Tiny House Meet-up! 

On Friday May 26th, I was already excited. I cleaned the house and packed our bags so we would be ready to go as soon as Max was done work. I was off on Friday, but he got called in, so we would be leaving later than planned. Fortunately I was able to get Sunday off – something that almost never happens – and so off we went to Cape Breton!

Destination: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Purpose: Attend a Tiny House Meet-up for the first time ever!

(And also visit family)

So I should probably begin by explaining what all of that means.

To sum it up, a Tiny House is a very small home, often built on a flat bed trailer, that is meant to be eco-friendly and often, a means to be more financially independent. As for the Tiny House movement, it is not actually about owning Tiny Houses or building them, but rather about a minimalist lifestyle, about community, about teamwork, accountability, and financial stability. To quote Carey Rolfe, it allows us to “[enjoy] all the things that life can bring.”

When we talk about a Meet-up event, well it’s basically as the name states – an organized meeting of people who have similar interests to discuss about a specific topic. The topic in question this time: Tiny Houses.

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I figured not many people would show up, that it might not even be a real thing. But I dragged Max over there and we were pleasantly surprised.

As we entered the room where the event was taking place, we were greeted by over a dozen people, maybe even twenty, and not everyone had arrived yet. We looked around to decide where we would like to sit, and we landed where I always prefer to be seated: right in the front.

Immediately, I looked around to see if I could find who was leading the event, because it was one of our goals to record and film during the entirety of the event, and we certainly didn’t want to do that without permission. Everyone seemed OK with the idea, and they jumped into it right away.

The first person to take the stand was a woman named Tracey. We soon learned that she had attended a Tiny House Conference in Portland, OR – side note, they cost a fortune to attend, which is why we have never been – and that she was challenged to take action to help the Tiny House Movement. Finally, she decided what she would do to help, and that was to organize a Tiny House Meet-up in Cape Breton.

She then went on to introduce our speakers: Carey Rolfe, from Underway Tiny EcoHomes, followed by July Pratt and Nicki Duenkel, whom you may have heard of in the news, who moved into their Cape Breton based Tiny House in late 2015.

Carey spoke to us a bit about the purpose of Meet Ups, because he is actually the head organizer of Tiny House meet-ups all through Nova Scotia. But mostly, his talk focused on his business and what they do. It was surprisingly impressive, especially to find this kind of work being done in Nova Scotia. Basically, his company not only works on building Tiny homes, but also acts as a supplier for materials specific to Tiny Houses, some of which are just not available at the local home renovation stores.

“Our goal was never to be the builder of choice, but rather to be the supplier of builders of sustainable homes.”

One of the products that they are encouraging others to buy are Structural insulated panels. In short, they consist of two sheathings – I am pretty sure this means two pieces of wood, one of the outside, one on the inside – with an insulating piece of foam core in between them. Why is this is better than regular insulation, you might ask? Well, for tiny homes, it’s definitely the space aspect of it. Using this type of insulation makes for thinner walls and allows you some extra space on the inside of your Tiny House. And of course, that’s on top of all the usual benefits of their strength, their efficiency, and how cost effective they are. According to Cary Rolfe, the R value – I was told this means the power that the insulation has to keep the heat in – is “as much as a 2X6 wall.”

 

Carey also touched on other subjects during his talk, and one thing that really spoke to me was when he started mentioning financials. Reality check – it’s not always possible to build a Tiny House for under $20 000 in our climate. We live in East Coast Canada, not in Portland, Oregon. We have really cold temperatures, we have strong winds. We have large amounts of snowfall, and we have large amounts of rainfall too. We live in a 4 season environment, so our Tiny Houses need to reflect that. And that being said, it is – in my opinion – better to put more money into your Tiny Home to ensure its longevity if you do plan on living in the Maritimes.

And speaking of living tiny in the Maritimes, that’s exactly what Judy and Nicki were there to share with us.

Judy and Nicki first moved into their Tiny House about 18 months ago, which is located in a small town outside of Sydney, Nova Scotia. If you haven’t heard of them, you definitely need to check out this CBC Article and watch their video.
Their Tiny Home is nothing but ordinary. It is incredibly unique, in the sense that it meets all of their wants and needs, all inside a very small space. They have all the luxuries they don’t want to live without – and that includes a tiny dog elevator!!

You read that right – a doggy elevator! Judy and Nicki have an 11 year old corgi named Shanti with a bad back who has slept in their bed since they adopted him, so they told the builder that they couldn’t move forward until they could find a way for him to get upstairs. And after much research, the builder – Matt from Howling Dog Construction – came up with the idea of a small electric winch-powered elevator that the dog would fit into!

Of course, there is much more to their Tiny House than just their doggy elevator. I was happy to see that they decided to go with steps instead of a ladder to get to the main loft – our preference as well. They also had a very cool kitchen design, which was U shaped, with one of the back corners being used as storage – from the outside of the house!

When it was finally time for them to make the move into Tiny – that’s what they named her – they found themselves asking one main question: “What am I attached to, and why?” A very important question indeed, as I think we are all aware that one of the biggest sacrifices when making the move into a Tiny House is downsizing the amount of stuff we own/keep.

As for insurance – which is one of my biggest concerns – Judy and Nicki explained that their Tiny House is insured as a Mini Home. However, they did have to get it tied down and skirted for it to be considered a Mini Home. We still aren’t too sure how that will work in New Brunswick, but I’m assuming it’s probably the same as in Nova Scotia. (More info on that in a later post…)

To finish the Meet-up, Matt from Howling Dog Constructions brought up some photos of his two Tiny House builds, the first being for Judy and Nicki, and the second being a much more luxurious Tiny House for a couple from New York who wanted a summer home in Nova Scotia. And of course the question came up: how much does a Tiny House like that cost? This New York couple paid a whopping $130 000 for their custom made Tiny House – keeping in mind that they paid a builder for his time, on top of all the materials including furniture and appliances, one of which included a special order backsplash from a showroom in New York. At this point, Judy and Nicki spoke up to let us know they most certainly did not pay that much for their Tiny House, but it just goes to show you can put whatever amount of money you want into a Tiny House and make it work for your wants and your needs.

And of course we stayed after it was all done, just to say thank you to everyone, and to ask some more questions. Max went to speak with the two builders, with one of which he had a very interesting conversation about the design he had done in regards to structural integrity. As for myself, I went to speak with the organizer of the event, Tracey, and had a great conversation about what our plans are for the future – Max and I, that is. She proceeded to tell me she was actually writing a book about the Tiny House Movement and would love to stay in touch and possibly ask us some interview questions for her book. I thought that was so cool because we are planning on documenting the entirety of our project, and not only would this be extra publicity for us, but I could also get her advice and expertise on the whole writing aspect.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say we had an amazing time attending this event and it has just instilled even more motivation for us to get started on our own project. We know we’ve still got a long way to go, but we hope you’ll all be following along with us as we go through this new journey in our life.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today being Mother’s Day, I thought it important to jot down some thoughts concerning the celebration and appreciation of mothers.

For those of you who don’t know, my parents split up when I was 10 years old. My brother and I grew up with my dad from then on, visiting my mom once a month on weekends. I don’t remember much about it, but one thing I do remember is my first thought every morning on mother’s day – dad.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and love my mom just as much as I love my dad. I do not feel any resentment whatsoever towards my mom, but the fact remains that my dad often had to fill in for both parents.

My dad cleans the house. My dad fixes the house. My dad cooks and bakes. My dad builds us not one, but two tree houses – and a bridge to connect them! My dad tucks me in. My dad screams at me to get up. My dad plays dress up with me. My dad takes me out four wheeling and camping. My dad helps me. My dad lets me help myself. My dad listens. My dad gives advice. My dad lets me cry on his shoulder. My dad tells me that life’s not always fair. My dad sets down rules. My dad spoils me. My dad encourages me. My dad supports me.

My dad was never my mom, but I can’t help but want to wish him a Happy Mother’s Day too. He did lots of mom things that he probably didn’t want to do, or didn’t feel comfortable doing. But he did them anyway.

I’m so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by amazing parents like mine. And even better, both my parents are now happily remarried, and I have twice as many moms!

I want to take the time to thank all of the amazing women in my life for contributing to my growth and development as a woman, to help me become who I am today.

To my mom:

Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for being there even when physically, you could not be there. Thank you for making tough decisions. Thank you for always being positive. Thank you for your laughter. Thank you for all the weird-ass habits, like pulling out our eyelashes. And thank you for always encouraging me to be myself.

To my step-mom:

Thank you for understanding. Thank you for never over-stepping. Thank you for being a good role model. Thank you for your wonderful children, whom I will always consider part of my siblings. And thank you for convincing my dad to get us the best cat in the world.

To my mother-in-law:

Thank you for raising your son to be such an incredible man. Thank you for sharing stories with me. Thank you for respecting me. Thank you for making me feel like I’m a part of the family. And thank you for being the only mom I can bring to tears! 😉

To all mothers, wives, and Mr. Moms, I hope your day was filled with love and gratitude from all those who surround you. You deserve it.

Time to start filming!

I JUST GOT MY NEW MICS IN THE MAIL!! It’s officially time to start filming!!

You probably have a million questions rattling through your brain – What kind of mics? What for? How much did you pay? Where did you get them from? What’s a mic?

Well I’m here to answer all those questions and more!

Just last week I put an order on Amazon to get a Lavaliere Wireless Clip-On Microphone, as well as a Rode Shotgun Light-Weight On-Camera Microphone! It was a bit pricey (total $160 CAD) but I’m hoping it will be well worth it to get the quality we’re looking for.

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I suppose I should answer the last and most important question – what for?! If you haven’t read my previous blog post about the Big Decisions, then you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to hear that Max and I have made the decision to build a Tiny House! More than that, we’ve decided to dedicate ourselves to documenting the project to promote and advocate the Tiny House Movement, specifically in the East Coast of Canada. So the reason we purchased the above-mentioned microphones is because we want to put out quality content for our (future) viewers.

We plan on filming with my Nikon D5500 – another hefty purchase that I made earlier this year before my trip to Australia. The videos will be varied, from construction, to interviews, and everything in between. We’ll be posting weekly videos on YouTube, even more videos on Patreon, and lots of other content on our website that we hope to launch very soon!

Now I haven’t had much time to fiddle around with the microphone yet but we got the chance to record Max doing a little bit of work outside with the Node Shotgun Microphone, and we also recorded some test clips in the kitchen. We didn’t actually set up the Lavaliere clip-on mic because Max thinks the attachment for my camera will cause damage without an extension so we’ll go look at that tomorrow. On the bright side, at least we know the really expensive microphone is living up to expectations. Despite it being pretty windy outside, it was capturing every sound very clearly – even the squeak of Max’s welding mask!

Soon enough, I’ll post some clips so you can understand what I’m talking about.

Until then, do you have any tips or tricks we should keep in mind to film with these microphones? Leave us a comment below; we’d love to hear from you!

Summer Plans – Tiny House Festival

You must be thinking, “Did I read that correctly?” Well yes, yes you did. Apparently, this year is the third annual Tiny House Festival. The event is happening August 12th & 13th in Old Port, Montreal. Oh… AND IT’S FREE.

I’ve been looking around for workshops/meet ups/conferences – anything you can think of that has to do with the Tiny House Movement. Finally, I stumbled upon this.

Fingers crossed that I can get the full weekend off of work to be able to make it there, because it seems like a pretty cool event.

SIDE NOTE: If this is something that interests you and you’d like to drive up from New Brunswick with me, leave me a comment so I can contact you and therefor save myself lots of money on gas by bringing you with me. 

From what I could read on the website, the festival grounds will permit attendees to visit Tiny Houses models that are on site, listen to inspirational speakers on various subjects about Tiny House living and self-sufficiency, attend workshops about construction/finances/alternate energy sources, and much more.

The festival’s mission is outlined as follows: to promote an eco-friendly, affordable and healthy lifestyle which allows for increased self-sufficiency and independence. They also hope that by creating awareness about the Tiny House Movement, an increased amount of municipalities will accept the creation of Tiny Houses and/or will amend their laws to allow Tiny Houses in their region.

To be quite honest, I’m super pumped about attending this event, and I hope you’ll consider going too!

If you’re not convinced, you definitely need to check out this video.

And this one!