“Naked Snapper” from Tortoise Shell Homes

by Mike Maydell

Why tiny houses? The reasons are many and most of the ones given on the Tiny House Blog hold true for me. As a kid I liked forts made out of card board boxes and staying in small cottages. This house just compacts and simplifies my life.

I wanted a larger tiny home for two people, with a real bathroom etc. I choose Tortoise Shell Homes because the steel construction allows for a larger home with less weight. Also I wanted to add a Dormer loft, and Bill Kastrinos customizes any model to your specs. My house is 230 square feet. (not including lofts) and weighs 11,500-12,000 pounds with everything in it.

Tortoise Shell Home

This makes it harder to move than smaller models, but much more livable at the same time. I use propane for: on demand H20, range/oven, and heater. Cost is $15-30/month (summer vs winter) for gas and I take long hot showers. The Fridge and lights are electric, the LG washer/dryer all-in-one combo is also 110v. So far this has been less than $25/month and is included in my rent.


My friend rented me part of her lovely yard and charges me $450/month for rent/power/water. I pay a local septic company $85-100/month to pump my septic tank. Add the cost of propane and my monthly bill for everything is well under $600/month. The house cost close to $35k finished because I used higher end materials (cedar smells good) and chose nice appliances.


The whole process took about 6 months with two friends helping me out. There were many change of plans for the simple reason of: things that look good on paper don’t always transfer over well. After 6 months of real world use and fine tuning, I love this place. It has everything one needs and is movable. See the long slide show for start to finish photos below.




loft and stairs

Tortoise Shell Home Update

Bill Kastrinos from Tortoise Shell Home contacted me recently to let me know that they have officially moved to Southern California. So a loss for us here in Sonoma County, but a real plus for people in Southern California looking for a great tiny home builder. Their new location is in Cedarpines Park and you can get their contact information at the contact page of the Tortoise Shell Home website.

Bill wanted to let me know that they are now offering bare trailers for sale. Here are the details:

  1. 15,000# G.V.W.
  2. RV axles, 3
  3. 6 leveling jacks
  4. Removable tongue
  5. Emergency break away kit
  6. 8 inch channel
  7. Cross members on 4ft centers
  8. 8ft wide outrigger to outrigger, and the bed is 28ft long

Tortoise Shell Home is selling these for $3,900. I have put a couple of pictures below so you can get an idea what they are like.

If you are interested contact Bill either by phone at 707-206-7581 or by email info@tortoiseshellhome.com. Let Bill know you heard about them at the Tiny House Blog.

Thanks for the update Bill and good luck at your new location.

trailer 1

Continue reading

For Sale Tortoise Shell Home

Tortoise Shell Home for sale 8′ x 24′. The house includes a separate bedroom, living area, kitchen and a bathroom with a built in shower. It is fully insulated and has dual pane windows.

  • Corrugated galvanized steel siding
  • 18g and 20g galvanized steel frame
  • R-13 floor, walls, ceiling
  • 5000btu A/C
  • 11,000btu Rinnai wall heater
  • 240v Incinolet Electric Compost toilet
  • 4ft shower, 36in vanity
  • Cabinets built of plywood
  • Windows, vinyl XO dual pane casement
  • Sliding glass door Vinyl XO dual pane
  • Entry door XO dual pane glass, steel door
  • Pex piping throughout
  • 12/2 wiring through out
  • 125amp entry panel
  • It is a park model
  • with simple gray water
  • No holding tanks
  • Regular RV hook-ups
  • Full water pressure, not RV
  • 6 gal electric tank hot water heater
  • Commercial steel roof, forest green
  • Soffits and facias galvanized steel

Asking $23,000. Give Bill Kastrinos a call at 707-486-4320 or 909-589-0583 and let him know you heard about it on the Tiny House blog.


exterior detail

Incinolet toilet

kitchen cabinets

Nate and Lisa’s Tortoise Shell Home

Guest post by Lisa

When my husband and I first moved to the country after 20 years of living in the big city, we talked a lot about the different possibilities for housing. We were both sick of apartments. We fantasized about the different natural building techniques like cob and straw bale, but worried about exorbitant land prices here in California.

About five or six years ago we stumbled upon Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed website and were completely charmed. This was pre-Oprah, before he was so famous. We had a free private consultation with him within the first few weeks after he moved out to California. A couple years later we went to one of his open houses, and recently went to his first showing of his new Craftsman style cottage. We love his work, but his prices were too high for our budget. Building it ourselves seemed too difficult, though I’m sure it is possible for some people.

The tiny house bug had us. We now knew how we could own our own home without land or a mortgage, but we needed a place to put the house. Continue reading

For Sale Tortoise Shell Prototype


Bill Kastrinos of Tortoise Shell Home is selling his 8′ x 24′ prototype. Bill is selling a partially completed prototype at a reduced price until January 27. The house though unfinished includes a separate bedroom, living area, kitchen and a bathroom with a built in shower. It is fully insulated and has dual pane windows. It just needs your own special touch to complete it and to make it you own.

Bill is asking an incredibly low price of just $5,800 but you need to jump on it quickly as it is only available through January 27 at this low price. Give Bill a call at 707-486-4320 and let him know you heard about it on the Tiny House blog.