So now what's about that difference in the words I used in Scissor Steps Extreme: "I built the tiny house while ON the truck, but not onto the truck"?
Do you remember the BIG Photo Story in the first tiny mobile living update where I showed how I fitted those "corner castings" to the top steal beam around the house?
I wanted the house to be a truly mobile tiny house:
- it's not just horizontally driving around on a truck or trailer...
- but it can also be lifted vertically (by crane, or forklifts, or custom jacks, or magic) and be placed on land or on a boat - or even on a container ship in case I go back to the Caribbean...?
Right, more mobile and more flexible isn't possible.
Why I built the house to be totally mobile?
- Firstly, imagine you have an RV, camper, caravan, motorhome, or whatever you call it
- The vehicle loses value over time, and ultimately it becomes a wreck
- All the money and labor you've put into the RV, camper, caravan, motorhome, or whatever, it is lost together with the vehicle (saving for a bit of resale value of a few parts maybe)
- Because dwelling and vehicle are one and the same when you have an RV, camper, caravan, motorhome, or whatever
- Conversely, a dwelling typically gains in value over time
- All the more if it is movable and so can be placed at a location of choice - even if tomorrow you make a new choice.
When my 30(!) years old truck breaks down or becomes a wreck, I simply arrange to have the house lifted onto a different vehicle, or not a vehicle at all. Even a simple truck mounted crane is enough to lift this house. It is built with just 0.55mm thick but double-layered thus still ultra-light metal c-studs and u-tracks, as well as light metal sandwich panels. And so this house weighs empty only 1312kg / 2893lb (yet without sheepwool insulation, wood planks, and second floor above the basement/storage area).
The only risk of a mobile house is that it gets damaged during transport, but this risk is the same whether it is on a truck or on a trailer. And the same for an RV, camper, caravan, motorhome, or whatever.
Apart from the benefits of separating the dwelling from the vehicle I also had more practical reasons (necessities) for building this dwelling exactly the way it is:
- It doesn't (yet) have the beautiful outside looks of the typical American trailer houses because then I would risk problems with the authorities here every day: The concept of "mobile tiny house" is new to Portugal and a No-No for the local bureaucrats here.
- And so I gave this dwelling the looks of half house - half cargo, because here cargo does not fall under the regulations that aim to prevent conversion of a vehicle to an RV etc!
- Rembering that this house can be lifted off and on? Well, that makes it cargo by law. The current looks intend to make it easy for a bureaucrat to understand he's dealing with cargo.
- The house has the maximum size to still be truly mobile: The truck's wheelbase allows me to park it on the larger type of parking spaces here, and yet as the house exceeds the truckbed dimensions in every direction (within the legal limit), 7ft of the rear of the house then reach over grass, pavement, or the adjoining parking space.
- In the beginning I would have loved to build more windows (but didn't have that cash), however now I am glad the house has no more: The Algarve is world-renowned for its massive sun exposure, and the more glass that you have the hotter the inside - yet another reason why I went for natural sheepwool insulation, as I will show later.
Why is this house driving around on a truck, not on a trailer as seems the norm for tiny houses?
- You need an extra vehicle to pull a trailer, which adds significant cost!
- The vehicle adds further length and space requirement during travel and parking!
- Maneuvering with a trailer behind is more difficult
- You need a licence that covers pulling such a long and heavy trailer (my licence does not)
- In fact, the only drawback of a truck is that truckbeds are much higher up than trailerbeds: Stability in winds is worse! Good weight distribution and wind braces are key! The photo highlights the 3mm thick steel wind braces.
I secure the house to the truckbed with 10mm thick steel bolts/screws that connect the 1.5mm thick ground steel beams of the house with the steel bedframe of the truck. To lift the house off the truck I have to take out 10 such bolts/screws. At the moment I can still easily reach them as we live on the floor of the basement of the house but when I build the real ground floor that will close off the basement and its storage capacity, I will have to do it in a way that I can reach down with the cordless drill. Still not sure how I will do that...
Top 10 list what I don't like about my tiny house
- Miguel only needs to breathe the way he breathes after exercise, and the entire house sways on its tube tires! I assume more modern trucks use tubeless tires?
- And being so high up, when we are at the windy coast the house's movement worries me almost every day.
- I cannot sit up in bed: I didn't have the funds to buy longer/higher sandwich panels, and so the house is only 2.50m or 8.2ft high. On the other hand, this already allowed me to pass tunnels that otherwise would have left me stuck...
- Whenever it's raining and Miguel's coat is wet: it really isn't pleasant to have a wet dog in a tiny house! Hence why when I designed my dream tiny house it featured a mudroom (tip!)
That's all. So back to the headline here:
More generally, it's all about the right decision when it comes down to the investment in a dwelling - which always is time and money. If it's DIY it's more time than money, if it's purchased it's way more money than time, but it always requires to invest both, time and money.
So what needs to be considered to make the right decision?
Here's my list, relevant for anyone considering a dwelling:
- Stationary or mobile?
- Stationary if you don't expect to move or to always find a buyer or tenant
- Mobile if you love to get to know new places, or you expect you have to move, or you doubt you will find a buyer or tenant when you need it
- Big or small?
- Big if you have a large family or you throw big parties or you feel the need to impress someone
- Small if you don't need much inside space, your wants match your needs, and you don't mind that others don't mind their own business
- Dependent or autonomous?
- Dependent if you can't be bothered to organize what you need for autonomy, and you don't mind to rely on others
- Autonomous if you expect to be mobile, or you dread to rely on and have to deal with the grid.
As you've now seen, I chose to build a totally mobile, small, autonomous dwelling, because at the current stage of life I enjoy to be at different places every few months. We truly live on the road now. Here and there. No fixed address, as the police would call that, I guess.
Believe it or not: It makes it all the more precious to meet and greet the same people when we return to our favourite places. I see many happy faces now: "Oh, there you are again, welcome back!"
I need that. It feels so much better than that "Oh dear, will they ever get out of my life!"