When seeking a mobile home, converting a van into one makes a lot of sense. And that’s exactly what Christine On thought. She completed the entire conversion by herself and it took her 32 months, but the end result is a cozy mobile home, which is exactly how she wanted it.
She used a 2004 Chevy Express passenger van for the project, and went into it with no construction, plumbing or woodworking experience. She had to learn everything from scratch, but that’s not the only reason it took her almost three years to complete it. She also had to take care of her ailing father, renovate her condo, and move house.
She calls her mobile home Gypsy, and apart from being solar powered it also boasts of a number of interesting features. She added a fiberglass roof to gain extra headspace, and the home also features a storage area under the floor, and a large bed that can be converted into a sofa. The home can be used off the grid, and has lots of windows that offer great views and let in plenty of light. She also added curtains to gain privacy when needed.
One very interesting space saving technique Christine used was having the kitchen sink double as a shower. She used a large IKEA sink for the job, and I’m not sure this type of solution will appeal to most people, but it is quite innovative. To further save space, she opted for a projector instead of a TV.
She converted the van in an effort to downsize and live a simpler life. She’s offering a free guide that features advice on how to select a good van, proper insulation techniques, framing and other technical aspects of converting a van into a home. You can download the guide at Defying Normal.
Daniel Venneman, a designer from Holland, has just completed a unique mobile tiny home. It’s called Porta Palace and he built it for his business partner Jelte Glas. The latter wanted a small, affordable home, which would bring him closer to nature anywhere he decided to park it.
Porta Palace measures 194 sq ft (18 sq m) and was built using what Venneman describes as bio-based construction methods. It features a timber and steel roof. The cladding is made of wood, which has been treated with Aquawood, an eco-friendly treatment that cuts down on the needed maintenance and allows the wood to wear naturally over time.
The interior features an open plan living and dining area, which is fitted with built-in furniture and storage space. This space is also equipped with glass doors that let in plenty of natural light, offer great views and open outwards to effectively extend the living area into the surrounding space. The sofa can be extended into a comfy guest bed, while also doubling as storage space. The bed is located in a lofted area. The home is also equipped with a kitchen and bathroom, which features a dry toilet. A clever staircase, which doubles as a cabinet, allows access to the lofted bedroom.
Due to all the clever additions and the large windows, the home feels much more spacious than it is. The owner also intends to install solar panels and a battery array in the near future, which will allow him to produce enough energy to power the home’s LED lights, the fridge, ventilator and still have some left over to charge his laptop and phone. Glas and Venneman are both great tiny home enthusiasts, and they plan to start creating a number of Tiny Villages all across Holland, each of which would consist of approximately 5 to 10 tiny homes on wheels.
About two years ago, Canadian couple Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives were stuck in the proverbial rat race, working long hours to make ends meet and be able to support their traditional lifestyle. At one point they asked themselves why they’re doing it though, and their answer involved selling their house, converting a van into a home, and using it to explore the US and Canada in their new house.
The first step was buying a cargo van, which is about 19 feet long. Their van features a bed a kitchen and enough storage space for their essential belongings. Since they like to eat well, yet were on a pretty tight budget, they built the kitchen which basically consists of a fold-out table screwed into the van’s door. The cooking utensils, rags and other necessities hang from the other side of the door where they are within easy reach. They use a simple propane powered stove for cooking. They don’t have a fridge, only a cooler, so they mostly buy and eat food that does not require refrigeration.
The bathroom facilities are limited to a jar that they use for peeing in, while they have a curtain to separate off the “toilet” from the rest of the van while it’s in use. For showering they use a solar shower, which is very basic yet gets the job done.
Most of the interior is taken up by the bed, which can be folded up during the day and turned back into seats to create a cozy living area. They installed curtains on all the windows, so the sleeping compartment can be closed off, creating a completely private and cozy room. The main reason they decided to install a bed is to have a spot to call home on their travels.
They also installed a mobile hotspot and solar panels to power it, which allows them to have the Internet wherever they go. So a laptop is all they need now to earn money, and continue living the nomadic lifestyle.
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Gerhard Feldbacher, a designer from Austria, has just launched a small home, which can easily be moved around on a whim, though it is not a true mobile home. He’s calling his invention Simple Home, and it is designed to rest atop four legs which allows the home to be easily installed in the desired location without the need for hoists, cranes or other heavy machinery. And perhaps, best of all, the Simple Home can be taken off-the-grid.
The basic Simple Home measures 24 feet by 8.5 feet (7.5 m by 2.6 m) and is 13 feet (4 m) high. It is made of wood, and greatly resembles a shipping container home. The walls are 4 inches thick, as is the roof. The home also features a ventilated façade and is insulated using wood fiber insulation though customers can also opt for sheep’s wool insulation, if they prefer.
Despite its humble size, the Simple Home is cozy and well equipped. It features a full kitchen, a lounging area, a wet room bathroom with toilet and sink, and a bedroom. The latter is pretty innovative, and features a pop-out unit that rests on wheels, so that it can be pulled out from the main part of the home by hand. Since the home is raised on four stilt-like legs, there is also a set of steps that lead up to the house. The home also features a terrace. Simple Home can be hooked up to the grid or run off its own solar-based power system.
To transport a home a flatbed truck is needed and the whole process works a lot like transporting a shipping container. Once the truck carrying the container reaches the destination, the four retractable legs are lowered which enables the home to stand on its own. After this the truck drives away, leaving the home in place.
Feldbacher is also offering a larger version of the home, called Home to Stay, which is not intended to be moved around.
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On the face of it, living in a truck does not sound very comfortable at all. But converting a truck into spacious and above all sustainable home is exactly what fifty-year-old animator Joseph Tayyar from Israel did. And very successfully too. His new home is also almost completely self-sufficient, due to a roof mounted solar power array.
Joseph came up with the idea to build a home in a truck after watching a TV show about homes on wheels. He wanted a home that could easily be transported to anywhere in the world, and it took him a few years to finally turn his dream into reality. He converted an 11.5-meter (38-foot) truck into a home, using innovative design ideas and carpentry skills.
One of the first tasks was ensuring the walls were properly insulated. Next he fitted the truck with a fully furnished, modern kitchen, and two separate sleeping areas (one of which is in a lofted area). He also installed a spacious seating area, a dining banquette, as well as a separate work area, and a bathroom. He mostly used wood to furnish the interior, which works great to offset the cold industrial metal of the truck with something more natural and warm. For the inside, the home looks a lot like a cabin or tiny house, and not so much as a trailer.
The roof of the truck is covered with photovoltaic panels, which provides all the needed power for this home. He also installed a water storage tank under the bedroom, which means this truck home can function completely off-the-grid.
The transformation of the truck cost about USD $225,000, which is quite expensive for such a small home. With some tweaking, though, this cost could probably be brought down considerably. Joseph also hopes that his experiment with building this mobile home will inspire others to do the same.
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