Tortoise Shell Homes Poll

Bill Kastrinos of Tortoise Shell Homes is thinking of venturing into a little larger home to reach a broader audience of tiny house buyers. He is considering making an 8 x 32 foot home that is a total of 246 square feet. It would be transported via trailer just like his other tiny homes and he is aiming for a price between $25,000 and $30,000. He would like to know if there is interest, so if you would be kind and fill out the poll below it would give him and idea of where to go with this.

Proposed Exterior View

8 x 32 Floor Plan

Thank you.

[poll id=”5″]

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Brand - October 27, 2008 Reply

I realize that this tiny house is intended for a travel trailer, but I find myself wishing for a nice long cabin porch to soak in that mountain view.

Bill Cunningham - October 28, 2008 Reply

And at this size, why doesn’t he just modify a cargo container and cut 35% off his costs right away?

Michael - October 28, 2008 Reply

I suspect more people will appreciate and want the added space. But for this to be successful I think it will be important to distinguish this tiny house from park model RVs and trailers.

For example if Bill made it look more like a house and less boxy, like a normal manufactured home or park model RV, more people would think of it as a tiny house and not a trailer.

I’ll play around with it and post some design ideas tonight. I’ll stay within the 8′ by 32′ by 13.5′ high space. I think it can be done and still be simple to build.

My only question for Bill would be about weight. How big of a truck would be needed to move this size house?

Jeff - October 28, 2008 Reply

I think it looks quite a bit like the Cavco off-the-grid model that was on this blog or tiny house design blog recently.
Personally I’d like some bigger windows.
Overall, however, a somewhat bigger footprint is appealing to me.

Kent - October 28, 2008 Reply

Hi Jeff,

Here is the Cavco Cabin post you were referring to:
The price range on that one was $40k-70k, so Bill is aiming at a lower entrance to the market.

Bill Cunningham - October 28, 2008 Reply

And being in California, I would place a row of cantilevered windows horizontally along the roofline to allow hot air to escape in the summer and let more sunlight in….

Robb - October 28, 2008 Reply

Longtime lurker, first time poster and big fan of the small house concept, and I have to say – this is *exactly* what I would need to be completely sold on the concept (or rather, to completely sell it to my wife). I’d been looking at a pair of Gallapagos Tortoiseshell models for my wife & I, and our 2.75 year old (the addition of a child makes just one impossible), but those were just a bit too small for my wife. Something like this larger version would be perfect for a main house/office/kids’ room, with another Tortoiseshell for our bedroom.

The price range on this larger model would be perfect – low enough that purchasing a second unit for use just as a bedroom would be easily affordable. Personally, I’d love a skylight option as well, but that would be nigh unto frivolous.

Pardon the horribly clichéd cultural reference, but: If you build it, they will come.

Matt Stuart - October 28, 2008 Reply

8X32 = 256 not 246 SQUARE FEET

Regardless, even at $25,000 you are at $97 per SF…

You could customize a “Shipping Container” for half the cost if you were looking for portablility.

Jay and his Tumbleweeds are excellent examples of maximizing limited space, but the cost of those are still way too much to be realistic.

Anyway, kudos to all for keeping the thinking cap on…eventually we will get there, but I will pass on this one!

Jack - October 28, 2008 Reply

To my eye, one of the charms of the current Tortoise Shell Homes along with the Tumbleweed designs is that they are proportionate to our childhood drawings of a house: not too much longer than it is wide, say at most a 2:1 ratio of length to width. This proposal loses some of that appeal.

8’x16′ (2:1) with a peaked roof looks cute to me, while 8’x32′ (4:1) with long straight side walls and a shed roof looks rather commercial. The Cavco models mentioned above are 11 to 12 feet wide, which makes the ratio more like 2.7:1 — still high but a bit more homey.

For the same floor area, I think two Galapagoses that were attached to each other on site would be more visually interesting and might afford a better internal layout. With two sections with shed roofs, a ‘double-wide’ arrangement would be 16′ square (1:1) when assembled with a large loft area; if they were attached partway down one end or one side, at least there’d be a break in the long sidewall. The places where the two structures met could be designed as either interior walls with doorways or as open space.

The challenges would be in making the combined structure less expensive to build at the factory and attach on site (or proportionally more useful) than just buying, transporting and modifying two standalone Galapagoses, but I think it could work and would make for a more appealing home.

Wayneburg - October 28, 2008 Reply

I’d like it even more if the rooms where laid out in the following fashion from left to right:

Also, does he plan to have a loft above the bathroom and kitchen as well? That would be pretty nice if he did. You’d essentially get two sleeping spaces in that house.


P.S. love this site 🙂

Carol - October 28, 2008 Reply

I like the idea of the size makes it more feasible for 2 people. I think that asthetically it could be beter looking. The 2 doors on one side of it makes it look like a couple of bunkies, not necessarily pretty. I agree with the larger windows idea, looks institutional as is. Love the idea though.

32 x 8 Mobile Tiny House Concept - Tiny House Design - October 28, 2008 Reply

[…] morning Kent Griswold posted a design concept on his Tiny House Blog. It’s a design that Bill Kastrinos of Tortoise Shell Homes is considering adding to the tiny […]

Michael - October 28, 2008 Reply

I just posted my take on what this could look like including a fold-out porch. Enjoy!

Wayneburg - October 28, 2008 Reply

I like how you ran with my comment. 🙂 The fold out porch is a nice touch.

Kent - October 29, 2008 Reply

Great concept Michael, I’ll share it with Bill this morning when I see him.

Julie - October 30, 2008 Reply

Part of the appeal, for me, of a smaller house is how cute they are. This isn’t cute at all.

Bill Kastrinos - October 31, 2008 Reply

Hi everyone, Bill from Tortoise Shell here.
Thanks so much for all your comments and kind words. Kent, you must not sleep at night to get all the work done that you do. Thanks for the latest articles on our trip south.
One specific comment from myself. I have spent a great deal of time on the container question. Even have contemplated building our own light weight versions specifically for the house market. Here are some of my conclusions. First, a shell typically only makes up 20% of a homes total price. A 20 thousand dollar house would be about 4 thousand for the shell. Now used containers are available for about $1500 plus delivery. Problems. How do you insulate? Commercial units are usually only insulated to r8 and r11. Insulation needs a cavity. You can use foam right over the raised ribs on the inside followed by drywall, but I’m not sure how the foam will react in terms of outgassings when it is in contact with the exterior ribs, which can get very hot. And the fastners are an issue, protruding through the outside. If you frame the inside for standard R-13, you kill another 8inches of inside floor space, and you almost have the cost incurred of at least the frame in a conventional shell. Also, cutting doors and windows require additional framing and taking a torch or plasma cutter to a container, is not really work for an amateur builder, in my opinion. Lastly, the flat roof requires maintenance. They depend on caulking for part of their seal. Like many mobile home owners, the solution is adding a roof. I can’t see the cost savings. One big advantage, though, they are very tough, and cheap. You could slide one down a hillside to a steep site. And at least here in Santa Rosa an 8×40 I believe with kitchen and bathroom is only $16,500. (They have the whole thing built in China. I could not come close to that using American labor and purchasing a new container as a base.
But again, thanks everyone. We are digesting all the comments, and I followed the link to the Cavco unit which is probably closer to how we would want a shed unit to look. But many have said we should keep a traditional roof, and that is probably the way we will go.

New Tortoise Shell Home - November 11, 2008 Reply

[…]  I conducted a poll for Bill Kastrinos of Tortoise Shell Homes to see if there would be interest in a larger 8 x 32 foot home. The response was quite good 168 yes and 53 no. You can view the poll here. […]

Car Buyers - June 21, 2010 Reply

Small house is for small family. they can stay happy..

Zer0 - February 2, 2011 Reply

I’d definitely be interested in this. I hope they make the model.

charlotte - March 13, 2013 Reply

Saw a couple of remarks about shed roof v. gable, well a shed roof is a hell of a lot easier to build. I framed and raised a 196 sq. ft. 12×16 cabin — 6′ entry height, 8′ back wall, 2 sliding doors in the high back wall, opening onto a 16′ equilateral triangle deck that hangs above a stream. Using lots of modular plywood sheets, it worked great, I couldn’t have done it any other way, as I did it virtually alone and I am a 69 year old woman. I love this site. Have an acre in the Monzano mts. of NM and shop here all the time for simple things to use for multiple development down there. Thanks and good luck!

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