Category Archives: The Beginning

2016, what happened?!

Lots of things have happened this year…but the most important event to us is the creation of our organization, Los Angeles Tiny Cobuild Haven aka LATCH Collective!

While Shaina was deployed overseas, Tessa took on the challenge to start a business on her own and registered with the state of California to operate as an LLC! We felt it was important to build our membership before transitioning to a co-operatively owned/operated business (our ideal business organizational structure for this endeavor). Currently, we are working on finding people like us who live in LA and hope to build their own Tiny so they can join LATCH and we can support each other through our builds, while sharing the cost of tools and rent. It is not common to have a yard large enough for a construction project of this size, so we have been able to connect with a few people at different stages of their journey to building their own home. Once we locate a build space, we will begin our first construction project, while continuing to develop the other aspects/services of LATCH. For more info on what we are working towards, check out our site: http://www.latchcollective.com.

Tessa has also become more involved in the advocacy of changing laws to permit and accommodate alternative housing solutions by starting  the Tiny Advocacy Network, or TAN, here in LA. She sends out newsletter updates to over 500 people and was asked to be a co-chapter leader for California in the American Tiny House Association! With these leadership roles, she has expanded our network and made important connections to the movers and shakers in the Tiny community at large. It is an exciting time for the Tiny Movement, but we have so much more to do before Tiny Homes can become a viable housing option for anyone desiring to (dramatically) downsize.

We are looking forward to the opportunities 2017 will bring, and hope you are carrying optimism and faith in love into this new year!

To get involved, check out our social media pages:

Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community:

How to Internet in a Tiny Home

Want to stop paying outrageous TV-Internet combo prices when you don’t watch TV? Or perhaps you don’t have any Internet service providers who will service your area with WiFi? Here’s how we do it!

While living in Alaska in our small cabin in the woods, we had to deal with challenges of almost off-the-grid living (we had electricity). But our home was too far into the woods to receive regular Internet services. The only service available involved paying quite a lot for satellite Internet, which was not going to be the fastest or most reliable. So in order to avoid dial-up speeds, we experimented with depending solely on our cellular network. We paid an extra $5 to be able to hotspot our laptops from our cell phones and then we upped our data plan to 10 GB of shared data a month. This worked well for our normal scrolling, emailing, blog writing, banking, and research, but we needed to install a rule against watching videos and limiting Skype conversations. Skype was the big killer – generally, an hour call would use up 1 GB of data. For video-related needs, we would drive into town and hang out at the café or on campus. This also meant no watching Netflix or other streaming things. Shaina was more affected by this limitation, but it was a healthy change from the binge watching of TV shows on the weekends she used to do.

Instead, we rented from Redbox and checked out DVDs from the library (being picky about what media you consume is a beneficial type of minimalism in itself). This worked alright, but sometimes you just want to be able to Skype in your own home. We were always a few days from the end of the billing cycle and would check our data (AT&T allows you to press #data to get an up-to-date text message with your data usage) and realize we had very little left, so these days were austerity days. We ended up deciding to increase our data plan to 15 GB a month, which worked very well. This allowed us to make at least 4 Skype calls a month without worry, stream shorter videos, and do all of our other regular net use. The unused data would roll over, so we often had months with 20 GB, during which we would treat ourselves to a few streamed Netflix or Hulu shows. You’d be surprised at how much of a sense of accomplishment you get for using only 10 GB a month and having a whole 5 GB roll over to the next month; PARTY!

This system was so easy, we continued to use it when we moved to Los Angeles. When we got to know our neighbors, we struck a deal to use their WiFi, covering half the bill in cash every month, but since they’ve moved, it’s back to the data plan. But even with unlimited WiFi access, we didn’t watch more Netflix, spend hours on YouTube, or Skype our families more often (sorry, Mom) – we have become accustomed to limiting those uses and filling our time with other activities.

I listened to a podcast where they outright dismissed using cellular data for your primary Internet access so I’m here to tell you that it is an option. And it can save you a lot of time and money!

So…what have we been up to?

In January, we were able to…

  • Keep up Small Adventures – our TH blog where we keep inspiration we find on tumblr
  • Purchase a car so travelling to MeetUps and volunteer opportunities is a bit easier
  • Create a mission explaining who we are, what/why we are doing this, and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats regarding us starting a tiny home co-build co-op
  •  Create a central planning document with HOW and WHEN we plan on tackling actions from the SWOT analysis
  • Learn Google Sketchup through online tutorials
  •  Come up with a name for the MeetUp group – Los Angeles Tiny Home Community
  • Find the Exodus Tiny Home Community Facebook page – a local group with aspirations for tiny house cohabiting

In February, we were able to to…

  • Create a logo for our social media pages
  • Make a Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community – Facebook page and MeetUp group
  • Start an Instagram: shainatessalivetiny
  •  Get in contact with Britanny, the Topanga Tiny Home Enthusiast MeetUp group organizer

In March we were able to…

  • Continue to build our presence on our social media sites (over 100 users on Meetup and 20+ on Facebook)
  •  Find out about ReCode LA, an imitative to rewriting zoning codes in Los Angeles which may create opportunities to change restrictions against tiny homes including zoning laws on minimum lot requirements, secondary suites, and others
  • Host our first MeetUp in Downtown LA, March 18th!
    • Outcomes: We met about 15 awesome people from all over LA county interested in tiny houses for different reasons; some were looking for affordable housing opportunities to improve the community, others just wanted to build one for their own use and live in the middle of nowhere…but everyone was excited to meet up! Interest started to build regarding getting involved politically to challenge restrictive zoning. The meetup was held in a swanky yet casual bar called The Prince in K-town. They had bomb Korean-style spicy fried chicken! 
  •  Host our second MeetUp in Long Beach, March 31st
    • Outcomes: About five people gathered sharing enthusiasm and energy for tiny living and support for minimalism.  We had engaging conversations about what is bringing us to the tiny movement, and learned from a member starting his own build.  
  •  Get contacted by several wider organizations wanting us to partner in promoting their events (Tiny House Hunters, organizers of workshops, Tiny House Jamboree conference) showing that our MeetUp is visible!

In April we were able to…

  •  Create & share a rough draft of our Sketchup floor plans to help promote our image
  •  Continue with blog posts
  • Send a newsletter to our supporters & family, updating them on our progress and inviting them to follow our blog

In May we were able to…

  • Reach new audiences like a trailer park management site, looking for tiny homes to rent their lots
  •  Build our MeetUp community membership to almost 200 locals
  • Minimize shifts at True Food to make more time every day for this project
  • Start an “our members” spreadsheet to get a better idea of where members live when choosing locations to host events, what members are looking for, what stage of interest in tiny homes they are at, and contact info to keep in touch with each member’s progress and needs

In June we were able to…

  • Start volunteering with Habitat for Humanity 
  •  Listen to “A Sustainable Mind” podcast series & receive many tip
    • Marjorie, the host, came to our first MeetUp!
  •  Discover “Upwork” as a potential resource for our Co-op, and a place where we may be able to advertise our skills/abilities: https://www.upwork.com/
  • Research background local planning & housing
  •  Start on a “Resources” document outlining (in alphabetized order!) the different resources we know of/find along the way

A First Glance at Our Design

Tessa has been working hard to bring our design to life in SketchUp, and is happy to release what she has finished so far so you can get an idea of where we are going with our Tiny House!

dining and kitchen area

Using SketchUp has been a learning process for her. Just as she draws something right, we realize we want it to be different, and there are a lot of little details to fix each time a change is made. The picture above is an earlier draft of our concept. It was the first time I saw a SketchUp conceptualization of our pencil sketches, so it was super exciting and it enabled us to discuss things we liked and things we weren’t sure would work. It’s important that we go into the build with open minds too because we know from other people who have built their TH’s that once you go from design to build, things can look different when they are nailed together. It’s an evolving project!

whole house from right angle

This is a great shot of the entire layout. We will have French doors positioned either off to the left of the stairs to open up mainly into the living room, or to the right of them to open into the kitchen. Our stairs will lead up to a mid-level platform which connects the bedroom loft off to the left above the living room, with a little platform for a small washer/dryer unit and clothing storage on the right. More on that later.

Stairs are a major investment of real estate in a TH and a lot of designs use ladders to maximize open space and minimize weight. But we lived in a cabin with a ladder leading to the loft and Waffles got stuck up there once because he learned how to climb the ladder, and it was not fun getting him down! But in all seriousness, we decided to go with stairs because there are cool ways to utilize the space they fill and we did not want to struggle with a ladder if we end up living in this TH for an extended period of our lives.

whole house from left angle

Another overall view. There will likely be a side table or a shelving unit along the right wall, depending on where the door is, to hold bags, mail and whatnot, as well as a few wall hooks for coats, keys, and Waffles’ leash. We’ll also need a little shoe rack for daily shoes, but will store most shoes upstairs in our closet. But we will only have shoes we use; we won’t have space for a collection of nice shoes we wear once in a blue moon. The thrift store will help us keep our style fresh for cheap 😉 

close up of dining area

Looking at the dining room area here. The kitchen table shown here is a fold out, with art work as a focal piece when the table is put down. Ideally the table would be extendable, with an inner leaf, to accommodate 6 guests instead of 3 or a crowded four. The whole stair unit might be too complex, so we may just do a stand-alone table, preferably one that could have collapsible legs, and be extendable. There’s storage for dishes under the stair unit, and storage for glasses (open cupboard), spices and other cooking supplies off to the right of the table. The table also offers extra prep space while cooking, as well as a work space. The bottom two stairs will have a basket with hats/gloves/purses/ and another with Waffles things.

close up of kitchen

We want our kitchen to be airy, not crowded, with ventilation for all the garlic, onion, cumin and kimchi we eat, so we’d like to locate it in the tall half (non-loft side) of our home, with a window for air flow and a view! The dedicated kitchen prep space is limited but we learned a few tricks in Alaska. The counter space between the sink and the range is stacked high, but will open to cover the range for easier prep and dish washing. There will also be a pull-out board underneath the sink that will fit snugly over it so that the whole area can be used for prep if needed. Don’t forget, the table is nearby and can act as an island for extra prep too. We will have a double burner, which may or may not be electric, a drawer for utensils and cooking tools, and underneath, an electric toaster/convection oven, which could be on a rolling shelf for easy access and appropriate ventilation when used. Below that is space for other tools like cutting boards, pots and pan. We will use the wall space above the sink to hold knives, other cooking tools, and possibly some essential spices and oils. The fridge we’d like is smaller than average but it will be plenty of room for us – if we live in a more rural area we will grow a garden and if we live in a more urban area, we will buy fresh food often. The top of the fridge will probably become storage for a lot of things, including non-refrigerated items.

bathroom full shower

  

bathroom half shower

Here are two shots of the bathroom, with a composting toilet and shower. Not sure if we will have a separate sink for the toilet or if we would just use the kitchen sink. For the bathroom floor, it would be neat to have wooden slats over the shower floor for more comfort and a sauna vibe, which would also help not flood the area because the water would drain to a water catchment tub below. We saw this design element in an episode of Tiny House Nation. We aren’t sure if this type of floor is necessary for the entire bathroom, but it may make the most sense for ease of cleaning it out. We hope to drain the water into an outer grey-water treatable storage tank for yard watering. As long as we don’t cook meat, or if we do and we wash those dishes outside camping style, we will be able to re-use our strained kitchen sink water as well. The doorway is on the skinnier side with a sliding glass door that won’t be transparent for privacy. The bamboo behind the toilet is just a bamboo drape instead of a wall to reduce weight (behind it is just a closet holding the extra bed which is enclosed by the stairway). No point in putting in non-weight-bearing walls in this TH!

living room

The sofa couch in the living room will be sectional , with the ability to move around the two pieces and the dining table in order to accommodate a relaxing duo and dog watching a movie, or a larger gathering wanting to look across at each other. There’s space for an extra chair or two to be added to the living room.

The stairs are super cool. The bottom two are almost invisible in this concept because they can either be out and locked in place for use, or slid into the stair unit to make more room for gatherings or a yoga session. We may place a heater system to the right of the closet’s bamboo door, under where that lip with photos is. The heater would probably have to be turned off when guests are over, as the spare bed might closer than allowed to the heat source. There are many different types of heating systems, so this is something we need to research further. A common solution is to use a small propane heater which is usually mounted to the wall, but we’re not sure it’s the safest method. Open flame, tiny wooden house…yeah.

The ability to host guests is important to us, as we have friends scattered all over not just the country but the world. Our spare bed will be located under the stair unit, possibly on a rolling system for easy pull-out. The mattress and supporting frame would be placed on top of the two sofas and coffee table, leaving some room underneath for bags. We plan for our sofas to have storage space under their cushions for extra pillows, bedding, and quilts.

You’ll notice there’s no television as a focal point to our living room – that is because we don’t plan on having one. We will have a handy blue tooth speaker for sure, though. And maybe eventually we’ll invest in a projector if our computer screens become annoyingly small, but we don’t watch much TV anyway. 

extra bed storage

The catwalk/stairs unit provides a lot of sneaky storage options. In the upper left corner, there are a few short rods for those need-to hang clothes, and a shelf for other items. Around the corner hopefully will fit a mini washer/dryer combo unit. Maybe a window next to the washer with access to a clothesline could be a hang-to-dry plan depending on where we live/the season. All the stair steps will have tops on hinges to store items such as undies, shoes, or art supplies. Underneath, there hopefully will be enough room to store the extra bed as well as a battery system if we have any on-site energy sources such as solar. Electrical outlets will probably only be available connecting to the work space/dining table (on the other side of the mattress) as well as the kitchen wall (for the fridge and toaster oven) to simplify wiring. Our breaker box will likely also be in this closet.

We haven’t figured out a plan for lighting but we want to strive towards living off the grid, so we’d like to rely heavily on natural lighting as well as gas lamps for the bedroom and living room. Track lighting in the kitchen would be nice too.

STILL TO COME: Upstairs bedroom, deck, walls, electricity/lighting/windows, and exact measurements!

What do you think so far?

An Uncluttered Life

Commuting is less boring when you have podcasts to keep you entertained, and even teach you things sometimes!

One of my newly discovered faves is An Cluttered Life by Warren and Betsy Talbot. Their description says, “If you’re so exhausted and overwhelmed by your status quo that you can’t even figure out a way to add GOOD things into your life, you need this weekly podcast. Hosts Betsy & Warren Talbot know how to remove what’s not working so you can have more of what you love.” This podcast is helping me evaluate my life through the “uncluttered” lens, AND they provide free resources to help listeners apply the lessons taught in their podcasts. It’s honestly changing my life so I wanted to share it with you!

To start off, you should listen to episode 137, Will Conventional Wisdom Get Me What I Want? Before this episode, their podcast was called something else and had a wider range of topics, but they are fun, intelligent people so I’m sure they are worth listening to as well.

Living tiny is all about simplifying and reducing excess, and you can apply these concepts to your life, even if you aren’t living in a TH.

Our first Meetup!

Tessa has been working hard on coordinating our first in-person meeting with other people in LA who have Tiny Home aspirations or are already living Tiny via our new Meetup group, Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community (link in upper left sidebar). This is the first step towards connecting the TH community in our area, and we are so jazzed to get offline and into real conversations! If you’ve ever talked to a me about tiny living, you probably saw the sparkle [crazed look] in my eyes. I can’t help it! I love tiny living!! We were pleasantly surprised by how many people have joined our group and how many have RSVP’ed to our first event so far. There isn’t a prevalent TH community here in LA, which seemed odd to us when we first moved here, but now that we’ve been here for almost 8 months, we believe it has to do with the sprawl [read: traffic] so we are going to try and combat this by finding meet up locations near Metro stations and rotating between cities to maximize our reach. We’re hoping that if we dedicate our energies to this project, we’ll be the glue that keeps Tiny Angelinos together. Ha, I like that. We should be the Tiny Angelinos Group. Leave a comment if you agree.

This “chat over casual drinks” event is also a step towards our other goal of creating a TH building co-operative. Not only do we want to build our own TH, but we want to help others do it as well! We also know how invaluable community support truly is, and having others building along side us will keep us motivated through challenging times. Ultimately, we envision our sense of community spreading and will approach city council as a group to get zoning laws changed to accommodate TH’s within LA. We know not everyone wants to live in a TH, but it’s not cool that it isn’t a legal option for those of us who do!

If you’re in the LA area and interested in joining us, please RSVP! http://meetu.ps/2VnFVh

MeetUp: Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community

Social media can be annoying but it can also be amazing.  There is a website called MeetUp, and it’s like the Twitter for Facebook’s Events function (if you’ve never used Twitter, it is basically like making a website of the Status updates function from Facebook). If you’re still not tracking what MeetUp is, imagine having a virtual book club where you can join it and get updates on what the next book is or where the next meeting is, and then you RSVP for those events and actually meet as a group. There are MeetUp groups for every kind of interest imaginable here in LA which makes it a swell combination of social media technology and real human interaction! If you’ve got specific interests that none of your current friends share, check out MeetUp to see if there are other weirdos in your area!

But I didn’t write this blog to promote MeetUp, I’m trying to promote OUR MeetUp: Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community!!! Our goal is to meet like-minded people who share the goal of building a Tiny Home (TH), get supporters of Tiny living involved even if they don’t want to/can’t live in a TH, and learn from those already living in TH’s or who have built them. Tessa and I have conceptualized a builder’s co-op, but we need to establish whether there are others who would join and build with us before we launch our idea. We are extremely excited about it and hope you continue to follow our journey! We are doing TINY things!!

Los Angeles Tiny Houses Community

Los Angeles, CA
50 Tiny Home Enthusiasts

Building and living in a tiny home allows for a life of less debt, fewer possessions, greater independence, and more freedom to follow our passions! Are you interested in buil…

Next Meetup

Chat about Tiny Living over casual drinks!

Friday, Mar 18, 2016, 7:45 PM
11 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →