A Transforming Micro-house/Camper on Wheels

by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen

Hey all!

Been very busy working on not one, but five projects lately, including a pretty bizarre and fun tree house for a client in Boston, Massachusetts that you might see soon. Some of these other builds, and more, will be toured at my November (15-17th) Tiny House Building and Design Workshop in Massachusetts, where we’ll all build TWO cabins together, and see the very first-built Tumbleweed.

THIS particular little dwelling on wheels though, camper-like in stature, is something I’ve dubbed “The Cub”. It will soon have a very small exterior bathroom on the trailer tongue. In the photos you see, it features a small sleep bunk (I’m 6′ 4″ and have slept up there), a translucent storage wall, and a front wall (the same) that flips open to transform the entire structure into a porch, or a mini-stage, for backyard parties. It could even be used as a camper/flea market kiosk. “The Cub” overall, is just 5′ by 8′. Tiny. Dang Tiny.

cub at night

Photo by Matt Carroll

Eventually, aside from the bathroom I’ve already planned, I’m going to add another small, hollow, storage bed-couch combo down below, and most likely add some shelved storage that will double as steps to the bunk, a place to hide goods, and a small cook surface (not the part you’ll step on). The bathroom, I might add, will be accessed from the outside of “The Cub” by a different entrance, seeing as this structure is so small, and you wouldn’t want to be enclosed with a toilet in only 40 square feet.

building the cub

Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention that I already hauled this, with a mere mini-van, to Vermont and back, a 9 hour round trip. At one point, using terrible GPS directions to get to the Yestermorrow Design School for a speaking engagement, we were led over a mountain pass all on a dirt road…. and the van handled it no problem, which is surprising, as the van is a Chrysler. I’ve weighed this lil’ sucker on a scrap-yard scale too, and it clocks in at 1520 pounds- light enough where I was able to hitch it solo without a jack. In hindsight, I could probably even build this a little lighter, while not sacrificing strength. Speaking of which, construction-wise, all the plywood is screwed and glued to the framing, which also makes use of angle-brackets and knee-braces. The front, windward, wall is also double layered for strength, and insulated. The other walls could be insulated down the road if desired, easily. No plumbing- you’d have to carry water in, or hook it up via a simple hose, if you wanted a small sink inside. I figured we’d just go with a 5 gallon camping tote for the time being.

cub construction

Additionally, I plan to pull out the tiny side table and other loose items, and to replace them with built-ins, thereby lessening the need for tethering items down. All in all, this wasn’t really built so much for travel, but more for the utilization of a wheeled loophole, but built-ins are always a good idea anyway. One item I recently picked up is a little $4.99 Ikea 3-in-1 shelf unit, that I recently shot a short review video on. I’ll soon install this, alongside other compartments.

reclaimed wood roof
Anyway, I hope to have another update post for you guys down the road, AND a tour video, once this little camper is officially done.

Other points of interest:

  • The ceiling, aside from the white beams, is all FREE barn wood
  • The back bead-board wall is wood from a home almost 100 years old that was being thrown out (my neighbors place, who know I LOVE salvaged wood).
  • The orange wall-hanging which many have commented on favorably- it’s a 1970s stereo cabinet door, found street-side, which I painted. Nothing more.
  • The green wall hanging with a fossil on it – yup, found on the side of the road during a trash day.
  • The table- same thing….
  • Green vase- grabbed it curbside too (sensing a theme here?)
  • Large painting (which was actually just being stored there for a bit)- $2 at a yard sale.
  • The bunk railing- threaded pipe from home depot ($20 or so).
  • Front door, from a salvage yard (I needed a non-standard, narrow, size- $75
  • The large back window- another free street-side find.
  • The other two windows are micro-Andersons- I splurged here- they were about $65 each.
  • The trailer- brand new and rated for over 2000 pounds- $529

Video of the IKEA shelf…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ37jSBtDs0

MORE TO COME!
Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
www.Relaxshacks.com

comfy chair

bunk bed

artwork

Deek enjoying the cub

The Cub

Deek and the Cub

The Deek jump

Putting Your Tiny House on Airbnb: Five Tips

I’ve had our tiny backyard cottage as a rental on Airbnb now since June and we’ve had over 20 visitors who’ve been both charmed and confused by the size of the cottage, awed by the location and inspired by the space planning and design. Airbnb is a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Our cottage (which we remodeled last year) has been enjoyed by people from all over the world as a quiet place to stay while in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area.

quail-haven-airbnb

If things continue to go as well as they do, about 20 percent of our income could come from this rental and this great service, allowing me to not have to work full time anymore. However, it has not been without its ups and downs. Several people have felt that the cottage is too small, the water tank is limited in hot water and the location a little out of the way. Albeit, some visitors have found it perfect for their needs. It can be difficult to include every need and want, but I’ve come up with five tips that could help you rent out your own tiny house on Airbnb.

1. Location, location, location…but not how you think

Our cottage is centrally located to many places: Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Yosemite. It’s also out of the city, which allows our visitors to have a quiet getaway while still being about 15 minutes away from groceries and town. However, the majority of our visitors happen to be coming across the country — coming to or from San Francisco. If you market your tiny house as a way station to another location, you could bring in more visitors.

2. Offer a unique experience

A lot of visitors to the cottage were intrigued first by the name of our property and the bright colors of the house. Then they saw that we offered access to wilderness areas (complete with wild horses), a trampoline, plenty of parking, a giant vegetable garden they could peruse and their own kitchen and bathroom.

3. Be an expert in your area

Some of our visitors have been very happy with the advice I’ve given them about our area. I’ve told them the best places to go hiking, the best restaurants in the area and tips on how to avoid crowds. Be an expert in your own area and make yourself available for questions.

4. Check with your insurance and put it in writing

If you list your tiny house with Airbnb, your property is covered for loss or damage due to theft or vandalism caused by an Airbnb guest for up to $1,000,000 (in eligible countries). I also called our insurance company to make sure that we would not be liable for any injury to a guest as long as they were on our property. It turns out that bodily injury is covered under our insurance with any structure on the property. I have a small information packet in the cottage that outlines the rules of the property and for visitors to use our trampoline or swing at their own risk.

5. Be ready for last minute requests

Several of our Airbnb requests have been for that night or the next night. I’ve had to scramble at the last minute to clean the cottage and make it available for the next person. Be prepared for last minute requests and have extras of everything including bedding, towels and bottles of water and make sure the tiny house is heated or cooled depending on the weather.

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny House on Blocks

Chris is an ex van and box truck dweller who is currently building a tiny house for himself, his girlfriend Kristin and her small dog, Daisy. Influenced and inspired by Deek Diedrickson’s , Lloyd Khan’s and Jay Shafer’s books, Chris has decided to chuck a “normal” life and live in the 8 foot by 12 foot structure on his parent’s wooded suburban land.

tinyhouse176

In a humorous and grating way, Chris is documenting the trial and error he goes through while building his  abode. He knew that he didn’t have any prior skills before starting the project, so he doesn’t sugarcoat it and describes both the progression and the frustration in frank terms.

“Whenever something seems pretty straightforward, my brain translates that to “quick” and/or “easy.” I bet there are carpenters who could have gotten this job done in a couple hours. Maybe quicker. That’s not a realistic goal for me. What I need to focus on is staying sane and not ramming a screw through my eyeballs with an impact driver. Today was a success because I made progress. Let’s not talk about how much progress, but rather reflect on the fact that I’m a reasonably sane man with vision in both eyes.” Continue reading