Sunday, November 17, 2013

Let Me Introduce Myself: The Architect

The title should come with a bit of a disclaimer.
I am not yet an actual, official, registered architect. In fact, I'm not even out of school yet.

I am, however, incredibly fascinated with the idea of designing a small dwelling place. I was properly inspired by the lovely Sarah Susanka, architect and author of nine best-selling books, and the originator of the "Not So Big" philosophy of residential architecture which aims to built better, not bigger. At least, that's what wikipedia tells me.

Hey, and check this out. Someone apparently was inspired...that's 80 square feet right there. Crazy right? light of all of this, when Deb came up with this harebrained scheme to convert a bus into a home...well, I had to hop on board.

So, here I am, ready to give my two-cents and my design school year short of true expertise.

What about me can I share with you? I'm 22 and I love Jesus. I've got family back in Texas (and Texas will always be the home to my heart) but currently residing in California suits me pretty stinking well, I must say. I'd like to describe myself as artsy fartsy because I think it's a silly term and it makes me laugh. But seriously, I think I would do better telling you what I'm not interested in than trying to share what does interest me. But I'll try anyway: architecture (obviously), fashion, art, books and writing, music, crafting, and drinking coffee....yea, especially that last one.

What does that mean I can bring to the team? Um...well, I'll always make sure that these other two lovely ladies have plenty of coffee to keep them alert and focused and on task. :) And if that doesn't pay the bills, I don't know what does.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pardon Me....

I think the thing that worries me the most about moving into a Tiny House of any kind is the bathroom situation. I can get rid of all my stuff, I can cook in a tiny kitchen, I can find SOMEWHERE to park it, but this whole bathroom thing is the most intimidating topic.

The idea of a composting toilet honestly freaks me out a bit. The idea of just having a bucket with a toilet seat over it is, frankly, a little gross. The more videos I watch though, the more I'm considering the idea. People, on YouTube anyway, keep saying that as long as you do it right, it won't smell. Fortunately, they haven't invented Smell-O-Vision yet. I really like the idea of not wasting water, of having good compost, and generally not abusing the environment.

There are other forms of the composting toilet, which is nice. There are companies that make the toilets, so they seal, vent and mix the compost for you, so you don't have to think about it as much.

I like this idea a lot because it actually LOOKS like a toilet. I think the bucket idea is just ugly.

Another option is the Incinerating toilet. It looks like there are a couple different brands of this one as well, and I like this one because there is no storage necessary. The composting toilets require bins, but this one burns it up as you use it. Unfortunately, one of the videos I saw said that the ash is not appropriate for use on plants and needs to be disposed of in your household trash. And another video said that they smelled awful! With composting toilets, the video-makers focused on the fact that they don't smell at all, or just like dirt. With the incinerating toilets, they focused more on how cool it was to be able to burn your poo, glossing over the part where you should tell people if it smelled or not. To use this one, you'd have to have some AMAZING ventilation.

The last option would be a more conventional option: an RV or boat toilet. This would be very "Normal", but it would require a black-water holding tank, and require water for flushing. Also, after watching the above video, I really don't like the RV toilet option.

As of right now, a manufactured composting toilet is my top pick. We'll have to see what the other girls think about it....  :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Opening Decisions

I need to point out before I get too far into this process that I am only just starting to make decisions about this project.  I know that I want to do it, but that's it.

This post is a list of things I (we) need to consider before even beginning:
  1. Bus or House?
    • A bus is mobile, but a house is cuter.
    • A house will need to be towed, which would mean buying or renting a truck every time I wanted to move it (and who knows how often that will be).
    • When it comes to trailers (house), I would probably need to get someone else to drive the truck. I moved cross country from Florida to Los Angeles, towing a trailer, and my mom did 75% of the driving because I had no idea what to do. Going straight down the highway was fine, but forget parking.
    • Because I would not be carrying passengers, I wouldn't need a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). I would however need lessons on how to drive it, though there's a lovely woman in my church who drives a school bus who can probably teach me. (Note to self: ask her advice!!)
  2. Plumbing
    • I will definitely need a grey water holding tank, to hold waste-water. 
    • We'll also need a fresh water tank, for the sink and shower.
    • Toilet? This is a difficult one. There are pro's and con's to each of the solutions I've seen
      • Composting toilet - easy to install, but the idea just grosses me out.
      • Incinerating Toilet - How efficient is it really? Would it be strong enough to handle daily use by 3 people? Does it smell? How do you clean it?
      • RV toilet - the closest thing to what we have at home: easy to clean, easy to operate, "normal." Would need to install a black water holding tank, which would mean finding a way to dump it: stopping at an RV park once a week? Or a campground? 
      • Are there any other options?
    • Kitchen sink/ Drinkable water: do we lug it in in 5-gallon jugs? (That's what I do now.) Do we use that water just for drinking? Or for the kitchen sink in general?
  3. Electrical
    • I have no idea what to even consider here. I know I will need to be able to run 
      • lighting
      • computers (probably just charging, but there are still 3 of us)
      • cell phones
      • Fridge (full size or mini?)
      • Cook top (gas or electric?)
      • I don't want to have a TV at all, especially as there is no way to get cable (and I wouldn't want it anyway). We can run Netflix or Hulu from our laptops.
      • microwave? I'm not sure I want one. I certainly don't use it that much.
      • other appliances?
    • I want to go Solar, but how big a system will I need for the above? What about batteries? And where do I put the panels?
    • Outlets?
    • Wiring?
    • DIY or Professional install? (Probably pro: electrical is a bit scary to me.)
  4. Vehicle - this goes hand-in-hand with the bus/house question.
    • If I go house: I will need to rent/buy a truck just to move it. I don't like trucks
    • If I go bus, how to I bring my car along for the ride when I move?
    • I've thought about getting another scooter (I won one on the Price is Right and then crashed it a couple months later). I could store it on the bus or the patio area of a house while moving, so I don't have to drive 2 vehicles.
    • I just bought my car in May, I don't WANT to get rid of it, but I will need to be practical, and the payments aren't cheap.
  5. Registration / Parking / DMV etc
    • The House would technically be a trailer or RV, but the bus is it's own vehicle. I know there are ares of the city that it's illegal to park an unattached trailer on the street, but I don't know what the restrictions are for parking a bus on the street wherever.
    • For a house, I would want to find a backyard or something similar where we could set up and just live, like in a guest house. I would not want to park it on the street.
    • A bus I would love to be able to tool around the city. Maybe advertise this blog on the side and help me pay for the whole project. Which reminds me:
  6. Budget
    • The two projects are different, but similar at the same time. 
    • A bus would have a larger interior, and would need more finish materials, flooring, paint, etc. But the exterior is done, and we wouldn't need to build the structure.
    • A house would require more exterior materials, and would be smaller inside.
    • I'd like to use leftover materials from other building projects, maybe vintage windows or the like if I did a house. 
    • The initial outlay for the bus is a lot more than a trailer, but then I'm going to bring up the whole needing to buy or rent a truck thing again. Something I'm not keen to do.
  7. Build-out location
    • Either project would require a location to do the build. I live in an apartment in Santa Monica, so there's no doing it here. I have friends with houses up in the valley, but then I'd be driving all over the place to work on this.
    • I feel like the bus might be easier because I could literally just park it at the Home Depot and build it there. Maybe.  
      • Oooh! Maybe I could get Home Depot to sponsor the project. That would be cool! or Lowe's. Or OSH.
      • And then I could get someone to help me do a video blog of it, and they could post it on their website.
  8. Other items
    • Decor. Ok, I know this is something I won't really need to think about until it's done, but at the same time, I need to think about the location of items, where I'm going to put the fridge, where I want lights, and all that. Plus, because of weight distribution, I'll need to consider the weight of furniture and other items. I don't want the whole house or bus to fall over to one side.
    • A Bus has an engine. I will need to think about gas prices, repairs (Do I stay in a hotel if the bus needs repairs, or can I live in it at the Mechanic's Shop?), mileage, etc.
    • Insurance. I need it. How much will it cost me?

I know there's a bunch of other things that I will need to think about. If you have anything else for me (us) to consider, please comment!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Begin the Beguine

I had to start this blog off with something a little Jazzy, a little fun, and completely out of the ordinary. 

I am completely OBSESSED with the tiny house movement. From houses on tiny trailers that are less than 150 square feet, to converted buses, to Airstream trailers, and restored vintage RVs, I love them all.

This is the very beginning of my journey into this world. I've been reading blogs and newsletters, drooling over photos, and trying to figure out the whole toilet situation in these things. (Honestly, the toilet issue is what I'm most concerned about.)

I am probably not the only one who is going to be posting here, but I'll let the others introduce themselves if they decide to write anything here.

About me: I am a 30 year old Christian actress and photographer. I am an only child and a bit of a pack rat. Up until recently, I was working an office job. I really liked the people there, but the job itself was not my cup of tea. Even though I have a degree in business, I am a very creative, artsy person, and do not do well in an office setting (I am by no means saying that artsy people can't work in offices, just that I can't). Unfortunately, as much as I was doing my work, and trying to make the best of it, my boss could see that I wasn't happy, and let me go. So now, I'm officially unemployed, trying to make the acting and photography work for me. I'm also about to try my hand at voice-overs and recording audiobooks.  Basically, I do a bit of everything, but I'm a performer at heart.

This is my current plan:
  1. Buy a bus from The British Bus Company
  2. Convert it to a livable situation
  3. Find a place to park the thing!
 Not necessarily in that order....

This whole thing is going to be a process. I (we) have to figure out everything from parking, to plumbing, to electrical (solar?), to heating (is it even necessary here in LA?), decor, to that stupid toilet issue (composting toilet, vs. RV toilet, vs. incinerating toilet, vs. other??)!!

Here we go!!