Hi.  Welcome back.  If you’re new to my blog; welcome.  It’s great to have you here.

I’m in the process of building a tiny travel trailer, or TTT, and have been sharing the trials and tribulations involved with anyone interested, (and a few who aren’t) *laughing*

Well, I had hoped to extol you with the massive amount of work I got done this weekend but, alas, this was not a banner weekend for camper building.

I was on call this weekend at work and was awakened by my ringing phone early Saturday morning.  After I got there and got things under control, the rest of the day was pretty much shot.  I did manage to make it to Lowes and the Home Depot to do some price comparisons and look for a few new ideas.  The highlight of the day was when I got my lawn mowed Saturday evening, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

Sunday, in keeping with the weekend theme, wasn’t a whole lot better.  The weatherman predicted rain all weekend.  Every time I started lugging everything outside, the sky began to darken which drove me back inside.  It never did rain, (which I have come to expect from the local weather forecasters).  If you’ve ever had to lug untold tools, materials, etc., in, at a full jog, during a torrential downpour, you’ll understand my reluctance.  I swear that I will never buy another home without a garage.  Of course, I said that when I bought this one.  You can see how strong my resolve is.

I did, however, manage to get the roof vent framed-in and the wall and ceiling nailer’s installed.  I finished working after dark so the pictures will have to wait until next week.

Today started with a trip to Home Depot to pick up the sheet goods I’ll need for the walls and siding of the camper.  The external skin will be 1/4th” exterior grade BC plywood and the internal walls will be 1/8th” lauan, (believe it or not, that’s the correct spelling), underlayment.  That’s the reason for framing the TTT with 2 X 2’s.  It will give the camper plenty of skeletal strength to allow me to use thinner skin material and keep the overall weight low.  I’ll be insulating the spaces between the inner and outer skin with foam insulation to keep the AC/heater from working overtime.

Once again, my dining room has been converted to a paint booth.  I’ll be priming the inner and outer skin, all surfaces, (all 15 sheets….sheesh!), as well as the frame, with Kilz Gold exterior grade primer to seal the wood.  Then, the interior walls and exterior skin will be painted with the finish colors once they’re installed.  If you’ve ever owned a camper, you know how much damage a leak can cause.  Usually, by the time you see the stain on the ceiling or wall, the damage underneath is already catastrophic.  I’ve bought a couple of campers in that condition, really cheap, over the years after the owner took the camper to a professional for repairs.  After they heard the price to repair the damage, and after getting over the massive fainting spell, they opted to sell the damaged unit and buy a new one.  I plan on doing my level best to make sure that doesn’t happen with Nosty’s Nook.  With the way the economy is, Nosty’s Nook may just be my retirement home.

Quite a few people have emailed me, asking how much the build is going to cost.  My answer is this:  If you include labor, (which I don’t), the cost would be astronomical.  I love the work.  Crank up the stereo, charge up the cordless screwdriver and I’m in my happy place.  If you’re one to take labor hours into account, you’d be better off buying a ready-made unit.  There’s no sin in that.  People do it every day.  If, however, you’re only reason for not building a camper is because you’re apprehensive about your skills, don’t be.  As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, there’s a wealth of information and 24/7 help just a click away.  The Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer forum is the place to get any and all imaginable questions answered by people with every level of experience, and who have made every imaginable mistake along the way.  They’re always more than happy to help anyone out, and their mammoth database has years of question and answer posts just a search away.  If you have some basic hand and power tools, your build is just a stop at a lumber yard and the span of your imagination away.  Plus, if you get your better-half involved, your power tool budget may increase exponentially as he/she sees the potential for untold weekend adventures in the comfort of your well-adorned TTT.

For those of you interested in building your own, here’s the breakdown of what I’ve spent so far.  This will give you a general idea of the costs involved.  As you can see, I’ve collected the materials over a period of three years.  It’s cheaper that way, (at least mentally), and easier on the budget.  Of course, every build is different and everyone’s situation is different.  The more you add, the more expensive it gets.

Materials price each total supplier Date
15 X 36 black sliding window (front) 39.99 39.99 Tri-State (ebay) 9/25/2007
2-14 X 21 black sliding windows (doors) 60 120 Lil Bear Tag-Alongs 9/25/2007
8 X 4 1750 lb gross wt. trailer 259 259 Tractor Supply 11/1/2007
Trailer tongue crank up jack/wheel 19.99 19.99 Harbor Freight 1/15/2008
Smoke 18 X 18 roof vent 19.99 Tri-State (ebay) 1/18/2010
5 gal. Rubbercoat #57 roofing tar 37.98 37.98 Lowes 1/26/2010
2 gal Valspar latex porch floor paint 22.98 45.96 Lowes 1/26/2010
2 gal Kilz prem. Exterior latex primer 19.98 39.96 Lowes 1/26/2010
3-2 X 4 X 10′ treated for deck frame 3.97 11.91 Home Depot 1/26/2010
18-2 X 2 X 8′ for wall framing 1.76 30.06 Home Depot 1/26/2010
2-8 X 4 sheets 3/4 AC exterior plywood 23.97 47.94 Home Depot 1/26/2010
Asst. paint accessories 30.00 Lowes 1/26/2010
Lightweight galley sink 19.99 19.99 RV Trader (eBay) 1/30/2010
RV AC power panel (50A) 29.99 29.99 RV Trader (eBay) 1/30/2010
5″ firm full-sized mattress foam w/plastic cover. 89.99 JC Penney online 1/21/2010
5000 BTU remote controlled A/C 99.97 Walmart 1/30/2010
19′ 10-2 SO cable with gr. for short power cable 1.15 p/f 21.85 CES Elec. Supply 2/1/2010
30A shore pwr. cable-end and adapters 34.23 M&L Trailer supply 2/1/2010
Asst. galv. Carriage bolts, nuts and washers 30.00 Home Depot 2/1/2010
Asst. galv. deck screws, glue, etc. 49.00 Home Depot 8/7/2010
9- 2 X 2’s for framing 1.37 ea. 12.33 Home Depot 8/15/2010
6-2 X 4’s for framing 2.62 ea 15.72 Home Depot 8/15/2010
12 Thin, single gang switch/recept. boxes 1.12 ea 13.44 Home Depot 8/15/2010
5 gal. Kilz exterior primer 66.00 Home Depot 8/15/2010
8 sheets 1/4th” BC plywood 19.44 155.52 Home Depot 8/15/2010
7 sheets 1/8th” lauan 9.97 69.79 Home Depot 8/15/2010
Total as of 8/15/2010 1410.60

I’ve been crunching the numbers a little tonight, (after pricing materials at the Big Box stores Saturday), and I figure that I’ve got about another $300 to spend before I’m finished.   That’ll cover the cost of paint for the inner walls and outer skin, fiberglass for the roof and a few various and sundry odds and ends.  That doesn’t include the cost of wire, receptacles, switches and light fixtures which I had on hand.  A conservative estimate, if you don’t have anything when you start, would be about $2000.  A whole lot less than a new model, but nothing to sneeze at.  Of course, as I said, the more elaborate you get, the higher the cost.  I will be finishing the galley from my scrap collection which has been taking up space in my shed from the numerous remodeling projects I’ve done on my house over the years.  “Yesterday’s scrap is tomorrow’s gold.”  I plan on building some nice cabinetry for the galley and over the bunk, as well as adding a stereo and TV/DVD for those rainy days.

Keep in mind that most of what I’ve bought so far is brand new.  That was my choice.  Almost every area of the country has a camper scrap yard of some sort.  You can get almost anything you need, (windows, fixtures, etc.), at a fraction of the cost at a scrap yard.  Some great buys can be had through auctions and “buy now” on Ebay Motors.  If you look around, you can almost always find a used utility trailer that’ll work admirably for your base.  I’ve seen them on the side of the road for as little as $50.  The possibilities are endless.  Just don’t skimp on the skin.  As I mentioned, one leak can mean death to a camper.  Many people I’ve talked to on the forum got their camper in the dry and camp with it, unfinished, waiting for the right idea, or the expendable funds, to complete the build.  Most will tell you that the build is never complete.  All it takes is one outing with like-minded folks, (and a tour of their mansions-on-wheels), and a wealth of ideas start formulating in your mind about ways to improve on your TTT.  Very few of the veteran builders are still towing their original build.  Most sell them to finance their new and improved build after learning from their first the things they wish they’d added.  It’s an addiction!

You can’t tell from the pictures I’ve posted so far, but stay tuned.  Once Nosty’s Nook is completed, there’ll be a very functional/elaborate galley, shower and a few more of the comforts of home.  Nobody ever said camping has to be uncivilized.  In my younger days, I was happy with a backpack and a blanket, sleeping under the stars.  Just the thought of that now gets my old bones threatening to go on strike.  While I don’t plan on spending too much time in the camper when I’m off on a weekend camping trip,  the time I do spend inside, sleeping or cooking meals, will be comfortable and with as many amenities as my 5 X 10 home away from home on wheels will allow.

Well, friends, that’s about it for this week.  I’m trying to be optimistic and keep that fall camping goal, but too many more weekends like this one and I may have to break out the parka and mittens and make Nosty’s Nook’s inaugural run in the dead of winter.  I ain’t skeered!  I’ve done it before.  There is no end to the madness common to the camping set.

May your week is filled with happiness and good luck.  Until next week,

Brian

©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

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