Architect Macy Miller had a big idea: Build a tiny house.
After dealing with a messy foreclosure, the 30-year-old sought a way to have a place of her own while avoiding the mortgage trap. Her solution: Build a micro home.
"I wanted a way to escape dependency on banks without being a 'renter,'" the Idaho resident told Yahoo in an email. "I like having my own space to make my own, which is difficult to do without taking out a large mortgage."
Miller began to build a 196-square-foot house in 2011, right on a flatbed truck. The cost: $11,400. The handy Miller did most of the work herself, with advice from her friends and father as needed.
Miller did need some extra help last August: While working on her roof, she fell and broke her foot and her back in two places. She says she has since recovered from her injuries.
The house, finally finished this summer, is parked in an empty lot in a downtown Boise neighborhood. It is connected to the power grid and has potable water. Miller keeps warm with radiant-heat floors. When nature calls, she has an environmentally friendly composting toilet, which requires sawdust instead of water. No need to hook into a septic system.
Miller is settling in for her first winter in the cozy home with her 100-pound Great Dane, Denver, and her baby-to-be: She is pregnant and due in March.
Although she and her boyfriend live separately, she said, "We spend most of our time together in the house cooking dinners or hanging out and it accommodates two people and a dog very well." She adds that she plans to stay in her mini house even after her baby is born.
"The fact is that babies (and big people) don't need a lot of 'things,'" Miller told Yahoo. "The tiny house has everything we need, nothing less, nothing more."
The space itself has a surprising number of amenities. There's a king-size bed, an oversize shower, a fully-functioning kitchen, including a double-basin sink, oven, and stove, plus a living room area with seating for two, a washer and dryer — and plenty of storage.
There's another upside: cheap living. Noting that expenses amount to only about $250 a month, Miller said she is able to live — and save — in her tiny home until she builds her next, slightly bigger, small home.
"It will afford me a way to work much less and spend more time with my daughter," Miller said. In a few years, Miller hopes to build a 600-square-foot cabin in the woods. "I have a plan in the works for a different kind of sustainable small home."