Road Trip Jeep Hauling Tiny House Concept

Drive your Jeep right up onto the 11′ 9″ deep porch when ready to hit the road.

This is a design idea I’ve been playing with a lot lately. Most tiny houses don’t travel well because they are heavy, brick-shaped, and built to maximize the building envelope defined by the size limitations of 8.5-feet wide and 13.5′-tall. So most tiny houses ride low, drag their butts on steep driveways, and are not usually very aerodynamic. This design is different.

A dramatic entrance welcomes you home. The porch surface would be a steel grate strong enough for a 4,000-pound Jeep, would scrape the mud off your boots, and would never collect water.
Your boondocking home is quickly setup and you’re now ready to explore the remote backwoods in your Jeep. Your giant RAM 3500 is 4-wheel-drive too, but build for highway towing. (Note to Jeep lovers… I couldn’t find a good JK or JL SketchUp drawing to add to my tiny house drawing so had to settle for this YJ. Nothing against YJs. except for the square headlights. LOL)

I wanted to imagine a tiny house that was built to travel and explore, so I started with the trailer design. This trailer would have a 40-foot trailer bed, an 8-foot gooseneck, dual tandem wheels, 12,000-pound axles, trailer breaks, and hydraulic self-leveling jacks like a commercial fifth wheel trailer.

The trailer would have very good ground clearance and would be much nicer to tow on a regular basis than the typical tiny house. The sacrifice is limited ceiling height due to a floor so high in the air. The ceiling is 8 to 9-feet tall, just not tall enough for a true loft. The overall height of this design is just under 13-feet so you could take it on a Ferry to Alaska if that was in your budget (most ferries I researched have limits of 13-feet tall for trailers and RVs).

Custom trailer with high ground clearance and dual tandem 12,000 pound axles.

Due to it’s length, a tiny house like this would likely weigh a lot, like 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with the 4,000-pound Jeep loaded on the back. One drawback of this design would be that it would be tricky to balance the trailer for towing if you were missing the Jeep counterweight.

You just pulled into camp and ready to offload the Jeep. Lower the side stairs for easier access to the Jeep.
The Jeep is loaded, strapped down, and your home is ready to hit the road. The stairs on both sides of the porch would be steel or aluminum and hinge-up and secured when you’re ready to travel.

For sure it would take a heavy duty truck to tow this tiny house, like a RAM 3500, Ford F350/F450, Chevy or GMC 3500. Big trucks like that are built for highway towing, so it might be fun to travel with a Jeep for backwoods exploring, which is why I added a large porch out back that’s deep enough for a Jeep.

It would be driven up and down on ramps just like a flatbed car-hauler trailer. When you’ve setup camps, and the Jeep is parked nearby, the porch would be a nice place out of the mud for hanging out and cooking.

Side view shows the front room on the left, the kitchen window in the center, and the back room on the right.

The shape of the home’s nose is meant to be aerodynamic, or at least more aerodynamic than the typical brick-shaped tiny house.

Total length of trailer and truck would be just under 65-feet – which is about as long as you can go and stay legal. I believe the weight could be kept just under what a commercial driver’s license requires.

In the center of the house is the heaviest stuff: kitchen, bathroom, pantry, clothes storage, water tanks below the floor, etc. The utility items like batteries, solar power gear, generator, and water heater would be in the nose over the gooseneck.

This is a tiny kitchen. The 10 cubic foot 12VDC refrigerator just out of sight on the left. Three pocket doors separate the front room from the kitchen, the kitchen from the hallway (from where you access the bathroom), and the hallway from the back room. Closing these doors could provide more privacy for those using these close but separate spaces.
Looking down at the tiny kitchen counter. It’s only 5′ 6″ wide. A microwave could be added above the induction stove and an oven could fit below – but valuable cabinet space would be sacrificed.

The frame of the house should be steel for it’s light weight and strength. For sheathing I’d choose Huber ZIP R-Sheathing even though its a bit on the heavy side. It provides the shear strength, plus a thermal break, vapor and water barrier all-in-one. The siding and roofing should be lightweight aluminum or steel panels with furring strips behind the panels for the air gap.

Behind the furring strips, siding and roofing should be a continuous inch or two of foam insulation for maximum insulation performance. The wall cavities should also be insulated with lightweight foam.

I like the modern look of plywood for interior walls, so I think I’d sheath the interior with furniture grade plywood. I wouldn’t hide the seams with trim, I think that looks tacky. Instead I’d bevel the edges with a router to accentuate the joints and use nice looking fasteners. If you’re going to use plywood, be proud of it and show it off.

12 huge 425 watt solar panels can fit on the roof for a maximum of 5,100 watts.

Since I’m just having fun imagining the perfect traveling tiny house (and apparently on a limitless budget), it should also have a huge solar system too. The roof is big enough for 12 425 watt solar panels for a whopping 5,100 watts of power. There should also be a lithium battery bank properly sized to store all that sunlight. I’m guessing we’re talking like $15,000 to $20,000 of solar power here.

Why so much solar? Well in that hallway between the kitchen and back room would be a full size stacked washer and dryer hidden behind cabinet doors. There should also be a two head mini-split to keep both ends of the house cool. All of that would require a huge solar system – especially if you wanted to stay cool while boondocking in the desert in your completely off-grid tiny house.

View from the back room looking toward the kitchen, front room, and porch. Notice the mini split head unit on the wall to the right. I hate how those look, but it would be nice in a house with so many windows on a hot day. Also notice the roll-up RV blinds.
View into the back room. The map on the wall shows where this imaginary family has traveled so far. It’s an art piece with interchangeable states stained in two different colors.

The 7-foot sofas in the front and back room are on castors and can be pushed together to form a bed big enough for two. The sofas have three large drawers each (total of 12) for clothing storage for the whole family. The hallway has full length closets for hanging dresses and other clothes. In the back room is a small 2-foot deep loft just big enough for a young child (or hanging out and chilling). The house could sleep a maximum 4 adults and 1 child comfortably.

Looking into the house from the front door. You can just barely see the refrigerator and cabinets on the left in the kitchen in this shot.
Looking back toward the front door and porch beyond. A barbecue, four folding chairs, and two small folding tables are also on the porch.

The bathroom is small, but typical for a tiny house. The shower shown is 36-inches square. The bifold glass door would allow easy access to the shower even when standing inside this small space.

The toilet shown is mounted on the wall and has a tank located inside the wall. These toilets are a bit more expensive but can be as low flush as a typical RV toilet. The space is a bit tight for hanging towels up to dry, but adequate. There’s a window just out of view above the mirror.

This design is actually #35 in a series of tiny houses I’ve been drawing quietly and privately. I’ve decided to take my hobby public again and will begin to share more designs here in the near future. It was drawn with SketchUp Pro 2021 and rendered with SU Podium V2.6.

Stay tuned for more and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

Floor Plan

9 Things The Tiny House Movement Has Taught Me

This post was originally published on michaeljanzen.com. You are welcome to reblog this post as long as you credit the author, Michael Janzen, and link back to this original post.

I first realized the tiny house movement was a thing back in 2007. The exact moment was when I saw Jay Shafer on Oprah. I’ve worked from home for years and my wife was out in the living room watching Oprah. She called to me that I had to see Oprah’s next segment on tiny houses.

After rolling my eyes and thinking, WTF is a tiny house? – I stepped into the living room and sat down to watch. I was instantly hooked. At the time I had also been watching my California home’s value evaporate and was waking up to the debt prison that is a traditional mortgage. I started blogging about tiny houses in 2008 – mostly as I explored alternatives to my own situation.

Eleven years later, a few key things stand out to me. They are lessons anyone can benefit from and don’t require living tiny – but can help you begin to apply tiny living to your existing lifestyle.

1. We don’t need much to be comfortable

After 11 years of blogging on the Tiny House Movement, I’ve seen and heard a lot of tiny houses success stories. Thousands of people have given tiny house living a try and through the telling of their stories have shown us it doesn’t take much in space & stuff to be comfortable. The hardest part isn’t adapting the amount of space, it’s our stuff.

At this point, I think the less stuff one has the happier they can potentially be. Stuff is a burden. It’s costly because it demands so much attention. In some cases people even put stuff in paid storage units – yeah I’m guilty of that too – and those monthly payments add even more actual cost to the mental toll of knowing that at some point that useless stuff needs to be confronted.

As far as I’m concerned, less stuff and less work to do around the house means more freedom and more comfort.

2. We can learn new things and create new opportunities

Back in 2008 tiny houses lit my mind on fire. The possibilities seemed endless. I drew design concepts like concrete pipe houses, houses with moving walls, bike houses, and nine square foot tiny houses. To get all those ideas on paper I had to learn to draw differently.

SketchUp was new back then… a 3D drawing program invented by Google for adding buildings to Google Maps. Today SketchUp is a favorite tool of Architects and Illustrators for creating 3D models and photorealistic renderings to help visualize ideas.

I taught myself to draw with SketchUp and it’s empowered me to draw all the tiny house plans and concepts I’ve published over the years. It’s now one of the skills I rely on for my own enjoyment and income.

I’ve seen many tiny homeowners learn new skills while building their tiny homes, like carpentry, metalwork, and even videography and web publishing.

Through the sharing of success stories on YouTube, we’ve all seen this transformation happen before our eyes. The projects folks choose to take on lead to new skills which in turn become new opportunities and take us to new places.

3. Choosing freedom takes conscious daily effort

The hardest part of downsizing is making tough choices with tempting distractions all around us. It’s like choosing to go on a diet in a donut shop. It’s like choosing to get off drugs while continuing to hang out with your old stoner pals.

When the natural thing to do is to get a job to pay a mortgage and consume like there’s no tomorrow… and everyone around us is doing it… it’s almost impossible not to join in. Tax breaks, low payments, and the prospect of living in lavish digs also make it easy to jump on the debt carousel. For the paranoid, it almost seems intentional plot to enslave the free… but I digress.

If we truly want to be free, choosing freedom over debt-powered opulence is a tough daily battle in our own minds. Don’t give up the fight.

4. We all can learn something from stories of extreme downsizing.

One of the biggest lessons we’ve all learned from the Tiny House Movement is that there is an alternative to the debt carousel.

Every time we watch another success story about tiny house living, the idea that these tough choices might not be so tough after all. Once we implant those goals in our minds the conscious decision to be free gets easier to achieve.

5. We can design and build our own homes

If you were to try to build your own home in a highly-populated city that must conform to building codes, ordinances, and covenants – you’d be hard-pressed. The bar has been set so high, it usually takes a professional to build a large normal home.

But tiny homes are different. They can be built safely in a few months by average folks with skills learned along the way. It’s still a big project, but it’s achievable. We’ve seen it done time and time again.

Designing a tiny home isn’t rocket science either. You’ll likely need to learn some new skills, and spend a lot of attention on each square foot – but in the end designing and building your tiny home is doable.

6. Tiny Houses are too small for most people

Not everyone can fit their lives inside a 120 square foot home. Tiny homes work for singles and couples best – but only when they truly embrace a frugal lifestyle. The more people and functions you add to the living space the more space you need.

A family with parents that work from home and children that home school is a perfect example of a use case that stretches tiny living to the limit. We’ve seen it done, there are many families that have successfully made this situation work inside bus conversions and tiny houses, but it’s not easy, takes careful planning, constant organization, and a lot of patience.

So while tiny houses may be too small for most people we can all see the benefits of living tiny and apply it to our big homes. Reducing waste, energy consumption, and the amount of stuff we surround ourselves with brings us more freedom and lowers living expenses. We can all begin to live tiny in the space we’re in today… and once we make a step toward downsizing it becomes even easier.

7. Bus conversions might be a better option for those that want to travel

Tiny houses are heavy and not very aerodynamic. They are also usually made mostly of wood, so not as strong as a steel school bus, which is made to carry heavy loads safely for many years.

Bus conversions have been around a lot longer than tiny houses too, and it makes a lot of sense – especially if you want to travel. They are simple mechanically, so can be repaired relatively easily. They provide a decent amount of headroom, making them livable. They have open interiors that can be easily outfitted with the comforts of home.

The main drawback is aesthetics. A tiny house is super cute and feels like a home inside and out. A bus is a bus and it feels like one inside – even when comfy cozy. While the bus is more functional as a traveling home, the tiny house wins the beauty contest – or is it a matter of taste? You decide.

8. VanLife might be best for those that want to travel

VanLife has captured a lot of peoples’ imaginations. The idea of being young and free again and hitting the road for an endless adventure is a captivating idea.

I suspect it’s a lot tougher than it looks but you have to admit, if you have travel and exploring on your mind it’s the only way to go. Anything larger than a van would limit where and when you can stop, but a van – especially a stealthy one – can camp almost anywhere.

The obvious draw back to VanLife is space. A van’s interior makes tiny homes looks cavernous and luxurious – so fully embracing extreme downsizing is required.

9. Most people don’t really want to live simply

One trend I’ve noticed is that tiny houses have gotten a lot more luxurious and expensive over the years. Back, in the beginning, it was common to see people build their own homes for less than $10K and fully optioned homes for $20K-$25K.

Today it seems like $40K-$50K is the norm and professionally built tiny homes are often in the $75K-$100K ballpark. Why is this?

I think it’s simple… people want their cake, (and pie, and cookies, and pudding), and to eat it too. People are addicted to stuff and living large… the temptations are all around us and it’s hard to not get sucked into wanting more More MORE.

It’s like an addiction and it’s crept into the tiny house movement too. For these folks, the benefit of the tiny house is that the scale makes all the goodies more attainable.

Am I judging?

Nope. Just pointing out that the Tiny House Movement has become a much more diverse place with a wide range of people and values. No really, I like my cake and dontus too.

Summary

Tiny houses are not a one-size-fits-all dream. In the beginning the pendulum had swung all the way to the frugal side. Today it’s swung to the other side with more opulent options. But between those two extremes there are options for even more people, needs, etc.

But as diverse as the Tiny House Movement has become, this is just the tip of the ice berg of all the alternative housing options available to us that embrace many of the core values of living tiny – and more.

These learnings are a big part of why I’m shutting down my tiny house websites and focusing on this blog. It’s the core values that I’ll move forward with… and I won’t be focusing just on size.

Be sure to subscribe to my new email newsletter at michaeljanzen.com.

What have you learned from the Tiny House Movement? Leave your comments below.

A New Beginning

I’m restarting my personal blog, and in the spirit of downsizing I think I might shut down some of my other websites and focus my attention here.

Back in 2008 I started blogging about the Tiny House Movement – mostly as therapy as I watched the real estate market tank. Until then I never thought a home’s value could plummet so far, so fast. The whole experience really changed the way I thought about housing.

I’m a designer, so it was natural for me to start dreaming up tiny house plans. Soon I had a lot of people following my blog who were also interested in tiny house design. My tiny house blogs became a business and I began to rely on it – but like most businesses you either adapt to the changing marketplace or you fail.

At about the time tiny houses began showing up on television shows I noticed a major change in the Tiny House Movement. Everyone was writing about it, shooting video, and more and more professionals started their own tiny house businesses.

Today tiny houses are big business and those of who chose to remain small have not been able to keep up.

So today is a new day when I’m going to sell off my tiny house websites and go back to blogging from my heart and not as a business. So far this decision feels incredibly freeing and I hope it reignites my creativity. I figure sometimes you have to burn something down to begin a new.

I will keep this one blog, michaeljanzen.com to record and share my current thinking, designs, and thoughts. If you’re curious to see what I have in mind, I hope you’ll stick around and subscribe to my new email newsletter – see subscription form at the bottom of the page.