Valerie Chiasson moved into her 230-square-foot house in Brooklin in November. Unlike many tiny houses, this one is set on a foundation. Here she shares more details about living the tiny-house dream.
What made you decide to live in a tiny house?
My youngest son, age 19, recently said to me, “You have been talking about tiny houses my entire life.” I had forgotten, but it’s true! Back in the early 90s, one of the glossy Maine magazines — I have searched and never found it — published a story about an architect who had designed a simple, long, narrow wooden house with a shed roof, intended to offer an alternative to single-wide mobile homes to low-income residents. I was fascinated by the idea and had always dreamed of having one built as a spec house, and marketing it.
In recent years, as my sons prepared to leave the household, I recognized that I spent most of my time at home in several distinct places in the house — the kitchen, the bathroom, my corner of the couch, and sitting at the table doing various tasks. I had lived on boats in my 20s, and I knew that a tiny house would work for me, and I wanted something sustainable, financially, as I approach retirement.
I spent at least a year looking at tiny houses online. I wondered why no one was advertising from Maine — it seemed like a good fit for Maine. In the spring of 2014 I saw what was to become my house in a photo in Coffee News (Livesey’s Little Houses in Bridgewater, Maine) — and the rest is history.
What’s the hardest thing about it?
I haven’t found it yet! I keep waiting to feel as if the space is too small, but it has not happened. I will say, I broke my foot in December, and climbing the ladder to the loft was a daunting thought — but that, too, worked out fine.
The hardest thing about it, seriously, is finding a place for the cat’s litter box, and I am therefore delighted that it is spring. One other thing — I have a two-room house, and the back room also has a bed. Therefore, I keep the loft ladder stowed most of the time. This opens up the interior space, and I’m glad I have that ability.
What advice do you have for someone looking to build or buy their own tiny house?
Recognize that the infrastructure costs — septic system, road, etc. — are just as high for a tiny house. Live in it for a while before you place items permanently (built-ins, for example). Shop around! I saw tiny houses online that cost between $40,000 and $80,000! I paid far, far less.
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