Tiny, tinyhouse? (1 Viewer)

Poptart

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So i've been daydreaming over all these tinyhouse videos on youtube after watching videos about sailboat life and converting busses into houses- but I just want to live in something like a comically small, sturdy studio apartment on a bumper-pull trailer for the next 4-8 years. with Sailboat style stuff to make things even more space/energy efficient. i'm familiar with basic construction, electrical and plumbing stuff, so in my head i'm thinking this could be a breezy walk to a greener pasture.

My starting budget is $5,000 and i'm pretty sure i could buy any old flat-bed trailer off craigslist for about $1000, but then all the tinyhouse forums of the net are telling me i need to figure out how much every little thing weighs so i dont blow out the tailers max weight capacity and it's making me anxious. how do i know how much something weighs without actually buying all the stuff, building it up and weighing it on a bathroom scale? i'm definitely out of my depth here and i don't want to be. I saw an ad for a flatbed that used to be a coleman pop out camper on craigslist, with really nice supports and stuff that pop out from below, but it doesn't have a GVWR tag or a title that comes with it and when i google "pop-up trailer GVWR" it says they usually max out at around 2000lbs... then i compare to the tiny houses people have already built online and it shows their houses being between like 1600lbs-10,000lbs

i'm teetering on the edge of just buying something, but i've done that before and i don't want to regret making a mistake. "measure twice and cut once".. i just don't know to do next :/
 

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Eng JR Lupo RV323

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This may or may not be helpful. I guess it depends on your skill set and tools you have available. I often see old shitty campers in the free section of Craigslist. One of those "you haul it off it's yours" kinda deals. They underneath portion of these are basically already designed to carry a tiny home. That's kinda what they are, right.

Here's the only video I could find online of someone ripping off the camper and utilizing the trailer under it.


I think you could easily shorten one up with a grinder or torch, maybe even a sawzall. A drill and some grade 8 nuts & bolts could get you around needing to weld. Idk, it's an option if you're trying to save that initial $1000 you're talkin about dropping on a trailer. Something to consider.
 

Poptart

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This may or may not be helpful. I guess it depends on your skill set and tools you have available. I often see old shitty campers in the free section of Craigslist. One of those "you haul it off it's yours" kinda deals. They underneath portion of these are basically already designed to carry a tiny home. That's kinda what they are, right.

Here's the only video I could find online of someone ripping off the camper and utilizing the trailer under it.


I think you could easily shorten one up with a grinder or torch, maybe even a sawzall. A drill and some grade 8 nuts & bolts could get you around needing to weld. Idk, it's an option if you're trying to save that initial $1000 you're talkin about dropping on a trailer. Something to consider.
The upshot of this would be that an RV comes with its GVWR tag and a title with its max weight capacity written out. haha

I *could* do that, but i'm not wanting to make a huge pile of RV scrap. my mom said i could use her giant airplane hanger garage to build something. it's pretty cut and dry if i can just park a blank flatbed in there and build it up as i get my paychecks. I might just buy something with my ideal square footage in mind and see what happens.
 

Matt Derrick

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hmm... i think first you have to decide on what kind of tiny house you want. the size, dimensions, amenities, etc. find and/or create a floorplan. if you want to build something like what's in that (badass) pic, all that wood i'm pretty sure is going to go over the max weight capacity for your average harbor freight trailer (1720 lbs).

also, you should decide what you're going to tow the trailer with and how much you plan on moving around. despite the term 'tiny house' it's still more HOUSE than TINY. these things don't move easily. so, if you want to be able to move around a lot, I'd actually ditch the tiny house idea and maybe go for a self-built teardrop trailer. if you do decide to go this route, i've done a lot of research on the subject and I can direct you to some helpful resources (blueprints, plans, examples, etc). There's also a lot more specific plans on this subject (materials, weight, etc).

here's an interesting link with some ballpark weights mentioned:


As @Eng JR Lupo RV323 mentioned, I don't really see anything other than a full on mobile home trailer being able to pull a full tiny home around.

so, to recap, figure out:
  1. how much space do you need?
  2. how often you need to move it
  3. how are you going to move it
  4. what kind of vehicle is required to move it
  5. maybe consider other options if you need to move around more than once/twice a year.
 

Poptart

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  1. how much space do you need?
  2. how often you need to move it
  3. how are you going to move it
  4. what kind of vehicle is required to move it
  5. maybe consider other options if you need to move around more than once/twice a year.
1. I found this really spiffy looking all metal car carrier thats got an 8x18 deck and a GVWR of 7,000lbs thats for $886, but the guy hasn't written me back yet. the tinyhouse forum people on say the trailer should be about 18% of your total build cost, so i figured $1000 trailer is a good start. if i just deal with what i have, i feel like it'd be easier to digest.

2. i'm going to make this my permanant home until i can buy some land and maybe get into homesteading. i'm just flat tired of living alone in huge places, paying rent when i could be saving and the constant searching for places to live every time i get some place new. if i make a house like this i'd be able to park it on some $2,000 slice of land *somewhere* or at an RV park/KOA for like $300 a month.

3. i'm thinking if i can keep my build weight under 5,000 lbs, i'd be able to pull it around with any small truck i might come across. thinking like a toyota/jeep small. it's gonna be a super tiny sailboat style kitchen with a washer/dryer combo hidden under a counter top, a shower with a compost toilet on the other side and a loft bedroom with a TV over the kitch.

4. if i don't have a tiny truck at any point, i could always rent a u-haul or pay someone with insurance to tow it around. i'm not really feeling the itch to travel as much anymore, but i definitely want to keep living my life a certian kind of way.

Lately i've only been concerned with going to school and establishing myself some place in a meaningful way. *at least* have a place where people aren't going to tell me to GTFO or try to put some creepy tendril in my life.
 

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a few thoughts from someone who has been doing this stuff a long time....

SPACE - do you think you could genuinely enjoy living in a 'comically small' dwelling for such a long period ? a tiny space can be great fun for weekends away, but actually living full time in somewhere very small can be hard work - I live in a spacious 7 metre trailer (my avatar picture) and still spend hours each day tidying everything away and de-cluttering....

then there's the weather - in summer a small space is fine coz you spend most of your time outside of that space, but in the winter and heavy rain you may find yourself 'indoors' for weeks at a time - you need adequate space to have a happy life...

one of the most regular comments I hear people say when they are new to vehicle living is 'I wish I'd bought something bigger'....

WEIGHT - most people that are beginners at mobile dwelling construction use wood and materials that are way to big and heavy, frequently putting them near to the weight limit... I've dismantled many a camping trailer for scrap metal and have noticed that the wood used in their construction is a lot thinner than you would expect- the batton is usually 0.5" by 1.5" and the plywood around 3mm - the strength is provided by using proper jointing techniques and gallons of wood glue...

TIME - it can take months and months to fit a camper out to living standard, and that's doing it full time....trying to fit a construction project in around full time work and you're probably talking years..

one popular option is to half fit a dwelling out and then move in, thinking 'I can do the rest while I'm living in it' - this then makes everything take twice as long and I don't recommend it...
 
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Living in a tiny space can easily be done comically.... My dog and I have been living in our van for 9 years. However we consider the outdoors part of our space. We set up an outdoor space for cooking and relaxing and we have a small poop tent for showering and pooping and that kind of stuff. It's easily done... PSX_20191116_165144.jpg PSX_20210706_115745.jpg PSX_20191103_041659.jpg
 
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Poptart

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Is that because you don't have enough room for anyone else at your comically small space birthday party?
I don't want someone hanging around saying all the reasons they wouldn't want to do or not do something in pursuit of a life; sure there are some valid points in the world, about the world, leading all kinds of ways around the world- but some of us actually live *outside* and i'm one of the ones who intend to stay there. I've picked the monster that's going to eat me and I'm glad I'm able to say something like that. my project isn't a vehicle bound for starry-eyed adventures, burning man acid trips, sex parties on the beach or some sorry compromise for a G.I. life goal. it's going to be MY "Hagrid's hut" to pull behind to keep me warm and store some swag. Anything like in that picture I posted up is more than capable of being properly insulated and having enough space for a friend to come over and play cards or eat some birthday cake. it wont "decompose" like an RV will if its got sturdy fix-ins; I've probably spent more than $40,000 on shitty RVs with leaks, old electrics, mold, soggy floors, busted engines, rotten seals... it's a pain that's saturated in regret. i could have bought an actual farm for that much money. with internet. and a garden fountain. and ponies.

If I get this built for $5,000, I can skip out on haunting city streets sooner rather than later. if i want to go woofing, i got a place to be. if there's a fire, i can tow-up and run. if the engine in my truck dies, i can hit up craigslist or a used car guy. if i change my aims, i don't have to pack up boxes and start that 3 month period of treading water in a town that doesn't care about me, trying to find *yet another* place that's too expensive, too big, needs deposit with a 2 year lease. if its a survival pod with a shower, a toilet, a place to cook and wash the clothes while i sleep dry and out of the snowy snow, it's good enough for me.
 

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The tiny houses on trailers were origionally meant to get around building codes, and not intended to actually be mobile. Many are made to be transported from the building location to a drop location, but very few are intended for traveling. Wood is a heavy material with joints that can be wiggled looser by repeated shock. The aluminum and fiberglass that camper trailers are made of is much better suited for transit.

I've lived in a 10x12 tiny house as well as a tiny car, and don't agree with anyone telling you that you need more space. Tiny living is just a different lifestyle, just like living in a tiny apartment is diferernt than living in a large house. I just think putting wheels on houses was never really a good idea.
 

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Wood is a heavy material with joints that can be wiggled looser by repeated shock. The aluminum and fiberglass that camper trailers are made of is much better suited for transit.

Last time I rented a place it was $700 a month with $700 deposit and I was barely making $1000 a month. It was a one bedroom apartment on the top floor of one of those complexes. I didn't have the furniture to live in the living room, let alone spread out into a whole other room with a closet and shit. the bathroom was HUGE. I ended up putting my bed and TV in the dining room and living my whole life right there. I HAD to live there for a whole year and every other month some outsider who worked for the management would come by to spray for bugs and they'd talk shit about how I was a waste of space.

I know I'm not a Romani pulling my wagon with a mule, but sturdy is sturdy.
 

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I don't want someone hanging around saying all the reasons they wouldn't want to do or not do something in pursuit of a life; sure there are some valid points in the world, about the world, leading all kinds of ways around the world- but some of us actually live *outside* and i'm one of the ones who intend to stay there. I've picked the monster that's going to eat me and I'm glad I'm able to say something like that. my project isn't a vehicle bound for starry-eyed adventures, burning man acid trips, sex parties on the beach or some sorry compromise for a G.I. life goal. it's going to be MY "Hagrid's hut" to pull behind to keep me warm and store some swag. Anything like in that picture I posted up is more than capable of being properly insulated and having enough space for a friend to come over and play cards or eat some birthday cake. it wont "decompose" like an RV will if its got sturdy fix-ins; I've probably spent more than $40,000 on shitty RVs with leaks, old electrics, mold, soggy floors, busted engines, rotten seals... it's a pain that's saturated in regret. i could have bought an actual farm for that much money. with internet. and a garden fountain. and ponies.

If I get this built for $5,000, I can skip out on haunting city streets sooner rather than later. if i want to go woofing, i got a place to be. if there's a fire, i can tow-up and run. if the engine in my truck dies, i can hit up craigslist or a used car guy. if i change my aims, i don't have to pack up boxes and start that 3 month period of treading water in a town that doesn't care about me, trying to find *yet another* place that's too expensive, too big, needs deposit with a 2 year lease. if its a survival pod with a shower, a toilet, a place to cook and wash the clothes while i sleep dry and out of the snowy snow, it's good enough for me.
I think you need to calm down a little here. No one is telling you not to do your plans, but a wise person listens to the opposite side of an argument, if only to strengthen their own side. Just because you don't like @roguetrader's arguments doesn't mean they're not valid.

2. i'm going to make this my permanant home until i can buy some land and maybe get into homesteading. i'm just flat tired of living alone in huge places, paying rent when i could be saving and the constant searching for places to live every time i get some place new. if i make a house like this i'd be able to park it on some $2,000 slice of land *somewhere* or at an RV park/KOA for like $300 a month.
If you're not going to move it often, wouldn't it be wiser to get the land first? Sounds like you're putting the cart before the horse here. As people have mentioned, tiny houses aren't really meant to move around a lot, so building one before you have a place to put it doesn't seem like the wisest way to go about things.

again, these are just opinions, please take them in stride.
 

Poptart

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these are just opinions, please take them in stride.
I'm not some indoor cat who broke loose. I drew my circle and that's all there is to it.

If you're not going to move it often, wouldn't it be wiser to get the land first?
I'm wanting to leave Texas and move to Cascadia. you can move a tiny home cross-country without wrecking on trees, bumps or crazy corners if it isn't one of those huge double-wide trailers. its exactly like @roguetrader said "the strength is provided by using proper jointing techniques and gallons of wood glue"

you never seen one of those sheep wagons?
 

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roguetrader

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hey @Poptart... just to say I finished my post in a bit of a hurry yesterday and meant to end with something like this...

I realise I am being a bit 'voice of doom' with the comments made above but they are real issues that need to be factored in to any new build trailer project... only you know your own needs and capabilities - I am frequently amazed at the small spaces that people happily live in, I did it myself (small van with partner) for a good few years but found that to have a full life we eventually needed a lot more space.... we are in rainy old England / Europe however where outdoor living is at best 60 % of the year...

another suggestion - what do you think of living in a small pre-built camper trailer, what we call a caravan - presumably one could be picked up reasonably cheaply and repurposed to your needs slightly ? a much quicker solution

you mentioned pay checks which suggests you're working, which must limit the time you can spend constructing a tiny home... this is one of my major issues at the moment - I have a not quite full time job and a large self build motor home and am having trouble finding the time to work on it....
 

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also this suggestion might suit your needs...

a popular 'camper with character' solution in England that is also lightweight is the 'twagon' - basically a Romany style barrel top / open lot wagon mounted on a caravan chassis - the canvas roof / sides save a lot of weight...

Google 'twagon Chris Ward Wildwood Designs' if you wanna see one built by a friend of mine.... I'm having trouble putting the link up...
 

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Google 'twagon Chris Ward Wildwood Designs' if you wanna see one built by a friend of mine...

I bought a tinyhouse book with a picture of this guy who built a barrel sauna onto a 25ft trailer that looked really badass. it was sectioned out and looked kinda like a sailboat- then the back section was split left and right for two private cabins.

i'd go with the layers canvas top more willingly if i knew more about their ability to deal with the snow and how often they had to flipped; I realise canvas is only good for a year or two before it starts to oxidize from the wind, sun and rain. between light weight tiny and full on stone masonry giants i'm sure there's a travel friendly construction thats a somewhat aerodynamic happy medium.

My whole intention for this thread was just to suss out how much a completed structure will weigh before i actually build it. I'm having nightmares of weighing each individual screw o_o
 

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roguetrader

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yeah you got a point about the canvas - another friend built a similar barrel top 'twagon' and used canvas - even with regular reproofing using neatsfoot oil, the weather took its toll and 4 or 5 years later the whole lot needed replacing.... he's now using rolls of a modern material intended for marquee construction, which I think is PVC coated nylon... I think the only people still using canvas are those obsessed with the traditional look of Romany wagons....
 

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off my head i'd say to replace the canvas with corrugated steel or something, but thats just as likely to get blown away...i realize i'm essentially talking about making a home made RV, but at $5000 you can't really get something that isn't already half stripped for parts and splitting at the seams.
 

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