Instructables
Picture of Tiny tiny house
This is the first tiny house we have built, so it was enough of a challenge to build that the documenting side was let slide to a fair extent. Regardless, I will walk you thorough what we did, and how we did it to the best of my ability.
We used as many natural, unprocessed, and re-used materials as possible, which made it less expensive but much more time consuming than buying everything from the lumber yard. 
 
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Step 1: Preparing the frame

As we used an old trailer frame to build this on, we started by demolishing the trailer, separating out the aluminum to be recycled. The plywood floor was saved to be re-used as the sub-floor. Then we went at it with an angle grinder and drill with wire wheel and wire brushes for the hard to reach parts. As we removed the failing old paint and surface rust we looked for signs of penetrating rust which would need welding to maintain the integrity of the frame. Thankfully, we found none.

So we moved right on to priming with a rusty metal primer, and then a coat or two of quality metal paint.  

Step 2: The floor


As we live near an old steam powered sawmill, we decided to use rough milled redwood 1x6's for the floor, so we ran them through the planner and then the edger to get a beautiful floor. As we were using true one inch thick boards we decided to screw them in with appropriate length screws from the underside so that no fasteners would be visible. To protect it for the rest of the project we covered it with some 1/8 inch plywood pieces we had laying around. 
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This is really beautiful, and you did an amazing job!

I have to wonder how heavy this thing really is, and if that trailer frame could really support it. My wife and I travel for work and live in a Fifth wheel trailer. I have done some extensive work to it, so I am very familiar with how it is put together. There is a minimalist steel frame, but all of the wall and ceiling framing is aluminum. The only place there is any actual wood is the top layer of the sub floor (above about 2" of solid Styrofoam. The walls are layered fiberglass, solid Styrofoam, and a thin inner panel. All of the built in cabinetry is wood, but it is fairly thin, using supports covered with thin panel as opposed to solid pieces.

Again, this thing is beautiful, but I would probably use more lightweight materials in a future build.

People do this all the time without too much issue. I saw a documentary about it and the trailer is more or less there to circumvent building permits. They aren't usually meant to be too road worthy. I imagine the hardest part would be balanceing the tongue weight for towing.

Very true. Even still, building permits aren't the only obstacle... We travel for work and have to keep a permanent address for tax purposes, although we could claim to be itinerant. You break quite a few laws living permanently in a mobile home (as in one that is moving around, not in a trailer park), but we have met a LOT of people who do just that. I don't agree with the laws, but it is what it is.

Good point. I think though that this allows you to park it on your own property and not need a build permit. As for the moving around I wonder what counts as a permanent address? Would a P.O. box work? I'm from Canada so not sure what the rules are.

Different places (states) have different laws concerning residency. Even individual townships and counties have laws that try supersede one another. The USA government structure is a major cluster-F when it comes to this sort of thing. There really is no "one law to rule them all" in this sort of matter, but the short story is that it even illegal to "live permanently" in an unsanctioned residence (i.e., a homemade tiny, tiny house on a trailer frame) on one's own property in many place in this great nation.

P.O. boxes also do not work. You can have mail sent (and packages through the postal service, but not private deliveries like UPS), but it cannot be used as a permanent tax residence. (We definitely looked into that). Although, in some places (such as some island towns in Hawaii) they do not have residential postal service... everyone has to have a P.O. Box. So, again, there is no one rule to go by.

Just want to say great job in taking the initiative to take on this project and make it yours. I have been researching the Micro-House lifestyle for about six months and working on a few ideas and I like the influence you guys give. While my basics are fundamentally different than what you ultimately have so are my needs both based on geographical considerations and m.o.e. but I still appreciate the hard work you all put forth.

morkwa11 months ago
You say that you use "star drive screws" in your project, - get yourself
some Robertson head "square drive" screws and you will find yourself
throwing the slot, phillips and star drive screws as far as you can into
the bush, going into the bush to find them and then throwing them as
far as you can again, - that's how much more satisfied you will be with the Robertson
screws and not to mention the pleasure of pitching those other ones
as far as you can (twice over)
ganeshruskin (author)  morkwa11 months ago
No thanks. Have you ever used star drive screws? I like square drive screws marginally more than philips, but star drive aka torque bit are hard to strip, I mean you have to TRY.

seriously, give them a try....

Star and TORX (not torque) are two different designs. Star has 5 points, TORX has six. Getting these mixed up are one of the leading reasons people have trouble with either design. But personally I prefer Robertson and wish that nothing else (except maybe hex socket head in some cases) existed.

you could be right - by star drive I thought you meant Pozidrive
Here in Canada in construction the robertson is the most used
as it only takes one hand (once it's inserted on the bit) to drive the
screw in. Anytime I come across something put together with phillips or slot or pozidrive and has to be taken apart these screws are
immediately chucked into the garbage and replaced with square drive.
I have skinned too many knuckles and stripped too many screws
to bother with those other three kinds. Don't see too many star drives
here - only in special applications.
wikkit morkwa3 months ago

They're talking about Torx, which is even more resistant to stripping than square drive. But more expensive.

unless thier comin from CHINA then thier easy as pie to strip.
john3347 morkwa3 months ago

Star drive screws are only one tiny step "better" than Phillips screws. The square drive screws that used to be almost universal in mobile home construction are FAR, FAR better at holding the screw to tighten it adequately. The only drawback to the square drive screws is that they are near or completely impossible to remove after they get very rusted. Star drive screws are even more critical to exact driver/screw alignment than even Phillips. The driver has to be in exact alignment with the screw. Good point, morkwa.

fixfireleo3 months ago

i went to franklin NC recently gem mining and stayed in a "cabin" that was about this side. they advertised it as a wooden tent. that said, it had a mini fridge, a TV and microwave. it was $30 a night with beds with real but not particularly comfortable mattresses. considering all that, if a bear came around, i would rather have wooden walls than fabric. nice that you can take it with you. (and store lots of gear inside until you get there.)

bears do not often attack unless you provoke, get between a mama bear and her cub, or it has rabies. Bears are innocent misunderstood creatures trying to live their lives while we destroy their homes and kill their family. How whould you feel if you had your home destroyyed and your family shot? do not be cruel to bears.

dude, get real. what did i say about shooting bears?

"considering all that, if a bear came around, i would rather have wooden walls than fabric." So what if a bear came around, that is no reason to be afraid if you keep your food high and you leave it alone and I am quite serious "dude".

jonkun227 bosmaru3 months ago

Dude, you have issues. Yes, unprovoked bear attacks are rare, but they do happen (you even provided a perfect example of such instances). All he said is that if that he would prefer to have something substantial between him and the bear. You are reading your own issues into that in order to take offense on behalf of the bears. He is talking about leaving the bears alone and the bears leaving him alone, with the help of a wooden structure if it happens to be a bear as quick to take offense as you.

psavas3 months ago

This is a great little portable house; would be fun to take something like this to Burning Man. :)

You mentioned you were trying to lighten the load as much as possible when framing out the build; is there a reason you didn't go with metal studs instead of wood? I realize you were trying to be eco-friendly, but it seems to me in the long run, if you're towing this structure around, a lighter weight would overall be better.

nejo00173 months ago

Your build is really buityful!

Best from Berlin

rrvau3 months ago

I'd hate to try towing this trailer. The aero would be awful. If you use if as a transportable structure you could come home to an empty space sometime. Would that be vehicular theft or residence theft?

Viksri83 months ago

This is Awesome!

newt1233 months ago

cool. can you show us some inside pics?

muddog153 months ago
How to disable autocorrect. Lol
muddog153 months ago
Rv***
muddog153 months ago
Perfect for a small office. It a single person tv.
iamchrismoran3 months ago

Nice write up and great pix. I like reading the tiny house ideas because I want to use some in my son's (and my) tree house this summer.

I love the rounded doors.

john33473 months ago

I do not understand why so many tiny houses built on trailer frames have the door on the street side. If you have a vehicle failure or a "personal emergency" on the road, you POSITIVELY do not want to have to access the trailer from the 70 MPH traffic side. Put the cotton pickin' door on the curb side of the vehicle. Build it as safe as possible.

ajodie92 john33473 months ago

It depends where you are. It'd be fine in the UK. :)

subaru puts the gas tank on the passenger side for that reason.

isprey fixfireleo3 months ago

I am in Australia. Perfect side for us :) though I can see how it could be a problem in US.

superthrust3 months ago

Id love to build something like this that can be pulled behind a motorcycle for those long long trips...Nothing this big of course, but a little mobile shelter, ya know?

Yes, an aluminum frame and skin with just enough size for sleeping and a swing-out cooktop for outside cooking would make a cool motorcycle trailer. Spend LOTS of time looking at how you're gonna build it before you buy materials and start cutting.

Ill try to do just that! I will still look around on here and see if someone has done something like it, but if not, ill be sure to document it as much as possible and post it here!!

I'd love to hear about a trailer like this, too! I am actually interested in one light enough for a bicycle to tow...!

i would think some sort of micro pop up would be better for a motorcycle.

You might consider using a small trailer and a Rooftop Tent. There are many outlets, CVT, BigFoot, Tepui etc. We like ours so much we bought a second one! They are compact enough to use with my Beetle! On the CVT site they have pics of many different sizes on several types of vehicles including a Polaris Ranger! Both of mine are the Mt Rainier models and they sleep 3-4 each. Great Job on the tiny house, love the wood! :{)

Beetle CVT Tent with kids3.jpg

Even a micro pop up would be cool! I heard on another website that somoene came to an event with a pop-up that looked like the shape of a coffin, then it popped up into a small sized camper!

terracer3 months ago

Nicely done! There is something intriguing about minaturizing things that we are accustomed to.. I have drawn hundreds upon hundreds of sketches and drawings of little ideas meant to shrink down the bare neccessaties of home living. YOU have actually done it! Bravo -

lalunette3 months ago

What a great little project !!

Well done and well documented.

BTW, the native French speaker in me says... the proper spelling for "Se la vie!" is... "C'est la vie!"

Cheers !!

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