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The Ugly Truckling: Her Cedar Shake Truck Home


Kai’s dream of living in a cabin in the woods manifested itself in her building an incredible house truck inspired by the funky wooden marvels of the 60s and 70s. Her home is bursting with character, covered with cedar shingles, and took Kai five years to make it livable, and another five to get it to its current state.

The house has a big round window, a Dutch door, and a cozy loft bedroom with a porthole. Enjoy our interview with Kai below and check out her incredible home. You can follow along with her journey in “The Ugly Truckling” on Instagram!

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Five Years in her DIY Truck Tiny Home

I’ve always wanted to build myself a little cabin in the woods, but where I live land prices are very expensive and unattainable. I put that dream on the backburner for years until I was in a used bookstore and found an old copy of “Some Turtles Have Nice Shells“, a photo book about free spirits from the 60’s and 70’s who converted and lived in housebusses and housetrucks.

I really loved the aesthetic, it’s very different from most modern vanlife conversions, all wood panelling, stained glass, woodstoves and funky art. After learning about others who had done it, I realized that I could build my dream cabin on a truck and worry about finding land to park it on later.

I’ve been building my housetruck for the past 10 years, and it’s still not really finished yet! I’ve had to teach myself skills as I’ve gone along, so some things end up taking quite a lot of time.

However, I have been living in it full time for five of those years, so I don’t mind spending time to make things perfect.

I don’t live on the road, I actually pay to have a park-up in a permanent location. I enjoy being able to have some things around, and we’ve been allowed to build some sheds on the property to house both my woodworking shop and my partners metal fabrication business.

I work freelance in the film industry, so I will get a contract from a short job (usually just a couple days) and drive my van down to the city. I’ll stay in my van while on the job, then head home once it’s wrapped up.

Having a lowered cost of living has really saved us from disaster in the past few years.

Pandemics, job loss, strikes, sickness, I’m very grateful that I have the housetruck to call home, it’s very affordable to live this way.

I’ve also gained many skills in the process, and I’m a much more confident person now than I was when I started.

Dealing with weather conditions is the most difficult part of tiny living. When it’s -10 and all your water freezes, or there’s no sun for days and your batteries are dead. You can’t just call someone to deal with it for you, it’s all on your shoulders.

The sense of independence, that the world could go to hell and I’d still be just fine. I’m not reliant on a traditional landlord, who could evict tenants at any time. It’s been really nice to have stable housing that I can modify and do whatever I want with.

Go now. Don’t wait. A lot of people have this idea that they want to do something “someday”. Someday never comes! Just get started today, find a small first step along the path of your dreams. Maybe that’s taking an intro to building course, maybe it’s volunteering to help someone else build something, but just start.

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    December 6, 2023, 5:18 pm

    It’s so cool, and earthy, and spacious! I love it!

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