Meet Derek and his backyard Tiny House RV located in the heart of New Orleans!
Derek's modified Cypress 18 was originally used for a living space close to work, but recently he purchased a big house in town and has parked his tiny abode in the backyard. His Tumbleweed is now used for recreation and occasional overnights.
For Derek, the build was a learning experience and a labor of love. "I would have a hard time parting with it (the tiny house)," he admits. Watch the below video tour where Derek openly shares the mistakes he made during construction and offers tips for future tiny house builders.
A highlight of Derek's tiny house RV is his transforming couch design. While the couch can act as a comfortable sitting area, it also transforms into a dinning area for four AND a full size bed!
Derek's couch and storage bench / sitting area
Derek's inspiration for this design came from the boating world. "And it was pretty simple to make," he explains. A hidden hinged piece of wood seamlessly latches the couch to the storage bench, creating a downstairs sleep space for two! The back rest of the storage bench in turn becomes the footboard of the bed. Cushions from the bench and couch are rearranged to create the mattress. Every item has two purposes!
Derek's transforming couch as a dinning area for four
A hidden hinged piece of wood connects with a lip to the storage bench for a bed
The cushions are used as a mattress for the bed.
As for the exterior, Derek chose to go with traditional cedar siding, red trim and a red metal roof. Other features include a mini-split air conditioner, aluminum clad windows and a loft skylight.
His galley kitchen acts as the centerpiece of the small space with an apartment sized refrigerator, hot plates (that tuck away), toaster over, large farmhouse sink and plenty of counter space!
Derek's tiny bathroom features a unique alternative to the fiberglass shower stall. He chose to construct his own shower walls from a metal roofing material, creating an industrial aesthetic. His bathroom also features a flush toilet and a pocket door.
Derek's shower stall is a standard size - 32" x 32"
For more information on Derek's customized Cypress, follow him on Instagram @noladerek
Get ready for a really unique tiny house RV story!
A lot has happened to Annie Coburn since taking the August 2014 Tumbleweed workshop in Dallas. She admits that she was unsure of her future plans when she first decided to attend the workshop, but one comment from another attendee changed her mind (and her life) completely. "A lady said: 'I know this person who travels around in her tiny house and sells .....' I don't even remember what she was selling, but that statement put all the pieces together for me," Annie told us.
Interior: "Tiny House Teas"
Annie has always loved to travel. In 2010 she created a travel website for seniors. So the idea of creating a business that could function out of the tiny house RV, while wayfaring around the United States, tied all of her passions together in one beautiful package. It wasn't long before Annie received her Tumbleweed trailer and started building her traveling Cypress 20 Equator without dormers.
"When I saw the picture of the Cypress, I wanted to give it a hug," Annie recalls. "It's so cute!"
But what does Annie intend to sell out of her traveling tiny home? TEA, of course! In the late 1990's, she lived in China and remains in contact with her friends there. "They know tea and tea producers," Annie comments. "So I have access to premium teas." In September she flew to China to strike up a partnership and, just like that, "Tiny House Teas" was born.
Annie's tiny house RV is now close to completion, and she'll soon hit the road with her traveling tea business. Her first destination will be the Florida Keys. "The tiny house gives us options," Annie explains. "We can stay as long as we wish. When we feel the need for a change, just hook-up, fill-up and GO."
A dormer is a structural element in architecture that protrudes from a sloped roof and allows for additional space. If you're a tiny house enthusiast, the words "additional space" in a tiny house article might seem oxymoronic. Yes, owning a tiny home means that you are "okay" with small spaces, but there is no reason that you should have to sacrifice comfort in your tiny house RV.
So let's learn a little more about dormers and what they could do for your loft.
A Tumbleweed Elm or Cypress loft WITHOUT dormers (keeping the gable roof line throughout) and a skylight.
Some tiny housers love the coziness and lightweight option of the un-dormered loft (keeping the triangular gable roof line throughout), but most prefer to have a little more headroom. Dormers provide extra space for comfort and additional windows, while keeping the lovely visual aesthetic.
Tumbleweed Elm WITH Dormers. Space is gained. The visual aesthetic is not sacrificed.
How much space do you really gain by having dormers? In order to visualize how much space is actually gained by adding dormers, you will need to have a basic understanding of roof pitch.
Roof pitch is described as the vertical rise divided by the horizontal span of a roof. The gable roof in our Elm and Cypress models have a 12:12 pitch, while our lofts with dormers have a 3:12 pitch. It is important to maintain some roof pitch for weather runoff.
An older Tumbleweed model, where the 3:12 pitch returns to 12:12 for the last few inches of the loft.
If you peer into the back of this older Tumbleweed's loft, you can see where the 3:12 pitch returns to the triangular gable roof line (12:12 pitch). This is a great way to visualize the difference between these two roof pitches.
If the above loft DID NOT have dormers:
The roof pitch would be that triangular slope throughout
The four windows that line the sides of the bed would be lost
The space on either side of this queen bed would be lost
A king bed would not be possible (only possible with dormers)
The use of a staircase would be rather difficult (a ladder would most likely be used instead)
Due to costumer feedback, in all of our current models and plans, the dormers extend all the way to the back of the loft. By doing this, the above Tumbleweed loft has gained even more space. Starting this year, we will also include dormer plans with our Elm and Cypress plans, free of charge.
Steve Weissmann (President of Tumbleweed) is 6'2" and can comfortably sit up in bed in this Cypress loft with dormers.
By adding dormers to your loft, you will also gain valuable wall space, not only on the sides of your loft, but also in the front and back. Consider the cheek walls: the walls that are formed between your dormers and gable roof. Below is a photo of my loft and, as you can see, we've chosen to add an outlet to our cheek wall. My future plan is to mount a television there one day. I could also add a cabinet, shelving, additional lighting or hang decorations / plants / photographs in this additional space.
My Tumbleweed Cypress has rolled all the way from Los Angeles to Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys, where I’m currently writing this blog post. In the four months and 8,000 miles I’ve traveled with a tiny home, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. Below is a short list I’ve compiled in hopes that it will be helpful to future tiny house travelers.
*Note: A few of the below are also applicable to RVing. That’s intentional. I’ve learned a lot from RVers and many of the same rules are relevant.
5 Tips for Tiny House Travel
1). You can weigh your tiny home at any truck scale. The best way is to weigh the tiny house with your truck attached, then park, detach, weigh your truck alone and subtract that weight from the total. It’s important to know your weight and to have a tow vehicle that can handle the load. It is especially important to be aware of your tongue weight, which can be found by purchasing a tongue scale. Many tiny homes have a heavy tongue weight because of the loft. You can counter balance your tongue weight by placing some of your heavier items in the back of the trailer (like water tanks or solar batteries). You can also use a weight distribution system, like I do.
2). Call campgrounds ahead of time. I call ahead and tell the campground that I have a 24 foot travel trailer that requires 30 amp electrical, water and (if I know my 15 gallon water tank will not be sufficient) a sewage drain for grey water. If they ask for the brand of the travel trailer, I tell them it’s a “Tumbleweed tiny house, you know… like on Tiny House Nation?” And that usually rings a bell. No campground has EVER turned me down. In fact, click here for a list of campgrounds that I’ve stayed at.
3). Attach bubble levels to your tiny house. I have one on the back center of my house (for left/right leveling) and one on the side (for front/back leveling). I use Anderson levelers for left/right leveling and I LOVE them. With these levelers, I can raise one side of my house up to four inches simply by driving onto them! If I need more than that, I pull one side of my tiny house up onto planks of wood, and then use the levelers. For front/back leveling, I use the tongue jack. Never use the scissor jacks for leveling; They are for stability only.
Tiny House GJ's Anderson Levelers
4). Get an RV GPS. I use a Rand McNally RV GPS to navigate around low clearances, weight restrictions, propane restrictions, etc. It’s excellent and it is worth its weight in gold for my peace of mind.
5). Secure Loose Items. Add a lip to your shelves and hook & eyes to your drawers. Using a bungie cord works as well, but if every shelf and drawer requires a bungie, you’ll die of tedium. The less “lock and loading” the better. It takes me about 20 minutes to secure everything inside my house and another 20 minutes to pack up the outside. I’ve got it down to a science, but I’m also always improving.
Any travelers out there want to share some of your own tips? Comment below!
Meet Mario MD Soto, a California resident and soon to be tiny house RV owner. He’s building a Cypress 20 Equator and has little to no experience with construction. Although he mentions he did build a bird house... once, in the fourth grade. And, it lasted about a week before it broke. So let’s just say he's challenging himself!
Mario says he has always been interested in tiny things - cars, cabins, etc. After some research, he came upon Tumbleweed and decided to visit our headquarters to tour a tiny house RV.
“Love at first sight." Mario describes what it was like when he saw a Tumbleweed tiny house for the first time. "I had butterflies in my stomach and it was in that moment when I truly realized that this is what I been looking for.” Mario purchased plans and a trailer that very same day, and his tiny house journey had truly begun.
Fast forward to today: Mario’s Tumbleweed has been framed, sheathed and the roofing is being put in place.
“I would say the physical part hasn’t been as hard as i thought, but the mental part is what would get me some days,” Mario admitted.” That fear of never doing something like this is the biggest mental block to overcome, but the help from the tiny house community has honestly made all this possible.”
Mario's Unique Metal Roof
Mario has a few unique add-ons to his Tumbleweed that really set it apart, including a solar skylight that opens and closes depending on the weather. He also has a metal roof with a copper patina look. Finally, he plans to wire the electricity in his house to be controlled by his iPhone. To see all of Mario's plans come to fruition, make sure you follow him on his blog and on Instagram!
As usual, we asked Mario to give three pieces of advice for future DIY tiny house builders.
Mario’s Three Pieces of Advice:
1). Safety first. Make sure you understand your tools and wear protective gear, goggles, ear plugs, gloves etc.
2). Sometimes you need to just jump in. You can only research so much. Just jump in and get your hands dirty!
3). Have fun. This will be a rewarding experience: building a tiny home with your own hands, watching it come life and making it into your vision. Knowing it’s a reality, not a dream anymore.