home juxtaposed with strong cutouts caught Gilbert's eye. We both instantly loved the texture and warmth of the burnt wood siding combined with the bold wall of glass and metal.
As it turns out, Hunter and Damon had already been toying with creating a "mobile cinder box," but they just needed clients. They proposed the option of collaborating on this prototype: as their clients, we would operate within our own budget and participate in the design process for a product eventually marketed to buyers much like ourselves. It's the just the arrangement we had been hoping for!
The search is complete. As of December 19th, we are thrilled to have signed a contract with Wake | Floyd. Read more about Hunter and Damon on the Our Team page.
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