TINY A Story About Living Small – Review


In HouseHunt’s Realty TV segments, we take a look at some of real estate’s major players on the tube. We aim to discern if reality shows (or films, in this case) are at all realistic. We point out what you can learn from the experts on camera. And then, of course, we just let you know whether the program is even entertaining.

TINY: A Story About Living Small is a documentary that follows a couple who build their own 124 square foot house in 2011. After being an official selection at the SXSW Film Festival, the film has created quite the buzz recently.

The film’s subject of “micro-living,” however, has been a growing trend in real estate for many years. Since the crash in 2007. a growing number of homeowners are buying a different kind of property. They seek real estate that spares them debt and strips away the superfluous aspects of what the film calls “McMansions.”

It cuts between information on the micro-living movement and the story of Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller as they build their own tiny home.

The story of Christopher’s determination to build his own abode earns the empathy of viewers. Even though he is not building a mansion with a white picket fence, you can see the American Dream in his eyes, and it is as noble as ever. Even if the final product looks different, Christopher still aims to own his own plot of land and build his future with his two hands.

As you can see from the just the trailer above, the film boasts stunning cinematography in the Colorado Mountains. But despite the stunning visuals, the story is real and raw. Given the limited square footage, the builder sets out to develop his home within the summer. But with no construction background and the unexpected costs of any building project, he arrives at a humbling epiphany.

What viewers have the opportunity to learn here is not as simple as “construction is difficult.” This film engages the audience to consider major lifestyle changes. Can this generation redefine conventional thinking on concepts like success and wealth? The experts on the screen never view their small home as a sacrifice, but an opportunity to take pride in something they can actually afford.

What have you seen of the micro-living movement? Are “tiny homes” a trend or a permanent solution to common real estate qualms? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! And perhaps no matter how you feel on the subject now, Tiny: A Story of Living Small may change your perspective.

The TINY A Story About Living Small film is currently streaming on Netflix, and is also available for rent on iTunes and Vimeo. For other documentaries about the micro-living movement, you can (legally) watch another filmmaker’s take on the subject with We the Tiny House People on YouTube right now. 

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High Risk Mortgage Options [Infographic]


Second Mortgages and Reverse Mortgages both serve their own unique purposes, but have a lot of drawbacks that are usually not worth the risk. Both options usually come years after regular payments have been made on the primary mortgage. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both mortgage options to help you make an informed decision about the plan that’s right for you!

High Risk Mortgage Options High Risk Mortgage Options [Infographic]

Second Mortgage
a mortgage taken out on a home already on loan


You get LOTS of money. This is the best option for large sums of cash, especially if you don’t have a limitless credit card.


Your home is collateral; you could lose the residence if the loan is not paid off.

These have slightly higher interest rates than primary mortgages, although they are still likely cheaper than interest rates on alternatives like credit cards.

Due to the risk for the lender involved with a second mortgage, these have significantly larger fees than your first mortgage.

Reverse Mortgage
a way to take equity out on your home


The bank makes payments to you! The house becomes a source of income in retirement.

Since this option was created for the retired community, there are no income or credit requirements.


Due to the risk associated, there are higher fees and interest rates on the existing mortgage.

The house is sold after you pass on. It cannot be inherited.

If you move – even for assisted living – you have to pay back the remainder of that primary loan.

You still have your miscellaneous costs associated with home-ownership, such as insurance, property taxes, and maintenance.


Research for this topic came from many great resources. Thanks to US News and BankRate

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13 Home Projects for Your Pet


Want to show a little extra love to your furriest family member? More and more home designs are adding on pet projects. In fact, the LA Times reports that “Designers say more dog owners are considering their pets’ needs when building or remodeling their homes: asking for pooch-friendly spaces, ordering specialized cabinets for pet bowls and food, and adding canine-only showers and tubs.” Here are 13 home projects for your pet. After all, these projects will not only show Fido you love him, but will give parts of your home a functional face lift.

1. Feeding Station

Throw out the dingy dog bowls that slop food and water onto the floor, and create a pet feeding station. One option is to build a standing station with holes for food and water bowls. This will not only keep spills off the floor, but the elevated platform will give your dog some neck and back relief.

this old house 300x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet      la times 300x168 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]                             [via the LA Times]

Another great idea is to use the space provided by a low cupboard or cabinet to create a feeding nook. Simply take the door off the cabinet, cover the bottom with artificial turf, and place two freestanding bowls inside. If you want to take this idea to the next level, you can install a counter-top spigot that feeds water down to the water bowl.

2. Pet Gate

this old house dog gate 300x200 13 Home Projects for Your Pet                   greymark construction 225x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]                        [via Greymark Construction]

Worried about your little pooch getting trampled at a party? Building your own free-standing or slide-out pet gate is a simple and affordable project. Pick up some paint-grade lumber like pine or furniture-grade oak depending on if your pup’s a chewer, and follow these building instructions. A nice wooden gate will look a lot better than a store bought plastic one. Plus, using cut-outs in the design will allow your pet to peek in on what’s going on and not feel too left out of the fun.

3. Pet Doors

Whether you want to hide your pet door or give it some flair, there are doors that run the gamut. One designer installed a dog door in an exterior wall in a laundry room and hid the pass-through beneath an ironing cabinet. There are also electronic or “smart” pet doors that unlock automatically when triggered by a pet collar tag or microchip.

PinLog 200x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

     [via Pin Log]

If you’re more interested in making a DIY dual flap pet door that’s also weather resistant, check out this guide on Instructables.

4. Pet Carrier

diy network 300x216 13 Home Projects for Your Pet    Randall Kenneth Jones 300x200 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

  [via DIY Network]                         [via Randall Kenneth Jones]

If you need to transport a small pet, a pet carrier may come in handy. In Toto-esque fashion, use a basket to transport your pup. Simply pad the inside of the basket with a small pillow and cover with an elastic-lined mesh top if you’re worried about your pooch jumping out (bad Toto).

5. Dog Crate

this old house dog crate 300x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet   dog lovers digest 300x293 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]                         [via Dog Lover's Digest]

If you need or want a dog crate but don’t dig the prison-like appearance of a traditional one, you can build or buy a sleek-looking crate that doubles as an end table. This will ensure that your dog feels secure and an eye sore will be removed from your home.

6. Puppy Pads

Household How To 300x225 13 Home Projects for Your Pet   Drymate 300x177 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

   [via Household How To]                              [via Drymate]

Sick of those environmentally un-friendly puppy pads and how horrible they look around your home? Invest or make your own reusable puppy pads for potty training your pooch. You can make them out of a few layers of light yellow-colored fabric, old wine corks, or you can buy an artificial turf pad.

7. Pet Organizer

this old house pet organizer 300x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]

If you regularly find yourself scrambling to find the leash and plastic bags before taking your dog for a walk, then a pet organizer may be just what you need. Try this easy DIY wall mounted pet organizer with hooks for leashes and a plastic bag dispenser. Put it next to your door to make going out with your pooch a breeze!

8. Dog House

This Old House 2 300x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet             Better Homes and Gardens 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]                         [via Better Homes and Gardens]

Want to build your canine an old-fashioned dog house? Whether you want to make a simple wooden house or a mini replica of your home, check out these 15 free dog house plans. These can typically be completed by someone with basic building skills, will take a half day to a few days to complete, and will cost around or under $100.

9. Pet Ramp

this old house dog ramp 300x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]

If your pet is aging or two small to get up onto the bed, try building him or her a pet ramp. A ramp will not only prevent pet injuries, but it looks nice and can be easily collapsed and stored under the bed. Follow this tutorial from This Old House to make your own.

10. Pet Bed

While researching this article I came across a lot of awesome ideas for pet beds. Here are a few of my favorites:

the cottage market 300x240 13 Home Projects for Your Pet             the cottage market 2 300x240 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

   [via The Cottage Market]                          [via The Cottage Market]

Transform the bottom of your nightstand or the bottom drawer of your bedside drawers into a bed for your pet. This idea can also work for the end tables or a hollow footstool in your living room. You can also transform an office chair by cutting off the legs, or repurpose an old car seat by making it into a pet bed or seat. For more crafty ideas, use a wood palette or an old piece of luggage as a pet bed.

11. Litter Box

Bailey Tann 223x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet                Flickr frainteso 212x300 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via Bailey Tann]                   [via frainteso on Flickr]

To make the litter box less of an eye sore, you can either invest in or build a stylish one for your cat. Pick a nice one up at Petco for $80, hide it in a potted plant, under an end table, or inside an old damask bench, chest, or cabinet.

12. Pet Agility Course

dog excercise x 300x200 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[via This Old House]

Let your pooch run wild in your backyard on his or her own agility course. Create a mini course with poles, hurdles, and a teeter-totter using PVC pipes and teach your old dog some new tricks! For an agility course plan and building instructions, click here.

13. Dog Run

Flickr Keith MacLeod 300x225 13 Home Projects for Your Pet

[ via Keith MacLeod on Flickr]

Don’t have a big or fenced-in backyard but still want to make sure your pooch gets some time in the sun? You can build your own dog run so that your canine can play outside safely with or without your supervision.


Whichever project you decide to try, your pet will be grateful! Not only will you be showing your pet some love, you’ll be increasing the visual appeal and functionality of your home.


Know of any more great home projects for your pet you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments.


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What Every Homeowner Should Know About Home Insurance


Insurance salespeople have one of the easiest sales jobs in the world: they’re selling fear. Selling an emotion is incredibly profitable, and fear is an incredibly strong emotion. However, a lot of times that fear is real, especially when it serves to protect one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make: your home.

Although no one likes to dwell on the “what ifs,” it’s important to protect yourself against the unexpected. Feeling the security that comes with knowing your home is insured is worth a lot more than a monthly payment.

Here are the basics Fox Business reports every homeowner should know about home insurance:

  1. Make sure you not only shop around for a policy, but for the best agent too. Insurance agents can help you get back on your feet after a disaster or make the situation feel even more impossible.
  2. A typical policy covers damage to your property and possessions in the event of theft, fire, or vandalism (even if the possessions are outside of the home) and provides liability coverage if someone is hurt on the property and sues. It also covers shelter costs, meaning if you’re displaced you won’t have to pay a lot of money out-of-pocket for your temporary residence.
  3. home insurance 275x300 What Every Homeowner Should Know About Home Insurance

    A standard policy doesn’t cover earth movements (earthquakes, sinkholes, landslides), war, nuclear hazards, power failure, faulty zoning, government action, defective maintenance, bad workmanship, faulty repairs or flooding. In general, water damage from above (think rainwater or a burst pipe) is covered, while water from below (think flooding) isn’t.

  4. You may need to get supplemental coverage if the region you live in is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes or tornadoes.
  5. Understand the difference between market value and replacement cost. Before deciding which type of policy to purchase, understand what you’re paying for. Market value is how much a buyer would pay for your home in its current condition (after a natural disaster, fire, etc). Replacement cost plans cover the repair or replacement of your entire home.
  6. Reduce premiums by installing working smoke detectors, deadbolts, a burglar alarm system, a pool cover, and a fence around the pool. Reducing liability equals a reduced premium.
  7. Bundling your home insurance with other policies like your life or car insurance can also save you money.
  8. Make sure to take note of the time limits to report a claim. If something happens, make sure to get your claim in on time or else you risk being ineligible for benefits. Furthermore, waiting may make the problem worse.
  9. Keep records of all claims. Document everything that occurs during a loss to mitigate a claim being denied or not being paid in full. Save contracts, appraisals, and receipts and document phone calls.
  10. Keep an eye on your systems. Have routine check-ups done on major systems. If you’re able to make a smaller fix due to your early detection and prevent a bigger claim, your insurance company will most likely reward you.
  11. Note your policy’s limit on jewelry. Get an appraisal for how much your jewelry costs, and then consider buying a supplementary policy to cover what your home insurance doesn’t.
  12. When in doubt, file a claim. The worst that can happen is it gets denied. This best is that you get a new roof because of a windstorm and a few missing shingles. Don’t file frivolously though, only file claims you’re certain and on the fence about, because filing needlessly could lead to an increase in your premium.

Although thinking about everything that could go wrong with your home can be overwhelming, it’s necessary. Protecting your biggest investment is one of the best decisions you can make; after all, once a house becomes a home, it’s priceless.


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Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale


Friends star Matthew Perry has decided it’s time to offload his Malibu estate. “The Pier House” at 3556 Sweetwater Mesa Road clocks in at $12,500,000 plus $325 a month for HOA dues. The four bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom, four-plus car garage and 5,500 square foot beachside residence is truly swanky.

Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale

Perry hasn’t only called this property home—it served as a sober living facility founded by the actor and called “the Perry House.” However, since the home is now on the market, the facility is expected to be relocated to Studio City according to the Los Angeles Times.

The home sits on nearly two-and-a-half acres in the celebrity-preferred, 24 hour guard-gated Serra Retreat and boasts walls of glass facing the Pacific Ocean, allowing for breathtaking beach views. Other incredible features of the estate include an expansive deck, swimming pool, telescoping doors, and intimate windowed alcoves.

Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale 4 Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale

With an interior featuring “a sharp and sophisticated blend of textures and colors,” the home offers every modern amenity. The top-floor, large master suite occupies an entire wing and offers a seating area with fireplace, his and her baths, and an incredible window seat overlooking the ocean. The interior also boasts a home theater, sleek designer kitchen with an additional prep area, and game room on the lower level.

Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale 3 Matthew Perry’s Malibu Home for Sale

The exterior of the home features the aforementioned heated pool, a Jacuzzi , fire-pit adjacent to the pool, built-in barbeque, garden area for outdoor entertaining, an open patio, and a sound system for both inside and outside. Sights that can be seen from the home include Catalina Island, the Malibu Pier (hence the nickname “The Pier House”), the Los Angeles city lights, and a panoramic coastline view.

The spectacular abode was built in 1981 and purchased by Perry in 2005 for $6,550,000. It was previously on the market for about five months from 2011 to 2012 for $13.5 million. The property is now going for $12.5 million and is co-listed by Mark Rutstein and Greg Holcomb of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage and Acquisitions and must be purchased as is.


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