1. ARE YOU REALLY TURNING A TOILET INTO A HOME?
Yes. The “toilet” is a mobility-disabled-accessible porta potty, measuring roughly 7 feet wide by 8 feet across—plenty of space for a twin bed and lots of folding, modular accouterments. The unit itself will be brand new, straight from the factory, and modified by our team of professionals.
2. WILL THIS UNIT FUNCTION AS A TOILET?
No, that’s gross! Manufacturers removed all toilet functions from the porta home's interior. We plan to keep this closed to passersby, directing them instead to the nearest Starbucks restroom...
3. SO WHERE WILL YOU USE THE BATHROOM?
I’ll have an exterior toilet on a different part of the trailer. Oh, if you didn't get that already, this will all be on a trailer. The restroom will be a separate, contained area. Part of this project is to experiment with the best ways to deal with issues like sewage, so my team and I will be trying out a bunch of options as the project goes on.
4. SO EXPLAIN THIS AGAIN… SOMEONE’S GOING TO LIVE IN THIS?
That's right. My plan is to move between different residential properties around L.A. throughout 2018-2019. Our team is identifying potential host properties in a variety of neighborhoods to accommodate us.
5. WHY MOVE AROUND SO MUCH?
To prove the porta home “has legs”. To show that homeowners are willing to accommodate them. To show the micro-dwelling as a viable, dignified lifestyle option. To troubleshoot different legal, social, and practical issues in each neighborhood. And to learn more about how to make this work better when we initiate our Our Own Backyard Homes scholarship program.
6. WAIT, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PROJECT AND THE PROGRAM?
I thought you’d never ask! Our porta-home, as constructed and toured in the Tiny (Toilet) Home Project, is the pilot program designed to answer questions surrounding housing mobile micro living units on residential land. It's also the prototype for Our Backyard Homes, a charity scholarship program to provide free-rent micro-homes to qualifying renters.
7. WILL ALL OF THE "OUR BACKYARD" HOMES BE PORTA POTTY SHELLS?
That remains to be seen, but our team is exploring the most efficient, cost-effective options. I guess you’ll have to follow the project to find out!
8. SO WHAT’S THE INCENTIVE FOR FOLKS TO LIVE IN PORTA-HOMES?
Homeless housing is a no-brainer. But the bigger picture about urban, portable micro-housing like this is just as exciting: Affordable housing close to jobs. And if owned, equity in one’s living space and the ability to sell it when ready to make the jump to a traditional home. Meanwhile, occupying a space on someone’s land is significantly cheaper than renting a room.
9. WHAT’S THE INCENTIVE FOR LANDOWNERS?
Inviting tiny home renters to rent space in his/her yard gives a landowner rental income without lifting a finger. No renters in their extra room. No additions to the property. No invasive tenancy. Units are self-contained, with simple exterior hookups for water that mean a tenant never has to step foot inside the owner’s home. Additionally, we are exploring tax write-off scenarios for those hosting charity recipients free of charge.
10. HOW IS THE PORTA HOME SELF-SUFFICIENT?
My team is working with sophisticated methods of water, power, and waste management, eager to toe the line between innovation and expense to bring an affordable solution to these homes. These units can be independent of infrastructure. This is achieved through items like solar showers, outdoor food preparation centers, and sophisticated toilets. Even an air-water generation system.
11. AREN’T TINY HOMES ILLEGAL IN LOS ANGELES?
No. But there are restrictions and plenty of gray area. There is no code in Los Angeles explicitly criminalizing tiny homes on people’s property. In fact, there are very specific codes written for “Accessory Dwelling Units”, which make the construction of these homes legal provided they meet a few simple requirements. There is even less legislation guiding tiny homes on wheels, especially if they're parked in someone's residential backyard.
12. BUT I JUST SAW SOMETHING IN THE NEWS ABOUT TINY HOMES IN LOS ANGELES BEING CONFISCATED! ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR!?!
Nah, man. You’re actually right on! There have been two such major stories in the past year or so. The first was in San Pedro, where folks were parking tiny homes on wheeled trailers on public roads. This is different from our plan because we plan to park on private, residential property. The second story was about a man who built very cheap, shack-like structures for the homeless. These were housed on public sidewalks and confiscated because they were blocking a public thoroughfare. Again, our plan is very different.
13. OH, OKAY, SORRY ABOUT GETTING WEIRD THERE…
It’s cool. There are a lot of misconceptions about tiny home living in the city. That’s why we're trying to get the word out and break the stigma!
14. SPEAKING OF WEIRD, WHY A TOILET AND NOT JUST A REGULAR TINY HOME?
Porta potties get a bad rap. People see them as undesirable. Much like the stigma about living in a small space, especially in a flashy town like Los Angeles. The porta potty is the perfect symbol for fighting that stigma. And it’s a great way to get publicity for affordable housing solutions. Plus, there’s no evidence of anyone retrofitting a porta potty into a proper home. Which means we will be introducing the world's first-ever publicized tiny (toilet) home! Great marketing!
15. GOSH, THAT’S REALLY COOL! HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA?
I was filming a sizzle for a television show (currently in development) when it came to me. Oddly enough, the show is about ordinary folks downsizing in extraordinary ways. I was on set in Austin when I had to use the restroom. I walked into a nearby porta potty and it was huge! The thing was an ADA-compliant, 7’x8’ super-sized porta potty. I thought, “Someone could live in this!” The idea stuck with me over time, so I figured, "I guess that someone's gonna be me."
17. HOW CAN I HELP?
Help fund this project! Save for builders, my team and I are volunteers. Donations fund materials, permits, and website and camera costs associated with building and running this project. Please visit the donation page or click the button below.
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Thank you so much for your support.