Can someone with no experience in building or architecture successfully design and oversee the building of their own house?
Yes, they can.
You can own a house without incurring a 30-year mortgage. You can buy a brand-new house, roomy enough for a couple, for a fraction of what fixer-uppers sell for in today’s market. You can elude onerous property taxes and stop squandering thousands on rent.
We did it. You can too. We’ll show you how.
We host immersive, on-site workshops in Livingston Manor, NY. In addition to sharing our knowledge about designing, moving, and overseeing-the-building of tiny houses, we also share our HOUSES. Attendees get to explore and LIVE in the numerous small homes included in the workshop while they're here. Fix a meal in one of the kitchens, check your mail via the wi-fi, try out a composting toilet, start a fire in the woodstove, refill a water tank, then get a good night’s sleep in a cozy loft.
Whether you’re considering a small house for a weekend getaway, as a rental investment to add to an existing property, or for your fulltime residence, spending time in ours during the workshop will help you decide if such a home is right for you.
Visit us in the charming hamlet of Livingston Manor in New York’s beautiful Catskill mountains. Depending on your location, we’re roughly two hours from the city. There are no streetlamps on our shale road so bring a headlamp. Guests who don’t wish to sleep in a house are welcome to camp on the grounds. Everyone is free to use the bathrooms, kitchens, and showers.
We’ve designed and built four small houses. Two are mobile and were moved repeatedly. Three are currently sitting on our hillside in the Catskills. All are open for workshop attendees to examine, study, and consider. Until then, enjoy the pictures below.
Because our houses in Livingston Manor are largely off-the-grid, our workshop also offers an introduction to the sustainable life. Guests learn how to tap a spring for their home’s water, how comfortable and hygienic a composting toilet is, the joys of heating with wood, and much more about the greener life. If you aspire to a more earth-friendly lifestyle, come see for yourself how to reduce your ecological footprint.
Our next workshop immersive workshop is October 20 and 21. There’s no need to take off work Friday but plan to arrive no later than 8pm. The first class is that evening. Saturday’s classes will conclude early enough for attendees to return home. All students who wish to enjoy the houses thru Sunday are welcome to do so.
The $495 fee includes accommodations, meals, sample blueprints, sample written plans, a sample builder’s contract, a sample land rental agreement for a tiny house, and a how-to guide packed with building terms, definitions, and facts.
Attendees learn literally EVERYTHING they need to know to design, move, and oversee-the-building of their small house:
Common misconceptions about tiny houses.
The obvious nexus, and key differences, between a tiny house and a small city apartment.
Why there’s NO need to hire an architect to design your house.
How a person with NO drawing skills can create a blueprint a builder can realize.
The varying dimensions of movable houses.
The utilities that are commonplace in tiny houses.
The handful of building terms required to correctly design your house and convey your plans to a builder.
The best model trailer for a small house.
When to begin looking for a builder, how to identify the right one, how much to pay them, and how the payment plan is structured.
Municipality building codes vis-à-vis non-traditional houses.
How to find a commercial driver, and the required permits, to lawfully transport a completed house from the building site to its new home.
Where to procure homeowner’s insurance for your tiny house.
How to locate and rent land where you can park, and live in, your house.
How to draw water from a stream or pond once you’re there.
If home ownership appears an elusive goal, the idea that a novice can design their own house must seem especially unrealistic.
It won’t feel that way after attending our workshop. We’ll demystify the process, answer all your questions, help you sidestep costly freshman errors, and provide precise instructions at every turn.
None of the information we’re imparting is theoretical. Every suggestion, hard fact, tip, guideline, recommendation, etc., has been tested in one of our houses. With working remotely becoming the norm, it’s never made more sense to own a house in the country. If you’ve already begun thinking through your tiny house, we’d love to hear what you’re working on. We’ll weigh in on the plans and, if you like, do some brainstorming with you. Like anyone else with years of experience designing, building, and moving small houses, we know how to do this.
By Sunday, you will too. You’ll return to your current home with the knowhow, and the confidence, to create your next one.
Reviews & Press
'My expectation for the workshop was to learn from an individual's firsthand experience designing, building and parking a tiny house. This is exactly what it was for me. For people looking for a casual "glamping" weekend or a light workshop where not much information is relayed, the Catskills Tiny House Workshop won’t be for you. For those looking to learn from someone who has actualized their tiny house dreams, this workshop is for you. The Catskills Tiny House Workshop was everything that I had hoped for. I now feel far more equipped to do this on my own.'
-Kenny Phillips, Freelance Graphic Designer Westchester, NY
'Marty inspired us by blending information, resources, and firsthand challenges and successes. Myself and the other participants got to experience tiny living too—spending time in the houses and exploring the different designs and layouts. Specifics on heating, electricity, running water, appliances, and compost vs. flush toilets provided great insight. This was enhanced by cooking, sharing a meal, sleeping in the lofts, and using the wood stoves. Economic considerations were also discussed: hiring a contractor, renting vs. purchasing land, connecting with new neighbors, and how-to-transport a finished house. I have a new confidence about designing and navigating the tiny home building process. Thank you for your invaluable knowledge, the steps outlined to motivate action, and the opportunity to meet fine people who are also passionate about sustainable living.'
-Maureen McGarry, LICSW Western Massachusetts
‘I had completed extensive research on tiny homes, designing mine in great detail. With all this work, I still found Marty’s workshop invaluable. He addressed every dangling question. I gained new insight I hadn’t encountered in my own endeavors. Marty cares about the information he imparts and wants you to be successful. His knowledge extends to all types of tiny homes. I highly recommend his workshop!’
-Nicole T. Smith, L.Ac. Scotland, Connecticut
‘I found Marty’s workshop to be both informative and entertaining. It was interesting to not only hear about the process of designing and building a tiny home, but also about moving, maintaining, and the responsibilities of owning one. This was my first experience staying in a tiny home and I found it a valuable experience to “live” in the various tiny structures for the weekend. The workshop answered many questions that could only have been truly addressed through this immersive workshop.’
-Randy Edelman, Middle School Teacher Lock Haven, PA
‘The Catskills Tiny House Workshop brought me to upstate NY to learn the ins and outs of small home design and building. What a wonderful extended stay full of laughs and hands on experiences that one would never be able to recreate in a million years. Get away and learn a thing or two or a few….’
-Frank Truth, Mobile Business Solutions Braintree, MA
‘I attended this workshop in August of 2022. Marty is very knowledgeable, articulate, thorough, and organized in his presentation. He gives attendees an opportunity to learn from his mistakes and his attitude is positive and ambitious. No stone is left unturned. You’ll definitely feel like you got your money's worth with regard to knowledge.
The other great thing about this workshop is you get to stay in a tiny house. The property is gorgeous and walking up to the homes feels like an adventure. There are three tiny houses on the property. Marty lives in one, the other is a yurt, and the third is a converted shack. Each has its own unique qualities and uses and living in one for the weekend lets each attendee learn what they like and dislike about the setups, and what they'd do in their own small house.
Highly recommend this workshop if you're thinking about building or buying a tiny home.’
-Richard Heby, Writer&Editor Brooklyn, NY
Radio Catskill, WJFF, 90.5fm
Monday, March 21, The Local Edition with Jason Dole. Interview
Article About Catskills Tiny House Workshop