When it comes to tiny house placement buyers are on their own. Without legal jurisdiction in most areas it's up to TH owners to meet their needs. Therefore a builder might assume electrical access, water access, gas hook-ups, etc... but this is a steep assumption given that tiny houses don't yet have a place in cities and towns. Therefore, no access to sewer lines, etc...
The fact is, before tiny houses are accepted by large numbers of people there are critical issues to resolve and two clear options in building.
First option is to build your TH with all service hookups. All the while fighting for change at the administrative level. This could take a few years especially with regards to building code changes which are dealt with at the provincial level. So your best bet is a rural area where no one notices or cares too much.
Second option is to build without services in mind. The purpose of the GrowCalgary Microhome Competition was largely about offering tiny houses as an affordable, sustainable and simple alternative to the existing. Offering a sustainable type of housing means also promoting a sustainable way of living. At the competition I addressed the 3 main issues of off-grid water, heat and power.
Here’s a rundown of those issues.
First, water. From drinking to cooking to washing dishes to personal hygiene to toilets we all know the importance of H2O. If we are to live simply and off the “water grid” we need to use sparingly it’s that simple. My solution included bringing in 4 jugs of water every week. I estimate that one person could get by with about 70 litres per week (10 L/day). Here’s the breakdown; 2 L per day for drinking, 1 L for cooking, 2 L for washing dishes, 4 L for personal hygiene, 1 L for miscellaneous uses and NO water for your composting toilet.
While the breakdown will not be exact for everyone the total should be ample for most of us. The biggest water usage comes from personal hygiene and toilets. We know over 20 L are easily used up in a shower so rather than including that in the GeoStudios TH I simply made a space to sit with a 4 L water pan and a sponge. Fact is personal hygiene needn't be complicated, nor water intensive. I will elaborate on the composting toilet in part 2.
If you are contemplating living in a tiny house it will be worth your time experimenting with these numbers. Remember the last time you went camping without a campsite water hookup. How much water did you use? Was that holding tank empty when you returned?
Do give your water use some thought. It will become very critical in the near future. And don't let the fear stop you from making a huge difference to the planet.
Feel free to leave your comments.
OK so GeoStudios has entered the Microhome competition at the Grow Calgary site. This is both exciting and nerve wracking!
It’s exciting because I get to showcase the GeoStudio ‘DomeHome’ which offers an excellent solution to housing issues today (as does the entire tiny house movement). And nerve wracking because the timeline to build one of these is much more than what I had previously thought, given the added features needed ie, toilet and washing facility, basic cooking appliances, sleeping space for two.
So why embark on such a crazy and risky venture? Answer: The personal belief that change in how we live needs to happen asap. We are on the brink (I'm talking less than 5 years) of ecological stress that will disrupt everyone's lives in one way or another. Sounds negative but it needs to be said and needs to be acted on. I want to be part of the solution.
The competition goes through the summer as tiny house builders will put together their structures. Some teams will build in place at the Grow Calgary site here. The awards weekend will be September 15 & 16. The poster on the website describes the 3 categories of the contest. GeoStudios has entered the 100 sq ft category. The reason for creating such a category is no accident. In Lethbridge and Calgary a 100 sq ft accessory building doesn’t need a building permit. As you can imagine this has huge implications.
In the next few weeks I’ll be putting together something very unique that will be adaptable to people’s backyards without worry of red tape or interventions of any kind.
Anyone interested in participating or just checking out the build or just lending encouragement is welcome to come by my place in Lethbridge. Call/txt ahead of course, 403.593.2030.
I wanted to preserve a wooden bench I’ve built for the Good Spirit Acres dome.
We know that regular pressure treated lumber is not the most eco-friendly option we have if we want to put wood outdoors and not rot in 5 years. Or so I thought. Then I ran across something called Eco Wood Treatment. It’s simple to use, you get a package of powder and mix it into a gallon of water. When applying it really is like just putting water onto your wood. Use a roller, brush, spray gun, sponge, anything. In fact the directions state you can even just submerge your wood in the product. Way easy! I got this package, which makes one gallon, at Windsor plywood for about 20 bucks.
Now to wait to see if it really is effective. Time will tell. One very interesting feature about this wood preservative is that it changes the colour of the wood to a kind of grey patina so that it appears as though it’s aged. Especially good if you’re aiming for that antique look. New meaning to 50 shades of grey!
Me and camping never did get along that well. It seems like there was always something that wasn’t right. If it wasn’t the mattress too thin or the ground too hard, or if the bugs weren’t always swirling around my head or the smoke from the campfire was getting in my eyes or that missed shower made me feel “icky”. I swear I've had more cold nights camping than nights where I actually slept. Point is, there always seemed to some 'thing' that spoiled the fun. Which, I dunno, guess that makes me somewhat of an anomaly in Canadian culture. There's relief. I now know I’m not alone.
Yes the numbers of people who are coming out of the “I don’t care much for traditional camping” closet, is increasing. And it is servicing a growing market. And it’s not just the boomers. Check this: https://www.hikebiketravel.com/41744/10-places-youll-want-to-go-glamping-in-alberta/
So to my delight they’ve discovered chocolate and peanut butter really do taste good together. They combined the words glamour (I suppose) with camping.
Picture this. You’re in the woods on a dark night enjoying the sounds of a rushing river (or a babbling brook). You and your SO have been enjoying some quiet time by the river, maybe a walk and then decide it’s time to pack it in. Where do you go? If you’re a Glamper you won’t retreat to a traditional tent. You won’t endure ickiness, smokiness or rain. Instead you’ll step into a tiny GeoStudio and enjoy a view of the stars. From the comfort of your bed you'll be able to gaze through glass top dome.
Now THATS camping, er glamping. :)
This blog follows the themes of reusing materials, creating local opportunities, value adding to product and reducing our waste. All these can be had with minimum money investment and a regular time investment that would help us all move towards a society of zero waste.
I love wood. In all it’s forms. And I like to work with wood. In fact it is the prime material I use to build GeoStudios. I go through all kinds of materials in my shop that can be repurposed, wood is the most common. Too often, this material goes to the landfill which is not my preferred destination since I like to work in a “zero waste” environment. While a zero waste environment is not practical and sometimes not possible under existing circumstances, moving towards that goal is a step-at-a-time process.
So, I would love to reuse this wood but there’s only 24 hours in a day. I do have a few ideas on how this resource can be used short of using it as firewood - which is a great option but still not on top of my “best uses” list. My favourite use for this material would be to chip it and bury it in my backyard. In this way the wood acts as a type of “hugelkultur”. Check this 60 second video for an introduction... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zn3-DNWK80 Alas, I presently have no wood chipper so that option is non-existent.
Another issue is the plywood scraps - which I wouldn’t want in my hugelkultur anyways due to the use of glues in plywood. So I seek someone to pick up those plywood scraps and reuse them for their woodworking projects or business. From birdhouses to plant boxes to picture frames there is a myriad of household re-purpose items one can make. We are merely restricted by our imaginations.
If you have a wish to create something out of wood, the first thing you should do is set up the tooling for the task, then a workspace and then obtain the materials. I can take care of the last part and would be willing to work with anyone trying to implement the first two parts as well. Few things are as rewarding as learning a skill AND using that skill to make something beautiful. Or in the common vernacular, add value to product.
So if you or someone you know is interested in moving in this direction send them to me. Begin the journey!
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.