Another Great Video about tiny houses!

I particularly like the kid at the end building his own to take to college!!

Capt Jim

First Set of Plans!

This “house” will be built on a 20 foot X 8 foot utility trailer. It Has a u-shaped galley with plenty of counter space – with cabinets above – storage under counter, room for counter-top appliances. Full sized bed, water and grey water underneath, access from outside or inside. Full standard shower, separate toilet, use kitchen sink for bathroom sink. Propane heater, computer desk, storage under. V-Shaped front for aerodynamics and storage – propane and batteries for DC power. Use a regular DC/AC boat electrical panel – ability to add generator at a later date. Room under kitchen counter for separate refrigerator, and front open small freezer – or build in counter top freezer with air cooled boat system of cold plates?? Cheaper and less problem to buy small freezer at Wal-Mart!

Will build the floor approx 8” to 12” above deck of trailer to allow for electrical conduit and plumbing. Floor doors for critical access. Vaulted ceiling over main living room – lower flat ceiling above baths and kitchen with Tote storage above. Shower sump pump to move grey water into storage tank. Typical home depot 36” square shower stall with door or curtain, probably curtain. Will also put cloth shower curtain to close off bed area during day…or night for privacy. Will more than likely build a single bunk above main bed and use area for storage or company! If there is room for my Futon in the main room, this would only be storage…

Exterior will either be T-111 or smooth white fiberglass panels, including lo-rise gable roof. Flat roof above porch will be ventilated to feed and drain window A/C unit which will be built in above the door! Interior walls will more than likely be textured 4 X 8 fiberglass panels, easy to clean and light and airy…finished wood trim strips applied at the seams and in all the corners…just like on a boat!

I can buy a brand new dual wheel utility trailer with brakes 8 X 20 for about $1,800.00 and figure material cost to build the house will be around $6,000.00 to $8,000.00. Used trailers all over the place, for as little as $500.00. If I shop and plan real well, using remnant materials from Lowe’s and Home Depot for cabinets etc…I can probably knock another $1,500 bucks off the price. Also look for trashed travel trailers at salvage yard and boat salvage yards and get various components like windows / cabinets etc.

Small windows on either side of kitchen and larger windows on either side of living room and small windows on both side of back wall and in back door.

There is a whole group of people who are doing this sort of thing…some videos on my blog…here: Make sure you watch the video of one being built! Difference – my plans do NOT call for a sleeping loft – just a storage loft above kitchen and bath. Plus my roof won’t have nearly as high of a pitch! Mine will be closer to a flat roof, hip style on front towards towing to aid in aerodynamics. Enough pitch to enclose A/C unit above porch and hold some storage totes above the hallway into the kitchen and soft storage to the sides. Weight needs to be kept low above the wheels and fairly even side to side! Been doing a bunch of reading and homework!

In my studying the past few days - I have discovered there is quite a movement of people who are starting to live this lifestyle. Many or old hippies or greenies who are just a little bit better than the homeless, at least they are industrious and have created a space to live...some remind me of the old commune days of the 60's, maybe that is where they are all ending up...anyway, that is not my purpose. I want to live comfortably and energy efficient from a cost standpoint and environmentally friendly in that I don't want to pollute, but I am not going to take a dump in a compost pile...I want a flush toilet and will process my waste when necessary through a sewer like everyone else. I require a decent refrigerator and a freezer. Propane to cook with and plenty of fresh water to bath in simplistic is fine, but you do have to be comfortable and clean!

I am seriously shopping for a utility trailer and hope to have one before I leave for Alaska in May, then next fall when I return to Florida, I will build the house based on finalized plans and what materials I can gather between now and then. I have built several boats and understand electrical systems, water systems and waste systems and most everything in this trailer will utilize many marine parts, so I will be traveling around the boat yards and RV places for salvage items to use in my new home, this to minimize costs of course.

Stay Tuned as things progress I will be updating every few days!

Capt Jim

Welcome to the beginning of my Journey!

About a year and a half ago, after retiring (semi) about 6 years ago, I decided in order to keep my overhead to a minimum and still live comfortably and partake in one of my favorite pastimes - traveling, it would be best if I bought a travel trailer or small motor home. So for the past couple years I have been weighing the pro's and con's of which type of vehicle would be best.

I'll go over some of my thoughts.

Motorhome vs Travel Trailer

1. Motohomes are expensive, both to buy and to operate. Most are real gas or diesel guzzlers, plus the real turn-off was the need for an additional vehicle. Now it could be simplistic, a small motorbike or motorcycle might do. But for a person who is still working and plans on working until full retirement which is a few years away, the thought of being out in the rain and snow everyday while going back and forth to work, made me realize at the minimum I would need a small car.

2. Additionally - one of my joys is taking photographs and that involves some serious equipment. Part of the attraction of traveling around to various parts of the country is to take and sell my photographs. A motorbike or motorcycle would just not be practical for this - so If I chose motorhome - a small car was also a requirement, now that means two vehicles, dual insurance ect. Costs really start to mount.

So my decision was made to look for a small comfortable travel trailer.

Size and style

1. Size was critical, not so much for living space, but cost to travel. Large trailer, requires large vehicle which eats gas or diesel. Larger units just like a house, cost more to park and maintain. I was determined to keep it under 20 feet long.

2. In looking at the standard 18-24 foot travel trailers, I quickly realized there were virtually none built for full time living. They are all built as weekend campers and equipped for just that. A bunkhouse, with minimal conveniences and real cramped quarters.

3. Additionally everything is "built in" and most of it is pretty cheap and uncomfortable. Virtually every one has a dinette that is a waste of space and worthless when made into a bunk, uncomfortable to sit and watch TV in and uncomfortable to sleep in.

4. This all got me to thinking, buy one, gut the insides and build it the way I wanted, nice but they all have such small doors, I would end up having to take the side of the trailer off to get what I wanted in and remove what was in there. Too much work.


1. I started looking at "Toy Haulers". Primarily because they were designed to move 4 wheelers and such usually the entire rear of the trailer folds down. Fine I thought, tear out what I don't need and put in what I do need!

Which lead me to determine what I really needed and the only things I use on a daily basis.

1. Comfortable bed - a twin is fine, but a double or queen would be better, just in case I get lucky!

2. Good bathroom - decent toilet and a nice spacious separate stall shower. (required)

3. Small galley - 2 burner stove minimum - outdoor grill, microwave/convection oven, small refrigerator and a decent freezer.

4. Good comfortable chair to sit in and read, watch TV and eat. I have a wonderful recliner which serves all of those purposes just fine.

5. Computer hutch/desk so I can work. I am a part time graphic designer and web designer, so I have high powered computing requirements for work and my photography.

After studying all sorts of Toy Haulers - most have the same problem as the travel trailers, cheap furnishings - very small bathrooms most with a "wet bath" or a shower I couldn't get my ass in and out of. At least I would have the ability to tear out what I don't need and build back what I do need. But limited since some many of the critical underlying components - water storage, drainage and waste storage are in predefined places and was still too limiting. PLUS - Have you priced even a used toy hauler - They are expensive???

Then in my travels and search, I ran into a friend who had a similar idea. Except, he had a welding business and a delivery truck that was being replaced with a new one, by the new owner who he sold his business to, he decided to keep an Isuzu NPR - 18 foot box truck with a lift gate. He built an entire studio apartment in the back of the box truck. Uses the lift gate as a back porch, mounted waste tanks underneath and a small generator. Has heat and air conditioning, put in a few windows and french doors behind the roll down door - with space to store his small motorcycle between the roll down and the french doors. It is a beautiful living space. When he gets back down this way I will take some pictures and they will be posted here. The box truck is made to haul a bunch of weight and what he built in, does not weigh that much, so the truck is running about 1/3 full. Gets about 17 MPH on the highway, even towing his small boat. The diesel will go for well over 300 thousand miles and the transmission is designed for a heavy load and should last as well. I liked this idea a bunch, but it brought me back to having to acquire another vehicle.

Another friend lost his pickup truck in a divorce, but kept the camper on jacks to live in - she took everything else. Decided he wanted to be mobile and had a real nice SUV. So he bought a used lawn service trailer and mounted his nice truck camper with two slide-outs on the trailer. Built a tool storage area underneath the cab-over bunk, put in a generator and some more water storage and he has a real nice rig, for very little additional funds. He is now gone on the road!

Then a couple days ago, another friend who is well aware of my frustrations and search turned me on to a web site which got me focused on a little different direction, which led me to creating this blog and finalizing my ultimate plans. The website is: Tumbleweed Houses

After two days of internet searching and studying, I have determined that this is the route I intend to travel on my upcoming journey to a simpler life.

Watch these videos and you will see the direction I am headed.

Here is one being built....

And another Small House Life story!

Stay Tuned for further updates:

Captain Jim