Simple Solar Homesteading

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Robyn McKinney Mobile House Design

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 11:35 AM

My design is made to start with a 16 ft by 8 ft utility trailer designed to hold the weight of a mobile house. It would need to be specially reinforced for this purpose and with proper axel strength for the additional weight of the whole house.

Next I designed it so that the weight would be balanced and not too heavy on the back end such that it would tend to lift the pulling vehicle up off the ground. In my attempt to do that I designed it with the kitchen as the place that one enters into the house and the bathroom being in the rear of the house. Centered in the middle of the house is the Living and Dining area along with the loft. I believe that the weight of the loft and bathroom will balance with the weight of the kitchen. The design includes a removable deck and stairs for both the front and the back of the house, so that when it is in place where it will remain most of the time, access to all the features of the design are made easy and more enjoyable as well as it will help to disguise the fact that there is a trailer below it.

The finished design with the removable decks not counted will measure less than 20 feet in length and it is less than 8 feet wide. The measurement to the very top from the ground including the trailer is less than 13 feet 6 inches. All of the actual dimensions are included in the design graphics shown below. The width is 7 feet 11 inches. The length with the extended decks removed is 19 feet 9 inches. The height is 13 feet 5 and 9/16 inches to the very highest point in the design including the clearance for the skylights. 

The construction design was made such that it is easy to lower the height by adjusting either the knee walls for the loft or the main floor walls. One may need to do that in the event that a floor platform is desired to be taller than the one that has been designed here or as your particular trailer requires and in or to gain or lesson the head height clearance. The head height clearance for the main floor as designed here is 6 feet 4 with a head height clearance of approximately 4 feet in the loft. In my design safety and easy escape from fire was a critical consideration. Therefore I designed it to have both a front door and a back door/window for egress. It is also designed to have access to the loft from either the front by a movable ladder and from the rear by way of an attic style pull down folding stairway along with a hatch door to cover the opening. This hatch cover provides for safe movement around in the loft and more actual usable space. There are specially constructed beams in the ceiling and 3 support posts in the loft.

There is an attractive open and closeable lattice style gate and rail to protect one from falling off the loft while in bed on the front side. Additionally I designed the electrical switch layouts with all 3 way light switches so that all the needed lights to get access to the loft can also be turned off from up in the loft once you are safely tucked away upstairs and so there is no need to risk going back down a ladder to turn off lights. In my design I planned the layout of the floor to allow for fully installed plumbing with an instant hot water unit located about in the middle of the houses right under the dining seats so as to feed both the kitchen and the bathroom. I have situated two clean water storage tanks in the 2 loft spaces that can be easily refilled with a water hose and that use either gravity to aid the water flow and pressure or water pumps as desired. One also would likely consider adding a water filtration system for the clean water. Below the floor are situated gray water and/or black water storage tanks that are easy to empty into appropriate dumping stations. My bathroom design can also alternatively be fitted with a composting toilet if desired. The bathroom shower space also doubles for the storage of a portable laundry washing machine which you would remove when taking a shower. The kitchen is fitted with lots of convenient cabinets, counter tops, and hanging pots and pans storage. On the right side of the kitchen area there is a single bowl sink, with either a built in 2 burner gas cook top installed or a removable 2 burner gas cooking unit that can also be taken out to a picnic table along with the propane gas tank. The window shelf on the front of the house holds an additional counter top for more prep area and appliances. Next space is provided for an under the counter refrigerator that can either be gas or electric. On the counter is room for a large toaster oven for baking. In the cabinets above is a place for a microwave shelf and other appliance storage needs.

Over the cook top area and sink area is located an under cabinet hood vent with lights. Over the sink is also located a window. Over the bumped out kitchen window on the front and the entry door is a kitchen loft providing an additional 12 inch deep cabinet storage space or for bookshelves and your sound system. On the left side of the kitchen area is a tall pantry type cabinet that also can function as a coat closet and provides for hanging storage and brooms. Next to that is a set of drawers for office equipment storage. Above that is a lighted unbreakable glass door cabinet to show off your nice dish and glassware storage. These cabinets can be mirrored inside to help give the appearance of more space and to help reflect the lights. To the left of the entry door is where the trash can and the propane gas boat heater is located. On the outside right front under the bumped out large kitchen window is locate a lockable enclosed gas tank storage garage which can also hold water hoses, extension cords and your tool boxes. This is built on a permanently attached approximately 1 foot wide deck with rails that is mounted and attached to the floor framing and over hangs only a portion of the v shaped front of the trailer base where the hitch is located. The removable deck, rails and stairs attach with bolts to this deck entry structure. If desired a hydraulic lift can be used to raise and lower the deck extension for transporting.

The cantilevered kitchen window and the kitchen loft above going across the front of the house creates a covered porch roof area for installation of outdoor entry lights and helps to protect the front entry door from rain. The front door is designed to swing out to open, but it can also swing inward as long as it clears the wall mounted heater. The dining area with pull out storage under the sofa and a drop down table can double for an additional sleeping space along with a blow up mattress that conveniently stores away underneath when not in use. A swivel mounted TV is attached to the one interior wall, the bathroom wall.

The living and dining area is flanked by 2 huge windows. There is one on each side of the house located at about the mid-point and this helps to give the feeling of a much larger space. This living area is located under the loft and it will have ample head room and lights. The loft is supported to the rear by the bathroom wall and to the front by 2 angled wood braces which tie into the wall construction and help to transfer the load down leaving no need for a post. The dining table is designed to sit two and to function also as a desk office space. Plenty of outlets are planned for this design and are also to be located up from the floor at the normal light switch height for easy access. Some outlets will still need to be down lower for appliance.

The loft can be accessed at the front by a removable ladder and at the back in the bathroom ceiling by a pull down unfolding and collapsible attic style stair case. Access to the bathroom is through a 4 foot wide sliding door. This sliding door can be mirrored with un breakable glass in a way much like a closet door which when closed will give the appearance of great bigness to the whole main floor space. This sliding door is made to be removable as well for easy access to the bathroom. If one prefers, a simple curtain can be hung to partition off the bathroom.

The shower stall is a 3 foot by 2 foot space and can have either a door or use just a shower curtain. The design calls for an additional water tank above the shower but just below the loft. The bathroom is equipped with a small hand sink mostly for teeth brushing and hand washing, which can both be done at the kitchen sink instead if desired.

There is a bathroom window over the toilet space and a small vented window in the shower area to help eliminate excess humidity. Additionally a bathroom vent fan is shown which helps to eliminate any unpleasant smells. The rear of the house can be accessed through a combination window/door. When the bathroom sliding door is open this also gives the appearance that the interior of the house is much longer. All of the windows in this design help to enlarge and bring the outside space in. They also help to cool the space by providing good cross ventilation.

The house is designed to have a ceiling fan and two skylights as well. A large skylight is located over the kitchen area and a small skylight is in the bedroom loft area. Both allow trapped heat to escape up and out which is what heat naturally wants to do. The ceiling fan also helps to circulate the heat from the heater which is located in the front of the house and helps to provide for an even temperature throughout. This house is designed to be energy efficient and fully insulated. All windows should be double paned and well flashed, caulked and sealed. This house has gutters and downspouts for water collection.

For off grid energy the houses roof is designed to be able to position solar panels on either side and on the top. These would be removed when moving the house. The small fixed back deck of the house is where the locked garage storage units are located for the solar system components. These components include the batteries, the controller and the inverter. Located on the back outside of the house is the access door for the breaker panels and if desired the on grid power connection point. Located on both sides of the house are plug-ins for feeding electricity to the house through extension cords, much like any type of RV would have. This electrical design calls for 3 breakers. There is one for the outlets and lights on each side of the house and a separate dedicated breaker for the water heater and possible pumps.

All of the light fixtures should be low energy lights. Designed as an alternative for electric lights, one can use gas camping lanterns and hands free hangers are shown located in several critical locations. Now up to the loft area. \

This design provides for a very nice roomy space upstairs with the dormer like triple windows on both sides and the unique roof design gives plenty of head room for movement around in the loft. As a throwback to the way distant past, when there was no indoor plumbing, a chamber pot can be located in the loft for those emergencies often arising in the middle of the night. No need to climb down. There is a built in closet space with hanging pole to the left and ample cabinets and low dressers for storage of cloths. The headboard of the bed doubles as a lift top storage for blankets, sheets and such.


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