Tiny House

Which is Better For You: Tiny House or Camper? 5 Questions to Help you Decide

Which is Better For You: Tiny House or Camper? 5 Questions to Help you Decide

The other day I got an email from a curious reader of this blog. Karen wanted to know:

"I was wondering your opinion on is a tiny house better or a camper? I could buy a camper now, but if I want to build a tiny house I will need to save up for a few years since I want to build it debt free. Thank you for your blog and support I always enjoy seeing something from you in my email."

Oooh, I thought, I get this question a lot. Both from clients, people I work with, and readers. So I’m addressing it head-on today. 

To start, I don’t necessarily think a tiny house or a little camper is “better” than the other - but they’re definitely different and are suited to different people with different needs and lifestyles. Today I'll give you a framework for thinking about this question yourself.

Obviously I went with a camper over a tiny house on wheels.

I chose this option for a few reasons...

Where Do I Fit In?

Where have I been?It's a good question! I've been really busy the past two months, but haven't made a ton of progress on the COMET. Other vintage camper people out there, have you ever tried polishing the pitted, foggy aluminum back up to a mirror finish? It takes forever! It also requires a large angle grinder, which I'm embarrassed to say I can't really lift up in the first place (so it becomes Matt's job). We've been working on it little by little, but it takes many hours and is a crappy job. It's the one thing standing in between me and a beautiful exterior paint job (also Matt's forte because he used to do fancy pin striping and decals on cars).

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT: www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com The reason I have been so busy is because I really need money to complete the COMET and I had to put a lot of time and energy into my Etsy shop, where I sell awesome vintage clothing. My shop is called Planet Queen Vintage (based on the T Rex song but also referencing awesome ladies that do cool stuff to positively impact the planet) and I would be so grateful if you guys took a minute to check out all the new stuff and hard work I've been putting into the shop the past few months. I added 100+ new items, took better photographs, and increased the overall awesomeness content. Bet you guys didn't know I run a business on the side in addition to the COMET?!

Inside The Comet Camper: I love my tiny house

Inside The Comet Camper: I love my tiny house

Okay, okay, so I know I'm still trying to catch up the blog with the progress in a chronological and step-by-step fashion - but I can't help it. I love my little house (even though it's unfinished) and I want to share what it looks like with you all at this point! So let's look into the future-present at the most recent photos of the COMET. Give me your feedback in the comments! We'll get back to the progress updates later - unfortunately this did not all happen overnight :)

A New Year, and a Winter Small Space Experiment

Now that it's January, winter has officially arrived in Massachusetts. There's a  few feet of snow on the ground, and it's not going anywhere for a while. Confession time: I really wanted to live in the COMET over the winter this year, but I couldn't get her weatherproofed in time. The hole in the wall where the fridge will end up going has a large vent, and without the fridge installed it was like sleeping outside! It ended up getting too chilly, and until I seal up the cracks and insulate the vents and install the fridge (and find an acceptable heat source) sadly I will not be sleeping in the COMET this winter. However, I took this opportunity to try on another tiny space living situation for fun and to see what I can learn from it.

While I'm not living in the COMET, I'll be living in a tiny closet under the stairs in a collective house. The "room" is about the size of a twin bed, but the previous dweller made such good use of the space that it feels cozy, not cramped. There's a bed on a platform so I can store things underneath. There are two drawers installed directly into the wall as built-ins at the foot of the bed. There is a desk that nests in the wall and unfolds when you need it, and the bed becomes your desk seat. She even installed a nifty bookcase tower. There's also a tiny window on an exterior wall, so you can see outside and get some fresh air. I will have to post some pictures!

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.

Lots of Catching Up to Do!

Hello Readers!!

No, I have not died or given up on the project or the blog, I am just finally, for the first time in weeks and weeks, finding a free moment to do a post. Things have been CRAZY the last few weeks, trying desperately to get the COMET in shape for Tiny House Summer Camp and then the Brattleboro KOA Vintage Trailer Rally. Basically I have not had a moment to myself since I got back from Yestermorrow on June 15th. Every single day (no lie!) for the last 6 weeks has looked a lot like this: wake up at 6 AM, be outside working on the COMET by 6:30 AM, work work work, take a 10 minute lunch break at 1, then back to work until 9 PM or sometimes later if I had to. All just to get the COMET in towable, working order (not pretty) for Tiny House Summer Camp (which was amazing) and the rally a week later. Did I mention the temperature has not gone below 95 that whole time? Needless to say, by 10 pm I was exhausted and I knew I had to put the blog writing on hold if I was going to make it up to Vermont for these two events. I want to THANK YOU for bearing with me the last few weeks as I put the pedal to the metal with the COMET in terms of progress, and was away from the website. It was actually really good to have a deadline and serious motivation for getting certain things done, and pushing myself that hard for the last 6 weeks makes the rest of the project, what still needs to be done, look like a breeze!

Great used building materials resource: DiggersList

I came across this really great resource for finding used/extra building materials for sale in your area. It's basically a Craigslist just for home improvement/building materials/appliances, and it's called DiggersList. Just type in your area/town and DiggersList will find anything for sale/free in a 50 mile radius. I really like the name, because as someone who loves to find used materials in the dumpster or in piles on the road, or even in piles on the internet, I think people like us really are "Diggers!" If you check out DiggersList and find something great to use in your tiny house, camper conversion, or other project, let me know in the comments!

(And on the flip side of acquiring great used/unused extra building materials for free or cheap, you can also post your own leftover flooring, old fridge, or salvaged lumber on the site so others can take it off your hands!)

Tiny House Summer Camp with Derek Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.com!

It's official!! I'm SUPER EXCITED to be a speaker at Derek Diedricksen's tiny house design/build weekend workshop this summer. Deek just announced the workshop last week, and there are very few spots open, so sign up fast!! It's going to be called "Tiny House Summer Camp", and it's taking place the weekend of July 6-9 at Derek's home-built cabin in Vermont. The weekend will be full of tiny house tours, solar cooking, camping out, tiny house building. designing, idea swapping, and geeking out about all things tiny. As a participant you get to sleep in a cabin, a treehouse, a tiny house, or something else cool that will be at the workshop (depending on what state The COMET is in, I might be able to accommodate a few campers!) The COMET will be coming with me to the workshop, and I'm going to be showing it off (mid-construction) and bringing along lots of interesting sustainable building materials and other things. I'll be showing off my free and recycled finds that will be going into The COMET, explaining why vintage campers make great tiny houses,  talking about how to save $$ in your tiny house by having an entirely DC photovoltaic solar electric system like The COMET, and more!

Other speakers at the workshop include WILLIAM ROCKHILL of Bear Creek Carpentry, who builds Tiny Houses for Tumbleweed, TRISTAN & LIBBY and their WHITTLED DOWN CARAVAN (an amazing vardo/caravan they towed from New Mexico to Massachusetts with a little sedan!), Derek's own HICKSHAW CABIN, and more!

Yestermorrow Design/Build School - first workshop this week!

I realized that I hadn't written a post about the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, and that I should introduce you all to the place since I have my first class there this coming Sunday. Yestermorrow School is a design/build school that focuses on hands-on teaching and sustainable building practices. They offer workshops that range from 2 days to 4 weeks (and they have a sustainable building semester program with UMass Amherst). Topics range from Green building materials, woodworking, and tiny house building workshops, to architectural design and drawing courses and stained glass making workshops. I found out about them last year and when I read their "Philosophy" statement I was SO HAPPY to find a place that shared my values exactly. All last semester I had been talking about closing the gap between designers and builders, and wasn't really getting any support in doing that. So I left my college for some time to attend Yestermorrow for the next year, through their Sustainable Design/Build Certificate program. Basically with the certificate program (and they offer certificates in other subjects too)  you choose a handful of week-long, 3-week long, and weekend workshops from a long list of amazing classes. I chose the certificate over the semester program because of the flexibility and that way I could work on The COMET at the same time. I've heard the workshops are really intense and totally awesome, and that a 3 week workshop feels like an entire semester. I'm about to find out!

European Tiny Appliances for Tiny Houses

When I was in London last week we stayed in a little one-and-a-half room apartment that had all of the amenities in miniature form. I don't exactly know the brands of some of these tiny appliances, and to be honest it took me a while to figure out how to work them! So I'm not sure how available these particular models are in the States, but I thought that these were all great space-saving ideas for a tiny house! First off, there was a tiny dishwasher. I kind of think that a dishwasher would be a luxury in a tiny house, and that to save space most people would just op to hand-wash their dishes. But this one was so tiny!! It probably saves water too.