A Tumbleweed in Germany

Hanspeter and his German Modified Tumbleweed

 

Hanspeter is currently building a Tumbleweed in Germany, a country where the tiny house movement is in its inception, but this isn't his first experience as a woodworking pioneer. In June of 2000, he traveled to Mongolia to construct the first wood frame house in Ulaanbaatar for a local family. "This," he says, "was one of the best experiences of my life."

 

Hanspeter in Mongolia
Hanspeter During Construction of Ulaanbaatar's 1st Wood Frame House

 

A few years later, Hanspeter stumbled upon the Tumbleweed website and was immediately fascinated by the little structures. What he said next will resonate with many of you - 
"I loved the idea of having a tiny home of my own, living with a small carbon footprint, staying debt free and having more time for community living. I am retired and my pension is not very big. I don't want to spend my remaining years administrating a lot of personal stuff. So, living small is the best solution for me to live a self-reliant life."

 

"I love the saying: the best things in life are not things!" - Hanspeter

 

Hanspeter began construction of his tiny home last summer, but since he is building one of the first tiny homes in Germany he has encountered a few unique challenges. "In Germany, we are not allowed to bolt the structure permanently to the trailer," Hanspeter explains, "So I invented a system to plug my tiny house into the trailer railings." In doing so, his tiny home is now categorized as a "load."

 

 

Hanspeter faced his next challenge when he weighed his half-finished tiny home and was forced to cut back on using heavy materials. Tumbleweed trailers are rated for either 10,000 or 15,000 lbs, but as Hanspeter explains: "The sturdiest trailers available in Europe that I know of are 3.5 tons (about 7,700 lbs). My trailer is a  2.7 tons trailer (about 6,000 lbs). The only solution for building tiny homes in Europe is to build lighter and smaller."

  

 

Since discovering weight might be an issue, Hanspeter has put his home on a diet, employing only light weight materials. For example, he used aluminum instead of steel roofing and styrofoam insulation instead of wood fiber. Even with taking these precautions, Hanspeter's most recent weighing neared 5,300 lbs. That leaves him only 700 lbs for the remainder of his interior build. 

"I am aware that the Tiny House might still become too heavy once fully equipped. One option is to change the axles, the breaks and the towing bar." Hanspeter contemplates, "I'm also currently investigating if the trailer manufacturer is able to build a 3.5 ton trailer with the same dimensions and the same railing as my current trailer." If that option proves available, Hanspeter's Tiny House could be transposed onto the new heavy-duty trailer (as mentioned earlier, his home was engineered to be "plugged" into the trailer, rather than permanently fixed). Although costly, he believes upgrading the trailer would be the ideal solution.

 

 

Hanspeter's Three Pieces of Advice for Tiny Home Builders:
1)  Try to get the sturdiest trailer available with the largest possible payload.
2)  Build with the lightest materials you can find and keep the thickness of floor, roof and walls in reasonable limits. Weight will add up fast and every pound counts in the end.
3)  Try to get in touch with other builders of Tiny Houses, Circus Wagons, Vardos and Shepherds Huts. In Europe, this is the most difficult task.

 

Thank you Hanspeter for sharing your story and advice with our readers. We know that every build helps us learn and grow as a community.
 

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*All photos provided by Hanspeter & Black Forest Tiny House

*More information on Hanspeter's build can be found on his website here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here



 

Written by Jenna Spesard — August 06, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   diy   Downsizing   Europe   european codes   germany   trailer   Tumbleweed   tumbleweed trailer   weight  

A Tricky Trailer Delivery

Jeff and Megan's New Tumbleweed Trailer Being Delivered!

Jeff and Megan attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Las Vegas earlier this year, where they were able to tour three different tiny homes. After that, they took the plunge - purchasing a brand new 20 foot Tumbleweed foundation on wheels. Let the build begin!

The first obstacle almost every tiny house builder faces is a big one - WHERE TO BUILD?  Jeff and Megan currently live in Las Vegas, and like so many tiny housers, they lack an ideal space for construction.  Many people in this situation rent a location such as a workshop, while others build in a friend's backyard, barn, or tall shed. Finding the perfect build site can take time and research, but it's well worth the effort.

The main considerations when choosing a build location are:

1) Adequate space for maneuvering the finished house through the entrance
2) Adequate space to move around the house while constructing
3) Access to electricity for power tool usage
4) A covered lockable area to protect materials and tools
5) Budget

*Also, depending on the geographical location, a covered build site might be preferable to prevent weather damage.  

While brainstorming possible build locations with a close friend, Megan and Jeff stumbled upon a solution. "We figured our friend Martin would have some good ideas because he's a Las Vegas native, but instead he offered his own backyard!" Megan said. "We are very lucky." Martin's yard is spacious, and he is also allowing them access to his garage and electricity. But, there is one challenge -  an angled driveway that could pose a problem for maneuvering. Is this build site too good to be true? 

The Challenge: Backing the trailer through the angled driveway

Tumbleweed Trailer

Oops! First attempt - part of the retaining wall collapsed!

"I knew backing the trailer in was going to be tricky." Jeff explained.  "The gate opening is 10′ wide, and the trailer itself is only 8’6″. We knew it would clear, as long as we worked around that angle." Eventually they lined the trailer up as best they could, unhooked, and pushed it in by hand. 

Slowly, Jeff and Megan navigated the trailer into the back yard...

Hooray!! They made It! It's so spacious back here!

Okay, but how are they going to pull the trailer out with a 13 foot house on top?! "We’re confident we’ll come up with a solution." Jeff chuckled. They are considering building up the area where the retaining wall fell over or engineering some sort of steel “deck” that could be installed to allow for a truck to pull the trailer out. Both Jeff and Megan agree, they'll have to figure it out before they begin to build.

Any ideas or tips for Jeff and Megan's exit strategy (literally)? Please share.

Make sure to check back for periodic updates on Jeff and Megan! They are preparing to build a Linden, modeled from Meg Stephens's house and hope to be finished by February. 

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All photos provided by Jeff & Megan.

Follow Jeff & Megan's blog here. And friend them on facebook here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

 

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 27, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   Downsizing   Trailer   Tumbleweed Trailer   Vegas  

Where in the World is Tiny House Giant Journey?

As some of you may know, Guillaume and I have been building a modified Cypress since last September. The build experience has been more of a marathon than a sprint, but I can finally say we are on our last lap! Here's the interior as it stands now - with an unfinished bathroom, kitchen, etc.

As we prepare to cross the finish line, we decided to move our tiny house from Los Angeles to my home town in central Illinois. It's going to be an exciting summer spent building and catching up with family and old friends!

Guillaume and I were nervous to tow the house, but also eager to become comfortable with taking it on long road trips. We drove slow, bumping down the interstate at 45 mph and traveling only 250-300 miles a day. We could have easily gone 65 mph, but at 45 mph we were getting just over 10 miles per gallon (at 55 mph we were getting 8.5 mpg, etc). Going slow saved us approximately $150 in gas over the course of the trip. Ultimately it took us about a week to cross the 2,000 miles, but we did it without incident!

Interstates are required to have at least 14 feet of vertical clearance, which is necessary for our 13’ 4” house. For our trek, we stayed mostly on I-40, traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Once we hit Oklahoma City, we turned north east onto I-44 toward St. Louis and onward to my small hometown in central Illinois.

Here are a few highlights of "Tiny House Giant Journey's" trip:

 THGJ @ Painted Desert

 THGJ @ Petrified Forest

 THGJ @ "Breaking Bad "House in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Moments after taking the above photo, that ominous sky began to alternate between hail and rain! It was the first substantial bath our tiny California abode ever received. We were worried how the reclaimed wood would hold up, but it dried out just fine. Although the back of the house (front of the trailer) tolerated the unintended power-wash from us driving down the road during the downpour, the vigorous shower did remove some of our beloved patina. Next time, we will pull over and wait out the storm.

New Mexico is also home to a quirky campground that we stumbled upon - Kiva RV Park, right on Route 66. Check out the tiny trailers built by the owner! 

 

THGJ next to "Betty Boop travel trailer" at Kiva RV Park 

Teardrop Trailer Designed and Built by Kiva RV Park Owner on Display

 THGJ @ Cadillac Ranch in Texas

The horse towing our precious wagon was our 2006 Ford F-250 Diesel 4x4. The last time we weighed our house it was creeping up on 8,000 pounds, and that was without our belongings! Luckily we built on a Tumbleweed trailer, so we knew we were within the weight limit and that our axels were specifically designed to handle towing. That being said, we still made sure to evenly pack and disperse our belongings inside the house for travel. We also bought a no sway weight distribution system from Andersen Hitches - which was extremely helpful. We highly recommend it!

 

Our Weight Distribution System

We had no trouble finding places to stay along the trip. Every campground was excited to welcome our curious cabin. Setting up was easy with pull-through campsites with electric and water hookups. The scissor jacks on the trailer supplied us with stability, and we leveled-out easily using a camper leveler, tuff pads, and rapid jack. By the end of the trip, we could setup or teardown in less than 15 minutes!

Guillaume & Our Dog Relaxing in THGJ's Almost Finished Loft

It was a lot of fun to see people react to our home. On the road, travelers would often give us a thumbs-up or snap photos. Many times we answered questions and gave impromptu tours. Only once were we pulled over by a police officer - for going 43 mph in a 45 minimum - did I mention we were being cautious? The officer gave us a verbal warning mixed with praise for the tiny house. Secretly, we think he just wanted a closer look!

When we finally pulled into our new build site, it was bitter-sweet. We loved our mini-adventure and can’t wait to continue traveling when our house is complete. I think we caught the tiny-traveling-fever!

Our New Build Spot in Central Illinois!
*Build updates from Tiny House Giant Journey here. Like them on facebook here.
*All photos taken by Guillaume Dutilh. Check out his photography here.

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 16, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   Downsizing   Jenna Spesard   Rv Parks   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House Giant Journey   Travel   Tumbleweed   Weight Distribution  

The Devil's in the Details

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!

The devil is often said to be in the details, and this couldn’t be any truer than in a tiny house.  Many times I have made the argument over at my blog that tiny houses are more complex and intricate to build than your standard McMansions.  This is because in a small house, you have so little space to work with that the small facets seem to jump out at you. 

cornerCareful corners

When it comes to traditional homes, mistakes are easily covered through various tricks of the trade, but they have one major thing in their favor, lots and lots of space.  With that space you can easily hide the mistakes. Compare that to a Tiny House, and the tolerances are so small that sometimes being off by 1/8th of an inch means re-doing hours of work. 

levelKeeping level-headed

It is here in the details that tiny houses have made a name for themselves, because you have to be so intentional about how you use space.  Here are 5 tips to help you make sure the details given the reverence they deserve.

1.      Make a list of the most important activities your home must be able to handle, form should follow that list

2.      Tape out your floor plan to scale and act out a day in it. Be sure to have extra tape because you’ll be changing it a lot!

3.      Stop looking at other Tiny Houses, make your house for you.

4.      Consider storage for all your things, including often forgotten things like trash, recycles, and dirty laundry.

5.      Obsess over the look, feel and form of everything in your house to make sure it fits in well. 


Good luck! 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 29, 2013

Filed under: build it yourself   builders   building tips   diy   guest post   home design   house plans   small spaces  

A Not-So-Tiny Storm

Remember Molly and Zack's ski lodge on wheels? They're still going strong, winter weather and all: no storm will stop these snow-lovers. Bundle up before you read this inspiring story Molly sent us...brrr! 

It was December 21, 2012. The world (or just the calendar) was supposed to end. Ironically as skiers, our world was about to start.  It was early winter and there was 10 feet of snow on the way. But it wasn’t just that winter had arrived. The elevation of our experience was reaching Everest proportions because of a little winter cabin on wheels. A mere 112-square feet was going to have grand implications. Our tiny house was going to get us stranded in the storm, with no other skiers allowed into our powder land.

Snow!
Snowed In 

Stranded. The word beckons thoughts of despair, desperation, and misery. It’s not something you want to be, see, or deal with. Until the world is about to end, 10 feet of snow is predicted to fall at Mt. Baker, and you’ve got your tiny house parked at the ski area with food and wood stocked and the fire stoked. It is only then that “stranded” starts to sing vibrant, melodious notes of luck, opportunity, and blessing. Then being stranded turns into some sort of victory.

On the day the world was supposed to end, we started out by digging a walking path from the front door of the tiny house through the four feet of snow that had fallen overnight. It was not a tiny task, but one isn’t given an option, when the front door is blocked by a snow bank. We shoveled and heaved, moving mounds of the fresh snow that we would soon be skiing. The ski area parking lot was empty, other than the plow, disappearing behind waves of snow.

When we moved into our tiny house last year, there was the promise of downsizing our possessions and up-scaling our experiences. We wanted to be mobile, with the ability to sleep in ski area parking lots and find all the deepest storms. In terms of richness, our wealth came from a bank of powder turns, not dollar bills. As skiers, being stranded at Mt. Baker was the best we could do in the realm of experience. It was our pot of gold. In fact, we were living out many other skier and snowboarder’s dreams. Without our little portable home, we would’ve never been in that spot at that time. The tiny house had put us into position to get stranded. I guess what you’re seeking is also seeking you.

In the end, we had three private days of skiing in the forest near the Mt. Baker ski area. The Department of Transportation eventually removed all of the one hundred plus trees that had fallen over the highway during the apocalyptic storm. Floods of skiers came to the ski area to discover just exactly what they had missed. We knew what they had missed. And we reminisced as we planned to excavate the tiny house from what had become a tiny mountain of snow in the parking lot.

Heading out
Heading to warmer land 

We got by with a little help from our friends. A satiating six-pack of beer for a hard-working plow driver helped us remove some of the snow that had piled up outside the house. By the time most skiers arrived, we’d removed the tiny house from its’ tiny, temporary homestead and had headed to drier, warmer elevations to celebrate the holiday with family. And to find out that the world had not ended after all.

Here’s to another year of big experiences in our tiny house! 

 

 

 

 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 28, 2013

Filed under: builders   fencl   friends   keeping positive   ski lodge   survival   winter  
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