Progress…

Buy (2) 20 volt lithium batteries plus charger and case $100 and get 20 volt reciprocating saw for free…

Don’t mind if I do. Thanks, Lowe’s. My ‘title’ as carpenter is getting pretty serious now folks.

The other night I made short work of tearing out the dinette in my camper using a crowbar, a ratchet set, and a Phillips head screwdriver. ….But when I tried to remove the cabinets up on the walls, she just wasn’t having it.

Apparently, they installed the built-ins from inside the wall and installed the exterior aluminum sheeting last. There are absolutely zero exposed screw heads or fasteners to be found within the cabinets that are hanging on the wall.

I guess they’re hanging there by magic. Therefore I had to go out and buy a power tool so that I can cut them out piece by piece. The fun begins!

This little baby will come in handy when I get ready to install a new kitchen counter and who knows what else. 🙂

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Pre-demo “Daisy Do little.” video…

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=310796139256033&id=172367349765580

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Don’t worry, old girl.  You are in good hands.  I promise that I will strengthen your frame, give you a nice winter coat, give you a new floor, new walls, a new ceiling, beautiful wooden window ledges, a kitchen face-lift, a new counter, new built-ins, new cushions, a new bathroom, and I promise, promise, promise that I will polish you up and maintain the integrity of those forty years you have stood tall and proud and haven’t given up to the salvage yard.  I will breathe fresh life into you and I will give you a new home with much love.

All prose aside, here is the ‘before’ video.  This old Fleetwood Wilderness camper is about to be transformed.  🙂

Thanks for watching.  🙂

 

Is everyone out there buying up used travel trailers right now? Luckily, I have found a good one.

Here she is–my travel trailer!  I have found that campers of this age and condition go for around $2,000 up to $2,500.  I got a deal, however.  🙂  I will share the details with you all.  This is a 1977 Wilderness travel trailer.  She is 19 feet long, which is pretty tiny.  The layout is as follows:

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You walk in the door–there is a stand-up closet and tiny bathroom with a tiny shower stall directly on the left (with a tiny swing door).  The guy was using this camper to travel 35 miles regularly for skeet shooting, his hobbly and incidentally, he is a big man and this tiny bathroom suited him fine, he said.  He has owned the trailer for several years and maintained it extremely well, sealing the roof yearly.  Very important to get the history of the camper and confirm that the owner did regular maintenance, especially on one so old.

As you turn to walk inside, there is a dinette that folds into a bed on the right, a spacious kitchenette on the left with decent sized refrigerator, stove top and oven, double sink and generous countertop.  I found that modern campers of this size usually do not have an oven, nor do they have much kitchen counter space or a double sink.

towards the nose of the trailer is a full sized bed down and a tiny bunk bed up that doubles as storage.  The walls are wood-looking vinyl and the kitchen cabinets are basically partical board from the 1970s, but in excellent shape.  The built-ins are plywood. The floor is linoleum and the ceiling is vinyl.

I plan to remove the dinette, to give more floor space and I am also going to re-do the bedding, kitchenette, and bathroom–replacing everything with real wood–furniture grade plywood for a smooth finish.  I am going to replace the kitchenette cabinets with solid wooden cabinets or perhaps a repurposed buffet or dresser of solid wood from a thrift store. Now, I am also replacing the tires immediately, as they are dry-rotted–this is pretty commonplace on most pre-owned campers.  And, I am looking at beefing up the suspension in order to accomodate the extra weight that I am adding.  Fortunately, she has dual axels which is great.  Many new campers this size have only single axel, as they are being built as feather-light.

I am installing lightweight wooden flooring over the vinyl–but not before I do a thorough inspection of the floor, ceiling, and walls to erradicate any trapped moisture. There is a slight sag in the ceiling above the bed. Once I have fixed the sag, I am installing a second framing of 2 x 2s along the walls, floor, and ceiling, which will be filled with foam insulation sheets that I am getting from Lowe’s. Once the framing and insulation is in, I will install a new ceiling, a new floor, and new (smooth) plywood walls.  Then, I can paint, tile, add shelving/cabinets, and do anything else that I want to do to brighten and modernize the interior.  Once the floors and walls are finished, I will re-install new built-ins and re-connect any fixtures or appliances that were temporarily removed.  This remodel/insulating process will insure that the trailer can weather winter.  Good insulation also cuts down on heat in summer. Now, I will lose about 5 inches of head height; but I am not concerned, as the ceilings are 7 feet and I am only 5′ 6″.

A thing I have noticed about most modern campers (1970s and up) is that there is much use of partical board with vinyl over, alot of linoleum, and OSB throughout the built-ins, rather than plywood.  Not good. These materials are great for keeping the campers light weight. However these materials just do not hold up over time, especially if you want to reside in a camper full time, as do I.

Here’s an example of how unreliable the use of particle board or OSB panels really are over time.  I looked at a 1977 Dodge Motor home and when I tried to open the exterior storage doors for inspection, the OSB had literally turned to saw dust and was falling out onto the ground.  The same was true of the OSB that I found inside the motor home.  Of course, over time, the materials that go into thes campers get cooked by the sun–thanks to the aluminum exterior which concentrates the heat inside.  And also because the seams of a travel trailer are riveted together and cauked with plyable rubber, these contract and expand over time when exposed to heat, cold, and humidity–allowing for small crevaces to form and allowing moisture inside the camper which is why they have to be re-sealed each season.

I aim to construct a more impervious interior within my travel trailer that will be more appropriate for full time living.  I have also lined up a company that makes oversized tarps (various colors), with aluminum pole spines–so that I can have a protective rounded, “caboose” style awning that will sit above my camper and serve three purposes: 1) keep the roof dry, 2) keep down the sound of rain, snow, and hail that hits the roof, and 3) mitigate the effects of cold and heat generally–a buffer zone for the roof–to keep the inside warm in winter and cool in summer (to provide a shade over the roof).

Let me just give a shout out to anyone else out there who is trying to transition to tiny by purchasing a cool old camper:

If you find a nice one at a good price, jump on it immediately. It is a buyer’s jungle. Every camper that I found (before I bought this green one)… I literally could not get to the location fast enough before someone else snatched it up.  This camper that I bought–he had another buyer who beat me to it and who was going to return two days later with new tires to install.  So, I simply showed up with money in hand and offered the seller an extra $300 to beat out the other buyer. Even so, I still got the camper at about 35% less than it’s actual value.

Here is my advice: Show up with cash in hand on a weekday so you can get to the title bureau or BMV immediately.

Before I found the travel trailer that I just purchsed, I had been spending up to two hours every day combing through the internet, Craigslist, RV Trader, and every RV dealer within a 200-mile radius of where I live. The big-name RV dealers seem to have the worst quality used campers and the small-time family-owned operations seem to have the nicest ones. Of course private owners seem to be less expensive than dealers. I also made several trips to RV dealers as far as 90 miles away and toured the inside of a couple dozen RVs to ascertain which companies make the best ones and simply to gain a better understanding of the floor plans that are available.  It seems that most RV dealers keep the doors unlocked on there inventory–so that if you want to just go and get an idea of what you want, you can drive to an RV dealer, park your vehicle, and just peruse at will, as I did.  Going from camper to camper on the RV lot, opening the door, and doing a walk through–a good way to know first hand what might suit you.

I searched Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan. So I cannot speak for the rest of the states; but this trend of people buying up campers/travel trailers like crazy right now does seem to be pervasive here in the Midwest. Then again, it is summer or is there a larger trend afoot?

I think maybe the tiny house movement has become a huge wake-up call and people are buying up campers like crazy right now in order to get out from under their mortgages???

Again, just a heads up for anyone out there who is trying to transition to tiny by moving into a travel trailer first.

Happy camper hunting everyone!  🙂

And the ball is rolling…

Being an empty nester can have major perks. I no longer have to preoccupy myself with anyone else’s immediate needs, excepting my own. This frees me to do anything. And, I have chosen to shove this tiny house plan into high gear by doing something dramatic–moving into a camper and onto a campsite. I have had a productive day.

I organized my house and moved some rooms around, now that my little bird has left the nest. I purged my phone and my tablet. I sold my coffee table and posted my living room funiture and kitchen stove on Craig’s list for sale. Boom! Trying to boost my savings immediately for my plan. Then, I wrote up some budgets to reflect a new tiny house plan time table.

Here we go…this is enthralling. I am getting so close now.

Camper purchase $5,000 by end August 2016
Move into RV park by March 2017: monthly rent, roughly $300, much cheaper than renting a house
Save enough money for tiny house trailer/shell $15,000 by September 2017
Save enough money to finish out tiny house interior $5,000 by December 2017
Finish tiny home by February 2018

*Mind you, I have a small collection of tiny house parts already in storage.

Conclusion: buying/moving into a camper is basically going to pay for my tiny house within a 12 month period. Wow. So worth it and after my home is built, I’ll still own a nice little camper for travel or to loan out to family.

*Within my estimate, I did not factor in three substantial income increases that I am getting in my job over the next year and a half. So, it is entirely possible, barring any unforseen event–that I could achieve my goal sooner than 18 months. Woot!

What do you think about that, my fellow empty nesters? 🙂

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Travel trailers, research, and learning curve…

Transitioning to a tiny life via finding/purchasing/moving into a travel trailer and living in an RV park (before getting into the actual tiny house build). During my research this week, here are four things I discovered. Hope this is helpful to others.

1) I have found several decent mobile home trailer parks and RV parks that will accomodate travel trailers; however I have discovered that many have size and breed restrictions for pets, such as “no dogs over 25 pounds”. Yes, hard to believe, eh? My dog is 42 pounds. 😦 Disappointing, but good to know.

2) I went on a few field trips to examine and tour new travel trailer RVs. I also toured several used RVs and here is what I discovered. (By travel trailer RV, I am referring to a bumper pull camper approximately 21 feet up to 24 feet in length–the length I am looking to buy).

The majority of new RVs that I toured are built with materials that are inferior to their earlier counterparts. I mean to say that if you compare a brand new moderately priced RV to a comparable RV model that is 10 or 15 or 20 years older, the much older RV camper has better quality and more durable materials inside and out. ???

I am guessing the reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, there is a push in the industry to build lighter; so instead of them building interior features out of plywood and hardwood, they’re using by and large, lightweight pressboard with paper veneer for cabinets and furniture. Not exciting. Another reason for the cheaper materials, I can only guess, is for more profit?

I also noticed that the older RV campers seem to be configured better and most have stovetops and small ovens. Whereas, the new models, in the modest lengths do not have ovens; but only have stovetops and convection microwaves. I am guessing marketing sees a trend of campers doing less major “oven” cooking… I guess. I prefer an actual oven and stovetop. In the model length I am looking for, most new 21 feet or 24 feet travel trailers do not have ovens. 😦

3) Financing an RV… seems next to impossible, especially if your credit is not stellar. Who knew? I certainly did not. So, for a number of reasons, I am looking to purchase a preowned travel trailer, probably ten years old, there abouts. A salesman whith whom I spoke assured me that it is very difficult to get financing for an RV, much harder than obtaining a mortgage or auto loan, as banks do not see RVs as necessity, but luxury. Well, guess what? Mine will be a necessity. It will be my home. So, thanks for nothin’ banks. 🙂

4) THE GOOOD NEWS: Once I began looking for a used travel trailer camper on: Craig’s list, RV Trader online, and by googling all RV dealers in my vicinity (south central Ohio), I am finding hundreds of nice used ones in the price range of $2,000 up to $5,000. Sweet.

Happy hunting!!!

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tiny house and me

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This is Z. Do little. Isn’t she cute?

 

I first heard of the tiny house movement in 2010.  I was watching 60 Minutes–they were featuring Dee Williams’ tiny house stroy.  I got hooked. Already a minimalist, building a tiny home on wheels is a great solution for me, a single empty nester looking toward retirement and wanting to own my own home and live debt-free.

After much research and many sketches with my trusty .9 mechanical pencil and piles of graph paper, I decided that converting a 20 feet shipping container into a home is the most logical and cost-effective approach for me.  I work in logistics and have constant exposure to shipping containers.  They are abundant all over the United States, are extremely durable, and most importantly are cheap.

I have decided to transition to my tiny house life by first acquiring a small camper and moving, sort of off grid into an RV park now.  I hope my process is helpfull to other tiny house enthusiasts.  🙂  Tiny on!

Heidi 🙂

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Scouting for Viable Campsites

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I am saving to buy a camper immediately…  In central Ohio there are literally hundreds of campers and RVs for sale on Craig’s list daily for $1500 fixer uppers up to $3500 for nice ones. Moving into an RV park will cut my monthly expenses by about 60% and allow me to save and make tiny house purchases much faster to build my actual tiny house much sooner.

I am sharing this idea with you all to emphasize what I found here in central Ohio once I really started searching… RV parks and campgrounds, while not ideal for parking, are a good start. I have found about a dozen campgrounds around my immediate area that do rent lots for seasonal use–many with water, trash, electric, cable, internet, and sewer included in the lot rent averaging $275 up to $375 monthly. Other campgrounds/RV sites without amenities, yet with comparable lot rent–some are resticted to March through October usage and others offer 6 month leases for year round occupancy.

As I said, not ideal for permenant living; but this is a good starting point, I believe. Some places I found are stellar and some are a little run down with occupants that are less than neat.

I figure that I can get my “foot in the door” with my camper.  Then after I establish good repor  at these places, I can later show up with my tiny house and having proven myself as a fantastic tenant, hopefully they’ll welcome my home with open arms.  Of course if I license it as an RV, I am golden.

….All this as temporary parking situation until I buy and zone land or find something better.

I figure that any way I slice it, I am still far better off than continuing to pay rent on the little bungalow I am living in now.

This might not be the best approach for everyone who wants to transition into a tiny house; but I think it is a good plan to make incremental steps towards tiny home ownership if you have limited finances and are having a hard time getting started.

I have also found a plethora of gutted campers for sale for around $800, which is dirt cheap. Then, you just finish out yourself hopefully with inexpensive, reclaimed materials.

One of the older, run-down RV parks that I found literally had a back lot filled with dead campers and RVs, sitting there just ripe for the picking–an RV graveyard, if you will. I mean, the guy who owns the park would probably be glad to sell any one of them for cheap, for parts, if you know what I mean. Vintage stoves and plugs and whatever you can scavenge.

So, when you drive past an old RV park and you see dead campers and lots of overgrown areas, you might want to find out who owns it and see if you can salvage.

Ideas, ideas, ideas….

Ultimately, I don’t want to live down by the river in a ghetto; but if this is the first avenue to get me into tiny living, I might just do so and count on my guard dog to protect our property. Lol. Exaggerating, but seriously look at all possibilities. If you have to rough it for a few months or a year to save $$$$, it might be worth it and if there are no children in the home to take into account, living on a campsite might be a great start. 🙂

Heidi 🙂