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  

Tiny House For Three

Family posed on the porch of their "big house" (above) and their barn raiser (below).

Meg, Brandy, and their 2-year-old son nicknamed "R.A.D." are about to dramatically shrink their idea of home. Having just received a Tumbleweed barn raiser, the family of three will be shedding approximately 3,000 square feet!

“Somewhere between growing to despise our huge mortgage and realizing we would never be able to take my mother on the Alaskan cruise she dreamed of, something just snapped in my mind.” Meg explains why her family has decided to downsize from their 3,193 sq foot home and nearly $2,000 a month mortgage payment.

“Losing my mom made us realize the ‘American Dream’ of the big house with the white fence was really just a pair of shackles preventing us from doing the things we really wanted to do.” Sadly, Meg’s mother recently lost a 17-month battle with cancer. Before she was diagnosed they had planned on moving the whole family from Texas to Washington. “The more I thought about the plans I was making with my mom, the more resolute I was that I needed this change. I was sick to my stomach with the knowledge that I let the big house weigh us down." It was then that Meg and Brandy finally made the decision to drop the big house, and travel around the country with a tiny home before settling in Washington for R.A.D to start school. 

With Brandy attending college and Meg working two jobs, the couple quickly realized that finding time to build was going to be a challenge. That’s when they stumbled upon Tumbleweed’s barn raiser - a professionally built skeleton of a Tumbleweed tiny home secured on a Tumbleweed trailer. The family chose the Cypress 24’ Horizon model, which will allow a private bedroom for their son as well as a loft bedroom for themselves.  

“Having the professional builders do all the heavy lifting and, most importantly, the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer was the decision maker in the build vs. buy debate for me.” Meg explains. “I’ve had nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer, so the peace of mind that comes with having professionals secure my house is worth it’s weight in gold!" 

Meg and Brandy ordered their barn raiser in mid-March and received a notification it was ready on April 22nd. The family set off to retrieve their new home - one that is equal in size of their current master bathroom! When they first stepped inside the tiny dwelling that would one day carry them off on an adventure, Meg remembers thinking it felt huge and tiny simultaneously. Check out their height charts: 

“Our son calls it his ‘Biiiiigg Hooose’, and it (the tiny home) will probably continue to feel big to him while he is little.” - Meg

How will this family cope with this dramatic downsize? Check back in for updates on Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D. as they finish their house and prepare to travel around the U.S.A. 

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All photos provided by Meg and Brandy. 

Follow this tiny house family on their blog here. Like 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

 

 

 

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  
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