When Scott and I realized that we both desperately wanted to downsize our lives and eventually build our own tiny home for a growing family, we were looking at Pinterest and all of the beautiful pictures there. Building a tiny home seemed ideal and beautiful and less stressful compared to experiences of home owners around us. Now that we’re building a tiny home on a bus, we’re being faced with LOTS of decisions that worry me, but I’m trying not to show it because I’m the optimist with the bus project! If I hadn’t been saying, “Oh it will be fine!” or “Don’t worry about that, it will all work out once we get going!” then we wouldn’t have bought the bus. Basically I just confessed that this whole thing is my fault!
I will say that building a mobile tiny home is very different from building a stationary tiny home. I feel confident that when we do go to build a stationary tiny home that it will be a much easier process because we’ll be faced with fewer limitations than what we’re dealing with now. This whole building a home thing is always full of surprises though so we’ll just take it as it comes when we get there 🙂
So, what limitations are we dealing with as we build a mobile tiny home?
- We have to think about how to build walls and install cabinets/beds/appliances in a way that will move with the bus as we drive but not crumble if we go over a speed bump.
I think we feel pretty confident in this regard right now. We’re able to use some of the bus quirks that we can’t get rid of such as existing holes from previous screws and bolts, permanent tracks along the base of the walls that use sturdy T bolts, and metal pieces over the wheel wells that were used to support chairs that we’ll use to build out our benches. Hopefully the whole thing won’t fall apart as soon as we back it out of the driveway though!
- We have to be very aware of how much power each little thing that we put into the bus takes and eventually come up with a schedule of sorts detailing what items need to be completely turned off in order to use the washing machine, or start up the air conditioner.
I’ll blow a circuit if I use a hair dryer—perks of having a 15 amp power source. And we have to worry about things like DC vs AC, wattage, volts, etc. I thought I was getting a grip on this whole power thing by listening to Scott and my dad for the last several weeks, but I realize that I really have no idea. I just know that I can’t use a hairdryer.
- We have to worry about water intake because we only have one 40 gallon water tank for our greywater.
Did you know that a 10 minute shower uses 42 gallons of water?! (Based on an average flowing shower head) That’s more than our tank can hold! Holy moly, that will be interesting getting used to. I’m not even sure how much water our washing machine uses with one load and I’m not looking forward to looking it up either (by the way, we found a full capacity washing machine for the bus!). To help with the amount of water we use during a shower, we’re going to have a shower head with an on/off switch that can easily be turned without losing water pressure or hot water. We’re also going to use a shower head with a lower flow rate so we don’t lose as much water per minute as the average shower head. (Water conservation in the shower)
We also want to make sure our water is reusable. Eventually, when we have our own land, we’ll reuse our greywater for watering grass and flowers and a garden so we have to make sure it’s potable. We want to avoid putting chemicals into our water now so it doesn’t contaminate our tank for future use. Anybody out there use organic dish/laundry detergent that they love and would recommend?
- We have to be really smart about where and how we’re insulating because if we don’t do it right then it’s like we just shouldn’t have bothered with it at all. But hopefully with doing it right it will make a big difference!
Insulation has been a back-and-forth issue at times. It takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money, so is it really worth it? The biggest issue is that no matter how much we insulate the walls and ceilings, our windows are huge and allow the most sun/heat to come in, affecting the entire bus. So is insulation really worth it with such large windows? We’ve purchased R10 insulation that we’re putting in the ceiling and walls and we’re going to make window shades that will be about R8. We’re going to use the window shades when we’re getting direct sunlight through them, but they’re not going to always be covered so we can still benefit from all the natural light they provide. So yes, we’ve decided that insulation is worth the extra time and money for us!
- Compost Toilet.
Yes we are making our lives substantially easier in regards to plumbing and not needing whitewater and blackwater tanks, but we’ve never used a composting toilet before so we might be having our work cut out for us when we need to empty it. We’ve looked to Gone with the Wynn’s on several occasions as we’ve been putting together plans for this bus renovation and they use and highly recommend the composting toilet pictured below. Yay for trying something new I guess!
When we traveled the world we were exposed to different lifestyles than what we grew up with here in the US and they all involved conservation and recycling. We appreciated all of the things we learned and gained a desire to continue many of those practices upon returning home to the US. But, we soon found out that they are not always the norm here and it was very hard to do! With this bus we realized that we’d be able to incorporate these practices, but I don’t think we realized how drastically we’d be incorporating them. This is way beyond what we experienced while traveling! We do look forward to the day when we can put in solar panels and a water collection system whether it be as we add onto the bus or when we build a stationary tiny home. This will be a very good gauge of how much of a dent we’re really making as we conserve our resources!