Bill and I have had the pleasure of being fellow speakers with Ethan Waldman at the last two Tiny House Conferences, and both our homes were featured in a Fiscal Times article in 2016. Ethan began building his tiny house in rural Vermont in 2012. He started a blog when the house was still just an idea and, today, that blog has thousands of readers. Ethan's two eBooks, Tiny House Decisions and Tiny House Parking, have been praised by readers for their practical tips and extensive research. His latest project, Tiny House Engage, is an online support group for people researching or building tiny houses.
Simply Enough: Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to go tiny?
Ethan Waldman: For me, it was mostly a financial decision, but wound up being a lifestyle decision. I was working a corporate job that wasn’t making me very happy, and I really wanted to have my own business. But I just couldn’t imagine supporting myself through starting a new business with the monthly expenses I had at the time. I looked at everything and realized that rent was my biggest monthly expense. When I saw Tammy Strobel’s blog (rowdykittens.com) and was introduced to the tiny house on wheels concept, I knew it was the answer to my problem.
Your house is beautiful. I think you worked with someone on your design. How did you decide to go that route and how did that collaboration work?
I worked with Milford Cushman (cushmandesigngroup.com). I initially purchased a set of plans and was all set to build them. Milford is a family friend who knew about my intentions to build a tiny house. Over dinner at my parents house, I showed him the plans and he offered to work with me on designing something for me. I brought him and his team photos of many different tiny houses I loved and they started sketching from there.
Your plans are available for sale on you site. Have you seen any houses built with your plans?
I just started selling the plans in mid 2016, so I haven’t seen any completed houses yet. I can’t wait, though!
You built your house yourself. Did you have help for any of the build? What surprised you about the building process?
I did hire a local carpenter to help, which turned out to be a really smart decision. I worked the first three months alone and barely made any progress. Once Jason and I started working together I had someone who could teach me as we went a long. I still did a lot of work on my own but having someone to call and consult with was a huge confidence builder. I was shocked by just how much work it is. Even though the house is small, there are points along the way where the tasks just feel like endless chores. And then, all of a sudden, you’re done.
What do you like the most about your house after living in it for some time now? What's something you would do differently if you were starting over?
I love all the windows. Even though they make the house slightly harder to heat, all of the natural light inside the house is amazing. If I was starting over, I’d consider a shed roof to maximize head room in my loft.
One of your tag lines is "Build your tiny house smarter and faster!" Can you give us one "build smarter" tip and one "build faster" tip?
You can build faster by building smarter. All by planning your build in advance! Know what appliances you’re using, what colors you're painting, and what cabinets you’re using before you start. Make your tiny house decisions before you start so you can focus on getting the job done.
Please tell us a little about your latest project, Tiny House Engage?
It’s been an adventure! The idea is to create a community of people who can help each other along their tiny house journeys. Plus, we do a live call each week (sometimes Q&A, sometimes with guests!) and those calls get recorded and put into the growing video training library. We have a group of about 50 people and I’d estimate that at least 10 of them are currently building tiny houses. It’s fun to connect with people who are in the thick of things with their projects. People can learn more and find out when registration opens next at http://thetinyhouse.net/tiny-house-engage.