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Friday, April 2, 2010

Whittled Down House


After 2.5 years, Tristan and I are getting ready to leave our urban homestead in New Mexico in search of greener pastures in New England. To kick off this new and scary phase of our lives, Tristan and I are embarking on our biggest project yet, and boy does it ever involve Whittling Down. We're building a gypsy wagon to call home during our move and most likely beyond.

Most of you are probably at least vaguely familiar with the Tiny House movement--people building miniature houses, often on trailers, and ostensibly living in them (though it seems like an awful lot of tiny houses end up as offices or guest rooms in the back yard). I have no illusions that the tiny house lifestyle is for us--two people and a cat in under 100 sq. ft. just doesn't seem fun or necessary, at least not for the long haul. But to have a home while we move across the country and visit potential new home towns? To save on rent during the warm months by carrying our house on our backs? It sounded like a pretty good solution to us.Your typical tiny house is built like a smaller scale regular house, with a few exceptions. This means that they are heavy. I drive a Hyundai Elantra and I don't relish swapping it out for some monster truck, so I set about to research what my teeny sedan might be able to handle. The answer?

A canvas-topped gypsy wagon!
Yes folks, you heard it right. Tristan and I are building a 54 sq. ft. gypsy wagon to call home for at least the summer of 2010, if not beyond. The whole thing sits on a 4x8 utility trailer and will (we hope) weigh about 800 lbs fully loaded (my car can handle up to 1000!). We are having to purchase some materials but we're using salvaged stuff whenever possible. Here's our Google Sketchup design for the shell:


And here's what we've built so far:

And if you're interested, here are links to our 3 main resources/sources of inspiration:
http://www.canvascaravans.com/
http://www.amvardo.com/
http://www.jimtolpin.com/gypsywagons.html

We'll be posting updates on the gypsy wagon's progress regularly. Our goal is to have the exterior completed by May 31st, and the whole shebang done by the end of June, which is our target departure date.

4 comments:

Jem said...

I'm speechless. I could not IMAGINE such a trip, and not just 'cause I have 4 cats. You and your wife must REALLY like each other.

On another note, Vermont is a beautiful state with lots of green and is not over-priced. 'Acourse, there aren't many jobs there and winter lasts until June, but you can't have everything...especially in a gypsy trailer!

diznia said...

This is awesome! And I hope your make it out to Ithaca in your wagon. We'll show you a good time: waterfalls, farmer's markets, crazy homesteader neighbors with a self-built straw-bale house... you name it!

Danila

Libby: said...

Danila! We would love to make a stop in Ithaca. We'll see you and your straw-bale house this summer!

Jay said...

I know I am quite a bit behind here, but I only recently became Intrperested in the tiny house thing (mostly, to be honest, because I was looking into DIY travel trailers). Your weight issue is mine almost exactly!! I have a tow limit of 1500, so I can pull more, but still not like some of the 3k or bigger, obviously. Thanks for the links and the gypsy wagon idea. I will be checking out your progress with great interest!