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.
Bree and Kieran wanted a place to call their own after sharing a big house with four other residents, so they built a custom Tiny House RV in Somona County. If you're not familiar with Sonoma, it's premium wine country!
Meet Kieran & Bree, of Tiny House Vineyard
Their Tiny House RV is 8' X 20' long, built on trailer that allowed them to build around the wheel wells (similar to the Tumbleweed Low-Wider trailer). A few design features include: board and batten siding, a tin roof and a lime green door.
Bree, who has background in interior design, designed the layout herself. The overall aesthetic of this tiny is rustic-modern-industrial. The Sonoma couple used some recycled materials to save on cost, including: reclaimed windows, front door and barn sliding bathroom door.
Total material costs for this tiny, including furnishings, was $21,000. Bree and Kieran did a lot of the work themselves, with the help of Bree's step father Mike Itturibarria. Construction took 8 months in total, working only two days a week. The couple was able to pay for everything up front by planning ahead and saving.
Tiny House Vineyard
Soon after deciding to go tiny, Kieran was inspired to create his Tiny House Vineyard label, a dream that he has had for over five years. He and a silent partner hired a talented winemaker to create their Limited Production Pinot Noir. You can purchase three bottle packs of this premium wine on the Tiny House Vineyard website.
Quality is very important in a Tiny House RV, so Steve Weissmann (President of Tumbleweed) decided to do a quality assurance assessment of Kieran's wine. “I ran several tests on the Tiny House Pinot," Steve said. "It passed every sip ... I mean test!”
Kieran & Steve enjoying a glass of Tiny House Vineyard's Pinot Noir
Kieran is often asked: Why create a premium wine for the Tiny House movement, aren't Tiny Housers interested in saving money? While this is true, Tiny Housers also enjoy the freedom to spend their time and money on travel and the finer things in life.
Bree and Kieran recently became engaged and are currently resting in between Tiny House RV construction and planning their wedding.
They offered a few pieces of advice for future DIY builders: Do your research. Plan thoroughly. Ebb and flow. Learn to adjust. It will not go exactly as you planned, and that’s okay.
"Everything inside (our Tiny House RV) makes us smile because we love it – there’s nothing that isn’t important or special to us." - Bree & Kieran
Laura and Rory's adorable custom Tiny House RV sits pretty on a blueberry farm near Vancouver, British Columbia. The couple recently shared their stories with our Vancouver Tumbleweed workshop attendees, along with advice and build tips!
It took Laura and Rory one year to build their blue Tiny House RV, and the couple is happy to have the project finished (or almost finished). A carpenter's work is never done!
Laura and Rory's Tiny House RV features a gambrel shaped roof, which expands the interior living space dramatically. They have plenty of headroom in their two lofts. A bedroom skylight adds natural light and ventilation to the space.
Perhaps the most innovative area in the couple's tiny is their sitting area or "great room." Their custom convertible couch is spacious enough for SIX people to dine! That's fantastic in such a small footprint.
The couple added a personal touch to their front door with a one-of-a-kind stained glass window. Rory's grandfather handmade the window for Rory more than 20 years ago. They had the delicate stained glass mounted between two pieces of tempered glass, protecting it from the outdoor elements.
Laura and Rory's bathroom showcases some excellent woodwork - especially around the tiny bathroom sink. The bathroom also features a compost toilet, pocket door and full shower stall.
Lastly, Laura and Rory's kitchen has all the amenities of a standard size kitchen: full range stove, washing machine, double sink and full refrigerator. Rory sculpted the concrete countertop himself. It looks absolutely gorgeous!
The couple was able to build their dream Tiny House RV for $30,000 CAD. They are currently using the power and water hookups from a large house on the property, in exchange for a reasonable rent payment.
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.