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Couple Build a Solar Powered, Steel-Framed Tiny House on Wheels

This is a solar powered tiny house on wheels built by Neil and Tonya Bennett.

You can follow their journey moving around the country at their website and their Instagram.

Please enjoy, learn more, and re-share below. Thank you!

Couple’s Solar, Steel-Framed Tiny House on Wheels!

Couple Build a Solar Power THOW

Photos via Instagram

Couple Build a Solar Power THOW

Couple Build a Solar Power THOW

Photos via Instagram

Highlights

  • Solar power
  • THOW
  • 1 bathroom with shower
  • Drought friendly
  • Off the grid
  • 33 ft. long

Quote

We found building our own tiny home allows for customization in the design that better fit our needs and lifestyle. We can also make it with significantly better materials and insulation to deal with extreme weather conditions. If a repair is needed, “we built it,” so we can fix it. Being able to live unplugged will allow us to stay in those crazy cool places wherever and whenever we want (and is allowed), and also minimize our impact on the world around us (that’s a biggie).1

Resources

  1. http://www.tinyhouseontheroad.com/single-post/2016/11/29/RV-or-THOW-tiny-house-on-wheels
  2. http://www.tinyhouseontheroad.com/
  3. https://www.instagram.com/tinyhouseontheroad/

Our big thanks to Neil and Tonya Bennett for sharing!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Silver Gypsy July 6, 2017, 1:38 pm

    This is a very interesting build but there aren’t enough pictures. Where is/are the sleeping area(s). What is opposite right of the front door?

    • James D. July 6, 2017, 10:24 pm

      Silver Gypsy, it appears they’re not done building it yet… Note one photo doesn’t show the kitchen but the next one does and in all of them the stove isn’t installed yet, no chimney pipe, etc.

      So we don’t know whether they plan on installing any separating walls, etc.

      However, one thing interesting to note is they raised a large section of the floor… Everything from the left of the door to the rear is the raised space we see of the interior…

      So makes one wonder what’s under there besides just storage space… Mind, this is suppose to be off-grid…

      “Drought Friendly” probably means they got some good size water tanks down there… among other possibilities…

      Should be interesting when they do the final finished tour…

  • Mike July 6, 2017, 1:53 pm

    toilet and bath right next to kitchen area? bad idea…

  • Rooster July 6, 2017, 1:59 pm

    I see the toilet is conveniently installed next to the kitchen sink. With no walls. Is this what is referred to as an open plan?

  • Beth Grant DeRoos July 6, 2017, 2:17 pm

    Not enough photos and the fact you have those unique steps to get to the bathroom AND kitchen area suggests these owners obviously don’t plan on having any elderly/disabled family/friends over to visit.

  • Theresa July 6, 2017, 2:45 pm

    They bathroom is in there kitchen?. That is not a house that I would want to live in

  • LISA SETTLE July 6, 2017, 2:49 pm

    I have enough trouble with the bathroom being OFF the kitchen, but this one is IN the kitchen. No way!

  • david July 6, 2017, 3:29 pm

    I am amazed they feel safe with only horizontal and vertical beams/studs, because I know from own experience that THAT doesn’t hold up against lateral forces in strong winds. Regardless of steel (mine too) they better had employed diagonal wind braces as well. But then, they say they only “typically move every 3-6 month for work”, so maybe they can avoid ANY area with strong winds, lol.
    Other than that, I agree with others here that having the kitchen SINK RIGHT NEXT TO THE TOILET(!!!) is unique. Not even a wall in between, nothing. Amazing concept for living. Considering that, the open shower in the kitchen is stylish, they may want to shower when having guests, lol. Or, sitting on their Separett toilet (hats off, good choice!). On the positive: The Separett doesn’t give off smells, so any “business” won’t interfere with cooking. yummy yummy. I feel sorry that “Volstrukt” (great product placement by the way) didn’t advise them on a slightly more suitable house design. Or maybe they tried? Who knows.

    • Claude July 6, 2017, 4:34 pm

      David I like your comment, kind of funny too. I agree with you on the set up, not very intimate.

    • James D. July 6, 2017, 9:56 pm

      david, so you didn’t do any sheathing?

      It’s how most modern structures are given shearing resistance strength…

      Most metal framing just relies more on it because most metal framing is using shapes to provide structural strength in specific directions… Like a I-Beam, C-Beam, etc. shapes to reduce the amount of material needed to keep weight low versus solid blocks of material… But it means it doesn’t provide equal structural strength in all directions… Especially, as to how all the studs interconnect and work together with the rest of the structure…

      Meaning metal framing isn’t really rigid until you add the sheathing…

      So for rigidity and shearing strength you either add a good strong sheathing material or opt to use Herringbone joist struts, timber struts, noggins/bridging, etc to help provide the shearing strength instead… and there’s various ways to compose the framing to provide that shearing strength…

      Sheathing is just the quickest and easiest to apply, which also makes it easier to add wraps and siding, but you can save some weight by using the other methods… Though, you could also just over engineer and combine it all and don’t mind a little extra weight…

      For another example of steel framing, you can check out Titan Tiny Homes youtube channel… Their earlier Steel Stud framing video is similar to how this was constructed but their newer Wall Kit Time Laps video shows how they’ve improved their design and with the wood look metal siding they also offer they’ve stated that they had the wall tested and got a rating that it can withstand over 200 MPH winds…

      Basically, it looks like they made a hybrid between steel framing and MIPs, with the steel siding also actin as a sheathing for a very light weight but very strong structure…

      So yeah, there are better designs out there but the majority of these THOWs are relying on the sheathing for the shearing resistance strength…

  • April July 6, 2017, 3:35 pm

    Bathroom in the kitchen and no door for privacy! What?!! You can grab yourself a snack out the frig while sitting on the commode…bathroom in kitchen may have some perks afterall.

    I do like the idea of the steel frame though.

    • James D. July 6, 2017, 7:16 pm

      There’s a Tiny House AirBnB in Australia with the shower in the kitchen, right opposite the kitchen sink…

      I’ve also seen some DIY campers that basically had everything in the same space…

      However, these photos are only of the build… Not the final THOW… So they could have put up a wall around the bathroom later…

      Notice one photo doesn’t show the kitchen counter but the next does… Showing the progress of the build… Even the stairs may have only been temporary…

      So we’ll have to wait until they do a tour to see what the final layout looks like…

  • Michael July 6, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Roilled steel is for sure an option to stick build. However watching the video how the segments are connected rise doubts on its overall strength to withstand road trips and hurricanes.
    For my taste its to high and I don’t like climbing up to reach the kitchen.

  • David July 7, 2017, 1:35 am

    Bathroom and kitchen together? You have got to be kidding. That is not very hygenic. Every one, with a bit of knowledge knows that bacterias get airborn in the bathroom. I would not want to eat in that house.

    • Alex July 7, 2017, 2:25 pm

      Yeah that’s not good! Hopefully there will be a wall there soon.

    • James D. July 9, 2017, 6:37 pm

      Check their instagram page, they did a lot more than is shown here… and they’re still only 98% done… Things like the pellet stove they’re just leaving for last…

      So there is a wall separation for the bathroom… Btw, composting toilet means there’s no issue with flush spraying particulates around, the shower is also enclosed and looks like they have the vent built right into it, and thus nothing airborne… Besides, unless you never cook then the kitchen typically has more bacteria than the bathroom anyway…

  • Patricia Chang July 7, 2017, 2:14 am

    This house is weird. The toilet is straight across from the refrigerator. I hardly find that sanitary or appealing! Yuck!!!

  • Michelle July 7, 2017, 12:19 pm

    I don’t know if it’s finished but in one pic, the toilet is directly opposite the kitchen and out in plain view. I can’t. I hope they plan to close it off. In general I don’t like toilets/bathrooms in the kitchen area. I wish them the best.

  • Tonya Bennett July 8, 2017, 12:11 am

    I own this tiny home so here’s the scoop on your comments/questions:
    1. The build is 98% completed. Missing the closet and a cabinet for printer/scanner, and the pellet stove needs the piping installed. Lots of other little things not worth mentioning.
    2. There IS a wall between the bathroom and kitchen. The host of this site posted an older photo. Ya’ll make me giggle at your outbursts and appalled comments…. 🙂
    3. Remember folks, this is a tiny house on wheels – NOT a permanent structure. It changes the space configuration so that it must conform to transportation guidelines – similar to an RV.
    3. There IS a bed. It is raised to the ceiling during the day and lowered at night via a switch. It is an older HapiJak chain drive system used in toy haulers.
    4. The steel frame as discussed by James so intelligently is strong, rated appropriately for driving down a road and sustaining it’s shape under strong winds. We drove the trailer 1500 miles to our build site with just the frame and sheathing. No problem with wind. Add the 3.5″ of spray foam along with 3+ inches of polyiso insulation and wood material – well, it’s even more stiff and structurally sound against wind. We will, however, be susceptible to being blown out of a lane by strong winds just like tractor/trailers are due to the length and height.
    5. We have two 100 gal water tanks. One is for rainwater catchment and includes filtration. In addition we capture the dehumidified water from the mini-split and run it thru that same tank. The other tank is clean water only.
    6. Below the kitchen IS storage along with the Washer/dryer unit.
    7. The stairs are part of the final build, not temporary.
    Hope the additional info helps. Again, if you are truly interested in knowing more than just the snippet of info provided on this site visit instagram “tinyhouseontheroad”. We’ll start updating the website itself in about a month AFTER we finish the build.
    Cheers!! – Tonya

    • Cheryl Devine July 12, 2017, 5:02 pm

      Thanks for the detailed explanation Tonya! Geeze at everyone jumping to conclusions when it was said time and again that it wasn’t complete yet. It was such a delight meeting you and Neil and helping with this wonderful project (home!) of yours! I can’t believe how gorgeous and perfect it came out in the end. We hope to visit you soon! KIT

      • Alex July 12, 2017, 5:20 pm

        It’s really my fault for putting up the unfinished photo without stating it was unfinished! Sorry Tanya!

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