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The Design (many months)

The Original Tiny

My Tiny House is actually not brand new. My dad and I (more him, obviously) built it in 1994.


The original was 2.5m by 2.15m with a door and two single-pane windows. It was built on several old railway sleepers and has a simple timber frame with tongue and groove pine siding inside and out. It had electricity (a single socket and three halogen lights) and an insulated roof, but had no insulation under the floor or inside the walls.

The Design

A few structural considerations:


1) I needed to expand the footprint slightly to  create a bathroom. Due to the location, the only possible option was an extension to the south.


2) A sleeping loft was the only feasible choice to get in even a single bed. Since the existing roof was very low, I had to raise it to make room for my head and toes.


3) As I wanted to keep any plumbing to a minimum, the cooking area had to go next to the bathroom.


4) I chanced upon a small marine wood burner on eBay that could be installed against the wall; more or less because it was the only area left, it ended up behind the front door.


5) Insulation, insulation, insulation.


6) Finally: Light! I kept the existing windows and added eight (!)new ones (two of which are operable).

Phase 1: April 2017

The bathroom was an obvious place to start as it was structurally the biggest part of the project (not least because it included digging up a tree stump) but also relatively straight forward.


Also, I had little idea how to go about it and had rarely used power tools before. With massive help from my dad we got it done in 10 very intense days.

Phase 2: June/July 2017

I had decided that I needed to raise at least one side of the roof in order to avoid concussions. This was the bulk of the work during this second phase.

A second large project was the addition of the bay window and a small porch above the front door in the north-facing wall. This is also the wall where the existing socket and light switch were, so re-wiring the socket (new place) and installing new lights went hand in hand. Finally, I added a stained-glass window in the front door.

In the bathroom, I added the water inlet, tiled the bathroom and installed a DIY composting toilet.

Here's to a working cooking area!

And, finally, a bed! Not recommended for those who suffer vertigo.

Phase 3: Sept/August 2017

In this last working holiday for 2017, I opened the roof to the west side, raised it and installed a roof window. (I can now lie in bed and watch the clouds go by or count the stars! Worth all the blood, sweat and tears!)


I really wanted to get the roof done so that it would be sealed for winter. It also made sense to install the wooden burner at this stage.


After about seven weeks of work, the tiny is now fully functional - it has electricity, running water, plumbing, a working bathroom and heating.

Phase 4: Insulation +

In April 2018, I insulated the tiny house on all remaining sides and made a sofa cushion out of my brother's sheep's wool. Oh, and dug a french drain and built a green roof - let's not forget about those minor details...


Later in the year I replaced the temporary kitchen counter, finished the sofa, added clothes storage, finished tiling around the shower tub and behind the woodstove, and landscaped the terrace. The tiny now even has a wisteria growing up the front porch.


Still no ladder but it wouldn't feel right if there wasn't always something left to do... Am also thinking of shutters.

© Sabine Topf 2017-2019