Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Home is About 135 Square Feet

Tiny Motor House Motor Home RV Floor Plan
Tiny Motor House Floor Plan
So, I decided to take some basic measurements and sketch up a floor plan of my tiny motor home house. It's about 135 square feet not including the cab space.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Finished Plywood Floor

Finished stained plywood flooring

As you can see I desperately needed a floor:
But I needed a very lightweight floor at added strength to the existing floor. As you can see in the above picture there is a seem between the two sheets of plywood. These two sheets were starting to come up in the middle because of the weight of the walls.

So I opted to glue and screw some new plywood over it, but I decided to give it a makeover first. 

I bought the cheapest plywood Lowes had and some stain.

I cut it out to fit. I put it in place and tested the fit. Then I measured out and scratched fake boards on it. 

Then I pulled it out and sanded it really well. Then I drew the grooves in again with a pen—going over it again and again until it left dark grooves in the wood. Then I stained it with two coats and installed it. 

Charlie my robot is happy with her new floor.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Minimalism. the intentional promotion of our greatest passions and the removal of everything that distracts us from them.

I love the above definition of minimalism because it really captures that it's not just about having less stuff or living a simpler life. Minimalism is about getting rid of what you don't need and don't love in your life and focusing on what remains.

I've started following The Minimalists and started following a local minimalist group on facebook. I just really loved this video. It does a great job at emphasising the peace found in minimalistic living:

You can learn more from these guys at

Why I Actually Want to Live in a Tiny Home

The tiny house movement has been gaining a lot of speed lately, and for good reason. Tiny homes are inexpensive and faster to build which means no big mortgage to pay off. Tiny homes are usually portable which means when you move you can take your house with you and never even have to pack! Tiny homes use less resources and are better for the environment, and much much more.

I've been wanting to build my tiny house ever since I saw a friend post pictures of this tiny trailer house on their facebook page.... Um I guess the photo was deleted. Anyway, it was a beautiful tiny house with white interior.

When my ex dumped me with an old motorhome I saw it as an opportunity to take a crappy situation and turn it into an opportunity to live my dream. My house probably won't look quite as snazzy as this one when I'm finished, but it will have cost me one tenth of the price, and it already has features this one doesn't.

After my first divorce I was so depressed I told my ex to take everything. I was basically left with a van from 1991 that was on its last working cylinder, a suitcase full of clothes, my makeup, sewing machines, and my guitar. While I ended up giving everything up because I was depressed I found an odd sense of peace from it. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and being free from my stuff felt so good I got rid of more of it.

Our corporate society has instilled a consumerist mentality on this generation. So many of us are just so overcome by the need to want more that we never take the time to appreciate the simple things we have. We are driven to consume and we are on the path to consuming and killing everything on our planet, but living in a tiny house simplifies all that.

My tiny motor house is only about 126 square feet. I built it out of at least 70% recycled or repurposed materials. The average house in the United States is about 2200 square feet. My tiny house is less than 6% of this size and used less than 2% of the new resources the build. For the cost of one average home we could build at least 10 tiny homes.

Depending on how many resources you are able to recycle and on the complexity of your tiny house the costs range from only $500 to about $40,000 (and the higher end ones are damn amazing!). Including all building costs, costs of things like new appliances, the motorhome I started with and repairs to the chassis (only a cost to consider if your tiny house is also a motor vehicle) my home has cost me about $4000 thus far. I still have a few things to buy: a couple solar panels and batteries, some plywood to finish my floor, and some paint for the exterior, but I don't anticipate spending more than $700 to complete the project.

Another thing to consider is that tiny homes that aren't built on permanent foundations are not only easy to move you don't have to follow building regulations or codes and you are completely free to build them however you want. Now with my motor home house I've had to consider size limitations and safety requirements for driving on the road, but that didn't take much time or effort.

I've been through a lot in my life, but my tiny house is bringing me peace. Instead of thinking about things I want. I think, "Do I really need this or is there something else I could replace both these items with? Is there a better simpler way of doing this?" I have more time to focus on what I have, not just material things, but things money can't buy like my children.

My home has become a symbol of my family. I built it with them in mind. The bathroom walls and a few other surfaces are made of whiteboard material so they can draw on them. They helped me pull nails out of old boards, rivet things together, rebuild the walls and just last month paint the walls, and they really enjoyed it. It means a lot to them to be able to stay the summers with me in a home they helped make a home.

After we had finished painting we celebrated by buying a Lego motor home and putting it together as a family. It was a blast!  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Christmas Lights

I just finished hanging my LED Christmas lights. They don't use much energy and I like the soft white whimsical glow. I'm not a fan of bright light at night. It screws up my circadian rythm. They provide plenty of light for most uses and I have a lamp with a compact fluorescent to read with. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Closet

A few weeks ago I finished my closet space. I used some creative hanging strategies to get everything to fit in comfortably.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Temporary Housing to Summer Home

Gypsy and I have been through some rough times in the past year. Gypsy, that's the name painted on my RV. My sister says it's bad luck to change the name of a boat or an RV. Anyway, I call her Gypsy and I think it suits her.

After my ex husband left me, I lived in my partially finished motor house for a bit. I cleaned out the old water tank, installed a water pump, and installed garden hoses (suitable for drinking water) to replace the broken water lines. I got a heat on demand gas water heater from Amazon on clearance and cleaned and reused the old gas stove.

I didn't have much money to spend on roofing so I made my own out of rolls of aluminum sheeting.

I made my countertops out of discarded bamboo flooring scraps. and bought myself a fridge.

After being threatened by several people trying to tow my motor home away I ended up parking it at a friend's house for a while and living with a few different friends instead. Well as luck would have it those living arrangements failed and my crappy job at a public school was over for the summer. So, I turned to my faithful friend Gypsy for help.

I fixed her up as best I could with my meager funds and the help of a few friends and made the long trek back to my hometown. She drove like a champ (only 85,000 miles to her name). Sure her tailpipe fell off and her window wipers came apart during a rain storm, but she made it, and so did I.

At the rest area taking a breather

So, here I am now with my two beautiful kids living in my mom's driveway in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in a motor home.

It's not the wreck it used to be anymore. We've made a lot of improvements since then. My kids and I painted the inside all white even the cupboards:

 I painted my bookshelf and put my book on it. It always feels more like home when I have a home for my books.
 And I finally fixed that pesky leak in my water heater from blowing a hole in it last Fall. It was my first time torch soldering.
 Then I added a pressure regulator so that won't happen again.
 I also built a shower water recirculator and carbon filtration system that allows me to shower for as long as I want on less than a gallon of water.

Then I installed a custom built touch screen PC that I built out of an old Kiosk computer, and of course it's running Ubuntu because Linux is freakin' amazing. It's not only my car audio system/media player, it's my TV, backup camera monitor, personal computer (that I'm using right now to write this blog post), and someday it will be my navigational computer, after I buy a GPS and program it.

Next, I'm going to finish my floor and paint the outside. It has a lot more features that I haven't shown yet, but I'll post about those when I'm further along in the project.

For now though it is livable and my kids and I are enjoying having a tiny air conditioned home for the summer, and it keeps getting better and better every day as we work on it together.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

So, I live in a motorhome with a pitched roof

For the past month I've been living in an old 1977 motorhome. I'll spend my first post explaining how this happened:

I had a traumatic childhood; I was brainwashed by religious nuts; I got a degree is physics; I taught high school kids for 3 years; I lost my job and in turn my career because I was discriminated against based on my gender; I went through a divorce from hell then married a douchbag that bought a piece of crap motorhome for $500 for us to live in then he left me. So there I was jobless and alone with a crappy RV that was rotting from the inside out.

Instead of complaining I decided to take that RV and build a home out of it. First I tore out all the rotten crap and through the drugs stashed in the cupboards by the previous owner away. 

Then I tore the rotten roof off.

Then I tore out all the rotten crap in the walls.

When all the rot was gone I started rebuilding it from the inside out with discarded lumber I stole from the dumpster at my ex husbands construction site. 

I ripped out two of the crappy leaky windows and using scraps of aluminum from the roof to rivet the holes up.  Then I rebuilt the previously rotten walls. 

I had never built a roof before so I carefully studied how others had made tiny house roofs. I decided they're methods would be too heavy for my little motorhome so I ended up doing my own thing anyway. I used 1 by 4's, 1 by 2's, clamps and wood glue and screws  to frame it. Everything is glued, clamped and screwed together for added strength.

I didn't have anyone to help me put the plywood on. So, I had to figure out a way to lift it up and hold it in place by myself while I screwed it on. I used two clamps and pieces of 1 by 4s.

Then I bolted a tarp on because I had nothing else.

Then I went to Lowe's and got a credit card and was surprised they gave me such a high limit because I had no job and no money. I used the card to buy plywood, paneling, some moulding and a refrigerator (I gave the old POS to a homeless guy that recycles metal). 

I recycled pieces of the cabinets and some from another abandoned RV to make my own.  I especially love the Italian style dish drainer cabinet I made. 

I bought two used windows and a washtub sink from a place that sells old carp torn out of houses that are remodeled for almost nothing. 

After roughly rebuilding the walls I doubled their thickness and added extra insulation then installed the paneling and windows.

I stuffed the roof with fiberglass insulation then put the paneling sheets on the ceiling (now that I could have used a hand with... Ugh). Then I installed the cupboards.

That's about when I moved in for the first time because I had nowhere else to live.