After years of dreaming, planning, hoping, more dreaming, workshops, more planning, changes, etc... the tiny house is underway! Here is a Sketchup rendering (a free app download used by many Tiny House dreamers) of what it will look like when finished... and photos of where it is now.
What follows are steps that have been completed so far and what is yet to come. Some info on the reality of unexpected events, a little about why certain choices were made or changed, and what to consider while planning your tiny home, whether on wheels, in a tree, on the water, no matter where... it is SO worth the effort!
The budget for my tiny home is $25,000 (less than a new car). To date I have spent right at $18,000, $11,000 of which was on the trailer foundation and galvanized steel frame alone. Originally I had planned to build a frame of wood, but after much research and planning, a steel frame was the way to go... much lighter weight and only slightly more expensive. The BIG bonus is that the entire frame was extruded or "rolled" and assembled in under 5 hours! It would have taken days if not weeks to build from wood.
Mortgage free, tiny home living RULES!!! In the process you will inherit a wonderful collection of friends & people who will become like "family"... the "tiny" community is HUGE!
Peace, Luv & Tiny On!
For more detail, renderings, photos, resource links, other tiny house stories, inspirational people trail blazing the world of tiny, and so on... please visit my website at:
* A detailed materials list, blueprint, step by step build booklet, cost breakdown will follow once the Bacon Bungalow is complete. I LOVE hearing from folks interested in tiny house living! Please feel free to contact me through the website. I'll answer usually within a day or so. Let's "talk tiny"... happy to help!
These are most of the places where materials were obtained... enjoy!
Weird name, GREAT people... and an American Veteran owned business! I cannot thank Marc and the crew enough for their amazing support and for giving me a place to build! Eternally blessed & grateful!
This is where the "Bacon" looking, raw edge cedar siding was milled. LOVE these folks!
The roof and the trailer, for me, needed to be new. These guys are fantastic!
This is where I bought Eco Batt insulation
Supplier of Eco friendly Cedar Siding coating material, stain, and some of the exterior trim. Also ordered ZIP panels through these guys.
Step 1: Know the Limits: Basics to Consider
* Drawings are early ideas for the tiny *
General guidelines for a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW):
*** Check limits for all dimensions by individual state
- Maximum WIDTH(outside to outside of widest point)
- 102" and you can still tow your own THOW, no special permit needed.
- 102" to 120" in most states you can still tow this width yourself, if you obtain a special permit.
- 121" and over... you MUST use an "Oversize" or "Wide Load" professional vehicle escort service.
- Maximum HEIGHT
- 13' 6" in most states east of the Mississippi River.
- Western and northern states tend to have higher limits.
- Maximum LENGTH
- 40' for the trailer/tiny house, 65' total(including the length of tow vehicle)
WEIGHT CAPACITY: *** CRITICAL ***
- Do NOT under any circumstances overload your THOW!
- Always calculate your estimated finished trailer weight below axle limits. My personal guideline is 80% of total axle capacity.
- Ex: 2 ~ 6,000lb axles = 12,000lb capacity x .8 = 9,600lb capacity leaving a 2,400lb. 'cushion' for stuff
- Single axle utility trailers are generally 3,500lbs per axle, however, axle tolerances vary greatly.
Step 2: Sketchup Is AWESOME!
Once you know what you really want in a tiny house, try Sketchup. It is an incredible FREE software that every tiny home builder I have met, uses. It is also the software of choice for several HGTV shows.
These renderings are captured directly from the Sketchup file I used to have the galvanized steel frame "rolled." Each image effectively 'removes' a layer or part of the tiny home, to get a better look at how it was assembled, in reverse. The last frame, the trailer foundation, is available in Sketchup's free "3-D Warehouse" under "Tiny House Trailer" along with many variations of tiny houses that other enthusiasts have generously shared. You will be inspired!
Check it out...
Step 3: Framing Up
As SOON as the trailer arrived (custom 22' x 102", 16" centered ribs, full belly pan) I covered the base with 3/4" tongue & groove OSB and painted a thick layer of Kilz primer over the entire floor area. Make SURE to paint the edges on any cut wood surface. It helps to seal and protect the material. You can see some pink material between the top of the OSB floor and the bottom of the frame. That breaks a thermal bridge to reduce moisture and potential problems down the road. The yellowish stuff is spray foam insulation in the floor cavity.
Early on the plan was to build the frame from wood. After a series of serendipitous events I met an American veteran with his own company, who offered rolled galvanized steel tiny house frames. After much thought and tweaking the design we agreed upon what would work best. The morning the 'roll' began I thought I could grab a few photos, run some errands, come back and continue shooting the 'before, during, and after' photos needed for good documentation of the process.
I came back after roughly 4 hours and the entire house was completely rolled! All we had to do was raise the wall panels into place and attach everything. BLEW ME AWAY!
- 22' x 102" custom tiny house trailer foundation, 16" center ribs, large wrap around flange, full belly pan
- 5" - 6" spray foam insulation
- 5 full sheets & 1/2 sheet ~ 4' x 8' x 3/4" tongue & groove OSB
- 2 gallons Kilz primer, sealer
- Special self tapping, metal screws
Step 4: Zip Panels
Zip Panels? (Not SIPS-Structural Insulated Panels) What are those? Both Zip and Sip Panels are used to build tiny homes. It's a personal choice. I went with Zip panels. Here is why...
As I researched the best way to "wrap" a tiny house frame I decided that this was actually a very good option. Zip panels are essentially OSB (Oriented Strand Board) coated on one side with a water resistant membrane layer.
Using Zips also made attaching the panels MUCH easier. No plastic wrap flying in the wind. I also found out that Zips are available in an "R" panel, meaning that a layer of rigid foam insulation is attached to the non-membrane side of the panel. Bingo! Sort of an "all in one" solution.
BONUS: Without realizing it I accidentally 'solved' potential thermal bridging issues by using Zip R panels. Thermal Bridging is temperature variation between materials that can cause sweating, moisture buildup, mold, unwanted changes in material from moisture, etc. Read up on Thermal Bridging and make every effort to reduce it as much as possible.
I can honestly say that going with a galvanized steel frame and Zip panels saved a ton of time and did not increase costs that much. Again... well worth it!
- 8 ~ Roof Zip Panels 4' x 12' (Huber will cut these to the length needed for your project)
- 17 ~ Zip R3 Panels 4' x 8'
- 8 ~ Rolls Zip Flashing Tape (this stuff is TOUGH!)
- More self tapping metal screws (large bucket) Length determined by type of panel you choose
Step 5: Raw Edge Cedar Siding... Bacon!!! (just Kidding)
Once the Zip R panels were up, 'rain drain' strips of 2x2 untreated wood or 'furring strips' were added vertically, to create air circulation behind the final layer of siding and allow for any moisture to drop to the open space below.
For siding I worked with a local cedar mill and had 1/2" natural edge cedar planks "milled" for the tiny house. This provided a visually pleasing, rustic look that I like and kept the weight down by using a thinner board than standard thickness (usually about 1"). Total cost of all the cedar (with extra left over!) was $350 and it smelled GREAT!
I shared many photos on Facebook of the process and people started immediately commenting "Hey that looks like bacon!" Well anyone who knows me, knows I'm a southern gal and I love bacon. So the name "Bacon Bungalow" was born.
* Always try to source local materials. When folks find out you are building a tiny home they want to be a part of the adventure. Many people offered special pricing so that they could participate in the story.
The French doors pictured above, are all 24" x 80" solid wood, vintage, sourced from a combination of Craigslist and the Austin Habitat ReStore. 2 of the doors are functional. 3 of the doors were cut to fit on top of the wheel well fender, making them French 'windows' so to speak.
Step 6: Insulating the Inside
I thought of using spray foam insulation but decided against it since the THOW would be moving and not remain rigid as with a site built tiny home. Because a trailer will naturally twist and turn some while in transit, I decided to go with batt insulation. Fortunately there are many suppliers of 'natural' insulation materials. Eco batts were used for the Bacon Bungalow. Never had to think about itching and it went in/up so easily! Many thanks to dear friends who helped. "It takes a village...."
Step 7: A Metal Skirt
Once the cedar siding was on, the next step was attaching some beautiful, used corrugated metal. A few pieces were from the side of the road, some came from an architectural salvage yard and a few pieces donated by another tiny house person.
Step 8: Metal Roof
After the frame was up, the roof Zips were next (sorry no photos). Instead of using traditional black tar paper I decided to go with Rhino Synthetic Roofing. It is much lighter weight and more durable than tar paper. It was very easy to install using a simple staple gun. I wrapped the edges of the roof with Rhino to protect from the elements. A tiny home is subject to hurricane force winds during transport. The more impenetrable each exterior wall can be, the better.
I could have completed installing this roof in one day if it wasn't so bloody hot. But it took 1 1/2 days total. Each panel was hauled up scaffolding (by myself) and every clamp, screw, and ridge was attached with great care. The roof has a mild pitch so when fatigue set in... I would take a nap by resting between the ridges on the roof, 13' 4" above a cement floor. Sometimes when your so tired, you just have to lay down, even on the roof of a tiny. The metal was surprisingly comfortable :-)
Step 9: Interior Progress
The interior has 3 lofts and an open 11' high ceiling. The bathroom is the first 6' of the tiny (plumbing is jarred less when it is over or forward of the axles). The bathroom floor and walls are lined with Hardiebacker fiber cement water proof board. I really don't like small bathrooms so this one had to be big! 48 square feet of spa like bathroom bliss! (eventually)
The Bacon Bungalow bathroom has a composting toilet (5 gallon bucket), self made bench seat to hide said bucket (not shown), standard commode lid and a 4' x 3' shower pan base.
There is an apartment size refrigerator, a vintage 4 burner gas stove, antique shelves for the kitchen and walls lined with Luan (very thin wood veneer) to have something to attach finishing material onto.
More photos to follow....
Step 10: Diversions Happen
The Bacon Bungalow seen in this Instructable, was built in roughly 4 months to the current point. The hope was to finish it by the end of 2016 when I returned from a few days vacation with my daughter and mom at our family home in Baton Rouge, La. However, while there mom had an embolism and was hospitalized for 4 months. My daughter and I were trapped in the family home for 3 days during the Great Flood of August 2016 which inundated all of south Louisiana. Out of 9 people in our family, only 2 did not flood. 373 people of 422 in our church flooded, loosing their entire home and contents.
The recovery is still in progress. Fortunately the Bacon Bungalow was in Bastrop, Tx where I was living at the time but once the flood hit... it was time to move back home and help. The Bacon Bungalow is now in Baton Rouge and as of today some building has resumed. I've taken a job with Habitat for Humanity and hope to complete the tiny home in the near future. All of the parts have been purchased to finish. As we move further away from that incredible, unexpected event that drastically changed my home town, the Bacon Bungalow is a highlight, something to look forward to, something that brings hope. Never give up! When life hands you lemons in the form of a massive flood... bust out the pirogue and go fishin' in the living room... ha ha ha. What else can you do but find ways to laugh and press on.
GEAUX TINY! I highly recommend it! More to follow.... Peace, Luv & Tiny On!!!
Step 11: Since the Great Flood... Moving Forward! an Unexpected Blessing... and How BB Got Her Name
I grew up in south Louisiana. Moved out in 1986 to attend Arizona State University, traveled the world, married, had a baby, and returned to Baton Rouge following a divorce in 2005. There are many wonderful memories of growing up in the swamps surrounding by our unique Cajun heritage, music, food, family, friends, etc. Let me just say... boiled crawfish & beer cures almost anything :-)
Hurricanes, storms, flooding... not so unusual, but SNOW!!! Schools close, the city shuts down and we PLAY! It's a time to celebrate! Typically it may flurry once or twice every 10 years. We had a record 5" of snow in 2008 around the time of the most powerful hurricane to every directly hit Baton Rouge ~ Hurricane Harvey.
Well this past winter it snowed TWICE! That has never happened here... not in the 56 years I've been on the planet. Nor can anyone in our family (4th generation swamp dwellers) remember 2 snows in one season... EVER! We had 2 snows at the end of 2017... what a HUGE blessing! I couldn't wait to photograph The Bacon Bungalow in snow. Just never thought it would be here of all places :-) So here she is... "The Bacon Bungalow" covered in an elegant layer of shimmery white snow... just gorgeous!
Since several folks have asked... here is how she got her name. I regularly visit many tiny home sites and still find Macy Millers' "Tiny House People" Facebook group to be one of the very best. As I was posting photos of the 'live edge' cedar siding while it was going up, more than one person said "Hey that looks like bacon!" ...and for anyone who knows me... I'm a southern girl... LOVE bacon with grits, toast, egg, etc. It's a breakfast staple down here. Though I had thought of a few names I could not come up with anything fitting until people started mentioning bacon. The idea of a cottage, bungalow, treehouse has always appealed to me. Cozy, humble, quiet, serene, mine, mortgage free. Viola... The Bacon Bungalow sums it up... perfectly. So that's how she got her name!
Step 12: Plans for Interior Details: Water & Electric
*** NOTE: The photos in this step are not my photos. These are borrowed from websites and general searches to find images and ideas that inspire. I LOVE LOVE LOVE copper tubing! So beautiful & clean!
Images found here when searching "Exposed Copper Pipe"
The Plumette this gal is cool!
- IMPORTANT: All pipe seals toward the back of any wheeled home will at some point get 'jarred' by the back end bumping something in transport... no matter how careful you are it "will" happen. When a house on wheels is built, the pipes are sealed in a stable, non "jarred" environment... sort of like poured in place cement/concrete.
- A little vibration on the road is not a big deal, but a hard bump or jar from 'bottoming out' the back end will 'break' a seal. It's usually minor but very quickly will result in a leak. A leak can go undetected for a long time, because it's typically hidden in a wall or cabinet.
- If the bathroom, main plumbing is over or in front of the axles, it greatly reduces the "jar" effect when a bump is encountered thereby preserving that original plumbing seal.
Since I do all my own repair work (except heavy duty electrical) I don't want to tear out a wall to do any plumbing or electrical repair, then have to repair the wall! Ugh... And being an artist, I want to easily display art in the Bacon Bungalow. Copper tubing is gorgeous! And industrial looking black or silver pipe (or PVC painted to look like pipe) provides more than one use. The plan is to use copper pipe as a decorative / multifunctional element for plumbing (easy to see the exact location of a leak should that happen) and painted PVC pipe as conduit for the electrical elements. It will add to the rustic, industrial, multi-purpose interior and make everything easier/quicker to repair with (hopefully) less overall damage in the process. One repair is plenty... collateral damage... uh uh. Nope... not going to do it if avoidable.... just sayin' :-)
Runner Up in the
Tiny Home Contest