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
*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
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.
All photos provided by Jeff & Megan.
Follow Jeff & Megan's blog here. And friend them on facebook here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make a list of the most important activities
your home must be able to handle, form should follow that list
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!
Stop looking at other Tiny Houses, make your
house for you.
Consider storage for all your things, including
often forgotten things like trash, recycles, and dirty laundry.
Obsess over the look, feel and form of
everything in your house to make sure it fits in well.
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.
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
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
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 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
Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University - Partners in Education
Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University are introducing the concept of tiny home construction to the next generation of American contractors. In the spring of 2013 students in SAU’s Construction Management program will be building Tumbleweed’s newest model.
As you can see from our early drawings of the new house on the left, The new Tumbleweed is going to include a full sized murphy bed with built in couch on the first floor.
Tumbleweed’s focus on education is longstanding. Through workshops, books, open houses, partnerships with high schools and community events we are trying to change the perception of what is possible. We are thrilled to be working with a community of future builders that have the ability to change the way America lives, literally, in the palms of their hands.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with two of the Tumbleweed staff involved in developing the partnership with Southern Adventist. The first thing I wanted to know was why they felt it was necessary for the next generation contractors to understand the concept of tiny homes.
Pepper Clark, a Tumbleweed workshop presenter, was nothing less than enthusiastic in her response. “It's essential for the next generation of American contractors to understand the idea of tiny homes because they provide both the most logical response to our growing economic and logistical housing challenges. Future builders need to be aware of how many problems can be solved with a tiny house; providing means for multi generational families to live happily together, allowing people to work at careers they love instead of high paying jobs they hate, enabling folks to move their homes as needed to respond to changes in their lives, and giving young people a way to live independently with little overhead as they start out.”
Our head of business development and sales, also sees contractors as an integral component to solving America’s housing and financial crisis. “American contractors have the opportunity to help Americans with the financial headache of getting into home ownership. When contractors assist people in getting a better financial foundation under their feet, it will be assisting future generations. We want to refill the building pipeline in a healthy and sustainable way!”
When asked about Tumbleweed’s focus on education Pepper discussed the importance of homeowner awareness and creating a financially sustainable lifestyle. “If we can assist people in making the decision to live in a tiny way, to reduce financial stress and increase financial stability in the average home, we will have been successful. Many people are having a hard time making ends meet. It is a path to less stress and financial stability.”
Southern Adventist University is pioneering a new and more responsible approach to educating the next generation of American builders. Tumbleweed is looking forward to the day when the concepts involved in tiny space design and construction are standard components of all university level construction programs.