It’s my pleasure to introduce you all to Daniel Ferris. He emailed us a few weeks ago to share the great news that they have completed their tiny house build and in the process we realized we live in neighboring towns! Since that email, we have actually had the chance to meet in person (we both went to the last Tiny House MeetUp group here in the Rogue Valley). We are thrilled to have another tiny house family down in our parts.
Daniel and his wife Holly are amazing role models for the tiny house movement: once they decided to go tiny, they worked tirelessly to make their dream a reality. They really wanted to raise their daughter in a tiny house and to have a minimalistic lifestyle so that they can have the resources to do the things that they want to do (and not get stuck in the hamster wheel). Hope you enjoy their story and find it as inspiring as we did!
Please introduce yourselves
My name is Daniel Ferris and my wife’s name is Holly Ferris. Our lovely daughter’s name is Evolet Ferris. Holly and I are both graduates from Brigham Young University — Idaho and currently reside in Medford, Oregon. Evy is majoring in destruction and laughter. I have a background in health science and biology and Holly has a background in fine art illustration. So all design aspects of the build went to her while I let her know what was and wasn’t possible from a construction standpoint. We are 33 years old and our daughter is a little over 2 and a half.
How did they idea of tiny house living come about for you guys?
The idea was born out of a desire to become financially fit. Or to say, self reliant more than anything.
My biggest desire has always to been to give Holly the option to follow her desires and not have to do a job outside of the home if she didn’t want to. For a while prior to having our daughter grace us with her presence, Holly focused on her art and illustration. Doing fine art work for galleries and illustrations for magazines. We started to focus on finding an agent but that was put on hold as Evy came about. I guess we are fairly traditional. We both agreed we were not overly thrilled with the idea of day care and wanted Holly to do the most difficult job known to mankind: become a HOME MAKER! Well to do this meant me being the sole income provider for the family.
I do not make a large amount of money but we do make enough to meet our needs. Well the issue came about as we rented our first house. Not an apartment but a house. We wanted to prepare to buy a house and do the traditional 30 year loan deal. Realization dawned on us at that time. This was NOT for us. We absolutely did not want to spend over a third of our lives paying off a place and never having any extra income to do anything else with our lives.
We contemplated and tried all sorts of ideas on paper, but nothing really popped out to us or sounded all that appealing. Holly came across the tiny house movement and started researching. She told me about it but I dismissed it fairly quickly and didn’t think a second more of it. As it so happened she came across your website and video tour. That was the video that changed my thinking. Ideas started to flood into both of our minds of where to go what to do, what was possible, etc. A door had been opened and we decided to take a peek.
Why did you decide to build it yourself? Did you consider hiring it out?
The building process was an easy decision for me. I knew it would be difficult and a long process as I didn’t have 100% of my time to devote to it. But I am not one to just shy away from something just because I am not an expert. I grew up around tools and did a plethora of different jobs that were all related to construction.
I am a DIY fan and believe more people need to just jump in and do it. There are a few things I had to hire out, ( i.e. the electric rough in, some plumbing and the flash hot water heater) but I was there the entire time they were, learning and helping. Or pestering some times I guess. Oh and the HVAC system for the mini split. I did everything else.
You have a 2 year old daughter. Do you have any advice for others that want to live tiny with young ones?
We havent been in the house long. In fact it has only been a few days now, but it feels like home. I was worried that I would feel cramped, and concerned that our daughter would have a hard time adjusting, but other than feeling like she is a little more clingy than normal, it has gone very smoothly. She loves her new room. Even though its small she is having a great time with it. Time will only tell how things go as we grow up in the home but living with a toddler in a tiny house is 100% doable.
What was the build process like for you guys?
The build process has been a long one. One year almost on the dot to be exact. I had my father available to help with some of the heavy lifting and Holly has been a trooper coming out almost every day during Ev’s nap and working with me or doing side projects to get things ready. It has been a labor of love and sacrifice. But one year of sacrifice for the two of us has been well worth it. One thing that also helped during this build is the experience from all the random jobs I had growing up. I helped roof my parents’ home, I helped wire my brother’s house, I put in tile floors, I cleaned new houses and apartments for my father in law, I worked on repairing decks and refinishing them, I helped my brother in law build his house from scratch, and on and on. There was never any formal training but I gleaned information as I grew up and for the things I didn’t know I was able to learn from Andrew’s videos and you tube.
How did you balance your time with building, work, and being a family?
Balancing time has been the most difficult this year. I wanted to go play with Ev, take her to the park, go to kids’ time, etc. but Holly was the one who took the driver’s seat on that to give me the time I needed to work. That has been the hardest sacrifice in my opinion. The loss of sleep, bloody fingers, crushed toes etc. wasn’t that big of a deal. That is just a part of construction.
What was the best part of your build?
The building process is funny. It goes through stages if you build it yourself. You will get excited about a phase and will go full steam ahead and then as you near the end of it you just can’t wait to finish it, and you start thinking how exciting it will be to move on to the next step. So your desire to finish dwindles as you near the end of it and you find your productivity wanes. You then subsequently do the same thing over and over again. Well at least that is my personality when it comes to building. For the projects that were short lived though it was a breeze. I could power through them and it was very rewarding to see it finish so quickly.
Where is your tiny house parked now?
Years ago my parents put in an RV pad for my grandparents back when they thought they would travel a lot so there was this nice RV pad in the back just waiting for someone to utilize it. At first we were going to build off-site someplace but my father and mother offered and it couldn’t have worked out any better. They have probably wanted to kill us a few times over this past year but it has been a blessing to have access to all of the tools right there on site.
What are the dimensions of your tiny house?
It’s 28′ long x 102″ wide. We are over width on the trailer but I am not worried about it. We don’t plan on moving it very often and I am a freight broker so I can grab someone to come in and tow it and I will pay for the permits and movement cost. If we had planned to move it frequently I would have narrowed it down to the legal width.
Do you have any advice to people wanting to make the move to tiny but don’t know where to begin?
Making the move to tiny was an easy adjustment for Holly and I. What worked for us may not work for you but here are some ideas: Make a list of what dreams you have, what excites you and then make a list of what the hurdles might be that get in the way or reaching those dreams. Start with the first hurdle whatever it may be and then move to the next. Our first hurdle was finances. We approached that one from several different angles. We made calls, got rejected in some areas, but finally wrote up contracts etc. That was a tough one. From there we moved on to deciding whether to buy a pre-fab trailer or to have one custom made. And on and on. My advise comes from Nike’s slogan: “Just do it”. Stop dreaming about it, stop hoping something will present itself, stop wishing a miracle will happen and just do it. You will find miracles present themselves as you move forward. Its like driving in the fog. You can only see so far ahead of you but every inch you move forward, more road will present itself in front of you.
Thank you again Daniel for being so willing to share your beautiful home with us! One thing I simply HAVE to add to this story is that Holly grew up in a castle. And when I say castle, I mean CASTLE. Her family thinks it’s a bit strange that she has chosen to live in a tiny house but they are fully supportive.
What about you? What has your own tiny house build been like? What obstacles keep you from achieving your tiny house dreams? What interesting place did you grow up in?
We would love to hear your story in the comments below!