Who is PAD?

What We Do

TINY

PAD connects do-it-yourselfers with the resources and information they need to build homes that fit the lives they want to live. Our tiny house construction plans, ebooks and educational workshops have helped thousands of people learn to build a little house on wheels that offers them new ways to see their time, money, hobbies, possessions and communities.

As one of the most long-standing and respected companies in the tiny house industry, we encourage hopeful tiny house residents to ask themselves what they really need out of a home to be happy, and we advocate for small homes of all kinds to be a vital part of America’s housing mix.

Who We Are

Dee, Joan and Billy on the Sweet Pea Porch Based in Portland, Oregon, PAD Tiny Houses – or Portland Alternative Dwellings – is Dee Williams, Joan Grimm and Billy Ulmer, three friends with a passion for expanding people’s ideas about what “home” might be. From tiny homes on wheels to backyard cottages to campervans, we highlight the possibilities and benefits of small housing, and direct people to the resources they need to make their projects a reality.

PAD was founded in 2008 by tiny house pioneer Dee Williams and master carpenter Katy Anderson, who designed and built tiny homes on wheels for a handful of clients before Katy left to focus on high-end carpentry, and Dee shifted her focus to educating DIY tiny house builders. Joan joined PAD in 2012 to run and grow PAD’s tiny house workshops and events, and Billy joined in 2013 to manage PAD’s online presence and share inspiring stories from the tiny house movement.

PAD also partners with trusted people and businesses in the tiny house industry that we know from our own experience do great work, and who we can recommend confidently to others:

  • We partner with Shelter Wise, one of the most experienced custom tiny house designers and builders in the country, to offer their time-tested tiny house designs to DIY builders everywhere.
  • We partnered with Iron Eagle Trailers to help design their “PAD Series” Tiny House Trailers, designed specifically for tiny homes on wheels.

Read on to meet the people behind PAD and learn more about their experiences in the small house movement.

Dee Williams, Author and Founder

Dee Williams in the loft of her tiny house.

PAD’s Dee Williams is a tiny house pioneer who built one of the first tiny homes on wheels in 2004, and has "lived small" ever since. Dee's house, life and memoir The Big Tiny have been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS This Morning, Slate.com, Yahoo.com, Yes Magazine, and the National Building Museum, to name a few.

Dee founded PAD to offer DIY tiny house builders the education, building plans and resources she wished she had back when she was building her first little house.

In 2014, the release of her memoir The Big Tiny brought her compelling story to a broader audience. As a speaker, her signature candor, humor and heart have touched audiences as diverse as the World Domination Summit, the Pacific Coast Home Builders Conference, TEDxConcordia and the Tiny House Jamboree. She turned heads yet again in 2016 when she moved out of her iconic, 12-year home on wheels...and into an even smaller tiny house.

Popular Blog Posts by Dee Williams:

How Much Does a Tiny House Cost?

Everyone wants to know: how much does a tiny house cost? Tiny houses, just like big houses, can range in price greatly depending on size, systems, materials, and whether you build it yourself or hire someone to build it for you. Whether a house is 300 square feet or 3,000…
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Are There Building Codes for Tiny Houses on Wheels?

By Dee Williams There’s a lot of confusion out there among aspiring tiny house builders and buyers about whether they can work with conventional building codes to make their tiny house on wheels legal to live in full time. Are there building codes for tiny houses on wheels? What about…
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An Unexpected Education from Tiny House Living

By Dee Williams             Lately, I’ve been looking at the unexpected education that I’ve gotten over the past 13 years of tiny house living.  When I set out to build my house, I knew I’d learn more about how to use a saw. And before…
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Dee Williams In her loft

A New Video Tour of Dee Williams’ Little House!

  Dee Williams recently showed Kirsten Dirksen from Faircompanies.com around her little house.  They made a great, 13 minute video that covers everything from her water and electrical systems, to how she used her body as a measuring tape for her design, to how she found a parking spot among…
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Joan Grimm, Events and Partnerships Manager

Joan Grimm from PAD Tiny Houses

For the past 25 years, Joan has designed and delivered local and international environmental education and sustainability programs for both public and private entities. She is the founding board chair of SCRAP (the School and Community Reuse Action Project) and the Oregon Green Schools Association.

More recently, Joan has been at the hub of Portland's small, creative development community, helping people find the resources they need to grow Portland's housing stock incrementally and sustainably.  She and her wife co-developed a "pocket community" of friends in their own backyard by merging yards with their friend and neighbor, hosting a tiny house on wheels, and developing an ADU from an unused corner of their home. Having created her dream housing community piece by piece around the home she already owned, she is passionate about sharing her story with others so they can discover similar community development opportunities right under their noses. She's also passionate about her Sprinter campervan (pictured) that she uses to live small on the road and get out into nature.

Joan co-manages the biennial Build Small Live Large Summit, a unique, one-day educational event about accessory dwelling units, tiny homes on wheels, and housing communities.  She also helps run PAD's Tiny House Basics Workshops and Build Small Lecture Series, hosting locals and people from all over the world who want to learn from Portland's small housing experts. 

Joan’s Resources on Pocket Communities and Small Development


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Build Small Live Large Summit 2015

Ways to Stay Involved in Building Small and Living Large

By Billy Ulmer Five hundred designers, builders, planners, realtors, students and homeowners gathered in early November to learn how powerful and important it is to build small. The energy in ballroom that morning was electric, and the day was packed with people looking for new ideas for homes that match…
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POD49 Residents and Tiny House

Building Community With Pocket Neighborhoods

At PAD, we spend a lot of time talking tiny houses (obviously), because we love them and love what they can do for people. But living in a tiny house isn’t for everyone, so it’s important to spend time considering some of the other alternatives to traditional housing that offer…
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Billy Ulmer, Writer and Digital Store Manager

Billy Ulmer from PAD Tiny Houses

With a background in writing and marketing and a lifetime obsession with how our home shape our lives, Billy manages PAD's online presence and products, and brings a psychological perspective to the tiny house movement. 

He visited ten tiny households around the country to write the Life in a Tiny House ebook, which explores diverse and detailed examples of how someone's home can change their life. His forthcoming ebook The Tiny House Host Guide will offer conventional homeowners the knowledge they need to host a tiny house on wheels on their property to make money and build community. 

Although he owns a boring, conventional house, he is also building out a custom campervan into a mobile, home-away-from-home for extended road trips, and for the fun of it! Billy’s recent professional history includes marketing and writing work in the green building industry and for outdoor adventure businesses.

Billy’s Tiny House Products and Popular Resources:

Life in a Tiny House Ebook Cover

Life in a Tiny House Ebook

What is it really like to live in a tiny house? Curiosity about tiny homes is exploding, yet it’s still hard for most people to wrap their heads around what it’s like to build or live in one. Isn’t it just too kooky, too risky, or too hard?  Not once you see it through the eyes of the people who already call tiny houses home. Billy Ulmer from PAD and Unlikely Lives wrote this ebook to collect stories and advice to inspire people to take action on their own tiny house dreams, and to think differently about the way our homes can help us lead lives we love. It features over 200 pages of photos and interviews with people who live in tiny homes, discussing questions like these:
  • Why did a tiny house feel right to them?
  • How did they go about designing, building and moving in?
  • What is life like now that they’ve been living there, for between a few months and ten years?
It also shares why tiny houses aren’t as “extreme” as some might think, offers useful perspectives on how people overcame the challenges in their own journeys, and recommends practical steps to help anyone create some of the benefits of tiny house living, no matter where they call home.

Why Do We Love to Look at Homes?

By Billy Ulmer, author of the Life in a Tiny House Ebook Do you like looking at pictures of houses? ME TOO. But…why? When we look at pictures of other people’s homes, what exactly are we looking for? Eye candy? Design ideas? “10 Stylish Ways to Store Shoes”? It took…
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Tiny House in the City

Dear PAD: How can I feel safe in an “illegal” house?

People ask us all sorts of questions about houses and home, and when there are no easy answers, sometimes all we can do is share a story or a perspective – “advice column” style.  This response is from Billy, author of the Life in a Tiny House Ebook. Dear PAD, I…
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How Do You Know If You Should Move Into A Tiny House?

By Billy Ulmer, author of the Life in a Tiny House ebook. Do you wonder if you should move into a tiny home? Choosing where to live is a big deal, and feels like an even bigger one when what you want to do isn’t a common or popular choice.…
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