An incognito trailer
almost never tell anyone that we live in a trailer because, with a
normal gable roof and a full basement, we both consider it a normal
stick-built house," David said. "Although if a
visitor happens to
mention that we have a very nice place, I will then tell them it was at
one time a 'mobile home' now converted to real estate."
Over the past three
decades, Mary and David have created a vibrant
homestead, due in part to the low cost of their initial housing
choice. After two years in a trailer park, they bought seven
acres of land and moved their trailer into place (at a cost of $350
plus a lot of their own labor). A few years later, they had saved
enough to hire a cousin to add a roof onto their trailer and to
pour loose insulation
into the attic.
Next came a full
basement, constructed for $9,000 in 1985 or 1986,
along with double-glazed windows and redwood siding. "We loved
the looks of the siding, but it needed constant maintenance
with oil wood preservative," David remembered. Meanwhile "the
boring bees loved to get behind the aluminum gutters and bore holes
into the fascia boards. I wasn't going to let some insect destroy
home. We also wanted more insulation in the walls, and the only
accomplish that was to put the insulation on the outside."
The trailer itself had about three inches of fiberglass insulation in
the walls, to which David added foil-faced foam boards for extra
heat-holding power. He "taped all the seams with aluminum tape
and used special nails to hold the foam board in place."
About the same time,
Mary and David hired a contractor to install
fascia under the gutters and on the rakes of the roof, along with vinyl
perforated soffit to protect the attic insulation from moisture.
"As you can see from these photos, we have come a long way since the
original metal-sided, metal-roof trailer that we had before," David
said. "You can also see a well-insulated house, but no siding, a
large deck, but no railing, no lattice, and most of the decking isn't
I asked David if he
agreed with the mainstream attitude that it doesn't make sense to put
large amounts of cash into a mobile home, and he replied by telling his
own story of building as you go. "If we had bought a big fancy
house with a big mortgage
instead of the trailer, we probably would have lost it
back to the bank
because, two weeks after moving the trailer to our new property, I lost
my job and was out of work for two years because of the bad economy,"
David said. "So
living in a pre-made structure with wood heat and land contract was
cheap living again.
"So let's say after two
years I get back to work and money is flowing
again, so we decide to build, or contract out the construction of a new
house while we lived in the trailer. Would the house be what
wanted, or would it be what we thought
"If I were to build a
house now, I know exactly what I want in a
house. I know the type, quality, and placement of windows; I know
the thickness of the walls and insulation type; I know the orientation
of the structure and placement on the property; I know the roof
material; I know on what side of the house utility and low-use rooms
should be placed. These are things I didn't know back 30 years.
"The mobile homes now are
much better quality than our 1974 vintage
trailer. Young people (or old people) now can buy a mobile home
with 2x6 walls and a regular shingled gabled roof, and vinyl
siding. I say if a person can find a good quality used mobile
home and move it out to their property, that would save them money,
time, and effort. Then they can direct their efforts toward
something more productive, like a more self-sustainable lifestyle."
you're inspired to give mobile home living a try, or just want to
read more about our trailer dwellers' adventures, Trailersteading
on Amazon today only.
Now's also your chance to email me
your request for a free pdf copy if you'd rather read the book in print
or on a device that doesn't play well with kindle formatting.
There are no strings attached, but if you find time to leave a review
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