Jill and Mike’s Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Fencl Variation

A couple of months ago Small House Style readers Jill, Mike and their three kids got in touch with us to share their small house success. They built a variation of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Fencl.

Read their story below and check out the pictures at the end of the post.

We live in the Pacific NW and in 2009 we built a variation of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company’s Fencl plan. It is approximately 250sq ft. The cost was about $16K (less than projected, partly because we opted for vinyl windows instead of wood with aluminum cladding.)

Our House: Exterior measurements: 9′ 1.5″ width x 29′ 11″ ft long x 14′ high

There are two lofts, each measuring 9’×8′ with a 54″ ceiling height (at the peak). The lofts add another 160sq ft. Downstairs: There is a child’s room, with a wall-to-wall bed, and play space (3’ high) underneath. A bathroom with a tub & shower. We used a metal horse trough for the Japanese-inspired soaking tub. The main area has vaulted ceilings, and contains a pull-out to king size bed, built in bench that seats 4, a fold down table with folding wooden chairs. The kitchen sits under one of the lofts, so it measures 9′ × 9′, less the corner – front door and tiny porch. Angling the front door allows for storage on both sides of the door. Our kitchen sink is a laundry sink – very deep and useful!

Our Story: In 2007 we were tired of the pressure to maintain a budget that included a $360K house and all that it contained. We began to make a life change by making a goal to live off of 50% of our income. It took about a year to pay off all debts (except the house) and get anywhere close to our budget goal. We attended a Tumbleweed Tiny House Company workshop in Seattle. Lastly, we sold the house – just enough to get out from the loan because of the housing market. But we were free. We rented a small mobile home and began to save. We couldn’t build our house at the rental property, as there was no room. So we saved and decided to wait until the summer to act. Then in Feb. 09, Mike got laid off. We decided the time couldn’t be better with him home to build. We had successfully been living off of 30% of our income – so living off of unemployment was not a big change for us. Though the savings stopped. We bought a 19’ camper trailer and rented a 10×20 shed. In the spring we rented a space in a storage yard, that had hook ups. The owner liked having someone living on the premises and we had a spot to build. We used the shed for a main living area and slept in the camper. The owner gave us cable tv, free water, and the power bill was small. Jill took a job to supplement the trailer building as we anticipated it costing much more than it actually did. In July 09 we used our savings for initial supplies including the trailer. Jill’s income kept the process going. The house was livable by Nov 1st and the weather suggested the little camper & shed had completed their job. We moved the house (with a $10 permit due to the width) to a ¼ acre lot, sold the camper and returned the shed. We continued to finish the inside over the next few months with little work getting done quickly due to the rain. Jill quit her job (it was a stressful management job and money was not really an issue at that point.) We’ve been living in the small house ever since and are happy as can be! We used our extra money to buy a vehicle – no payment! We bought a 10′ × 12′ shed for the tools, freezer, and storage. Even though we really wanted a small house we worried about having room for all of us – there are 5 living here! So we made the house a bit larger than could be traveling with to make sure everyone had their space. Now that we are here we realize that we can definitely go smaller. We plan to build a smaller house, 8.5’ x 24’ so that we can actually travel. We homeschool and would love to be snow birds following the nice weather south.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Check out their Flickr page. Let us know what you think of their story and share your story if you are interested.


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  1. 1

    Dear Fellow Tiny House Fans,

    You’re all invited to a free virtual conference on Tiny Houses, VirtualTinyHouseCon #2, on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 8-9 pm Eastern Time. The plan is to hold it weekly at this time, starting now. I hope you can make it! Anyone from around the world can be there – think of all the awesome people you’ll meet. I’ll be contacting as many people as I can and any help you feel you can provide in spreading the word is very much appreciated. It’s been mentioned to me a number of times that people feel they need some advanced notice, so that might be something to keep in mind if you put up a blog post.

    I have an announcement post up here: http://towardsabettertinyhouse.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/virtualtinyhousecon-2-is-scheduled-for-nov-13-8-to-9-pm-eastern-time-zone/

    All the best,
    Gregor Folouk

  2. 3

    I LOVE that you guys used fabric and shelves rather than cupboards! That must have saved you so much money (most DIY cupboards I’ve seen look like crap), and I never would have thought of it!

  3. 4

    If Jill or Mike happen to read this, could you answer these three questions: What size trailer you used? Also, I don’t see a refrigerator or a cooktop or a stove, how do you do your cooking? And how do you resolve privacy issues with no doors?

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