Tiny Houses

Kristie Wolfe builds a tiny slice of paradise on a shoestring budget

Kristie Wolfe builds a tiny sl...
Kristie Wolfe's tiny vacation home in Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Kristie Wolfe's tiny vacation home in Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
View 19 Images
The treehouse measures roughly 21 sq m (230 sq ft) (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The treehouse measures roughly 21 sq m (230 sq ft) (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The treehouse is raised 4.5 m (15 ft) on stilts (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The treehouse is raised 4.5 m (15 ft) on stilts (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The interior comprises one bedroom, a small bathroom with a shower, and a "kitchen area" that's really more of a nook in a hallway and doesn't yet contain a burner or sink (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The interior comprises one bedroom, a small bathroom with a shower, and a "kitchen area" that's really more of a nook in a hallway and doesn't yet contain a burner or sink (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Designer and dressmaker Kristie Wolfe is the handy type and did the vast majority of the work herself (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Designer and dressmaker Kristie Wolfe is the handy type and did the vast majority of the work herself (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Kristie Wolfe's tiny vacation home in Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Kristie Wolfe's tiny vacation home in Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
In the space underneath the home proper, an old trampoline has been converted into a hanging daybed (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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In the space underneath the home proper, an old trampoline has been converted into a hanging daybed (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The vacation home is located on a 2,000 sq m (0.5 acre) plot of dense rainforest near Volcano National Park (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The vacation home is located on a 2,000 sq m (0.5 acre) plot of dense rainforest near Volcano National Park (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The vacation home is located on a 2,000 sq m (0.5 acre) plot of dense rainforest near Volcano National Park (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The vacation home is located on a 2,000 sq m (0.5 acre) plot of dense rainforest near Volcano National Park (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Though there is no fridge or freezer installed, a small electric cooler is available (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Though there is no fridge or freezer installed, a small electric cooler is available (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The tiny vacation home is located near the town of Volcano, Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The tiny vacation home is located near the town of Volcano, Hawaii (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The interior of the tiny vacation home (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The interior of the tiny vacation home (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The interior is finished to a high standard (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The interior is finished to a high standard (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Interior shot of the treehouse (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Interior shot of the treehouse (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The treehouse is built from wood and clad in plywood and bamboo (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The treehouse is built from wood and clad in plywood and bamboo (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Large sets of louvered windows in the bathroom turn it into a semi-outdoor space (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Large sets of louvered windows in the bathroom turn it into a semi-outdoor space (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
The treehouse measures roughly 21 sq m (230 sq ft) (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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The treehouse measures roughly 21 sq m (230 sq ft) (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Kristie Wolfe reports that the temperature in the area stays a steady 25° C (78° F) so no insulation, heating or air-conditioning is necessary (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
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Kristie Wolfe reports that the temperature in the area stays a steady 25° C (78° F) so no insulation, heating or air-conditioning is necessary (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)

Designer and dressmaker Kristie Wolfe is the handy type, and a few years ago she dove headfirst into the small living movement, constructing herself a 9 sq m (97 sq ft) home in Boise, Idaho. This proved so successful that she decided to build another, this time an off-grid vacation home near the town of Volcano in Hawaii. The recently-completed treehouse cost around US$11,000 and took three months to build. Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and all additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000.

Located on a 2,000 sq m (0.5 acre) plot of dense rainforest near Volcano National Park, the treehouse is raised 4.5 m (15 ft) off the ground on stilts and comprises a total usable floorspace of roughly 21 sq m (230 sq ft). This is split between just three areas: a large bedroom, a small bathroom with a toilet and shower, and a "kitchen area" that's really more of a nook in a hallway and doesn't yet contain a hob or sink. In the space underneath the home proper, an old trampoline has been converted into a hanging daybed.

Each room looks finished to an impressive standard, especially considering the budget Wolfe had to work with.

Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)
Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and any additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000 (Photo: Kristie Wolfe)

Access to the home is gained by a steep staircase and trapdoor, and a wooden wraparound porch offers a 360-degree view. The interior features a natural finish, with some nice little touches like a homemade chandelier, a raised bamboo bed, homemade porthole windows, and large sets of louvered windows in the bathroom.

The treehouse is built from wood and clad in plywood and bamboo. Wolfe reports that the temperature in the area stays a steady 25 degrees Celsius (78° F), so no insulation, heating or air-conditioning is necessary. The vacation home operates totally off-grid, and a roof-based solar array feeds a couple of batteries, which are used to power the water pump for the shower and some USB ports and plugs. The system offers enough charge for running devices like laptops, etc, but larger energy-hogging devices don't last long. Though the home contains no fridge or freezer, a small electric cooler is installed.

A gutter-based rainwater catchment system feeds both a shower and a toilet, but this isn't suitable for drinking, and thus all drinking water is provided by stored water bottles. The toilet is interesting, and features a system in which when you flush, the sink is first filled with fresh water for washing your hands, before being drained into the toilet for flushing. This then exits into a septic tank.

Source: Tiny House On The Prairie

6 comments
Robert Walther
This looks really nice but has various somewhat unbelievable features. Why no kitchen or refrigerator? I would not have thought that a parking space much less a house and 1/2 acre lot could be had in Hawaii for 23K, especially near a State Park. This place is certainly at odds with various shanty town can configurations that occasionally appear on this site with $150K+ price tags. Is it in someone's back yard?
mystixa
near volcano national park means lava flows. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime. That isnt exactly desirable. Even when its not heading directly towards your house having a flow headed in the same general direction can be a nuisance, destroying access roads, starting mandatory evacuations, etc.
Dawn Owens
It's in Puna, the southeast and very wet side as you can see from the pictures. Around 120 -160 inches of rain a year. There's a LOT of cheap building lots available there but as already mentioned, it's near the volcano. VOG, volcanic smog, is also an intermittent issue. I've followed the building of this house on other blogs (she did a beautiful job) and have considered buying in this area myself; there are various microclimates with more or less rain as you go up in altitude. Hamakua seems to be the best area when balancing weather with price.
GunungApi
This article is not correct. It mentions a septic tank. This is a $6-12K cost. It is not near Volcano, HI with a constant temp of 78 degrees f. I am sure this was built without a building permit and would consider the shear walls, post/pier construction and their ability to withstand earthquakes in the area (from a simple engineering / architectural stand point). This in no way meets code and is NOT an agricultural building on Ag land either. There are many conflicting points and the costs given are not correct if the materials were bought locally and if they were free on the mainland and shipped in, just the shipping is over $6-8K.
The Skud
Still, she is happy, that is the main thing!
Joey MacDonald
Can someone let me know how I can get ahold of the realtor that sold her this property??? I would like to build one of these houses. I have the e cash and I live in Lahaina Maui!!!!! Capteng1@gmail.com