Today I wanted to share one of the people who will be bringing a tiny house to the Conference. In just two weeks our early bird pricing closes on the Tiny House Conference, after October 1st tickets will go up to full price. More info at the website: www.tinyhouseconference.com
Some of you have heard already, but myself and Macy Miller have launched a podcast called Tiny House Chat. We already have a few episode up and you can listen to it on iTunes through the podcast app or on the website.
Listen to it here: Episode 2 – Tiny Houses vs RVs
In the winter of 2013 Brett Sutherland of Auckland, New Zealand set about to build a tiny house of his own design on a tandem-axle trailer right in the driveway of his parents home. Start to finish took just five months but with a bit of experience and a lot of tenacity and dedication Sutherland built one of the most unique, space-saving, tiny house trailers visible on the web today.
Nicknamed the MV (Mobile Villa) by Sutherland himself the inspiration behind the build was really a practical one. As Brett explains to Bryce Langston in a recent interview, “The biggest thing I was trying to avoid was losing all my money as soon as I touched down and that’s what happens when you pay a rent.” Brett truly wanted an off-the-grid, self-contained home that would allow him to concentrate more on his art than making money. He wanted to do more in life than just survive economically.
At 161 sq.ft. the Mobile Villa cost just $10,185.00 USD to build and features a sitting area, a kitchen, an upstairs sleeping loft, and a small bathroom with shower.
The roof line of the MV is a two-tier shed roof which Sutherland admits was done for airflow purposes in the sleeping loft as the top tier features a crank-out, horizontal window. The slope of the roof also allows for generous rain catchment which further allows Sutherlands pursuits for total off-grid living. The lower tier supports Brett’s two solar panels which then further feed into his electric panel situated just above the toilet area and out of direct sight and hosting a 30-amp solar regulator, battery isolator switch, and switchboard.
Upon walking in the tiny house there is immediately a twin-size day bed to the right offering guests a place to lay their head when visiting as well as a couple of sitting chairs directly across the room for more social moments. Another interesting aspect of the house is the use of what looks like standard plywood with a semi-gloss finish rather than the pine tongue-and-groove more frequently seen in tiny houses. This technique has been used before in several inexpensive yet practical ways such as the Zen Cube Mobile Living Space.
It’s what is under the day bed that is perhaps the coolest element as it houses the Flexi Tank water storage bag which is connected directly to the downspout of the gutter on the lower roof tier and holds roughly 100 gallons.
- 12-volt water pump (which services the sink and shower)
- Propane cook stove
- 12-volt outlet(s)
- Sawdust toilet
Since construction on Sutherland’s Mobile Villa ended he has moved it to a friend’s property in Bethells Beach in Auckland. With the ocean as his front yard, no shortage of palm trees as his neighbor, and plenty of room for friends and guests to come and enjoy a barbeque Sutherland and his MV are perfect testimony to the freedom, mobility, and consciousness that tiny living can bring!
- Can you see yourself living tiny at the oceanfront?
It finally came time to move my tiny house from the land where I built it, to the land where I planned to live on it. Initially I had planned to build and live in it on the same property, but circumstances changed and it was time to move on. Besides, the land that I found to move to was much more suited to me and tiny living, plus it was a much bigger lot that I could tuck my house into out of sight.
The day arrived and step one was to get the house down from the blocks that I had jacked it up onto so that I could get it off the tires (prevent tire shock) and to get it level. This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was tricky to get it up on the blocks, but now I had added another 4,000 lbs of materials on top of it. This process was slow and made me a little nervous honestly. The thing I kept in my mind the entire time: never let your hand come between the trailer and the blocks. It’s easier said than done, but if the house were ever to fall, the only thing you can do is run.
Once we got it back on its wheels, I felt a lot better. The trailer was holding the tiny house nicely even when fully loaded. To move the house I opted for a Ford F150 which I rented from a local car rental place. The rental was trickier than I had thought too because most car rental places don’t allow towing with their cars. I could have gone with a Uhaul box truck which allows you to tow and can pull that weight. I opted for the pickup truck because I had better viability and it was cheaper. As a side note, I drive a Smart car which couldn’t ever tow the house, but the truck rental was about $65 for the day.
Next time I rent to tow my house I think I’m going to opt for a “dually” which is a truck with double back tires. This allows it to handle a lot more, the F150 did fine, but it’s suspension was put to the test even though it said it could handle it fine. I should note that I have a dual axle trailer so less force was put on the trailer hitch than a single axle; then again if you have a single axle your house shouldn’t be more than 4,000 lbs total.
I had planned my route out to be the fewest number of turns, least traffic, slower speed roads and no bridges. It did mean going through one of the more congested intersections, but we planned to go during the middle of a work day, so it wasn’t too bad. The other thing that I did was in my truck I had my Father ride along to sit in the passenger seat to monitor things and check my blind spot, that was a huge help. I also had Mother and Brother following behind me in another car. Their job was to play interference for me; Basically keep cars from behind me and to block traffic when I change lanes. We coordinated it all with cell phones and it went very well.
The only two things that had me worries was pot holes/bumps in the road and we saw two state troopers, which I knew were staring at me with curiosity. I took my time, going just under the speed limit and it was very helpful to have my follow car who kept people from tailgating me.
Once we got to my land I had my tail car go ahead and open the gate, take a look around to make everything looked good. I hung back about a mile away until I got the all clear. I then was able to come in and duck into the property out of sight very quickly. I also planned this for a day and time when I noticed most people were at work and not around, less people seeing the house the better in my mind. I was able to zip down the road and into the property very quickly, unless someone happened to be already looking I don’t think anyone saw us.
Once we got to the property I had already planned out how I’d orient and place the house. The turn into the pad area was too tight to make with the length so I drove past the parking pad, into the field, did a little off roading with my tiny house to circle back around. After parking the trailer and chocking the wheels we could disconnect and I had installed a back exit to the pad to drive the truck out of easily.
All in all it was a good bit of work, quite nerve wracking and in the end, we landed safely in my new home.
I put together a tiny house towing checklist, download it by clicking the link below.