HoneyBox Shipping Container House Tour

Mat & Danielle at Exploring Alternatives get a tour of a small shipping container home in British Columbia. It was built by the folks at HoneyBox, a home builder and shipping container supplier.

This house was made from three 20-foot containers that have been attached using standard container connectors. It’s completely off-grid, has a small solar system, a wood stove for heat, and uses propane for cooking, water heating, and the refrigerator.

It’s foundation is simply large concrete footings to which the center container is attached with bolts. The outer two containers are cantilevered using large diagonally mounted lashing rods which lock into the containers’ corner fittings and tighten down with large turn buckles. So the structural design of the house actually leverages the built-in strength of the containers. The house can also be disassembled and moved.

For more great tiny home tours follow Exploring Alternatives on YouTube. To learn more about the builder visit the HoneyBox website. Image above by Mat & Danielle at Exploring Alternatives.

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Redefining The Cubicle

This tiny building was the home office of Peter Frazier which overlooks Chuckanut Bay in Bellingham, Washington. A couple of years ago it was featured on Lifehacker. Peter now works from a sailboat in Bellingham! Today this cabin is available as a vacation rental on Airbnb.com!

Ironically, Peter Frazier’s story sounds almost like a mirror of my own. He works from home in the technology world and has worn many of the same hats that I’ve worn like user-interface designer, customer experience researcher, and graphic designer.

He also fell into the trap that the hours, days, and years of sedentary work provides and packed on the pounds. This seems to be a common result of desk-bound jobs. Instead of accepting things as they were Peter changed his lifestyle. In his own words:

“Recently I decided that working standing up would help me live a more active life. It’s worked. Along with meditating, running, hiking, and kayaking, working standing up (with hourly interludes of pushups, situps or yoga) I’ve dropped 30 pounds. My thinking is clearer for longer and you’re more likely to find me with things in perspective.” – Peter Frazier

I guess there comes a time when all of us realize that there must be a better way and begin realigning our goals and values. Some of us build tiny pallet houses; others build tiny houses on cliffs. It’s really inspiring to see success stories like Peter’s. Read the complete story on Lifehacker. Photo credit Peter Frazier.

For more of Peter’s work, check out The Heliotrope Hotel. To spend some time experiencing it for yourself, book it at Airbnb.com.

Note: This post was originally posted on August 4, 2009, and updated January 2, 2018 with current information.

peter frazier lifehacker tiny house view

peter frazier lifehacker tiny house interior

peter frazier lifehacker tiny house stand up computer station


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Off-Grid Scandinavian Style Tiny House

Mat & Danielle from the Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel recently posted news of their visit with Kate & Simon Cabane, the creators of this Scandinavian-style tiny house. It’s a 20-foot tiny house on wheels that’s currently located off-grid in Quebec, Canada.

It has a fully functional kitchen with a full size sink, mini gas range, and apartment sized refrigerator. A tiny wood stove provides heat. In the bathroom is a small shower, sink, and composting toilet. Up in the loft is a queen size bed and it’s accessed by a fixed ladder with deep stair-like steps.

Kate & Simon also build tiny homes, so if you like how this looks and want one too, visit the Cabane Website. The website is in French, so if you need it translated try using the Google Chrome web browser. Chrome can translate it for you in real time.

Mat & Danielle have posted many tiny house tours and interviews on their Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel. Be sure to subscribe, you won’t want to miss an episode. Photo above via the Exploring Alternatives video.

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Tiny Vacation House in the French Pyrenees

This tiny house is surrounded by forest in the French Pyrenees. From where you park your car, the cabin is a 15 minute walk down a path. The remote location gives you ample privacy, clean unpolluted air, and beautiful views from the large windows.

Ironically, even with it’s remote location there’s still good phone reception, making internet access via your smart phone possible.

While this tiny house is simple, it has all you need: a small kitchen with a gas stove, running water and a wood stove for heat.

The house is off-grid; there is no electricity – but the ample insulation and the wood stove make winter stays possible.  Outside is a shower and in a separate structure, a composting toilet.

As you might imagine this tiny cabin is favored by people who love hiking & camping – and getting back to  basics. Use the house as a base camp for day hikes directly in to the surrounding mountains on the many trails.

The owner, Mike B, has made this tiny house available as a vacation rental too. Learn more about Mike’s tiny vacation house on TripAdvisor. Photos by Mike B via TripAdvisor.

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How to Install an Inexpensive Electric Heater

Derek ‘Deek’ Diedricksen shows us how to install an envi heater – a low cost electric heater for small spaces, like a tiny house. In the video below he instals one in a box truck project he’s working on with a friend. Electric heaters are typically best for on-grid applications. They are typically inexpensive to buy and operate.

Learn more on the eheat website and use Deek’s 10% discount code “Deek2017” if you decide to purchase one.

For more videos by Deek subscribe to the Relaxshacks.com YouTube Channel.

For off-grid installation you’d need a power system that’s properly sized to accommodate an electric heater. The eheat website says the envi is rated at 475 Watts (120V x 3.95 Amps = 474 Watts).

When you continue to do the math (475 Watts x 8 hours a day = 3,800 watt hours) you discover instantly that an inexpensive electric appliance like a heater requires a larger battery bank, and power generation (solar panels). The inverter and controller costs also go up. So in the end it may not be as economical to run an electric heater off-grid.

But it can be done. Over at DIY Homestead Projects there’s another Derek that explains how you can run air conditioning and electric heaters on solar. Derek explains in detail how to do the math and size your off-grid system for high demand electric appliances.

For more great DIY videos subscribe to Derek’s DIY Homestead Projects YouTube Channel.

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Build Tiny Earthen Buildings

While I tend to focus on tiny houses on wheels, if you don’t need mobility and want 100% natural building materials, consider tiny earthen buildings. In the video below the folks at Exploring Alternatives visit with Bryce from Dreamweavers Collective to learn about cob.

Cob is just one of the earthen building options. It’s essentially a earthen mixture that is formed by hand into walls. In many cases the dirt on the land the house is being built upon is used to form the home’s walls. Sometimes, depending on it’s original consistency the dirt will need to augmented with clay, sand, and/or straw. Photo above via the Exploring Alternatives video.

Like other earthen buildings, cob houses naturally regulated the temperatures inside due to the thermal mass in the walls. So earthen homes can also have low energy needs, especially when built a with passive solar design, making them ideal for off-grid homes.

Cob differs from other earthen construction methods in that the walls are sculpted by hand from wet lumps of the earthen mixture. This gives cob homes the unique appearance of looking organically shaped with many rounded hand-formed details.

Adobe, rammed-earth, and earthbag homes have their own aesthetics.

  • Adobe homes are made by stacking dried earthen blocks, so they typically look more angular – but not always.
  • Rammed-earth homes are made by compacting earth between forms, so they also tend to have a more angular look too – but not always.
  • Earthbag homes appear more cob like in that curved walls are more common. They are also commonly covered in a cob mixture.

Since all of these building methods can be finished with cob inside and out, which will soften the appearance of the walls and surfaces.

This is just a quick overview of earthen building options. If earthen construction interests you I highly recommend starting by (1) researching the different types of construction and then (2) discovering which forms are typically understood and allowed in your area. You’ll find that some regions understand earthen buildings well due to their long history of use, so allow their construction. Other regions will not be as understanding – literally and figuratively.

If you’re ready to get your hands dirty and learn cob, check out the workshops at Dreamweavers Collective. If you want more videos like the one above subscribe to Exploring Alternatives on YouTube.

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