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Macy Miller builds adaptive small home for family of 4 + dog

Five years ago Macy Miller was “four years outside a foreclosure”, looking for a place to live with her Great Dane and in need of a hands-on project for her architecture training. Inspired by tiny house stories she began to read online, she set aside a year’s worth of rent payments (about $12,000), bought an old flatbed trailer and began to build her tiny dream home.

To keep costs low, she began to ask around at construction projects for excess materials. This strategy paid off. She paid just $300 for all the wood (from a job site that had over-ordered) and was given the windows (another site mis-ordered). She scavenged old shipping pallets (from a farm and a floor dealer) for siding. “This was free but a lot of time to take apart and get ready to finish. I have estimated the entire  build took 900 to 1100 hours and that’s a ton because these are 83 different shipping pallets. You know to fit your budget, it’s time or money.”

Her total expenses came to $11,460 and that’s including the $5,000 she spent on appliances (including a $2000 “certified” composting toilet). [For details: Macy’s blog and e-courses].

After completing her tiny home she had to find a place to park it. She began renting a vacant lot from another designer (architect James Herndon) in downtown Boise and they soon started dating. Today they live in the 196-square-foot home with their two young children and Great Dane. With the arrival of the kids they turned the back porch into a 36-square-foot addition (complete with baby-sized bunk beds).

Miller admits that such a small space, at times, can be more difficult with children, but ““it’s not impossible by any means, it’s not even hard”. Having grown up in a 5000-square-foot home, she recognizes that her family’s close quarters means more time together.

“I appreciate more what it’s doing for our family than what it’s taking away. I get to stay home and spend time with her [at the time of our interview she was 8 months pregnant with her second child]. And I wouldn’t be able to do that without this house at this point.”