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"Shotgun shack" family remodels tiny home for $700 DIY-style

Three years ago, the Jordan family left their 2,500-square-foot, 4-bedroom home to move into a 1-bedroom 320-square-foot prefab. They also left behind a mortgage, the four jobs they’d taken on between the 2 of them to pay it, and a lot of stress. They now have more time to focus on their family home business (making blankets) and on spending time with their teenage son.

When we first talked to the Jordans nearly two years ago (and dubbed their home the “Shotgun Shack redux” which promptly went viral), their son Max was living in a small loft with ceilings too low for standing. He loved his clubhouse, but Debra vowed to remodel it as soon as she had some extra money.

Thanks to a brother-in-law builder who was determined to salvage and reuse as much building materials as possible (he’d spent time doing Katrina Relief work and was impacted by the building material waste he witnessed), Debra only had to save $700 to turn Max’s crawl space into a real bedroom.

They literally raising the roof with an old-fashioned barn raising, getting help from their now 14-year-old son and her sister and brother-in-law. “He [Debra’s brother-in-law] devised a way to cut the roof off, keeping it intact, and then slipping the pre-built walls into place while we held the roof steady – no freaking out here folks –,” writes Debra on her blog, “the roof was braced into place, we just steadied it while he nailed it.”

Besides adding 80-square-feet to their home (the second floor now makes it 400 square feet), the Jordan’s also remodeled their bathroom area. They moved the shower down the hall so there would be space to put a door on it, for just $100. They also upgraded their kitchen with salvaged materials: tiles from their “big house” and a donated countertop from a friend’s granite company boneyard.

Since we last talked to the Jordan’s they had the opportunity to buy a larger home. At 900 square feet it would have been spacious, but they decided against it. “It sounded like a lot of fun, but at the last minute we just couldn’t pull the trigger. When you get into a larger home then you have to think about purchasing furnishings. Then you have to insure it, clean it, care for it, mow all the lawn and I don’t want to do that. I’m really happy where we are now, and so is the rest of my family.”

The Jordans are still living mostly off earnings from their blanket-making business, which they run out of the tiny studio next door to their home (a 28 step commute). Their business has shrunk since their old home- both in space and output-, but with their lower cost of living they don’t feel the pressure to produce as much.

“I’ve learned to cultivate contentment. I’m not always thinking about what I want to buy next or how I can increase my earnings. I’m content and there’s a lot to be said for that.”