Tiny House Movement

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by osii, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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  2. cab591

    cab591 Been here awhile

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    I'll try to hit all of your points:

    The two biggest factors are cost and weight. While metal is cheap but heavy, glass is both expensive and heavy. While the modern look would be quite attractive, it wouldn't tow very easily. The metal mobile homes / tiny homes look "hideous" because of the associated price. Most people build these out of necessity, and don't spend extra money to make them look pretty. Put simply, function over form.

    The tiny houses utilize wood construction, again, due to price. Wood construction can easily be done on your own, at minimal cost. Steel construction requires detailed knowledge of welding and bolting, and is a lot more expensive. Because tiny houses are built cheap out of necessity, people don't spend more on metal.

    Cost of utilities is another reason why metal / glass construction isn't popular. Neither insulate very well, and in a cold climate, a wooden house with smaller windows is easier to heat (and easier to keep hot) than a metal and glass house. Likewise, in the summer, the metal and glass structure acts like a greenhouse, heating the inside, driving cooling costs up.

    Concerning your size preferences -- a 12'x40' house would require a semi truck to tow it, and would require a wide-load permit. Consider it a semi-permanent house. It'd be a lot of paperwork, and a lot of cost just to move it. A smaller toy hauler / workshop could be towed by a large truck, and would be easier to achieve. If you plan on towing both at the same time, then good luck.

    If the housing unit were to function as a park trailer, your idea is definitely doable. I saw a special a few years ago on a trailer park in Aspen, CO (of all places!). Single-wide trailers were going for a million dollars, but the style seems closer to what you're talking about. Here's an example of one:

    [​IMG] (Source, with more pictures).

    As for the drop floor on the trailer -- it's actually a decent idea, but again -- more expensive. Most people build on a pre-built trailer, and use the trailer floor as the house floor. This extra height makes insulating the floor easier. It also makes it easier to run piping and holding tanks for water. The downside to building at this level is decreased headroom. In order to meet DOT regulations, the trailer has to be under a certain height. With a higher floor, you'll have less overhead. This, in turn, makes the space smaller. By dropping the floor, it makes construction slightly more difficult (running pipes and such), however you get more room to build up. This means roomier lofts, higher ceilings, and more storage... or, a lower overall trailer height, and better aerodynamics. Your choice.

    So while I like your idea of an attractive, modern Tiny House, price is always a concern. If you don't like the look of the typical Tiny House, check out Tumbleweed House's Popomo Plan. Same idea of building small, on a trailer -- just with glass and metal. The example given uses a "rusty" finish, but you could theoretically do the exterior finish any way you see fit. If the Popomo Plan is too small for you, their Z-Glass Plan is slightly larger. However at 14' wide (and 28' long), it'd require a wide load permit to move (though it'd fit your description).

    As for the Toy Hauler -- the size is dependent on your needs. A couple of bikes and some tools could be carried in something as small as an 8'x10', if you plan the space right. Obviously, the more toys, the more space you need. Check out the Livin' Lite Travel Trailers. They utilize aluminum construction to bring trailer weight down, and are fairly attractive toy haulers. Their largest model is 8.5'x26'. Dry, it weighs around 5,000 lbs, and can carry another 5,000. The largest one as a permanent bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen up front, with sleeping options in the rear, as well (folding couch, dinette, and even a queen size loft bed that stows up against the ceiling!). Something like that could easily be hitched to a truck, and ready to go in no time at all -- while functioning as a full-time garage / workshop when home.



    Hope this answers your questions! :freaky
  3. WMD

    WMD Adventurer

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    Just bought this piece of land and plan to build a tiny-ish house, 600 to 800 sqft. Its just me, my dog and sometimes my GF. I haven't settled on any plans yet but have chosen a builder that specializes in small eco housing. The design I'm leaning towards would be a rustic settlers cabin on the outside and state of the art contempory inside. Whatever I build will have shop space for sure. Suscribed to this thread for more ideas, thanks.

    [​IMG]

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  4. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Cab591, I like your comments and thank you for pointing out those plans to me.

    One the subject of size up to 8'6" wide and 13'6" tall a trailer complies with Federal law and most states (if not all by now) will allow the trailer to pass without oversize permits.

    In most states getting wide load permits isn't much more than perhaps an application fee of maybe $35 but that varies by state; some places will require that even non-commercial loads get liability insurance.

    The rule of thumb is that 12' wide and over will require an escort vehicle (flag car) in most states. Some places will require two escort vehicles at a point around 14' wide.

    You can go taller than 13'6" in many places but then things begin to get tricky. 14'6" isn't too big of a problem. On the southern East Coast and Out West you can often go as tall as 16' tall with little re-routing off of the Interstate grid but you'd better know )or pre-run) your route. All that it takes is one low bridge to ruin your day and usually around 15' or so depending on state the permit office will require you to have an escort vehicle with height measuring device.

    So going somewhat wide isn't too big of a deal if you know what you are doing.

    (And, just FWIW, for anyone reading this I used to own a company that moved boats, so much of what we did was wide and tall.)

    With that said I suspect that my ideal house at 12' wide and 40' long would be a piece of cake for a professional mover and too much for my little (relatively speaking) truck and I'd probably hire a pro to do a move. Or borrow a large truck.

    Your point about large glass areas being heavy and poorly insulated is well taken. I am in the Texas desert and kicking around something that I might take back to Florida some day so excessive heat is the name of the game. I have seen some designs that have hinged metal or wood shades that fold up for protection from the sun and then fold down for protection of the windows and that's a direction that I would go. Imagine your Aspen home with the awnings elongated to be the length of the windows and hinged at the top. I like the idea of something that I can seal up pretty tight for when I travel.




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  5. SourKraut

    SourKraut Long timer

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    Nice spot WMD. We love our 400sf cabin out in the boonies. It is a weekend/vacation place for us. Make sure you put a covered porch on it, we love that you can go out in any weather and just hang out because a tiny cabin does get clastrophopic after a few days.

    [​IMG]
  6. WMD

    WMD Adventurer

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    Yep, I'm leaning towards something like this. Unlike the one pictured tho, the left side would be a garage, not a spare bedroom.

    [​IMG]
  7. SourKraut

    SourKraut Long timer

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    Yeah, shop space/garage is critical. I'm tearing down the A-frame in this photo over the summer and putting a garage in that spot next year after I get most of the big trees down. I'm going to leave the big Oaks though, can't bring myself to take them down.

    [​IMG]
  8. RockyRaccoon

    RockyRaccoon Found:Gideon's Bible

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    When we were young and poor and the (3) kids were little, we lived quite happily for about 7 years in a 2/1 house that was 840 square feet. It helps to use a great room concept, minimize hallways, and maximize windows and porches/decks, which all make the house feel bigger and more open.

    [​IMG]

    We use it as a rental now.
  9. boardrider247

    boardrider247 Weekend Anarchist

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    Very nice spot you have. I wouldn't have guessed it to be in NC. On first glance I was thinking it west.

    Any more info on this home design you have pictured?
  10. WMD

    WMD Adventurer

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  11. MN_Smurf

    MN_Smurf Capt_Confusion

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    That's not all that practical if the directions to where you're going include "turn off the paved road"......
  12. cab591

    cab591 Been here awhile

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    Beautiful piece of land! Hopefully you share whatever you build on there! :clap

    Though I've got to admit -- the rustic cabin outside, and contemporary inside reminded me of the scene from Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, where they meet the redneck in Alabama. They get invited back to his place -- a little shack in the woods. Go inside, and he's got a model wife, and a modern house. :rofl



    Sounds like you've got a good idea of what you're getting into. :thumb Personally, if I were building on a trailer base, I'd prefer it small enough to tow myself -- but to each their own. If you do wind up building something, I think we'd all love to see the finished product!

    A quick search for "modern park trailer" got me a few results.

    This company has numerous modern designs. I found a few pictures, but no floor plans. They look great, though!

    This design is probably my favorite. It's 8.5'x36', so any Joe can tow it (not sure on height, though. I would assume it'd be under 13.5', since it fits the other dimensions). It's apparently designed by the above company, though I can't find any more information on their website. Just imagine if the little front porch could fold up easily -- fold the stairs onto the deck (or remove, and store), fold the front half of the deck up, and the front half of the awning down, and you'd be good to go!

    This model, built by some company called Breckenridge, appears to also be a wide load. It's much simpler in design, though, and incorporates a large wall of windows. The concept renderings even mention some louvered shades, though I'm not sure how they would function / store in real life.
  13. a1fa

    a1fa Throttle Jockey™

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    Interesting concept, however I wonder how portable is it..
    [​IMG]

    That's a lot of glass, and even the best designs flex...
  14. Smithy

    Smithy Avoiding the Skid-Demon

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    I have an old, untitled boat trailer that I'm in the process of converting to a flatbed cargo unit. Single axle, so not too much weight.

    What I'd love, though, is to have a little cabin-like think I can load up, and take camping with me, with wood stove, bed, and table/chairs. Sorta like an old-timey hunting cabin, nothing fancy, and keep it light as I can... stick-built with reflectix or something for insulation, and thin paneling inside.
  15. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Yeah ... that has occurred to me. That and you have to be careful if you have plumbing run underneath the house.

    With that said we used to drag some really, really low boat transport trailers into some weird places. Sometimes you just have to factor in the cost of a town truck because it's cheaper than bringing in a crane. :evil
  16. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Wow! That's pretty close to what I have in mind. Thanks! :clap

    ADDED:

    Oh wow! Seems to be a C.Deam design. http://www.cdeam.com/ . He has designed for Airstream Trailers. Some good stuff there!
  17. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    I think that I have found some inspiration.

    "For decades, trailer parks have been increasingly marginalized to a strict set of stereotypes. They might gleam as well-manicured retirement communities to some, but in their most iconic state they are perceived as the province of the unfortunate. The question of whether design can save or even improve trailer parks is preempted almost immediately by “Why bother?”

    The latter question is easier to answer. Allan Wallis, author of Wheel Estate: The Rise and Decline of Mobile Homes and an authority on regional housing, calls trailer parks an undervalued, endangered resource. "

    http://www.dwell.com/house-tours/article/upwardly-mobile-homes

    [​IMG]
  18. cab591

    cab591 Been here awhile

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    Glad you found some inspiration. :thumb

    I didn't realize that designer also worked with airstreams, that's pretty cool! I'd definitely say that "park trailers" (or "single-wides", or whatever you want to call them) can be made attractive, for a price. Now get out there and build!
  19. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    That C.Deam design (the one with the sliding doors) seems to have been produced by Breckenridge but it's no longer in their online catalog and their email link is broken. I have sent inquiries to the architect directly so it should be interesting to see what develops.

    I could see that for my needs. Notice how the sliding doors are recessed? Put an awning there, probably hinged at the top. Lower the awning to protect the doors (for either transportation or while you are away and traveling, an important element for me) and raise the awning for shade and as a carport (important in all of the tropical climates that I would set it up in).

    Remove a sliding door or two from one side and put some on the other side. Since there is no real front or back that would ease orientation in setting it up on another site.

    There is a class of homes that you see in RVing areas every so often that are meant to work in conjunction with an RV. Typically they have large carports with Rv hookups and no guest quarters with the idea that you would put any guest into the RV. I could see that here.

    Also, if circumstances changed I could see adding a workshop/garage made up of a single 40 ft. ISO container or two 20 ft. containers. With matching colors and similar rectangular lines if you did things right you could have a home module, a workshop module, a covered carport space between them for the toy hauler trailer, and it wouldn't scream out "tacky."

    Yeah. I could see it. Build it in pieces as finance and circumstances allow, have the various modules stand alone or work together.

    The housing unit pictured is probably relatively simple to build. I would think that a frame of rectangular steel tubing would be a good start. If it's plumb, or someone can find a welder to make it plumb, then you'd be good to go. Weld the basic framework and then do the interior with lumber and you'd have a strong structure.

    Possibly build on an old park model trailer chassis, perhaps one that has been highly modified. That way you would have the paperwork in hand to satisfy most RV parks that accept park trailers if anyone asks. :evil

    ADDED:

    On that last part. Just checking my poor old Southwind RV. It has a Fleetwood insignia and the seal of whatever organization certifies RV compliance attached to the door. I keep thinking that Fleetwood went bankrupt, the travel trailer division closed completely, and the rest sold to other owners. Just wonder if there isn't a super unknown prototype of a futuristic park model out there somewhere that has since been upgraded and highly modified. Could happen I guess. :deal
  20. cab591

    cab591 Been here awhile

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    I spent a bit today drooling over renovated airstreams. Looks like one of the big names in renovations is Matthew Hoffman, of Hoffman Architecture. Check this out!

    [​IMG]

    Apparently on that one he did all the work himself. Bought a used, 70's airstream for a couple thousand, gutted it, and redid everything. Total cost, doing his own labor, was around $20k. Not bad! :eek1

    But then comes the question: where to put the tools? I suppose I could always buy an acre or two of desert, just outside of Phoenix, and put one of these and a small metal barn on site.