Collaborative Vardo

If you are thinking of building your own vardo as a tiny house or for camping, Instructables recently featured a collaborative wagon built by Paleotool (author of Building a Gypsy Wagon), PaleoPunk and a friend of theirs, AmericanPikey. The instructions for this tiny, wooden wagon are available as a free download. AmericanPikey recently retired and wanted a mobile retirement home, but not an RV. He also wanted the utility and towing cost to be small. The total cost to build the wagon (including the trailer) was $2,400.

 

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The wagon is built on a 10×5 foot flatbed utility trailer. PaleoPunk mentions that flatbed trailers, while expensive ($1,000 for this one) are much easier to work with than a re-purposed trailer which sometimes have to be dismantled and prepared for building. This particular trailer had metal side rails to support the wagon’s walls. The overall length of the wagon is approximately 10 feet long and is 7 feet wide. The floor on the inside is about 5 feet across with one-foot ledges extending over the wheels.
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The wagon has a Dutch door,  the 20 inch porthole windows are made from actual ship portholes, and a Lexan window was placed in the front of the wagon. The bed is about four feet off the floor and has storage space underneath. There is a trap door under the storage area that opens to an enclosed space underneath. Several benches by the bed also serve as steps up into the bed. The wagon also contains a small wood stove made by Marine Stove and a portable propane stove for cooking. The wagon does not have electricity or plumbing.
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Photos by PaleoPunk

 

 

My Yotel Experience

The Tiny House Blog has featured the Yotel airport hotel pods before and this time I had a chance to stay in one at Heathrow Airport in London. These convenient sleeping pods located in London, Amsterdam and New York give you the option for a more peaceful layover while combining space saving designs, Japanese esthetics and a hint of Star Trek.

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Yotel offers several sizes of these transit rooms including double, twin, bunk style and Standard, which features a single bed, but more space. At the Heathrow Yotel there were 32 pods built into the hotel, a Command Center where you check in and order food and coffee and a small waiting room. Each Yotel offers free WiFi and free hot drinks. For even more convenience, the Yotel was located right at the front of Terminal 4 so you don’t need a boarding pass or have to go through security to make it to your room in the middle of the night. Yotel rooms can be booked by the hour, so if you have an eight to twelve hour layover it’s a nice place to get some shuteye.

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My particular pod was meant for just one person and contained a twin bed built into the wall, a TV and remote, folding desk and chair, a mirror and luggage rack and a great little wet bath with toilet, tiny sink and a wonderful shower with a rain shower head. All this fitting into a space the size of a walk-in closet. The pod was tiny, so having just one piece of luggage was perfect. Any more and it would be too crowded. There was a take-out menu, a phone for ordering food, a glass for water, soap and shampoo, towels, sheets, fluffy pillows and a feather comforter. A privacy screen was available for the window in the door and I really got a kick out of the small, folding chair that hung on the back of the door.

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The best part of the Yotel was not only the very comfortable bed, but the hot shower and the free cappuccino the next morning. These pods are not cheap (6 hours cost about $70), but the sleep and shower put me in a much better frame of mind for a 10-hour flight.

Even if you don’t get to spend many hours in these cool little pods you can still pretend you’re a member of the USS Enterprise bridge crew.

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Photos by Christina Nellemann

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Alternative Homes Today

On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I ran into Ross Lukeman of the blog, Alternative Homes Today and we chatted not only about tiny homes, but about his architecture career and interest in alternative ways of design and construction. His initial interest in tiny homes derived from attending a Tumbleweed workshop with Dee Williams in his home in Houston, Texas and he decided to start a blog covering various tiny homes, natural building techniques, interviews and building companies.

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Above photo: Ross visiting Brittany Yunker’s tiny house in Olympia, Washington

“As I began covering them more and more, I became interested in building one for myself,” Ross said. “As someone who’s almost done with school loans, I’m not wanting to turn around and mortgage my life to another bank.”

The blog also reaches beyond alternative or tiny homes and natural building to cover bike commuting, finance, landscaping, clutter and material possessions, minimalism, DIY projects and even some comics.

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Geodesic domes in Huntsville, Texas

While Ross covers a wide range of ideas, he is most passionate about homes that match the value of their occupants.

“As obvious as that sounds, I feel like a lot of us are struggling with this, our homes being out of sync with what we really want in life,” he said. “Which is why it’s great seeing people embrace the “enough” principle with tiny homes and pursuing what really ignites their passions in life.”

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The Myrtle at the Cob Cottage Company near Coquille, Oregon

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The interior of the Myrtle at the Cob Cottage Company

Ross has been traveling around the country visiting various tiny homes for the blog and at this point his favorite designs are the Tumbleweed Cypress 24 Overlook and the Michael Reynolds Earthships in New Mexico as well as rammed earth homes.

“(The Tumbleweed) model has a huge great room in the front, which I would could use as my home office and workshop,” Ross said. “I like the 24 foot tiny homes because they have enough extra space for you to change functions and add people in the future.”

“With the Earthship, I really like the idea of homes handling all of the systems like energy production, waste processing, food production, etc.,” he added. “I know some people get caught up with not wanting to use old tires in their walls, but I think this all-systems thinking is where homes need to go in the future. It’s more sustainable and it gives the occupants way more control.”

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The Tree House, made of reclaimed materials in a Bois d’arc tree by Dan Phillips in Huntsville, Texas

Ross thinks the future of tiny homes will continue to grow and gain awareness primarily in the field of tiny homes on trailers and traditional building—but just smaller. He mentioned the micro apartments in New York City and the interest of ADU’s (accessory dwelling units) in Portland.

“I think the trick will be getting tiny homes into urban settings like this,” Ross said. “We’ve become way too dependent on cars and parking tiny homes away from everything because municipalities don’t know what to do with them will have to be a hurdle we overcome. I believe once the more progressive cities integrate them into urban settings, other cities will begin to follow their example.”

“We should also be seeing more tiny home communities,” he concluded. “I know Jay Shafer’s community in Sonoma County, California is underway. Apparently the county planners are as excited about it as he is!”

 

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Ross helping to build a strawbale house near Bastrop, Texas, a project by Clay, Sand, Straw Natural Builders

 

Ross Lukeman is the founder of Alternative Homes Today where he interviews alternative homebuilders, tours cool alternative homes, and builds green DIY projects. You can grab his free Tiny Home Construction Cheat Sheet here.

Photos by Ross Lukeman/Alternative Homes Today