This Man Turns Cargo Trailer into DIY Stealth Tiny Home story is a guest post by James L. Parmenter
My Tiny House adventure began in January of 2012 here in New Mexico. Back in 2007-2008, I purchased a repossessed 2 bedroom 14′ x 52′ mobile home from a local park, after renting it for 3 years. The Park went bankrupt so the Bank then took over the property, the Park was sold in 2010-2012, and renovations began.
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After being evicted and facing homelessness, he turned this ordinary cargo trailer into his custom stealth tiny house
Images © James L. Parmenter
I put my mobile home up for sale on a bunch of free Real Estate sites, I sold it 2 days before I got evicted from the Park, the new owners needed the space. I had two weeks to vacate the Park. My mobile home sold for $6,000.00 I was asking for $7,200.00. The first week I spent looking at used RV’s, ha… what a joke that was..! I wouldn’t let my Dog live in half of them, let alone me. The other half of used RV’s I looked at for sale, many set in the owner’s back yard for the last 10 years unused. The tires were dry rotted, the appliances had ceased to function and the roofs leaked. The owners claimed everything worked but could not demonstrate their functions or even fire up the Propane devices because they were out of Gas. I walked away every time without even a hint of guilt..!
Months before all this, I was researching ideas on the Internet, building a Tiny Home on a flatbed trailer, converting vans into campers and Stealth Cargo Trailers…! A local trailer dealer was having a sale published in a local free paper. I paid them a visit and spoke of my dilemma, having 1 week to move out of the Park. They had Flatbed trailers and Cargo Trailers…. but there was no way that I could build a livable Tiny House in less than 1 week… all alone…! The Cargo Trailer came to mind and I switched my idea over into focusing on that. I wanted the 7′ x 14′ trailer but it was $5,100.00 New..! I only had $6,000.00 and I needed a trailer hitch installed on my truck also. That was just under $400.00 and I needed to buy all new appliances, heater etc. and have a place to sleep plus pay for food and camping fees.. that wasn’t going to work..!
The dealer showed me a used Cargo Trailer, a 2010 model 6′ x 12′ Carry-On brand in excellent shape, and new tires..! Bingo..! I was hooked… ideas flashed through my head about the floor plan, electric, and insulation. The Trailer was $2,400.00 and the trailer hitch came to $385.00 installed… I drove it off the lot and took it home to begin work on the inside…. I even had Money left over. I dropped off the trailer, locked it up and headed to Lowe’s and Home Depot.. before I knew it, 4 days had passed… and the trailer was almost livable. The 30 AMP Electric panel and devices were installed, the trailer was insulated and paneled, the kitchen was almost done, waiting on countertops.
I went totally electric on this because Propane here is well over $3.00 a gallon, and I’m on SSDI(social security) with a limited income each month. The trailer has a ramp type rear door and a side door which all were secured with Cam-locks. I removed the side door Cam-lock and installed a regular RV door latch which included a Dead-bolt..! I figured some smart Alec would walk by while I was sleeping and latch the Cam-lock so I couldn’t get out…! Wasn’t going to happen..! I installed a 7 gallon electric hot water heater, a 30 gallon fresh water tank, a 4.5 cu. ft. double-door fridge(huge freezer), GFCI receptacle on the kitchen counter wall over 12î from the Bar sink, fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector. In the back of mind, I’m thinking of Solar Panels and going Off-Grid in the future.
I know that its less than 6′ x 12′ inside because the tongue of trailer takes about 4′, but the actual Cargo trailer measures 11′-11î outside, end to end…. so it’s less than 72 sq. ft living space. I’ve been in this Stealth Camper since November of 2013. A while back I found some used windows at a local Pawn shop that came out of a 5th wheel camper, they cost me $20.00 each which I installed one on each side using some aluminum ìCî channel to reinforce the walls. I just found some larger windows at an RV Salvage yard that are 21.5îW x 28.5 ìT, they’re sliders so I as soon as they arrive I’ll install then in place of the smaller 19î x 13î windows and I’ll have more fresh air flow…! I had put that ìPeel-&-Stick vinyl Tile squares down on the floor, but the first Winter I spent inside it, that floor was freezing cold…I picked up some 5 year warranty carpet squares at Lowe’s and place then down over the Vinyl tiles. The carpet squares had foam backing included on each square so it insulated the floor when applied. Much warmer… as they say… Live and Learn…!
My Grey water exits the camper via 1.5î PVC drain pipe into RV sewer hose, my toilet is a Thetford Port-a-Pottie from Walmart about $70.00 the two sections separate and the lower half is poured down the sewer connection. I’m thinking about small holding tanks and a regular RV Sewer connection as emptying these items in the winter time is not at all fun…! Since I moved to the Mountains this summer to stay cool (it gets 110 to 115 degrees ìFî) in the desert, (my electric was over $80.00/month running A/C unit to stay cool, I’m also contemplating on the purchase of a ìFour Dog Legî wood stove, but the smaller two dog leg Model DX… and burning wood this winter to cut down on the electric bill from 1500 watt heater.
Claustrophobia has not set in yet, if it hasn’t already, it shouldn’t… I guess..? So far no problems with RV parks except for one, that’s not bad, I think with all the ones I’ve been to.. and it’s quite remarkable how many people stop by and stare at the Stealth Camper, then drop in and ask questions, quite the conversation starter..! If I say so myself….! I drew no plans for the locations of anything, just built it as I wanted it…! It houses myself, my dog, my tools, belongings, 28î TV, Desktop PC, etc….! No wife or kids to support, been divorced a long time… What I like best about the whole thing is, It’s Portable…! Just hook up and drive on…!
Images © James L. Parmenter
Any comments, Ideas, plans for holding tanks/sewer, solar panels/batteries would be greatly appreciated… Thanks…!
Our big thanks to James L. Parmenter for sharing!🙏
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