When people first walk into Grace Lunsford’s tiny house, she asks them to take a deep breath. What do they smell? Nothing?
Then she smiles, because Grace and Corbett Lunsford have been living in this 210-square-foot house on wheels (a.k.a. #TinyLab) for nine months with a baby, two cats, and a compost toilet. An efficient air recovery system, part of the home’s high-performance design, keeps the space odor-free.
On January 21, the Lunsfords are opening their tiny house to visitors at Atlantic Station for the 31st and final stop on their “Proof Is Possible” tour, which took them 13,000 miles across the country. But while visitors marvel at the dining table that can be collapsed into a coffee table (turning the dining space into a living room) and the foot pedals that power an off-the-grid water supply for the faucet, the homeowners will be promoting something they consider more important than living small.
“Proof is possible” refers to quality monitoring and testing of homes—or an emerging field called building performance. You can’t smell nasty odors in the Lunsfords’ tiny home because of the 30 cubic square feet of air pumped in (and out) every minute. The house also uses formaldehyde-free plywood and other non-toxic materials, a sensitive carbon monoxide monitor, and a heating and cooling system with an infrared camera to scan for temperature differentials and direct airflow where it’s needed.
Corbett acknowledges that the tiny house is just a way to draw attention to their message: “Use smarter strategies for your home, no matter how big it is.”
During their nine-month tour, one incident inadvertently underscored the need for thorough planning. The 50-gallon water bag under the kitchen sink ruptured, soaking their mattress and ruining the cork floor. “We had forgotten to put a [moisture-sensitive] alarm down there,” says Grace.
In his business, Building Performance Workshop, Corbett helps homeowners verify the quality of construction or investigate vexing problems. Their Atlanta stop (January 21 to 28) will include a free homeowners’ workshop, sessions for real estate agents and builders, and a seminar on how to build a high-performance tiny house. All sessions require a ticket. They also have filmed a television series, Home Diagnosis, intended as a companion to This Old House. The show will be aired on some PBS stations later this year.
Although the tour is ending, Atlantans will have more opportunities to connect with Building Performance Workshop. The Lunsfords are moving their tiny house to a lot in Kirkwood—where they plan to build a permanent home that, at 2,000 square feet, will be 10 times bigger.