This project started with a conversation with a friend in 2018. They were looking to build a Tiny Home and were wondering where to start. My friend, Karen, asked me if I was interested as she wanted it to be built in a sustainable way and knew I’d be interested in building in a low impact way and using reclaimed materials, and avoiding the use of plastic in the entire build. As cost was a big factor, Karen would come down to my workshop to help build it for a week, and I’d do the job on an hourly rate, basically getting as far as the budget allowed, and then Karen would finish off minor jobs such as painting etc.

From that point, the design process started with many hours of conversation sharing ideas, photos, and eventually the layout started to evolve. The final design evolved into what basically looks like a large and much more substantial Shepherds Hut. The reasons for this design were:

  • Single storey due to extreme wind speeds in Shetland where the house is sited
  • Lightweight roof with curved corrugated panels
  • Avoiding the “twee” looking apex pitched roof that is normal for Tiny Homes
  • It is a relatively simple structure so lightweight and quite quick to build

A purpose-built 3.5Te rated chassis trailer was purchased, which was a significant part of the budget, but it meant the home would be towable on the roads with a large 4×4 or pickup. The project also factored in the transport costs to Shetland right at the start and a date was set to put the pressure on!!

Over the next 3 months Tiny, as she’s now known, evolved. The floor was the first thing down with galvanised metal sheets protecting the underside from the elements, then a pine floor with sheep wool insulation sandwiched in-between. The walls were built from lightweight spruce, and clad with Scottish grown cedar which is a very lightweight and durable timber.

Double glazed hardwood windows and doors were all reclaimed at a total cost of £100 which significantly helped in keeping the build to budget. The roof was custom made from curved painted metal sheets, specified exactly to fit the build so it was at the maximum width allowable for a Tiny Home. The roof was also insulated with sheep wool.

Finally onto the interior, the most important but also very time consuming part! The walls were insulated in reclaimed Kingspan insulation, and then lined with pine paneling. The double bed is raised off the floor to give substantial storage underneath and even space for kids to sleep. Under the bed a table slides out, big enough for 5 people to eat around.

The kitchen was custom built from cedar and oak with a small fridge, gas hob and a carved wooden sink (in fact a reclaimed dough bowl). Copper plumbing was exposed and brass garden taps finish off the rustic look.

Opposite is the centerpiece of the home – a woodburning stove, which has a large hotplate for cooking and a small oven! It’s a superb piece of kit, build by a blacksmith in Devon.

The bathroom area was purposefully left open to the rest of the home, and features a wooden bath with shower over the top. This was a big challenge, especially within the budget as Karen really wanted a bath, but avoiding plastic in the whole build meant that an acrylic one was a no starter, and cast iron would be too heavy. The small toilet room in the corner has a basic sawdust compost toilet.

Take a look at the video tour of the interior here: https://youtu.be/wplH06iUDA8 (note that painting and finishing touches were being done after this was taken!)

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