Reinventing Life With Tiny Houses
How much space do you really need? Jay Shafer believes at 89 square feet, the entire world is your home.
For 10 years, Jay Shafer has been living in a house the size of a walk-in closet. Shafer’s home is 98 square feet, and the spark that ignited his housing company, Tumbleweed Houses.
Shafer’s move from a normal sized (4000 sq foot) home to his new tiny abode has “completely transformed” his life.. There is less mortgage to pay and less utility bill. Energy consumption is down and environmental footprint is smaller. For the real benefits, however, you have to look deeper. Improved health, greater creativity, more effectiveness, better relationships, reduced consumerism, and general transcendence are all benefits of living in a space where there is zero waste.
“Very early on, I was living in the cab of a truck in the backyard of my parents’ place. Just because we were building a house and my room hadn’t been build yet, so I would sleep in the truck. So that was my first tiny house…” says Shafer.
Living in Tokyo later gave him more ideas on how living in a small space could be done. He marveled at a bathroom that measured 4 x 4 feet. “That’s where I spent my vacation, in the bathroom, looking at the dimensions of the bathroom and how they fit a shower and bathtub and a toilet and a sink all in one little 16-square-foot room.”
He’s now selling houses 65 – 500 square foot in size. They contain all the necessary features of a typical home. The houses are custom built to the needs of the client. They use some of the best quality, sustainable materials around. A ready made, 100 square foot house can be ordered for roughly $45,000. Ordering the materials and assembling yourself only costs you about $21,000. The most inexpensive Tumbleweed House ever built was by Dee Williams, for about $10,000. To keep costs down she used about 1/2 recycled materials.
Business has been growing as Jay Shafer transfers to full time designing and building Tumbleweed Homes. For his own personal house, he’s mounted the home on wheels, allowing him to quickly relocate and find new, more attractive places to live. For example, this week he’s leaving his location of six months and moving to a new site in a redwood grove. The wheels also allow him to bypass building codes which were written with much larger dwellings in mind.
“You know, I had a landlord once who was a pseudo-hippie and would come out and search the recycling bin and the trash can and make sure that I didn’t throw one piece of paper away,” says Shafer, “That doesn’t win over anybody, the eco-nazi thing, you just gotta show people the positives of living well.”
Watch the Jay Shafer feature from Yahoo’s Second Act: