It's after Christmas now and tomorrow I'll have lived in my house for a month. And I love it here, this post is not at all about not liking a tiny house or my tiny house in particular. This is just a list of things that I would change if I had them to do over again. Because maybe thinking about some of them will help the next one of you that is building or designing your house make choices you are happy with. Many of these things relate to learning more about living off grid efficiently.
1. I would have picked a heater that would operate even with no electrical power at all. I like my Suburban propane heater, it does a great job, doesn't burn too much propane, and provides a comfortable heat. (Though if I was planning to be on the grid, I would absolutely have chosen radiant floor heat because my feet have always tended to be cold. I knew from the start I wouldn't have a power system that could handle that though.) But I was unaware that my heater required electricity to start every time it kicks on, and will not operate if the fan is not running. This also requires power. I live in a cold area. It would be nice to know I could heat my house even if my electrical system fails for some reason. This may actually be something I change eventually, but that would require a good bit of work and remodeling.
2. I would have placed the water tank somewhere higher in the house. The water pump is one of the three biggest power hogs in my house, following the fridge which I planned on requiring the most power, and the heater which I did not realize used any electricity. But, my water tank only has water if I pour it in there from my water jugs. I have no external connection to any water source. And pouring it into a slightly higher tank would not be much more work. So if the tank was located higher in the house, like anywhere above the kitchen sink, gravity feed should work and I wouldn't need a water pump at all. Saving on having to buy and maintain a pump as well as the power it consumes. Now this could be more of a problem if I used my shower as a shower rather than a closet, but I don't. I haven't looked into how hard it would be to change the water tank location at this point, but I'm thinking not very easy.
3. I would have added a tiny bathtub. While I don't use my shower (and didn't use one much even living in a big house) and have for years since traveling just washed my hair in my sink, I do love soaking in a hot bath. And if I had one, would be willing to put in the extra work to haul water to fill it up and use it every now and then. This I may choose to add at some point as well.
4. I would have less windows. Not because I don't like windows, I love them, but I would prefer a smaller number and then make them all larger. Right now, my house has 16 windows. That's a lot! I think the views might be better out of a larger window and there would be less of them to work around as I place other things in the house. Also, a larger window would have cut down on the time and money required to create curtains or blinds for them. This is one that won't change unless I am building a whole new house, which seems unlikely.
5. On a simliar note, I would have skipped the little dividers that make the windows looks so homey and cute. A simple sheet of glass would be easier to clean for one thing. And again, I think I'd like the view better. But more importantly, I get a lot of condensation, especially when I am cooking, which is kind of all the time. And the extra strips of wood just serve to catch and condense more water giving me another spot that can get moldy and start to rot. Not that they are doing so yet, but I'm guessing it will happen sooner or later since they are always at least damp. Again, this isn't going to change unless I am replacing my windows, so not for a very long time if ever.
6. I would have bought a larger battery charger to use with my generator from the start. Being ignorant about all this stuff, I bought one sized for any single one of the batteries I have. Not realizing or thinking about the fact that when I wire two or four of my batteries together, I really have just one big battery that the charger is trying to fill. So it works, but requires me to run the generator longer as it can't dump enough power into the battery bank fast enough. A new, larger one has already been purchased.
7. I'd have skipped the corner porch. Again, not that I don't like porches, but I live in an area where it is winter for much of the year. So there is very little time when I would do anything like hang out on my porch. If the weather's nice, I have thousands of square miles of wilderness right outside my door to hang out in. I wish I'd made that little corner into a mud room or some kind of inside spot to hang coats, take off boots, and leave the snow and water a little more out of the main living area of the house. Maybe sometime in the future I will wall the porch in and create something like that.
That's my conclusions from the first month of living here guys! Actually, I arrived at most of those conclusions in the first week, but didn't get around to writing about them till now. I hope they help some of you as you design your own houses. And just in case anyone still wasn't clear..... I do love my little house despite this list.