"We get caught up in the idea that more is better," explained Tom Storm sitting at the modular dining room table of his 130 square foot Tiny Home. "I've learned to live happily with less."
"I have more," he said. "More time to think about things that I want to think about. More time to do the things I want to do," and by having less, "the quality of the things that I want to keep is higher."
With its wood-planked siding, Storm's home could easily be mistaken for a roadside bar-b-cue stand, as it stood parked along Broadway in Jim Thorpe on Earth Day. The home was hand-built by Storm based on plans from an internet firm.
"It was a great pleasure to show this house during Earth Day," Storm said. "The majority of people, although they might not have said, 'I can live in this,' a lot of them said, 'I could live with less,' and 'that I have too much.' It's an example to say that maybe you can't live in a 130 sq. ft. home but maybe you can do with less... and be happier."
Storm thinks that tiny homes could be an alternative for the homeless, but he cautions that local zoning codes may require homes to be a minimum of 500 or 1,0000 sq. ft. "If we can help move legislation towards functional smaller living, it would be awesome," he said. "These buildings are designed to high standards, including building codes, R-rated insulation, and hurricane and earthquake resistance."
That's one reason Storm opted to trailer mount his tiny Home. But a more important reason was that the outdoor adventurer/ photographer/musician plans to take his career on the road, and like a turtle, take his home on the road with him.
"I enjoy traveling and I know I want to do more of it. I want to see more of the country. For years, I had just rented a room. That was enough for me because I could always come back and it was not a lot of upkeep, but over the years I felt that I wanted a place of my own."
"I felt that a house on wheels would give me an opportunity to live in different places around the United States to experience the culture and subculture. Then, after a few months, I could move without a whole lot of 'moving.' I would simply just move my house rather than packing and unpacking and repacking again."
"I built this because I realized that I didn't need a whole lot, and I don't live in my home I use it as a base and I live in the world. I'm a kayak instructor. I'm a photographer. I'm a musician. I love the outdoors I love hiking and camping. This home gives me a place to put my things: to eat, sleep, wash and go out and live life versus coming home and living in my home, staying in my home, existing in my home which a lot of people do and in doing so, shut themselves away from the rest of the world."
Deciding to avoid going into debt, Storm kickstarted the project from his savings, then built the home from paycheck to paycheck, and took every opportunity to reuse existing materials, and buy used but quality materials. Doing so, the house had been estimated to cost $20-$25,000 to build using all new materials. He's expecting the final cost to be about $16,000 using creative sourcing.
For instance, he found 200 sq. ft. of oak flooring on craigslist for less than half the cost of store-bought. At a building surplus store, he found a set of windows: one large, two dormer, and two octagonal windows, plus a stainless steel sink all at half the commercial price.
Even though his home is tiny, what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. His front door is a Dutch type that is split near midway. " It was always my dream to have one," he said. "Great if you have a party and can pass pies, hot dogs or tacos through the door. I got an old closet door, cut it down, installed glass on top, and modified it so it opened up in two sections. I'm really proud about the Dutch door."
Features in the kitchen include: a butcher block countertop with a matching sink cover, a copper backsplash, and a three-burner propane stove. Propane also fuels a 13,000 BTU forced air heater retrieved from a dismantled RV. The same RV also sourced the electrical distribution panel which distributes both 110 VAC and 12 VDC for the home's composting toilet and water pump.
Because the home is designed to meet highway regulations at speeds of 60 mph, the home is designed with steel straps holding the structure together, That's what makes it hurricane and earthquake resistant.
Storm started the project one year ago, in May 2012 and he is nearly finished, and just can't wait to get on the road again.