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Sebastopol man designs, builds fully functional, livable houses that are smaller than a bedroom

  • Jay Hhafer, designer and builder of tiny homes, sits on the front porch of his 192 sq ft wheeled house with his new 36 sq ft wheeled house in the background at his Sebastopol home on Thursday October 30, 2008. Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

You may think the house you live in is small, but can you push it a few feet to keep it in sunshine a bit longer as the afternoon shadows grow?

Can you s-t-r-e-t-c-h from your shower stall and grab the Ajax from beneath the kitchen sink?

Can you tell your in-laws you'd love to have them stay with you, but there's no place for them to sleep and, come to think of it, they may have to take turns coming inside at all?

Jay Shafer can.

"I could never live in this county if it weren't for tiny houses," said the Sebastopol resident, who lives in a high-quality, hand-built dollhouse he keeps on wheels in his landlord's backyard.

Shafer's home is 8 feet wide and 12 feet long. That's smaller, almost certainly, than any bedroom in your house. Shafer's floor space is nearly identical in size to the truckbed of a 14-foot U-Haul economy van that rents for $19.95 a day.

Step through his front door and there are two comfy, upholstered seats on the left wall, and a cool little wall heater that keeps Shafer warm with just $60 worth of propane per year.

There's a slim desk/work space on the right wall, and straight ahead a bulkhead of handsome shelves and storage spaces. The kitchen just beyond boasts a sink, counter, stovetop, dorm fridge and storage enough for pots and pans and such.

"It has everything a normal kitchen would have, but smaller," Shafer said during a quick tour.

Off the kitchen to the left is his camper-style shower and toilet. Up the ladder is the loft for his double bed and more smartly designed storage.


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