Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My Tiny $1,000 "House" On Wheels

As a manner of practice, every week or so, I go on craigslist randomly and type in “tiny house” just to see the boots-on-the-ground trends for tiny houses. (Or I see what people CALL their “tiny houses” which doesn’t always match my definition….but I digress…)

What I mostly see is people selling shells built atop trailers that cannot bear the weight of the house they built.  Interestingly enough, they hardly EVER mention this in their ad but it is likely that they might not even know or are too embarrassed to be that transparent.  And, of course, I see ads posted by builders and am always astonished to see them occasionally listed for $100K or more and wonder….do they ever sell a tiny house worth that much on craigslist?

The chassis was originally constructed for a 1959 Nashua Single Wide Mobile Home.

Last month I expanded my search to include the entire state of Oregon and found my newest project.  It was originally listed for $1,750 but had been listed for a month. It’s almost as if the project was literally waiting for me to find it.  

And, to be honest, sometimes “destiny” can be fun to imagine.

I made an appointment and showed up to meet the owner and hear the story behind what used to be a cook shack for a local club. The Cottage Grove Gold Miners and Prospector’s Club is a group of lovely, community minded people who get together on the 3rd weekend of July to make and sell pancakes on the top of a mountain, 40 miles outside of town.  They then use the money raised to establish scholarships for local students, and contribute in other ways to their community and its less-fortunate members.

The interior before they removed everything, per our agreement, prior to pick up.

Behind the scenes, they accomplish this monumental task by first loading up the “cook shack” with propane and supplies. They head up the mountain, flip down the ramps, flip open the serving windows, fire up the four cast iron grills, set up the chairs and tables, and have a breakfast party every year since 1964.

The metal frames mounted to the sides were flip-down ramps for hungry customers!

I had been participating in a tiny house build workshop in Roseburg, not far from Cottage Grove, so in order to go see it I had to sneak away for a couple of hours. I didn’t know if I was going to buy it but I knew I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

After I met with the President of the Prospectors, and the keeper of the cook shack, I apologetically offered him $1,000 in cash on the spot.  Even considering buying another tiny house with My Tiny Hideout already under construction was pretty crazy.  It may not sound like much, but scraping together $1,000 in cash was tough to justify.  

He asked if I would be taking the propane tank that was strapped to the back. I said “Nope”. 

He asked if I would like to take the cast iron skillets.  I said “Nope”.

The frame isn't too shabby, with openings that will accommodate 5 windows and 2 doors.
He accepted my offer and next I went about making plans to move it. 

I’d met a contractor at the workshop who offered to pick it up and move it to his shop near Roseburg while I awaited the chance to drive down and get it with Mark’s truck.  A week later the contractor and I met and I followed him for a bit to make sure it was at least somewhat road worthy.  It “tracks” to the left (indicative of axles installed incorrectly) but overall looks great going down the road.

The roof line is still a work in progress but here's an elevation draft of the entry side.

As I write this, My Tiny Wine Wagon, is sitting in a shop awaiting demolition. The same contractor who hauled it there has expressed interest in helping me renovate it and, if all goes well (although I have to admit my confidence changes by the day) it’ll also be done in time to join My Tiny Hideout in My Tiny House Village for the 2019 Travel Season.

The backside will have a lovely window over the kitchen sink.

As I write this, I still can’t believe that I spent only $1,000 on a tiny house shell on wheels with two 5K axles, and if my estimates are any good (which they normally are great actually) I will spend less than $12,000 total renovating it. 

A FIRST DRAFT of the floor plan.

This truly will be the BEST before and after tiny house renovation you have EVER SEEN!


  1. You are fearless. Can't wait to see what you do with this.

  2. Are we turning this into another Airbnb or are we turning this into the kitchen for the bnb's?

  3. It'll have 2 beds, a queen and a single; have a full kitchen, dining area, and outdoor shower and toilet.