Living on the Grid in a Tiny Space

by Juan

I have always been intrigued by small spaces and when I was stationed in West Berlin in the early 80′s, I noticed that the people there had little “Gardenplatz” structures in a certain area in the city specifically set aside for that.

These were little cabins in a fenced in area where the owners could take a little holiday and do some gardening. They grew flowers and vegetables there. This was during the time when the Berlin wall was still up and real estate was at a premium. When the wall went up, Berlin was basically surrounded and cut off from the rest of the world. Berliners had to make do with what they had on hand.

These little cabins provided them with a getaway while still in the city. It was a place of peace and quiet and an escape from the harsh reality of the cold war. Then when I saw Jay Shafer’s Tiny Tumbleweed Homes years ago I knew this is what I wanted to do. I haven’t yet decided on what to build, but in the meantime I’m living on the grid in my little camper. I bought my first motorhome while stationed in Alaska in the early 90′s.

I had a little four cylinder Toyota motorhome that we took all over Alaska and did some camping and gold panning. Now I have a 15′ Riverside Retro 155 travel trailer that I have been living in for the last 4 months at a local mobile home park on a river in Naples, Florida. I’ll include some photos of my setup. Custom Batman graphics by my sons at Bay Printing, Bay St Louis, Mississippi.. Once again, thank you for all the information you put out on this old concept turned new, tiny houses.

Pensacola

Traveling through Pensacola, FL

Naples

Naples, FL my homebase

Gulfport

On the road to Gulfport, MS

bathroom

Bathroom door with mirror, grandchildren art wall to the left.

bed

Full time bed, 3/4 size mattress, storage underneath.

kitchen

Kitchen area, sink two burner stove, fan vented hood and microwave above the stove.

Dinette

Dinette area with my computer on table. Storage under both bench seats and drops down to twin size bed.

Bumfuzzle Bus

Followers of the Bumfuzzle adventures have seen the intrepid couple go from sailing around the world in a catamaran to driving around the world in a VW bus. Their latest adventures: sailing in a beautiful, but cranky, 43-foot Spindrift Pilothouse in Mexico has come to an end and Pat and Ali have moved their two small children aboard a 27-foot 1966 Dodge Travco camper to explore the interior, rather than the coast, of the Americas.

bumfuzzle-bus

Pat and Ali have always been up front with what they spend on their tiny homes on wheels and water. The Spindrift was eventually costing them too much money in repairs and docking fees. When traveling the interior of Mexico, they were essentially not living in their boat—but still paying for it. Pat writes in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“In my opinion keeping a boat that you aren’t using is one of the stupidest financial decisions a person can make. Two years, $500 a month dockage/hard storage is $12,000. Paying somebody to keep an eye on it $2,500. Coming back after two years to repair everything that has been neglected or just simply stopped working while you were away, another couple of thousand easily.”

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Still wanting to travel, homeschool their children and live in something with a little style, the couple purchased the vintage Travco online sight unseen for $9,000 and added another $12,000 of repairs and additions including solar power, custom mattresses and new upholstery. The bus has a living space with a dining table, a fold-out couch, plenty of seating, a back bedroom with two beds for the children, closets and a bathroom.

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The bus (just like their other modes of transportation) is clean and minimalist without a lot of toys or clothes. In fact, when the family of four left Mexico, they only had six boxes of belongings. Pat says in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“Six boxes. We have two kids. Are you wrapping your head around this? Because I’m not. I really don’t think about our minimalism as minimalism, if that makes sense. I never think about it at all. It just is. I guess we’ve lived this way for so long now that it has become second nature—it’s no longer a conscious decision. In fact, it’s not a decision at all. But I think it is a way of life that enables us to go on doing exactly whatever the heck it is that we want to do. Being able to load all our belongings on an airplane for $200 makes that big move from one country to another feel a whole lot more doable than wondering, “How could we move? How could we change course? How could we get all of our stuff from here to there?” For people like us these would be the worst questions we could ever find ourselves asking. We need our mobility. It’s a part of us.”

bumfuzzle-minimalist

Photos by Bumfuzzle.com

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tahoe Tiny Houses and Trailers

For those of you who have fallen in love with the Rustic Way cabin on the cover of Issue 15 of the Tiny House Magazine, owner Dan Pauly is collaborating with Marvin Dinovitz of Tahoe Tiny Houses and Trailers to bring the structures made from old barn wood to the West coast of the U.S.

rustic-way-cottage

Marvin owns Tahoe Tiny Houses and Trailers and has built a few of the Rustic Way designs for homeowners in the Tahoe area. Marvin plans on providing several configurations of the Rustic Way houses to be used as extra bathrooms, saunas, dressing rooms or bunk houses.

“Dan Pauly is an incredible craftsman who lives and breaths old barn wood,” Marvin said. “I’m excited to be working with him.”

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Marvin worked for years restoring both large and small boats and has his own company restoring Airstream trailers for use as small housing units. He said that many people have Airstream shells that have fallen into disrepair and don’t know what to do with them. Marvin said he asks vintage Airstream owners to hang onto the interior parts of a trailer because even those can be restored.

Airstream-Tahoe-Tiny-House

His Airstream housing units can be used as guesthouses, art or yoga studios, small homes or backyard getaways. They are still mobile, but need to be connected to the house septic system if they have a bathroom. He incorporates green building techniques, LED lighting and solar panels.

Marvin also plans on restoring a few Airstreams with fun themes—his first is a Gene Autry/Roy Rogers/1950s cowboy theme with barn wood. He estimates a restored Airstream will cost around $25,000.

“I think tiny dwellings in the 300 square foot range are where people are going to head toward in the future,” Marvin said. “Once you downsize to the basics, you don’t need very much.”

 

Photos by Rustic Way and Marvin Dinovitz

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]