Saturday, December 25, 2010

A New Custom Built Trailer

Mike Schultz over at M.S. Metal Works did his magic and I have a new trailer. It was around $600 less then the trailers you would buy on the lot and it was built to my specs. The measurements are 8 feet 2 inch wide by 24 feet. It is the width that is critical because your build out width has to be 8 feet 6 inch's to be legal (no permits) to travel. This allows for me to have 2 inch's of overhang on each side and still get maximum width in the living space.

The trailer has full LED lights and is wired so that I can actually hook it up to a vehicle and allow it to charge the house batteries. I specified (2) 5K axles. These are the high end variety and notice they are bolted on and have a square cross member. This allow for two options. First is being able to unbolt the axles if I choose to when I get the Mobile Cottage to a place I don't want to have it be mobile any more. They are spot welded so you have to bang on them a bit but they will come off. Secondly the axle is square which is nice if you want to block it up, much better then a round bar.

I was pleased with the attention to detail on the unit. It rode like a champ although it really could have used some more weight on it. I am going to add some cross support treated lumber bolted to the frame so that I can attach my base insulated frame to it. The core of the trailer is 5 inch I-Frame and then I had him extend out to the full width with 2x2 cross members. I have seen where other builders just run the wood frame out over the trailer to the width they want. I am hopeful this will be better.
This is the goal. This picture is courtesy of an article on the Tiny House Blog about Todd Miller and the Oregon Cottage Company. This is Todd's design where he used 3/4 T&G Plywood sandwich around a 2x4 insulated frame. I like this design much better then what Tumbleweed is doing for my purpose. It looks bullet proof and really sturdy. The trade off is weight which is why I went with the 10K capacity rather then 7.5K that most folks uses for this type of build. I am still planning on the weekend of January 15th to get started. Yikes that is getting close!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Build Site Prep

I was up in Olympia over the weekend, setting plans for build. The site I am using is a friends Barn/Work Shed. I can't thank both Stet and Lynne enough for their kindness and generosity for letting me enjoy their cooking, oh I mean use their barn. This should be a real hoot! Stet and I were talking about what needs to be moved, how we are going to lay out the work benches and such. We are getting close, I am excited to get this going.

These are looking front to back. We measured from the very back wall to the door and it was 29 ft 6in. The trailer bed is 24 ft with a tongue of 4 ft 6 inches. We have a whole foot to play with! Width wise we should be good we have about 2 and half feet on the left side of the trailer and all the space we will need on the right side.

Height should be fine but we will not be able to put on the roof without pulling the unit outside for the event. Which is fine, I think we can get 90% of the main cottage done before we have to move it out for the roof install.

The trailer pick which was this past Saturday got pushed and I am supposed to pick it up on Thursday. I am not sure if I will run it up to Olympia or take it over to my Brothers house to stash it till we are ready to move it into the barn. We did set a start date: January 15th, 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What is my Mini Mobile Cottage going to look like?

I have come across a couple of houses that I like the looks of, I will try to acknowledge the source of the photo and a link so that you can see if they have more photos. Since this is my own design I will be making some modifications. I have purchases some Beetle Kill pine that has a blue tint to it that I am planning to do the exterior with. I have yet to decide on the color of the metal roofing.

I like what Dee Williams did with her house. She used Tumbleweed Houses design from Jay Shafer. Dee has gone her own direction with Portland Alternative Dwellings check them out Here. Here is a picture of her house.

 Jeff and Arlene did a great job on their Fencl. They also bought plans from Tumbleweed as they stated in their blog. Arlene did the windows and her attention to detail was excellent if you go look at the pictures of their build.

Todd Miller is also doing some excellent work with the Oregon Cottage Company. I like his look, they are very well done and a bit lower in price then what you get from Tumbleweed if you are buying and not building. Here is one of his houses.

I can't wait to show you what mine looks like, maybe by February 2011, more likely March.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Resources and Links

There are some key players in the Tiny House Movement that have been a very valuable resource to me. Kent Griswold and the Tiny House Blog are an excellent resource. He has a links page that will connect you to the full breadth of the Tiny House Society and all the cool things that are going on. There is quite a bit of momentum in our society at the moment that is pushing this agenda.

Jay Shafer and Tumbleweed Houses is really trying to make a go of the movement that he has in a lot of ways become the face of. It is his exposure that is really pushing a lot of the opportunities that are happening right now in the move toward downsizing. I have attended Jay's seminars, I have bought Jay's book, I have visited Jay's open house. He has a lot to give and he charges a price for it. I applaud him for what he has done. I am also excited for what He will continue to do to tell the Tiny House story. Jay and Steve are good folks I wish them nothing but success.

Another great resource for me was Jeff & Arlene's Blog Mobile Cottage. I stole their naming convention as I am not going to use plans bought from anyone and was not creative enough to come up with my own. I have used the link to their pictures more then I can give credit for. This has been invaluable for me to have the insight I needed to design my own Cottage. You can see the pictures here.
I will also set up a Picasa library for my pictures as I go through the build. Jeff & Arlene, thanks!

All this being said, what I wanted to do is show you the decisions I made that were right for me. If you are being driven by a tight budget then you need to evaluate where to spend your money and where to really see what you can find from society. I was able to get 6 new (wrapped in plastic with cardboard boarders) Pella Impervia Windows for $600.00 on Craigslist. Retail for these would have been around $2450. Deals are out there - be patient, be careful and ask a lot of questions. Here are the systems I choose. I will do an individual post around a couple of these as I go through the install process.

Water Heater - Precision Temp RV 500, there is a good article on the RV Doctor Blog on this water heater.
Toilet - Biolet I chose to go this route on the waste disposal issue. Primarily because of availability and cost. These are available at Home Depot, here.
Stove - I went with a two burner Seaward model 2277
Heater - The large P12000 fit my need (I hope) from Dickinson Marine
Water Pump - Aqua Jet WPS Flowmaster 5.0 from Johnson Pump
Trailer - Customer build for less then a new off the lot that I would have to modify anyway. MS Metal Works

From a needs perspective those are your key investments, that being said the only thing on that list that is AC is the Biolet. Everything else is DC which then would require you to have some sort of DC power plant. While there are several options here, I chose to go the solar route. I have primarily used two sites and the Solar Living Sourcebook as my resources to go solar. The two sites are Backwoods Solar which has been excellent to deal with, very prompt shipping and super customer service, and Go Green Solar. I had a challenge trying to match up equipment and emailed Go Green with a question and in 30 minutes had a detailed explanation of my issue. Both have been very reliable to buy from over the web. My bet when all said and done the Solar decision will have added $4000 to the budget.

Solar Panels - Kyocera 135 Watt (2) bought them from Backwoods
Charge Controller - Blue Sky  Solar Boost 2000E
Battery Monitor - Tri-Metric 2025RV
Inverter - Samlex America was the brand, the one I bought was 1500-watt-12v Pure Sine Wave TN1500-112F

Other key bits of info that were important to me:

Towing Regulations for all around the Country can be found at Towing World

Best book ever on your shit and how to deal with it. Humanure Handbook

And as you probably already know, YouTube is a great place to get info. I have used it extensively for building tips and solar insight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Where It Starts - The Planning

I have spent the last two months creating my Mini Mobile Cottage plans, I have looked at every tiny house blog on the planet, studied floor plans and revised my more times then I can count. I expect to start the build in January some time.

I have set some goals for what I want my house to contain or be built from. It will be a hybrid of good technology and gently used or recycled parts, stuff bought at a steep discount. Where need be I will buy new (framing wood, insulation, fasteners, technology). I want to be as off grid as possible while being connected to web. Having both a solar foot print and being able to attach to the grid when and if I want and the location provides, is a good thing in my mind.

Living in the Pacific Northwest also provides for ample free water so a catchment system is in the plans. I have lived on Craigslist, Ebay, and local recycling stores for the past month looking at options, changing plans and at times going back to the original idea. I am under no time constraint to get this project done so that is helping me make good decisions (I hope).

I am using propane for heat, hot water, cooking stove, and boat BBQ. I am going to use all LED bulbs but run them through an DC/AC Inverter so they will be wired as AC. The solar system which I will go into in detail about in a later post will have 400 amp hours of battery and the inverter is 1500 Watt which I am hoping meets my needs. As I have planning out my usage it should work fine but time will tell.

Part of this journey is the blog. It will be interesting for me to see how faithful I remain to keeping up my posts and describing the journey to the level of detail I hope will be a benefit to others. I have tons of material and drawings I have done, I just have to figure out how to get those to the web. Should be fun.

So in summary, I want the house to be very woodsy, lot of character in lightly stained interior wood, plenty of shelving, it will have the open great room effect with lofts on each end. A full DC power plant fed by (2) 135 watt solar panels and 30amp AC service. DC water supply with a propane water heater and stove, AC refrigerator (mini), A fresh water catchment system, and LED lights. The dimensions are 8ft wide by 22ft long of living space and 2 ft of front porch deck.

My Floor Plan

I found a guy in Molalla, OR who is building me the trailer at a great price and excellent quality. MS Metal Works - Mike is a good guy and has been really helpful with my expectations. This was a lot better deal then buying a new trailer off the lot. I will have pictures next week as I pick it up on Saturday the 18th of December, 2010. My original plan was to pick up a trailer on Craigslist, which I did. 10K, 18ft Flat Bed. I used it to haul my wood around. It works great but I decided that since I am living in this trailer and may potentially build another for sale that I wanted something bigger and rather then weld an extension on the trailer I would buy new and then found Mike. Can't wait to post the pictures of the new trailer!