by Laura LaVoie of 120squarefeet.com.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
You would think I would be used to telling my story by now. I’m not. This is strange since I have been blogging about our tiny house experience since the very beginning. I started writing it down just for me so I would have a record of all the crazy stuff we did. I had no idea people actually read it.
The journey really began about a decade ago. My husband and I knew we wanted something different, we just didn’t know what that looked like. We had both grown up near Detroit, Michigan and an opportunity came for us to move to Atlanta. We took it thinking the change of scenery would spark something for us. We had no idea the kind of fire it would ignite.
While we were living in Atlanta we discovered that Asheville, North Carolina was only a 3 hour drive through the mountains. We fell in love. We knew we needed to be in the mountains but we had no idea how to make that happen. After some thought and some preparation we bought a 15 acre parcel of land just north of Asheville and wondered what we would do. We considered several options including Earthships and Cordwood Masonry but eventually settled on the Tiny House concept. Since we wanted to build the home ourselves it seemed smart to begin small.
The site for our home is located in the middle of our 15 acres. Because of the location, we had no road access to the house. We still don’t for that matter. This meant that all of the materials needed to be brought up 200 vertical feet by hand or with the help of a semi-reliable ATV. We were also still living in Atlanta so building happened on weekends – usually every other weekend with the occasional weeks’ vacation thrown in for good measure. While we were building we camped on the land. We would arrive in the late morning on Saturday and leave in the late afternoon on Sunday making progress slow and steady. For us, it wasn’t just about the race to the finish line but the adventure in building our own home.
Our tiny house is based on plans from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. We chose the Tarleton because of the simple roofline. Since we were building on a mountain we decided to skip the wheels and put the house on a post and pier foundation. We measured and leveled and poured the concrete ourselves. That was probably the single hardest part of the building process and the moment where we wondered just what in the world we were getting ourselves into.
We live and work here full time – just two adults and one very spoiled cat. We have all the things we need to live comfortably: a small futon, a folding dining table and two seats. We have a kitchen and a bathroom with a shower and a composting toilet. We have a comfy loft to sleep in.
Our systems are entirely off the grid. We have a reasonably sized solar panel system with a backup generator. We have yet to use the generator with the new solar power system. All of our water comes from a spring on the land. We have a Berkey water filter system in the house and built our own shower using a garden sprayer.
It might look like we’ve abandoned all the comforts of tradition living, but we just look at things a little differently now. We haven’t given anything up; we’ve just changed our expectations.
Because of our move and complete lifestyle overhaul we have done a lot of things we never dreamed of. I was able to leave my full-time, corporate job in Atlanta and pursue writing full time. I’ve even had an opportunity to write about beer in Asheville, one of my very favorite subjects. I like to think of our lives in terms of Thoreau –we choose to live deliberately. While our own experience in the woods is not unlike Thoreau’s, living deliberately can mean anything to anyone as long as you choose to engage directly with the life you have rather than just letting it happen. For me, that is what tiny living is all about.
Laura is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings and she walks the walk. Her and her husband live in a 120 square foot cabin in Asheville, NC that her and her husband Matt built themselves. You can learn more about Laura and Matt at their website 120squarefeet.com.
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