Spring, travel and writing elsewhere…


Spring is springing on the coastside, with beautiful sunny days and perhaps a bit more wind than I’d like. Local folks say that’s pretty typical for this time of year but we’re talking blow your hair off wind here. Yesterday we went to the beach and the wind had herded giant collections of sea foam into every available space between the rocks. It was like a blowing blizzard of golf-ball sized fluff that stuck to the surrounding plants and wobbled like globs of jello. Weird…

7 months in Little Yellow, 6 with my boyfriend and 2.5 with Tumbleweed. Little Yellow and the boyfriend are always wonderful, and I’m starting to feel comfortable presenting these workshops. For a while I found it tough to overcome the thought that I don’t know what I’m saying. I mean, I obviously know enough to have built my house, but to stand in a room with 100 paying attendees and spew the information in an intelligible way was a totally different game. I just have to remind myself that here, in the tiny house section of the construction world, I know what I’m on about. People at the workshops I’ve done so far are AWESOME, and they’ve made it so much fun. I can’t believe this is my job!

We took a road trip last month, north through Oregon and all over Washington to visit family. Nearly 2000 miles driven and so many beautiful sights. I have a new favourite place! Vashon Island, WA. 20 minutes on a ferry from the heart of Seattle, it sits in a perfect state of laid back, middle-of-nowhere chill. I’ve put up some pictures just because 😀

I have written a few posts on the Tumbleweed website! They’re more on the lines of informative article type stuff, but I thought I’d put some links up here so this poor site doesn’t have so many months of wordless drought. There’s some other very good content on the TW blog as well, but I’m sure many of you read it already.

So! Here they are, and a few pictures.

Finding a Place for Your Tiny House: Renting

Let’s say you’ve just built a wonderful Tumbleweed. Construction is over and you’re ready to move in, but where do you put it? Where can you live in your wee house on wheels?

continue reading…

The Other Freedoms of Tiny Houses

‘Financial freedom’ is a phrase rooted in the appeal of tiny houses. I used it before I lived in mine because not many people seem to have it, and it was a great reason to give to inquiring minds that must know why the heck you want to build this unusually small house…

continue reading…


21 responses »

  1. Ella, It’s great to hear how life continues to unfold for you in Little Yellow. Congratulations on your great new gig at Tumbleweed! They lucked out in nabbing you.

  2. Ella, I found your blog from Yes! Magazine and commend you for building your house with your bare hands. I was inspired by a married couple who has a child and a pet to get a house built for myself and was considering the RV and mobile home park thing but I’m a city gal and many of those places are way too far out for comfort…I could do without trivial things such as having a Starbucks around the corner but I refuse to be too far away from civilization. I don’t want to build a home without first knowing where I’m going to put it.

    Do you have any suggestions on where I could put my home aside from an RV park?

    • Renting is a great option. I am 30 minutes from San Francisco and about 5 from civilization in a lovely little neighbourhood that would seem unlikely to have space for a tiny house. It’s really a matter of searching somewhere you want to live and persisting!

  3. Hi Ella! Your blog is so inspiring. I’m having a hard time trying to convince my family that this is the right thing for me. I’m graduating this May and hoping to save up money this year to build next year. How much money was spent only on building materials (no decorative items) vs. tools? I know your dad had the tools, but what do you estimate it to cost? Also, this may seem silly and maybe I’m only asking because I live in Atlanta, but are you afraid of someone stealing the house? What’s the security like on that? And what about insurance for natural disasters? And can we switch from the composting toilet to the plumbing system easily? Sorry for bombarding you with questions! I’m so nervous to start such a big venture with no construction experience… btw, I’m jealous that you get to live near the water- it looks beautiful!!

    • I am so lucky as to not have had to buy tools, since my dad had everything I needed. My sister and her husband are building, and had success getting used or even new tools off craigslist for far less than retail. Never worried about whole house stealers where I live, but Atlanta? Hmmm…. natural disasters are mostly earthquakes over here (though I suppose anything is possible). Smaller structures tend to fare a bit better than huger ones, so hoping that’s true! Composting to plumbing wouldn’t be a huge deal. My neighbour even put a shut off valve in the bathroom in case I ever wanted to go regular. Best of luck!

  4. Ella, just wanted to let you know how much I miss your regular posts! I’m sure you’re busy living life and working for TW, (congrats, btw!) I’ve read your posts at TW, but those posts are more “proper.” I miss your refreshingly off-kilter way of looking at things, all your little made-up words and phrases, and your frankness in sharing the ups and downs of building Little Yellow. I plan to begin my own Tiny House build within the next 6-8 months, and I just wanted to let you know how inspirational you’ve been to me. To be both inspiring AND entertaining is quite the gift! Hope you are happy and well!

  5. Ella I love your blog about this project. Ive been researching this for awhile now hoping to build some type of tiny house for myself when i go back to visit in Texas. Im a CA beach bum that loves living on the beach and enjoying when work doesnt have me away for most of the year. Thanx for sharing your work with us all. This really gives me ideas as well. The biggest challenge ive been wondering about is the toilet. Trying to decide what I would do. Of course im thinking of a tiny house that sits on an actual foundation. ive found many on e-plans. What is hard though is deciding what I want to do. Again love the blog and all the pics of your work. Makes me realize that since I have no carpentry skills I too could take on a project like this and do the work myself or at least be part of it.

    thanx! =)


  6. Just wanted to let you know your story has been a great inspiration to me. It’s great to see others with a passion for life and the will to not settle for the norm.

  7. Hi Ella! This is Matt and Eva from oneyearroadtrip.com. We met at the Tumbleweed LA meeting and will be heading to Sonoma to meet with the Tumbleweed crew about the feasibility of a tiny house for our project. If you’re around Tuesday, Aug 27 we’d love to swing by, see your place, do a little interview with the kids and say hello! Please let us know via email or our FB page. Hope to see you soon!

  8. Hi Ella. We are going into a little house frenzy – we would love to build one this summer. I want it so much. Our issue; ‘we’ are a mid-50’s couple, and a 19 year old son. Our son is going off to college next school year, but we would like to offer a place for him when he comes home. We are about to move to San Juan Island, where I am hoping it will not be hard to find a place to park it. (My whole family lives on the island, so I am guessing it won’t be too hard.) My questions are – is it possible to build a larger little house, still on wheels? And, could you give me an idea on what it cost you to build? My husband and my nephew (my husband is a fantastic woodworker, and my nephew is a green builder on SJI.) will be building it. We would like to eventually build a Tumbleweed house that is 884 (we are hoping to build the B-53 at some point, when we have our own land.) Thanks so much for your help. Sallie Btw, we are kaleidoscope artists – currently living in Tumwater. I added my website, in case you are interested in seeing pics of beautiful scopes.

    • Hi! As long as you stayed within the legal limits, you could build something bigger on wheels. The main issue with these kinds of houses is that they are quite heavy, (an average of 400 pounds per linear foot) so the bigger they are the heavier as well. Tumbleweed has multiple plans now for 24′ houses, which is the longest I would personally think feasible. Much longer than that and you’re looking at something so heavy you may need a commercial vehicle to pull. Plus I think they just start lookin’ like hot dogs when they get any longer. Good luck!

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