Insulated flooring, reinforced framing, notched rafters and a hand-made front door are features of a new house Schoharie County resident Ryan McGiver recently placed on the Internet for sale.
Though these attributes might be found in other newly-built homes, few on the market compare with this piece of construction crafted by McGiver — one of a growing group of people embracing the concept of tiny homes.
The house, just over 120 square feet and built on top of a trailer specially built for it, is just over eight feet wide, about 13 feet high and 16.2 feet-long.
It’s not meant for a Hobbit, but rather for those with an eye for simplicity and the desire to spend less time with upkeep and more time enjoying life.
McGiver said his creation — the second he’s built with the help of a friend who is a carpenter — is an expression of the “micro-housing” movement that caught his interest.
There are several websites and blogs dedicated to small houses. McGiver found www.tinyhouse.com an ideal site to put the mobile residence up for sale.
Tiny house info resource
The web site, started in 2007 by Kent Griswold, serves as a clearinghouse of information, descriptions by different builders depicting cabins and other small housing ideas, reading material and sources of plans and homes.
McGiver’s unit is built unfinished aside from the exterior.
McGiver, 30, has been traveling around the world either as a musician or as a stone mason — he’s built stone cottages in Ireland — and he’s learned to live with less baggage and in smaller spaces.
“So you learn to live with very little. Often times, the more you get rid of while on the road, the more comfortable and free you feel,” he said.
Since he put the little home on the market, McGiver’s received emails from people in remote places like Yukon and Nova Scotia with comments or questions. The emails continued to come in weeks after he posted the home.
McGiver said he’s seen different types of people express interest, ranging from mountain man-types looking for solitude to the environmentally-conscious striving to minimize their impact on the environment.
He believes that for many in his generation, the “American dream” meant going to college regardless of the cost and found themselves buried in debt with home ownership still a distant dream.
“Borrow, borrow and you will get a great job and get ahead. The reality is that many are now over-educated for the current job market, unemployed and paying high student loan bills that would otherwise keep them from purchasing their 3,000 square-foot ranch and 10 acres in the country.”
McGiver said he was impressed by the efficient use of space he witnessed during a visit to Hong Kong, and said people in places throughout the world have learned to live with less.
And it’s not a new idea. Places were tiny in the early days of the U.S. In many cases the appetite for housing has led some in the U.S. to build a “McMansion,” McGiver said.
Appeals to many buyers
He envisions a variety of potential buyers for his house — from people on the road all the time able to drag it behind a truck to those with land on a beach looking to reduce their impact on the environment.
“Any construction that frees up your wallet, reduces your carbon footprint and starts you on the path to stress-free finances can’t be a bad thing,” McGiver said.
For an asking price of $13,999, there’s isn’t much of a profit margin, McGiver said. He said he isn’t going into business to sell these homes, but he made sure to follow detailed steps and use quality materials when he built it. The supplies alone cost more than $7,000.
It’s framed with modern 2 x 4 lumber. The home was mounted to the custom-made trailer to ensure it’s mobility so it can moved periodically.
It was sided with half-inch, beveled pine and the flooring inside features tongue-and-groove pine that was milled locally.
The floor is sanded but not yet stained in case the buyer is looking for some custom options.
There’s space for a loft sleeping area that could be added, and the user would need to decide where a tiny kitchen would best be situated.
A small propane heat system would suffice for the small space and McGiver envisions an incinerator toilet and some solar panels would leave the home completely off the grid.
McGiver said micro housing is taking hold in some areas of northern California, but people considering a change should contact their local officials to make sure the home fits with local codes..