Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tiny House Workshop

Back in October, some friends and I decided to head up to Vermont to participate in a Tiny House Workshop, run by Peter King (check out the website - and look for upcoming workshops - here).

I wrote an earlier, much shorter post on this right after the event, but I'm hoping to be able to give a more thorough report in this one. While this may not end up containing more information, memory being the finite thing that it is, it will definitely contain more pictures!

This is Peter King, giving us an intro talk about why he does these workshops. Peter feels strongly that building a place to live is not rocket science. Housing gets expensive and complicated when we decide we "need" extravagant amounts of space, and complicated structural and decorative details. But if we are willing to redefine that need, and pare it down a bit, than being intimately involved in building the most important structure in our lives is well within reach.

Peter claims - and I believe this, after the weekend - that anyone can learn how to build a simple structure. All it involves is basic math, and basic tools, and a few easily learned rules.

The second aspect of his involvement in these workshops is that he feels strongly that housing is just too darn expensive - we should be able to own the house and the land we live on, and not have to loan it from a big corporation.

After this discussion, and after getting a quick summary from each of us - eight participants, including the owner - on why we were there, we got to work.

The first task was framing out one of the walls. The building was 12 by 20, and the two long walls had to go up first. Khumpani (the owner, who is an herbalist who is currently living in an even smaller tiny house on the land) and Peter had finished the foundation earlier in the week, in spite of the miserably cold and persistent rain, so that we could get as much of the main structure done over the weekend.

This photo is just prior to getting the wall up - this is the most complicated tool used that day, and only Peter was allowed to use it:

And Peter in action:

And the first wall, going up!

Getting it level:

Then the rest went together relatively quickly. Unfortunately, the nail gun was not in use, as apparently these contraptions are picky about the types of nails that go into them, and we had the wrong kind. So instead we got to do lots of hitting of things! Which was fun, but much slower. When someone like Peter is sinking a nail, it takes him three hits. When rookies are sinking nails, it takes us anywhere from 8-20.

Also, we were learning about king, queen, and jack studs, as well as what cripples were and where they were supposed to go, so there was a lot of "Peter? Do we hit this one in here?" followed by pauses for measurements, re-measurements, and explanations.

Our progress near the end of the first day:

Cutting out windows:

One of the tools we were allowed to use, a speed square:

The other tools we could use included hammers, and measuring tapes. And chisels. All simple hand tools, which did the majority of the work.

By the middle of the second day, the roof was going up:

Some inside shots - this is from the entrance door, looking to the south. Khumpani planned for passive solar gain, which is why all the windows are on this side, and why they are enormous.

From the door, looking north - the kitchen will be going against the back wall, under the windows. The door that is framed out will eventually open to a deck.

From the kitchen windows (and the future deck) there's a lovely view of the meadow where Khumpani is currently living, and the mountains beyond. See:

And one more inside shot, from the kitchen looking back:

The ladder over on the right goes up to the loft. He had planned for a dormer, to have another window and some headroom up there. I don't know what it looks like inside at this point.

Here is what it looked like at the end of the second day - you can see the gap on the left where the dormer will be:

Peter's ability to manage the project was remarkable. He was constantly juggling the roles of teaching and project management, and I thought he did a tremendous job. He somehow managed to keep track of all the little jobs that had to get done, kept everyone moving, paused to answer questions, and got a team of total novices to frame a house in two days. It was also fun to chat with him at meal times about his views on housing and lifestyle - he had really helpful things to say about finding land, books to read, and skills to acquire.

Overall, it was a fantastic way to spend a weekend, and we lucked out with a crew of lovely, thoughtful, interesting, fun and hard working people. It was also really great to meet and work with Khumpani, who is living his life with an inspiring level of dedication to his ideals and to the earth.

After we left, Khumpani continued to work on it on his own, with a little bit of help from friends and family, and I believe that Peter also returned to help him finish up the plywood sheeting, etc. Khumpani recently sent the participants an email with photos of the current progress - this is from the middle of November:
20101114-More Tiny House Pics 012

The inside is sheetrocked, and it's almost ready to be moved into! I'm hoping to get updates as the inside gets finished. I think it will be a lovely space to live in.


Adfer November 28, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

Hi, I like a lot of this wooden house, with your permission I'll include some photos to my blog, also talks about this type of construction.


Gwendolyn November 28, 2010 at 8:42 PM  

Hi Adfer,

Yes, that's fine, please just credit the photos and link back.


Hawthorn December 14, 2010 at 7:47 PM  

Hi - found your site from

Lovely article and photos. Thanks for sharing.

Martin in the UK

Gwendolyn December 15, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

Thanks for stopping by Martin! Glad you enjoyed the post.


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This is my first blog attempt. It hasn't been kept up over the last year, for some reason being pregnant really ate into my creativity, and I picked up the camera very rarely. I am thinking about starting it up again, but am not sure what direction to take it in.

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