When we talk about tiny houses, we are really talking about living an entirely different lifestyle. As we go through life, most of us want and work toward a bigger home. Many people start with a nice little two-bedroom. But before long, their family increases and they want a third, fourth or maybe even a fifth bedroom. So they buy a house that’s a thousand square feet larger than their old one.
If that continues – and for some it does – they can wind up with a house as big as an amusement park. I have a friend whose son graduated from architecture school and went to work for a firm that designs huge homes. The smallest house that he’s designed is 25,000 square feet – or as big as a large church. For most of us, that is not an option or even a dream.
So I designed and built a Monolithic Dome with 8,000 square feet as a home for my family. Called Cliff Dome, it sits on the edge of the Snake River. I can tell you, it’s really difficult to fill 8,000 square feet.
Cliff Dome’s second floor includes a full-size volleyball court, six bedrooms and two bathrooms, each with its own vanity. The first floor encompasses a 1,500-square-foot living room, with ten picture windows overlooking the Snake River and facing the Teton Peaks.
We also added an extra bedroom, a large utility room and a large office in the front half of the house. In the back half, we had a 1,400-square-foot garden, with artificial lighting, in which we grew food. We still had room for 1,000 square feet of storage. In the very center of that ground floor, we had a TV room that could seat 15 to 20.
Because it was a Monolithic Dome, we could heat the entire 8,000 square feet of usable floor space plus a 2,000-square-foot attic with one, ten-kilowatt heater – absolutely unheard of for cold, cold Idaho.
We used the space in that big dome-home. We had a large family and a lot of guests. But the children grew up, married and moved on and that left my wife and me in a huge home to rattle around in.
Lately, I have been looking at what I call tiny houses. I love what I see on the web about tiny houses and how people realize that houses have many functions. Our homes provide a safe place in which to spend our days and evenings and just take care of life. Obviously, if we want to make our home a party house, we must make it larger.
But more and more I am learning that life changes as we go through the years. Perhaps we should consider the compound house, one made up of many parts: a dome for parties, a dome for a swimming pool, a dome for guests, a dome for a bowling alley or whatever.
But the reality is: for sleeping we do not need more than about one ping of space. A ping is a Chinese term for a space of six feet by six feet in which to sleep and put our stuff. Beyond the one ping, we really don’t need much space. We may like more, but we don’t need more.
Monolithic’s small houses
Several years ago, we decided to design small houses that would help people by holding costs down but keeping them safe. We started with a 16.5 foot dome, that could be transported. We built quite a few, but moving them became a problem because many states required pilot cars on either end of the hauling truck.
At the same time, we began building a rental unit we call the I0-20, that has just 314 square feet. We would build it on-site as an efficiency apartment, with a bathroom, kitchen and living area. It easily qualifies as a tiny house, that can be rented at a very reasonable rate, including all utilities.
About three years ago, we decided to go back and try building a portable dome. We wanted something that was virtually tornado, earthquake and fire safe. But we wanted to be able to move it along America’s highway system. So we designed and built one that is 12 feet wide and able to be moved without pilot cars.
We call these buildings our Cabins. We can change their length. We built the first one 18 feet long as a prototype. We now produce the Cabins in lengths of 15 feet, 19 feet and 24 feet. We have one on the drawing board now that is 30 feet long. We haven’t built it as we don’t have a crane big enough to pick it up, but that will come.
For more about our Cabins go to: domeliving.com
Monolithic’s rental Cabins have become very successful. We had one lady stop by and want to rent one, but we did not have one available. She left crying, saying she would have to continue living in her car. That statement really affected me. I wanted her to have a house. What she needed was a place that would be better than the car, in which she could cook, shower, take care of herself and her needs. But it had to be inexpensive. Thus we came up with the 15-foot Cabin. It’s perfect for one person who doesn’t have a lot of stuff.
Here in Italy, Texas, my wife and I have a 2,800-square-foot home. It’s been wonderful, but now that the kids are gone we rattle around in this house. We have half of the house for day use and half for night, and neither half gets any real use unless we have a party. But we have a Training Center that we can use for big parties, so we decided to work on a smaller house.
We call our tiny house a Cottage. We are preparing another article on our website about the Cottage. As soon as we get it posted, you will be able to see the Cottage. The Cottage is 707 square feet, a 30-foot diameter dome suitable for a married couple with no children.
In essence, it is a two-bedroom home with modifications. The bedrooms will also function as an office and a living room. Please review this article as soon as I can get it done and see what we are describing.
Tiny houses are a good thing. For folks with the funds, big houses are wonderful but certainly not necessary; they do not make our lives better. Please consider what you need for your house and please consider the Monolithic Dome. It is far more energy efficient and far safer than any other home that we have been able to find and remember that tiny houses have their purpose.