Why I Want to Live Little

When I tell someone about my newest personal project of building a tiny home, there are three reactions: excitement, confusion, and “what the hell”. If you’re reading this blog, it may be because you’re excited for me and want to stay in the loop as the project develops. You also could be confused and just want to figure out what the heck a tiny house is. More than likely you’re wondering what the hell I was thinking and can’t believe I want to live in a 300 sq. ft. house and want to see if this all actually happens. For whatever the reason you’re here, thanks for joining me on this adventure as I figure out how to “live little” in North Central Iowa.


My name is Cally Niess and I am an Osage, Iowa native and grew up on a farm that raises cattle, harvest crops, and at one time, milked dairy cows. With the strong agriculture influence in my upbringing, I basically went in the completely opposite direction for career choice. I went to Iowa State University for a Bachelors degree in Architecture and currently work as a Project Manager at Bergland and Cram Architects in Mason City, IA.

So why a tiny house? I have been interested in tiny living for years now and honestly just thought it was a really cool idea.   Watching countless documentaries, television shows, and reading minimalism blogs, I was completely hooked. Besides the “cool” factor, when you start laying out the facts of tiny living, it becomes the best choice for myself as a single, postgrad adult.

Space in a home is a luxury. I want you to think about all the space you have in your current home. Think of where you spend most of your time. Usually it’s the kitchen, living, bedroom, and bathroom. It’s usually only for special occasions you use that dining room, den, finished basement, game room, guest bedroom, etc. Knowing I want to live alone, that I’m not a chef, and I live a pretty low maintenance life, the amount of space I need isn’t much. My plan for my tiny home is to have a small bathroom with only the essentials, a small kitchenette arrangement, a small lounge/living area, and lofted sleeping quarters. Basically the typical essentials in a home, just with less square footage.

Since I’ve graduated from college, I have moved back home with my parents and instantly started looking for a home to buy. I got preapproved for a home loan, which would get me a decent shape two bedroom, one bath home in the Clear Lake/Mason City area. I started having anxiety about how long it was going to take me to pay my mortgage and started questioning the decision of buying a house. Was I buying this type of home because this was something I wanted to live in, or was it because that’s the typical thing for someone in North Central Iowa to do after they graduate? I am budgeting this project to come in between $15,000 – $20,000. I hopefully will be able to pay off my tiny house in two to three years, meaning I would have my home paid off by age 26. That to me is an amazing feat and one of the biggest incentives to pursue this living option.

Lastly, the reason I am going through with this project is because I have an amazing support system to help me along the way. My parents, Scott and Julie Niess, are allowing me to move my tiny house to their farmstead till I find a permanent spot for my tiny home, which I am very thankful for. They also are going out of their way to help me with anything I need and have always supported my out of the box ideas. I work with some of the best, experienced people in Iowa who are more than willing to help me in the design process and detailing for construction documents. None of this would be possible without my coworker’s support at Bergland and Cram. They’re the freaking best and I love working with them every week and listening to their ideas! Also all of my friends are pushing me to keep moving forward and send me anything they find about tiny homes. They’re just as excited as I am and give me energy to put into this project.

So stay tuned and see what comes from all this excitement! I promise my following posts won’t be as lengthy but will have awesome information about how to build a tiny home in North Central Iowa from start to finish, including looking for homeowners insurance, to picking out the right kind of toilet! Here’s to the next chapter of my life and I’m so glad you want to follow along with me! Cheers!

4 Replies to “Why I Want to Live Little”

  1. My reaction, I’m not surprised. Way to take a risk and follow your passions. If you need any help (with opinions — JK), I’d love to lend a hand.


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