Hal’s Caboose - Tiny House Blog

Hal’s Caboose

completed caboose

by Hal McClendon

Some of you may have seen the article of the little cabin on wheels Kent published on this blog May 29th, 2013. Thanks to all who commented on the post. Anyways, that post drew interest from some folks in Portland, Oregon that own and operate according to them, the first tiny house hotel. They contacted me asking if I would consider building another tiny house for their hotel. As mentioned in the previous post, I’m retired and looking for projects to keep me occupied I jumped at the opportunity.

We met and discussed the overall design. I had been thinking about building a caboose looking tiny house and shared with them my thoughts. We drew a rough sketch and floor plan and decided then and there to get started. They were as excited as I to get this going.

the trailer it was built on

It was built in my driveway, with no plans, just a vision I had for the end results. They picked the exterior colors and pretty much left the interior up to me. Working with them in collaboration on the overall interior floor plan.

The owners, Kol and Deb Peterson described their view of the Caboose for me as follows;

the framing of the caboose

“It has a completely unique design, inside and out. As the name implies, the red exterior looks like a train caboose. The middle section of the caboose has a “cupola,” a second story, bright and roomy sleeping loft with big windows. Beneath the sleeping loft are two twin sized, cozy bunk beds with custom made quilts and comfy pillows and a sitting area for 4-5 people. The custom built benches, cabinets, ladder, fold out dining table, cobbled wood floor, curved roof elements, and copper shelving, make the interior of the Caboose pop with detail. Within its’ 140 sq ft., The Caboose holds an impressive amount of richly designed, unique and artistic features, including the builder’s signature Mason jar lighting and copper piping. The Caboose can sleep 1-4 people, and is a particularly great option for families. Children will love sleeping in the semi-enclosed bunk beds. Parents will love the luxurious sleeping loft in the cupola.”

caboose interior

I had a tremendous amount of fun working with the caboose build. Kol and Deb (owners) were very fun to work with as well. For anyone interested in viewing the build pictures from start to finish I’d be happy to share.

Kol and Deb named it the Caboose, and it was delivered to them from Salem Oregon December 18th, 2013.

the loft

the bunks

caboose interior

caboose interior

caboose exterior

Join Our eMail List and download the Tiny House Directory

Simply enter your name and email below to learn more about tiny houses and stay up to date with the movement.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Thomas Giacomelli - January 15, 2014 Reply

Excellent house! The design work is very creative. When my wife and I built our micro-house (256 sq ft), we went with simple and as much open space as possible. We have a two year old and a three year old, so we wanted play area. When I see pictures like this, I wish we had been more creative. Why build it on a trailer though?

katrina - January 15, 2014 Reply

Hi there. I LOVE cabooses . wanted to find one to buy and bring here ever since my first stay at the caboose motel at castle crags near mt shasta. what a GREAT alternative!!

if people like me would love to find out more about how we might purchase something like this – who do we contact??
: )
ps .. gorgeous work btw!!

    hal mcclendon - January 15, 2014 Reply

    Hi Katrina,
    Thanks for the kind words. Not knowing what part of the country you live in would be difficult advising where to buy. This was custom built for some clients that had seen some of my previous builds that trusted me for the end results. If you live in the northwest I could build for you or you could show pictures to a reputable builder in your area and hope for good results. Good luck with your quest.
    Cheers, Hal

      richard barak - August 20, 2014 Reply

      Interested in partnering with me? I have a completed unit in Grants Pass, Or, and one being built in Centralia Wa

    richard barak - August 20, 2014 Reply

    Build your own. Free freight and structural engineering

Marcia Weber - January 15, 2014 Reply

Very nicely done! Since I live in a real caboose, you have captured the flavor beautifully, both inside and out. I especially like the use of color.

BOB HENRY - January 15, 2014 Reply

I too chose the caboose as my design. I have always wanted a caboose as a cabin in the wood but it never happened, until now. The property is bought and paid for and the caboose is livable but not quite finished (are they ever??) If you would like a peek into my 2 year adventure here is a link


Cathy Johnson (Kate) - January 15, 2014 Reply

It’s beautiful! I like seeing a tiny house with the bed on the living level for a change–I’m old and ladders wouldn’t cut it! The caboose shape is a charmer, too…

Rita Parsons - January 15, 2014 Reply

I absolutely love this house!!! I would really like to see more photos of its building process! any chance that this builder will be doing more? I live just over the OR/CA border and would love to come and see something in progress! Just finished taking the Tumbleweed class and planning atiny house in N.CA.

silverbird - January 15, 2014 Reply

Actually I remember a caboose motel in upstate New York from about 15 years back. Not sure if it’s still there.

Resa Pickel - January 15, 2014 Reply

Love it! This is my favorite little house to day, and I’ve looked at hundreds. It ticks almost all of my boxes. I really like the fold up porch.

B.W. - January 15, 2014 Reply

This is a very unique design.

I like it.

Lisa - January 15, 2014 Reply

Hal is to be congratulated on a job very well done.
This living space has warmth and charm in every little detail. Excellent!

curt - January 15, 2014 Reply


Debra - January 15, 2014 Reply

I love your caboose, I really cool project. Well done.

Jeanne - January 15, 2014 Reply

Too cute and well done! I would love to see more photos!

dawn - January 15, 2014 Reply

i love the design. i wouldnt need bunkbeds so i would think a sofa could fit real nice! even a L-shaped sofa with storage would make for even more room! what did it cost to have this built? are there plans out yet to buy? one more question…… did you have a hard time getting it to them because of the hieght in the middle?

well done!

    hal mcclendon - January 15, 2014 Reply

    Hi Dawn,
    There are no plans, this build was all in my head with a vision of the end results. The transport was an easy commute, roughly 55 miles. The caboose is 13 foot 5 inches tall and 8 foot 3 inches wide, so legal to pull without permits. 3/4 ton or bigger truck to pull. I pulled out with a 3/4 ton. Thanks for the kind words.
    Cheers, Hal

      Captain Lucian Chiroptera - November 20, 2014 Reply

      This was the tiny house I spent the most time in, during the Caravan’s weekend show and tell, your work is amazing, and makes me proud to know another of another person here in Salem with an eye for the tiny! keep up the great work!

    richard barak - August 20, 2014 Reply

    Build your own with our kits

Debbie - January 15, 2014 Reply

Are any of these tiny homes ever built with washer/dryers? How do you wash your clothes without one & not close to town?

Jessica - January 15, 2014 Reply

I love this house and would welcome anymore pics you can share.

Deb Delman - January 15, 2014 Reply

Hello all! Kol and I are the owners of Caravan~ The Tiny House Hotel, the first tiny house hotel in the United States. We are extremely fortunate to have worked with Hal on The Caboose and to now have it at our hotel for guests to stay in! It is truly a work of art and the love he put into building it is palpable. Come spend a night (or two or three!) in The Caboose! We also have three other beautiful, custom made tiny houses that you can stay in, including Rosebud, Hal’s first tiny house build. Check out pictures and descriptions on our website~ tinyhousehotel.com or call us at 503.288.5225

Done by Forty - January 15, 2014 Reply

One of the very best I’ve seen. Love everything about it, especially all the sleeping space!

Dewber - January 15, 2014 Reply

Absolutely lovely. Inspiring.

Ed - January 15, 2014 Reply

Great job on this, Hal. Looks like lots of thought went into building. Any additional photos of the project would be appreciated. Thank You for sharing your ideas.

Judy - January 15, 2014 Reply

Seems like that ladder is definitely in the way of egress. It would be much too claustrophobic with that where it is. But I do like the wood and the colors. Good job.

Roxann - January 15, 2014 Reply

This is one of the nicest I have seen. I love that four can sleep and there is still a sitting area and kitchen. Great job!

Anne - January 15, 2014 Reply

How are you all so clever – another beautiful one of these sensible shelters for the human race!

zackem - January 16, 2014 Reply

Love it the best of luck …!

chezrad - January 16, 2014 Reply

I really like the porch idea that is on the tongue end of the trailer! Excellent concept and brilliant execution.

gmh - January 16, 2014 Reply

Dude, you could build a tiny house for me any day!!!!

This is the place to hunker down and watch the rain batter the windows while the wind howls. It is so warm and cozy inside- the rich woods, the reds, the quilts… sigh. I love everything about it.

Angela - January 18, 2014 Reply

Sweet house! What is the exterior siding? Looks simple and very nice.

    hal mcclendon - January 19, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Angela, tongue and groove spruce, with three coats of exterior paint.

matt - February 2, 2014 Reply

Hello from Portland. How can I get in touch with the builder? Email address? Website? Would love to get a dialogue going about a possible custom build.

Thank you,

    hal mcclendon - February 4, 2014 Reply

    Hello Matt,
    You can email me at chmwash@gmail.com ,, l look forward to finding out more about what your looking for.
    Cheers Hal

    richard barak - August 20, 2014 Reply

    Check out this website

Aaron@QuinnImagery - February 3, 2014 Reply

Great build! I was wondering what roofing material/manufacturer was used to achieve that curved roof style?

    hal mcclendon - February 5, 2014 Reply

    Thank you Aaron,
    There are no plans. I’m sure this design has been built by someone in the past over the years. I had no teacher. I studied the roof design I wanted from vardo pics on on the web. Then visualized how it should be constructed to give me both the insulation and interior appearance I wanted. I had practice on the build prior to this one, so this one was a little easier for me. The materials used were from local roofing companies, nothing special or hard to come by.

Pamela C Evenson - November 6, 2015 Reply

Dear Hal,
I have been looking for quite some time now for a tiny house for myself. My children are grown and moved out and attending college…..I am an empty nester!
I have lived in a doublewide mobile home for some time now and I really want to get out….small and simple is the way I want to go. I wanted to ask if you could email or mail (I will gladly pay postage!) the pictures of the process of start to finish so I may present to a builder as some type of plans for him to work by. I absolutely love this tiny house, as I am Native American and the Iron Horse has always had a place in my ancestor’s memories………Thanking you in advance. Pam Evenson

Leave a Reply:

Get the Tiny House Directory... join our weekly newsletter