Abel’s Vardo

Update: Abel sent a picture of his galvanized tub.

Abel Zimmerman a friend and neighbor to Dee Williams from Olympia, Washington contacted me recently about his vardo he built for himself and to let me know he will build them for others too.

Abel says: “I have a family in Olympia Washington. (we use the vardo as a backyard getaway and extra room for now) I plan to do some summer vardo sabbaticals with the whole family — perhaps in the mountains.”

If you would like to contact Abel here is his contact information: dba: Zyl Vardos and Periscopa Lighting zylvardos@gmail.com

Thanks Abel for sharing your vardo and I hope others are inspired to create their own tiny home.

30 Comments Abel’s Vardo

  1. wyndwalkr

    Finally! Someone else who thinks a galvinized stock tank would make a good bathtub/shower. I’ve always thought that if one wants to live in a house so small as to be a conversation piece, they should have imaginative fixtures and finishes as well.

    Reply
  2. Angie

    this looks nice and practical, and I’ve also wondered about using a galvinized stock tank for a tub (even in a regular house). How do they like it?
    The round window is really neat. does a portion of it open for air? It sorta looks as if it does from the photo of the little one on the bunk.

    Angie

    Reply
    1. Abel Zimmerman

      Ah, the tub is a dream. At 4ft length, it is somewhat shorter than a conventional tub — however, its depth makes it REALLY comfy for 2 adults to soak in (unlike a conventional tub. It is also light, I think it weighs 50 lbs.or so. You will have to drill for a drain fitting, and slope things accordingly, but none of this was very difficult.

      Abel

      Reply
  3. Davidrc

    Despite the fact I’d bought one large enough for an actual adult to soak in, they’re significantly cheaper than the standard bath/shower units that definitely are not. Then again my house isn’t ‘tiny’ at 288 sq ft, just small. While I mostly shower, I’m at the age and in the occupation where being able to take a hot soak is NOT a luxury.

    Reply
    1. Kent Griswold

      Kera please share your project with us when Abel has completed it, or better yet take some photos as it is built and we can share the complete story.

      Reply
  4. Alex

    Very cool Vardo. Largest one I’ve seen and Abel you made good use of recycled materials.

    Geez, took me a while to find the galvanized tank shower. Is that it below the kids loft?

    Reply
  5. Cindy

    Abel, I love your design. What is behind the three doors near the trailer hitch? and the commode? does the tiny bathroom have a partition? Email me if you would like, I really love the kitchen area and the oven and your dimensions are about what I will have when I start building.

    Reply
    1. Abel Zimmerman

      They are, left to right:
      Composting toilet, washer and clothes hanging space, and the utility closet (which is sealed from the rest of the vardo).

      Utility contains propane, battery (for trailer brakes), electrical panel, hot water heater, and a bunch of water plumbing.

      Abel

      Reply
  6. Abel Zimmerman

    FYI: Zyl Vardos is now interviewing for contracts for complete or partial vardo construction! Next opening to begin building is approx. August 2011.

    My specialties are: curvilinear forms, electrical and lighting systems, unique plumbing, custom windows and doors and ‘the cozy factor’.

    Abel Zimmerman
    zylvardos@gmail.com

    Reply
  7. H.A.

    Nice looking waggon. Here are a few pics of my setup as of aug 2011, Its further along construction wise now
    Your Stock Tank bathtub is nice, We use a similar plastic stock tank from Rubbermaid. I like it better as it has a “softer” feel to it compared against metal and its a bit more thermal efficient, metal conducts heat out of the water faster than the Rubbermaids cellularfoam plastic.

    My waggon building, Its been bags of fun,
    I expect yours too.

    H.A.

    Reply
  8. H.A.

    Nice looking waggon. Here are a few pics of my setup as of aug 2011, Its further along construction wise now.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11894392@N04/4921649118/in/set-72157624668253269/

    Your Stock Tank bathtub is nice, We use a similar plastic stock tank from Rubbermaid. I like it better as it has a “softer” feel to it compared against metal and its a bit more thermal efficient, metal conducts heat out of the water faster than the Rubbermaids cellularfoam plastic.

    My waggon building, Its been bags of fun,
    I expect yours too.

    H.A.

    Reply
    1. Abel Zimmerman

      nice Vardo,

      What did you use for the chassis? It looks burly. Are you taking it on the road?

      Reply
  9. john b

    I use the rubbermaid tub as well. I’m a big guy and a 4 foot, 50 gallon, tub just doesn’t do it for me. There’s also the advantage that the tub already comes with a 1+1/2′ drain. I just have a ball valve right down there with a lever at tub top level. In my dad’s basement, I bail out into the laundry sink with a canner/stockpot. In my RV or the trailer cabin I just open the valve and let the tub drain out a hose. Ultimately the tub will have a gas water heater that serves just the tub. Or I figure out how to boil 20-25 gallons of water at a time.

    Reply
  10. molly

    I love it! I have thought long and hard about building something similar for myself. Have you taken it on the road much? I would want to use mine to travel around the country, but most tiny homes on trailers are made for only occasional road trips.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Abel Zimmerman Zyl

      It is a pretty big thing to haul. It would make more sense if you were spending about 1-2 months at each of your stops. Otherwise, if I were touring, i’d rather build a 10-12 foot version with no front overhang, few appliances… And about half the weight!

      However, any of the 3/4 ton or larger diesels should happily pull it around.

      Thanks for looking! If you are interested: Google another of my projects: the Fortune Cookie, for a similar house.

      Reply
    1. Abel Zimmerman Zyl

      Ill try to answer that: i spent around $6500… But then, i had pretty good access to salvage materials, some for cheap or free.

      If i quote out a project similar to that, with systems and appliances… Materials could be $14,000.

      I can build one as a contract, including labor and better integrated systems (and nicer windows, doors and appliances) for $33,500. That is an 18′ house.

      If you have time (6 months or more) and a dry place to stash materials… AND a pickup truck or roof rack, you can try to get closer to the ‘salvage/found’ number.

      It took me 6 months plus to build, and i am experienced and have all the tools. If you do it yourself, give yourself plenty more time.

      Reply
  11. H.A.

    I like the stock tank too,
    The galvanised looks the part but I find the plastic tank from Rubbermaid more comfortable to actually climb into and being a plastic foam construction it has a better insulating value.

    Too bad either one takes a lot of water and energy to actually use it for bathing on a regular basis.

    Reply
  12. Ron

    Hi Abel,

    I’m interested in having you build a Vardo like Kera’s fortune Cookie. What was the base price? labor included. When we actually get to the details we can sit down and go over all the green accessories you can add.

    Ron

    Reply
  13. Abel Zyl Zimmerman

    Just filling in the story of the Gypsy Wagon, as it is usually called. I have a large family by now, so we don’t use this as our main house. It follows us around, and we have had many good times, and put up many good friends in the Gypsy Wagon.

    We just moved it to a farm in the South Bay area of Olympia, we will eventually live in the farmhouse there. It is sooooo gorgeous there… and the Wagon sits out behind the barn with the best views of everything: the rising sun, the rolling pasture to the north, the seasonal swale FULL of buttercups, and the Olympic mountains to the West.

    I always seem to be working on another piece of trim for this… you know what they say: The carpenter’s own house is never quite done. It charms me with its odd layout and reclaimed objects. It IS the first tiny house I ever built, which explains alot.

    But I love it, you know?

    Reply
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