Road Trip Tiny House Design Concept

From time to time I daydream about taking my family on an extended road trip in a tiny house.  So just for fun, I drew this tiny house design and got a little carried away in the details. I suspect more than a few folks will appreciate some of the ideas here, so I thought I’d share what I’ve drawn into this one.

I wanted this tiny house to be easy to tow, so it had to be aerodynamic and lightweight. I wanted it to be able to sleep a family of 4 and have a flexible-use interior. It needed to be off-grid but still have an air conditioner and complete kitchen.

To keep weight down I designed it to fit on a 16-foot tiny house trailer, but I used two tricks to get a little more space.

  1. I used some of the space over the tongue. I show something like a bay window bump-out. When you build over the trailer tongue you have to keep the house out of the way of the turning tow vehicle – so I angled the walls in a similar direction as the trailer tongue. This also helps make the house more aerodynamic.
  2. I also extended the house over the back of the trailer. I show a 45-degree diagonal bump-out that adds 2-feet to the house without causing the house to hit the ground when on steep driveways.

I don’t think either of these tricks add too much weight to the house, since extension out back is mostly hollow. The other advantage of using a 16-foot trailer is lower cost.

To further keep things light I’d also use metal framing, which can save 40% to 60% compared to wood. Typically tiny houses weight a lot more than travel trailers because tiny houses are built like houses.

I’d also use lightweight siding, like galvanized roofing material. I think the metal siding also compliments the aerodynamic shape.

Wedge shaped tiny houses (where the shed roof slope goes from front-to-back instead of side-to-side) help air flow up and over the house. To maximize the ceiling height in the loft while still staying below 13′ 6″ (maximum allowed trailer height) I used something like a saltbox roof design. The roof pitch shown here is 3/12. The eave on the trailer tongue side is also much shorter to avoid catching air.

The interior is designed to maximize space while providing a ton of function. But before we go inside, let me show you the ramp and tiny porch.


The floor below the porch and the ramp would have a perforated metal surface and galvanized steel structure. The ramp would be hinged and would fold up against the house when on the road. This style would go well with the modern feel of the house and it would help knock sand and dirt off shoes before entering the house – which would be especially great for folks with kids & dogs.

The small inset porch is also lower than the interior floor, which will help keep rainwater out of the house. I’ve noticed many tiny homes don’t plan for this; the porch will be built on the same framing as the floor inside – which can lead to water problems. So even it you use wood on your porch, be sure to attach it to the trailer frame, which would keep it lower than the floor inside.

The entry is on the side to allow more function on end of the house. The bathroom and kitchen are on the trailer tongue side of the house. The multi-mode living room on the other side.

The front door is angled toward the living room to make guests feel welcomed into the home. The door swings in like any normal home – and unlike a travel trailer. Some folks think that tiny house doors should also open outwards, like so many RVs, because it somehow saves interior space. It does not.

You see the space inside any door is path space… space dedicated for passing through. Unless you’re barricading the door (ha ha) this space will always be free of objects – so the swinging of the door is never in the way.

An inward opening door is also more welcoming to visitors, easier to enter in the rain and wind, and is not dangerously slammed on the exterior of the house by the wind on a blustery day. The only advantage I can think of for an outward opening door is if you plan to leave it open for extended periods of time. But in that case you could simply get a door with an screened opening window instead.

Right across from the main entry is the sliding pocket door to the bathroom and the ladder to the kid’s sleeping loft. Behind the opened front door is the kitchen.  Also just inside the front door is a small shoe box for leaving shoes at the door.

Looking down at the living room in sofa mode. That’s a TV on the wall on the right, on a swinging arm mount.

The living rom has several modes. There are two flip-up tables that flank the pull out sofa bed. A futon or pair of long cushions could be used for the sofa bed. Shown here is what a futon might look like. Below you can see what bedroom mode looks like.

But there are several other modes for this multi-functional room. The table on the left is just large enough for four to have a meal.

There’s even a washer-dryer unit hidden in the closet. More storage is located in the large drawer under the sofa and in a narrow compartment behind the sofa.

Since extended road trips might include some homeschooling, the two flip-up tables could also be setup as desks.  On the left are bookshelves behind the closet and a whiteboard for homeschool mode. We might need a desk lamp on each side too.

There’s quite a bit of desk space actually… enough for 5 computer workstations – although I can’t image anyone using it like this, but it shows the various seating options nicely.

Those folding chairs hang in the kitchen when not in use.

The kitchen is simple. It has a sink, induction stove top, microwave, under-counter refrigerator, and a Berkey Water Filter on the left side of the sink Shown is the Travel Berkey – the one we can buy here in California – but also perfect for tiny houses.

There are cabinets above and below and three small (24″ x 18″) opening windows between the countertop and upper cabinets – more for natural light than the view.

I’ve often wished for a small faucet above my Berkey for easy refilling, so in this design I drew one in.

The bathroom is a typical tiny house bathroom. Shown here is a 32-inch square shower, small wall mounted sink, and Nature’s Head composting toilet. There’s also a cabinet above the toilet for essentials.

The loft is shown with two twin mattresses but a queen size mattress would also fit. The loft is open at both ends to allow air to flow around the house nicely. This would also provide a great view outside and lots of natural light for small children to play up there.

The only disadvantage of this design is that the parents sleeping below wouldn’t have privacy – so to increase privacy a solid wall or a wall that almost touches the ceiling could be used.

 

In the corner behind the kitchen & bathroom is a utility closet with an upper and lower compartment that are accessible from outside the house.

  • The upper compartment could also house all the utility bits & pieces like the solar system, batteries, and water heater.
  • The lower compartment could house a propane tank or extra batteries.

In many cases you want a space for utility items like this that is outside the living space. It can reduce the risk of dangers from gas leaks or gasses from unsealed or damaged batteries.

The mini split air conditioner compressor would be housed over the trailer tongue and just clear bumping into the tow vehicle. The other half of the mini split is located just above the kitchen and points toward the loft and living room.

Either compartment could have double doors too, in case you wanted to store something you preferred to have venter when parked.

When on the road the outer door could be shut to prevent the utility closet becoming a wind scoop.

I think a house like this could be built to weight less than 7,000 pounds, which would put it in the range of many large SUV tow vehicles, like the GMC Yukon XL (Chevy Suburban) pictured here. It would also put it in the range of entry level pickups like the Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500.

But not everyone wants to sacrifice size for mobility. Many people want larger tiny houses (24-foot and larger) and just plan to stay put for a while.

In any case I hope some of the ideas I’ve shown here are useful to you. Let me know if you’d like to see me turn this concept into plans. Also feel free to post questions and comments below.

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Ashlee Fazio – Destiny Dweller

The following is a guest post from Ashlee Fazio, 25 year old homeschool teacher from New York. (The beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley is where she calls “home”, about an hour and a half train ride North of the Big Apple.) She blogs at Destinydweller.com and you can find her on social media at Facebook, Instagram (@destinydweller), Snapchat (@destinydweller), and Youtube.


Welcome to my oasis on wheels, the most simple and adorable thing that I have ever laid eyes on. From the outside, the red roof draws your eye and can distract you from many of the amazing features that it contains. My house is completely off the grid which means that I can park my home ANYWHERE and have it fully up and running: on the beach, at the top of a mountain, in the middle of the rainforest, in my mom’s driveway… ANYWHERE!

Key off-grid features include:

  • 6 solar panels with mounts that can be placed up to 100 yards from my home
  • Wood burning stove as my sole heat source
  • Nature’s head compostable toilet
  • Rainwater collection system boasting two 50 gallon rain barrels and multiple filters
  • Propane hot water heater and stove top
  • Now let’s make our way inside…

The collapsible porch is the newest addition to my home. It is a quaint 36 square feet which can be broken down and slid into the house for easy transport. I love sitting on my gravity chair and gazing up at the stars on the darkest nights.


Open the door and you will get a pretty good glimpse at my soul. The “interior design” is what came of me taking my soul, the things I hold dearest to my heart, and tossing them onto shelves and walls.

The wood-burning stove keeps me warm all winter as I lounge on my convertible bean bag chair or relax in my hammock. (Yes, I have a hammock in my house!!!) The night sky comes to life on my ceiling as the moon shines down surrounded by glow in the dark constellations.

My tiny dining room table flips up from the wall with enough room for three people to sit comfortably and enjoy a home-cooked meal as the aroma fills the house. When I am done, I flip the table back down to create more space.

Walk past my shelves of books, elephants, and buddhas as you make your way into my closet with double rows. Any lady could fit all of the clothes, shoes, and accessories she needed into this beautiful space.

The kitchen is equipped with a three-quarter fridge and freezer, stove top, sink, and washer/dryer hook ups. Who said going tiny meant you had to sacrifice the comforts of home?! With more than enough storage for all of my dishes, cups, and utensils as well as my food and spices, organization has been no problem.

Now, to my favorite room of the house: the bathroom. As you step inside you walk into a rainforest and shower under a refreshing waterfall… Or at least that was the idea in my design. Take note of the tiny tub (which I can actually bathe in!) and the compostable toilet. Would you mind awakening to this every morning?

Lastly, make your way up the ladder to my lofts. One acts as a small storage space for all the things I do not need very often: photo albums, snowboard, board games, etc. The other serves as my bedroom with enough space for a queen size bed, hamper, bed stand, and shelving unit. The skylight allows the sun to wake me up every day and the many windows throughout the house allow the grasshoppers to lull me to sleep.

Going tiny was far and beyond the best decision I could have made. I realized that I did not need more “stuff” to be happy. I did not need a large space to feel whole. I did not need to do what everyone else was doing just because everyone else was doing it. For me, going tiny has allowed me to slow down and really experience life. It has given me the space (ironically) in my life to look within myself for answers to my life and my future rather than constantly looking for outside guidance. It caused me to think more deeply about the amount of wasted time, space, money, and energy that had consumed my life. Giving up everything to go tiny gave me everything I needed to appreciate life.

Also, on a more tangible level:

  • I am able to travel more, especially spontaneous adventures.
  • I have donated countless clothing and home items to those who really need it.
  • I began writing a blog to document my journey.
  • I started a garden.
  • I learned basic “handy-man” skills.
  • I have a place to call home.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope to see you again real soon! xoxox

Learn more about Ashlee Fazio, a 25 year old homeschool teacher from New York. (The beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley is where she calls “home”, about an hour and a half train ride North of the Big Apple.) She blogs at Destinydweller.com and you can find her on social media at Facebook, Instagram (@destinydweller), Snapchat (@destinydweller), and Youtube.

 

 

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The Kestrel by Rewild Homes

The woodwork and cabinetry in this tiny house is amazing, don’t you think? It’s the Kestrel, a 24-foot tiny house by Rewild Homes on Vancouver Island.

It was custom-built for a client. The house has tons of storage and includes a washer-dryer combo under the stairs. The kitchen has a gas stovetop, wood countertop, and an apartment sized refrigerator. The bathroom even has a normal 5-foot bathtub.

You can learn more on the Rewind Homes website and on their Instagram.

The house on the right is the Kestrel.

Love the white walls contrasting the woodwork.

Those stairs look easy to climb.

Just inside the front door is built-in seating and shelves.

A look down from the loft.


The loft looks like it has plenty of head room.

A detailed look at the cabinetry, above and below.

 

Dramatic interior views. Love the big window over the kitchen sink.

Very large bathroom for a tiny house.

See more of this house on the Rewind Homes website and on their Instagram.

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Steel Tiny House Frames

While steel tiny houses are not usually the do-it-yourselfer’s first choice (due to the learning curve) and new option for building steel tiny house frames is taking root.

I use the term ‘new option’ loosely. The first year I began blogging about the tiny house movement (2008) I met a fellow named Bill who was building tiny houses in Sonoma County, California. He had partnered with a local company to build steel tiny house frames similar to the ones pictured here. So truth be told… this technology has been around for a while for commercial construction, but is now really taking off for tiny houses.

In a nutshell, imagine drawing a tiny house design on paper and sending it off to a local steel frame manufacturer. They make a CAD drawing of your design and engineer all the needed steel panels. Then the real magic begins.

They stick the CAD drawing on a USB thumb drive and pop it into a machine that works a lot like a printer. It’s fed by a spool of sheet steel like a printer is fed by paper. But instead to spraying ink, it punches, drills, folds, and cuts the metal into all the parts defined in the CAD drawing.

Then a crew of builders on staff assemble the individual parts into wall, floor, and roof panels. Once all the panels are complete they can either ship it off to you for assembly, or they can assemble it for you on your tiny house trailer. They can even sheath the house.

The end product is a tiny house shell that’s stronger and lighter than wood. You finish it off like a normal tiny house with all the wood you like. In the end you get the house you wanted and finished off inside and out with whatever materials you choose.

The main disadvantage is that future changes are not easy. If your house was made of wood, you could remodel it just like a normal wood framed house – still not an easy task, but easier than a steel framed house. But this seems like a minor issue when you add up the benefits of saving weight and having a super strong engineered tiny house frame.

One of the leading companies is Volstrukt, located in Austin, Texas. Check out the Volstrukt website to learn more about this construction option. They even offer some tiny house designs to choose from – which might save you some of the CAD drawing cost. Photos are via the Volstrukt Instagram.

Does your company provide this service too? Leave an introduction and your website address in a comment below.

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TexZen Tiny Houses

TexZen can help you design and build your tiny house.

TexZen Tiny Home Co. is proud to be the only RVIA certified tiny home builder in Texas! RVIA requires its members to meet or exceed industry standards for plumbing, electrical, HVAC and fire safety. Our manufacturing facility is open to frequent inspections to ensure that we are in compliance with the over 500 codes required to maintain certification. Certified Tiny Home RVs allow greater access to financing, insurance, home warranties and best of all-anywhere you can legally park an RV you can park your TexZen Tiny Home!

To learn and see more visit the TexZen website.

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Mint Tiny Homes

I was checking out Instagram the other day – it’s where the tiny house community has moved – and ran across Mint Tiny Homes. I really love what they do with their interiors.

Below are some photos they shared on InstagramMint Tiny Homes is located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and they build for customers in the US & Canada.

I’m a total sucker for contrasting wood and white walls (photo above). Not sure if I like it darker (below) or lighter (above). The darker woods feel more rustic and antique to me – the light more modern.

Not much upper cabinet space below, but those tend to close spaces in. This looks clean and wide open. Love the fridge, sink, and range choices.

Notice the ladder on the sliding barn door. I wonder how well that works. Cool idea. Love the wood stove and tons of shelf space. Shelves work fine in tiny houses you don’t move a bunch.

Below, more of the tiny house. It has a couple of lofts and stairs that do a full 180° turn.

The stairs below have a washer/dryer and a bunch of storage built into them.

Below… check out that bathroom. Very cool.

Go see all they do on the Mint Tiny Homes and on their Instagram.

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