Gizmag talks to the creators of The Tiny Project – less house, more life
Following in the footsteps of the Tiny Tack House and Pocket Shelter, American web designer Alek Lisefski has recently finished building his very own tiny house on wheels. After becoming tired of paying high rental costs and with the goal of owning his own home, constructing a micro and mobile house became the perfect solution for Alek and girlfriend Anjali.
In mid 2012, Lisefski started researching different building options from a range of plans and models but couldn't quite find anything that matched his style or needs. He then decided to design the entire home from scratch and thus commenced what he has dubbed "The Tiny Project."
"Once I saw a few pictures of the tiny house on wheels concept, I fell in love with it," Alek Lisefski tells Gizmag. "It provided me with a more affordable way to build my own house; one that was mobile to take anywhere and I saw there being many benefits to tiny house living."
The final result is a 240 sq ft (22.3 sq m) wooden home which was built using traditional construction methods. However, extra care was taken to ensure it would withstand the wind and bumps when traveling on the road. The interior floor space measures 8 x 20 ft (2.4 by 6 m) and features an elevated loft half that size. It also boasts a small 24 sq ft (2.2 sq m) outdoor porch and Lisefski has plans to add a fold-down deck to one side of the house, offering more outdoor living space.
"My design came about to maximize the interior loft space, hence the shed-style roof instead of gabled roof," says Lisefski. "I was also inspired by all of the nicer modern homes I saw when walking my dog. I wanted something that was slightly different and more modern. The use of two different exterior cladding materials helps set it apart."
The interior of the micro home consists of a main living area with high ceilings, elevated loft bedroom, mini kitchen and bathroom. Space-saving furniture, such as the foldable desk and dining table, have been built into the home's structure, along with shelves, storage space and, in fact, just about all of the household furnishings.
The house is fitted with 10 windows throughout, plus an all-glass door for lots of natural light and air circulation; a storage closet which also contains a propane on-demand water heater; a combination washer/dryer unit; and pantry storage. The kitchen features a two-burner stainless steel range stove with oven unit and a stainless steel counter-height fridge. The bathroom has a small hand basin, shower cubicle and composting toilet.
"I chose materials for energy efficiency and beauty," adds Lisefski. "Closed-cell spray foam makes it very tight and efficient, while sustainable beetle-kill pine adds beauty to the ceiling and walls. Carbonized strand bamboo is sustainably harvested and the beetle-kill pine comes from standing dead ponderosa pine trees, killed by the pine beetle outbreak."
In its current form, the home is set to keep utility bills low, although these could be reduced even further with the addition of solar panels and a water tank.
"Being so small, it is super easy to heat and it uses very little power for a few select appliances," says Lisefski. "Passive solar design brings in lots of light and heats it up in the winter and high-efficiency lighting (all LED) uses hardly any power."
The entire process from start to finish, including all of the design and planning, took Lisefski close to a year to complete. The construction time itself was seven to eight months and the cost of materials was close to US$30,000. "Most of the time was me working by myself each evening and on weekends," says Lisefski. "Many tiny houses are cheaper, but this is really a "dream home" despite its size and I often chose materials for reasons other than lowest cost."
The Californian resident was also inspired by how tiny living could help change and enrich his life. "Inhabiting such a small space will force me to live in a simpler, more organized and efficient way," says Lisefski. "Without room to hoard things and hide away from the world, I’ll be forced to spend more time outdoors, in nature and engaging with my community… While living in such a small house, my space, and in turn each area of my life, will be simpler, less chaotic, and free from all but what is essential. That sounds really great to me!"
Having completed his labor of love, Lisefski will now be selling plans of his home and hopes to offer advice and consulting for other tiny house enthusiasts.
"I want to stay actively involved in the tiny house world, possibly helping to create tiny house communities," says Lisefski. "I want to make it easier for people to build tiny homes and find legal places to park them – the support of a community and shared resources would really be of benefit of tiny house dwellers."