CURRENT EDIT: Myself, my boyfriend and our floppy dog Lobster lived happily in Little Yellow’s 120 square feet for over 5 years and now live in a small house. Read more in this post.

The short:

I am a 23 year old musician and artist just out of college. During the last year of my degree in Scotland I caught the bug and have since become infatuated with the practical coziness of tiny houses. I worked my tail off, saved my money, bought the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company’s 130 square foot Fencl plans and despite my complete lack of carpentry know-how, I shall build one, it shall be marvelous, and I shall call it Little Yellow 🙂 This blog will detail–in scatterbrained form– the various adventures and disappointments likely to commence. While not a phrase I typically find myself saying, I feel with the magnitude of this project that the following is effective. Yeeeehaaw!

The not so short:

For my four years at university, I went to Scotland and studied traditional Scottish harp music and the Scottish Gaelic language and songs. An oh-so practical degree to have 5000 miles away from the source, but there you go. As much as I loved my grand adventure, after several years of dripping weather, my homesickness for California sunshine was undeniably present.

In July of 2010, while couch surfing at a friend’s house (well, I was actually stuck inside without the keys) I resigned to realistically look at my California future. The more I perused Craigslist housing for an area I fancied living in and the more I thought about the work that goes into surviving with $1000 rent, the less my floaty, creative, work-to-live ways seemed likely to tick the necessary boxes.

Luckily, in the subsequent avoidance of the whole subject after my sticky realization, I came across a video on the yahoo! homepage which stated ‘See a man who lives in 89 square feet’. See I did, and within 30 minutes I was in.

I was too excited to care that it was 2am in my sister’s world, and promptly called to rouse her and her husband from their dreams with grandiose plans of building and living in 130 square feet.

So whatdaya think??

After some initial concerns I began to hear the excitement I was hoping for in their voices. The next day, I got an email from my brother-in-law; he’d been up until 4am researching, had bought Jay Schafer’s Tiny House book and was easily as obsessed as I was.

Breaking the news to my mother was as simple as if I’d told her I wanted to make eggs for breakfast. She was on board from the moment the words left my mouth (having sewed her own tepe and lived in a cow pasture for a while in the 70’s) and with my step dad’s acquiescence to help me build, I had the approval of everyone immediately involved within 24 hours.

Other people weren’t quite so readily convinced. “Why don’t you buy a mobile home?” “You think you can do this? What if it falls off?” “Surely that’s too small to live in” “You know this is going to be hard” and probably most commonly, “Why?!” I remained unphased and the vision of my own, transportable space kicked the negativity from my mind.

In my spare thinking time, there was little else that filled my imagination. I pictured 7 ½ x18 in every room I walked into. I woke up pretending was in my loft and drank cups of tea dreaming of my window seat.

But then comes the doing part, and having the means for said doing is an unavoidable prerequisite. Though I’ve always been a bit frugal, my college years made me even more so and I was able to save on top of paying my general expenses. I played my harp on street corners whenever it wasn’t raining, made and sold jewelry and worked various food service jobs when I came home for periods of time.

I also moved out of my parent’s house when I was 16 to start working so I still had some leftover from that. At least in college, it did help too that I ate out about 5 times and don’t drink alcohol…

As soon as I knew a tiny house was what I wanted I got super determined and with every little thing I thought to buy, I’d have to consider what in my house that money could buy me instead. I ended up heading into the build with no debt, and (boy I hope) enough money to complete it.

I bought Fencl plans in April 2011 (while still in Scotland), went to the workshop with my dad in August when I returned, bought a trailer the next week and started in September with no idea what I was doing.

The building of my tiny house has been the single most rewarding and terrifying thing I have ever undertaken, and I’m so grateful to have the help and support (and driveway!) of my parents for the whole process. My dad has been absolutely instrumental to Little Yellow’s success and without his endless tools, lectures and know-how I’d likely have no house at all or a very crooked one and a few less body parts. My mother works out of town often, but is the best and most enthusiastic photographer/cheerleader for our progress whenever she’s around.

Though I’m jobless at the time being, I still make jewelry from sea glass I gathered in Scotland and play my harp outside shops before I get the boot for ‘illegal panhandling’. It’s a little nervewracking, but it means I have the freedom to make my own schedule and take time to work on my house.

I chose the name Little Yellow (Buidhe Bheag) because to me, yellow means sunshine, daffodils and California. In Gaelic, the colour yellow (buidhe) is often used as a positive emphasis symbolizing happiness, luck or beauty. A person who is “pretty, yellow” (brèagha, buidhe) is very pretty indeed, and the phrase “I am yellow” (tha mi buidhe) means that one is well, happy or satisfied.

When the building ceases, I plan to find somewhere by the sea where I can set my boots down for a time and pursue what I love without the worry of financially decapitating rent. Little Yellow is the embodiment of all that I hold dear; she is practical, beautiful, and slightly imperfect. What more could I ask for?


177 responses »

  1. Hey, Ella! This is an enormous undertaking for a wee home! I am so proud of you and know, whatever the outcome, it will be artistic and beautiful…a mirror of you! Hope it doesn’t rain.
    Good luck! Carmen

    • Hello, Ella!

      I’ve been following the tiny house movement for a while now, thinking of one day building two for my daughters to save them residence fees when they go to university (they’re just 7 and 3 now, so this is sometime off yet)

      Saw your profile in the tumbleweed news and was intrigued because you’re a harpist! I own Timothy Harps, one of Canada’s harp companies, and I’ve been both a professional harpist and harpmaker for 20 years.

      So tell me, where will you store your harp in a Fencl?

      Best wishes from Nova Scotia!

    • I love your Little Yellow House. We (Jim and I) are Rver’s. Our RV is 8W x 24L. It is more then enough room. Thank you for sharing.

  2. you go girl! 🙂

    are you still in Scotland? since i heard the whole UK suffers from overcomplicated land laws and strange taxes on everything that prohibit camping on own land… and i so wanted to go to live there 😦 but now i found that sweeden is extremely friedly towards small homes, they have a law that allows the building of a small homes 🙂
    Since January 1st 2008 Swedish property owners are allowed to build a 15 sqm house on their land without a building permit.

    Mini house is a “friggebod” concept which brings some fun and excitement to a dull and conservative market. The concept means prefabrication, flat-pack delivery and weekend-long build-up! Building a house should be fun and easy. Kind of like putting together an Ikea cabinet!

      • Hello Ella,

        Sorry, this is so off topic. In the Tiny House tour video you are wearing a brown skirt and redish tank top, where did you buy the skirt from? I’m going nuts trying to find the same type of skirt online.

        Also, your house is awesome!! The only thing i would add is a roll down screen with a projector. 🙂



      • Ha! Love it. The skirt is Abercrombie and Fitch, I got it at the goodwill for 5 bucks. I actually found the very same skirt in a different colour at another thrift store not too long after, I call it the Abercrombie and Fitch Thrift Store model. Who knows, might be one kicking around nearby! So sorry for the late reply!

    • hello,
      The UK does have strange laws and taxes but we do have the mobile home law that means that if the home is transportable on one truck then you can stick it on your land

      • yes, but from hat i know you need a residential zoned land, which requires mortgage to pay off since prices are steep, which defeats the hole purpose of the process. I also noww put on my rdar Peru or Guatemala, since land and overall lifestyle is less hectic there than in the 1st world

  3. Hi Ella,

    I am really interested in the fencl. I live in Los Angeles and missed Jay’s workshop in August. I am fairly skilled and handy. I would love to come check out your progress and even help you build just for the fun of it. I would like to build my own modified fencl but feel a little overwhelmed.

    • Chris: I too live in Los Angeles and want to build a fencl. Lemme know if you wanna ever get together and talk about building a fencl! I’m curious about meeting others with the same interest! (I too feel overwhelmed! And feel like talking to people about it helps )

  4. Hi Ella,
    Your dad and I are old friends from the wooden boat school up in Port Hadlock Washington. I build reproductions of the sea chest. It looks like you are making good progress on the loft house. I expect that is a fun and interesting building experience with your dad.
    My daughter and I spend two and half weeks back in May touring England, Ireland, and Scotland. We had a great time in London and visited ancestors places in Stirling Scotland, Nottingham, and Ireland. Say hi to your dad for me.
    Regards, Gary Larkins

  5. My co-builder and I are currently finishing the rafters on our 20 footer, not looking forward to the roof sheathing. Thanks for running the blog, we enjoy following and seeing your progress! Keep up the awesome progress and be safe.

  6. You are my inspiration now! I just came over your blog and like everyone else who is living the tiny house movement I am very proud of you all. I am in total envy and due to a saw incident with my hand my dreams have taken an abrupt halt. Now my first priority is my mother and step father, remodeling a place for them in FL. to see what I am capable of doing in the field that I know best. Time seems to be the main obstacle I struggle with as well as holding on to the tools needed to do the job. I tried to carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood by myself (which wasn’t a problem before said accident) and my big toe turned out to be like your thumb you described but maybe a little worse. I am a doer for others before myself and that I also see as an obstacle. Before I could juggle 10 different things at once and still find time to eat.
    Hopefully soon I will be able to start my dream, it includes tiny houses for many as I see a need for us to unite and work together with little expense. I would love to shelter the homeless and also all the animals waiting for their demise, however I doubt if I will ever be able to accomplish all that but I will still try to make a tiny thought turn into a colossal, all inspiring reality.
    Your family is beautiful, working together made me smile. At first I thought your sister should have been holding the ladder for you because I know that feeling well of ladders with no minds. When I first got out of the hospital in Phoenix I was suppose to do nothing for a long while. I had a job to finish, a complete interior/exterior remodel on a park model. I took one day off so i could get the medications out of my system and the next I was on a ladder replacing widows. The ladder broke, I knew it was going to hurt and I had about a split second to figure out how to save a $300 dollar window and myself from another hospital stay. My left hand was in a cast up to my elbow so I knew I had a chance if I just fell on that side (in the rocks btw that held a cactus). I hit and I mean hit hard and the ground showed me no mercy. I am not sure how that window didn’t shatter because it hit a lava rock and scratched deeply into the glass enough to leave an everlasting mark about the size of a nickel. For me, well I think I was still under medication because once I got my breath back I laughed at myself for being ridiculous for even attempting what I did.
    I completed the job, no records set of course but it turned out beautifully. While doing that job I also came across something that isn’t mentioned in the instructions as tools needed while installing laminate flooring LOL. My right hand again turned out to be mush as well as how you described your thumb.
    Would you be as so kind to give me a pointer or two on how you set up this blog? Also I would like to see your layout inside if you haven’t already posted them. I will try and navigate your blog to see if I missed it the first time.

    Be safe! and Be happy in your tiny home.

    • Regarding setting up a blog, the wordpress site was very instructional. They pretty much walk you through it, and I’m not a very technologically minded individual. I’ve certainly had my fair share of mishaps with it though, so I guess you just have to start and see how it goes! As far as the layout, I haven’t really got one I can settle on just yet. I change my mind every 5 minutes or so… I guess I’d better decide soon!

  7. hey ella!
    i’m so inspired by you. your choice to build your own lil house on wheels, with the help of family and friends, is amazing… what do you plan to do with “little yellow” once she’s finished? tour the US/canda/mexico? “camp” in friend’s driveways? whatever it is, i’m sure it’ll be a wonderful adventure! i’m so excited to see things as the come together, and can’t wait to see the finished product!
    you rock.

    • I think I’ll likely be a ‘camper’. I moved far too often though my college years (not to mention having to bring it all back home again from the UK, not so fun) and I’m rather looking forward to setting myself down for a time. But then again, who knows! I suppose mid-plan crisis’ are easier to accommodate when ones house moves 🙂

      • I’m actually thinking of becoming a teacher (assuming I don’t feel like being an architect haha.) the pay wouldn’t be great, but with this type of house/lifestyle it would be so incredibly cheap, that I am seriously planning becoming a teacher. I’ve been told I’d need to take up another job during the summer, but I think I’d much rather just drive around and chill wherever the road takes me. We get a lot of vacations after all haha.

        Loving this blog, I come back and read it every now and then, when I get stuck with my own house plans. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hi Ella!

    I just read your entire blog! Awesome! Have you thought about “monetizing” your blog? Thanks for sharing your incredible experience!


  9. I am watching your website with envy and delight. Can’t wait to see it finished. Inspirational! Curious to know the overall cost although I am sure you are not…. Merry Xmas from Melbourne Australia.

  10. Love your blog, Ella. You give me so much hope here!!! I’m not being doubted because I’m young and inexperienced, I’m being scoffed at because I am 52 and therefore too OLD to do this. PLEASE! When I am working on a project that I love, working from sun-up to sun-down is a labor of love I can’t wait to engage in. 🙂 Bring it!

    The differences in our methods and materials make the same project (the fencl), and make them our own. I see you making mods to the original as well. I want to do things that will make my house special to me, such as, I am eliminating the front porch in order to make the reading nook bigger. I want a day-bed/window seat sort of affair that will fold out into a guest bed for overnight guests. I am thinking I may want to leave my sleeping loft open into the living room too… haven’t decided on that for sure yet.

    I am practicing now to get rid of everything that isn’t my best stuff… as Oprah said once, “What you savin’ all that good stuff for? Use the good stuff NOW! Enjoy it.” So that’s what I’m doing. It took 20 years of marriage to get a decent set of pots and pans. I’m not keeping anything extra.

    Anyway, in keeping with shrinking the number of items I own, I am looking for ways to incorporate my agate collection into my tiny home. Today I was at a friend’s thrift store and I spotted the most AMAZING art glass bowl! It is so beautiful! I am planning to put in led lighting especially for this signed bowl in which I’ll keep the best of my gem quality agates. I’ll post a photo in a while on twitter (@MyWeeWorldLife) in a while for anyone who’s the least bit interested. 🙂

    You go gf! We can do this!

  11. Just breezed through all of your posts Ella and can honestly say that you and your desire to build your own home are truly an architect’s dream. Congratulations to you on your build and congratulations to your dad for lending his hands to your dream every step of the way!

  12. I just stumbled upon your blog randomly and I think that your tiny house is wonderful! I think the idea is fantastic and your incredibly well-written and witty blog makes your story super fun to follow. I’ve bookmarked your site and I plan on following your progress, good luck!

  13. Love your humor, Ella. You are quite the inspiration for this 50-something do-it-yourself-we. Can’t wait for your next post in Little Yellow’s saga. I spent a good bit of time in mid-December reading of your experiences since September, but did not see anything about the inception of your dream and the amount of time from inception to actual start-up. Maybe you could share that with those of us vicariously involved with Little Yellow. And what your timeline was / is for completion. As a more mundane question, are you employed full time? Part time? Just curious about the financial and time commitments that separate you from Little Yellow … Life has a way of tugging us from our dreams. Wishing you much continued success on fulfilling yours!

    • I really hope to have it done by May and be ready to move somewhere by June or so. I still play music around, though I have set this year up so I don’t have to work. I’m in the process of writing out something more informative for the ‘about’ page that should delve a little further into your queries. At first I hadn’t thought that people would really care to know the background story but I figure now it could be helpful. So! Check back in a few days and I shall have updated it 🙂

  14. This may be a weird question considering I’ve never commented her or anything before but I have followed your blog for a little while now, I am building my own tiny house and have a website ( I am documenting it on too. I’d like to link to other tiny house builders projects that I find helpful, would you mind if I linked your blog? If you don’t mind would you mind if I put your first name on there too? Thanks!

  15. Hey Ella, I wanted to mention that I really love the design of your blog. Did you do it yourself? Also, what did you do to save up tiny house $ and about how long did it take? I’m taking out a personal loan from my parents…. but considered saving the $ first since that seems more motivating….

    • Thanks! Actually, the background/theme is called Matala I believe, and it happened to be the first one that came up when I started the blog. I love the patterns, I’m considering incorporating them into my house somehow. I’ve also just updated my ‘about’ section with more info that should answer your financial questions 🙂

  16. Can I come and help?! I’m without money atm and can’t build my own house, but would love to help you. I live in the Bay Area, is that close? I don’t know where you’re at and don’t want you to think I want to stalk you or anything weird like that so it’s easier to let you judge if I’m close enough to drive over for a day to help. I just like being able to work with my hands sometimes.

  17. Hi Ella,

    Your blog is so inspiring! I am 16 and have been deep in the world of designing my own tiny house 10×18 and am to the point where I am tired of sitting on the computer and ready to start building!

    I would love to talk, or get together and share stories! I live in a beach cottage on Whidbey Island.

    Oh I forgot to say I also play the harp! Well I haven’t to recently, but that will come.

    Check out my blog I just started it!


    • I’m so excited for your project, Celina! From what I’ve found so far, It’s going to be slightly difficult and entirely wonderful 🙂 How nice you play the harp as well, what kind of music do you favour?

  18. Celina,

    I used to live on Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor. I would love to come see your house when your finished. 🙂


  19. Hello,
    Do you have a place that you sell your sea glass jewelry? Like Etsy? I’d love to see some. Also, have you begun recording any of your music? If so I’d like to hear it as well. Perhaps you can sell mp3 recordings of some of your music to help finance things if you aren’t already doing so?

    • I’m currently just selling my jewelry when the opportunity arises, though I could email you some pictures if you’d like. I have made some basic recordings but the whole online thing seems awfully daunting to me. It would be wonderful to have something up to help fund my project, perhaps I should work on it!

  20. Hi there………I’m excited to see your home taking shape…and as the owner of Northwest Window Coverings ( I’d like to know what type of coverings are you planing to use for the windows? If you need some tech help and/or other info, let me know….


    Robert S
    Northwest Window Coverings
    Seattle WA

  21. I love your resolve and brilliance!!! Can’t wait to see what else you do! I would love to live off grid like this someday. Many blessings to you!!! (and Little Yellow)

  22. Ella,

    I am a reporter from Toledo Free Press in Ohio. We have a tiny house on exhibit in front of our art museum so I’m writing about the tiny house movement. I’ve talked to a couple of designers but I’m really interested in talking to individuals who are choosing this way of life. Could you contact me if you are interested? I’m trying to also find a tiny house dweller in Ohio but it’s not nearly as popular here as it is in California.

    Here’s my contact info:

    Office: 419 – 241- 1700 ext 225 or you can email me at


  23. Ella,

    I too am building a tiny house, but I am based out of Illinois. I would love to get in contact with you to see how we are doing things differently and share knowledge to enhance both of our builds. You can check out my blog at:

    It looks like you are a bit further along than I am at the moment. Being away at school tends to take time away from the build haha. Hope to hear from you soon!

  24. Ella! I’m so glad I just saw the article about you on Tiny House Blog. I am looking to connect with other young ladies building their own tiny houses. I am also in college and in the process of building my own Tiny House out of a vintage camper (my two favorite things: vintage campers and sustainable design). It’s AWESOME to see other people my age just DOING IT! It’s a great investment for the future. Shoot me an email – I’d love to feature your story on my blog sometime soon. I’m sure we could swap some interesting stories!

    email me!

  25. hey there sister –
    i’m in a pretty similar situation, having recently graduated and wanting to find a home in a tiny house of my own. i’m totally into the way you’ve gone about all of this, and i’m wondering about how much you planned on investing into building this project.



    • The Tumbleweed website says that the Fencl ought to cost $23,000 but I’m really hoping to make it out at around $18,000. Of course, there seem to be so many more things than I originally anticipate, and they don’t come cheap. But I just have to remind myself that this is why I saved my money, and if I weren’t at my parent’s just now it’d all be blown on rent anyway! Keep with it 🙂

  26. I’m also in the same boat as you (or at least a boat in the same harbor). I’m 23 and a soon-to-be college graduate from a music school in Boston. I’m planning on saving up enough money to start building a Fencl of my own sometime within the next couple years. When it’s all said and done, I hope to move my tiny house to the LA area where I can follow my dream of being a film composer. It’s great to see another young fellow musician doing something very similar to what I plan on doing. There’s no way I’d be able to do what I want to do musically while having to pay $1,000 in rent ON TOP of some pretty hefty student loan bills. Your blog is inspirational, and your tiny house is looking fantastic so far. Keep up the good work!


    • I think these houses are perfectly tailored to musicians and those who thrive on creativity. A grand solution to the ‘starving artist’ syndrome! Best of luck and don’t give up on your plan, it sounds wonderful 🙂

  27. Hi Ella—

    Your project sounds amazing! I’m working on a small primary school book about tiny houses, and it would be wonderful to include your take on the topic. Would you be willing to answer a few quick questions (either by phone or by e-mail, whatever’s easiest) about why you decided to build a tiny house and what the building process has been like? I can be reached via e-mail at and would be glad to tell you a bit more about the project.

    Thanks, and hope to be in touch!

    Kate Foster

  28. I stumbled across tinyhouses less than a month ago and I have essentially been reading non-stop since then. Your blog is one of the best start-to-finish (soon™) ones I’ve come across yet. For someone that’s currently planning out a design and also has zero carpentry experience thanks for a first-hand ‘what to expect’ view 🙂

  29. An excellent blog!
    I’ve been reading about Tiny Houses for some time – trying to work out how I can build one in the UK. As you’ll probably know from your time in Scotland, everything’s got to be very water-tight and stable enough not to blow away in the gales.
    Good-Luck in your future travels, from the Western Isles of Scotland.

  30. Hi Ella! Just came across your blog…so fabulous! I had to write you a note because my name is also Ella, I’m a musician, from the UK, live in California, think the Tumbleweed homes are awesome, and I love yellow 🙂 Wishing you all the very best ~ Cheers 🙂

  31. Ella,
    you’re such an inspiration to me.
    I fell in love with Dee Williams’ little house since the very first moment I saw it on youtube and now I can’t stop thinking of building my own.
    I feel exactly the same way as you and the picture of myself in my tiny house won’t let me sleep at night. I’m thinking all time of how many windows I’ll have and of curtains and me drinking coffee on the floor..
    Now that I see yours I’m even more excited and I really can’t wait to start building my own!
    You’re amazing!

  32. Hi! Very nice job!!! I’ve been offering my assistance to tiny house builder but no one had taken me up on it. I really want the experience so I wouldn’t be so scared when I decide to start building one for myself. I live in the East Bay. If you’re near me and need help painting anything or doing anything, please contact me. I’ve been obsessed with these houses since I saw it several years ago. One day I’ll be a proud owner of one. For now helping others build theirs will have to do.


  33. Ella, it’s been great reading some of your posts & lots of the replies here! I’m noticing that you and many of the folks who’ve posted are in their early to mid 20’s…I very sincerely hope that all of you who have started on the path with the “tiny house bug” will continue down it through the years. It eventually leads to Self-Sufficiency, which is a truly beautiful thing! My husband & I are in our 50’s and having been living small, building out of pocket & pursuing our self-sufficiency goals for 13 years. Good luck to all of you & keep the faith! 🙂

  34. Wow! Wowowowow! I have things to do today, on this Monday morning…and yet I have just spent the last hour slowly relishing every picture and wonderful post you have created! What an inspiration you are! I too dream of a house on wheels such as yours. Out of highschool I bought and lived in a horrific motorhome that leaked and creaked in the night. It was a beast, but it was mine! And you can’t beat the rent! Your tiny home is lightyears beyond such a thing and I LOVE your design choices. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. You’ve lit a wee fire under me bum to make my own house a reality! Happy days!

  35. Pingback: Typologies of Tiny House Enthusiasts | Boneyard Studios

  36. Ella, Congrats on having the courage to pursue your dreams. I read your entire blog in one sitting. I’m inspired by your effort and your humble humor.

  37. Hi, Ella,

    I was just introduced to your blog, and also just read it in one sitting. I smiled and laughed and groaned at your triumphs and travails, and now my eyes are a bit buggy, but I’m inspired. I’m at the very, very beginning of making plans for my own house using Tinka Tiny Loft House plans (I have a 3 year old son who needs his own loft), and am discovering many other women doing the same. Though I don’t want to leave out the blokes entirely, do you know of any kind of site or online community for women building tiny homes? Just curious – it seems like it could be fun to connect online and in person. I’m learning so much this way, and would love to know of others in Western Washington doing the same.

    Congratulations on all you’re accomplishing! I’m 36 now, and my last 13 years would have looked so different had I known of this option from the outstart…never too late, though! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Enjoy 🙂

    • Thanks for taking the time to read of my bumblings! It would be wonderful to have a community for tiny house building ladies, though I don’t know of any. I’m sure we’d all have lots to talk about! I wish you the very best with your house planning, that can be the hardest part. Have a beautiful day 🙂

      • Thanks! I’ll keep you posted if I find such a community, though you may be too happily busy enjoying living in your house to care by that point 😉

  38. Hi Ella,

    and everyone else on the blog

    Just had to drop a note to tell you how much I love your blog. I read through it in one sitting. I want very badly to build me a Fencil, but trying to save money while on Disability is almost impossible and if I have to much saved I’ll get booted. I’m thinking I can build it with pallets, but just getting the trailer is the chancy part. Having more than $3000. in the bank or savings will get me taken off the Disability. Any ideas on how I can avoid that?

    I’m in Florida currently but want to move back to South Dakota as I found land there that would be perfect for a “Tiny House Village.”

    I await your next post as I am studying everything I can get my hands on so when I do get started, I’ll do it correctly.

    Have a Blessed day


    • I hope you get the chance to build your own Fencl soon! I’m afraid I haven’t any real ideas on how to save in your situation, unless you just didn’t put saved money into a bank account. I suppose hiding cash under one’s mattress is a little outdated these days… Good luck!

    • Tegan – it is hard for one to save on a disability I know .. start with getting the learning down and the plans drawn out. Then spend money on the parts as you can afford them IF you have a safe place to put them .. The State worries if you have cash extra but if it is spent on things you need (to build) then there is nothing to boot you for .. see?
      Does someone have a barn, garage, storage area for you? One couple building a tiny home rented a storage unit that held their home up to just before the roof. They had a dry lockable area to do 90% of their work in. If you have nothing like that then sorry to say the State needs to be unaware of your goals ..
      Get a prepaid credit card to hold onto the money you can’t leave in the bank. Use that to save what you need for your tiny home. Do your research and plan, plan, plan .. Good Luck .. because of my disability I am going to try for a Popomo as they don’t require old knees to climb stairs. Blessings on you all .. Laurie

  39. Hi Laurie,

    I have been looking at the place down the street that has large door storage/work bays, and since I currently have my old house in storage (where it has been for 3 years), I’m going to go through and keep the clothes, books, kitchen and my art supplies and have a big garage sale. That way I can take that $100+ (and the rent is going up yet again) to put towards the larger place so I should be able to build all the way to the ceiling. I’m looking at using pallets as I can get them almost anywhere here. Between that and hopefully finding something through the Habitat for Humanity store we have here the only MAJOR expense will be the trailer, and I have no idea how to get one that isn’t going to take a dozen years to save up for. I went to several places a couple weeks ago and it’s going to run me close on $4k for what I need. Then, once I get all that going I need to find a vehicle to pull it with. Hmm, maybe I’ll finally get lucky and win the lottery.Course if I do that then I have my eye on some land in South Dakota that part of it will be turned into a “tiny house village.” And I am reading anything I can get my hands on.

    I’d appreciate any and all ideas.


    Have a great day!!!


  40. Hey Ella,
    I am wondering what water purifier you used for your tiny house and if you installed it so that all the water in your house was filtered, even the stuff going in your hot water heater. Any info is appreciated. All the advances in your project look really great. Keep up the good work.


    • I used a regular house filter that my neighbor put in. I think it will end up filtering everything, hot water included though I believe I’d still need to have a potable hose for it to be drinkable. He indicated that it would be good for getting rid of any big clumps of dirt or anything that might get to the shiny, pricey water heater. Ah plumbing, sorry that I don’t really know what I’m going on about!

  41. Hello there! I don’t know if you remember me, I believe we would be considered second cousins? I’m totally amazed by looking at your blog (passed along by Bruce) because we seem to have a lot in common! I play Irish cello and hope to build a tiny house of my own! My sister and best friend are both in the process of making their own tiny houses! I love it! Anyway, you should shoot me an email, I’d love to be in touch. 🙂

  42. Kudos Ella!

    Thanks for sharing the journey! You are an inspiration. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your building adventures. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  43. I know this feeling exactly!! When I first read about Dee, I think I showed everyone I know the video. Good for you. I came across your project at the Yes! magazine website. Glad to see a blog documenting the project the whole way through.

    Yes, I have the same vision. Told my family, who are kind enough to listen to all my crazy ideas (what fun is life if you don’t dream, right?), and since I brought up the tiny house scheme, my niece always says “Aunt Missy, remember the tiny house thing?” She even found a picture somewhere in some magazine. Cute! But the great thing is, you are making dream reality, so good for you.

    You go girl!!

    Cheers from another tiny house enthusiast. 🙂

  44. Ella, I stopped by your folks house yesterday to see your “tinyhouse”. Very nice. I brought along a friend who has been trying to talk me into building one for her so she could see one in real life as opposed to pictures on the internet. We (my wife was along also) were all very impressed. Sorry I couldn’t meet you and talk more about your project, but I will be back. And not so last minute next time. I did hear some of your harp music (courtesy of your proud mom) and want to hear more. CDs? Available? Here’s a link to another local harpie, you might find interesting:
    Anyway, I look forward to meeting you. Keep up the good work.

  45. Ms. Ella, I’m about to undertake the same project with hopes of living on or near the beach in Nor Cal. Thanks for the inspiration to do it myself, as I was leaning towards buying a used one. I was wondering what you thought the final grand total $ would be? I heard that only angels can play Harps, nice to meet a “brèagha, buidhe” Cheers

    • I think it’ll be about $18,000 by the time everything is done. Making this house has been wonderful, it’s so much fun to create you own space. I’m excited for your adventure! And thanks for calling me brèagha buidhe, it made my day 😀

  46. Hi, I just rediscovered your feed in my RSS reader. Because I lived the last 5 days devoted to couchsurfing and caring for my guests (quite frantically). I thought up this thought / question:
    Have you ever hosted anyone who would at the same time help you build your house?
    When I host, I usually drop my usual doings and explore the city with my guests. That’s beneficial and makes me interested in my own town some more, but still, it could be a bit more efficient for me – goal-wise to “put these friendly strangers in use”. 🙂

    • I have never hosted anyone actually, or at least not anyone I didn’t know. A friend stayed for a while back in December and made my beautiful front door and porch 🙂

  47. Pingback: Walls come along | Casita Bella

  48. Hi Ella,
    I am wondering if you know of an actual building code that allows tiny houses. I am across the border to the north in BC, near Vancouver. I live on a small island that prohibits trailers (yup) but, the local council is supportive of me building a tiny house, it’s just going to be a long drawn out process unless I can find copies of actual bylaws that allow for tiny houses. The bylaws can come from anywhere in Canada or the U.S. I have read frequently that Oregon and Washington allow tiny homes but I can’t locate any bylaws. Do you, or your readers know of any?


    • As far as I know, Portland, Oregon has what’s called an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) law that allows people to live in tiny houses on properties that already have a main residence. I haven’t done independent research on it, but that’s the only really legal place I’ve heard of. It’s such a shame, I hope that more cities endeavour to pass something like this because tiny houses are so great and many people are deflected by legality issues.

  49. Hi! Where did you get your purple standing seam metal roof? I am searching for some to put on my porch and window. Please let me know the company who made it! I love what you have done!

    • I got it from the metal roofing company ASC, and the colour is referred to as ‘blackberry’. They call the standing seam ‘skyline roofing’ as well by the way, if that saves any confusion!

  50. Thanks for the information on the purple roof. I found the product online, but the picture of the color blackberry is so…..brown looking. Your pictures appear to show that roof much more purple. Can you describe the actual color purple it is….in real life?

    • I would describe it as a rich, dark reddy purple. It’s actually the lovliest colour, though I can see how online might make it look a bit odd. As long as they haven’t changed anything in the manufacturing since I got mine in November, it should be the same 🙂

  51. Plain and simple – You are my hero! What you have done is great, and is very well detailed too! Thank you for taking the time and effort to share via your blog. I’m still a year or so away from building, but am gathering ideas that would apply to my design. Thank you again. Keep up the great work!!!

  52. Ella,

    Thank you for sharing your building adventure with everyone. I really enjoyed reading about your experience. You have built a fantastic home that you will always treasure. It’s good to see patience, perseverance, and a can do attitude (of course along with a little blood, sweat, and an occasional four letter word) paying off with such a beautiful house. And I hope you don’t mind but I have had to add “house sawing” to into my vocabulary.

    Thank you again,


  53. This is wonderful! You have a very bright future ahead of you….keep up the great work. It is inspiring to read about your process as you built your home. I am wanting to do the same in the near future and have really enjoyed reading your story. Thank you!

  54. Ella,

    I came across your blog today on the Tiny House Blog. I spent the next 2 hours enjoying your interesting and well written accounts of building your Fencl. I have been interested in tiny houses for a couple years and keep an eye out for houses that tickle my imagination. Yours certainly does that. I also love log homes, so your porch post, kitchen counter top and all the gorgeous wood make your house feel very logish and woodsy. I love the outside colors and interior style you created. I think it’s the most homey and attractive interior I’ve seen in any tiny house. Great photography as well. I admire and appreciate your vision, attitude and willingness to share what your have accomplished.

    Thank you,


  55. Hey Ella,

    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and saw you’re moving your tiny house to San Francisco. I started building my tiny house in Chicago, but have since moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a job. Sadly my tiny house had to stay back in Illinois.

    After you get settled in, I’d love to come by and check out your tiny house some time.

    You can check out my blog at:

    I look forward to hearing from you!

  56. Hi Ella,

    I came across your blog via the Tiny House Blog. I’ve just briefly skimmed through some of your posts, and I am incredibly jealous. I have been considering Tiny House living for a little bit. I am a photographer living a simple life in San Diego, looking to go simpler.

    Unfortunately, I have little funding for a project like this. Would you mind giving me an idea of what the overall cost was? I will go through your posts to learn how hard it was. =)

    Wonderful work. Your house looks great. Congratulations!

    Nick Chill

  57. Hello Ella,

    I am a student trying to document the purpose of a tiny house and why a person should build and live in one. I am trying to find a tiny house close to me so I can document and write about it. I know you very recently had an open house in Frazier Park, CA but was unable to go. I live in Bakersfield, CA and was hoping your tiny house was still in the area. I would not only love to view it for educational purposes, but also because my boyfriend and I are really interested in building one ourselves. If you could email me, that would be wonderful! Thanks! Oh and great job on finishing up your house!

    Kathleen Angelone

  58. Hallo Ella!

    Ciamar a tha thu? ‘S mise Ru Mahoney a Utah. An robh thu ag ionnsachadh Gaidhlig anns an Eilean Sgitheanach aig Sabhal Mor Ostaig? Bha mise an-sin ann taobh an t-samhraidh 2008.

    When I was at SMO, there was a student group from Glasgow who were performing, participated in a ceilidh, etc. They were a fun group and among them was an American harper from California… small world or coincidence? 🙂

    Anyhow, stumbled across your blog after chatting about Tumbleweeds with a local friend who much admires your project. Looks like quite a lot of industrious fun!


    • O mo chreach! B’ e mise a bh’ann du dearbh, abair saoghal! Bha an tùras sin aig Sabhal Mòr cho math ‘s gun robh mi ag iarraidh a dhol air ais as dèidh an cùrsa agam ann an Glaschu. Dè an cùrsa air an robh thusa aig a t-Sabhal? Bha mi air a’ chursa chomais ann an 2011. Math ga riribh a chluintinn bhuat!!

  59. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers
    and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on.
    You have done a outstanding job!

  60. What you have accomplished is astounding. As a country we are too consumed by materialism, myself included, and it is wonderful to see a young, college graduate who understands the value of independence, ownership and by all accounts happiness as well as maintaining a small carbon footprint and helping to preserve our environment. Bravo my dear. As a side note, I attended Napier University in Edinburgh for a year and loved almost every second of it. The world of grey can get old when you’re use to blue skies and heat. Best of luck. P.S. If you do purchase another larger home, your current house will prove a perfect guest house.

  61. What a great design! When I went to university in Fairbanks, Alaska, I lived in a 16’x20′ cabin with a half loft. Just enough space up there for a full bed. I really liked living in a small space. This past year I took time off from work and went on a 4-1/2 month trip around the world. 16 countries in all. As I researched the trip, I read a blog from a British couple that was doing a 2 year RTW trip while traveling really light. They inspired me to bring everything I needed in a North Face Overhaul 40 pack which is 2,600 cubic inches. It was small enough to bring on the plane with me. It is amazing how little you need. 3 days of clothes is more than enough. Everything else you can get along the way including coats when you change climates. I hope your blog inspires more people to live modestly. You don’t need a big house to fill with worthless stuff from Walmart. Happy New Year!! Jim

  62. Hi, Just breezed through all of your posts and can honestly say that you and your desire to build your own home are truly an architect’s dream. Have an amazing weekend!! God Bless You..

  63. As someone who left a 3300 sq ft home with trimmings galore, migrated to a backpack and “gone camping” I enjoyed the news story about your adventure. I, too, have had some time in a 190 sq ft cabin up in Washington State while doing some photography of the Quinault Rainforest. People just don’t realize how pleasant it really is! Have fun this summer on the beach – I’ll be hiking trails on the other coast 🙂

  64. I loved your blog, and your sense of humor and can-do attitude. Your tiny house is very cute and so are you. The concept is great for today’s world, although having grown up in a ~50 sqf. room I have a intense dislike of small spaces. But to each his own, I still salute you for making it work.

  65. Hi Ella — What a great little house! Very practical and cost effective, especially in CA. I love this whole endeavor of yours! It’s a beautiful little house. My hubby has one question: is your stove your heater? Didn’t see anything about heating. Frazier Park gets snow, doesn’t it? Anyway, sending you blessings for a wonderful future in your new house!

  66. Hi Ella! I am so excited for you having built your own house! I have alot of questions for you if you don’t mind :-). My husband and I are converting an art studio for my daughter to live in and it will be very similar in design to yours. We are going to have a composting toilet and had not heard of the sawdust kind. Now that you’ve been using it do you still like it? Would you choose it again? How difficult is it to empty? Does the warm air rise enough for you to sleep comfortably when it is cold? We also got a house 1/2 the size of the one we had previously and will be parring down. What have you found to be the things people hold onto that you really don’t need? Thanks so much! You should write a book about your adventures! If you ever come to CO let me know!

    • One more question – how do you handle shower water? Can you “hook up” to a hose or do you store the water? How do you drain the shower water? ok sorry- that’s 3 more questions

  67. Hi Ella —
    The Yahoo slideshow about you led me to your blog.

    I just feel compelled to tell you that I think you are soooooo damn hot !!
    (and I mean that in the most complimentary way, of course)

    You and your house seem to be pretty amazing.
    Granted, I’ve always preferred a cozy residence…so I suppose I can relate.

  68. HI Ella,

    I’ve just spent a wonderful evening, the first day of my Christmas vacation, reading your entire blog and house story. What a wonderful surprise event this has been! I’m greatly inspired by your work, humour,,literary art, music and building prowess. Bravo!

    I’m a musician in a very cold part of Canada, and just learned about small houses a few weeks ago from a young couple living in Alberta. they’ve worked really hard to insulate their home, often using straw to supplement. I love your wool insulation. Seems it’s working well. Fantastic idea.

    I’m now very interested in learning more. Where did you find your original plans?

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  69. Thank you for the wonder, joy, frustration, silliness, love, commitment, caring, humor and beauty in all that you have shared here on your blog and in following your dreams !

    Your home is beautiful !
    And it seems you have touched so many others with inspiration along the way.
    And shall continue to do so.

  70. Hi Ella!
    I am a Contributor to The Women’s Eye website. TWE spotlights women who have wonderful ideas and act on them. You and your amazing project, Little Yellow, would be a terrific story for TWE! If you would be interested in sharing with TWE, would you please contact me at

    I wish you continued success in your pursuits! Thank you for considering TWE’s request for an interview. Looking forward to hearing from you!

  71. I was curious about 3 things. 1)The total cost of something like this. 2)Is it legal to move from place to place like an RV? 3)Do you just hook up to water and electric like an RV? This is just a totally awesome idea!

    • Mine cost 16,000. Could be more or less expensive with different choices. 2 It is exactly as legal as an RV. 3 I do indeed hook to to water and electric, just like and RV. 🙂

  72. Hey Ella,

    I’m building a tiny house myself and am currently at the stage of doing the electrical work. I know that your neighbor did a lot of the electrical for you, but I was wondering if you could take a few pictures of your RV hookups on the exterior. My house is mostly wired, but my dad and I are trying to figure out how to run power to the breaker box.

    If you could email me back it would be much appreciated. My website is: if you’re interested in checking out my tiny house!

  73. Hi Ella! I’m so pleased to read that you’re working for Tumbleweed. Do you know whether you’re presenting at the workshop in SF in August this year? I am thinking of attending and am hoping you’ll be there.

  74. Ella,

    I love your house and hope to design my own like yours someday. My husband and I are both musicians and need a separate area so we can practice at the same time. I think your pink room would be perfect, especially if we could add a little sliding door separating it from the rest of the house. What are the dimensions of your pink room?

    I also liked the thin wall construction you used for the bathroom. Its enough to provide privacy without taking away precious space!

  75. I too am in the position that you were when you started dreaming about owning a little house! As a single mom with a son in college and a daughter going to a private school ,having to help pay for that in addition to the debt of owing a home(1600 sq.ft.,way too big!)and the expenses that go along with it, unfortunately I am not debt free. I was wondering how much this project cost, including buying the plans, if you don’t mind m asking? I have the book by Jay Schafer also. I am considering moving back into my parents home and sell my house and taking care of the rest of the debt from there to make this dream a reality. Any advice or ideas you might have for me would be appreciated!!!!! By the way, yellow is my favorite color!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  76. Hi Ella,

    I live in Dallas, TX and would love to talk talk to you more about what you have accomplished! Would it be possible for me to e-mail you a few questions to pick your brain?


  77. Ella, I saw your tiny house on the Tiny Talk website and fell in love. The natural detail you put into your home is exquisite. I am amazed at how bold you are to undertake this at such a young age.

    For the past year I’ve been playing with the idea of building a tiny house. What I keep getting hung up on is where to park it. I’m saving up for property, which is quite pricey in California, as you know. I want to keep my job in the East Bay Area, but haven’t found cheap enough property or space for rent yet.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.


    • Just keep putting the energy forward! It’s hard to find a practical, affordable tiny house rent space but not imposisble 🙂 At least in my experience!

  78. Ella,

    Found you through the Sierra Club mag piece.

    I’ve been in love with wee houses for a long time. Reading your story may finally give me the energy to make mine a reality.

    I also write a blog on Zen and Eastern thought and struggles. The themes of simplicity and being centered, which are a lot in my thought and writing, seem resonant with your life and writing.

    Anyhow, good for you!

    All blessings,


  79. Hi Ella,

    I have been seriously considering (and dreaming daily) about building my own tiny house. Congratulations on your success. I’m still trying to navigate land issues and where to build it as I have no driveway to use. lol.

    I hope 2015 will be the year of the Tiny House for me.



  80. Ella, where do you and this adorable house live? I live in Bakersfield and work for the news here. I would love to do a story about it but I don’t know where you’re located!

  81. Ella – I met you at a Tumbleweed Tiny Home class in Berkeley. I am planning on buying one (not building unfortunately) and living in it. Can you tell me about the heating issue? I need to make sure it has heating even though I am living in Los Angeles.

  82. Pingback: Little Yellow | I want to be a minimalist

  83. Hello Ella,

    My name is Liz Kelley. I will be attending your workshop with Tumbleweed in Berkeley. I am starting a crowdfund in September to raise money for a Tiny House on wheels, that I am going to attempt to park around major cities in the Bay Area. This will be chronicled in a film project about urban sprawl, finding community and figuring the tiny way home.

    I would love to be able to get a video interview with you, and discuss your tiny house journey. Any time you might have that weekend to meet with me and get a few sound bytes for my crowdfund video on how vital micro-living is to living a full and free life, on your own terms? Would be valuable information.

    I am happy to discuss all details of my project with you, and anything that is said in the interview can be edited out or cut based on what you feel like you have to say at this point in time.

    My email is, and phone is 650.315.0596. Hope to speak with you, and thanks for your consideration.

    Liz Kelley

  84. What an awesome lifestyle! I found you through the article in Via. I’ve not read much so far but am completely inspired to read the rest of your journey and pursue this kind of scaled down simple lifestyle. Great work.

  85. Ellah,

    This is all your fault. Last night I brought home my new flatbed…

    Let the adventure begin. (Well actually continue becaues I have been planning for months and collecting parts.)

  86. Hi Ella, very informative and super duper inspiration.
    I was one amongst many at the Tumbleweed workshop in Sonoma last Fall.
    Peace to you and yours,

  87. Ella,

    I love tiny homes. I love your spunk attitude, the initiative you showed, to dive in with both feet. Where were girls like you when I was in my 20’s! ?

    I’m drawn to the Fencl design myself. Now having built and lived in it, if you were starting over, would it still be your choice?

    All the best in your continuing life’s adventure!


  88. Hi! Sweet home and blog, I love your story. Can you advise on where it’s possible to live in a tiny home in San Diego? Thank you!

    • Thanks! It’s so hard to say about finding a spot, network and network and talk to a bunch of people is my best advice, and check craigslist and tiny house listings, good luck!

  89. Hi Ella,

    Your house is beautiful! Amazing job 🙂

    I am also looking for land to park a tiny house in Half Moon Bay area.. do you know if/how we can park one on PUD (planned unit development) land? was curious how you worked around zoning issues for your house..

    Also, it would be amazing to visit your house! do you have open house from time to time?


  90. Hi Ella! I’ve actually been reading your blog ever since I got interested in tiny houses, and I linked to a quote from your most recent post on my blog– it was inspiring! If you ever have the time, I’d love to talk to you a bit more about your experiences living tiny.

  91. Hello Ella, My name is Tanner and i am attending a college in springfield missouri. in my english class we were given a topic of tiny houses and i am suppose to interview two experts in the field of tiny houses and i was wondering if you had time to answer a few questions i have. just email me if you do! Thank you!

  92. Ella.

    I am headed to Scotland this Spring/Summer to ride bicycle and visit the county my family came from (circa 1300). Do you have any recommendations on nature/geographical features I should go see? Cool farms, cheese I should try,


  93. Hi!
    I’m seeing you did a post about “a tiny wood stove for a tiny house” You mentioned dehumidifiers in your article. I’m promoting dehumidifiers and i would like to ask you if you are open to me buying a link on that page. Please shoot me an email and let me know!

  94. Hello! my names Jackson Dean and I’m contacting you on behalf of Unforgettable Fires LLC! we are starting some social media accounts this month but don’t have many photos to use, we would like to know if we can have your permission to use some of your photos for our instagram account? We would also be happy to tag you or give credit of course!

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