Tiny House Design Build Recap

I can't believe it's fall, for real it's fall! In Vermont, the leaves went from barely changed last week when I was there building a tiny house, to almost all fallen this past weekend when I was at Yestermorrow taking my final Sustainable Design/Build Certificate course, Super Insulation for Zero Energy Buildings. Got me thinking about building a super insulated tiny house. Tiny houses already use so little energy to heat (or cool, depending on where you are), but super insulation would be a great option for a tiny house that was on a foundation. Why spend money on heating fuel if you didn't have to by designing your home this way? Very interesting stuff.

So here are a few more photos of the tiny house build at Yestermorrow from last week. I'm not going to go into great detail about how we built the house, because I still have so much to catch up on writing about the COMET's progress and other things, but please ask questions if you have some burning things you want to know! Now I can officially say I've built a tiny house on wheels.

Demolition: Tearing out the Trash in The COMET

Two days ago I began pulling out the rotted wood and un-salvageable parts of The COMET. This post will be most useful to those of you who are thinking about (or in the process of) restoring/re-doing a vintage camper. Here are some of the "fun" things you might find when working on a camper that is over 50 years old! WALL PANEL

Here's the rear wall panel. As you can see, there is visible dry rot and water damage under the window. I took off the window frame and decided I need to replace the wood from half way down the window and below (imagine a straight horizontal line continuing off of both sides of the window where the gap in the panes are - everything below that). I began going at it with a chisel before deciding that the job needs a more precise hand held multitool, something like the Rockwell SonicCrafter, which can cut flush up again the walls. I peaked behind the wall panel, and all of the wood back there looks great, no damage. I'm still going to super reinforce the framing of this wall with more beams though, because I'll want the extra supports when I go to mount the bumper greenhouse later.

Simple Solar Showers for Summer

Simple Solar Showers for Summer

Good Morning!

Last night I perused the web for the best, simplest solar shower devices on the market. I was looking for something affordable and convenient. The COMET doesn't have room for a shower inside, so she will have a solar shower outside, with some sort of portable, collapsible, privacy shower set up that I can pop up behind the camper (I like the idea of a little teak platform with a circular curtain rod made of metal piping that can break down easily when I'm on the move, and some sort of hook to hang the solar shower on once it is heated up).

Here are my favorite finds from the my solar shower research!

Compost!

I don't know much about composting (I've always composted - having lived in collectives/communes most of my life so far - but don't know the science behind it per-se), but I'm about to learn. Because I know I will have a composting toilet in The COMET, I have been looking into more information about composting food waste and humanure.

I've been reading The Humanure Handbook (third edition) which you can find here for free download: http://humanurehandbook.com/

Now that I've decided to build my own composting toilet for The Comet camper and opted not to purchase a very expensive one, I really look forward to reading this book.

I'm hoping to make the most out of a composting toilet/other compost situation on the road by having a "bumper" garden...I'm working on a design for a little greenhouse that mounts onto the back of The COMET.

I've also been reading about worm farms and worm bin composting...there are some great DIY guides out there for making your own cheap worm bin.

This may not be ideal for the mobile lifestyle, but I plan on living in The COMET in some places for extended amounts of time at some point, and it's pretty interesting anyway. Maybe I can get my parents to get a worm bin!

Another composting situation that REALLY appeals to me (and is not perfect for mobile living either, but hey!) is a bunny rabbit compost set-up.

Apparently rabbit poop is really good for compost, and can even be used raw (without going through a composting process at all!).

I was reading about a set-up where there is a compost bin directly underneath the rabbit's coop/dwelling, and the poop just goes right into the compost! I'm not exactly sure how well this works in practice, but it seems like a great idea.

I'd be really excited about a bunny or two...of course they are adorable and I love little animals!

 

Sustainability on Wheels: Campers and the Tiny House Movement

"Vintage campers will save the Planet."

That's a pretty bold statement. I do think vintage/used/old campers can play a role in the way people begin to think about their housing in relation to the environment, social responsibility, and sustainability. Vintage campers make ideal Tiny Houses. First of all, they are tiny (of course) and on wheels - two basic characteristics of most tiny houses. Even a large camper is a tiny house! Also, I think it is always better to re-use an existing structure than it is to build from scratch (the exception being if the existing structure is unhealthy or toxic in some way...moldy, asbestos, etc.) Using an existing trailer camper cuts down on waste and keeps these usable little homes out of the landfill. Often, there will be valuable materials that can be salvaged from the existing trailer. Of course, there is personal preference and style to account for: campers don't look like miniaturized log homes or mini-mansions, they look like campers (though I have seen a camper re-done with shingle siding!). I'll admit they aren't perfect for everyone, but it's definitely a really viable option for the future of housing.Another thing to consider is cost. To build a tiny house from scratch will cost much more than retrofitting an existing structure (in most cases - depends on what you want to do of course). I've gotten campers in towable, totally restorable condition for less than $500. Sometimes a retrofit is a pain in the neck: campers are built from the bottom up, so it can be difficult to replace and repair things in the undercarriage area (but it has been done!). However, I think in terms of cost efficiency and eco-friendliness, making a tiny house out of an existing trailer is the best bet. Even if your tiny house was built out of entirely sustainable materials (which would be very expensive), it would still be using resources that an existing trailer has built into it. Buying the separate parts to build a camper would be much more expensive than purchasing one used. Also, campers just look awesome!

The COMET comes to life

Cost-efficient Off-grid Mobile Eco-Trailer I want to give you all an introduction to The COMET project and this site. This blog is going to focus on a couple of things pertaining to The COMET and it's process. You'll see lots of stuff about the Tiny House Movement, vintage campers, sustainable design, green building materials, re-purposing materials, and DIY projects. And of course, I'll be detailing the entire process of turning an old camper into a sustainable home. Stay tuned!

Here's an intro to what The COMET CAMPER is all about!

The COMET (Cost-effective, Off-grid Mobile Eco Trailer) is an exercise in sustainability and small space living. It is an educational tool for children and adults alike. She is a DIY guide for others wanting to pare down and have little to no negative impact on the environment, other humans, and themselves. She is a preservation of incredible design of the past meshed with the essential design of the future.