The Caravan

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Winter of 2016 found me madly distributing pots and pans around my original 210 square foot tiny house, trying to catch the roof leaks every time it rained. Oh, and sleeping with centipedes on a nightly basis. Needless to say, something had to change. Some people get itchy feet; I get itchy hands. I get the need to build something. And thus my next tiny house came about; a plywood bow-top caravan reminiscent of the European Gypsy vardos.

At a humble 72 square feet, built upon a second-hand modified boat trailer, it’s small, clean, and cozy. The build was fun, and took about 2 months of my (mostly part time) effort, with less than a full day of help for the few parts that required an extra set of hands. The interior consists of a raised bunk with storage below, a counter with a washbasin, some shelves and a drop-leaf table. There’s plenty of room for a hot-plate, but I haven’t bothered with that since I spend so much time in my commercial kitchen/office. The interior is wired with LED lights and a couple of outlets; it’s currently plugged into mains power, but with the option to install solar in the future. I ditched the idea of a water tank in order to save weight, so the sink is rigged to attach to a standard garden hose. I rely on an outdoor shower and composting toilet, which is practical enough in this climate.

The full specs? The trailer measured in at 6’x12′, the roof length is 16′, and the overall height is about 9′. The floor and bulkheads are 1/2″ ply, with 2″x4″ treated pine framing for the floor and bunk. The beams are all 2″x2″ treated pine with additional 2″x4″ blocks at the bulkheads. The sheathing is 1/4″ finish ply, which is flexible enough to take the curve without the use of steam or moisture. My estimate on the overall weight is between 2000-2500lbs. It can be easily towed by a midsize SUV, pickup truck, or Jeep. The only things I’d change if it were to “travel” would be heavier leaf springs, possibly larger wheels, and perhaps a wider wheel-base – all things that a typical utility trailer would come with. Lights and plates would obviously be required in most places too!

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