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The Question: Can You Live in a Tiny House? 

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With a pricey copper drip edge, cedar shingles, and Pella windows, 32-year-old fiddler Aldo Lavaggi’s Gold Thread Tiny House measures 105 square feet. The Woodstock native’s artsy cottage on wheels—his senior project for progressive Goddard College in Vermont, famed for “plain living and hard thinking”—seems the ideal education for Lavaggi as he sheds two-thirds of his belongings and adjusts to domestic life in a space akin to two California King mattresses.

An eclectic mix of reclaimed and high-end materials, Lavaggi anticipates an August move-in and, final cost of $25,000. Built in a factory space at Sun Dog Solar in Chatham, winter’s big project was a handmade front door. Bed’s a futon loft with two dormer windows above the kitchen. Seven feet long, the kitchen has pocket counter space for food preparation and a quiet, energy-efficient Nova Kool refrigerator. Plans call for a folding dining/work table and pull-down guest bed. Propane fuels the heating and cooking. Although electrically solar powered, a computer and stereo are backed up by a 12-volt battery bank.

“The rubber won’t really meet the road until after I’ve lived in it for a year,” Lavaggi admits. “But choosing to live in a tiny house shapes me into letting go of certain habits.” Less stuff also means more time to volunteer; Lavaggi previously worked with the developmentally disabled.

The allure of green simplicity and no clutter has sprouted a network of tiny-house enthusiasts. Environmentalists laud the minimal demands on resources and land. Uses range from freestanding homes for elderly parents to weekend retreats or offices. Less costly than a practical new car, they’re gentle and inexpensive to maintain. One must: an “anything” drawer or basket for order.

Lavaggi’s house sits on a $2,000 trailer, easily moved since it’s off the grid, with a self-composting toilet. But the son of a builder and a fabric artist (his mother owns Laughing Bear Batik in Saugerties) won’t use his home like an RV. “I’d like to live on a farm in the Northeast and barter farm labor for rent,” says Lavaggi. He’s already had offers.

And as for laundry? “Well, I’m hoping for proximity to a larger house,” he says. “Otherwise it’s the laundromat.”

Aldo Lavaggi’s blog

Yes Wee Cabins (, based in Vermont, sells a finished eight-by-eight-foot solar cabin for $36,000. Specs include a bathroom with 32” shower, double kitchen sink, instant hot water, clapboard exterior, and metal roof.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (, based in California, markets plans, kits, and delivered homes.

m-ch ( is German architecture professor Richard Horden small-dwelling ode to aviation design and Japanese tea houses. The lightweight 85-foot aluminum cube costs about $53,200 delivered.

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