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Embarking on Building a Much Larger Tiny Home

Getting ready to begin another build.  As my last article discussed, I think its going to be hard to sell more tiny homes unless we build them larger for some people.  I was able to use my first build the Harvest Model to live in half of the Summer 2017 and while I won’t trade anything for my ability to escape the sub-tropics of South Florida, I’m 6’2″ and want a roomier home to make that stay better and longer and I’m building with a future buyer in mind who wants an alternative but still affordable 1st or 2nd home large enough to live in.

The next build will be outside normal tiny homes on wheels (THOW”s) being 10 feet wide x 35 feet long.  Building up this big means you have to think outside of the 8′ x 24′ proverbial Tiny Home box as anything over 8 feet wide on the highways requires a special permit it also requires working with a trailer manufacture to design the structurally chassis with integrity and safety in mind as the potential for more weight is inherent as more furniture will be added with larger bathroom vanities etc.  One of these important issues is making sure that the trailer/home can be raised up onsite to a minimum of 36″, the reason I mention this is many trailer builders are now offering lower trailer chassis down to 26″ and offering builders more room vertically to build up.  You can’t fool mother nature though, if you park a tiny home/travel trailer that is lower in a RV space it is likely that your sewer hose that connects to the sewage inlet will not be high enough to allow gravity to do its thing and allow water, gray water and black to flow down correctly….and if you don’t plan on raising your tiny home up to 36″, you may find yourself hand assisting your sewer hose to get the line to clear the poop…yes its a real concern.   So one of the things I’m doing is having 4- 7K jacks on each corner to elevate the rig, this way I can make sure my hose discharges correctly but also I’ll be able to get tires off the ground and set the home on sturdy stands.

The other aspect of this build is to get weight down and increase energy efficiency so I am looking at Insulated Panels aka (SIPs) that are 30% lighter and bring a huge energy savings as the heat transfer in the walls is minimized to a R-24-R-30 value making the interior of the home extremely energy efficient.

Stay tuned, I hope to have some 3D drawings up in a couple of weeks and then begin the build after Christmas.

 

Length, Size Room (What’s it really like living in a Tiny Home)

Let’s start with the positives, if you selected a good builder then some of the great features of a Custom RV/Tiny Home is that having a deep kitchen sink for cleaning, decent appliances and insulation you are going to see the value of these items very quickly as you will use them daily. It’s a great feeling knowing that everything is working and that it’s like a normal residential home/cabin only very appealing because of its small footprint but also that you have a good roof and windows and can live in almost any climate.

Here in the North Carolina mountains, I have had mid 30-degree temperatures as well as low 80 degrees now as we get into warmer months. The mini-split AC / Heat Pump systems are worth every dime invested as an option as they heat the unit without much work…getting cozy in 200sf is really nice when it only takes 5-7 minutes.  Plus if you have neighbors with glamourous RV’s you can smile at home knowing that the energy loss of heat or AC evaporation is so much less than compared to a Class A or C model RV you might see.  Oh, forget the countertop refrigerator unless you eat somewhere else you are going to want a mid-size 15cu inch size with freezer or larger and more storage either on the exterior or in Tiny Home.

One of the take away’s from this is that Tiny Houses have it partially right, if they are constructed with best carpentry practices then it’s rock solid like a house and this is our distinction and value proposition against Class A, B and C, RV’s you can compare this all day long to the fiberglass laminate flashy RV’s, but pound for pound a residentially constructed Custom RV/Tiny Home home is better built by a margin of 20-30%, where this will really show up if properly maintained is in how long they last in 10-15 years as RV’s tend to start showing wear within 4-5 years

So let’s get to size one of the most overlooked aspects is that the RV industry can actually show us what are the preferred lengths from its buyers, most of them except Class B are 30-40 feet long, compare this to the Tiny Home industry where 16’, 18’, 20 and 24’ models are being built, unless this is a work trailer, you are a minimalist or short person you will outgrow this in 6-18 months.

After coming up on a month of living in my Custom RV/Cabin as I’m calling it (it’s licensed as a travel trailer ) but you know them as Tiny Homes.  I would not purchase anything less than 28 feet and really consider a 30-35 foot model and also make sure at the destination you either have a deck built on the land or have a deck built on either end of the trailer, possibly a drop down or modular one you can put on as needed,  again space your going to want it, if you are at an RV park some of them have decks already built.

Taking this a step further I would even suggest considering a 10-12 foot wide by 28-35 feet which put you in the Park Model category, but this will be sufficient for two adults with two queen size beds or a configuration of a queen size bed and an additional room with two single beds or futon sleeping arrangement. This also gives you the extra elbow room and living area you might need if staying beyond seasonal 6 months or longer.  People can easily live in this size longer periods of time approaching 10-20 years without needing more space unless the family grows or lifestyle change.

 

Some other takeaways, try to have your builder design larger windows, living in less than 200 square feet requires some adapting but if you have 3-4 large windows allowing both light in and an aperture to look out, with consideration for 3-4 smaller windows just below the roofline if you are looking at a loft model unit.  Otherwise, you may find yourself wanting to escape into the outdoors you pursued so passionately in the first place.  If you builder is skimping on this find another one, also make sure your electrical panel is rated up to 50 Amp’s but works with 30Amp, the cost difference is marginal but if you get on 50 amp service you don’t have to worry thinking operating your Combo Ventless washer and dryer and you just added more convenience…30 amp service will not do it.

Can I still start out with a 24-foot length model, yes just make sure you plan to have space so you can be comfortable in the living area, you only really use your bed for sleeping so you want room to unwind

Sea To Sea Homes now build up to 30’, 32’ and 35’ models and has the first Park Model finished.

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Exterior Siding Options for your Tiny Home

Wood

Choosing what exterior siding to use on your Tiny Home can involve a number of different variables. Generally speaking there are three regions of the country the South the North East and Western/Northern states.

Many early tiny home builders have selected wood because of its natural appealing look and sustainability and there is still a large segment of Tiny Home buyers that like it. Beveled Cedar, Lap Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Knotty Pine are some common ones used. The main issue with wood is the maintenance required and it doesn’t hold up as well in harsh weather conditions such as  in the Southeast or Southwest where UV rays from the sun burn off urethane stains protecting it.  However a lot of high altitude and warm areas use solid color paints, and semitransparent stains which act like a protector.  Natural finishes may provide the most visual appeal but it requires more maintenance in the warmer climates.  Wood is also at the mercy of wood born pests, however cedar has resins that are toxic to termites and kill them so there are some advantages.

Professional architects and some builders still prefer to use wood. Architects being purists believe vinyl tries to be something it’s not, it is made to look like wood and is flimsy.

Sea to Sea’s 28 ft. Landmark Lap Cedar and aluminum exterior

Vinyl

Production and large builders prefer vinyl because it’s the most commonly used, low cost, ease of installation, and low maintenance required for the upkeep make it a popular choice. However, often the look is not as sleek or rustic looking as tiny home buyers like because trim pieces need to be placed at corners, windows and doors vs wood where builder can customize cuts. For many buyers it comes down to cost.

Composite

This type of siding has made huge inroads to the home building industry in the last 10 years – it is installed like wood composite comes in different materials including fiber cement, hardy board, metal, corten, aluminum and asphalt. Although manufactured in different shapes it mostly comes in shingles and boards with different trim accessories which allows builders to customize the look.  With tiny homes we are seeing this with two, three and four tone exteriors where wood, metal, and shingles are made into an artistic tapestry by new and innovative builders creating new models and adding them to their build line.

Corten Sample

Cedar Impression

At the top tier and most expensive is cedar impressions molded from real wood cedar shingles, having the look of natural wood and can be made into most architectural designs.  Designed as maintenance free, vinyl advocates claim it still needs maintenance but for both vinyl or cedar impressions soap and water should do it.

So where to from here?  If you like the natural look and don’t mind some preventive maintenance with staining and re-nailing from common wood withdrawal, then visually wood would be the choice based on the value of the look.   As an owner of an exterior beveled cedar Tiny home I would never give it up except to mix in with aluminum for an urban or more rustic look.

Custom Western Red Cedar timbers

What is important to remember here is that with a tiny home you only have 200-350 square feet of coverage area vs a single family home that has 1500-2500 square feet, the area is considerably less.  If its maintenance free you want,  you have three options – vinyl or a two tone look which incorporates both aluminum and lap cedar…Sea to Sea Homes have these in their standard options package in building the models.

Lap Cedar and cedar shingles

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FEATURES IN TINY HOMES (Win a free kitchen design layout)

So, what are the most important features of a tiny home, is it the kitchen, the sleeping areas, the living area, the bathroom, the windows, does it have a porch or not or the roof?  This week I want to discuss the Kitchen design: In the coming weeks, I am going to be writing about these areas individually.

Design of Tiny Home Kitchens

So, what features of a kitchen would you want in your custom Tiny Home or where would you want it laid out?  Let us look, most of us are familiar with seeing the tiny homes that have the kitchen in the middle or on one end of the trailer, what are
the pros and cons of this?

From a, pro point of view having the kitchen in the middle opens more room on the other ends especially in living room area/ for larger furniture or desk/working area in addition to loft above if done right and will make a hallway that is easier to navigate when walking back and forth thru center of trailer. Kitchens in tiny homes are usually built on the driver’s side because the gray water storage tanks needed are set inline below subfloor kitchen cabinets that connect to plumbing and are close to water access panel and pump drain up by the utility drivers side. With proper cabinet design and measurement, you can have adequate cabinet storage and consider things like in-drawer dishwashers, wine coolers or washer and dryers.

The con on this is that if you really want a large kitchen then the middle of the tiny home may not be where you want it located?

But let’s say you like to cook and the larger kitchen is a bigger value to you as a feature in your tiny home design.  Then having it designed so it is in the rear will allow you to have an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen, possibly with a breakfast bar/seating area?  With this option, you can have counters on either side of you with the sink located in the back or side with accompanying windows to view outside and allow light in.  For the builders, they have additional buildout for plumbing and will need to relocate a gray water tank underneath the sink area, so some design work will be needed and this may cost a little more.  This opens more space for addition base and upper cabinets with additions for wine cabinet nooks, or exposed plate and dish racks etc., with more counter space and allows the chef his/her domain.

What about cons to doing this, the primary one, is that when you design the kitchen on the back portion of trailer you then shift more weight to the rear and this puts more lift on the front tongue when towing, so you could end up towing a trailer where you have what are called dolphining conditions where the trailer when it hits a bump in the road it may start to rise and fall as its being towed.  Some of the ways to overcome this are to use a weight distribution kit or hire a professional transportation company whose hitch is designed and rated for the weight capacity of your trailer.  Another option which should only be discussed with a transport company, could you use 4-5 bags of peat moss/soil/sand or mulch to help offset this in the front, possibly?  Could you then use that at your end destination to make a garden? (Dan Cartagena, Owner/Operator of Warrior Transport a professional transport company who’s moved hundreds of tiny homes sites an example where he had tiny home that had the kitchen and the bathroom built on the rear on a cross-country trip to California, he had to stop early on to purchase a bucket which he then filled with 5-6 bags of 100-pound sand and placed it up front to offset and stabilize the trailer.)

So, reviewing this you can really customize your kitchen so it looks like a modern luxury residential home, it’s just deciding what’s important to you and where do you spend more time? If it’s not cooking, then having the kitchen in the middle opens the back area for more living space with furniture.  Sea to Sea Homes can design the kitchen where you want it.

Would you like to win a free trailer design to be used in a tiny home, then visit our website www.seatoseahomes.com and send us an email or email directly sales@seatoseahomes.com

We will be doing a drawing on May 31, 2017, for a free tiny home kitchen design.

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Preparation for Moving Your Tiny Home (Bonus: Free Moving Checklist?)

Getting ready to move your tiny home?  Let’s go over some of the basics to protect your investment in transit.  Your water tanks should be drained to a minimum (unless you’re towing it yourself and plan on using it en route) to take off excess weight every gallon weighs 8.6 lbs.’ so if your trying to move with 40 gallons full that’s an additional 344 lbs.  This all goes against what your towing Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is.

 

Air pressure in trailer tires should be checked.  Putting pots, pans, utensils in a box or small storage container helps consolidate items and putting small bungee cords wrapped around cabinet pulls will prevent them from opening while in transit.  If not empty or you don’t have safety latches to prevent them from opening, (see images) then empty drawers and put those items in a labeled storage container and then consider using 2” blue painters tape to secures drawers it won’t strip wood or veneer off when you’re done. For refrigerator doors try marine grade rope to prevent door from opening secured by screw in eye bolts (see image). Any pictures you have on walls in frames with glass you probably want to do the same.

 

Although it may be enticing to think about putting more stuff in the trailer as a storage container when moving it, I would advocate against it, as unless its comforters or pillows as it will just add more weight, think about putting that in your car or truck to offset weight distribution. Know what your maximum trailer GVWR is, so if you do decide to put extra pieces of furniture in that it does not exceed this weight…I think a lot of people might want a 2000lb cushion between actual weight and the max GVWR, after all it’s your investment, why take the risk by putting too much weight in the trailer.

 

If using a professional moving company, ask for a copy of their insurance declarations page to look at their coverages which should cover the cost of what you paid or value is of the trailer.  If moving to a location you might not be there to receive it think about sending a set of keys to the destination or giving the driver a set and asking them to do a courtesy set-up leveling with your jacks or self-leveling jacks, you likely need to provide them with wood plates or blocks for jacks to rest on and a chock-wheel lock to secure the trailer and possible tongue lock for anti-theft purposes. Lastly disconnect the propane line or at least turn shutoff valve off.

 

 

Ok go have some fun, summer is a great time to explore the outdoors! If you want a free Tiny Home moving checklist, LIKE us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SeatoSeaHomes/ and send me a pm message with your email I’ll get it right out to you!

 


Small bungee cords wrapped around pulls

 


Child safety locks also secure draws

 


Nylon rope securing refrigerator door

 

Remember – Go to: https://www.facebook.com/SeatoSeaHomes/  LIKE us on FB and send us a PM with your email to receive your FREE Moving Check List

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Staining / Preventive Maintenance, Tiny Home for move to NC mountains.

Getting ready to have the Harvest Tiny home moved from Florida to Boone, NC, one of the challenges of building a tiny with cedar for the exterior wood is that they say the moisture level Florida and sun can fade staining products faster and although I stained the exterior in January, I will repeat the process next week prior to move and check any cedar siding that needs to be re-nailed or caulked.  Its a little anxiety raising knowing the sun can really damage wood unless treated correctly, because we haven’t had a lot of moisture this winter and its been a milder winter season…….yet the UV rays of the sun seem to be the factor right now.  Although I write this I wouldn’t trade anything for the golden wheat color of the exterior siding because its gorgeous and looks so natural, I hear in place like Colorado that they have to stain all cedar shacks etc, twice a year at higher elevations.  I’ll know more once I get to 3500 feet how the stains hold up to dryer air and sun of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Considerations for a Dishwasher For Your Tiny Home

Pros and Cons / Considerations for a Dishwasher For Your Tiny Home  (Convenience vs Conventional)

Have you thought about a dishwasher as an appliance for your Tiny Home? Does the idea of convenience seem appealing? Are plates and drinking cups stacking up? Purchasing a  dishwasher for a Tiny Home does sound like a foreign idea doesn’t? But in the realm of space saving time knowing that there are a variety of models to choose from would you opt for this knowing that they are energy efficient,easy to install and retrofit many recreational vehicles.  This article will discuss some of the models and options available.

Things to consider?

How many people live in your home?

How often would you use a Tiny Home dishwasher?

What is energy draw to operate, do I need to be tied to grid sewage?

Does having more space on the counter sound appealing?

Does the Ethos of the Tiny Home Culture get pushed back and take away from environment and sustainability, or does the energy/consumption trade off make sense?

 

Knowing how many people eat in your tiny and how many times a day would be key 1-2 or 3-4 people? This helps understand how often you will use a dishwasher will used. Things to consider location, water and power consumption, where will you locate on the counter, on a shelf , what about pull out model? Compact models fall into three classes, countertop, built-in and dishwasher drawer. All of these units have pros and cons. Before buying a dishwasher be sure to research dishwasher and Tiny Home and RV reviews from people who currently own the same model. So, lets consider each style to find the best model for your custom RV.

The Built-In Dishwasher

Pro’s: Compact Slim Line dishwashers operate just like a residential in home unit. These dishwashers are quiet and need a narrow space. If your working with a Tiny Home Builder you would just ask them to factor in a 24”standard space in your cabinet configuration. Nowadays you can find compact Energy Star Rated products that hold 8 place settings at one time use only 3 gallons of water. If your adding to a kitchen already built, could you not put this at the end of your cabinets?

Con’s: A Built-In dishwasher will use more water but not as much as residential models which use 6 gallons and will need to wired and plumbed into your unit. A built-in dishwasher also requires a discharge into the grey water tank. * Tiny Home buyers you need to have a grey water tank to discharge and professional installation is recommended especially in tight kitchen spaces.

18” Built-In Energy Star Model www.avantiproducts.com   

The In-Drawer Dishwasher

Pro’s: The In-drawer models are very trendy now as space saving appliances in Tiny Homes and RV’s. Traditional dishwashers use about 6 gallons of water, Energy Star rated use about 4 gallons, and In-drawer model uses no more than 4 gallons of water to get your dishes both clean and dry and the drawer will hold up to 6 place settings. The Vesta model show below uses 2.4 to 4.2 gallons water to clean and dry dishes, its also the most popular in-drawer model and Vesta offers both drawer and countertop models and comes in Stainless, White and Black.

Con’s: An In-drawer style dishwasher should be professionally installed. Your Tiny Home may or may not have the space and the connections necessary to host a dishwasher drawer. Make sure to talk to your Tiny Home builder and appliance installer/RV technician before you buy any dishwasher unit.

Vesta www.Campingworld.net     

The Countertop Dishwasher

Pro’s: These compact countertop dishwasher models offer low profile that fits comfortably under most cabinetry without permanent installation required, they are extremely easy to operate and manufacture’s claims they are 61% more efficient in power consumption and finally they sit just about anywhere you have water. Water usage is 3.2 gallons, many people place a countertop dishwasher next to their sink when they use and can connect with hot and cold water and use the drain. For a plug and play model Countertop dishwashers are affordable and easy to connect for the do it yourself owner.

Con’s: cheap NFL jerseys China Weight and space is probably the biggest issue while this type of dishwasher is easy to connect it weighs 50lbs for some not an issue but it needs to be taken into consideration. The size is about the same as a microwave for some this is precious counter space. (which can be hard to come by) * Note (Tiny Home users need to discharge into grey water tank)

www.amazon.com/edgestar 

Final Considerations:

Compact dishwashers use power and water every time you run it. This means you must have enough water in your water tanks and enough waste space in your gray water tank. If your parked at a location with water, electric and sewage provided this may not be a problem however if your off grid a dishwasher may eat a lot of off the power and water from your source tank. Check with your Tiny Home builder to make sure you will have extra 120 volt outlets by the kitchen. If you are off grid you could use a generator to provide power. For winterization if you plan to store your Tiny Home, prepare your dishwasher just like any other water consuming unit in your trailer and empty all water, dishwashers can freeze if water is left in them.

Where To Buy Your RV Dishwasher:

Were now in a period where the cost of compact appliances like dishwashers are down to $275.00-$450.00 with the median costs $330.00 The internet is one of the best places by checking reviews or seeing if popular models are located locally it will not be hard to find them. Camping World sells the Vesta RV Dishwasher, Compact Appliance the Avanti models.  Amazon and Edgestar sell the countertop model and Ebay also sells a variety of RV dishwashers but again, be sure to read the reviews and return policies before buying

Review:

Lets go back and look at the considerations mentioned at the beginning from how many people may live or eat in your Tiny Home all these models will wash for 6 place settings, most are compact or can be added. In discussing the Ethos of water and power consumption most if these use far less than standard residential models so a can a case be made for convenience these may be nice investments as long as you have power and water.

Not to be understated here is that unlike a lot of RV’s most tiny home builders are not putting grey water tanks in their models, at Sea to Sea Homes, not only do this but we deliver with standard pricing fresh water, grey water and black water tanks we can also design the location for a dishwasher and also make sure you have the necessary power outlet behind a cabinets.

We can design and build your kitchen with the appliances you want contact us Sales@seatoseahomes.com or call 954-290-5467.

Alternative, Low-Cost Options:

If an Tiny Home dishwasher is not in your immediate future here are a few ideas and tips for dealing with dirty dishes in a small kitchen space.

  1. Use reusable ceramic, heavy plastic or corelle dishes vs paper.
  2. Limit how many coffee cups, drinking glasses and dishes per person. Tiny thinking helps with space a clutter ie; dirty dishes. What if you just used 1 coffee cup 1 drinking cup and two plates/bowl as a daily plan, this just means you have to wash and should be able to resuse your cups and glasses throughout the day.
  3. Plastic vs Metal. If you use plastic make sure its made with 100% recyclable materials. Heavy plastic and metal will out last plastic and be more durable.
  4. Pots and Pans, these will not likely fit in a compact dishwasher so coat pots and pans with Dawn dishwashing soap it will begin to break down the grease allowing for a quick and easy clean up later on.

 

We can design and build your kitchen with the appliances you want contact us Sales@seatoseahomes.com or call 954-290-5467.

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