One Hundred Twenty Days

Building a tiny house brings up every decision that would be made in a  McMansion, I’ll just need a lot less 2×4’s and fewer granite countertops.  One of the first hurdles to overcome is location, where will this house on wheels live?  While I will have the capacity for mobility, this is not the vehicle for touring the National Parks.  My little vintage camper is for sightseeing mode and you can read about that restoration here in Tin Can Tourist


I’ve learned a lot about zoning laws around the country and where you can and cannot park and live. Some states are tapping into this movement and see the benefits of allowing unusually small homes to park in backyards or bypass minimum square footage requirements for a small house on a foundation.  There are  tiny home communities cropping up around the nation. Colorado, Oregon, California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina all have locations that support tiny homes.

Tiny house village in Mt. Hood, Oregon

While I have a tremendous amount of wanderlust to be satisfied (I like to explore a new city, walk a terrific beach or embark on backcountry adventures) but Sandpoint is my community and I would really like to continue to call it home base. After 23 years I still never tire of the scenery, love the walking lifestyle and small town vibe. Winter brings snowshoeing and skiing at Schweitzer mountain and in the summer Lake Pend Oreille is a fantastic playground.

The shores of Lake Pend Oreille taken from a hike in the Green Monarchs.


Sandpoint, Idaho

My local research began with looking for a lot or land to buy, with the right parcel I would consider a very small home on a foundation.  Sandpoint city lots are ridiculously expensive and there are roughly $20,000 in fees and permits before you even begin to swing a hammer, which would put me back into a mortgage scenario.  This is a very rural and beautiful corner of the earth and I began looking at the outskirts for possible land.  The further out I looked the land prices improved, but took me miles away from the community I love.  I decided I didn’t want to be locked into a particular location and that the house on wheels was the way to go.

The clean lines of the Hikari Box house, my personal favorite.

The state of Idaho has classified these tiny homes as RV’s.  The county in which I live mandates that an RV can be legally lived in 120 days a year, which poses a problem for someone looking to live tiny full-time. I am not alone here in the tiny house journey and have connected with others who are already building and forging ahead, some of them already living in traditional RV’s while they are building.  My gut tells me that if your far enough off the beaten path and there is no one to complain the county looks the other way, or just plain doesn’t care.

My partner Bill (yes in this politically charged year … we are Bill & Hillary) has graciously offered up a corner of  his yard to build my house and it can remain there as long as I would like.  Our relationship has never been terribly conventional and while we have a high level of compatibility, we both agree that maintaining separate residences works well for us (even if he can see my house in the back yard!)  At 6’2″ he is slightly skeptical at how well he will fit in a tiny house, but he  gets where I am headed with this life shift and is very supportive.

(I just shared Bill’s  blog debut with him, and he said that he is building a wall … or could be fencing…something to keep the illegal tiny house occupants out.)  Ha!

Bill was caught in the wave of one of the largest local employers (Coldwater Creek) going bankrupt and closing down and moved from a large home in the country into a small rental he owns just outside the city limits on a healthy plot of land. It truly is a beautiful and ideal location within biking distance to all the amenities of downtown. The tiny house will be visible from the road and is sure to draw some attention, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

My house plans, looking towards the kitchen and loft.

The first line of business is to start the project and bring it to completion, which I hope to accomplish within 12-18 months.  The timeline is realistically luxurious as I do have a full-time job (although working for a school affords me generous amounts of time off) and I want to allow space for other recreation and relaxation with friends and family. It also provides my youngest son time to finish his senior year without the disruption of a major household move.  In the next 24 months if nothing has changed with the county ordinances, I will spend as much time as possible (apparently 120 days) in a house that is paid for, hang out with Bill and pull the little camper all over creation.

Buying the trailer will be my first large purchase that will bring the project to life.   I will be sure to post a super exciting picture here when it is in my possession and situated in the building location.

Until then keep on Trekking with courage …

Hillary D.



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