High-Tech Tiny House

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TH Swoon Crew, my brother and I built what we are hoping will be the safest and most sustainable Tiny House. I collaborated with some engineering friends here in the Boston area, to make sure the home complies with wide range of codes and regulations (e.g., building, energy, fire, life safety, transportation).

This is the first home to be built using exterior continuous insulation, which helps the home me the same energy codes as a full-size house!

A tiny house built with exterior continuous insulation in Boston. Built by Tracey and Trever Powell. More info. here.

2017-02-10T07:59:57+00:00

29 Comments

  1. 9418 March 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I’m not crazy about it. Although I like some of the details and I like the materials, the layout just isn’t for me. I always see areas like the back end like that as a wasted space/wasted opportunity. Especially since there already is so little room to work with. This feels more like a toy or a class project than something intended for living. It’s pretty, but no. I like the bathroom (despite the fact that i’ve heard mostly negative things about incinerating toilets). Feels like a hallway that was re-purposed into a break room.

    I think it would work great if you spent most of your day away from home.

  2. Mike March 10, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    No. It’s not “high tech.” Nor is it comfortable. If I had to describe the decor, it would be “air liner restroom”. And it looks like you need to be perpendicular to everything. If you put something like this together to send people to mars, they’d never make it. By choice.

  3. Sandra Burkhart March 11, 2016 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Maybe I am overlooking it,but what would be the price on this? I love it!

  4. Bruce March 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    The fit and finish of this tiny house is absolutely top notch! Obviously, a tremendous amount of time, effort and money ($65K in materials! Wow!) went into building this TN and it shows. That said, I am not a fan of its layout. I think it breaks some golden rules of TN design. One being to avoid creating “hallways”. The entire house feels like one big hallway. Another feature of good TN designs is lots of windows to create a sense of openness. This tiny house’s almost complete absence of windows makes the space feel unusually confining . The designers of this TN managed to cram in every feature/appliance you could ever want in a TN, but IMO, missed the bigger design goal of creating an inviting/livable space. It’s a shame because their ability to create something beautiful and unique still shines through, in spite of these criticisms.

  5. 1234 March 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Looks like an industrial kitchen on wheels with bad chi due to the long coridor running right through the building. The pointed painting, on the outside, does not add any eyepleasing harmony. There is a lack of harmony where features have just been “thrown” into the building because they need to be there without any consideration to “cozyness”. And not “high tech”. The ice-cold colors are not inviting.

  6. 1234 March 11, 2016 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    It strikes me, that there is a lack of complementary contrasts.

  7. ama March 11, 2016 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    I like it! The floor plan looks good. A couple tweaks — I’d leave out the murphy bed and use a day bed with storage drawers underneath, and larger windows so one gets a view of the outdoors. Also modify/reduce the tv/desk built-in to have room for a comphy chair & table. But over-all a lot here to work with. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jane March 11, 2016 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    deck space should be a bedroom with sliding door. Murphy bed isn’t good idea for this tiny house.

  9. Christa March 11, 2016 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Love the storage and lighting. Where would one sleep? Is that a mattress behind the seating? Too narrow, but much prettier inside than out.

  10. Jennifer March 12, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t that impressed and then I saw the incinerator toilet!

    Seriously what ecoterrorist invented a device that uses energy to destroy a valuable resource!! It’s beyond insanity and selfishness and is lunatic criminality. If you can’t put a dry toilet in a micro house you’re reallynot trying hard enough.

    • earl colby pottinger March 7, 2017 at 3:33 am - Reply

      There are three advantages, first the ash can still be used as fertilizer to return minerals to the soil, second there is no problems deposing your waste anywhere without violating local laws, third you claim eco-terrorist without considering the eco-damage untreated sewage from a traveling tiny home can cause as it moves around different states/countries. And before you harp on decomposing toilets have you seen the mess/smell they make when someone does not handle them right?

      I am going incinerating myself, that way I don’t worry about what my guests will do wrong if I lend them my tiny house.

  11. sc March 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    It makes NO SENSE for a house that tiny to have 2 doorways. The colors are beautiful. I like the shiny cabinets, but they go too far and cramp up the living room. It was a huge mistake not building the walls high for sleeping and storage loft and high living room ceiling.Sure low walls saves energy, but the cramped, rv feeling is not worth it, to my mind.

  12. D Zent March 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Good lord, the commenters on this site are ASSHOLES! Who cares what you chumps think? Have you put money, talent and thought into any such project of your own? This guy built what HE wanted, sorry if he didn’t consult your whiny asses first, but too bad so sad. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to have two doors in case of fire, or any other unforeseen circumstance. Do two two hurt your feelings or something? Get your sorry acts together and appreciate the effort instead of your own anal retentive selfish demands. You have no clout here. Play nice.

  13. bat March 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    I took the time to look at the photos and also visited the facebook page for the project. The tech IS there… Largely unseen which is the best kind of tech (IMHO).

    I prefer designs like this without lofts. Some of us are too old or differently-abled and can’t use lofts.

    As for two doors? Totally normal for trade show models of tiny houses! People have to pass through in large numbers.

    Can easily envision closing off the one door by couch and. Incorporating a fold up table there OR closing off the back door and having a larger bathroom with a tub even.

    Very cool ideas… Can easily see how this could look very different with other colors or wood tones. Also very cool flooring choice I’d never seen.

    Thanks

    • earl colby pottinger March 7, 2017 at 3:22 am - Reply

      One reason I added a second door to my cabin at the opposite end from the main door is for easy exit if there was a fire. And since I used a glass door for the second exit it let in a lot of light too. I got two benefits for the price of one.

  14. Chris. March 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    My criticism ,would be the A/C unit,blowing onto the deck. On a hot day,you will cook?,Plus whilst the deck is a nice feature ,a dropdown would be acceptable ? Thus creating more interior space.Maybe a bedroom,instead of a M Bed. Nice unit though.

  15. hunter March 14, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Well, i like it with just a few changes to it. First i love the colors inside and outside. Love the rear deck area. the cabinets in the kitchen are wonderful and clean lines abound. the bath, i would use a lovable loo only for more space. I’ve seem the incinerator toilets, the thought of a fire puts me off no matter how short of a time it’s lit . I would remove the mattress behind the couch and put a full futon to fold out, the mattress really detracts from the beauty of this home. a loft for storage would have been helpful as well. as far as two doors to outside, i think it shows how smart these people are. where ever a fire might start, you can get out. at night in the dark with smoke and confusion the quicker you get out the better. also for air flow to cool the house, the blow through, would be welcomed on a really hot day.Not a thing wrong with having lots of ventilation in any home big or tiny. with all the high windows, lots of light which makes for bright and sunny inside days. Over all i really like this little house. at least it has a living room which that big house with slide outs doesn’t even have Now that house is an eyesore. Good job builders and decorators you have a really, really special little home……

  16. Kristina H Nadreau March 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Please do not claim “high tech” when you are using a window AC. The split units are higher performance and less expensive to operate. What are the features which have inspired the builder to lable this unit High Tech?

    Why are you cluttering up the few feet of counterspace with counter-top appliances??? An oven can go on a shelf or in a cabinet, & same with coffee makers and juicers etc. I like the basic floor plan, with the murphy bed available. I have no experience with the incinerator toilet so I am not aware of the pros and cons. I like the “airline” storage in the bath.

  17. Kristina H Nadreau March 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I omitted something that is important to me that may also concern others. There is only the entry door of glass to provide any vista or long view. Being inside this home would be like hanging out in a closet. why are there no windows at eye level???

  18. David March 14, 2016 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    It’s different and I like the simple, clean lines. Beautiful home!

  19. Tracey (Designer/Builder) March 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    The “High-Tech” features of this $65K+ Tiny House include: online home monitoring system, online video/intercom doorbell, online lighting system, online thermostat controls, online smoke detector, switchable glass, dielectric mirror (hidden television), temperature-activated illuminated faucets, LED lights throughout, wall assembly exceeds energy performance of a standard house, and walls ARE an air filtration system. Most of the home automation systems are tied to my cell phone. Any Questions? 🙂

    • Noah April 1, 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

      What is the purpose? Was this designed/built to showcase an trailer-array of electrical gadgets?
      It must be difficult to fit everything on a trailer but what looks fine on paper doesn’t always translate to a good feeling home. It seems like you can’t really see out of this house. There is not much simplicity (why live in a tiny house?) but rather a feeling of cramped restriction.

  20. Lisa E. March 14, 2016 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    I like the colors, but I would end up enclosing that deck and making something like a sun room or living room out of it. I’m not a fan of the bowling alley feel to it. To me, a successful design is one where you are oblivious to the fact you are in a box; one where the walls seem to disappear in view of a homey environment.

    The only negative thing I’ve ever heard about Incinolet is one home owner said there were some initial installation problems but that they had been dealt with and solved. I wish someone would do a pros-and-cons about this piece of equipment; I’m very interested. Although the Incinolet is expensive, I like the idea of not having to deal with eliminated materials be that in the form of black water or composting. Also, I should think with an Incinolet there would be a lot fewer germs than with a composting toilet or an RV flush type which means ‘cleaner’ to me, especially in winter when you have an enclosed environment.

  21. Pat March 15, 2016 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Well, I love everything about it! When you design a house for yourself to live in its not for others to love it! They’re not living in it, so why would you do that. This house is specifically and uniquely built for the owner. So I’m sure it’s “just right!”

  22. e. a. foster March 15, 2016 at 4:14 am - Reply

    loved the lay out. really looks like it works and best of all, it doesn’t require you use a loft for sleeping. If you don’t like the kitchen cabinets, others could always be used. has everything one would ever need.

  23. Robyne March 25, 2016 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    No, not a fan of this. Too enclosed/claustrophobic feel for me with no windows at eye level. Also feels like I’m walking down a crowded hallway. Happy with bath unit, though don’t know enough about Incinolet unit to make comparison against other units. Also benchtop should be left clear, put microwave up in open shelf on wall. Desk, what desk? It’s just an extension of the benchtop.

  24. Cool Brz May 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    I like it. The upper cabinets are too deep, TV too big, I would use the porch as enclosed space. The kitchen sink must have a tall spout. And would add solar panels on roof. Looks like it would be very efficient in hot weather down south. The alley and high windows does not bother me as this a “Tiny” space either way and I’m usually too busy to hang out or entertain. That is the only purpose of living in a tiny space. Who has time to window gaze? I would just go outside.

  25. anna March 12, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    There really are some lovely features. I love the clean look of the glossy white and pale aqua. I would also be happy not to have to climb up to sleeping loft with their usual low ceilings~~~but, the Murphy Bed idea doesn’t work for ME in this space. I’d rather have a window and maybe even a picture. Since this bed will block the 2nd door anyway, why not have a fold down sofa/bed combo with deep storage underneath and a big window to look out of? Closets are great, but what about all those socks and tee~shirts, not to mention sheets and towels? Where do you eat? I imagine the folded item between the refrigerator and the cabinets opens up and then you sit ~on the bed? As far as “online home monitoring system, online video/intercom doorbell, online lighting system, online thermostat controls, online smoke detector, switchable glass, dielectric mirror (hidden television), temperature-activated illuminated faucets, LED lights throughout” Other than the smoke detectors, and possibly being able to keep an eye on the place if you’re not living it, I, too, have to ask why? A video/intercom doorbell? It’s a tiny house with a corridor.

    You guys have a great idea here. I can’t wait to see your next one with perhaps a few nooks and crannies for storage, eye level windows and maybe even a softer feel with a little less LED and a little more comfort. A nice screened porch would be great at the end there so you could admire the view of whatever beautiful spot you’re in. Keep going!

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