The reality of owning a Tiny House RV is that the lifestyle is not always picture perfect - even though the magazine-style photos you find online might make it seem that way. That's why we've posted 5 Things that NO ONE will tell you about Tiny House RVs. Get ready folks, it's time for a reality check.
1). Tiny House RVs get messy quick
Everyone always mentions how easy Tiny House RVs are to clean, but what they don't tell you is that they are also easy to get dirty! It's important to put things away immediately - such as groceries and clean laundry. Every belonging you bring into the Tiny House RV must have a proper storage place. A tiny space can feel dirty simply because it's not organized.
2). Tiny House RVs aren't as transportable as standard RVs
While Tiny House RVs are built to be mobile, they aren't solely designed for that purpose. Usually a Tiny House RV design will prioritize comfort, quality and aesthetics over mobility. Standard RVs, on the other hand, are designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic, often compromising aesthetic for lower gas mileage. Tiny House RV owners enjoy the ability to be mobile, but prefer the luxury and personality that is provided with a Tiny House RV.
3). Insuring a self-built Tiny House RV can be tricky
Most RV insurance companies look for manufactured Tiny House RVs with a RVIA certification. You cannot get an RVIA certification if you are not a manufacturer that has passed extensive testing. That's why there are so few tiny house companies that are RVIA certified (Tumbleweed is RVIA certified). Insuring your self-built Tiny House RV is not impossible, but it can be more difficult. We suggest reaching out to local insurance companies prior to building and taking hundreds of photos during construction.
4). Tiny House RVs aren't for everyone
We encourage people to come to a workshop or rent a Tiny House RV for the weekend before purchasing or building one. It's important to know that the lifestyle is right for you. If you find out that "going tiny" is not for you, that's okay! At least you learned more about the movement and yourself.
While some people claim that the Tiny House movement is just a fad, the popularity is actually growing steadily. More Tiny House RVs are built every year, and it's relatively common to see them at RV parks. Every year communities and events such as the Tiny House Jamboree and the Tiny House Conference grow with attendees. More and more TV shows and news outlets are covering the movement. Tumbleweed has grown astronomically as a company and in production in the past five years. Tiny House RVs are not going away any time soon!
“The ease of starting our build with an 'industry standard' was settling,” Ian explained.“The confidence to know our foundation is solid goes a long way.”
Adina spent months with papers and photographs strewn across her living room floor, hashing out the design. The couple knew they wanted a real kitchen with a big oven and a large fridge. They also wanted their space to feel light and uncluttered. As far as “must haves,” Adina wanted a place to study; Ian wanted a wood stove.
When construction began in July 2015, Adina and Ian were eager to get started, but neither of them had any real carpentry experience. Their build site happened to be located on a salvage yard, and the owner of the property (a trained architect) was a big help. He gave them access to his shop and advice when needed.
“The kitchen, by far, is my favorite part of the house.” Adina told us. “I also love the timber framing we did with the reclaimed wood from a whiskey distillery on both of our lofts.”
They budgeted for $25,000 and ended up spending $30,000 during the build, with splurges on the Kimberly Wood Stove and Dickinson Propane Heater. Adina and Ian estimate the total to come to $35,000 after they finish their awning, plumbing and interior furnishing and decor.
Adina and Ian are currently researching graduate schools, and they intend to park their Tiny House RV near the school they choose. Later on, the couple dreams of starting a farm and using their tiny as a guest house.
Ian & Adina's cantilevered dual lofts and a tall handmade front door
Adina and Ian’s gorgeous front door was built by their friend Randy. They painted the door blue, which really pops against the dark wood siding, and placed the door on the side of the structure.
“The door has a unique history. It is made out of Colorado pine from the same valley we used to live in and it has traveled and lived in Joshua Tree, a climbing mecca and one of our favorite spots.” - Ian
Adina and Ian’s Advice for future DIY Builders:
Building a Tiny House RV may seem tough, but board by board and nail by nail it's one of the easiest things to understand.
Dive into the journey. Your design is extremely important but it also changes and grows as you build.
Use your community. Talk to people and feed off the knowledge of various skilled and practiced individuals. These relationships are so valuable.
Laurel Mundy and Brandon Husby first heard about the Tiny House Movement in the summer of 2014, while they were living in a large and sparsely furnished apartment in Seattle. Not long after the couple decided it was time to simplify, and they began building their own Tumbleweed.
"We were really attracted to the sustainability of going tiny, both in resources used to build it and in the energy required to heat it." - Laurel Mundy
"We were drawn to Tumbleweed’s designs because we thought they were particularly cute, and liked the overall style," Laurel explained.
Construction is taking place in rural Arlington, Washington, on Brandon's family's 30 acre property. A lot of the wood used in the couple's Tumbleweed came from the site, including scarp wood and pieces of downed old growth trees. Some pieces were even cut and milled by Brandon's grandfather many years ago. Now these fallen trees are being put to good use!
One of the coolest parts of Laurel and Brandon's Tiny House RV is their custom stained glass window. Laurel commissioned an artist to make the glass match the colors of their tiny's exterior.
So far the couple has managed to build their Tumbleweed for under $30k, with all the comforts of a standard home in a small footprint. They are currently working on storage solutions, trim and a few finishing touches. Their tiny dream is close to being realized!
"I’d call the style that we came up with: Rustic Craftsman" - Laurel Mundy
After their Tiny House RV is complete, Laurel and Brandon hope to purchase a piece of land in Washington to park it on. The next construction project will be to build Laurel a separate art studio and connect the two structures with a raised deck! For now, she's using the bump out as an art nook (pictured above). Laurel works as an illustrator; view her work here.
Deb began dreaming about simplifying after having a negative personal experience with managing too many belongings. She came across the tiny house movement and felt that Tiny House RVs embodied her desire for simplicity and functionality. Now Deb's daughter Chanel, who has experience in residential and commercial design, is helping her mother build her tiny dream in to a reality.
"We took a Tumbleweed workshop last May." Chanel explains."The workshop experience was the final push to give us the confidence to get started!"
Together the mother daughter team is building Deb's Tiny House RV in Olympia, Washington. They hope to be finished by September of this year, which will mark one year of construction.
"We have learned building a Tiny House RV is a process that should not be rushed."- Deb
Chanel customized the original Tumbleweed Elm design to compliment Deb's lifestyle and preferences. She extended one side of the structure to have a full dormer that stretches the entire length. This customization creates an a-symmetrical look and increases interior space. Deb's Tumbleweed will also have a unique storage staircase design with space for: hanging clothes, a pull out desk, an ottoman and display shelving for books and photos.
Smart choices have to be made when designing a small space, and it takes a lot of creativity.
Chanel believes that working on her mother's Tiny House RV has been a rewarding experience. She gets to help her mother create a space that embraces every detail of her lifestyle.
We asked Deb what it's like building with her daughter. Her answer is too good not to share:
"It has been a wonderful experience, everyday we learn something new together. We understand how each other thinks so we are able to put our heads together and solve problems. We also have the help of Chanel’s fiancé, Marshall, who has construction experience and has been our teacher every step of the way. The three of us make a great team, and when things get hairy we take a break and have a glass of wine. My Tiny House RV could not have been built without many heated discussions, long trips to Home Depot and laughs over wine."
Tumbleweed trailers are equipped with special trailer radial tires, which are rated to carry the weight load of a Tiny House RV. Of course, like any tires, they are not impervious to sharp objects! What happens when you have a flat tire on the road? How can you lift your heavy Tiny House RV?It's important to think ahead and have a plan for such situations.
Below we've listed a few options for changing a flat tire on your Tiny House RV
OPTION ONE: Patch & Tow to Repair Shop
If your tire is patchable, you can patch the tire and tow your Tiny House RV slowly to the nearest repair shop. Be sure to call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you. Bring in your spare tire, or ask the shop if they have the correct tire in stock. It is vital to use tires that are rated to hold the weight of your Tiny House RV. Otherwise, they can blow!
Tiny House flat tire being fixed at a repair shop
OPTION TWO: Change the Flat Tire Youself, Using a Trailer Jack
You can also change the tire yourself using a trailer jack. Do NOT use the scissor jacks on your trailer to lift your Tiny House RV. Scissors jack are not rated to support the weight of your Tiny House RV without the tires. They are meant for stability and support.
There are many trailer jacks available for purchase. We recommend the Anderson Rapid Jack because it is extremely portable and affordable (about $50). Plus, we've actually seen it in action on Tumbleweed trailers. The Anderson Rapid Jack can lift your wheel about 7 inches.
Steps for using the Anderson Rapid Jack:
Place the Rapid Jack under the good wheel on the same side of the wheel that needs to be changed.
Slowly drive onto the Rapid Jack, which will lift one side of your trailer.
Adjust your scissor jacks and tongue jack for stability as you drive onto the Rapid Jack
Keep driving onto the Rapid Jack until the flat wheel is suspended.
Place a wheel chock under the Rapid Jack to secure it in place.
Watch the video below to see how to use the Rapid Jack. The video is a little cheesy, but it is also informative!
If you have a Tumbleweed trailer, the Anderson Rapid Jack will fit between your fender and tire, but you will need to place is perfectly. This is especially important when coming off the Rapid Jack. If the Rapid Jack is about to touch the fender, use a mallet to wiggle the Rapid Jack out from under the wheel.
Although it's difficult to see, the wheel on the right is suspended in the above photo
If you need to lift your wheel more than 7 inches, you can try driving up onto a few blocks of wood before using the Rapid Jack (as pictured above and below). If you are parked on soft turf, such as mud or sand, it will be very difficult to lift your trailer. In these special situations, you might need to call a mechanic.
Steps for changing a trailer tire yourself:
Changing a trailer tire is very similar to changing a car tire.
Loosen the lug nuts while the wheel is still on the ground.
Lift the Tiny House RV using a trailer jack (see instructions above for Anderson Rapid Jack) just enough so that the flat wheel is hovering just over the ground.
Remove the flat wheel and replace it with the good spare.
Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can by hand, wiggling the new wheel in place. Tighten bolts or nuts in the sequence shown:
Lower the trailer back to the ground and tighten the lug nuts once more to the appropriate torque.
Drive a few dozen miles and re-torque the lug nuts to the right specification. Once that’s done, you are good to go!
OPTION THREE: Call a Roadside Mechanic
If you cannot patch your tire or change the tire yourself, then you will need to call a roadside mechanic. Make sure to tell the mechanic the weight of your trailer. Be as descriptive as possible. Try calling local RV repair shopsand asking for roadside mechanic recommendations.