Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Hi folks, Nina here!
Time has flown by and I have so many posts that are needing to be posted here!

Currently the tiny house world is heading to the national tiny house jamboree 2016… BFCraig & I will be driving to Colorado Springs to see all of our friends and attend B.A.'s wedding to John Breen! AT the Jamboree!!
Is that wild or what?!

For now..
A quick update in BANina World
After exhibiting in Texas at Earth Day and then taste of Dallas, both of our houses are taking a rest.
Nina's house exhibited before it was even finished but people seem to like it anyway.

B.A. has taken her house to Minnesota for the cooler weather and to be with her fiancée (hubby in a few days!) and her father. She has been traveling back and forth and working on cool tiny house stuff here in Texas.

BA has named her house "Sisu"and I have named mine "House. (Said with a Canadian accent)"
House is finished and we (BFCraig & I) are living in it... And we find that it is so comfortable and peaceful that we just don't want to leave it.

Turning Tiny!
Both B.A. and NINA have contributed to the book turning tiny. If you are going to the jamboree stop by and see us at the turning tiny table on Friday… We will be selling books and chatting with people during a midday shift.

Update over.
I (Nina) will be back to post a ton of photos with my build details and all the fun that went into it… But for now we are (all) heading to Colorado.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

End of 2015, Tiny 2016 has begun!

Happy New Year!  A lot has happened and nothing has happened.  Let me 'splain...

The weather has been...not great...for quite a while now.  SURPRISE, right?

I took a week off for Thanksgiving and it rained the ENTIRE TIME...and not just a little bit of rain for a few hours, it was a constant deluge.  I've never seen anything like it.

We were able to work one day (December 15th) between rainstorms ... Build Day 36 was a day that Gregory joined Susan and I and we got the ledger board up, loft boards attached to it and then bathroom floor prep and pocket door frame installed.  It was chilly and REALLY MUDDY.
squishy squishy

Gregory and Susan
AND then... there were tornadoes... 9 of them hit north Texas right after Christmas...and the nearest one touched down 6 miles away from my tiny house while I was about 45 minutes away from that town. I have only seen hurricanes and tornadoes on the news (when I lived in California).  I was very lucky. The rain continued for a few days and then...

Roof is complete!

The final week of 2015 (Dec 30) the wee little roof piece over the window bumpout was put on!  Clark Louver Roofing Company out of Ft. Worth did the work and installed the main part of the roof but waited until the siding and windows were in for precise installation of the small piece remaining.  They were nearby putting the roof on Demere's tiny house (The Little Fish House) so they swooped by, did the measurements one day and then worked on it the following day.  I was very happy that they were able to do the work!  We were afraid the weather would mean further delays but they did it!  Yay!

The 3rd day of 2016 I was out at my tiny house.
1 - to give two tours
(Sean, a visitor from PA & Todd, a nearby enthusiast)
2 - to clean out the tools from the shed in preparation for moving the house
3 - for Tiny Modern Homes to come and measure my house (Cory & Rob)

Sean came with his chauffeur (friend driving him around Dallas while visiting Texas) and seemed to really like the design and had lots of questions...he has been researching for years so he is likely to build in a couple of years when he has more funds and a property plan.

Todd brought his mom. He wanted to show his mom and convince her that tiny houses were a great idea. WELL...that didn't quite happen. They had a lot of questions and they loved my house but when she said "it's just that he's a collector...he has so many things...I don't know how this would work".
I looked at him squarely and said,
 "Tiny houses ARE a great idea but they aren't for everyone. You have to make some decisions about your stuff. If you try to put all your things into a tiny house and only a fraction of it fits, then you will come to believe that tiny houses are the stupidest idea on the planet. Maybe your "tiny" is 500 sq ft....  Maybe your tiny is 1000 sq ft. 
You have to be able to be at peace and soulfully happy with the amount of stuff that you want and need. That's for YOU to decide. I don't know how much stuff you have but you're going to have to look at it and really explore the options in front of you. If you want to go forward and build then I'll help you plan and show you what we're doing in this meetup group, there are several of us willing to share our experience. Take some time and think about it. You have my number."
About a week later Todd texted me and thanked me. He had come to the realization that he wouldn't be able to live in a tiny house and keep all of the possessions that he wanted to keep. He said that it was good for him to experience mine and know for sure that he needed a bigger space and that a tiny house might be somewhere in his future but not any time soon. It was sad to not have another person join in but it was also good to know I helped one more person KNOW for sure.

tiny paws in the mud 

It was still muddy out there but not too bad for walking around. Susan and I loaded the shed stuff (tools, materials, etc) into her truck and my car and cleaned up the site a bit after the wind and rain had shredded the plastic covering the wood pile. It was good to get out there and see my tiny house...the tornadoes scared me.

The 3rd reason, the appointment with Tiny Modern Homes, Sketchup Master Cory Hagen was very exciting. He was measuring my house inside and out so that he could create a model and help me "see" how it would work...if all my "big" ideas would actually be feasible inside my tiny house.    Cory holds free workshops for the people here in the area and he is great at explaining, very funny and you can SEE what you've had on 2-D paper come to life. I highly recommend coming to his workshops, his next one is this Sunday, actually.
IF you can't arrange to come to a free one but you DO want his services, then you'll have to fork over his regular rate and make an appointment. BUT NOT UNTIL HE FINISHES MINE. Wait, that's not nice, I don't mean to hold up his can totally call him.... in about 2 or 3 weeks. ANYHOW, after the initial measuring of the house, he sketchup'd the house and then had me over, measured me and created a tiny Nina and put her in the house and he measured my leg and I walked the stairs in his building so that he could measure my natural/comfortable stair rise.  OH!   my stairs!  This is funny....

I have decided on stairs, not a ladder, for getting up to my loft.
I had been searching for a stair design that I saw in my head, but not really anywhere yet...but I was getting closer and closer to the design concept...
a few of the pictures I kept on my phone

I wanted stairs but still wanted the compact nature of a ladder AND I wanted them to double as storage.  I wanted a cool version of the picture on the bottom row, 2nd from the left. That is the Lapeyre Alternating Tread Stair that is used in industrial situations... that was where I started.  Basically, they're more upright.  You can see that the other pictures have a more planned out designery look to them.  I most liked the picture next to Lapeyre, it is from the internet, don't know who owns that tiny house but I see that they function well in it.  I talked to Susan and showed her the pictures and we were set on sketching it out and  planned to build them.  AND THEN... I see this posted on Facebook:

Vina Lustado! You read my mind!!!
THIS!  This is what I had envisioned with my rudimentary sketch! I cannot even believe it.
Vina Lustado/Sol Haus Design (those are two separate links, one for her website, one for her facebook page) is the designer of my tiny house! I bought my plans from her and the stairs she designed here are for her newest tiny house design.  I am telling was such a joy to see that I would be following in the design ideas that the house was born from.  I love love love that. LOVE it. Her designs are dreamy and smart.   

ok, I think I'll leave it there. I will get into the interior design fun in the next post.  Remember, Cory is AWESOME but you cannot have him yet. Just...wait. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

workshop wrap up

BUILD DAYS 34 & 35
If you followed us on Insta then you saw the photos of the weekend. We had a bit of a twist in the plan when Susan got a touch of food poisoning. (ok, not a touch, a sledgehammer). She struggled through that first day and should have gone to get an IV drip for hydration but she soldiered on (she IS a Veteran, after all... she's stubborn and wanted to fulfill her duties). She did an information dump with B.A. and Dale (@BuilderDale) and they were able pull it all together. Stubborn as she is, she also showed up on Sunday and did what she could.  She had a lot of information in her brain so it was good to have her on-hand but otherwise we made her sit and rest. She did way more than she should have or was expected to in her condition. 
Sarge (Susan) gives the morning electrical overview to Ricky, Bryan, Robert, Jet, Susan, BA, Dale. Not Pictured: Robert H., Shmorton and me.

I did a lot of running around to Lowes and lunches and whatever needed. I was only mildly freaked out by the wires in my walls. Having the group energy was very helpful during the install, my focus was on the people.
Plumbing was a shorter day because, well, there's not much to it. There are only a few lines to be run for the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower and so the water heater connections, venting, hot/cold valves, and hose connector to outside were the focus. There is no water need for the toilet (I'm using a Nature's Head composting toilet) and I don't have tanks.  Dale did a stellar job in bringing a lot of examples of materials and systems to the group to demonstrate and educate and he and Susan fielded questions. I know a few were excited to learn how to install plumbing and learning such things as how to adjust the hot water temperature regulator at the valve... we are a special group. :)  We are very grateful for Dale; he stepped up and he is just The Nicest Guy.  He calls Susan "Sarge" and they are a great team. 
Dale is awesome. We all love him and he's generous with his knowledge. He's fun and so patient.

B.A. brought the #tinyhousetribe T-shirts that we had ordered (click the link to get yours).  I can't tell you how great it is to be among your people. I don't have many clothes but I'm going to get a few more of these in different colors and in long sleeve...they make me happy because they remind me of the community of fabulous folks that my tiny house has brought into my world. Traveling to Colorado in August (for the tiny house jamboree... the next one is already set to happen) and seeing loads of people interested in tiny houses in the same place was awesome but I can't wait to be out somewhere random and suddenly see someone wearing one of these shirts.  Beware, you may get hugged!
Just a handful of the 50K out there. 

.... my homework consists of pinpointing the lights I want. We know the type/kind but I need to narrow down the style and model that I want. For instance, the porch light needs to be cool looking...I'm not going to use the ones I had picked already bought because they won't work size-wise.  (No loss, they were $10 and I may repurpose the glass because it's vintage bubble glass and I love it).  While I like outfitting my tiny house, I'm not a fan of shopping. I will need to buckle down and get the last bits of electrical in so that we can finish that up.
I don't know how long the electrical and plumbing will take to completely finish...but Susan says "not long".  I don't know what that means, she is always so optimistic and acts like everything is a snap.  No to me!  It's good to have wonderfully optimistic and capable people to help put the puzzle together. 


*The Roxul insulation is carried by Lowe's but they don't always have it at the one near my build site, I'll have to search around to see which ones I can reliably get it from.
*The bathroom shower stall...I need to decide if I want to build it myself or get a one piece stall. I like the idea of not having seams. I also like the idea of tile but I don't know that having them IN the shower would be the best place for them. I would want to SEE them so maybe around the sink area would be best to put them if I decide on some tile...just as an accent. I don't want it to look too busy.  
*I am looking at stairs and have found many pictures online. This is the one that I like the best. 
instead of a ladder, I'm thinking this type of stair set up would be best for my tiny
These stairs are more of a side-to-side, half rung and will serve as storage. After I showed this to my tribe, Cory said that they were called "alternating tread stairs" so I Googled that and got a lot more examples. (Thank you, Cory!). This type of stair won't need to come out as far as a ladder would so that will save me some floor space. I want to get creative and tie the lower rungs into the seating in the Great Room  (LOL, calling the only room in a tiny house The Great Room always makes me chuckle). 
My stairs will be on the wall opposite the french doors. I am looking at different stairs and narrowing down the sizes of storage that I'll use on that side, then the counter and cabinets will be next to them (it's a galley kitchen). I also have a sketch to incorporate an idea or two. We'll see how that pans out when it's time to build them.
a few of the interesting "alternating tread stairs" that caught my eye. (based on the Lapeyre Stair, bottom left)

*Stove, Mini-Split and Water Heater...I will write about these in a future blog post, I don't want to get ahead of myself and say they're awesome until I know they are.  I am going with models that have been installed and used by other tiny housers and have positive reviews online.
*the pocket door will be lovely because of a special gift from Vina...the designer of the house. I can't wait to post photos of that! but not yet...  

off I research and shopping... 

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


First off, click here if you want to know more about the electrical and plumbing workshop this weekend...there are only 5 spots left!

The Workshop:
BA has flown in, Susan has studied the electrical schematics from Gary (Tiny House Systems) and we've shopped for the electrical necessities. I need to meet up with Susan and get the final plumbing stuff (I'm using PEX) before I can say that I'm ready.  Who am I kidding?  I'm not ready! I'm freaking out! ... excitement, anticipation and anxiety!   I've mentioned it before, my fear of all things electrical is unreasonable (like, no foundation for it at all, but it is a very strong aversion).  All three of these fine folks have reassured me over and over that we will adhere to the safety and common sense and there's no reason to be fearful.  I have put my trust in their collective hands.  Susan (we call her Sarge, HAPPY VETERANS DAY SARGE!!) has years of experience in the construction field with a special affinity and love for electrical (yahoo!) and also with plumbing.  BA is the luminary that gets workshops together and makes magic happen by building community. People often ask how the teaching/workshop fees are kept low: fees cover basic costs of the workshop and sometimes go toward travel expenses. We aren't looking to get rich; the community building pays us back in riches we can't put a price tag on.  The tiny house community begins with people meeting at workshops, building side-by-side, open houses, etc.  Really, just a priceless gift of community and friendship for life!  BA & Susan are part of my #tinyhousetribe ... and if you're reading this, you are too! (I have adopted you. You have no choice in the matter).
The weather looks like it will be on the cool side (that will be different, it's always been sweltering!).  I will be learning along with everyone else!  We will review the general plan for the weekend; go over safety, review the components and order of things when it comes to electrical and plumbing jargon and installation, some hands-on for those wanting to do so, questions answered, and my choices of fixtures and appliances will be discussed. Full description is on the link, I just typed that off the top of my head.

A little about the Man with the Plan...

I have been messaging with a few folks but I'll put the information here for those who haven't reached out yet and are curious...
I am tickled by the electrical plans that include "driver's side of truck" for clarification of orientation.
My house has a driver's side. LOL.
  I love it. 

The schematics that Gary Bute of Tiny House Systems provided are clear and concise. When you enlist his help, he is open to your questions and curiousities you have about what is available to you in your tiny house. He has worked with several other tiny housers (BA, Tiny House Project, TinyHouse43, to name a few), so rest assured, Gary speaks Tiny (People think it's the same as wiring a big house...nope, so many special considerations). Gary is big on safety (thank God!) and is very detailed. At $500 for the schematics, you can't find a better investment in peace of mind for the foundation of powering your tiny home.
Now that Gary has completed electrical plans on my tiny, you are free to call him. (Haha)
If you check out his website, you'll see he includes mechanical and safety in the plans. Plumbing is a separate package which I didn't get but from my experience with his electrical plans, you will be very pleased with the final plans in your hands.  He's a busy man but he will treat you as if you're his most important client.  Email him at and see what he can do for your tiny.  Even if your tiny is only in the planning stages and you think it's too early, it isn't. Plan ahead! Maybe you can plan a workshop with him! (we wanted to do that but my schedule fell apart). He will have many options for you to look at and consider and bring new ideas for your tiny house life. It's not overwhelming, but exciting!

So, I've linked here and there but let's review:


BA's BLOG & WEBPAGE (lists her events, #tinyhousetribe shirts, etc)

GARY'S PAGE to check out and get started on thinking about YOUR schematics

On instagram ...

BA is @banorrgard
Gary is @tiny_house_systems
Susan is @spahnke (relatively new account that she'll add photos into starting this weekend)
BA & I both post to @BANinaBegins when we are up to our tiny house shenanigans. (It's the account we created for us building my house)

And Facebook...

DFW Group - if you want to see what's cooking in tiny houses in the Dallas Metroplex/Fort Worth area.  There are nearly 800 people in the meetup group! (BA started this awesome) I post updates on my build there.

Tiny House Systems (Gary's Business page) - He posts a lot of information here, get your ideas flowing for your house and generate a questions list, then give him a call.

A Bed Over My Head (BA's Business page) - You can keep up with her touring, and speaking schedule and events there. You can really get connected with others in the tiny house world there.

Thanks for following!
If you're a veteran, thank you for your service, appreciation to your family, and we can't forget the service animals that have been there for us, too!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Milestones and moving forward...

The house has it's 2nd coat of paint on it and I'm calling that part of it done...for now.
The doors are in their original state and are a bit rough. I'll just go with the term "Shabby Chic" until I get around to them. Having the doors installed and locked was a big deal so I'm good with waiting to make them pretty. (Sorry raccoons, have to find another place to find your midnight snacks!)
The bumpout still needs the little piece of roof but it's sufficiently dried in and can wait for the roofers to either 1) let me know if they can hit it when they get a job nearby or 2) work on it at their shop in Fort Worth when I finally uproot from my build site.
So, this is what it looks like right now:
2 coats of "Rainstorm" Valspar, my kismet find at Habitat ReStore

Susan and I cut and placed the loft joists and will also put in the pocket door/wall for the bathroom soon.
Susan is a lot of fun to work with!
We didn't put the floor in for either of the lofts because we want ease of accessibility when it comes time for...

Right now we are into the electrical spaghetti. Ok,'s spaghetti to ME.  LUCKILY, I have Gary Bute from Tiny House Systems working on the electrical schematics for my house.  I am SO EXCITED!!!  Many of you may already know that I have an unreasonable fear of electrical stuff.  Well, Gary has been at this for ...oh, about 30 years or so...he knows it backwards and forwards and upside down and THAT makes me feel very safe with this in his hands.
Gary Bute of Tiny House Systems...a very knowledgeable and patient, patient man :)
If you're a tiny houser you know the name and that smile; Gary did Alek's house and also did a some retro-work on BA's tiny when she visited Austin and what a difference! Also, if you were at the Jamboree you may have seen him at his VERY BUSY booth or seen him on stage sharing his knowledge with the masses. BA, Susan and Gary and I have been discussing electricity for a couple of weeks now. Susan is comfortable with the jargon (she loves electricity... thankfully) and we are figuring out what type of appliances and switches go where to suit my needs.   It started when I gave him my list of wants/needs and he's been working on a plan for the tiny house. He is very patient and is helping me understand what is going on. I know what I WANT but making it happen is entirely different.  I want to be solar someday so he's making sure I can plug in now and when I get set up, I can be off-grid. His ideas and recommendations are great for discussion and I'm learning a lot.  Susan has a lot of experience installing electrical so she and Gary are making me feel very at ease with this whole process.  No small feat.
Gary's in Austin but he will email and skype and whatever you like to get your project done. He often shares his schematics & tiny house wisdom on his facebook page so I'd go there and "like" that and check him out.  If you are on track to needing your tiny house systems done, then he's the guy to call.  BUT NOT YET.  LOL   Ok, ok...go ahead and plan ahead by calling him now but if you distract him from my tiny house, I will cut you. Just kidding.  No, not really.  Yeah. No.

SO - with Gary's schematics in hand, Susan and BA will be holding a workshop to install the systems and I will soon be POWERED and SHOWERED.   ha. I just made that up.

I'll post more when I know more details but if you're in the area and want to learn the intricacies and maybe get your hands-on experience/practice on MY tiny before you do yours...  keep your eyes on the DFW TH page.  BA will create the workshop there.  :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tiny House Got Painted!

Just an update on what has happened on the house since the last post...

It went from tan that the Smartsiding comes primed with ...

to Valspar "Raintsorm" blue with grey trim...but I decided that was too much grey around the window....

less grey around the window, finished back side and then...

work on the can see on the fascia where the (unfinished) grey and white meet...

the light grey "reads" as white without being BRIGHT WHITE and it actually blends in really well with the GalvalumePlus roof

It still needs a second coat and we'll be spraying that on in a few days but I was excited to see the paint go on and really wanted to share it here.
That's it for now!
Enjoy the day!


Friday, September 25, 2015

BUILDing up to another workshop...

After the Window & Siding workshop (see previous post) we have continued on to finish the siding (Smartside - lap siding by Lousiana Pacific).  I have been very VERY thankful to have Susan (BuilderSusan) helping me so much, she has been sooooo generous with her time and knowledge!  Plus, we have a great time and get at least one humongous belly laugh per day (the kind where you are laughing so hard that you double over and have to hold on to something so you don't fall over).  There have been some tricky cuts to navigate and fancy thinking to be done but she is always able to navigate through it and come up with solutions that look good and work great.
Build day 21 (Crew: Robin & Susan & I) & 22 (Susan & I) were days we spent finishing up the siding. Here are a few pics of what it looks like right now...

Susan puts the top course of siding on what I call the "back side" of the house. 

Siding almost done...just a bit to do over the window bumpout

All siding is on, need to finish up the soffits, then finish caulking then paint!
Now the (seemingly) never-ending task of caulking will continue and then paint. I really want to see what it looks like ALL painted (you can see the blue color that I chose on the short wall in the 1st photo).  I need to get that done before the rains start hampering the outdoor work.  Every time I leave the build site I have all the lumber covered in plastic JUST IN CASE.  (As it is right now, there's been a rain shower every 3-5 days or so, nothing MAJOR but a good 15 minutes of soaking). Aaah, Texas.

The only thing that will remain to be completed on the outside will be the wee piece of metal roof that goes over window bumpout. Clark Louver Roofing company wanted to make sure the fit was perfect so they wanted us to complete the siding and window installs before they put that on.

AND THEN...   electrical and plumbing is next!
BANina is getting ready to host an awesome workshop for it and it will be a fantastic opportunity for folks to learn from an expert in implementing The Best for their specific wants/needs in their tiny house. I cannot wait to learn this stuff! I am WAY too excited to get electrical going...just...giddy!  The plumbing too but after seeing it lit up on the night of the mixer, I can't stop thinking about it!

It's funny, there's definitely a checklist/timeline that you follow as you build a tiny house and I've been planning, purchasing, and checking things off on my list.  I find that it's tough for me to jump ahead and think of the details of the next phase. I can tell you the general ideas and big pieces but the particulars get me all wigged out because I haven't thought ALL of them through.   Like right now... there's plenty to be done before the electrical...yes, the loft(s), yes, pocket door to the bathroom, yes, the shower... but I just want the electrical right now!!
I never said I was patient.

So, now I ask YOU to be patient with me...and we'll report back to you with all the nitty-gritty details about the workshop and the expert we have assisting us with the electrical and plumbing schematics and dates and ... ooh...makes me all lightheaded.      I need to calm myself down. 

The next time you see pictures of my house it should be painted. Thanks for following!

~The Nina in BANina

Prematurely grey. Primeraturely gray. Ha.  I crack myself up.