It's been a little over a month since our last posting, but not for lack of building or progress. It's been busy at Nelson Tiny Houses. Running parallel to the building of our V3 house is an ongoing project of transforming an old derelict piece of land into a functional, efficient shop space and tiny house building-site. We recently secured a lease on a piece of land just outside of Nelson city limits that had an old mobile home on it. Our first order of business was to tear it down and start fresh. It was an unenviable job, but allowed the crew to reflect on the process of building homes in a new way.
While tiny houses and mobile homes (the kind you'd find in a trailer park) serve similar purposes (affordable housing, smaller footprint, built off-site,) we realized in tearing down this old beast that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. Even the things we thought were similar, like the aforementioned list, are vastly different.
Take affordable housing, for example. In Nelson, a mobile home starts at $50,000. That's for a used home, in a trailer park, where you still have to pay rent and fees. Our tiny houses start at $30,000. That's for a new house, ready to live in on your land or the land you rent from a friend, or what have you.
How about smaller footprint? It's true, a mobile home is smaller than your average house, but the one we tore down was so inefficiently designed that even its 12'X68' (816 sq. ft.) layout felt cramped, dark and claustrophobic. It didn't help that the previous owner smoked like a chimney and never cleaned anything, ever. Our tiny houses, at 100 to 240 sq. ft. feel bright, open and airy compared to a mobile home. Heck, we think they feel bright and airy compared to some 3000 sq. ft. homes we've been in.
And size doesn't even begin to address environmental footprint. Tearing down that mobile home was a lesson in inefficiency. 2X3 walls mean an irrelevant R value, meaning your heating costs go towards heating the area just outside of your house; single glazed aluminum windows help with that, too; interior wall panelling that literally said “Made in China” on it do nothing to promote the local economy... the list goes on. In our tiny houses, we focus on efficiency in our insulation and windows and use reclaimed or recycled real wood material as much as possible. For V3, we installed a hemlock ceiling that was milled across the road. We delivered it with a pickup truck, but truth be told, we could have carried it over, had we had the time.
And yes, both mobile homes and tiny houses are built off-site, at a production facility of some sort, but as we tore this old mobile home down, we could see nothing of the three most important ingredients in a beautiful building: quality material, craftsmanship and love.
Money can't buy love, it's true, but when you see a beautiful building, you know that love is inherent there. That's what we love about Nelson Tiny Houses.
Check out this video to watch an excavator assert itself!