Big Tiny House© Copyright 2020 by Big Tiny HouseSimplimation.comhttps://www.bigtinyhouse.comLatest news for Big Tiny HouseHow We Made a Pullout, Slideout, Pop Out in our Big Tiny House on WheelsFri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="How We Made a Pullout, Slideout, Pop Out in our Big Tiny House on Wheels"/> </div> <p>Many have asked us how we made a slideout or &quot;pullout&quot; or &quot;pop out&quot; in our tiny house. Here are a few of the challenges we faced.</p> <h1>How to seal out the weather and moisture</h1> <p>We decided to play it extra safe with protecting our home from the weather since we live in Washington state and we have hot summers and cold wet winters. We also needed to consider how much work it would take to set up or dismantle for a move. What we came up with is an interior &quot;lip&quot; seal that compresses a heavy duty weather strip against the main trailer walls when the slideout is extended making the trailer air tight.&nbsp;</p> <p>We also opted to add additional exterior metal siding trim around where the slideout meets the main trailer. This trim diverts water away from the interior lip seal. This trim &nbsp;needs to be screwed down and adds an extra step if you are going to move the trailer, but at the same time prevents any water damage which was worth it to us.</p> <h1>How to have a flat floor&nbsp;</h1> <p>One of the most challenging aspects to our slideout design was figuring out how to have a flat floor when the pop out is extended. Most often in RV slideouts you will have that awkward small step into the slideout area. We decided that our slideout would rise three inches above the main trailer floor when we brought the pop out in for transport. You can see this demonstrated below in the short Sketchup video. The other challenge was when we bring the slideout in, that the interior lip seal didn&#39;t hit our ceiling. We recommend installing the Sketchup animation option in order to make sure that any changes to our design doesn&#39;t hit anything when you move it.</p> <p>We also wanted to hide the seam in the floor. To do this we opted for engineered wood flooring and instead of nailing or gluing the floor we kept it a floating floor since the wood snaps together. So when we need to move, we just take up the section over the slideout seam in the floor (with them all numbered so we can easily put them back).</p> <h1>How to make the pop out slideout as large as possible&nbsp;</h1> <p>One large slideout is just as much work as having two smaller ones. So we decided on one mega slideout that extends the majority of the length of the main trailer (25&#39;). In order to do this we designed three slideout booms that house our slideout mechanism. All three booms are connected by right angle gear boxes powered by either a hand crank (which we use and recommend since you can control the speed and you can sense if something is wrong without risking jamming the slideout mechanism). You also have the option of installing a small motor to power the slideout or using a high powered drill to turn it. We found the hand crank easy to use and it didn&#39;t require much strength to turn thanks to the three gear boxes.</p> <h1>How to hide the lip seal inside</h1> <p>When people tour our tiny house they often ask where the lip seal is because we used a few tricks to hide it. First of all we made the seal the same thickness as the interior trim on our upper windows by the ceiling. This fools the eye because it is on the same visual plain as the windows without an obvious break. The other trick was to paint the main &nbsp;trailer wall on the side of the slideout as well as the slideout lip the same flat white. This, again, fools the eye to think that it is a seemless wall. We always have to point out the lip seal to people which makes it feel more like a real home rather than the the tiny house trailer it is.</p> <p>In the next blog post we will list the steps for getting the Big Tiny House ready to move.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> BIG Tiny House Plans Now Available!Wed, 24 Feb 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="BIG Tiny House Plans Now Available!"/> </div> <p>We&#39;ve had incredible response to our modern 394 sq. ft. tiny house on wheels&nbsp;and mega 24&#39; slideout. To everyone who signed up for our plans: thanks for your patience! Our plans are now available for <a href="">download</a>.</p> <p>We are offering the following resources for those of you who want to know what&#39;s involved in building your own tiny house with a slideout:</p> <ul> <li>Complete Google Sketchup 3D drawing: Download the Google Sketchup drawing that we used to design and build our tiny house. Using the free version of Google Sketchup Make, you can view our tiny house plans in 3D, get measurements, hide/show layers, view cross-sections, and even edit the drawing to customize our plans for your own unique tiny house. Free updates.</li> <li>Complete Parts List: Want to know where we purchased an item or how much something weighs? Download our complete parts list in an Excel spreadsheet. It shows all the materials we used to build our tiny house, including: part numbers, cost, weight, supplier info, and links where online information is available from the supplier. Free updates.</li> <li>Detailed Slideout Plans: Curious about how we added 100+ square feet to our tiny house by building a custom 24x5&#39; level-floor slideout? Want to build your own? Download our PDF diagram and template. Watch videos of how we constructed the slideout mechanism. Free updates.</li> </ul> <p>We hope these resources will help tiny house builders to get a better picture of what&#39;s involved in building a tiny house, save time researching, learn from our experience, and build their own tiny dream home. <a href="">Go to our plans page to learn more</a>.</p> Interior Design: How to Make Your Tiny House Look BigThu, 17 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0700 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Interior Design: How to Make Your Tiny House Look Big"/> </div> <p>One of the challenges we faced when designing our tiny house on wheels was making it feel big inside even though it is only 394 square feet (smaller than a one bedroom apartment).A lot of thought went into lighting, color schemes, storage and decorations. We wanted our home to feel warm and inviting, not cold and cluttered. The greatest praise we can receive when someone new tours our home is them saying &quot;I think that I could live in a place like this&quot;. Here are some design decisions that can help you make your tiny home more expansive and livable:</p> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Many are used to lighting their traditional homes with floor or table lamps. This becomes an issue with a tiny home because you want as much floor space as possible so you need to alleviate anything that gets in the way. Make use of low profile LED recessed ceiling lights, these have come a long way in their ability to mimic warm natural light. Many come with toggle lenses so that you have control of where the light shines, like on a piece of artwork. Also some are dim-able, which can really make your home cozy and warm in the evenings.</p> <h2>Natural light</h2> <p>Strategically placed windows in your tiny home can serve a variety of purposes. For instance, you may find people installing sunroof windows or vast picture windows in order to make their home bright and give the illusion of space. One thing to consider before placing a lot of windows in your home is thinking about where you are going to park your home. If you will be living by other people, you will need privacy and that means covering those windows with visual clutter like drapes and cafe curtains. One way we got around that issue is by making the majority of our windows obscured glass, because curtains look heavy and they take up room.</p> <p>Another option would be to place windows at the highest part of your home (for those without a loft like our design). This way you get that much needed natural light reflecting off your ceiling and casting a natural glow throughout your tiny home.</p> <h2>Nix the visual clutter</h2> <p>Many tiny home&nbsp;designs that I have seen, feature a very open floor plan. This is wonderful if you have nothing to hide, but most of us do. I don&#39;t think many of us&nbsp;really like the idea of seeing the toilet brush, laundry soap, cleaning/office/pet/crafting/toiletry supplies, clothing, coats etc. out in the open all the time. Just imagine&nbsp;sitting on your couch in the evening and trying to mentally block out all that clutter. Or having to move that clutter out of the way to do something and then put it back...every single day for as long as you live in that tiny house.</p> <p>We absolutely did not want our tiny home to have visual clutter, so we designed a lot of storage closets and hidden compartments for our essentials. We also kept all of our cabinet hardware low profile and consistent throughout our home so that your eye does not rest on any place it shouldn&#39;t. We also kept the cabinet door heights consistent&nbsp;so that your eye doesn&#39;t jump up and down with each new visual plane.&nbsp;</p> <p>Also to be considered is the type of wall material you use. You will see tiny homes using wood planks or panels to line their inner walls. While this evokes a cabin feel to your home, it will add visual clutter by way of horizontal/vertical lines all along your walls and ceiling as well as those dark knots in the unfinished wood. You may not think it adds a lot, but just look at the finished product and see how much you notice just the walls. One way to minimized this effect is to paint the walls and ceiling a unified color instead of keeping the wood natural.</p> <h2>Color palette</h2> <p>When choosing interior colors for your tiny home, the sky is the limit. Everyone has their own idea of what they can live with. Some want it neutral and some want a variety of bold colors. What you need to keep in mind though is that your choice of color will either draw attention to things&nbsp;or fade them&nbsp;into the background and you can use that to your advantage.</p> <p>Ceilings in a tiny home are usually lower than a normal home. Flat white is always best to make your ceilings seem taller. Walls will feel like they are closing in on you if you paint them a dark shade, but if you want a cozier feel in a particular room, like the bedroom,&nbsp;then a darker feature wall color may be the way to go.&nbsp;</p> <p>Another trick is to paint adjoining rooms the same color so that they appear to be one large room. For instance, since our living room and kitchen shared one half of our tiny house, we painted them the same color combination. You may also consider using a neutral color in varying intensities throughout your tiny home to make it a more unified space&nbsp;(we chose shades&nbsp;of warm gray throughout).</p> <h2>Decoration</h2> <p>Less is more. Choose the items that mean the most to you or are great conversation pieces in the open for all to enjoy. We have two small bookshelves in our design for this purpose. It displays a few cherished books, photos and items we bought on our travels. We also purchased a digital picture frame and scanned all our photos so that we don&#39;t have albums and photos cluttering up our precious wall and floor space.</p> <p>Another trick is to display items that are precious only to you but you don&#39;t plan on keeping forever, on the inside of your closet door (like greeting cards from loved ones,&nbsp;artwork from&nbsp;little kids, or quotes that keep you motivated). By doing this&nbsp;you can see them everyday when you get dressed and then they are out of sight when you close the door keeping your tiny home clutter free and freeing up precious wall space for art.</p> <h2>Furniture</h2> <p>Always think dual purpose for any furniture you put in your home. For instance, we have the following:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Couch: Where we sit to watch movies, where a guest can sleep, where I work on my computer</p> </li> <li> <p>Ottoman: A footstool, another seat for guests, and inside is another nested stool for a two for one</p> </li> <li> <p>Kitchen island: Stores all of our pots, pans, dishes, silverware. Can be used as a table for my crafting projects or eating dinner. It also has our flat screen T.V. attached to one side for viewing in our living room.</p> </li> <li> <p>Bed: For its intended use of course,&nbsp;but we also store clothes in storage boxes underneath our bed so we don&#39;t need a dresser, and that saves precious floor space.</p> </li> </ul> <p>There are other space saving ideas online that you can include in your tiny house interior design that I didn&#39;t include in this blog. These are just a few of the ones we did that had the most impact on making our tiny home feel more&nbsp;spacious.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> How a Rainscreen Wall System Can Help Your Tiny HouseThu, 03 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0700 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="How a Rainscreen Wall System Can Help Your Tiny House"/> </div> <p>Moisture control is an issue for any house build including a mobile tiny house like ours. Even though our tiny house will not be sitting on the ground like a regular home, it will be out in the ever-changing weather wherever we tow it. Also, since our home is designed with full hook-ups, we plan on living &ldquo;on grid&rdquo; and will have neighbors and we would love to not be able to hear them if at all possible, so we need noise pollution control.</p> <p>When researching wall construction and siding options for our tiny house on wheels we discovered some interesting solutions for moisture control and noise dampening. One option gave us both. This solution is called a &quot;rainscreen.&quot; If you did an Web search (after reading this blog post of course) you will find all the information you could possibly need to realize that this is a smart choice for your tiny house build.</p> <h2>What is a&nbsp;rainscreen?</h2> <p>A rainscreen wall system, in a nutshell, has the following components:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Water-resistant barrier (like Tyvec or tarred felt paper).</p> </li> <li> <p>Air gap between the water-resistant barrier and the back of the siding you choose. This is achieved by using furring strips or a rainvent sheeting material.</p> </li> <li> <p>Flashings at all penetrations and vulnerable areas like around windows, doors, sun roofs.</p> </li> <li> <p>Weep holes at the bottom of the wall at the very least as well as ventilation openings at the top of the wall if at all possible (we did both). There are extensive opinions online about the pros and cons of using one or both. You decide. If you do decide to do both, just remember to install a bug screen mesh behind the vents to prevent bugs from making a home in that nice air gap behind your siding!</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Advantages of a rainscreen wall system</h2> <p>Rainscreen gaps help walls manage moisture. Water always finds its way to areas you don&#39;t want it to go. So when you install a rainscreen, you are just anticipating the inevitable and taking measures to prevent water damage to your home. You are building a place for that water to dry out or follow a path away from your home.</p> <p>Since some tiny homes on wheels have used OSB and many are using rigid foam insulation it would be very wise to have a rainscreen since these products, once wet, do not release moisture and become breeding grounds for mold.</p> <h2>How does a rainscreen help with noise control?</h2> <p>When researching soundproofing/dampening your walls there are many options to choose from. Some help with the noise you generate inside your home (do you play the drums?) and the others help with noise originating outside your home (what we worry about). So one effective way to lesson noise from the outside is to disrupt a sound wave&rsquo;s path of entry into your home. You can do this by having a gap between the outer and inner materials of your home (much like a rainscreen).</p> <h2>How we embraced the rainscreen</h2> <p>Walls:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Installed Tyvec (cheaper, generic version) over our rigid foam insulation/metal studs</p> </li> <li> <p>Attached 1&rdquo; wood furring strips along each of the metal studs and around windows and doors (in order to attach siding)</p> </li> <li> <p>Attach metal siding to furring strips</p> </li> </ol> <p>Roof:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Attach OSB plywood on top of rigid foam insulation panels and metal studs</p> </li> <li> <p>Install ice &amp; water membrane over OSB (like a second roof)</p> </li> <li> <p>Install Dupont Rain Vent batten along each metal stud location</p> </li> <li> <p>Install metal roof with DuraTech paint coating</p> </li> </ol> <p>After living in our big tiny house for about 6 months, we have been pleased with the rainscreen. It has definitely lessened the noise pollution as well as increased the insulating ability of our walls. All these benefits with negligible weight increase. We felt we made a good decision and it gives us a measure of peace knowing that moisture damage won&#39;t be a problem and living in a mobile home park won&#39;t be so noisy.</p> <p><a href="/photos/8/wall-panels">View our photos of the wall panel phase of construction &rsaquo;</a></p> Insulating Your Tiny House With Rigid Foam PanelsThu, 19 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0800 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Insulating Your Tiny House With Rigid Foam Panels"/> </div> <p>When you build your tiny house on wheels you quickly realize that your walls and ceiling are really thin compared to a &quot;real&quot; house. Since we used steel studs our walls are only 2-1/2&quot; thick. So, we needed to get the most out of our insulation choice. We also saw it is a challenge to make our walls/ceiling/floors as light and&nbsp;rigid&nbsp;as possible. When we looked at our options we chose Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam panels&nbsp;with an added radiant heat barrier foil.&nbsp;This product typically has an R value of 3.6 to 4.0 per inch of thickness so our total R value for our Big&nbsp;Tiny House insulation is around 10. The reflective coating probably won&#39;t add much, since it needs to be exposed to the air in order to radiate the heat effectively.</p> <p>In addition,&nbsp;we decided to use wood furring strips (lighter than metal) attached to the steel studs over a Tyvec vapor barrier to decrease thermal transfer. Also, noise pollution is kept to a minimum with this air gap or &quot;rain screen&quot; design.&nbsp;We chose metal (steel) siding and roofing that came with a paint coating called Dura Tech&nbsp;that reflects heat. We had over 100 degree weather over the summer and the trailer stayed nice and cool.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are some advantages and disadvantages of our choice of insulation.</p> <h2>Advantages of Rigid Foam Insulation Panels</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Used EPS (expanded polystyrene) instead of XPS (extruded polystyrene) or ISO (polyisocyanurate). Not as rigid and about 20% less insulating (4R per inch instead of 5R per inch) but at least 30% cheaper.</p> </li> <li> <p>Rigid foam offers very high R-values compared to loose-fill insulation, and some of the best among foam options. Ratings range from R-4 to R-6.5 per inch, even without a foil facing to improve matters.</p> </li> <li> <p>Expanded polystyrene board is the only type which does not use HCFCs in its production, so is the greenest choice.</p> </li> <li> <p>EPS can be bought with a radiant heat barrier facing foil that will significantly improve the insulating properties by reflecting infrared solar energy before penetrating the wall or ceiling.</p> </li> <li> <p>Rigid foam, due to its structure and its installation method, will help your walls become stronger than they were before it was installed which is an added bonus when you are using metal studs for your tiny home.</p> </li> <li> <p>High R-value per inch:&nbsp;useful where space is tight or cramped, such as in a tiny home.</p> </li> <li> <p>All are lightweight and strong,&nbsp;although EPS can be a little crumbly.</p> </li> <li> <p>Provides acoustic insulation which is very important when your walls/floors/ceiling are so thin.</p> </li> <li> <p>Most are easily cut with utility knives and power saws.</p> </li> <li> <p>All are water resistant, some more so than others (but none should face prolonged exposure to water).</p> </li> <li> <p>Will not rot.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Disadvantages of Rigid Foam Insulation</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Rigid foam insulation in wall cavities must be tightly fitted to stop air infiltration. We notched our panels on one edge&nbsp;in order to fill the gap in the metal studs and then generously used construction adhesive on the other edge to adhere to the next metal stud. After completing the walls, we went over every seam and where there was an air gap, we would fill it with spray foam insulation.</p> </li> <li> <p>Rigid foam is susceptible to sunlight. UV rays damage it, so don&#39;t expose it to the sun for long periods of time. This means that you need to side your house soon after insulating it.</p> </li> <li> <p>The air bubbles inside expanded polystyrene board&nbsp;stop heat transfer but can accumulate moisture and thus become ineffective. A moisture barrier is needed on the side exposed to the outside air.&nbsp;We used a generic equivalent to&nbsp;Tyvec.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Tools Used</h2> <ul> <li> <p>(2) tables saws for cutting and notching foam panels</p> </li> <li> <p>Putty knife (for levering in stubborn foam panels into tracks)</p> </li> <li> <p>Hand saw (for &quot;precision&quot; custom cuts in foam panels)</p> </li> <li> <p>Liquid Nails Heavy Duty (for gluing&nbsp;foam panels to tracks/studs)</p> </li> <li> <p>Liquid Nails Panel &amp; Foam (for gluing foam panels together)</p> </li> <li> <p>10 oz. and 28 oz. caulk guns</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Alternatives to Rigid Foam Insulation Panels</h2> <p>Our choice of using this particular insulation was based on our unique build. Many choose to use spray foam insulation which is great if you can afford it and you have plywood sheeting on the outside layer of your home to enclose the foam as it expands.</p> <p>Others prefer fiberglass insulation, but again it is made for a traditional wall depth and width so make sure it will work for your design.&nbsp;We, on the other hand, don&#39;t have thick walls or&nbsp;plywood sheeting in our design in order to save weight so the rigid foam panels were our best insulation option for our tiny house on wheels.</p> <p><a href="/photos/8/wall-panels">View our photos of the wall panel phase of construction &rsaquo;</a></p> Should You Use Steel or Wood Studs to Build Your Tiny House?Mon, 12 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0800 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Should You Use Steel or Wood Studs to Build Your Tiny House?"/> </div> <p>Here&#39;s what we learned in the process of building our 35&#39; tiny house.&nbsp;Since we were not experienced builders, we were not&nbsp;loyal to a particular method of construction. The advantage of this was that we could use an non-traditional material that best suited our criteria for our custom tiny home on wheels.&nbsp;Most tiny homes use wood framing for walls. But&nbsp;we decided to use steel. Here&#39;s why:</p> <h2>Advantages of Using Steel Studs</h2> <ol> <li><strong>Weight</strong>: Depending on the gauge used, steel studs can be&nbsp;10% lighter than wood (based on a&nbsp;2.5&quot; wide 43 mil steel stud compared to 2x4&quot; wood stud).&nbsp;Since we were building a BIG tiny house, we needed to think about weight all the time. The tiny homes on wheels that we researched were usually a lot smaller than our design and would be able to get away with using wood framing and plywood sheeting for the walls and still be towable. Wood studs&nbsp;would definitely be easier to work with for someone without the welding experience or tools for metal framing. But with our design we decided that the weight savings of using steel studs&nbsp;was more important.</li> <li><strong>Stability</strong>:&nbsp;When you go and pick out wood studs at the lumber yard you quickly see that no two studs are alike. Many are warped or gouged and you need to pick through the stock to find straight sticks. Once you have your straight&nbsp;studs, your next challenge is keeping them straight by storing them in a dry flat place until you use them. Also, when installing wood studs, mistakes happen and it is more difficult to remove than a metal stud which you can quickly unscrew and reposition.&nbsp;Metal studs are also convenient because they are always straight;&nbsp;this means straighter walls. And the novice builder&nbsp;needs all the help in that area that he or she&nbsp;can get!</li> <li><strong>Fire/Insect/Mold/Rot Prevention:</strong>&nbsp;This is a no-brainer.&nbsp;</li> </ol> <h2>Disadvantages</h2> <p>As with any choice in building materials, you need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few that we needed to consider before making our choice to use metal studs.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Thermal Transfer: </strong>Thermal transfer (heat loss to the outside during winter and heating penetration to the inside during the summer)&nbsp;is an issue with metal studs when used for your perimeter walls/floors/roof. In order to offset this problem you need to add an additional thermal break in way of furring strips, spray foam&nbsp;and insulation between the studs and the exterior climate. This will add additional cost and time to your project.</li> <li><strong>Load Bearing Limitations:</strong> We decided to use 43 mil steel studs for the walls/roof/floors of our tiny home in order to save as much weight as possible. We build a support frame box/cage for the home using 2.5&quot; steel tube. When this outer box&nbsp;was completed we just needed to screw the steel stud track to that frame and then screw in our studs. We used heavy duty construction adhesive wherever we could in order to fill gaps for sound prevention and add more strength to the wall system.</li> <li><strong>Endless Screwing:</strong> Sometimes we&nbsp;daydreamed of just being able to use a nail gun (bam, bam, bam...done!). When you decide to&nbsp;use metal studs to frame your tiny home, you are committing to using metal screws and drilling and counter sinking and filling every hole for your whole project from beginning to end. Putting up the studs is fast, but it is the things you attach to the studs that take forever.&nbsp;This became tedious and at times downright aggravating. The best advice I would give would be to pre-drill every hole with a drill bit that&#39;s a little smaller than the screws (especially if you are screwing into a heavier gauge metal) and then counter-sink&nbsp;any wood/trim you plan to use so that you will have a smooth, finished product. This will save you time, broken drill bits, and aching arm&nbsp;muscles.</li> </ol> <h2>Tools Used</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Metal band saw for cutting tracks and studs quickly</p> </li> <li> <p>Metals snips (for quick cuts to join tracks)</p> </li> <li> <p>Cordless electric impact driver drill</p> </li> <li> <p>Phillips heavy duty impact driver bits&nbsp;(we broke regular Phillips driver bits on each screw&nbsp;before we found the&nbsp;heavy duty impact driver bits)</p> </li> <li> <p>Liquid Nails Heavy Duty (for gluing foam panels to steel studs)</p> </li> <li> <p>10 oz. and 28 oz. caulk guns</p> </li> </ul> <p>In the end we feel that steel studs were the right choice for our project. <a href="/photos/8/wall-panels">View all our photos for the wall system phase of construction &rsaquo;</a></p> <p>Our next blog post will be on insulating and thermal transfer prevention in your tiny house.</p> Big Tiny House Project TimelineMon, 22 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Big Tiny House Project Timeline"/> </div> <p>We&#39;ve added a project timeline to our Website.</p> <p>Now you can view the highlights of our big tiny house project in chronological order. A photo for each milestone gives a quick snapshop of the work that was completed. Links to more photos, blog posts, and other resources will be added in the future.</p> <p>As of this post, the timeline shows events from when we started working in May, 2014, trailer construction, slideout construction, steel frame, wall panels, exterior, and electrical.</p> <p><a class="button" href="/timeline">View our project timeline &rsaquo;</a></p> Mega Slideout Transforms Tiny House Into BIG Tiny House!Tue, 29 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Mega Slideout Transforms Tiny House Into BIG Tiny House!"/> </div> <p>We liked the idea of living in a tiny house, but all of the towable tiny house plans we saw were too tiny for us. When we checked out trailers at an RV show, we noticed that slideouts added a lot of space. Even a 2 foot slideout made the space seem much larger. So, why not make a tiny house with a slideout?</p> <p>After kicking around several scenarios, we decided that one big slideout would be easier to build than several smaller slideouts. The trick was designing a floor plan that would have rooms that would work with the slideout. We finally arrived at a plan for the slideout to contain the bedroom toward the rear and a living room at the front, with a wall that would serve as an office dividing them. A fixed bathroom would be at the rear and kitchen in the front that shared the living room space. This ended up being very convenient, since all the wiring and plumbing would be on the non-slideout side. Now we needed to come up with a slideout mechanism.</p> <p>We studied slideouts on trailers and RVs, but they all extended straight out about 2 feet, and the floor of the slideout was offset higher than the main floor. We wanted about 5 feet of slideout and a completely flat floor. So, that meant that the slideout needed to extend out and then down to sit flush with the floor. After a lot of brainstorming and consulting with our resident retired mechanical genius, we can up with 3 booms with ball bearings that would ride on tracks inside a box mounted within cross tubes on the trailer frame. The bearing tracks would go straight out and then slope down at the end. We built a prototype with some scrap metal. That checked out, so we created a 3D drawing in Google Sketchup, which let us see it from all angles, animated the slideout in and out, and print dimensional plans and cut sheets.</p> <p>Next, we constructed the boxes that would serve as the bearing tracks. We cut sheets of flat steel and welded them into boxes. It was really tough to make sure all the boxes were uniformly sized and square. Since they each had their own unique &quot;personality,&quot; we named them Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Once we had boxes, we needed to cut the tracks out of the sidewalls. We printed out actual size templates from Sketchup and used them to cut templates out of 1/4&quot; plywood using a band saw. We fine-tuned the wood guides the a disc sander and then used them as guides to plasma cut the tracks. Then began the grinding... endless grinding to shape and smooth the bearing tracks. We had to insert the boxes into the receiver tubes in the trailer frame every once in a while to make sure they would fit.</p> <p>The other half of the slideout mechanism is the boom. We used thick steel tube and cut notches for the bearing mounts. After a lot of testing and fine tuning (and completely rebuilding Huey&#39;s box) they all fit in the frame and slid out and down.</p> <p>After several days of searching the Web and calling manufacturers, we finally found reasonably priced, appropriately sized, right-angle gearboxes. While we were waiting for them to arrive, we started working on&nbsp;the lead screws. We made a collar for the end of each lead screw that would spin between two thrust plates. When the screw rotates through a nut attached to the boom, it pushed or pulls the boom. The gearbox attaches to the collar and turns the screw. And a round shaft connects all 3 gearboxes. A section of shaft sticks out the back bumper for a manual crank attachment. All of this was made to bolt in the frame so it could be removed for repairs. After our test assembly checked was working (using an electric hand drill for power), we plasma cut holes in the trailer frame and installed everything in the trailer. Spray grease on the screws and the sides of the box really helped it move easier. We also made cover plates to protect the mechanism from dust and weather. The last step was to weld a 24&#39; long tube to connect all three booms and then weld angle iron risers on each boom to support the subfloor.</p> <p>Since the slideout was a deal-breaker for our project, we were prepared to walk away if we could not make it work. So, we held our breath as we tested the completed slideout for the first time. And it worked! We were extremely relieved. Our big tiny house dreams were going to be a reality.</p> <h2>Materials</h2> <ul> <li>Flat steel for boxes</li> <li>Thick steel tube for booms</li> <li>Large steel tube for slideout frame</li> <li>Angle iron for subfloor supports</li> <li>1&quot; round tube for drive shafts</li> <li>Misc. metal for thrust plate assembly</li> <li>Bearings</li> <li>(3) lead screws</li> <li>(3) nuts for lead screws</li> <li>Washers for screw collar</li> <li>Right-angle gearboxes</li> <li>Electric motor</li> <li>1/4&quot; bolts and nuts</li> <li>Thread lock</li> </ul> <h2>Tools</h2> <ul> <li>Metal band saw</li> <li>Stick welder</li> <li>Table saw for cutting wood guides for plasma cutter</li> <li>Band saw for cutting wood guides for plasma cutter</li> <li>Disc sander for fine-tuning wood guides for plasma cutter</li> <li>Plasma cutter</li> <li>Several hand grinders for grinding bearing tracks smooth</li> <li>Drill press and hand drills</li> <li>Metal lathe for milling custom lead screw fittings</li> <li>Die grinder for hard-to-reach spots</li> <li>Tape measure</li> <li>Squares</li> <li>Metal files</li> <li>Tap &amp; die for threading bolt holes</li> <li>Hammers</li> <li>Punches</li> <li>Clamps</li> <li>End wrenches</li> <li>Screwdrivers</li> <li>Spray paint</li> </ul> <h2>Make your tiny house a BIG tiny house with our plans!</h2> <ul> <li><a href="/photos/4/slideout">More photos of our slideout construction</a></li> <li><a href="/plans">Download a Google Sketchup file of our slideout construction&nbsp;including prices, suppliers, cost, and weights</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wiring Brakes and Lights on Our Custom Tiny House TrailerFri, 18 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="Wiring Brakes and Lights on Our Custom Tiny House Trailer"/> </div> <p>Since our trailer can be towed with a pickup truck or a semi tractor, we wanted to wire it for both flat pin RV-style connectors and round pin heavy duty connectors. This was a little tricky, since RV connectors combine brake and stop lights into one pin each for right and one left lamps. HD connectors have separate pins for left turn signal, right turn signal, and brake lights. So we used two sets of brake/turn lamps. The RV connector uses one set and the HD connector uses the other set. The clearance/running light pin runs both sets. That way, no special wiring with diodes was required. We also made a long cable with RV connectors on both ends to hook up to the tow vehicle.</p> <p>Not everyone follows the &quot;standard&quot; way of wiring trailer lights. In fact, when you search for wiring diagrams on the Web, you find several different ways to do things. So, we connected everything to DIN wiring blocks to allow us to easily change the wiring configuration if needed.</p> <p>Our state laws require electric brakes for trailers over 3,000 lbs, so all four wheels have electric brakes. These are run by a brake controller in the cab of the towing vehicle. State law also requires a safety breakaway switch that will activate the electric trailer brakes in case the trailer is separated from the tow vehicle. We bought a rechargeable, battery-powered breakaway switch and installed in the trailer frame above the dolly so it could be used in both tow configurations.</p> <h2>How We Did It</h2> <p>We started by planning out the wiring on a dry erase board. Then we made a test panel on a piece of plywood with the actual connectors and lamps and made sure everything worked. Then we created a complete wiring diagram PDF.</p> <p>Next, we drilled holes in the frame for the wiring block access boxes. The plasma cutter came in handy for cutting the large openings for the tail lamps. Once the holes were in place, we installed metal conduit along with the retainer brackets, junction boxes, and flexible metal tube. It took a little while to snake the wires through the conduit (with the help of a little liquid dish soap). Then we soldered the lamps. We used heat shrink tube instead of electrical tape just to be a little more professional.</p> <p>DIN blocks made wiring much easier. We soldered all the ends of the wires so they wouldn&#39;t fray and hooked them up to the appropriate slot in the block. The front connector had 27 wires, so it was a little tricky getting them all lined up and fitting the block into the tube. But it sure looked nice when it was done. The rear block only had 17 wires, so it was a little easier. It&#39;s surprising how complicated the wiring is for just a few lights.</p> <p>We found a place for the breakaway switch at the front of the trailer above the dolly and drilled and tapped holes and bolted it in. We used 4-pin trailer connectors so the unit could be detached easily later if needed.</p> <p>Once we had everything in place, we tested it to make sure all the lights and brakes actually worked. We used a 12V battery and alligator clips and tested each connector pin to see if the right lights came on, the breakaway switch battery would charge, and the electric brakes and breakaway switch would activate properly.</p> <p>Everything worked! Now we were ready for a road test.</p> <h2>Materials</h2> <ul> <li>Metal conduit, brackets, junctions, and boxes</li> <li>Wire</li> <li>Rechargeable battery-powered breakaway safety switch kit</li> <li>Lights (round red and amber, red 2-way tail lamps, license plate lamp)</li> <li>Connectors (RV and HD)</li> <li>DIN blocks</li> <li>Heat shrink tube</li> <li>Metal flex tube</li> </ul> <h2>Tools</h2> <ul> <li>Electric hand drill</li> <li>Plasma cutter</li> <li>Hand grinder</li> <li>Gas soldering iron</li> <li>Wire cutters</li> <li>Screwdrivers</li> <li>Wrenches for conduit</li> </ul> <h2>More Information</h2> <ul> <li><a href="/photos/1/trailer">More photos of our trailer construction and wiring</a></li> <li><a href="/plans">Download a Google Sketchup file of our trailer construction including prices, suppliers, cost, weight, and wiring diagrams</a></li> </ul> How We Made Our Own Custom Tiny House TrailerWed, 16 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700 <div class="image"> <img src="" alt="How We Made Our Own Custom Tiny House Trailer"/> </div> <p>After looking at the trailers available for purchase, we decided to build our own.</p> <h2>Why We Built Our Own Trailer</h2> <p>So, why didn&#39;t we just buy a ready-made trailer and build on top of it?</p> <ul> <li> <p>Size: Most trailers are only 18-24 feet long and we needed 35 feet.</p> </li> <li> <p>Strength: Most trailers are built with light materials and wouldn&#39;t hold up to 10,000 lbs. over a long distance.</p> </li> <li> <p>Design: Most trailers aren&#39;t designed for building tiny houses on top of, so building our own gave us the flexibility to support the design of our custom tiny house.</p> </li> <li> <p>Cost: With the tools and skills available to us, we could build our own for less than buying one.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Our Unique Design</h2> <p>The main frame of our trailer is 35 feet long, 8 feet wide, and built with 3x6x.188 steel tube. Since our tiny house features a 24&#39;x5&#39; slideout, we designed the 3 cross tubes of the frame to house the slideout track mechanism. We purchased a new 12,000 lb. tandem axle trailer kit, electric brakes, hitch, and lights from a truck/trailer supply retailer nearby. We also were fortunate to find a set of 4 slightly used tires with rims and a local junkyard for a great price.</p> <p>We modeled our trailer after dual semi configurations, with a dolly in the front. The axles are split up, so that one is near the rear of the trailer, and the other is mounted on a dolly. The dolly attaches to the trailer with a 5th-wheel hitch and to the tow vehicle with a standard ball hitch. This gives us the flexibility to tow it with a regular pickup with the ball hitch or hire a semi tractor or hotshot hauler to tow it with the 5th-wheel hitch. It lowers the tongue weight on the ball hitch. And it provides more stability along the length of the trailer while towing. When parked, the hitch can be removed and stored under the trailer.</p> <h2>Tools We Used</h2> <p>A lot more work went into making the trailer than we expected (2 months). And a lot of equipment was needed:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Flatbed trailer for hauling 20 ft. sticks of steel tube</p> </li> <li> <p>Steam cleaner for cleaning the protective coating of grease off steel tubes</p> </li> <li> <p>Metal band saw for cutting tube</p> </li> <li> <p>Plasma cutter for cutting holes in frame</p> </li> <li> <p>Stick welder for welding... a <em>lot </em>of welding!</p> </li> <li> <p>Chop saw for small cuts</p> </li> <li> <p>Laser transit, bubble levels, tape measures, and squares for making sure things were level, square, and straight</p> </li> <li> <p>House jack, floor jack, pneumatic jacks, and custom adjustable screw jack stands</p> </li> <li> <p>Air compressor and paint gun</p> </li> <li> <p>Misc. hand tools: grinders, drills, die grinder, hammers, clamps,</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How We Did It</h2> <p>We started by assembling the axle, suspension, brakes, and wheels. Then we cut the tube for the frame using the metal band saw. Next, we welded the frame, starting with the dolly. We made sure everything was exactly square and level so that it would stay that way as we built it out. It took&nbsp;the laser level, bubble levels, and measuring diagonals to get it right. Lots of readjusting was needed.</p> <p>We plasma cut holes for lights and connectors. Installed the conduit, ran cable, and hooked up the lamps and connectors to the wiring boxes. The lights and brakes are wired to both a 7-pin flat RV-style connector and a 7-pin round Heavy Duty connector near the hitch. We used metal conduit and junction boxes to protect the wiring. A DIN-style wiring block is located at the front and rear&nbsp;to easily change the wiring configuration if the tow vehicle has a strange setup. The battery-powered breakaway safety switch is setup to activate the electric brakes if the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle.</p> <p>Finally, we sprayed a coat of dark gray paint. We took it out for a test drive and weighed it, and it came in at 3,000 pounds exactly, which was less than what we expected. Now we were ready to start building the slideout mechanism.</p> <h2>More Information</h2> <ul> <li><a href="/photos/1/trailer">More photos of our trailer construction</a></li> <li><a href="/plans">Download a Google Sketchup file of our trailer construction&nbsp;including prices, suppliers, cost, weight, and wiring diagrams</a></li> </ul>