living area. Walls are paneled with local
pine, partly because traditional drywall
might have cracked whenever the house
was moved. Waldman also chose pine for
the floor of the loft and for the interior trim,
which he had planed to a half-inch thickness to save on weight as well as space. He
then pickled it for a soft, warm finish. Overlapping copper shingles line the shower
stall, adding pizazz to the bathroom.
The movability of the structure presented some serendipitous construction
opportunities. When it was time to have
the house insulated, Waldman towed it to
the contractor’s shop, reducing the cost of
the job by about 10 percent. He used the
same strategy to get the roofing done. At
7 feet 4 inches wide by 20½ feet long (not
including the 3½-feet-deep front porch) by
13½ feet high, the house is within the limits of what can be towed behind a truck in
Vermont. Once, when it was being towed
through the town of Stowe, the roof clipped
a few sagging utility cables. Fortunately,
the police officer who pulled Waldman over
found the tiny house intriguing. “I could
do with one of these,” he said after looking inside.
Waldman, who has since published
a guide for tiny house aficionados, identi-fies three types of people who build them:
twentysomethings, especially those with
college debt, not sure they want or are able
to commit to a mortgage; people who have
lost their homes to foreclosure; and retirees
who want to stretch the money they have
and live with roomier budgets. Even some
families have found tiny houses workable.
For all of them, the mind-set seems to be live
simply with less.
Is there anything Waldman has found
limiting? The small refrigerator. “We can’t
do a lot of advanced shopping,” he says.
Other than that, the house is working fine.
“We had six people over for drinks and hors
d’oeuvres, and it was very comfortable. But
you do have to like the people you invite.”
Waldman doesn’t rule out the possibil-
ity of having another primary residence in,
say, five years, and using the tiny house for
work, travel, or rental income, but he and
Carpenter are enjoying it so much that, for
now, they see no reason to live elsewhere.
Ethan Waldman’s e-book, Tiny House
Decisions: Everything I Wish I Knew When I
Built My Tiny House, is available at
CAMBRIDGE | CHATHAM