Phase 3: Tiny House Living!

wp-1452221649806.jpegMid Nov- Not a whole lot of progress on the trailer itself in the last week or so, That’s ok, it’s very livable! Brewed a beer with friends and have been setting up the office and computers to get ready to do some computer programming projects that have been on the list for literally years, long before the trailer project was even an idea for me.

Gotta keep those priorities straight.

Gotta keep those priorities straight. Hef & IPA on tap.



Electronics desk + Piano stand + Desk. Kinda messy but making progress.



3 monitors = 3x as productive right?


Enabling me to spend time on programming projects is one of the main goals of the trailer project. Looks like I need a computer room!

Large, outstanding to-do items include: Buy a hot water heater & plumb it in, Change pex hose clamps to crimps, Integrate & measure efficiency of home-made HRV. And a host of dozens of other details hahaha. Also need to get a laundry setup going: haven’t been able to find the right washer-dryer combo. May have to build something, more on that in the future. Overall, the plan is to take care of trailer projects whenever I need a break from programming!

Shop space. Other half the reason for doing this. 4 axis CNC mill, storage and workspace for all the rest of the tools. Believe it or not, all the tools used to build the tiny house fit in the tiny house!

IMG_20160108_124610 IMG_20160108_125357

My thoughts have changed slightly about how I would do this project again: I think I would at least shop for a toy-hauler camper – then modify and fix as appropriate – would be much easier, and most of the systems are already there. That said, they can run 60+k new, and 30+k used so you’d have to shop for one in the 15-20k range and those can be hit or miss.

If you don’t mind being in debt, you should be able to find financing for a camper-trailer.

My trailer is exactly designed for my needs and is very well insulated so I’m certainly not feeling any regrets, and I learned a lot along the way.



Revised & final numbers:

5k trailer

5k supplies & materials. ~ No. More like 10k (Stuff adds up, even if you’re just hacking it together.) (or: it’s American Re-work: We had to pay to do everything twice!)

~16k lost wages (revised to 8k after additional analysis.) (remember taxes) (Also original number I wasn’t sure how long the build would take) Delving deeper: we should really analyze ‘lost savings’ not lost wages:

  • Was really only saving $1000 a month…. over 6 months, Would have saved best case maybe 8k. (yes I know 6*1000 != 8000. Let’s assume I was extra frugal)
  • Some might say that I should assign a value to my time as if I’d been working for myself, and this number should be closer to: $30+/hr * 50hr weeks * 14 weeks (best guess of my time actually spent building this (1/2july,1/2aug,sept,oct,1/2nov) = 21k.
  • Or should I say 3.5 months of actual build time * 1k/month savings rate?

I like considering vs. the longest time because I was not working for that entire frame, even if I was windsurfing and playing for a good portion of it. I don’t like assigning an hourly wage to my time and saying I generate this much value because there’s no guarantee i would have generated anywhere near that much value for myself. Going off of previous best case savings rate for entire time without a job is probably fair.

~2k heath insurance.

Initial estimate forgot to include: Food costs: Call it ~ 2k over the time actually spent building (does not include $ spent windsurfing/adventuring)

Minus side: spent/lost: 5k + 10k + 8k +2k +2k = 27k (19k Cash, 8k savings that weren’t banked)

So what’s the payoff:

Assuming 2 moves offset over next 5 years or so, at 2k per move + 2k of your labor per move (Moving sucks) =4k/move -> 8k

27k – 8k = 19k to return to piggy bank. Not half bad.

Looking for $600 month in rent savings * 12 mo = $7200/year or around 3 year payoff assuming 2 moves. 4 year payoff assuming no moves.

Original budget was 26k, but that breakdown was 10k materials and 16k time. Having a bit of a cash safety cushion is definitely a good idea before you do this.

That said, I can see more uses for this trailer than ever, and would do it again in a heartbeat.