Living in a Vardo

I recently came across these photos belonging to Scott, who traded in his $1,400 mortgage for a hand-build vardo and a rental lot in a KOA campground.

It took Scott about three years to build the vardo, but he wanted to give it a style like an old gypsy caravan. He calls himself a modern gypsy and as a carpenter, was interested in how to create a tiny house that could withstand highway travel. Also, he built it on the fly.



“I did not have plans. I did not create plans prior to building. It was engineered as I went. The trailer frame dictated how I was to attach the floor and walls. Materials dictated how I was to do the rest,” he said. “I had been saving wood for the project when I first thought about building. I was working in construction as a carpenter, and the amount of wood that was being thrown out over the course of time supplied the means. Before construction actually started, I had saved over a pallet of 2x4s, a dozen 2x12s and various lengths of 2x6s and 2x8s. Materials on hand actually dictated how I was to build.”

The vardo was built just like a house, 2×4 foot walls, all 16″ apart. The framing is held together by exterior grade deck screws and 4″ galvanized nails. Lag bolts, carriage bolts, hurricane straps, hurricane ties and braces are used throughout.

His little home is complete with computer, stereo, fridge, appliances and a/c. He watches movies on his PlayStation. He created a canopy that attaches to the roof, to create outdoor living space and performed a stained-glass treatment to the windows in the cupola.

“I get a lot of passersby, stopping to ask questions, see what I’m doing, or just smile,” he said. “I usually respond ‘It’s nothing new, we’ve just became more efficient at it (as I point to all the fancy motorhomes and trailers), it’s just a modern interpretation on an old design.'”







By Christina Nellemann for the (Tiny House Blog)

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10 thoughts on “Living in a Vardo”

  1. MM. I think that Scott did not have any plans for his vardo. If you read the post, he made it up as he went along. You may be able to contact Scott for more information on building your own vardo.

    • Christina is correct – there are no real “plans”, unless you hook up electrodes to my head. Seriously… napkins, notebook paper, graph paper… mostly calculations and sketches, notes on measurements and placement. I used mostly “spatial imaging” to perform the build. Any questions? Contact me through my site!

  2. Hi there,
    I’m curious to learn about the GVWR of the trailer used, and what the final weight turned out to be? How much room was left over for payload capacity (matresses, gear, food, people, etc.)?

    I ask because I have a VW Jetta that I THINK can tow around 2000lbs.. If I buy a 2000# rated trailer that weighs 500#, and build a structure like this, I’m not sure I’d have any room left to get in it??




  3. Very nice! You gave me some great ideas. When I build, I usually do not draw up plans myself. There are too many variables that come into play that make “plans” change.

  4. I know this is an old post but if you are still checking for new comments please respond. I am in the design phase of building a vardo and I am curious as to how road worthy yours is with that overhang on the roof on the hitch side. I like that look but I was afraid that the wind would catch there and rip the roof off while traveling down the highway.


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