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From Living Large in Philadelphia to 250 Square Feet in Loudoun County

by Tianna Mañón

From Living Large in Philadelphia to 250 Square Feet in Loudoun County: Figure 1
Jody Brady stands on the trailer she made into the foundation of her tiny home.


Welcome to UrbanTurf’s Property Week, a week-long series devoted to some of the most intriguing residential properties in the DC area and beyond. From a train station-turned-brothel-turned home to a clever way of making 140 square feet livable, this week is all about cool residences. Enjoy.


Jody and Bill Brady are not building the typical “dream” home. That is, unless your idea of a dream home isn’t much bigger than a studio apartment these days.

The Brady’s decision to build a tiny mountain-side house about an hour away from DC in west Loudoun County came after many years of wanting to downsize. After their children moved out of their large Philadelphia home, the couple realized they only lived in about a quarter of their house, yet were paying to maintain all of it. So, their downsizing began. They moved from the large house to a two-bedroom in Arlington and then to a one-bedroom in Reston.

“My husband used to say: ‘we don’t own the house; the house owns us,’” Jody Brady said, laughing.

Having renovated six homes, Brady was confident they had the skills to build the tiny house, and the couple designed every square inch, from “graph paper” up.

From Living Large in Philadelphia to 250 Square Feet in Loudoun County: Figure 2
The exterior of the Brady’s tiny home.

The Bradys started working when they purchased a trailer a year ago in August to make the foundation for the home. However, winter slowed progress down considerably. As they build, they’ve been renting a room in a friend’s home nearby. Brady said they intend to move in around September.

Their tiny house is laid out with the kitchen and bathroom at the front of the home. Directly behind that is the living space with a couch, television and seating area. In the very back is the bedroom, which the couple purposefully designed to have on the main floor and not lofted like in many tiny homes.

From Living Large in Philadelphia to 250 Square Feet in Loudoun County: Figure 3
This sketch shows the floor plan of the home. The couple designed the layout themselves.

When complete, the 250 square-foot home will have a split roof, large windows, a deck, industrial style lighting and a pantry. The television, nice stove and other modern features demonstrate that the couple is trying to take sustainability to the next level, but isn’t leaving modern comforts behind. Their approaches to plumbing and energy, however, show that intentional living remains the top priority. For a toilet, the couple has two buckets hidden in a small seat-level cabinet with a toilet seat on top. Power for the home comes from portable solar screens set up on a platform outside.

From Living Large in Philadelphia to 250 Square Feet in Loudoun County: Figure 4
Space-saving options like countertops that cover the sink help make the most of the space.

From plumbing to furnishings to layout, the couple has researched almost every aspect of the home. And there is a constant tension when making decisions between choosing what’s sustainable, what’s affordable and what looks nice.

They try as often as possible to go with sustainable options, however, sometimes cost wins the battle.

Brady posts consistent updates on her website, Simply Enough, which can help many looking to follow in her footsteps. She also includes projects for gardening and cooking for those not looking to live in a tiny home just yet, but still want to live more sustainably.

“We’ve encountered a number of people who assume building a tiny house is something only 20-somethings take on,” Brady added. She’s 58 and her husband is 57. “We encourage people of all ages to consider it.”

Photos courtesy of Jody Lannen Brady.

See other articles related to: tiny homes

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_tiny_house_a_quest_for_self-sustainability/10153