Category Archives: Materials

Life Emulates Tiny (A Biomimetic Approach to Living Tiny)

An emerging approach for sustainable solutions to human challenges is to emulate nature’s time-tested phenomena, patterns and principles. This process, often referred to as biomimicry, seeks out and incorporates lessons learned over nature’s 3.8 billion years of innovation.

This methodology can be a great source for inspiration when designing tiny. Applications in rain water harvesting, heat-dissipating surfaces, energy creation, and even collective resource generation through intentional pocket-neighborhood master planning and more all have their place. Simply put, nature has already figured out how to live synergistically with it’s environment, we only need to get out of our own way to see this.

Like nature, we need resilient, zero-energy, zero-waste, regenerative environments that are aware, responsive and can learn to adapt to their occupants and surroundings. Why can’t tiny homes be a part of this too!

I posit that biomimicry in the built environment is a wellspring for the tiny home movement. It’s just going to take the voice and guidance of nature to be heard, moreover the skills of listening from the people to see this perspective an usher it into fruition.

A few examples to get the gears turning…

Wastewater Mitigation and Reuse – John Todd Ecological Design = wastewater treatment through purposeful treatment solutions using plants (Pocket Neighborhood Integration)

Energy-Sharing Micro-Grids – Based on the collective energy sharing of most all ecosystem types this method of collaborative consumption creates resilient self-sufficient communities. (www.philogic.co)

energy-sharing-Pocketneighborhood

 Super-Superior Materials – (the mollusk shell!) Could be used on anything from roofing shingles, windows, and trailer structures.

It’s as strong as steel and tough as a bulletproof vest, capable of withstanding the same amount of pressure it takes to turn carbon into a diamond. Scientists have discovered nature’s newest strongest material, and it comes from … a sea snail.

The list goes on and on! If you’re inspired to research this more feel free to reach out to Phi Logic, and take a look at www.asknature.org for quite an extensive list of animal niches.

Cheers, Rob

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Trailer Width Talk

During my initial research on utility trailers for my tiny home I wondered why, if DOT trailer width limitations allows for 8’6″ don’t they make a trailer deck to that width?

When you’re thinking about your tiny home design, you must keep in mind a couple of factors where you do not want the trailer deck to extend to the maximum allowable width.

First, keep in mind that the depth of your walls, if you use 2×4’s (1.5″x3.5″ real measurement) for your wall construction and then there is an additional exterior rated sheet goods, plus a vapor barrier (depending on your climate), and siding or shingles you’ll end up with a wall thickness of somewhere between 5.5″-6.5″. That being said, you’ll have an additional 1″-4″ extending beyond your structural wall components.

Will you have a roof overhang?

You options will vary depending on the slope of your roof. This brings up not only roof overhang factors, but also overhead factors. Some roof coverings require an overhang of at least 2″. Other require more. Check with your manufacturers for these specifications.

My rule for making sure you are within legal size limitations is to check here; http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/trailer-dimensions/

…then subtract 2-3″ from your state’s listed height (trailers fluctuate from tip to tip depending on how level it is in-tow), subtract the installed depth of the chosen roof covering. For the tiny home width calculation, work backward from the needed roof overhang minus maybe 1″-2″ to be safe on your states width limitations, then subtract your chosen wall covering, you’ll have the exterior framing dimension – This will be your actual trailer width dimension.

For you interior dimension you then take the number you’ve arrived at above and subtract the 3.5″ (2×4’s width) from both sides (=7″) and you’ll have the actual tiny home interior dimension.

There are many existing tiny home plans out there. You may want to choose one of these to make things a little easier.

Here’s an example from the tinyhousetalk website;

lusby-tiny-house-floor-plans

http://tinyhousetalk.com/130-sf-fencl-tiny-house/

Choosing The Right Foundation for Your Tiny

Ok. So, there are numerous trailer types out there. Some are outfitted for large industrial use and some for lighter duty transport.

There are a few factors in choosing the right trailer for your tiny home and knowing some of the basics can go a long way to making the right decision for your tiny home foundation.

Trailer Types

Trailer Types

There are many options available, but when you factor in efficiency, safety, and load limits the choices are narrowed quickly. Above are many trailer types, but the two or three that you would ultimately narrow it down to the low-boy, utility trailer, or tilt trailer.

Additional Trailer TypesEach of these have slightly different specifications. A few things to note are trailer deck height, overall trailer deck width and length, making sure that the axles are rated according to the demands of the home (dual 5K axles =< 18′ / dual 7K axles =>20′), running lights, electric brakes (a must have), high load radial tires, and minimally curved fenders around the wheels. Other great added features are drop axles and galvanized and coated under flashing to deter road debris, as well as rodents and weather.

Check out TinyHomeBuilders custom trailer overview video…

Tumbleweed Trailer AnatomyKeep in mind that DOT has regulations on trailer size limitations and these vary from state to state. link for more info http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/trailer-dimensions/

Feel free to toss up any question below and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Interior Wall Structure & Treatments

I’ve been racking my brain at to what I’d use for the interior paneling in the TinyGiant. There are many options out there. It really comes down to two main questions; what is the aesthetic look I want to create while helping me achieve the functional rigidity demanded of travel?

First, let’s deal with function.

Functionality: This may all be obvious, but you’re building a home on a trailer that can bend and twist in transit and on-site prior to dropping your footers. That said, the home will be moving with the trailer and movement equals racking.

You want to choose an interior material that will move with the home without cracking, or buckling. Needless to say, gypsum (drywall) is definitely out of the question.pine wood interior - tongue and groove

One popular material is 1/2 pine tongue and groove board. If you happen to like the look of tongue and groove board this may be an option for you. I particularly do not, plus the idea of having this cover  my entire house, walls and all, is a bit aesthetically distracting and it’s a crap ton of wood everywhere.

 

Another route would be to use 1/2 plywood. Plywood comes in many different finish grades and veneers, which can be great if you’re particular like me about wood grains and coloring (tonality).

One thing to keep in mind is how the boards line up. You should be staggering the boards as they go up, so you will have noticeable seem transitions. Now, you could stay raw with the seams (keeping in mind that you want to leave 1/8″ gap between them for expansion/contraction/movement), but you could also borrow techniques like board and batten to cover seams. While this technique can be seen dominantly on exteriors it can create nice eye movement from low to high making the home feel a bit more spacious.

24"x24" alternating plywood interiorMy particular choice for interior finishing will be a 24″x24″ cut 1/2 ply arranged perpendicular to each adjacent piece. To me, it breaks the monotony of single large boards and doesn’t make the space as busy as tongue and groove board would.

Another option is reclaimed boards from old barn and shed structures. Forewarned, however, these will require a lot of rework to arrange them properly in the space.

Aesthetics: Creating a space you want to live in is paramount to your living experience. We spend a lot of time in our homes and creating the look and feel that fits your personality and lifestyle should be addressed. After all, this space IS tiny and you’ll never be further 4ft from any wall. 😉

There are numerous finishing applications for your tiny interior. There are innumerable stains, varnishes, paints, and everything in between on the market. Choosing a final application can be daunting. Below are a few thoughts…

Color: In my personal opinion I have seen many dark finishing treatments in tiny homes and I’m not a fan. A small space accented with a dark color will make the space feel even smaller. I guess if you are going for a cozy hibernation vibe this might work.

white interior with plyFor me, the brighter the better. Tiny homes have the advantage of having an exponentially higher square foot to window size ratio than any standard home. This lends itself well to having a ton of natural daylight. Why would you want to stifle such photonic relief with dark woods on the walls and ceiling.

So, you can probably guess where I’m going with this – White. White. White. White. There’s nothing more liberating than stepping in to a space that is slathered in white treatments. It not only makes the space feel, well, more spacious, it also reflects light around the home in much greater efficiencies. A splash of color here and there is great, but to me 70%-90% of white in your tiny home is where you want to be. Arguments for keeping white clean is a moot point me…keep your place nice, keep it clean and you will fall in love with your tiny every day you live in it.