More than a decade ago, when the Tiny Texas House series was started, the onlookers thought I was a bit crazy for wanting to build portable houses that were designed around the vintage materials I had accumulated in vast warehouses of during my Architectural Antiques empire building. At that time I had over 130,000 square feet of materials that spanned the period of the Civil War through the 1970’s homes, buildings, and barns. From Hardware to plumbing fixtures, doors, flooring, trim, windows by the thousands, and so much that most people rarely see saved from the landfills in the 70′ when such salvaging was out of vogue. To most my passion for the parts and pieces of the past, the incredible wood from trees that were hundreds of years old when harvested in the 1800’s, but the value of it over time has come to be recognized much more now. People are awakening to the cost and loss of our past resources, some even figuring out that it can not be replaced, thus what is saved is going up in value, not down. Tinier living quarters created with quality materials is coming into style as more people shed the giant houses in favor of downsized organic, toxin-free, low maintenance but still unique and stylish in a way that is not like living in a prison cell.
From the many experiments that have come about in the last decade of development into the downsizing cheap path, container homes, straw bale, Earth Ship, Treehouse, and other forms of tiny houses have emerged but the one touted by the TV world the most has been the Tiny Houses on Wheels knows as THOW’s which is now also a synonym for Recreational Vehicle so that it can get financing, be towed down the road without a commercial license, and supposedly lived in, but as an RV, technically not suitable for more than 48 hours of living in at a time due to health issues. Consequently, if one were to choose to enforce the federal building code on such vehicles, no one could live in it full time, or should for that matter if they value their health, until it outgases at a bare minimum, but more so, keeping in mind that there is not enough air inside one of the typical houses when closed up and heated for three people to get enough good air too for a whole day. It is good they make this point and force the manufacturer to put the sticker on them, but it seems there may be a bit of an issue about educating the public as to the reasons why you have that RV label and what it means.
For example, because these are Park Models and thus outside of regular codes for housing and health, they can have more chemicals like formaldehyde, or plasticizers, without a rating issue messing with forcing them to use better materials. The manufacturer can build them without adhering to the same air quality limits as other forms of larger fixed housing units and because the use of glues is so prominent in the mobile home industry, that is the standard you must use to compare to if any. Since the mobile home industry is rampant with cancer stories from living and working in that environment, it goes without saying much more than the quality of the lowered standard usable in THOW’s is not going to lead to better results. Logic dictates that oxygen which is critical, but there is much less of it in a smaller box, will be in short supply if there is not at least 12 hours for three people once the doors and windows are shut for the night. Sadly the manufacturers do not depend upon logic, the buyers rarely know how much they breathe, let alone how much is in their THOW, so they become chronically hypoxic during the cold weather and are more deeply affected by the illnesses that follow as they need oxygen to heal well. If one is sick in a THOW, given you share the same worthless leftovers that won’t pass an air quality test for the night, you will all be sick most likely, and not get better fast.
While this means nothing to many people in the world, if you have an issue with the air quality or quantity in your house during these cold times, the consequences could cost people their lives so I must speak up. Share if you know others who may not be thinking of this issue now. Warm is not everything, air quality is.
Please understand this is simple math to figure out your needs during these cold days trying to survive in a Tiny House on Wheels or any other Tiny House that is made with new materials and lacks fresh air circulators that meet each persons breathing needs. To figure the amount of air in your house:
How big is the living space? 8’x20’x13′ is about the biggest legal that many people build and then you cram your stuff in there which uses up airspace so you will have to subtract some from the total volume of the empty box. Typically you simply convert cubic feet to gallons of air with a google it formula cause no one knows their formulas anyway… and you find out you have about 6,500 gallons of air to breath. Great…. wow… but how much do you breathe per hour while just sitting reading this and thinking so hard? Duh……. no one ever knows so don’t feel bad… google it again…. heh… 500 gallons per hour without carrying on, laughing, drinking, etc. which you might do with someone else in your place with you. If so, well at least 750 gallons per hour each. Keeping up guys… two hours into it the lovers go up into the loft and share an hour of mad passion which takes that breathing rate up a bit and lo … 2,000 gallons an hour of pure air passions … each.
Words problems mean most of the public is lost by now and has no clue as to how much air was breathed in during the three hours but most would agree a nap would be in order… a few hours till morning perhaps and then talk about it all again. Whew (some might even want a cigarette before sleep… hehe). Morning comes and still, have you figured out how much air you consumed overnight with this word problem that should be required before buying a Tiny House On Wheels to live in full time? Let us help and using round numbers we will bring everyone up to speed and teach them a new word or two.
Hypoxia is the state of not having enough oxygen to operate efficiently though you may still be conscious, not attentive and clear thinking. You might think of yourself as sleepy or groggy and want to get some coffee when you wake up for your lift-off so you turn on the gas burner and put a pot of water on before going back up for a short nap while it heats up since the house is likely cold for lack of enough insulation… and the air exchanger, if you had one that was blowing in the cold air, well you stopped that good so as to stay warm so no worries there… right.
The flame on the stove is orange but does not catch one’s attention in the cold. Is it fire right? Ya, but not burning efficiently unless it is blue… so you could endanger your life letting it burn out while you nap. On the other hand, we should consider… the little child that was downstairs all night, the one we forgot to mention in the equation… do you think they might get up and help out or…. what if we add her air consumption to that equation. How much air was used during the night? 6,500 gallons in the first three hours by the two people whom I spoke of. After that, the good air was gone and the used air, the chemicals in the house, the carbon monoxide that is of no good but the body thinks is still air as people suffocate… but only nearly die… remaining ill for weeks perhaps with breathing issues, respiratory problems that are attributed to the deaths instead of the houses, molds, chemicals, and lack of air for days on end.
Please take a minute to consider the movement that is ignoring the toxic consequences to the kids, to the elders, to the millions who are buying into the UN Sanctioned version of 250 sf of housing that will kill off the people who live in it voluntarily just like Facebook kills relationships, and Google kills the memory, while the cell phones take over the functions of calculator, phone book, and access to your memory. We are aware, but it takes some form of self-discipline to Wake UP and to not play into the game of TV World solutions to common problems. This was a bait and switch on the public and they are buying into it thinking the manufacturers of this industry are protecting them with the Tiny House Jamborees and such. Bull in a sock puppet for the masses who want an easy out pill with a downpayment and then a monthly payment bigger than on a smaller house created sustainably, toxin-free, and needing a big truck to move it, if it should ever need. We are going through a downsizing movement that will include millions over the next decade and be doing this healthy for many is the only path worth considering. I am not writing these words for those who do not care about their healthy living, pain-free until we die is what I seek, and thus try to educate others about what it will take. If you are concerned, don’t just take this wake up article to heart without checking it and other things out about living in a toxic box, pulling it with undersized vehicles, tires, and other issues that should be keeping more people from making this drastic error in judgment when they buy a THOW without knowing the many issues facing them, but most importantly, their health could be lost in less than a year, as well as those whom they hold dear. Stop, think, and then move forward with the decision that will surely change your life, good or bad.
If you do decide to consider building your own sustainable organic cottage, and need a place, perhaps it is time to think about being a Charter Member in the Pure Salvage Outpost and Co-op where your dreams of a healthy home can come true.
Good luck to all for the hunt of the house of your dreams. Please Keep this little detail about air in mind and perhaps even a few other issues to consider that we will write about in the future too.