Mixer before the workshop

The Santa Rosa Workshop 2012 was a blast. On Friday evening we had a mixer with Tumbleweed staff and fans at the Sandpiper Restaurant in Bodega Bay. Great time! Pictured below is the view of the bay from the Sandpiper.

Each month we visit 2 cities around the US. You can learn more about other upcoming workshops here.

I wanted to also thank our many presenters:

  • Kevin Casey from New Avenue Homes spoke about the process of building a backyard cottage
  • Mark Fallin, a Sonoma County local, shared his knowledge on HVAC and energy
  • Austin Hay dropped in to share his journey of building a tiny home (see his blog)
  • JT told his story of building and now living in his Tumbleweed (read more)
  • Pepper Clark of Bungalow To Go helped people design their own models and let everyone tour her two homes under construction
Just for fun, pictured below is me at the mixer enjoying a glass of wine. I'm the guy with the big goofy smile.

Written by Steve Weissmann — October 19, 2012

Filed under: Workshop  

From Tree to Tumbleweed

A Unique Approach to Keeping Building Costs Low

William Lampley is proof that a trip to your local hardware store is not the only path to owning a Tumbleweed of your own! A 100 year-old blighted Hemlock on his family’s property in the mountains of North Carolina will be getting a second life as a Tumbleweed Vardo. Getting this four-foot diameter beauty from a remote mountain access road to kiln dried construction ready material turns out to be an adventure in itself.

Retired early from the entertainment industry and debt free, William’s goal is to spend “as much as a month at a time in each of the as many Great National Parks as I can get to.” With a lifetime National Parks Pass in his hand William was looking for a comfortable mode of travel that would not put him in debt. The Tumbleweed Vardo was the solution. When asked about his choice in Tumbleweeds he said “ I just grew impatient recently and Vardo appears to be the quickest, most economical way to get me on the road.” Tumbleweed's Vardo is unique among their designs in that it is a small space mounted on a truck bed - not a trailer

Hemlock as a building material is quite popular with many in the construction industry and is stronger than pine, spruce or fir. The key in using hemlock, as with so many materials on the market, is finding wood free from knots and other imperfections.

William’s unique approach to acquiring one of the single most expensive components in building his new home on wheels required more than your normal list of tools. Included in William’s list were his two buddies, Skip and Duke, a 2wd truck, a 4wd truck with a winch, a 16 foot 12,000 lb trailer, three chainsaws and a small Ford tractor with a bucket on one end and a fork lift on the other. 

William shared with us some of his adventures in his first attempt at harvesting the Hemlock:

 “Getting to the tree was problematic today. The ground was wet, so my 2-wheel drive white Ford truck with the trailer could not pull up the soggy access road and bogged down too far up the road to back the trailer down again. We agreed to put Duke in the driver’s seat of the white truck and I got on the tractor and pushed on the back end of the trailer with the front bucket and assisted the truck and trailer up the hill. Also, once Skip got the red Dodge up the hill, he turned around and parked facing downhill, whereupon the Dodge stopped running. Apparently when level or facing uphill the carburetor is fine, but when facing downhill it stalls out… go figure!” 

After much head scratching and tree measuring the decision was made that they could not safely drop it. A professional needed to be called in. This will be an unexpected expense but, once the wood is on the ground, the three men plan on sectioning it, getting it to the sawmill themselves and ending up with lumber worth a lot more than what it will cost to cut down and process. 

Check back for more on William’s Vardo adventure!



Written by Bernadette Weissmann — October 09, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   vardo  

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Written by Steve Weissmann — October 01, 2012

Austin's Open House: October 2012

He was only 15 when he decided to start building his Tumbleweed Fencl. I remember the day I met the bright eyed high school sophomore at a Tumbleweed event. He came right up to me and said that we were going to help him build a Tumbleweed and that he would blog about the process.

Austin has generously donated his time to come to our workshops and share his story. He reminds people that if a kid can do it, so can anyone else. Now 17 years old, he has just completed his Tumbleweed and is revealing it Saturday October 6th, from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm in Santa Rosa, CA. The event is open to the public.


See a clip of Austin on "Extreme RV"

Written by Steve Weissmann — September 28, 2012

Filed under: Austin Hay   open house  

San Francisco Considers Smaller Homes

New York, Boston and now San Francisco.

These cities are looking at their minimum size requirements and going smaller. So what does this even mean? Building code requires that houses and apartments meet certain minimum sizes for safety. That code is then adopted and added to at the local level. Most cities will place a minimum size on the "entire" unit or building that is higher than the original code requires. After decades of increasing home sizes, these 3 cities are looking to change their codes and reduce their minimum size.

San Francisco currently has a minimum size of 290 square feet. If the proposal is approved, that number will drop to 220. We're excited to see a move in this direction!

The Los Angeles Time has a nice article about it here.

Below is a clip from NBC with Brian Williams on the topic.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Written by Steve Weissmann — September 26, 2012

Filed under: building codes   video  

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