Archive for April, 2014
I have an old 32 foot camper which I got for free over two years ago. It was badly water damaged but I got it home anyway and put a little bit of effort into making it livable for the past two years. This winter it took a beating and the weakened frame collapsed under the weight of all the snow we got. It is time to gut the camper down to its frame and build a tiny home on the frame. The camper will get a new life as a nice, insulated and cozy home on wheels.
I did a lot of research the past few years on tiny homes before deciding to build my own house on wheels. After spending three brutal winters in a camper or RV I have realized that standard off the line campers are not designed to live in and they are not comfortable if you do. In the Northern winters we get here in Upstate New York a 2 inch thick camper wall is not enough to keep the chill of winter out. Plus the way that a camper is designed reduces the insulation value even more. They build the camper frame and then simply roll insulation over the frame. Then they press on the siding from the outside, squashing your insulation. This reduces the little bit of R insulation factor that you would have.
I decided to take my old camper frame and build a standard 2 x 4 frame house on wheels. This tiny home will have 2 x 6 flooring with 6 inch insulation for added warmth in winter. The walls will have 4 inch thick insulation between the 24 inch 2 x 4 framing. Then a vapor barrier will be added to the outside followed by some 2 inch thick styrofoam insulation.
For lighter weight and durability I will use vinyl siding and a metal roof. Most tiny homes I have seen are built using all wood inside and out but this adds a tremendous amount of weight to the trailer frame.
My camper weighed 7,000 pounds empty so I have a lot of room to work with but then you also have to consider adding furniture and personal belongings which the camper frame was never built to handle. This is the reason I want to go light on the siding and roof materials.
I have taken some time to draw up the interior plans of my tiny home using a free online house designer program. Here is the ground floor of my tiny home:
The tiny home will use the entire frame of my 32 foot camper. I will have a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long living area with a 12 x 8 foot porch extending off the tongue of the camper frame. The kitchen/living room area will have a sliding glass double door as the main entrance into the home. This will enter off the porch area. The upstairs will have a full loft which will extend over the top of the porch giving me an enclosed porch.
The living room and kitchen are going to be an open room so that I can heat the tiny home easier with a single wood stove placed above the raised wheel wells of the trailer frame. There will be a bedroom off the back of the tiny home with a bathroom next to it. Both will have entrances into the living room. The kitchen will be a full sized kitchen area with a nice sized counter space so I can really work in there with no problems.
A stairwell (not shown) goes up to the loft area. Under the stairwell I will have a walk in closet for storage.
Shown in the image above I have a three seat sofa and a recliner. I also put a rug in the middle of the room with a coffee table on it. Next to the sofa are two small end tables, one on each side. These are not really to scale I think. The room should be a bit larger than it appears here.
The bedroom will have a single sized bed and a dresser. I will have shelves above the bed for books and things.
The bathroom will have a composting toilet, sink with running water and a full sized bath tub with a shower attachment. I can either take a bath or have a shower standing up as desired.
Outside on the enclosed porch I have drawn a bistro table with a set of chairs on one end and a BBQ grill on the other end. The porch will be screened in so I can enjoy a summer night without bugs eating me alive. In winter I may close it up with plastic and use it as a solar porch and greenhouse for winter foods.
When you walk up the full sized stairs you will be in the loft at the rear of the tiny home. The second floor will have a nearly full sized loft but it will have a larger opening at the stairwell so I can look down into the living area. This will also allow heat to rise up into the loft in winter. There will be a bed in the back loft with some shelves and a night stand.
There will be a full walkway through to the other loft at the front end of the tiny home. This loft will be large and extends over the porch down below. This loft will have some futons for guests to lounge and relax. I will have an LED TV and entertainment center upstairs in the larger loft for entertaining guests.
The upstairs loft area will have a window at each end under the peak of the roof. I may decide to later put in a sky light but I am not sure at this time due to costs.
I have a couple main reasons for going with an over wide home build on my camper frame. I have been living in a cramped RV and camper for just over two years now and it is a bit tight to move around in. The kitchen is especially small and hard to work with. I do like a full sized kitchen when cooking meals. RV kitchens are normally very cramped and tight. I also often have guests over, especially due to my video work and my church. An RV is very tight and cramped for serving guests in. Especially in the cold winter months it is very hard to move around inside an RV with guests.
I realize that an over sized trailer will require professionals to move it but that does not bother me. I do not plan to move it around that much.
For strength and stability I will use house jacks underneath the tiny home frame where it hangs over the sides of the trailer frame. This will keep the walls from sagging with time.
Demolition of my old camper will begin in a few days. I have a storage tent set up to keep all the appliances, fixtures, sinks and other usable items for use inside my tiny home. This will save a lot of money when I build my new home. Using an old camper to build a tiny house on can save you a lot in the end. A camper has nearly everything you need for comfortable living. I will also keep all the wiring and electrical outlets from the old camper to use in my tiny home.
My little house on wheels will have both 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC power so I can use anything I desire. I prefer to use mostly 12 volt devices in order to save electricity but I often need AC power for some things. When you have guests over they normally bring their standard cell phone chargers with them for example. The tiny house on wheels will be fully off the grid and solar powered. I will use rain water collected by rain gutters off the roof for my water supply.
I considered using the old windows from the camper but they are not good at all and do not seal. Old camper windows are always bad and should not be used in new construction.
You can see the full video of my plans and details here:
Youtube Tiny Home Video Tour