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Gizmag talks to the creators of The Tiny Project – less house, more life

By

January 19, 2014

American web designer Alek Lisefski has recently finished building his very own tiny house...

American web designer Alek Lisefski has recently finished building his very own tiny house on wheels

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Following in the footsteps of the Tiny Tack House and Pocket Shelter, American web designer Alek Lisefski has recently finished building his very own tiny house on wheels. After becoming tired of paying high rental costs and with the goal of owning his own home, constructing a micro and mobile house became the perfect solution for Alek and girlfriend Anjali.

In mid 2012, Lisefski started researching different building options from a range of plans and models but couldn't quite find anything that matched his style or needs. He then decided to design the entire home from scratch and thus commenced what he has dubbed "The Tiny Project."

"Once I saw a few pictures of the tiny house on wheels concept, I fell in love with it," Alek Lisefski tells Gizmag. "It provided me with a more affordable way to build my own house; one that was mobile to take anywhere and I saw there being many benefits to tiny house living."

The final result is a 240 sq ft (22.3 sq m) wooden home which was built using traditional construction methods. However, extra care was taken to ensure it would withstand the wind and bumps when traveling on the road. The interior floor space measures 8 x 20 ft (2.4 by 6 m) and features an elevated loft half that size. It also boasts a small 24 sq ft (2.2 sq m) outdoor porch and Lisefski has plans to add a fold-down deck to one side of the house, offering more outdoor living space.

"My design came about to maximize the interior loft space, hence the shed-style roof instead of gabled roof," says Lisefski. "I was also inspired by all of the nicer modern homes I saw when walking my dog. I wanted something that was slightly different and more modern. The use of two different exterior cladding materials helps set it apart."

The interior of the micro home consists of a main living area with high ceilings, elevated loft bedroom, mini kitchen and bathroom. Space-saving furniture, such as the foldable desk and dining table, have been built into the home's structure, along with shelves, storage space and, in fact, just about all of the household furnishings.

Space-saving furniture such as the foldable desk and dining table have been built into the...

The house is fitted with 10 windows throughout, plus an all-glass door for lots of natural light and air circulation; a storage closet which also contains a propane on-demand water heater; a combination washer/dryer unit; and pantry storage. The kitchen features a two-burner stainless steel range stove with oven unit and a stainless steel counter-height fridge. The bathroom has a small hand basin, shower cubicle and composting toilet.

"I chose materials for energy efficiency and beauty," adds Lisefski. "Closed-cell spray foam makes it very tight and efficient, while sustainable beetle-kill pine adds beauty to the ceiling and walls. Carbonized strand bamboo is sustainably harvested and the beetle-kill pine comes from standing dead ponderosa pine trees, killed by the pine beetle outbreak."

In its current form, the home is set to keep utility bills low, although these could be reduced even further with the addition of solar panels and a water tank.

"Being so small, it is super easy to heat and it uses very little power for a few select appliances," says Lisefski. "Passive solar design brings in lots of light and heats it up in the winter and high-efficiency lighting (all LED) uses hardly any power."

The entire process from start to finish, including all of the design and planning, took Lisefski close to a year to complete. The construction time itself was seven to eight months and the cost of materials was close to US$30,000. "Most of the time was me working by myself each evening and on weekends," says Lisefski. "Many tiny houses are cheaper, but this is really a "dream home" despite its size and I often chose materials for reasons other than lowest cost."

'The Tiny Project' by Alek Lisefski sits amid its natural landscape in California

The Californian resident was also inspired by how tiny living could help change and enrich his life. "Inhabiting such a small space will force me to live in a simpler, more organized and efficient way," says Lisefski. "Without room to hoard things and hide away from the world, I’ll be forced to spend more time outdoors, in nature and engaging with my community… While living in such a small house, my space, and in turn each area of my life, will be simpler, less chaotic, and free from all but what is essential. That sounds really great to me!"

The happy tiny residents, Alek with girlfriend Anjali

Having completed his labor of love, Lisefski will now be selling plans of his home and hopes to offer advice and consulting for other tiny house enthusiasts.

"I want to stay actively involved in the tiny house world, possibly helping to create tiny house communities," says Lisefski. "I want to make it easier for people to build tiny homes and find legal places to park them – the support of a community and shared resources would really be of benefit of tiny house dwellers."

Source: The Tiny Project via Designboom

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema.   All articles by Bridget Borgobello
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19 Comments

It's an RV. Only heavier.

Fairly Reasoner
20th January, 2014 @ 08:15 am PST

Who cleans up all the broken dishware and open cabinet stuff from the floor when transporting it over bumpy roads and such. Stuff would be flying everywhere. Otherwise I love the idea. Does it have a composting toilet?

rik.warren
20th January, 2014 @ 08:19 am PST

The tiny house movement is gaining tremendous momentum as young and old begin to explore the value of home ownership without being a slave to an unending mortgage note. The structures are typically built using conventional building techniques in use for centuries and afford the owner privacy, safety and much more.

John Mauldin
20th January, 2014 @ 08:20 am PST

So other than being an Airstream trailer made of wood rather than aluminum, this is an incredible new concept because....?

f8lee
20th January, 2014 @ 08:21 am PST

"Tiny house on wheel" = caravan...

Keith Reeder
20th January, 2014 @ 08:50 am PST

Only in California...

JAT
20th January, 2014 @ 09:01 am PST

Minimalist is where I've been heading for several years now so I really like the concept . That said a nice used airstream or any trailer looks like a better option in many ways . In order for this to become a viable option for people a legal place to park them is going to be needed . Some thing like a trailer park , but then you're getting into what 4 or 5 hundred dollars a month park rent ? The real problem is that better than 50% of people who live and work here really can't afford to live here . One thing for sure is , the McMansion era is over .

Joe Black
20th January, 2014 @ 09:35 am PST

"I want to make it easier for people to build tiny homes and find legal places to park them – the support of a community and shared resources would really be of benefit of tiny house dwellers."

like a trailer park perhaps ? gee why didn't he think of that ?

Jeffrey J Carlson
20th January, 2014 @ 09:55 am PST

Lighten up on the kid. He & his GF are being age appropriate. They imagine they thought of everything first. No doubt the first cattle drive operator thought he was really smart to have figured out how to build a whole kitchen into a wagon. On the down side, however, all that beetle-killed ponderosa pine will not last long in the progressively drier, fire prone California hills. Being small gives them some chance of being able to hitch up & run.

StWils
20th January, 2014 @ 11:18 am PST

Why all the negative comments? Easy to stand on the side,not contributing or designing a thing in life, and being negative. Lighten up people.

chidrbmt
20th January, 2014 @ 01:45 pm PST

Mortgage free living should be everyones goal. Downsizing is one way. The owner-built house is another. If you know you want to stay put, buying raw land and building yourself if a big step toward financial security. It's certainly more secure than hitching your star to a corp. The goal of self sufficiency strengthens self esteem and leads to a higher quality life.

That said, I would move the toilet into a separate room. Also, he put in way too many windows to be practical. Less means easier to heat/cool. He says he want to encourage getting outdoors. Windows for light only will do that.

Don Duncan
20th January, 2014 @ 01:59 pm PST

Do a follow up on this couple after about 10 to 20 years of living in that thing on a daily basis. I'd be willing to bet that they'd be stark raving mad or at least one small push away from the edge.

In all seriousness, it will be interesting to see how many (if any) of the biggest proponents of this lifestyle are still living this way in a few years when it is no longer fashionable to do so as quite simply these structures, regardless of how much positive spin is put on them, are not feasible for long term daily life.

Rt1583
20th January, 2014 @ 06:29 pm PST

I think it looks pretty good, but don't see an exhaust fan for that gas stove. Those stoves do NOT burn as clean as people think, they are at serious risk of health if they are running that stove without a range hood.

Sean Ross
20th January, 2014 @ 06:56 pm PST

A for effort but the implementation is a mess. There is a reason for slanted roofs. It lets rain drain off. Obviously not a problem in Cali, but anywhere else is a non-option. Also, pine? Seriously? Any number of critters could eat a hole straight through it within minutes. Enjoy being infested with rats within days. There isn't even solar power. You wouldn't survive any cold nights in this thing.

I'm all for the small home movement but this is just a joke. The guy is probably some rich kid who wishes he was a hippy. He'll move back to his rich parents' house within the year, mark my words.

coresnake
20th January, 2014 @ 07:10 pm PST

I have to agree with chidrbmt.

You people should lighten up-

what great accomplishments do you have to your credit

that entitle you to so arrogantly hold them and their work in contempt?

Is this not the essence of the American Dream-

to search for wide open spaces and create a unique place

to call your very own?

Never trust an expert with no experience!

Griffin
20th January, 2014 @ 09:45 pm PST

I thought that he had done a wonderful job, the use of windows may take some more heating but the effect with all the light is really something, it does not feel closed in in anyway. You can see that he actually lives in it from the photographs and that shows the functionality off very well, even the dog fits in!!!! It is of course not right for everyone but it is the concept that I like and the use of normal fitting, not custom made one, and nowhere does it look overcrowded and cluttered.

I am speaking from experience, my wife and I have moved into an Annex from a large family home and with organisation and thought we have everything that we want and need, and it is so much easier to live with. More light would be an advantage, this is what I really like about this idea.

JSSFB
20th January, 2014 @ 11:11 pm PST

A comment to the negative commentors out their. Do your research.

This couple has built this house to IBC standards and then some.

Having read their blog and viewed all of the build pictures. I can say this house is built better than yours or mine.

It is more energy efficient

It's is built with an unmatched standard that I know my builder didn't put into my Mc-mansion house.

It is more resistant to any type of infestation than your house or mine. Yes even the underside, which has metal flashing covering it.

As for the "Beetle-kill pine, it is the decorative wood on the inside not the stained wood on the outside.

This is a house not an RV. It is designed to be lived in on a full time basis of which an RV is not built for or suited for.

Because of housing codes that require a full time residence to be of a minimum size, the house has to be put on wheels to side step it as a "temporary building". Of which is an advantage because it can move with you to your next location. The intent is not to travel from place to place as an RV would.

Yes, tiny home dwelling is not for everyone. And if they decide to upsize to a traditional house later on. Think of the money they will have been able to save.

And about them being in trailer parks; these homes fall into a gap in zoning codes. They are not a permanent dwelling with a permanent foundation. They are not an RV and they are not a mobile-home. And thus due to zoning are not allowed in most mobile home communities or HOA controlled communities. His desire to design a community is a desire to own land and live within his community with legal zoning to accept his housing choice

The best way to read/look at this, is as a challenge to be a better more focused you in the way you live.

We encourage people to be resourceful, but when they win at it, you dismiss them?

This couple is resourceful, bold, creative, and living life a lot better than most of us.

Ask yourself; Are you dept free? Because they are!

Throwing uninformed negative comments at an article under pseudo-names is not be very bold, maybe creative, but not bold.

I give kudos to this couple. They are living their dream and winning at it.

Barrett Hartman
21st January, 2014 @ 10:09 am PST

I think a couple points need to be addressed here.

The difference between a RV and tiny home is entirely minimal before "tiny homes" became a fad they were one in the same, see 1930s-1950s. A tiny home must be an RV under most cases to be legal since most do not meet code, including this one. To be legal it would have to meet a minimum size requirement and in most areas require a real sanitary system, IE sewer or septic hookup.

As to debt free, I would say less debt. Tiny homes cost a lot of money to build, probably years worth of rent in a similar sized apartment. So to build one of these things, you need to have a lot of money to begin with. Its a good idea but I see a lot of people too invested in the tiny house movement to acknowledge some of the movements own limitations.

Dawkins
21st January, 2014 @ 12:46 pm PST

$30k way to much i purchased a 22ft Rv for $1,500 39k miles on it. Rv like boats can be had for almost nothing

Leonard Foster Jr
21st January, 2014 @ 06:38 pm PST
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