tiny house sizes and what’s right for you

Tiny house school bus conversion

In this podcast we go into tiny house sizes. What size is right for you? And how do you start looking at spaces differently.

Podcast 009 tiny house sizes and what’s right for you transcript

Thanks for downloading today’s podcast. So today, I’m gonna touch on the sizes of these houses. These tiny homes, micro homes, whatever you want to call it. Comparing them to the average size home now, and what they’ve been throughout the years. So you can start thinking about, what size of a home or school bus, if you’re doing something like us. Or a tiny home on a trailer, tiny home on wheels, whatever you’re thinking of building, these sizes. That way you can kind a have a picture in your head, of what these sizes are, and you can start preparing for it.

Today the average size home is roughly, according to the last census, the medium size home is about 2,384 square feet. Now that’s comparing it to, let’s just say the census from the 1970’s which 1525 square feet was. It’s not necessarily twice the size, but you’re getting pretty close to almost twice the size. These houses are definitely getting bigger.

I live in a house right now, that was built in the 70’s roughly, and it’s about 1500 square feet. I think to be exact, probably like a 1600 square feet. Its 3 bedrooms but the third bedroom, used to be like an outside park garage type of thing. Where you were able to park your car on the carport. It was closed in, and turn into the master bedroom. So this house used to be, definitely smaller than 1500 square feet.
In this house we’re living, 6 people. I have my older son, that’s 17, my 2 younger daughters, which are 8 and 7, and my youngest son which is 2, and my wife and I. We’re in there, more than comfortable, more than enough room. We have a lot of stuff that’s probably not needed, not probably, for sure not needed. So we can definitely scale back, and we have been scaling back. We’ve been getting rid of stuff, slowly but surely, and selling them on EBay and selling them in garage sales. Garage sales, let me tell you. For us at least, it was pretty much. We made some money, we made like $150 bucks. I don’t know if we would ever do it again, to be honest.

We donate all of our stuff. The whole donation thing, it was a big problem for us, just go around. We went to donate it, and they didn’t have room, and we ended up having to throw away certain things. It was not a very pleasant experience, when we did this garage sale. That’s enough of that. So we’re in this house, and obviously we’ve spoken about the reasons why we’re moving in, and building this tiny home, converting the school bus. We have many reasons, and I don’t want to really start ranting too deeply again, into the subject which I’ve already spoken about before. But it’s important on many levels, why we’re doing this. Let me just keep on touching on different sizes, so you can have a picture in your head.

Like a regular size trailer in a trailer park, like I saw on the internet. I was searching for different sizes, and it was difficult find an actual, exact size. But one place that I ran into, was they were talking about a FEMA size trailer. Which I think is basically, a regular size trailer, but for whatever reason, they put FEMA trailer average sizes. It was 240 square feet, and that I think is basically the average size, of a normal size trailer.

Like a single width regular size trailer. Basically that’s just about the size of our school bus right now, a 35 foot school bus. If you were to get a 35 foot school bus, and just leave it the way it is. Its 245 square feet, 7 feet wide, and 30 feet long. You lose some in the front, because the driver seat and stuff like that. You’re probably losing like 4 feet or something like that. So the reality is, it’s pretty close to that size of a FEMA trailer, like they like to call it. But we’re doing additions on to that. I’ll touch on the size of our school bus in a few minutes. Let me continue. Also I was searching around, they were talking about the average size of a tiny house, or a tiny homes on wheels, or whatever you want to call it. They say they range in between 65 square feet to 140 square feet.

I definitely seen a lot of home plans, and people living in homes, that probably push all the way up to 400 square feet. So if you look at like, Tumble weed home which they have self-floor plans. I saw like almost 1000 square feet, 800 and something square feet. According to some people, that started push the limit of what a tiny home is. You know what, I don’t look at tiny homes, by really the size, to be honest. A tiny home to me, you’re creating something that is much more manageable. Something that you can pay off quickly, or have completely paid off from the beginning. And where it’s not this huge monstrosity, and what is a huge monstrosity.

I mean, I don’t know. I guess it really depends on the person’s view of the situation. How big is too big? I mean I don’t know, to each his own. Everybody can have their own thing. Our family is into this tiny home thing, I think for different reasons. Other people are, some people are very heavy into the environmental side, reusable, renewable, and all of these things. Our family is into that too, but that is not the primary reason, that we’re doing it. We’re doing it because we wanna be in our own house that is completely and totally paid off. And we have the freedom to go where we want to go, if we want to go. Our major expense really wants to be put into the land.

To have enough land, to have our kids to run around, and to have our farm, and blah, blah, and all of these things, that our dreams, our visions, of our future is. Is 800 or 1000 square foot home, considered in my view a tiny home? I mean yeah, if you build it, and it’s paid off, and that’s the size that you need, because of the family, and the situation that you’re in. Well so be it, that’s a tiny home.

If it’s a 200, a 100 square foot, whatever the case may be. If that’s your vision of a tiny home, well great. For us, 140 wouldn’t be big enough. It wouldn’t be big enough for our family. So I was looking on the internet, and when I was looking for different size tiny homes, they were comparing them to like an average sized of a prison cell. They were talking about an average size, of a prison cell is 50-80 square feet. So if you think of it, as the size of a prison cell. Some of these tiny homes, micro homes, are 65 square feet. If somebody wants to live in a tiny home, or in a micro home that’s 65 square feet, and a prison cell is 80 square feet.

If that’s what they want, and that’s how they’re happy, so be it. If you go to Google and you start looking. I’ve alerts, I’ve spoken about this before. I get alerts like from tiny homes, home schooling, and on, and on, and on. Not more often than not, but very often, often enough. There’s these articles that come through, that are talking about that it’s a fad, or that it’s basically insane. It’s like they were talking about the sizes of the homes, and they don’t understand how people can live fulfilled lives, in homes that small. Now that’s absolutely ridiculous.

Many of the reasons why, we’re choosing to move into and build a tiny home, is because we feel, that will enable us to live more fulfilled lives. Because we won’t be burdened by trying to keep to keep up with the Jones’s basically. We won’t have to have that cloud of debt, of these huge homes over us. That we just chose not to do that. We don’t want to do that. So it kinds of bothers me slightly, when I see that, because it discourages other people to even start looking into this, for whatever reason they want to do it.

Like I said, everybody has their own reason, but to me it seems like it discourages people, from looking into this. Just seeing how, me personally. How I think it would allow them to live a more fulfilled life. For instance, if they weren’t doing it because, forget about the environment, forget about all of these things. All these other things that, a lot of people in this movement, are in that mindset. Remove all of those people from it.
You put the average every day person, that’s driving around going to work. Making sure that they have to have their brand new car, and whatever the case might be. Which all of that is fine and dandy too, it is what it is, to each their own. But let’s just say they live in a smaller home, forget about a micro home, or a tiny home, or whatever. These homes that they’re comparing to, the size of a prison cell, forget about that. But just moving into something smaller, and you don’t have these homes. At least here in South Florida, just an average size home, you’re looking at minimum $250,000-$380,000, for just a small home. Just a regular size home.

You think about the amount of work, and amount of money, that needs to be spent on just that home alone, just the mortgage payments on that house. And all of a sudden now, you’re in a place that you’re living in a smaller home, where it’s $100,000 or $70,000 or whatever the case might be, or maybe even paid off. If you get something that’s, leaning more to like a micro home, like you get the plans from Tumble weed. And you could get one of those 800 square foot, whatever the case might be. They’re literally like $30,000, $40,000 that can be built. And you’re just like a regular. Imagine the amount of the vacations that you can take.

Or new devices that you can buy. I mean, if that’s what you want to do. Imagine if that’s the path that you’re leaning, and you don’t have this huge debt. This huge amount of money that you need to spend every single month that you need to come up with.

It’s almost like a balling chain, that you have to hit this huge amount of money, every single month. If not, you’re gonna potentially lose your home. Without that looming over you, without that weight on your shoulder. Imagine the possibilities that you can accomplish. Like I said, all of these things, forget about vacations, and stuff to buy, stuff to save for retirement. Other things you can just put your money to, or just plain and simply work less.

Imagine that, the way society is today is, we’re just built to work, and get as big a stuff as you possible can, whatever the bigness is. The big car, big house, big whatever. And again, if that’s what you fancy, you know, to each his own. It’s all good. That’s just not what we’re choosing to do, with our lives. We’re not headed down that path anymore, at least. For me, I think that many people don’t think things all the way through. And they end up looking down, at people that are moving into this movement, or any movement.

I think that people just need to be more accepting of other people’s beliefs, I guess. So enough of that ranting. Our home, the one that we’re building is, a 35 foot bus. I’ve already spoken about this before. Its 7 foot wide. Now that puts me at about 245 square feet. You take out the driving portion and all of that. You’re probably gonna remove whatever couple of 4 feet, 5 feet of that. Let’s just say about 240 square feet. For us, it was going to be a little bit too small. My older son he’s moving, by the time that we’re in this bus. He’s gonna be moving with his mom. So really, it’s only going to be my wife and I, and the 3 younger kids. But even that, it’s gonna put us a little bit snug, especially we’re doing homeschooling, and we’re doing stuff like that.

So it was just a little bit too small. So that’s why we decided to go ahead and build slide outs. One of the slide out has an additional 33 square feet, which is 3 foot. It’s gonna slide out 3 feet, and its 11 feet long. One more slide out in the back, where the kids are gonna be sleeping, which is another 4 foot by 3 foot slide out, which adds an additional 12 feet. We’re gonna be basically at a grand total of 290 square feet. It added another 50 square feet, and that’s big when you’re thinking about, sizes this small. Especially when you have a whole family living in there.

You know it’s important to have enough room, in wherever it is that you gonna be living in. Also, we decided that raising the roof was important, because once you start living, or thinking. If you start thinking about a tiny home. It’s more than just the actual floor space on the floor. You have to take and consider all of the room. It’s not by cubic square feet, because you’re building up. You’re making sure that you’re building, in our case below the bus, using up all that space under the bus, for storage and for things like that, if you’re in a tiny home. Also a lot of these tiny homes, are not necessarily built on a foundation. If you’re on a tiny home on wheels, or if you’re on a tiny home without wheels, you just building them on top, like elevated.

You know, with bricks under it to elevate it off the floor. That space under, if you have like a balcony area, or whatever the case might be. All of that space, need to be taken into consideration. All of these things kind of have to equate into your process, when you’re designing or thinking about building, the proper size home for you. That’s gonna be good for your family, or if you’re single, good for yourself.

So for us, we went ahead and we raised the roof, 2 ½ feet. Now that adds a significant amount of room up, allowing us build triple bunk bed in the bag. That’s what we’re planning to do for the kids, and allowing my wife and I, sleeping arrangements. Where we’re gonna sleep, is gonna be a lot towards the front of the bus. It gives us the ability to, also have shelving’s that go up higher, by having the roof higher, it makes the space feel bigger.

You’re not with that roof, right up on top of your head you know. Basically put lighting in there, and it doesn’t bump down once you put all the insulation, all of that. All of these things need to be taken in consideration, when you’re building, or thinking of building a tiny home. The bottom line is, you need to start thinking about cubic feet, in these homes. At least that’s the way I think of it. The cubic feet inside the bus, before all these extensions, and roof raising, and all of these things that I have done, was 1470 cubic feet. Now that’s not including the bottom, the underside of the bus which, that’s an additional 2 feet deep, and the whole entire space of the bus.

Now yes, a lot of that is going to be taken up, by water tanks and batteries, that we’re gonna put for the solar panel, and on, and on, and on. But that space is gonna be used, it’s not gonna be unused. It’s gonna be more than enough space. We’re thinking about putting a freezer in the floor, having storage space in the floor. So we can put the bigger items like, the heavy coats, and heavy blankets and stuff like that, will be stored under the bus. We’ll be able to have access to them, from inside the bus. Same thing like a pantry and stuff like that. We’ll be able to hopefully lift up the floor, like hide away panels, and our pantry and things like that, will be under the floor. So once the roof raised, which we’ve done it, and the whole slide outs. The slide outs are done. I have to build the square part of the slide out onto the bus, which that’s gonna be my next project. Once I’m done with this car restoration.

I’m doing a 66 Ford pickup right now. I‘m going to be bringing you some information on that, through the website. It’s not something new that I’m doing, because I’ve been doing car restorations for a very long time. But I’m hopefully be able to bring new sources of income to our family, with this line of work that I do. So enough of that. So doing the roof raise, doing the slide outs. When you start doing the cubic feet on that, now I am at 2465 cubic feet.

Now of course, you’re not gonna be using up all of that area, but you do have all of that space up and above you, and along the edges, and under the bus, like I spoke about. Also under the couch, all of these spaces are normally in a normal house, aren’t used. You have to start thinking of using all of that space, and realizing that even though 290 square feet or 140 square feet, or if you wanna live in a 65 square foot, tiny home. It is small, either way you look at it. All of these spaces are small, but there’s a lot of unutilized space, that can be used, in these small spaces to give you more room. And to give you, the ability to live in these homes, more comfortably.

So it takes a little bit different mindset, to start looking at these things like that. Like just for instance, let’s say the couch that you sit on right now, in your apartment, or in your house, or whatever the case might be, and you’re watching TV. Normally there’s just this big whole couch, but if you look at your couch, there’s other space under the couch. That you could be using, if you were to have a couch, that same size in your tiny home, if it could fit there. That can be used as storage space under there. Also most of these couches nowadays. I’m just using this as an example, is this huge bulky thing, and you could make those things much smaller to fit into a smaller area. Utilize all that space under the couch, and all of these spaces, even in the arm rest, and stuff like that.

You can have storage, and places to put things in the arm rest, along the side, things like that. You need to start thinking of being able to use, and utilize all of these spaces. So in closing, what is the proper size for your tiny home, and would you be happy in it? I don’t know. You’re really the only person that can answer that. Fr us, it worked out to be about 290 square feet, and we’re thinking it’s gonna be enough space. Also, that home is really, only a temporary situation, till we finally land what we’re gonna get to. Then we’re gonna build a second tiny home, and that tiny home, might be 1000 square feet. I mean I don’t know. Again like I said, it’s really what a tiny home to you is. You need to decide what it is, and why you’re doing it. Once you do that soul searching, and decide what the proper size is. Why you’re doing it, what you’re gonna be comfortable in. You know, that’s what’s important. That’s the important part here. How is this gonna affect your life, in either a positive or a negative way. To me, it’s seems like nothing but positive, you know. If you’re thinking of doing this, you’re obviously here listening to this, and you’re looking into this, because you also think it’s positive. And being able to live in something that’s paid off, that’s yours, and that depending on how you build it. You have the potential to move, to wherever you want to, and take your home with you.
I think it’s great. I think there’s nothing but positive stuff that can come from it. Having a house that’s paid off, completely paid off. Or that you’re paying nothing for, is just a huge relief on your mind, and on your soul. The freedom that you’ll be able to get, and be able to choose your own path. Be able to not feel enslaved, into a job that you don’t like, or in a place that you don’t like, or on, and on, and on. I could start getting into a rant again, but I’m not gonna do it. I’ve been trying to keep these podcast, right around between 20 and 30 minutes. I’ve been good so far, until I hear anything more, make them longer, make them shorter. I’m gonna try to stay within that range. So that’s it. I guess I’ll talk to you guys next time.

If you guys have any questions, anything, just go ahead and you can email me at [email protected] You can go to the website, contact us through there. Multiple ways to contact us. We have a contact form. You could go to the blog post associated with the podcast. Make sure to check us out. We have videos on YouTube. You could search lemonheadpress on YouTube, and we’ll come up. I have a whole bunch of school bus conversions going on there, and also the website.

The website, lemonheadpress.com. We have videos posted there, the podcast posted there. We also have a detailed measurement and stuff like that, of the bus. The different components that are going into the bus. We’re talking about, all of the home schooling stuff that we’re doing with our kids. So if you guys are interested in that, you know it’s there too. So thanks again for listening. I’ll talk to you guys next time. Bye.

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