Tiny Tuesday: A House in Search of a Home

Jesse lives in a 180-square-foot house on wheels in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. It was built by a Yestermorrow Design-Build School class, and demonstrates what a tiny house can look like when it’s not staged but actually lived in.

From the front porch, you enter into a mudroom with ample storage space to the left; on the right a sliding door opens on a fairly cramped bathroom. Beyond, a wide corridor kitchen with marine-grade appliances opens onto a full-height volume, with a couch that doubles as a bed along the back wall. Upstairs, twin dormer windows offer headroom to the loft which covers two thirds of the footprint.

Jesse’s house works in large part because of multifunctional spaces. A table and chairs for eating or working fit neatly within the full-height great room, then fold down to almost nothing. The same space is used to access the loft via a ladder which pivots up out of the way when not in use. The bottom is hinged to rest on a wall cleat above head height – a clever solution to the visual and physical space problem of a permanent stairway.


Part of the kitchen, with an alcohol-burning cooktop and a folding table (yes, there’s chairs in there too).

A tiny wood stove is more than adequate to heat the building; last year got Jesse through the winter on a third of a cord of wood. A sliding door in the corner of the back wall allows him to move wood from outside directly to the stove. He runs his plumbing off a 50-gallon tank that lives right next to the kitchen sink. In terms of legality, Jesse opines that greywater is the biggest problem. Composting toilets are perfectly legal, but no substitute exists for sinks and showers: they need to drain to a septic system or town sewer.

Jesse is in search of a permanent piece of land for his house. For now, he has taken up residence in the backyard of a friend, who runs an electrical cable from the big house to the little one. (Jesse also has PV panels he can set up to live off-grid.) He showed me his VTrans permit from when he last moved the house about a month ago. Its road width just exceeds the 8’-6” maximum for towing without a permit; it’s about 22 feet long and under 13 feet tall when the smokestack is removed. He’ll need to move it again before winter.

If you live in the Mad River Valley and you’d like to host a small house with an awesome occupant, please drop me a line!


Back wall with bay window, utility compartment, trailer hitch, and wood stove access at the lower right.

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