Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop: Day 1

This weekend I’m attending the Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop in Minneapolis. It’s a 2-day deal and there are about fifty small living enthusiasts. Meg is our facilitator, an architect who works for Tumbleweed and who’s in the process of building her tiny house. Most people are Minnesotans with a few from outlier states like South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The workshop encompasses training on planning, logistics, and lifestyle tips for people who want to build tiny homes. It’s also a marketing pitch for Tumbleweed products (houses, wall panels, and, best of all, the plans).

A lot of information to process from the day but here’s quick run down of what stood out to me so far. Of course, the things I noticed are coming from my current vocation as an AmeriCorps for Habitat for Humanity and as a single white lady without college debt, and about $5,000 in savings. Lots of questions about affordability!

And, zine update: ‘Sounds of the Road‘ is coming soon!! It will go to print this Monday.

2016-04-16 17.14.27
Seriously, the loft is the best place in the house.
  1. Tumbleweed is a company trying to sell houses. They are expanding rapidly (went from 5 to 80 employees in the past three years). Growing demand for tiny houses is real.
  2. Right now Tumbleweed is not concerned with the affordable housing crisis. They are very good at deflecting questions about this.
  3. The average person attending the conference is white and middle aged.
  4. Tiny houses are a lot about making what could functionally be an “ugly” (*something aesthetically stigmatized as ugly) RV type structure look pretty and homey. It’s about the cultural conditioning and our feelings of home!
  5. You can have a toilet and a shower in a tiny house 🙂 I’m still confused where the washer/dryer goes.
  6. They cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to build. Play the long game.
  7. Walking inside a tiny house is awesome! Talk about a glorified shed!
  8. Houses heat up and cool down fast. Insulation doesn’t seem to be an issue, even in Minnesota temps.
  9. Building from the ground up means the builder (you) have the power to make your house look beautiful with whatever design features you know you love.
  10. There is a show you can watch about tiny houses called “Tiny House Nation.”
  11. The Kasl family (two parents, two kids) live in a tiny house in Minnesota with pets! Check out Kim Kasl’s website to learn more about their build and their life on the river.
  12. There’s a certain type of storytelling that goes with the tiny house movement. It’s about finding financial freedom, breaking the debt cycle, mobility, a desire to spend less time “at work” and more time doing “the things we love.”
  13. How is a tiny home different from an RV or a trailer? Is it different?
  14. Are there options for turning tiny houses into tiny communities (communal living situations?
  15. The guy next to me summed up a common opinion when I mentioned I might buy an old and really small cabin instead of building a new tiny house. “Yeah, but that’s a lot of work and tiny houses are cool!” I can’t say I disagree.
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