Cost of Towing a Tiny House RV

We travel full time with our Tiny House RV and so far we've gone 15,000 miles in eight months. I don't know of any other Tiny House RV that travels as much as we do, so we've had to figure out a lot of logistics on the road. Below I've outlined my monthly expenses in hopes that it is helpful for my fellow travel bugs! 

If you're looking for explanations on towing specifications and requirements, click here.

Our wet Tiny House RV - we assume the house weighs more after a rain!

MY MONTHLY EXPENSES ON THE ROAD

GAS: $726

Our Tiny House RV weighs 10,100 pounds when fully loaded. We tow with a Ford F-250 Diesel 4x4 and get between 8-10 mpg. We put 2,070 miles per month on our truck. That number includes ALL driving, not just towing. 

MAINTENANCE ON TRUCK: $294

We had to replace a few parts in our truck, including the FICM, the alternator and two batteries. I can't say whether this is due to towing or not, because the 2006 Ford F-250s are known for these problems. Hopefully this number will start to go down. 

MAINTENANCE ON TRAILER: $55 

Regular 10,000 bearing inspection (they were good). We had to replace our tongue jack because we crashed the Tiny House RV on our maiden voyage... Full explanation here. We also had to replace our chimney cap a few times due to damage from low tree branches.

TRUCK INSURANCE: $95 

We are insured through State Farm. We have liability coverage on our "tow load." 

TRUCK PAYMENT: $0

Our truck is paid off. Yippee!

TINY HOUSE RV PAYMENT: $0

Our Tiny House RV is paid off. Yippee!

MOBILE INTERNET: $130

We use Verizon wireless as our provider because they have the fastest data service. We've been relatively happy with the service, but it's expensive. Due to our web related jobs, we need at least 30 gigabytes a month. This isn't even enough for us to stream movies, we always run out! Obviously if you do not need 30 GB (or the internet at all) this number is irrelevant. Campgrounds sometimes have WIFI available, but it's almost always terribly slow. 

CAMPGROUND FEES: $238

We park in campgrounds on average 9 nights a month. The rest of the time we park on private property, offered by some of the most gracious people in the world (our followers and other Tiny House RV enthusiasts). That helps A LOT! Campground fees can average between $10 - $60 a night. We are a member of Passport America, which offers a 50% discount on thousands of campgrounds all over North America. 

PROPANE: $12

We use propane for our cooktop, water heater and sometimes to power our refrigerator. 

WATER / ELECTRIC: $0

We fill up our water tank in campgrounds or from our parking hosts. So far we haven't had to pay for water or power (of which we use very little), aside from our campground fees. 

TRASH: $0

We carry our trash and dispose of it responsibly in campgrounds.

TOTAL AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSES FOR TOWING & TINY LIFESTYLE  = $1550

This total number is for two people and while it might seem high, it's less than just our apartment rent payment in Los Angeles! We could save a lot of money by traveling less and canceling our internet, but that's not the lifestyle we want at this time. You might notice that this number does not include food expenses, cell phones expenses, student loans, etc. That is because those expenses would be the same on or off the road, tiny or big. 

QUESTIONS?? I'll do my best to answer them. 

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
 
   

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — May 19, 2015

Filed under: Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny House RV   Tow   Tow Capacity   Towing   Travel  

Tiny Interior Showcase

Creating a functional interior is challenging. Creating a functional interior in less than 200 square feet, is MIND-BOGGLING!! Do you know what makes a Tumbleweed unique? The owner! Browse through a few tiny interiors below to see the creativity and individuality of each space. 

Ariel's "Fy Nyth" Interior

Ariel's interior design on her Tumbleweed Cypress 24 is clean and inviting. Her transforming couch and table are great examples of multi-purpose furniture and really work to expand the space! Ariel brought nature (and a pop of color) into her tiny space with live plants. Her dark curtains add depth to her tiny interior, and her wrap around book shelf?? Books are beautiful, why hide them?

Click here for more interior shots of "Fy Nyth"  

Ella's "Little Yellow" Interior 

Ella's modified Cypress -18 has a whimsical theme with its curved window trim, live edge countertop and floral accents. Wainscoting with a natural top cap adds complexity to her walls. Ella chose to paint her wall panels white, while leaving the ceiling natural, creating separation. Ella's round kitchen sink is unique and beautiful, and she believes it's more functional than a rectangular sink because her dishes are round. 

Click here for more interior shots of "Little Yellow" 

Art's Tiny Sip House Interior

Art's modified Tumbleweed Elm -18 interior is the sleek and earthy. The knotty paneling, reclaimed flooring and clean window trim combine to create a woodsy aesthetic. A reclaimed stained glass window (with a depiction of a crawfish) acts as a centerpiece for Louisiana Tiny House RV. LED lights with hand cut Shoji paper diffuse the interior light to a soft glow. Other highlights include a custom steel kitchen countertop and a collapsible futon couch. 

Click here for more photos of Art's "Tiny SIP House"

Brittany's "Bayside Bungalow" Interior 

Brittany's modified Cypress -18 is simple and sophisticated. "I wanted more of a cottage feel, rather than a cabin," she explains. Brittany had spent some time in France prior to decorating her tiny house, and she fell in love with the cottages along the French countryside. Her glass front door expands her space and lets in a lot of natural light. She also incorporated wicker accents, such as baskets and wicker chairs. A fold down table acts as a desk and a dinning area. 

The "Bayside Bungalow" is available as a vacation rental in Olympia, Washington. More interior photos and information here.  

Jenna & Guillaume's "Tiny House Giant Journey" Interior

This is my Tiny House RV interior, a modified Cypress - 20. I painted my walls because I felt that the pine panels clashed with my reclaimed accents, alligator juniper counters and maple floors. The white walls really open up the space, but they also protect my panels from moisture and warping. I chose bold patterns for my curtains, accent pillows and cushions. I mixed metals: copper, brass and steel. My interior design theme was a combination of "French Country" and "Rustic." A stainless steel wood stove acts as a centerpiece for my tiny space. There's nothing better than a tiny fireplace in a tiny space!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

It's okay to be inspired by others! I loved Ella's live edge counter, Brittany's glass door and Art's dark floors. You can see their influence in my interior design, but I also made the space unique with some of my own ideas. For example, the thing I'm most proud of in my interior design, is the wood detail around my round window. Guillaume spent hours routing out a stump for our window trim, and we also created a "sunburst" effect with some spare pieces of reclaimed wood. It wasn't easy, but the finished product was worth the effort. 

Click here for more photos of "Tiny House Giant Journey"

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HOW WOULD YOU DESIGN YOUR TINY HOUSE RV INTERIOR?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 
  

 

The Advantages of Tiny House Dormers

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 Cypress WITHOUT dormers. A lovely gable roof line throughout.

 

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. 

Examples of roof pitch. Photo credit: Wikipedia

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. 
Tiny House Giant Journey's loft with dormers. 
So what do you think? Do you want dormers in your tiny house loft?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — January 26, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Dormers   Elm   Loft   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tiny house Giant Journey   Tumbleweed  

Q&A with Tiny House Experts

We asked three of our tiny house experts to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions:  

ART CORMIER

Art Cormier / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background:

In 2012, Art completed his Tumbleweed home using SIPS and reclaimed wood and even posted some videos on YouTube explaining how he did it  And that's how we connected - we asked him if he wanted to partake in our Tumbleweed Construction Video and Art obliged. One thing led to another and today Art is traveling the country teaching others the benefits of owning a tiny home. Read more on Art's blog.

Art's modified Tumbleweed Elm

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny space?

Art: My favorite part of my tiny house?  The love seat when I want to sit,  or the shower when I want to get clean.  Or do I have those confused?

Art's love seat, which can convert into a bed.

Q: Do you have any space saving or downsizing advice?
Art: See video!
 
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Art: If I built it again I would have dormers, got to keep up with the neighbors!
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EDDIE LANZO
Eddie Lanzo / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Eddie and his girlfriend Lacey have their almost complete DIY Tumbleweed Cypress parked in a campground in Austin, Texas. Eddie's background is in real estate and he also recently joined the Tumbleweed team as a workshop host. More about their house and build here
Eddie's DIY Tumbleweed Cypress
Question:  How are you decorating your tiny space for the holidays?
Eddie: We have perched a very wintery wreath on the wall for the holidays. That should do it for us. Next year if we're more ambitious, we want to do a stick christmas tree.
Q:  Clever storage ideas / space saving ideas?
Eddie: We plan on adding loft beam storage, installing a leaf table, and putting our compost toilet on tracks that slide out from under the storage stairs.
Eddie's loft with dormers
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Eddie: We would've finished plumbing before moving it to the RV park. It’s all “roughed out” but ABS piping still needs to be finished so we can install our sinks.
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GUILLAUME DUTILH
Guillaume Dutilh / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Guillaume and his girlfriend Jenna finished their DIY modified Cypress since September 2014. So far they've traveled over 7,000 miles with their tiny abode, from California to Nova Scotia to Atlanta, while hosting countless open houses and Tumbleweed workshops. Learn more about their tiny house journey here. 
Guillaume's traveling DIY Cypress
Question: What do you do when you and your partner need... space?
Guillaume: We usually just take the dog for a walk since the front door is never that far. 
Q: What is biggest benefit of having a tiny house?
Guillaume: Being able to pursue my passion for photography while traveling.
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Guillaume: If I could do it again, I'd have my corner porch on the sidewalk side or I would build a full porch (the Elm). Porches are awesome!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — December 10, 2014

Filed under: Art Cormier   Cypress   Elm   Experts   Holidays   SIPS   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny SIP House   Tips   Tumbleweed   Workshop  

10 Tiny House Tricks to Declutter Your Kitchen Counter

Tumbleweed Linden Kitchen

In a tiny kitchen, counter space is a luxury and clutter is your enemy. Bare counters are pleasing to the eye and functional for folding laundry, unpacking groceries and food prep. Bulky appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens and coffee machines will quickly consume your counters.

So how do you declutter your counters in a tiny kitchen?

1). Eliminate any gadget that isn’t essential to your daily life. Ask yourself, do I really need a microwave? Do I need it enough to sacrifice the counter space? Do I need it enough to power it with electricity, which might limit my ability to be off-grid? Or, would it be simpler to warm my food on the stove? Key word: SIMPLER. Tiny living is about living a simpler, more fulfilling life. So keep it simple, and try not to overfill your space.

kitchen

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen, which consists of a sink and a 3-burner stove.

2).  Own gadgets / appliances that serve multiple purposes. For example, choose a pot lid that doubles as a strainer. Do you really need a tea kettle (an item that only serves one purpose), or will a pot of boiling water suffice?

3). Consider alternative appliances that consume less space. For example, this AeroPress can be used to make coffee instead of a standard machine. The AeroPress uses zero electricity and is only a fraction of the size of regular coffee machine. As a bonus, the paper filters are tiny and more compact for storage. Consider a french press too!

4). Store “pretty” items high. Having high shelves or hangings baskets can clear your counters and harness the underutilized space above your eye-line. Put your “pretty” items, such as festive plates, wine glasses or Grandma’s pasta maker on a display shelf to double as art. Store your fruits and veggies in a hanging basket. Mount a floating dish rack over your sink. Hang your pots and pans from ceiling hooks

Brittany's Kitchen. Notice the use of the ceiling space & open shelving

5). Hide “ugly” items. There’s no room for the word “ugly” in a tiny house. Place large or ugly appliances under the counter when not in use - such as blenders or toasters, unless they are beautiful to you!

6). Create counter space. Purchase a sink cover, such as a cutting board, that will expand your food prep area. Eliminate the counter space allocated for a stove top by using a portable hotplate that can be stored under the counter when not in use.

Ella's Kitchen. Notice the high corner shelf, the hanging pans and alcohol stove which can be tucked away when not in use.

7). Mount items to the wall. Use hooks to hang your cutting boards. Magnetize your knives to a wood magnetic knife holder and use magnetic spice holders on your refrigerator.

JT's Kitchen. Notice the pots and pans hanging high from a wall mount.

8). Custom containers. Food packaging can be cumbersome and ugly. Why have a box half full of sugar on your counter? Store your flour, sugar, cereal, etc. in small containers or decorative bags that can reduce in size as the food is consumed. Refill as needed.

Mica Kitchen. Notice the small containers that can be refilled.

9). Utilize cabinet doors. An old trick, but a good trick. Mount flat or small utensils to the inside of your cabinet doors instead of using a counter utensil rack. If you have a counter skirt, sew pockets into the material for storage.

Utilize in the inside of cabinet doors. Image credit: here

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen. Sew pockets into your cabinet skirt. 

10). Keep Organized. Keeping your kitchen counters bare and organized should be part of your daily routine. Every new appliance or gadget needs to have an appropriate place in your kitchen. Share your own counter space declutter tips below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — December 04, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

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