THIMBY: Fall Update

A new semester of living in THIMBY begins. Reflecting back on the entire tiny house experience, it’s hard to believe a year ago our team was frantically orchestrating all-hands-on-deck weekend work parties, roping in all our friends and contacts in order to finish the house in time for the SMUD competition in October. And now, I’m sitting here at the desk in front of the south-facing windows, writing this blog post. We really have come a long way. And while the house systems are still far from perfect, we have another semester here at the Richmond Field Station to make progress before moving the house to a more permanent location and handing it off to another user in the spring.

Due to weight issues, THIMBY did not make it up to Lopez Island for the summer. After getting her all cleaned up and ready to go, it turns out the house was too heavy for the 1-ton pick-up, Big Red, that we purchased to tow her up north. We found out after towing the house one exit on the highway, feeling like the house rather than the truck was in control, then taking it to a weigh station and discovering the house weighs 15,000 pounds rather than 11,000 as we thought. So, luckily nothing was hurt or damaged in the process, and we decided to cut our losses and just leave the house in Richmond for the summer.

Now, back in the house, we have some new goals for the fall. Clean the water tanks, reinstall the lower planter box for greywater filtration, improve filtered greywater end uses, perfect the heating-composting toilet, get the inverter up and running (once and for all!), gather data from the home energy management system, and finish our first academic paper on the THIMBY project-- an analysis of the building design-performance gap for the energy and water systems. We are meeting with students interested in building a second tiny house, with environmental engineers eager to optimize home greywater treatment systems, and with the Office of Local Government and Community Relations to discuss the City of Richmond’s interest in affordable tiny house communities.

THIMBY still has a ways to go in realizing its full potential as an off-grid, climate-friendly, energy and water efficient, minimalist tiny house, but it is always making progress in that direction! Perhaps the most exciting thing about the house is how it functions dynamically as a living and research space; we are, in fact, both living and learning and gathering data in the house this fall again, and that is a truth worth celebrating. The vision of a community of happy grad students living in THIMBYs is still on the horizon.