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Old 01-24-2013, 11:32 AM   #796
PirateJohn
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The reason a lot of tiny homes are built with wheels on a "trailer" platform is first and foremost....TO AVOID EXCESSIVE DEVELOPMENT COSTS. .



Seems to be a regional zoning thing. I was talking to a mobile home dealer in small town Texas. They had some designs that were "mobile homes" and other designs that were "modular homes", basically the same designs with and without wheels.

They told me that mobile home wheels could not be removed and the home lowered, that would be illegal. Consequently you get a tall house that you have to step into.

I might be wrong but as I remember from my misspent youth in rural Kentucky it was common to remove the wheels, jack the home down onto blocks, and to either sell the wheels or toss them under the house.

On the other hand, getting back to Texas, just down the street there is someone selling portable buildings (www.Derksenbuildings.com). These are on a wooden skid. They are unfinished and have no plumbing or electricity. The dealer, who used to be a builder, tells me that they won't hook up electricity but that he can "hook me up" with an electrician who can take care of things for me.

Presumably these things aren't meant to be used as housing but in fact I have seen complete developments out here in the oil patch whose exteriors are clearly those portable buildings.

Some parts of Texas are pretty remote. The town where I park my RV when I am traveling is 40 miles one way to the nearest WalMart or grocery of any size so clearly when you are back in the woods zoning isn't an issue.

However, when I asked the mobile home guys about buying a mobile home with the idea of setting it up in Texas and then moving it to Florida and Louisiana some day he got pale and muttered something about hurricanes and really wanted to move on to his next prospect.

So your mileage may vary. I have struggled with the idea of portable living for maybe two decades and haven't come up with the perfect solution for my lifestyle.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:20 PM   #797
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So your mileage may vary. I have struggled with the idea of portable living for maybe two decades and haven't come up with the perfect solution for my lifestyle.

Have you tried a larger cargo trailer and converted to an rv type setup. I've never owned one but have seen several that look like the ultimate portable living space without going into the typically poorly build rv.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:52 PM   #798
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Have you tried a larger cargo trailer and converted to an rv type setup. I've never owned one but have seen several that look like the ultimate portable living space without going into the typically poorly build rv.

That's an interesting idea.

Funny that you should say that because I am buying a truck with an 18,000 GVW with the idea of towing pretty good sized trailers. One thought that has occurred to me is that one travel trailer or toy hauler may not cut it for my needs because I need to have a workshop and to move bikes and tools across country every so often, as well as having more long term living space. There is a thread on ADVRider (something about building the ultimate toyhauler as I recall) and that gent is converting a utility/cargo trailer.

And i have looked into a few designs along those lines. I saw a toy hauler/utility trailer conversion on a recent trip and stopped to chat with the owner.

Anyway, I could see two trailers or even three. It would be nice if they had a uniform and aesthetic appearance.

That, and I keep making noises about keeping my current RV and scrapping it out because the components (kitchen stuff, etc.) exceed the value of the RV as a unit.

So I dunno ... it's a possibility but to be honest there must be a ton of work to build a toyhauler out of a utility trailer . I am pretty familiar with bus conversions and folks wind up doing some really big dollar conversions only to find that the finished project is worth a fraction of what they have in it.

But yeah ... if I could find some plans for something that architecturally, economically, and functionally appealed to me and I thought that I could learn the skill set to build it I'd happily give it a try. Maybe a mobile home and a mobile workshop/toy hauler combination.

One concern that I have with a portable housing unit is that I like the large glass look, and I often wonder how compatible that is with the idea of moving something without breaking all of the glass. Probably a simple solution once I come up with a design.

Suddenly you have me thinking. Too bad that I am in the boondocks and don't have much in the way of adult beverages because this could be an all night planning concept, or what I like to call a multi beer discussion ...

Thanks for the idea Mon!
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:33 PM   #799
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Continuing this conversation a bit, there are some great looking contemporary metal clad homes out there. So how come all the metal mobile homes and travel trailers look relatively hideous?

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Old 01-26-2013, 10:18 PM   #800
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I am probably going to regret starting this reply, but just for grins and giggles, what are the downsides of the following combination:

* Two units: A toy hauler trailer and a larger housing unit

* Toy hauler unit would be a sturdy utility trailer used as a garage/workshop/toyhauler that has minimal camping-style living space. That way a person can hit the road quickly with a bike or two and tool chest.

* Housing unit would be a contemporary metal-clad house built on a mobile home chassis. I haven't worked through the numbers and weights yet but am thinking that for a single person (guests can use the other trailer in a pinch, or vice versa) maybe 12' wide by 40' long would be more than enough. Anyone want to speculate on the weight?

* Use a silver metal finish on both so that the look of the toy hauler and the housing unit look like a matched set.

* Erect some sort of canopy attached to the house so that it shelters the toy hauler trailer. I am thinking that aluminum is one possibility if it can be easily assembled or disassembled, but that canvas is another possibility.

* Both units need to be mobile. The toy hauler unit needs to be mobile on short notice and the housing unit would perhaps be moved once every few years.

Question: Would something like this be accepted at an RV park, perhaps as a "park trailer" ??

Question: The Tiny Houses seem to emphasis sturdy wood construction. Are they a suitable basis for this sort of design with large windows? Can a wooden structure be covered with some sort of metal siding and look acceptable? Galvalume perhaps?


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Old 01-26-2013, 10:48 PM   #801
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Interesting design, and it addresses one of the irritations that I have with many mobile home and little house designs - most build OVER the trailer wheels. This guy built a lower chassis and around the wheels, so that the house is lower to the ground:





http://smalllivingjournal.com/issue-...le-foundation/
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:08 AM   #802
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I'll try to hit all of your points:

The two biggest factors are cost and weight. While metal is cheap but heavy, glass is both expensive and heavy. While the modern look would be quite attractive, it wouldn't tow very easily. The metal mobile homes / tiny homes look "hideous" because of the associated price. Most people build these out of necessity, and don't spend extra money to make them look pretty. Put simply, function over form.

The tiny houses utilize wood construction, again, due to price. Wood construction can easily be done on your own, at minimal cost. Steel construction requires detailed knowledge of welding and bolting, and is a lot more expensive. Because tiny houses are built cheap out of necessity, people don't spend more on metal.

Cost of utilities is another reason why metal / glass construction isn't popular. Neither insulate very well, and in a cold climate, a wooden house with smaller windows is easier to heat (and easier to keep hot) than a metal and glass house. Likewise, in the summer, the metal and glass structure acts like a greenhouse, heating the inside, driving cooling costs up.

Concerning your size preferences -- a 12'x40' house would require a semi truck to tow it, and would require a wide-load permit. Consider it a semi-permanent house. It'd be a lot of paperwork, and a lot of cost just to move it. A smaller toy hauler / workshop could be towed by a large truck, and would be easier to achieve. If you plan on towing both at the same time, then good luck.

If the housing unit were to function as a park trailer, your idea is definitely doable. I saw a special a few years ago on a trailer park in Aspen, CO (of all places!). Single-wide trailers were going for a million dollars, but the style seems closer to what you're talking about. Here's an example of one:

(Source, with more pictures).

As for the drop floor on the trailer -- it's actually a decent idea, but again -- more expensive. Most people build on a pre-built trailer, and use the trailer floor as the house floor. This extra height makes insulating the floor easier. It also makes it easier to run piping and holding tanks for water. The downside to building at this level is decreased headroom. In order to meet DOT regulations, the trailer has to be under a certain height. With a higher floor, you'll have less overhead. This, in turn, makes the space smaller. By dropping the floor, it makes construction slightly more difficult (running pipes and such), however you get more room to build up. This means roomier lofts, higher ceilings, and more storage... or, a lower overall trailer height, and better aerodynamics. Your choice.

So while I like your idea of an attractive, modern Tiny House, price is always a concern. If you don't like the look of the typical Tiny House, check out Tumbleweed House's Popomo Plan. Same idea of building small, on a trailer -- just with glass and metal. The example given uses a "rusty" finish, but you could theoretically do the exterior finish any way you see fit. If the Popomo Plan is too small for you, their Z-Glass Plan is slightly larger. However at 14' wide (and 28' long), it'd require a wide load permit to move (though it'd fit your description).

As for the Toy Hauler -- the size is dependent on your needs. A couple of bikes and some tools could be carried in something as small as an 8'x10', if you plan the space right. Obviously, the more toys, the more space you need. Check out the Livin' Lite Travel Trailers. They utilize aluminum construction to bring trailer weight down, and are fairly attractive toy haulers. Their largest model is 8.5'x26'. Dry, it weighs around 5,000 lbs, and can carry another 5,000. The largest one as a permanent bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen up front, with sleeping options in the rear, as well (folding couch, dinette, and even a queen size loft bed that stows up against the ceiling!). Something like that could easily be hitched to a truck, and ready to go in no time at all -- while functioning as a full-time garage / workshop when home.



Hope this answers your questions!
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:08 AM   #803
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Just bought this piece of land and plan to build a tiny-ish house, 600 to 800 sqft. Its just me, my dog and sometimes my GF. I haven't settled on any plans yet but have chosen a builder that specializes in small eco housing. The design I'm leaning towards would be a rustic settlers cabin on the outside and state of the art contempory inside. Whatever I build will have shop space for sure. Suscribed to this thread for more ideas, thanks.











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Old 01-27-2013, 06:05 AM   #804
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Cab591, I like your comments and thank you for pointing out those plans to me.

One the subject of size up to 8'6" wide and 13'6" tall a trailer complies with Federal law and most states (if not all by now) will allow the trailer to pass without oversize permits.

In most states getting wide load permits isn't much more than perhaps an application fee of maybe $35 but that varies by state; some places will require that even non-commercial loads get liability insurance.

The rule of thumb is that 12' wide and over will require an escort vehicle (flag car) in most states. Some places will require two escort vehicles at a point around 14' wide.

You can go taller than 13'6" in many places but then things begin to get tricky. 14'6" isn't too big of a problem. On the southern East Coast and Out West you can often go as tall as 16' tall with little re-routing off of the Interstate grid but you'd better know )or pre-run) your route. All that it takes is one low bridge to ruin your day and usually around 15' or so depending on state the permit office will require you to have an escort vehicle with height measuring device.

So going somewhat wide isn't too big of a deal if you know what you are doing.

(And, just FWIW, for anyone reading this I used to own a company that moved boats, so much of what we did was wide and tall.)

With that said I suspect that my ideal house at 12' wide and 40' long would be a piece of cake for a professional mover and too much for my little (relatively speaking) truck and I'd probably hire a pro to do a move. Or borrow a large truck.

Your point about large glass areas being heavy and poorly insulated is well taken. I am in the Texas desert and kicking around something that I might take back to Florida some day so excessive heat is the name of the game. I have seen some designs that have hinged metal or wood shades that fold up for protection from the sun and then fold down for protection of the windows and that's a direction that I would go. Imagine your Aspen home with the awnings elongated to be the length of the windows and hinged at the top. I like the idea of something that I can seal up pretty tight for when I travel.




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Old 01-27-2013, 06:23 AM   #805
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Nice spot WMD. We love our 400sf cabin out in the boonies. It is a weekend/vacation place for us. Make sure you put a covered porch on it, we love that you can go out in any weather and just hang out because a tiny cabin does get clastrophopic after a few days.

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Old 01-27-2013, 07:32 AM   #806
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Nice spot WMD. We love our 400sf cabin out in the boonies. It is a weekend/vacation place for us. Make sure you put a covered porch on it, we love that you can go out in any weather and just hang out because a tiny cabin does get clastrophopic after a few days.
Yep, I'm leaning towards something like this. Unlike the one pictured tho, the left side would be a garage, not a spare bedroom.

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Old 01-27-2013, 08:01 AM   #807
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Yep, I'm leaning towards something like this. Unlike the one pictured tho, the left side would be a garage, not a spare bedroom.
Yeah, shop space/garage is critical. I'm tearing down the A-frame in this photo over the summer and putting a garage in that spot next year after I get most of the big trees down. I'm going to leave the big Oaks though, can't bring myself to take them down.

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Old 01-27-2013, 08:20 AM   #808
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Yep, I'm leaning towards something like this. Unlike the one pictured tho, the left side would be a garage, not a spare bedroom.

When we were young and poor and the (3) kids were little, we lived quite happily for about 7 years in a 2/1 house that was 840 square feet. It helps to use a great room concept, minimize hallways, and maximize windows and porches/decks, which all make the house feel bigger and more open.



We use it as a rental now.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:05 AM   #809
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Yep, I'm leaning towards something like this. Unlike the one pictured tho, the left side would be a garage, not a spare bedroom.

Very nice spot you have. I wouldn't have guessed it to be in NC. On first glance I was thinking it west.

Any more info on this home design you have pictured?
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:18 AM   #810
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Any more info on this home design you have pictured?
Here ya go.

http://www.maxhouseplans.com/home-pl...ot-house-plan/
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