Sue Danic spent summers in her gram's pre-World War I cottage and ever since, she's wanted a tiny house. She's seen it all: straw-bale, cob, rammed earth, cabins, sheds, tree-houses. Or, at least, she's bought the book, visited the website or attended the workshop. In 2009, Sue traveled to New York City to attend our tiny house building seminar. Eureka. She hit gold. Since, she couldn't build on her gram's land, a tiny house on wheels would solve her first problem. Problem Number two was building the thing. Sue has almost zero talent in building. Sure, she's built a table and even a bench, but a project of this size was beyond her grasp.
Enter Bob St. Cyr who teaches construction and cabinet making at Kitchener Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School (KCI). This was a project that Bob thought his construction and cabinet making classes could accomplish under his guidance. The plan is to build the entire structure in one semester. The students will not only build and finish the interior, but they will blog about their accomplishments while building the Fencl.
Over the spring of 2009 we built our largest home on wheels, the Fencl. This small house is 130 square feet and features a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping loft, fireplace and much more.
How long did it take to build?
A crew 4 built this house over 10 weeks. We spent 825 hours to purchase materials and build this green design house.
How much did it cost to build?
When all was said and done we spent $19,148. We shopped around and shaved almost $2,000 from the cost when he found a trailer 100 miles away at a much lower cost.
Build one myself?
Depending on your skill level and determination it is possible to build a mobile home for a fraction of the cost of buying on already built. We do recommend hiring licensed contractors for the plumbing and electric work. When we build a house we hire specialist for those tasks. Typically, the electrician and plumber are the highest paid people per hour, so we keep the amount of their work limited to just those two areas. We spent less than $2000 to have that work completed on the Fencl. When we build a small house we usually hire a finish carpenter as the job foreman. We keep the number of workers at any given time to 2 or 3. Aside from the finish carpenter and electrician and plumber, the other crew doesn't need as much experience.
Buy this house from Tumbleweed?
This green home can be purchased for $53,997 plus shipping and applicable tax.
Is the price negotiable?
We price our homes and home plans with a very low markup. We do not leave room in our pricing for a discount. Our expenses are subsidized by selling ad space on our website and by the sale of our books. We are proud of the fact that we pay our crew a fair US wage with insurance.
Salvaging an old or destroyed RV trailer can be a great way to furnish your tiny house. Many salvageable items can be claimed from an old trailer to be used again in a tiny house on wheels.
The above photo shows a 32 foot trailer that was listed in Kentucky for $600. The side was ripped off but the owner still had the sink, tub and other appliances available that were included in the purchase. Watch your local craigslist for bargains like these or check around your town, you may find someone who would be happy for you to take it, just to get it out of their way.
The base trailer was not damaged so the the outer shell could be completely removed and you would than have a 32 foot trailer to build your tiny house on. You could than salvage all the internal items, such as the electrical control system, plumbing and water supply. Re-use the furniture and cabinets and incorporate the kitchen appliances and bathroom toilet and tub into your tiny house.
What is not salvageable you could take to the dump or donate to a local charity organization. Below are a list of three things that you should consider as options when using an old RV.
RV components are designed to withstand trailering long distances, are made to be turned off for many months, so they are very durable.
Most RV’s utilize 12 volt direct current systems or DC electricity, so generally use 12 volt appliances. However they usually have an inverter for when they are plugged into a grid which converts everything back to AC usage. Most inverters will transfer back and forth automatically.
Many RV’s have portable gas stoves that can be moved in and out of your home. Many of the new bathrooms are one peace and incorporate everything in them form tub to toilet, so this can make setting up your new space a relatively easy process.
So keep your eyes open at your local craigslist and ebay for a great deal and you may find that you will have just about all the items you need for furnishing your tiny home. by Kent Griswold
In the previous two posts we discussed a couple of off-grid options. Wind and Solar and how they can generate power for your tiny home.
For both these power sources you need a place to store and distribute the power. In this article I will show you a basic power station set up to run a tiny house on a part time basis.
This unit consists of a box that contains all of your storage requirements. Propane to fuel your stove and hot water heater and batteries and inverter to power your electrical needs.
Here is the basic box under construction. Built with three compartments. The right one holds your propane bottle.
The top left is for your inverter and meters and wiring. The bottom left holds two batteries for your storage which is generated from either your solar or wind power or both if you are set up that way.
The next photo shows the inverter and the wiring involved with the setup. One cord coming up from the batteries and the second one going into the inverter to convert the electricity to the right output.
In the following photograph you see the meter that lets you know the status of your charge, etc.
The next photo shows the connections to the battery and the wiring going up to the inverter.
Following are the two batteries that power this unit. This power station is set up as a camping unit which is mainly used on weekends so two batteries are sufficient. If you are living in your home full time more batteries may be required to fill your needs.
This photo shows the completed unit with the exterior wiring and switches and adaptors for bringing in the power and also using it externally.
This article is not a how to article but an illustration of a power station set up. You should consult a professional in setting up your home power unit so that it is done the right way and you can sleep peacefully knowing that your power unit is working properly.
Wind power is a great source of energy in some areas of the country. If you live near the coast or in the desert you will have a steady stream of wind on a regular basis. In other areas of the country the wind may not be as consistent so wind power may not be the best option.
Where I live it the winds pick up usually for two or three hours in the late afternoon, so wind energy would make a good back up source to solar energy as we get a high amount of sun in this part of the country.
There are many type of wind generators out there from extremely large to small. For a tiny house on wheels you might consider a marine type wind generator as these are small and can be rigged to fold up or down for travel. They have few moving parts so are very dependable and surprisingly affordable.
Rooftop generators are becoming a hot item and there are several versions being designed with the goal to make them affordable and available to the masses. I discovered this neat link to a website that shows several of these ideas in movie form. To learn more visit the The Rhode Island Alliance For Clean Energy and the page Residential Wind Power.
The following video proves that wind power can be built and manufactured using recycled materials and very inexpensively. How would you like to use everyday recycled products to manufacture residential wind turbines, which will give you your own energy independence!
As with any type of off-grid power you will need a way to store your energy and your power station will need the correct inverters and batteries to make your home fully independent. Below is a picture of a power station with the batteries, inverter and connections all in one unit. This one is designed to have a nice size propane container built in also.
This unit is set up to accept the wind generators power, plus connect solar panels also. With the propane setup you could also install a propane generator for back up purposes.
Hopefully, this article will inspire you to research the wind energy potential out there and you will figure out the best solution for your current and future needs. Wind is a free source of power, you just need a good way to harness it and store it.
Please add any suggestions and/or resources to the comment section below.