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VIDEO TOUR: Engineer’s Expanding Tiny House!

This is Ray’s tiny house on wheels. It’s what happens when an engineer designs and builds his own tiny home.

Ray, a 57-year-old engineer, spent two years building a Tiny House with innovative slide-outs so that he can retire without a mortgage and age comfortably in the space.1

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Engineer Builds His Own DIY, Expanding Tiny Home for Retirement in Two Years!

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It features unique slide-outs.

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His tiny house includes bay windows.

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It took him two years to build it.

Video Tour: Engineer Spends 2 Years Building Expandable Tiny House to Retire In!

Related: Lightweight Tiny House on Wheels that Expands!


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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!
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Tom Osterdock
    September 30, 2017, 4:55 pm

    this has some good ideas. I thought of bump outs myself but have changed that Idea. I still want to raise the roof 2 ft when parked though.

  • Annette
    September 30, 2017, 5:06 pm

    Impressive. I normally think that slide-outs like other things with lots of moving parts must be a recipe for disaster – prone to leaks etc. But details here seem to have been very well thought-out. Are they much heavier? Meantime what sort of tow vehicle is necessary for something like this? Thanks for sharing your project.

  • Grace
    September 30, 2017, 5:53 pm

    Really cool design!
    But it does take money, time, and a lot of headaches to do this kind of designing. The slide outs are a great idea if you are going to be permanently or mostly permanently parked. For tiny house that are on the move, leaking, moving parts, and weight are major issues.

    Beautiful house! Maybe someday when I am old enough to buy a house Ray can build one like that for me! For now though, a self-built, simple, cheap, and smaller tiny house dream suits me just fine.

    • Sondra
      October 2, 2017, 2:10 pm

      People have RV’s that have slide outs in them for the past 20+ years ?? And no leaks or issues, bump outs are perfect for someone who moves around a lot, they come out then go back in when you’re ready to go, the bump outs on our trailer took a whole minute to bring back in.

      I’d have to think Ray saved a ton of money doing it himself, plus doing this over two years would help spread the costs as well.

      Kudos Ray brilliant design and home !

      • James D.
        October 2, 2017, 10:18 pm

        Sandra, no, people definitely have problems with slide outs. Just go to any well trafficked RV forum and you’ll find entire sections on issues with slide outs… But people have issues in general with RV’s and needing maintenance and repairs is not unusual and often par the course and why it’s usually recommended people are ready to do their own repairs whenever possible.

        People also tend to trade in their RV’s every few years or only rent. So not many actually stick it out for a long number of years… Or they may rarely move their RV, in which case the slide outs can last a lot longer but not because the slide outs never develop problems but that they just never got used much and thus wear and tear happened over a much longer period and the owner managed to regularly do preventive maintenance to avoid any serious issues… Like replacing the rubber seals every few years or so, etc.

        But there’s also issues for people who may want to be in the RV while it’s moving but because the slide outs take up space when slid in means not all are actually usable on the go and you are then limited to finding a place with enough room for the slide outs, which typically also has to be level enough and that’s not going to be always the case everywhere you may go…

        If the slide outs get stuck and you can’t manually move them then you can be stuck and unable to get back on the road until it is fixed, which can be worse if you’re in a motor home and have no daily driver to switch to…

        Slide outs also put wear and tear on anything that may be on the slide out, like a kitchen or bathroom as the plumbing has to be able to move with the slide out but that just adds one more variable where something can fail and cause serious and expensive to repair damage…

        Among many other issues… Understand, anything mechanical will eventually fail.. It’s not a if but a when!

        Slide outs are popular because they can provide a lot more space but they are not without their problems as well…

        It’s okay if you accept those issues and still find the benefit worth the problems, but it’s not for everyone and when there are problems the costs can be very high to repair them, especially if you didn’t catch it right away…

        This owner built it himself, so he can repair it himself and that helps a lot with the potential cost of maintenance and repairs… So it can make a lot of sense for him but that definitely won’t be true of everyone and to most people something they consider their home isn’t something they would want to necessarily take too many risks with… Especially, if they consider it their forever home and even may wish to pass it on to their children…

  • Amy
    September 30, 2017, 6:30 pm

    I truly loved this. One day, when I am able, I want to learn how to do some building so that I can have my own tiny house. Not sure I want a thow, but I do want a tiny house. There are many aspects of this build that I loved, so will keep this in mind. Thank you for sharing!

  • Alex Kite
    September 30, 2017, 7:32 pm

    Love it! Nice job Ray, looks like you really put a great deal of thought and engineering into making your home exactly what you wanted it to be. Lots of ingenuity comes through in the video. I have some questions I’d like to put past you if you’d be receptive; I’m looking to start building mine this spring after having my knee replaced. Mine will be more of a nice custom camper than a stationary dwelling, from the perspective of function, but I want it to be comfortable, stylish, and tailored to what I like and need. So I’ve got a lot of ideas I haven’t seen done before, that an engineer’s expertise would be helpful with.

    Anyway, great build, and I hope that mine comes out as beautifully as yours did! especially like the slide-out grill too by the way.

  • Ellen
    September 30, 2017, 7:44 pm

    Ray is a genius! I love him! The house is a bit too masculine in overall style but that can be changed. The expansions with room for a desk and sleeping downstairs…brilliant. I too am in the over 50 club and would rather have a choice in sleeping arrangements, lofts can be cozy and all but not every night! Great for guests! The “roundness ” of the living room also very appealing. So often THOWS look like big hallways. I know it is a challenge but I would like to see a larger closet. Overall, Ray your home is wonderful! Great job!

  • Ellen
    September 30, 2017, 7:48 pm

    What are the actual dimensions on this house? About how much would a house like this cost? I too would very much like to live in a tiny house community. I am not all that interested in traveling around in a THOW, I would like very much to live in one full time

    • Sherrie
      October 9, 2017, 2:34 pm

      I think on the video he said the cost was about $80,000 for the build. Watch it and it tells you, along with showing you the really cool features that are not shown in the photos.

  • Meg
    September 30, 2017, 9:42 pm

    This is what is great about thow or any tiny/small house…it can be designed around what the individual needs. Ray did a great job and now I have a few new ideas!

  • Victoria
    October 1, 2017, 9:15 am

    Wonderful! I have looked at many tiny homes but this one takes the cake. Congratulations Ray on making this tiny home true to the words “tiny” just like a real home but tiny.
    From Newfoundland Canada

  • Mary McGuirk
    October 1, 2017, 1:50 pm

    I have been shopping for an RV in the past, and really felt that the slideouts were really important for long term living…that being said, I also have heard that they are a constant source of maintenance and leaks (especially since almost all RVs are held together with chewing gum and duct tape) HOWEVER, the one thing that could really be done is a ROOF BUMPUP…one hinge that could be covered, and the sides could be plexiglass windows way up high, that lowered easily as ONE PIECE with the roof…this could really make the LOFT areas useful for seniors, since the 3-4 feet could be raised to 5-6 feet, and that makes an incredible difference…it also would still be very watertight…In my mind, i am thinking of a WEDGE shaped THOW with the front third to half of the roof area able to be raised or lowered about 2′. (this is just an imaginary plan currently, but I have seen something like it from the past in the HILO trailers)

    • Tom Osterdock
      October 1, 2017, 3:18 pm

      I was originally going to have bump out on the great area and raise the roof on the Bdrm. I am not going to have the bump outs now. I want to raise the bdrm roof 2 ft. I do want a deck on the roof of the rest of the THOWs. I also plan on a fold down deck on the side of the great rm and a small folding porch and roof on the front door. The folding deck on the other side of trailer will have a roll up canopy for it from the side of the THOWs. Main floor has 6×8 bath, 8×12 kitchen, great rm 7×12 with 10×12 deck and a 4×6 porch on side with main door. Bath will have height of 7ft. and kitchen 6.5 ft. great rm will be about 10ft. bdrm will be 4 expand to 6 with fold down windows to seal in. ideas so far and drawing overall drawings.

      • Mary McGuirk
        October 2, 2017, 1:50 am

        have you considered one of the ELEVATOR BEDS like they have in many of the toy hauler RV’s? they are quite affordable ($1,000 is not cheap but considering you could save about 6 feet of length of your trailer and not have to do anything to the roof, it might be worth it) it can come down right over your living area, and be about counter height which even at 67, i can still roll onto without a ladder. the trailer you are talking about is 30′ long, and that means three axles, if you can get down to 26′ especially if you use steel studs, you can get down to two axles which also means fewer and cheaper tires. I have a few floorplans that work well at 26′, and most of them could even work well on 24′ if you used the space over the tongue of the trailer creatively.

        mine all have a W/D and a DW and room for a decent sized fridge and a 2′ deep utility sink and most importantly…outside kitchen hookups for a grill and sink and an exterior shower for muddy feet before they go inside…and a good office area too with room for a real desk chair not one of the folding things a lot of people use.

        • Tom Osterdock
          October 2, 2017, 3:08 am

          Thanks Mary, I do not want to drop below 30 ft on the trailer and want 3 7k axels. I want the bd rm to be 18 ft with access to the roof top desk thru a sliding window in the deck . There will be a d/w c/w fridge, stove, microwave, tech shower, wood/propane stove in livingrm, also thinking of putting in a wooden tub in the master bdrm. The house will be a smart house with control of every system but the computer or my command. It will be able to call 911 if necessary, have a weather station onboard, Solar, powerwall 2, wind turbine. The house should be with steel studs, and maybe spray in foam or else sheeps wool. Haven’t decided on that yet. Also forgot to mention dual minisplit for master and then the rest of house. Natures head composting toilet and the sqft should be close to 500 sqft when open all the way. Master will have a king bed. Do not want to shorten the trailer and have thought of extending it, but i think I will keep the 30ft length.

    • James D.
      October 2, 2017, 10:33 pm

      Incredible Tiny Homes recently did a THOW with a slide up roof… They’re trying to do it under a limited budget to make it affordable, but after the first house with this feature they seem to be ready to go even higher with the next one to make it a full two story…

      It’s not a system that is meant to be used very often, more for people who plan on staying in one area for up to years at a time but they’re one of the first companies to offer this without a high price tag attached…

      Commercial options have had this for some time but at very high cost…

      Like Will Smith’s custom travel trailer RV has both slide outs and a slide up to provide a total of 1200 sq ft, but the whole thing costs $2.5 million…

      There’s also a company that uses trailers to provide instant repair shops for commercial shipping trucks that also uses this to make it big enough to accommodate a big semi truck.

      While there’s also alternatives like fold out designs, like there’s a company who makes custom trailers for use as instant stages for concerts, expose, etc.

      Not to mention a company called Ten Fold Engineering that has developed folding technology with a wide range of applications that can, among many other things, turn something the size of a shipping container into a instant two story house… They’re trying to keep it affordable but they’re mainly just designers and engineers.

      So pricing won’t really be known until they partner with a builder to turn their technology into actual products, which may take awhile before we see anything, like any new technology they will probably test it thoroughly before committing to avoid any liability issues, etc.

      But that gives you some idea what options are available…

  • Mary McGuirk
    October 2, 2017, 9:54 am

    enjoy…how often will you be moving it? and what to tow it?

    • Tom Osterdock
      October 2, 2017, 4:39 pm

      Hi Mary, I plan on probably at least moving it 10 to 12 times a year from one place to another. I am a model railroader and have my train to also move with it. My train with engines and cars is 131 ft long. I will have it in my truck pulling my tiny home with me. I am planning on a f550 or f650 for the truck with a 16ft box on it and a diesel for power. I want to be able to go to many of the tracks around the country to operate my train. I also want to be able to go to many tiny home events. So most likely it will be moved more than 12 times a year. With proper planning it may be moved at most 52 times a year.

      • Mary McGuirk
        October 2, 2017, 6:13 pm

        awesome, i have a FB friend who does a lot with railroad things (i think he is more into miniature RR’s) What does it cost to have an event with your train, and do you have a track with it, or do people just view it as an antique or do you use regular tracks to transport it from venue to venue? i am easily confused 😉

        • Tom Osterdock
          October 2, 2017, 6:49 pm

          Mary here is a link or you might have to paste it into the URL for a video of Bitter Creek Western RR. At one point you will be riding behind me on my 19ft train over a bridge. It will just after a side shot of my train and me going by. These are tiny also. I do not have a track to move around yet but that is a possibility when I am ready to move around.

        • Tom Osterdock
          October 2, 2017, 6:50 pm
        • Tom Osterdock
          October 2, 2017, 6:58 pm

          Here is the correct youtube video by my friend Mike Massee of the narrow guage meet with my train running. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VAuPPufNro

        • Mary McGuirk
          October 2, 2017, 8:45 pm

          i googled and found link, but i don’t think you actually put the LINK in…just the word.

        • Tom Osterdock
          October 2, 2017, 10:12 pm

          they have not approved the post yet. but it was the Bittercreek western narrow gauge meet 2007 on youtube.

  • Nanny M
    October 2, 2017, 3:56 pm

    I love this! So cozy, beautiful and good storage Especially the pantry door! Brilliant. Ray seems like a great guy.

  • Nanny M
    October 2, 2017, 4:05 pm

    Also love the shower, the woodwork and the steel framing.

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