You know how some people love that “new car smell” so much they spritz its bottled approximation around their vehicles once it has worn off? It’s actually made up of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are off-gassed into car interiors by all those plastic components. In other words, it’s toxic. Breathing that chemical cocktail while you’re driving is bad enough, but what kind of impact would it have if you were sleeping in your car, too? That’s a valid question asked by many prospective owners of RVs, who want the freedom of a small mobile dwelling but not the odors and health concerns that could potentially come with it.
But you don’t necessarily have to choose between the mortgage-free RV lifestyle and your health, or give up all of the cozy comforts that come with living in a more conventional house. Many tiny houses built on trailers offer perks similar to fifth-wheel-style RVs, minus all the ugly manufactured elements. A company called 84 Lumber, which does most of its business selling building materials, has one such project called “Tiny Living” offering four tiny house models filled with beautiful wooden details.
These miniature homes, which run around 200 square feet in size, come in four models: The Roving, The Shonsie, The Degsy and The Countryside. Each one has an aesthetic that could easily blend into virtually any kind of neighborhood, whether you live in the suburbs, in the mountains or an urban setting.
The Roving, a cabin-style house with wooden exterior siding and a metal roof, offers the most handcrafted charm of all the models. Wide planks of warm, comforting wood line the ceiling and an accent wall, as well as a barn-style sliding closet door. The Countryside boasts a weathered, reclaimed look, and the Degsy is a single-level modern home contrasting wooden elements with more modern finishes. The Shonsie is more suited to people who want the look and feel of a contemporary suburban home in a smaller package.
All four models include LED lighting, low VOC paints, efficient insulation, low thermal emissivity windows, an Energy Star-certified refrigerator, water-efficient faucets and an energy-efficient, ductless Mitsubishi split unit for heat and AC. Standard electrical and water hookups are incorporated into each design style as well. They’re designed specifically to be built on trailers rather than permanent foundations, which enables them to bypass most local building codes, but you should always check your local laws before buying or building one anyway.
You can purchase a pre-built, move-in-ready home in any of these models with customized finishes, appliances, interior layouts and other elements to suit your own needs and tastes, for around $50K. However, if you want more control over the budget and have some carpentry skills, 84 Lumber’s other options might be more up your alley. The “Build Your Own Tiny Home” option starts at $6,884, or you can just download the plans for $500. A semi-DIY option starts at $19,884. It takes eight to 10 weeks for the company to manufacture one of the homes in their own facilities, and presumably longer if you’re taking it on as a side project.
In an age of skyrocketing housing costs, even 50 grand sounds pretty nice, especially if you’re the type who can handle living in such a small space. Plus, you get the bonus of a gorgeous, welcoming little home that can easily be pulled from place to place as you choose.