Bill Brooks Tiny Solar House Part 4 - Tiny House Blog

Bill Brooks Tiny Solar House Part 4

Tiny Solar House part 4 by Bill Brooks. This video covers his loft design and sleeping area. Bill also goes into some design issues he came across as he built his house. Some things he would change if he was to build it again. Thanks Bill for sharing your knowledge and your tiny house with us.

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Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

Thanks Kent for the video tour. It looks like we covered the entire build with this last video.

Gretchen Elsner - February 10, 2011 Reply

Hi there!
great videos! I am building a small home travel trailer, but 34′ long, and made from light gauge steel framing. so light and strong. I wonder: what is the angle;e of the pitch of your roof? do your solar panels mounted so you can adjust them?

    Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

    The roof is angled approximately 15 degrees, somewhere between a 3 and 4 pitch I believe. I had to adjust it a bit from the design to make sure I stayed under the 13 ft 5 in height limit.

    As for the solar panels, I did not mount them on the roof. I will make a portable stand for them instead, so I can place them in the sun if the trailer is parked in the shade. I plan on making the stand adjustable so I can change the angle of the panels as needed.

Lesley - February 10, 2011 Reply

This is such a great video series. Bill, thanks so much for showing us what you did. Can I ask – how much did it cost to put the whole thing together?

    Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

    I will be going through my stack of receipts to determine the overall cost when I am done. I still have a few purchases left to make. I need a couple more batteries, a mattress, window shades and seat cushions. While not part of it, I will also need to buy a truck to haul the trailer with.

    My original goal was $10-12k, but I am over that by a bit (not counting my time of course). It should be less than $20k when it is all said and done. The single largest item was the trailer itself which was around $3800. There were also some RV appliances and things along the way too, such as the stove/oven, water heater, and converter box.

    I tried to keep things as generic as possible so I could get them at the local home improvement stores. For the most part, that worked out fine. There were some trips to the RV store as well, but not too many.

      Bill - March 20, 2011 Reply

      While I have a few more things to buy, I have gone through my receipts now and have a preliminary cost. The grand total is just over $20,000.

      The trailer was just over $4000 with taxes and registration (thank you California).

      All the lumber and wood for the project was almost $3000.

      The roof, glue, caulking, fasteners, insulation, paint and finish adds another $2700.

      Taxes alone were $1400.

      The rest was for electrical, plumbing, appliances, hardware and such. These can vary depending on how you outfit your trailer.

      For the most part, I used off the shelf materials available at the local home improvement center. The RV dealer supplied the fresh and grey water tanks, water heater, water pump, oven, electrical converter, and some of the plumbing pieces.

      So depending on how the tiny trailer house is built, it can be done for anywhere between $10-20k.

uiop - February 10, 2011 Reply

WHAT AREA the dimentions on this house ???? and how much did it take you to make with and without labor ie materials 10k labor self done and or labor est approx 5-10k etc and if its solar wheres the solar pic of the solar aspect did u self biuld the solar part ?

    Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

    The house is basically 8 ft wide by 16 ft long. The low side of the ceiling is just over 8 ft tall, while the high side is just over 10 ft.

    The solar aspect is passive solar lighting from the three large windows on the right hand side. There are no windows on the left side. The idea was to park the trailer so the large windows are facing south or west in direction to let in the sun all day. This will warm up the trailer quite a bit, especially in Central California.

    I am still working to add up the materials costs, so those will be posted later. As for labor, I have worked on it for over a year so its a good thing I was not charging myself by the hour.

      Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

      The passive solar lighting also provides the heating aspect as well. Those big windows let in a lot of heat and light.

uiop - February 10, 2011 Reply

oh also why dont u have a 360 film of how the house feels when ur standing in the center of it —in other words it seems really…..roommy for a tiny house but its imppossible to guestimate the actual feel and depth of the space as if u were standing there with out a360 on film etc …. thanks ! if u can do that !

    Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

    Kent was taking the video, and we did not even think of a 360 view. Even then, it is still hard to get an idea of the size until you are inside the trailer. The walkway in the kitchen area is approximately 3 feet wide. The walkway in the storage/shower area is about 2 feet wide.

Scott Stewart - February 10, 2011 Reply

I love love love the videos, it adds so much more and allows you to really get a good look at a specific build. I applaud Bill on his build and his willingness to share it with us. I also applaud Kent for his new found talent as producer/cameraman.

I hope to see more and more videos with the posts, including my own.


Nan - February 10, 2011 Reply

Really nice build, Bill. Do you have a lot of construction experience? It seems as if you do. I was wondering what your thoughts were on the possibility of a relative nubie building such a design? It’s kind of overwhelming to me to see all of the systems work you had to do, i.e. the power and plumbing.

It looks like a space that you’ll really enjoy being in!

    Bill - February 10, 2011 Reply

    I had built some furniture during the previous couple of years before starting this project, but that was the extent of my construction experience. Beside that, I did a lot of reading books and online, as well as watching videos of how others built their trailer houses.

    If you think of the project as a whole, it can seem overwhelming. But, if you break it down into smaller pieces, it is not so difficult. Once you get a trailer, then you build the base. Once the base is done, cover it with plywood. That is the base for the walls and eventual floor to be installed. Take one wall at a time and soon the walls are up. Next the loft and then the rafters. Add plywood over the entire outside and the shell is done.

    That may seem overly simplified, but it is basically how the construction of houses work. After that, all the other things like installing windows and doors, roofing, outdoor siding to close it all up. Then the interior work begins. By far the interior took me the longest.

    Along the way while building, I did lots of research on plumbing and RV electrical. Once you go through it, it seems simple. A lot of work, but not that difficult to do. That is why I say anyone can do it if they really want to.

Steynian 437 « Free Canuckistan! - February 10, 2011 Reply

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et - February 10, 2011 Reply

Thanks for posting all of these videos – very informative.

Agent K - February 10, 2011 Reply

Any experience yet as to pulling a load that is not symmetrical? I worry about wind resistance pushing one direction while on the road.

Is the grey water system inside or outside the home? If outside, what is the plan for cold weather while it freezes?

A couple questions I never see answered in blogs and builds….How do you weather proof the build above the wheel wells (I saw some caulk)? Is it insulated by the wheel wells as efficiently?….Lastly, how is it attached to the trailer.

Any response is appreciated, keep up the good work. I hope it is all you hope for.

    Bill - February 11, 2011 Reply

    I haven’t tried pulling the trailer yet, since I do not have a truck. However, I am planning on a moving van style truck, so it should block some of the wind itself.

    The grey water tank is outside, underneath the trailer. To help weather proof it, I can wrap the pipes as well as add a bit of RV anti freeze to the tank. At this time, I do not plan to get a heater for the tank. I have seen in the RV catalogs they make heaters for the tank, as well as heater for the elbows in the pipes too.

    The wheel wells on my trailer are actually the diamond plated steel, so that is the basic layer to start with. After that, the wall overlays the wheel wells with pressure treated wood against the wheel well. The gaps are filled in with insulation and spray in foam, and caulked as well.

    The house itself is attached to the trailer in a couple of different ways. First, there are 9 sets of bolts, 5 are attached through the frame and wall base. The other 4 sets are u bolts that span the frame in front and back of the wheel wells. Also, each of the floor joists have two angle brackets that are screwed into the trailer deck as well. The battery/propane storage area has a base that I welded to the trailer. I believe this will be enough to hold it in place while traveling.

Kay in KCMO - February 11, 2011 Reply

It’s refreshing to see a tiny house that takes cold weather into consideration – it’s a rare thing.

Thanks for letting us have a look and thanks to Kent for the videos!

liz - February 14, 2011 Reply

Great videos, thanks!
Please don’t stop there! Tell us how it functions, how it travels, weather it over heats, or holds its heat at night, any thing you would add or do differently, after staying in it for a little while.
I suspect that it will be too hot in there in the summer, possibly spring and fall too. You may need to face it more to the east or get an awning for over the windows. I hope I’m wrong, but i would love to know!

Kaitlyn - February 15, 2011 Reply


Absolutely love the ability to live in a tiny home and use resources available or be off grid completely if needed. Makes your little home truly versatile. I really like that aspect & found myself wanting to know more than was posted.

Like when you said, you would have wanted to change things or if you were to build another you may do things differently. What things? What mistakes could you steer us novices away from?

I have an inquiring mind and love learning from the tiny house pioneers forging the way.
Any chance you will have a discussion posted about those topics?

BTW, love the house.

    Bill - February 16, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Liz and Kaitlyn.

    I will have to work on some postings or something about the things to do or do differently. Mainly they are design changes, like putting the door on the side instead of the back for example. Another could be no bench seating but replace with chairs instead. Not sure I would make those changes, but will see after I have stayed in it for awhile.

    There are trade offs no matter which way you go, so it depends on what you want to live with.

    I went for maximum storage space since I planned to live and travel in the trailer. Someone parking it behind their house or building an extra room may have left off several things. Less storage space would create more living space. My focus was to be self contained and mobile. Thus, this is what I came up with.

    Overall, I think the project came out fine. After building one, the next one would be much easier. As the building completes, I want to turn my focus on helping others build their own. As to how that will be done, I am not sure yet.

Andy - February 21, 2011 Reply

Hey, for anyone looking for a low cost alternative to temperpedic I have the answer. We bought about 90 of them for our monastery and they are simply WONDERFUL. No, I don’t work for the company so this isn’t a sales pitch. They are about 75% cheaper and I sleep just as well as a temperpedic. Any questions let me know.


    Ylka - April 29, 2011 Reply

    What is the low cost alternative mattress?

    Lesa Kosteck - October 5, 2011 Reply

    What is the lower cost alternative mattress? LOVE the house. I’ll be looking for further and future postings on it. I’m obsessed with tiny mobile houses and anything that can give me further insight/ideas. Love the shed roof design.. I’ve thought of incorporating dormers into a shed roof design for more space in the lofts, as well. I’d design it so that the side that the dormers look out to would have a side entry door and be the “front” presentation of the house. I’ve also been playing around with the idea of a fold up/down porch. We’ll see. I live in TX and never plan on leaving this state, so I have a little more leeway in dimensions (up to 8.5 ft wide and 14 ft high overall). Love the posting, house, and videos. Thank you for your time and effort to all involved. Best to All! 😉 Lesa Kosteck

Joy - September 24, 2011 Reply

Yes would love to hear about the alternative mattress
Joy@ Then. Yantis Then .net.

Bill fantastic job … I would love to know the weight before adding your personal things. Get idea about a moving van type of truck … Then u could have a personal shop if u like 🙂

Happy Travels 🙂

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling | Renewable Energy Benefits - December 3, 2011 Reply

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Rachel - January 1, 2012 Reply

Thanks so much for this wonderful and informative video series. I’m a construction newbie looking to build an off-grid trailer home as well and these are some of the most helpful videos I’ve come across. I live in a cold climate and am concerned about water pipes freezing – but your water tanks are inside (as opposed to a large outdoor tank that I’ve seen some people use), so I’m betting freezing shouldn’t be an issue for your home (especially with the help of passive solar). I’m wondering if you could give me more information about the water systems your home uses, clean and gray water; also info on sink/shower drainage would be helpful. And how is the composting toilet working (is it in use yet?)? How about doing laundry in your home? Thanks so much.

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