When Alexander Hertel moved into his self-made tiny house, one thing caught his eye: it is too big. This may seem like a strange thought to many – especially if you know that the mini house offers just 22 square meters of living space. But Alexander Hertel had previously lived in a converted campervan. So he knew exactly what it was like to live in the smallest of spaces. And the tiny house is a bit too spacious for him.
For this reason alone, he will continue to sell his tiny house next year and build a new one. That should be quick to implement for him – the Bavarian needed just four months for his first tiny house. In the meantime, he helped renovate a normal-sized house and built her tiny house with a friend. He is currently working on a friend’s mini-house on a farm in the Bavarian Forest. Your own tiny house is in the driveway, in front of it is the campervan. His previous minimalist legacy. But it should still grow.
Tiny house hobbyist from the Bavarian Forest
Alexander Hertel is actually a physiotherapist. “But I’ve always enjoyed tinkering,” he says after taking off his work clothes and swapping them for jeans and a sweater. As a child, they were still toy tractors made of wood, and his first major project was a delivery van, which he converted into a camper. Then the 24-year-old became aware of the tiny house movement via Instagram. Since he already had to move out of his rental apartment in early 2018, he decided to build a tiny house. In December he learned that he had to give up his apartment, in April he was already building the house, and in autumn it was ready. “Some plan on it for a year or more,” says Hertel.
This article is part of the special “Anders Wohnen” – here you can find out more about alternative forms of living in Germany
He did most of it himself – from the wooden frame to the bathroom to the installation of the photovoltaic system on the roof. He only had to let artisans come twice.
The architecture is inspired by a Canadian manufacturer. The Tiny House extends over three levels. On the lowest level is an entrance area with a spacious kitchen, four steps lead to the living room. The bathroom is also on the same level. The sleeping area is a loft under the roof. Alexander Hertel did not hesitate and did not plan long. He just built.
Parking problems with the Tiny House
There was only one thing Hertel hadn’t considered: where would the house be? Many had the dream of a tiny house in Germany, but not a few of them failed due to the reality of German building law and the stubbornness of German authorities. There is currently no distinction between mobile and immobile forms of living in German building law. Means: If you want to live in a tiny house, even if it is on wheels like the house of Alexander Hertel, you can’t just park it in a meadow. He needs the building site and infrastructure – a connection to the road network, the sewage system, the water and electricity networks. That is why life in a tiny house on wheels often sounds much easier than it is in reality.
Alexander Hertel almost suffered the same fate after finding a property. The municipal council of Zwiesel initially did not give Hertel permission to park the tiny house there. Reason: It does not fit into the environment. The building authority of the Regen district office finally came to the conclusion that the volume of the house is less than 75 cubic meters and therefore does not require a permit under Bavarian building law. Hertel was allowed to set up the house on the property with the beautiful view of the Bavarian Forest.
And once the house stood, it was probably the biggest attraction in the region. Almost every day onlookers came by, who simply entered the property and ran around the house. “I had to put up a sign saying ‘No entry’,” says Hertel. He also decided to host an open house so that anyone who wanted to see the house could do it in one day. Hertel, he admits today, had underestimated the radiance of his house. More than 350 people came to his event, some of whom queued for an hour to view the house from the inside.
“After that, I wanted to be left alone,” says Hertel. But it did not get to that. The property on which his tiny house stood was sold a few months later. He had to move the mini house. Since then, it has stood in the entrance to a farm, where Hertel is also screwing on his friend’s tiny house. He doesn’t currently live in it. But that doesn’t bother him. He decided a long time ago to sell the tiny house.
Hertel has developed a new plan: he plans to build an entire tiny house village in the next three years. The first draft hangs on the window of his tiny house, and there is even said to be a swimming pond. He has enough prospects, that is possible roommates, in his circle of friends alone. There is also a possible plot of land, provided the municipal council agrees.
“I used to think it was better to build on a trailer”
The Tiny Houses should not be built on wheels this time, as is the case with his first Tiny House. “I used to think that it was better to build a trailer because you could move the house within 24 hours. But if you are honest, you don’t move the house as often as you think, ”says Hertel. “And you can still move a fixed house, it just takes longer.”
A fixed house also has the advantage that Hertel is not bound to the dimensions of the trailer and can therefore build wider and thicker – he wants a solid wood house. Above all, a new house gives him the opportunity to correct himself, to learn from the experience of his first house.
Read also: A 35-year-old Swabian quit her job to build her own tiny house
In the future, he only wants to build on one level. This means that he has less living space, but his first tiny house is too big for him anyway. In addition, the sleep loft – a popular element of many tiny houses – has not proven to be practical for him. “You freeze your legs down in the kitchen and it is very hot up in the bedroom,” says Hertel. “You can just sit upright and have to stumble down the stairs in the morning, drowsy.”
He will also no longer install a dry separation toilet, also very popular with the tiny house community, in his next house, because according to German building law, the tiny house has to be connected to the water and drainage network anyway. “Even if it is ecologically sustainable, I have to admit that you have to take intensive care of it. And in the end I don’t use the waste as fertilizer. ”
The dream of sustainability
He has not yet found a solution to the problem with electricity. During his first tiny house, he often had to save on electricity in winter and climb the roof more than once to clear the photovoltaic system of snow. Nevertheless, he will be back on solar power for his new tiny house. He wants to be self-sufficient.
The houses in his tiny house village should all have the same construction – and Hertel wants to build them all himself. In his own house, however, he will be a little more adventurous. He envisions a free-standing bathtub in matt black for the bathroom. And a Showerloop: a shower system in which the water already used is recycled and pumped back into the shower. “You can shower with ten liters of water for two days,” says Hertel. The 24-year-old lives the topic of sustainability. Not only with his dream of an ecologically economical shower or the PV system on the roof. Even with its minimalist lifestyle. All the clothes he owns fit in two laundry baskets. That’s why he doesn’t have a wardrobe in his tiny house.
Tiny House as a model for the future
He plans to spend around 40,000 euros on the construction of his new tiny house – similar to what he paid for his first house. “But I paid a lot of tuition there.”
Although he will have built three tiny houses in less than two years – and a dozen more are planned – he does not want to become self-employed as a manufacturer. If you want to have a tiny house, but you can come to him, he would be happy to help him or her.
For Hertel, the Tiny House is definitely a model for the future, at least for his personal future. A large property with a good view and lots of green space is more important to him than having a lot of living space. He can even imagine keeping his tiny house once he starts a family. His vision is a series of modular houses that can be expanded as the family grows. “And when the children move out after 20 years, they can take their own finished tiny house with them.”
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This article was published by NewsABC.net in November 2019. It has now been checked and updated again.