Building Tiny, but Living Large

While tiny houses are currently trending this isn’t a new trend for Steve Maxwell, the author and instructor of My DIY University’s new multi-week long premium course.

By Kat Gritsenko

While tiny houses are currently trending this isn’t a new trend for Steve Maxwell, the author and instructor of My DIY University’s new multi-week long premium course. Finding himself drawn to the simplicity of living in nature, and building with respect for his surroundings, Steve has built not one, but two tiny house cabins in his life. Wanting to learn more about Steve’s passion for small homes and teaching I set out to find some answers.

Why did you want to teach a class on building a tiny house?

I’ve always loved teaching, especially when it comes to building and working with wood. When my grade one teacher caught me ignoring her lesson because I was building a little airplane out of popsicles sticks, she had me teach the class to make their own. I loved that experience. My desire to teach people to build a tiny house comes from the joy and satisfaction I felt designing and building a tiny house for my son and daughter-in-law. The Cozy Cabin design is what we built together and I’m excited about empowering people to make good things happen with their hands.

How did you get started building?

1986 tiny house by steve
The very first tiny cabin house Steve and his wife built in 1986.

I got my start building when I was 7 years old. That was when my grandfather tuned up an old wooden plane his father used as a cabinetmaker. Grandpa showed me how to turn an ugly old piece of wood into something beautiful with that plane. The rest has been an unbroken string of building projects for me. I’ve worked professionally as a cabinetmaker and carpenter, I’ve built my own home out of hand-quarried stone, and I’ve helped lots of other people design and build places they love.

What are the benefits of a tiny house/cabin?

Beauty, economy, durability and a classic cabin experience are the qualities that attract people to tiny homes in general, and it’s what I aimed to build into my design and floor plans. People are tired of monster homes and monster mortgages. The tiny home movement is a big step towards sanity, and that’s why it has become a cultural movement.

model of a tiny house from DIY University Courtesy of My DIY University
A model of a tiny house prior to building the real thing.
tiny house foundation
This is the tiny house site after clearing the area and prepping for installing the foundation.
tiny house framed porch and walls
The tiny house with finished foundation, walls raised, and porch framed.
shingles added to tiny house
The tiny house with the installation of the cedar shingles nearly complete.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new builder?

The main thing to understand is that building a tiny home is not impossibly difficult, even if you’ve never done anything this big before. That said, you’ll need to give yourself time to go slow as you learn. You must resist the urge to get impatient. You’ll also need to invest in some decent tools too, but these will pay off both with the cabin and other projects. Once you’ve built your tiny house, building will probably be part of who you are and you’ll want to do more of it. I’ve coached a number of people who have never built anything large before and they end up with a great little place to live and a new measure of self-confidence as a bonus. Learning to build a tiny home is at least as much about building yourself as it is about building a place to live.

Join Steve on the six-week long journey to building your own tiny house and gain access to his detailed tiny house floor plans, construction blueprints, and written, illustrated, and video tutorials.

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