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Top 5 Reasons for a Tiny House instead of a Camper

When some people look at a tiny house for the first time their immediate thought is, “why would you build a more expensive tiny house when you can buy a travel trailer or other camper that’s usually bigger and cheaper?”


That’s why I decided to put together this post on the top 5 reasons we, as tiny house people, would want a stick built house on a trailer instead of a camper, travel trailer or motorhome.

1. First and foremost is so I can feel like I’m living in a traditional home. Sure, you can make a camper feel more like home but not so much on the exterior. The look of a traditional tiny house with a pitched roof really makes you feel like you own a home instead of an RV.

2. If this is going to be my home, then it has to be well insulated so it can stay cool in the summer and stay warm in the cold winter months. With most travel trailers this is more challenging. With a custom built tiny home, you can insulate it really well so that it functions like a home instead of a vacation trailer.

3. So I can use my own choice of materials inside and out. Inside I’d use quality materials that I enjoy living with and looking at everyday. Materials that do not contain chemicals with harmful off-gassing. And hopefully I’d be able to find quite a few reclaimed materials from back in the day that are of even better quality than much of today’s stuff.


4. If I’m going to live in a “trailer” it’s going to look good because I don’t want to be looking and feeling mass manufactured with excessive plastic and toxic materials. This obviously goes with reason one, but the point is, that this “trailer” (tiny house on wheels) is staying put unless I choose to move (in my case, at least). So I don’t care much about aerodynamics. I want it to be aesthetically pleasing like a house, cottage, or bungalow.

5. Last but not least, so I can finally own my own mortgage-free home.

I see nothing wrong with travel trailers, campers, motorhomes and bus conversions. In fact, I also love them and I’d enjoy a long road trip or even living in one while traveling for a certain period of time.

But basically for me travel trailers, RVs and motorhomes are for those of us who want to be on the go. See the world. Travel the country. And tiny houses are for those of us who want to stay in one place, hold a job somewhere, run a business and enjoy living the simple life.

In conclusion, tiny houses are for living in full-time and only towing when you decide to move. Like once a year or less. Campers, travel trailers, and motorhomes are for those of us who want to travel the country.

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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!




{ 56 comments… add one }
  • Laura Norcross January 10, 2013, 8:05 am

    This was actually my dilemma a couple months ago: stick with the plan to live in a tiny home or consider moving into a fifth-wheel RV? After talking to many people and reading several articles, we decided to stick with tiny house and buy an RV later for travel purposes. This post does a great job highlighting the exact reasons we had for tiny house. Thank you!

    • Alex January 10, 2013, 11:51 am

      Thanks Laura glad you enjoyed the article!

    • John Mauldin January 12, 2013, 3:16 pm

      Laura, I think you made the right decision about the tiny house vs. 5th wheel. Adittedly, I have owned and lived in a fifth wheel since Sept. 2003 and have enjoyed it, but the outside of any rv or travel trailer is not that unique, or even attractive. And because you don’t have the ceilling height in a 5ver, you are limited to a single floor dwelling with a raised end. Too, and likely a factor of age, I don’t take the unit on road trips nearly as often as I had originally planned. I am actually contemplating a smaller single axle trailer with a unique look to If you don’t move the trailer often, it is generally better in the long run to pay a licensed hauler (NOT one from Craigslist!) You will have the personality, architecure AND appreciation instead of the immediate and substantial depreciation of a trailer. Good luck!

  • Ann Seeton January 10, 2013, 8:30 am

    My used RV was not as expensive, and we’re renovating the inside to suit us, and it is easy to insure because the companies recognize it, and there is a HUGE community of support for living full time in such a vehicle.

    Ours is going to be re-insulated as part of the re-do and will be very well insulated when complete.

    I hope your movement succeeds in knocking down the excessive zoning and finds a format for small home communities that allows them to work and prevents the problems that communities fear will follow such small home communities. Ditto the changes needed in mobile home parks as you like to set up and stay permanently or semi permanently.

    Interestingly, I saw an RV park where members own their lots, and have parking for the RV and many have a roofed area to park the RV and a small/tiny square foot home as part of the set up– thus giving them a home base for their nomadic style of life. I find it interesting that many full timers talk about liking to stay small after living in an RV.

    It is important to make clear that the preferences are personal and OUGHT to be accepted.

    • sunshineandrain January 10, 2013, 10:06 am

      I say welcome to the Tiny Life! Glad to have you.

    • Alex January 10, 2013, 11:52 am

      Thanks for sharing Ann! I’ve seen those communities you’re talking about before in my area. They’re really cool. And even better that folks can own their own lots.

    • Linda January 23, 2013, 11:36 pm

      Agree!
      What are you using to upgrade the insulation?

      • Ann Seeton January 24, 2013, 1:26 pm

        That would be a question for my hubby who has done the research into what he wants to use for insulation. It is expensive he says but so much of an improvement… I have no idea except to wonder if it is new what is the out-gassing going to be like?

        But he is very much into researching everything so I’ll ask him and try to remember to come back here and answer your question.

        • Linda January 24, 2013, 3:04 pm

          YEs, please! I’m very interested. We are building our Tiny House in late 2014 once we get to our homesteading place. We have learned so much from this blog alone.

        • Ann Seeton January 24, 2013, 3:44 pm

          He says he plans to use a spray in plastic based insulation, whichever one will give the highest R-value in the thickness he has to fill.

          Alas, that is the most detail I could get out of him today. He is in the middle of another project so vague is as good as it will get until he rotates back around to our RV project.

    • Nila July 17, 2013, 11:48 am

      Tiny Home communities will falter if they allow themselves to be sucked into the Homeowners Association requirements that cities and counties across America have used with developers of traditional communities. The Tiny House movement simply will not succeed if that type of scam is allowed to infiltrate their communities as well. Owning the land under your Tiny House in a community is not a good idea. This means there is “common areas” for the community and therein lies the problems. There will be CC&Rs and board members and all that nonsense and there goes the beauty of living in any community; large or small. I would encourage anyone to read, “Neighbors At War” by Ward Lucas before signing up for a community lifestyle. It’s better to rent your space and have that cover the cost of the amenities than to own any land with a bunch of restrictions and power-hungry neighbors.

      • Jan C. January 10, 2014, 6:20 am

        I understand exactly what you are saying. I moved out to the woods to get away from others telling me how to live. A few years ago one of them city people moved out here and immediately started raising problem after problem. Cut down a dead tree and he called forestry. I was putting up a work shop on my property and he was calling the inspector twice a day because he didn’t like my building design, which by the way was approved by the county. Own more than one vehicle he was calling zoning. The problem was obvious. He was finally talked to by the Korean, Viet Nam & Gulf War vets about the viability of his continued residence in our little patch of woods if he didn’t get his nose out of our business. My cousin bought in one of those communities and refused to sign the paperwork and when they tried to oust him the judge decided in his favor. Their power is only that which you AGREE to give them.

  • Jane Dwinell jane dwinell January 10, 2013, 9:37 am

    Very well put, Alex. Our thoughts exactly.

  • Casey Friday January 10, 2013, 10:15 am

    I think another great reason to go tiny vs. camper is off-gassing. My wife and I attended an RV show once, and we nearly passed out from all the fumes we inhaled from that new plastic, glue, etc in the campers.

    We went up to see Brad at Tiny Texas Houses once, and it was amazing how his houses smelled so good – like fresh wood – but something as simple as an induction cook top threw off the entire feeling with a pungent plastic smell.

    One of my favorite things is laying down in my dried in tiny house and smelling the wood.

    • Alex January 10, 2013, 11:55 am

      I agree Casey and off-gassing goes with my reason #3 to choose our own materials. I don’t like that feeling of plastic, glue, etc in campers. In fact, I hate it. Mass manufactured feel. Not good for me. Or anyone really.

      That’s awesome you got to go see Brad at Tiny Texas Houses. Nothing like the smell of a cabin/tiny house that’s made out of real wood.

      • Casey Friday January 10, 2013, 3:07 pm

        I read too quickly – sorry about that! Agreed about the custom vs. manufactured feel.

        • Alex January 10, 2013, 4:26 pm

          It’s all good Casey I do the same all the time.

      • Daniel December 16, 2014, 8:55 pm

        I’ve been looking at tiny houses since 2007/8 (still day dreaming). I’ve had a 30+yr old sailboat for a couple years now. I have the same view when it comes to new boats as people have mentioned about the new RVs. I would take my old sailboat trimmed out with lots of wood over any brand new fiberglass sailboat that people refer to as Clorox bottles.

        I’ve been looking at travel trailers for a while (mainly airstream) but keep looking at tiny houses. I think I’d take a tiny house over a plain plastic box any time.

        My wife insisted on getting a big townhome with HOAs that I was against. I don’t think my wife has noticed but I can smell the off-gassing every time I walk into the house. I’d rather sell it and downsize to something a bit more modest. 🙂

    • Ann Seeton January 13, 2013, 12:23 pm

      I agree, the stink of “new” makes me ill as well. That is the delight of buying older.

  • Jim January 10, 2013, 10:22 am

    Alex,I live in fly-over country (Council Bluffs,IA)and there are a lot of actual tiny built homes here non moveable.My guess is some of these homes are 400 sq. ft. or less.Probably bought and paid for,and people are extremely happy here.I’m also looking at mobile home parks that are half empty in town because people just cant afford lot rent and the trailer payments.
    People in general need to really think about downsizing there life and look seriously at a smaller home all is is just shelter from the elements,not a place to BRAG about how much square footage you have too Heat,Cool,Clean,Etc.
    If everyone in the USA thought more about there needs and less about there wants we could all healthier and Happier and retire a lot sooner.

  • Lady Tenazby January 10, 2013, 10:40 am

    Making a Tiny House, whether you start with an RV shell, Bus, Basic Trailer, or building from scratch, is a personal journey that many have already undertaken, and many more are contemplating, or are in various stages of developing. Each and every Tiny Home is as unique as its dweller(s) is(are). Personally, I like the actual “house” look. It makes me feel like I am a “home” owner. I have lived in a variety of travel trailers. The one thing I have found to be the most difficult is the cookie cutter layouts that others have created. I want something that is unique to me and my family’s needs. There is a whole new level of appreciation from people who see a Tiny House versus a travel trailer. I do not have the need to feel like I am in a constant state of “camping.” There are any number of reasons people choose to live small. Amongst those reasons are living green, living cheap, living debt free, transportability, etc.. Whatever the reason is, there is a level of satisfaction gained from the journey.

  • frankie January 10, 2013, 11:30 am

    Another reason for me is that it is built to last like a conventional house with quality materials and will have good resale value somewhere down the line if/when I decide to sell. Most older trailers I’ve seen are just built to look nice when they’re new. The cheap materials inside and out fall apart quickly and look shoddy after a short time. The mobile home I used to live in was truly meant to be disposable.

    • Alex January 10, 2013, 12:17 pm

      Excellent point Frankie. Most campers are built cheap or at least to only last X number of years before like you said everything starts falling apart inside and out. With a well built tiny house, that’s totally different. It’s more like a real house.

    • Museum Girl January 19, 2013, 9:14 pm

      So true about the materials falling apart over time. My parents had a great RV that I actually did live in for a few months between jobs. Over the years, it became really, really ugly and all the plastic parts–even the important ones, like the toilet!–started to fall apart. I like the idea of using “real” building materials instead of petroleum-based materials. I know they can’t be totally avoided, but I’m going to keep them to a minimum as much as possible. (I’m even planning to have my dad weld a metal soaking tub for my Lusby!) And the camper? My dad was burning some stumps next to it and accidentally set in on fire. It burned to the ground and they sold the metal that was left for scrap. When my mom told me, I said, “Thank God. Now I don’t have to figure out how to get rid of that thing!”

  • Meg & Joe January 10, 2013, 11:48 am

    During my time saving up for my tiny house, I almost broke down and bought a travel trailer. As we sat in it debating what to do next I realizes that it was not for me. The trailer was poorly insulated, made out of cheap materials, and was extremely ugly. Instead of going for immediate gratification I opted to wait. I am so glad I did. Nothing worth doing is achieved immediately. It was a long hard road to where we are now, but it was so worth it. I have a beautiful home that people are always interested in, instead of that cheap trailer that would not get a second glance. Did I make the right decision? Absolutely.

    • Alex January 10, 2013, 12:18 pm

      Couldn’t have said it better. My favorite part of your comment, “Instead of going for immediate gratification I opted to wait. I am so glad I did. Nothing worth doing is achieved immediately.”

  • alice h January 10, 2013, 1:04 pm

    I’m choosing tiny wooden house over trailer because of the aesthetics (really don’t want a huge white thing with ugly swoopy swirls and a big name all over it) being able to completely customise the layout to my exact needs, the taller ceiling and ability to have a “wall of windows”. The only reason I’m going for a house on wheels is to fit the “trailer” designation for my zoning and the ability to take the house with me if I move later. If I were moving around a lot I’d go for a regular RV.

  • Teri January 10, 2013, 4:53 pm

    When I build my TH, it will be a real house-looking home. I only plan to move it about once every 1-2 years so home will be where the TH is. For recreation, my favorite way to get away is camping, so I will have a teeny tiny car to put my teeny tiny tent, stove & sleeping bag in and take off. And I will always be glad to get back to my little home, wherever it’s parked.

  • Cecilia Shukwit January 10, 2013, 7:21 pm

    I just want to contribute a shout out to those of us who have purchased vintage trailers to live in. These trailers are extremely well made. The quality of the materials used and the craftmanship is wonderful. I especially like the feeling of character and individuality in my trailer( 24 ft.1962 Avion). I feel that my trailer feels very much like my home. The cost is reasonable and allows each person to make the “green” changes to match our lifestyles. Another plus, we are recycling on a large scale and also preserving a bit of history. I admire and respect everyone desiring to live a simpler, less expensive life and regard us all as pioneers in our own futures. Vintage trailer groups also have built community online and offer encouragement and lots of practical advice.

    • Meg & Joe January 10, 2013, 11:45 pm

      Vintage trailers are works of art and craftsmanship, new trailers are junk.

    • BIll Burgess January 12, 2013, 1:30 pm

      Brad at Tiny Texas Houses is doing a restore on a large airstream using salvage materials that you would like. Might drop him a line with some of your Ideas.

      • Cecilia Shukwit January 12, 2013, 1:50 pm

        I’d love to follow Brad and see how his restoration is progressing. I can offer some help as far as connections to online trailer groups but I haven’t done too much work on my own trailer, other than cosmetic and I had the propane system worked on professionally. I’m researching a lot of green ideas and saving money to implement them. My Avion is very similar to the Airstreams, the outside aluminum shell on my year of Avion is the last year Avion used the same aluminum as Airstream. I’d love to read about some of his decision-making processes, especially if he is interested in going off-grid. I know tiny house workshops offer a lot of this info, but I just got laid off and cannot afford the cost. Truly appreciate all I’ve learned from you all in the last few years! Cecilia

  • Jan Dregalla January 11, 2013, 1:45 pm

    This all said, I’m on my way to our local Ohio RV Show for an all day exploration of ideas and products that may be useful in my tiny house build starting as soon as the winter weather breaks in the norht. I’m taking my Tiny House book with me to help explain my plan in a less than understanding environment I bet. It will be interesting.

  • LaMar Alexander LaMar January 12, 2013, 11:37 am

    A tiny house on wheels is better for permanent living in climates that get hot or cold but the drawback is they are not designed for lots of travel and can be difficult to tow and get into places where you might want to stay.

    I live in a permanent small house but I have two travel trailers for camping and I lived in a camper for two years before building the cabin.

    I know people that have RVs nicer than some homes and live in them year round but the price for one- wow.

  • BIll Burgess January 12, 2013, 1:44 pm

    I too dream of the perfect lifestyle. For me it is a spot in Luling Texas at one of Brad’s Villages so I can market my artworks in the winter months and be close to the Gulf for recreation. Having a second Tiny Home in a Northern Area to travel to by my Lit Motors C-1 commuter would be the jelly on the peanut butter sandwich. I imagine a full solar panel palace with all off grid capability at both locations. The issue is travel after all and there is the beauty of tiny homes. Some times months in an area is need to see it all(on a fixed income like SS)and having a tiny home makes a HOME not just a camp.

  • dave griffith January 13, 2013, 8:42 am

    I could also give you 5 reasons you should buy a BMW coupe rather than a Toyota mini van, but in the end it is one about utility and money.
    Nothing wrong with little houses on wheels, and there is nothing wrong with RV living (an estimated 8 million Americans do).
    It comes down to money, needs and choices.
    BTW: I live in a 300 square foot tiny house.

  • Ann Seeton January 13, 2013, 12:36 pm

    One of the things I like best about groups like this is the marvelous diversity and the sharing of the same general goals.

    I keep moving my messy life toward greater simplicity and as I adjust to the changes I feel greater freedom and mental health.

    I keep moving toward smaller. There is just so much to recommend it. Like easier to pay to heat it.

  • Mark April 11, 2013, 5:26 pm

    Well, heres what nobody is talking about…Insurance?!? what IF some drunk nails that sucker going down I85?….What about Taxes?, Registration, and as some people have said Back Roads, LOL, Anyone going from the North to the South West has obviously NEVER seen or been through the so-called back roads of say Ten, WV, NC, those Smokey Mountain ranges are a bitch, dirt, gravel, potholes, and yet you say simpler, NO Toyota Corolla is going to tow that 7,000 pound $30,000 TH anywhere for very long, so now your looking at a truck, gas mileage?..yeah right 12 in the shity citys and 18 on the highway if your lucky, and wheres the grocery getter when you get there?….smaller living with less blah blah blah…Prove it..show me the reciept that you sold that gas guzzler that moved your TH from that Tax Infested East Coast to say Iowa or Nebraska or hell even Texas or NM, doesnt realy matter because trading in a $200,000 home for a TH and still owning that gas guzzling truck to haul it around proves nothing to me except you obviously have more money than brains. Smart People would sell all their shit live in a hotel while they built their TH on the land in the Destination state anyway, but what do i know? If i could remember the link id post it for ya…there is 1 man that i have respect for that actualy built his TH on 5 acres of land OFF GRID and owns a 40 mpg car thats 15 years old..he has a well, septic, NOW THATS TINY LIVING. his Cabin is like 210 square feet. All this trash talk about a TH on trailers just buy a RV already or do it right like that guy above did…buy some cheap ass land, drill a well, put in a septic live OFF GRID. People showing videos of ther TH sitting their driveways…JOKESTERS. and WANNABEES.

    • Garth July 29, 2013, 4:13 am

      Mark, I think the idea for many is that in the rare times they want to move it, they will rent a suitable vehicle. We have friends though whose car payment and insurance come out to way more than our mortgage, even before counting their yearly license fee and other costs. I drive a huge ’88 Ford E350 15-passenger van that I could pull the house with (when the time comes that we can sell our huge 1260-sqare-foot house and get into a tiny house), but the total van costs are minimal and I drive it well under a thousand miles a year. No worries there.

  • Nila July 17, 2013, 11:37 am

    I am attracted to the small/tiny house movement because it allows a person to live in their own place without the insane regulations and expense of a Homeowners Association. America has been plagued with HOAs and I’ve learned first-hand the nightmares that come with it. I just hope the tiny house movement won’t earn approval by the cities/counties and then allow themselves to be sucked into the HOA scam. Once the tiny home parks are established with homeowners also owning the land under their unit the HOA scam falls in place. I would rent space in a tiny home community to park my tiny house and use the amenities, but I would never go the other route. Speaking from experience and studying the HOA issues nationwide for six years now I’ve learned the hard way about HOAs. I’ve also read a books…many books about them and the best one is “Neighbors At War” by Ward Lucas. If anybody wants to know the absolute truth about living in an HOA environment that’s the encyclopedia on HOAs and its easy to read.

    • Garth July 29, 2013, 4:23 am

      With multiple references to homeowner associations on this page, I figured I better look it up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeowner_association It doesn’t look good.

      • Nila July 29, 2013, 11:44 am

        Garth,
        I’m happy to know you are doing some research about HOAs. Too many people (like myself) bought inside of one with a blind faith and trust that all would be well. I have not lived a pleasant day in eight years since moving in here. These things are nothing but a scam, in my opinion. If you do an internet search for “HOA nightmares” you will find massive numbers of articles and comments from homeowners all across America who are suffering and there are no laws to govern HOAs or property managers for the most part. At this point there are over 335,000 of these communities in America. 1 in 5 Americans lives inside of one.
        With the Tiny House movement in process, I can see it now. Cities and counties that grant approval are also going to hit the developers with the old HOA requirement. Before that happens I am trying to educate those interested in living in a Tiny House community to make sure it does not and will not ever have an HOA. Basically an HOA means you are signing to be held responsible for every expense and piece of nonsense your board members decide to spend money on, including legal fees when they start suing your neighbors! Once you sign for the piece of land under the Tiny House and its part of an HOA you’re IN. They’ve got you. I’ve lost my entire retirement due to this insanity. Which is another reason I am looking at Tiny Houses because I will never be able to live in a home again once I sell this one and lose at minimum 200K to get out of her.
        The Tiny House movement has many younger people who have never owned homes involved and interested. I don’t want to see younger people (or anyone for that matter) get caught in this HOA trap! The time to be educated is when your young. My Dad told me to never ever buy in an HOA. He died twenty-five years ago and a family member who sells real estate told me I should never buy without an HOA. (She’d had the brainwashing of the real estate industry about how great HOAs are>puke!) I so wish I’d of listened to my Dad. Now, all I can do is try to protect others. If you read that book and follow that website http://www.neighborsatwar.com you will learn all you need to know about why not to buy in an HOA. I did not write that book but I now know the author. He doesn’t care if he sells books he is trying to educate people just like I am.
        I truly want to see the Tiny House movement to succeed. I think it has great potential, I just don’t want this HOA concept to infiltrate and ruin the entire movement because I have every reason and documented proof to know once it does lives are destroyed. Signing away your US Constitutional Rights to live some place is not what America is supposed to be about!

  • Dominick Bundy January 9, 2014, 2:52 pm

    All five very good , sound and logical reasons. in comparison from living full time in a tiny house vs. a travel trailer or RV.

  • worth February 20, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Great information on hoa,s let me tell you my story; when my dad got cancer,
    he and my mother told me my brother and sister, what we would get when they left this world; or when ever we wanted it; I got the 11 acres, used to be a 100 acre farm back in the day, it,s nice , got a barn, and two out buildings that my great grand father built by hand’ before power equip. now he must have been a real man” anyway, I wanted to take over that land and build me a small house {tiny} or just buy me the biggest wood storage shed, I could find, about 10g, and make it into a tiny house, well I start clearing the land, and find out; my parents signed this hoa, agrement, 30 years ago! that said if you build a house in that area, It, has to be no less,
    than 1800sq, ft, I, asked my mother, why did you sign that, she said ‘ we wanted to keep mobile homes out of their, to keep the property values up’
    and I can under stand that,to some degree’ So, I tracked down the retired lawyer, who wrote up the hoa! and talked to him! I asked him, SO! if my parents gave me the 11acres, and I built me a tiny house, whats some neighbor going to do? I did not sign, this HOA! contract. HE SAID THE HOA
    CONTRACT, is perpechial, it follows the land not the owner,
    So now the 11acres is forsale, NEVER,NEVER,NEVER sign a HOA, contract, this land almost sold , until the people looking at it saw the HOA agreement, good for them”
    SO, now I want to sell this land and move to northern AZ, or far west TX.
    and live off grid, I still think the storage shed, convert to small house, is a good option! OR, travel trailer, hooked up to solar, with water tanks, and panels, but you can,t put a trailer in the desert, and not expect it to be a solar, oven! maybe, two shipping containers, with a roof, over your trailer,
    or tiny house , anyway, thats my dream? got to have a couple of donkey,s
    and a mule too, so I can go prospecting for gold! it does not matter if i find any; it,s the looking , not the finding. It,s the journey, all the excitement, stops, when you reach the destination: ANYWAY; sorry for ranting,!
    ANYWAY, can anyone tell me, if some trailer company, makes a bugout, trailer, for off grid living? IF, no one does, maybe iI should start my own?

  • paula sims March 4, 2015, 3:19 pm

    i own a small cabin, but pay taxes, and small utilities, repairs etc, wondering if it is worth it. only costs me around 100.00 a month, and i use it fall winter and summer on weekends.

  • JB Fitzpatrick July 28, 2015, 12:50 am

    Thanks for the perspectives!

  • jake July 24, 2016, 6:44 pm

    Why is living in a tiny house considered living the simple life. Do tiny spaces magically reduce the challenges of every day living, work, relationships, health, family responsibility. What gives here?

  • Grace July 27, 2016, 2:14 pm

    So, I’m in the final planning stages of my THOW…about to order my trailer. My intent for building a THOW is exactly what you said people should purchase a travel trailer for. That kind of worries me. Are you saying tiny homes shouldn’t be on the move frequently? This will be my permanent living situation for, most likely, at least the next several years; but, I also want to pick up and move any time I want and travel the country. Are you saying that it would be best to renovate a travel trailer?

    • Alex July 27, 2016, 5:29 pm

      Personally I would rather have something like an Airstream in your situation because it’s lighter, more aerodynamic, and receives less attention while on the road.

  • Rockford Johnson September 30, 2016, 12:39 pm

    I never would have guessed that having a tiny house could be so beneficial. Thank you for explaining that a tiny house is like having a home away from home. I hope that this article can convince my parents to have a tiny home installed.

  • Barb Ross Gardiner December 25, 2016, 4:24 pm

    I’m interested in getting a vintage Rosscraft Co. travel trailer. If Anyone finds one, Please let me know! I know What craftsmanship my father ( who owned the Company) put into his trailers. Please Email me if you find one! We built them in New York State in between Rochester and Buffalo. My Dad and the company ( thanks to my ex) are both gone and I dream of having part of my own family history.

  • Trailer Builder August 9, 2017, 4:38 pm

    In the typical THO vs RV debate, I believe people blindly confuse the discussion with a ‘self-built’ vs ‘manufactured’ comparison. The first unfortunately becomes a proxy for the second because there’s a lot more self-built THOs and factory-built RV’s than factory THOs and self-built RVs out there. But housing type does not necessarily imply quality of design and construction.

    In principle you could go buy some cheap, toxic overweight bumpy dormer-window THO built to last 2 years before the mould hits, perched on a recycled weak chinese trailer frame which will toss you into the ditch rhubarb when a weld breaks. Alternately you could build a structurally stiff, areodynamic, fully functional, quality trailer with a tight weather envelope which will last a lifetime. It’s a bit like comparing buggy expensive microsoft bloatware on the one hand, to an elegant tailored self-administered linux distro on the other hand. Either will run a good spreadsheet if there’s nothing else going on. It’s all really about some profit-motivated cheap-as-possible mass-produced product vs an efficient properly tailored and self-built tool. But due to marketing, people are led to associate some set of appearances and features to one, and a different set to the other. Doesn’t have to be that way.

    Having once built an RV trailer and now designing plans for another, I believe the real mindset should be ‘semi-permanent’ vs ‘mobile’ within specific physical size limitations.

    If ‘semi-permanent’, then a mobile home or shed engineering approach should be used, where a strong oversized steel frame supporting a relatively heavy structure can be removed from transport wheels and bolted to some foundation, even temporarily. Very occasional moving could be accomplished by some oversized vehicle, possibly with airbrakes, maybe provided through a transport company which knows all about big moves. Walls can be 2×6 lumber or steel, roofs of 3/4 OSB or plywood and sheet steel or even ceramic tile, joists of engineered welded steel, piping of heavy copper or steel, and heavy materials everywhere else. Weight per unit strength would be a low-level consideration; cost per unit strength much more important.

    If ‘mobile’, then an aircraft and sports car design approach should be used. Weight, balance, aerodynamics, critical strength, and weather-tightness against wind & water from all directions are critical considerations. Specific strength becomes much more important than appearance. Even some consumer RV builders do this much better than others. For example Airstream RVs are set up very well for extensive towing all over the place using consumer-size tow vehicles, and can be lived in for long periods of time even without customization. But they are fiendishly expensive and don’t come with 3-phase power, wood furnaces, windmill off-grid generation, or hydraulic tools. Or cedar shakes for that matter, if that’s important to you.

    I prefer the second group for any sort of mobility and towing, but will self-build, select and customize a minimal set of things so I get what I need but don’t have to pay for flashy knick-knacks and junk systems I’d never use. I’d use some mass-produced things that take advantage of scale, such as a good strong industrial trailer frame and axles. I’d use body shell strength to provide structural support so minimal framing is needed, and use large sheets of glossy flat exterior wall covering for the most effective weather envelope. I’d avoid punching holes in the roof to reduce water intrusion problems, and exit through the walls instead. Roof sheet-metal seams would run front-to-back rather than typical residential top-to-bottom to improve aerodynamics. Use minimal, flush-mounted windows too. That sort of thing.

    Elegant and functional form over preconceived esthetics for me, regardless whether ‘mobile’ or ‘semi-permanent’.

  • Janice Godek August 17, 2017, 10:18 pm

    Enjoyed scrolling through & reading much of your website. Looking forward to receiving your

    Janice

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