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Old 05-04-2016, 08:34 PM   #1
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Hypothetical: Airstream as "Modular" Tiny House Living

So, I've been toying with the idea of ways to legitimize an AS purchase, while facing the fact that I don't even have a mortgage/own a home. Then I started thinking, why can't an AS be both (aside from the obvious: trailers depreciate, and homes *typically* don't)? This also speaks to my minimalist nature.

I have a (retired) friend that currently lives in a fifth-wheel in a community trailer/camping park in Florida for 6 months of the year, and works/stays at a campsite in NY for the other 6. I can't do that, and am confined to WNY as my home base/place of work. So, how could I make an AS be a full-time home in the blizzarding wintery months? I'm thinking a custom built "house" could be the answer.

The house would basically be:
First "Floor"
- Garage for AS, with water/sewer/electric hook-ups; heated
- Glass garage doors at each end to allow for full view from the AS wraparound windows; also provides backyard yard access in the summer, and a hell of a cross breeze
- Windows/glass bricks on either side wall for maximum light and privacy
- Storage/utility closets/extra fridge/etc

Second Floor
- Living room
- Full guest bath
- Guest Room (maybe)
- Roof top patio with gardens

The trailer would function as a kitchen and bedroom 365 days a year, and the second floor would allow for more living/entertainment space when "home." This allows for least "waste"; not duplicating belongings between house and AS (bed, appliances, etc). I imagine backing into the driveway on any Friday afternoon, hitching up, and hauling off on a new adventure, winter or otherwise.

I am thinking zoning, and building codes would prohibit this from ever being a reality. Especially inner-city where I live. That a shame, since there's actually an 30 x 110ft empty lot in my neighborhood that I think would be perfect for the project!

Am I overthinking things? Or does anyone else think this might be a viable living situation?
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Old 05-04-2016, 08:38 PM   #2
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It sounds like an interesting concept. Too bad zoning laws would probably get in the way.
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Old 05-04-2016, 08:40 PM   #3
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Sounds like you need a park model not a travel trailer.
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Old 05-04-2016, 08:56 PM   #4
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Welcome, mousouchop. You aren't the first one to wonder about how to have some sort of "garage" while using your Airstream as a home. Your plan may actually work with zoning ordinances, since you will have full living quarters as part of the structure.
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:05 PM   #5
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You would never get a building permit for it unless it was a completely code-compliant dwelling in itself, with no considerations for the Airstreams facilities. The closest you can get is a small house with a large garage for the Airstream. And the size of those may be regulated locally too.

Building codes have the premise of public safety and order, but there is a measure of protection for a lot of special interests in there as well. The effect is very destructive to creativity and individualism (usually that's a good thing, but not always).
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:52 PM   #6
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Yeah, I figure codes will be the biggest issue, if not the complete undoing of this idea. I've seen tiny studio apartments in cities, and I'd like to think the "second floor" I described would be pretty comparable to one of them.
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:56 PM   #7
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Buy the lot, build a home that'll suit your needs. Be sure to set aside room for a trailer pad so that you have a place to park when you're able to get a trailer. The trailer isn't an investment, the real estate is.
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:21 PM   #8
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Something like this...but with an airstream.

http://www.houzz.com/photos/4330813/...xterior-austin
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:30 PM   #9
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I don't see how the powers that be could argue with a residence with a bathroom and a kitchenette and an attached RV garage. I would not tell them you will be using the AS for living space.
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:36 PM   #10
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Not sure why you could not build a second floor apartment that would suit your needs, with a garage on the first floor. A quick conversation with a local architect should quickly answer the question. Would mean a bathroom and kitchen facility, but that allows you to rent when traveling. Some cost increase but that can be mitigated significantly. The problem might end up being objections from the neighbors if the project does not strike them as an improvement for the area. But a good design plan and landscaping might go a long way toward selling the idea. Might also be worth doing a lot layout that allowed for either building a main house in front or expanding the proposed structure into a larger home later. Would be interesting if you could designate and build the garage space as living area and put it to dual use as storage for the AS. Door design might be the challenge, but should be possible. Good luck with your investigation. Pat
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Old 05-05-2016, 05:46 AM   #11
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Hmm. Yeah, the added benefit of being able to rent would certainly be a benefit; having another income stream is attractive. I suppose that's more than enough reason to build out a full house.

I liked the minimalism afforded by using the AS to facilitate some of the house's needs, but I guess it would be "silly". Would certainly make the transition from being at home to being on the road much more seamless though.
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Old 05-05-2016, 05:54 AM   #12
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Sounds like a very novel and creative idea.

The zoning ordinance issue may be with storing a travel trailer on a site zoned for residence, regardless whether you slept in it at night.

Many of us have slept in our rigs in our driveways or back yards , and how would they know or care where in your dwelling you slept.

There may be another spot in your area that could accommodate your dream.

Good luck to you.


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Old 05-05-2016, 09:01 AM   #13
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We have been thinking about this for a retirement home. I found lots of ideas by Googling "rv port homes." Here is one somewhat like what you are describing:

http://www.doityourselfrv.com/youll-...e-parking-rig/

There are also much fancier designs, like the Locomotive Ranch house mentioned in a post above, or this one by Lake Flato:
http://www.lakeflato.com/ranches/story-pool-house

The big question is where to build it. We've looked at buying land in the country...but are not sure we want to be that isolated. Most subdivisions, even those in the country with acreage, have problematic restrictions like dwelling size over 1500 sq ft.

Another possibility is building in a subdivision designed for RVs, like NTAC. They have house lots as well as "villas," which are covered parking pads with built in living quarters.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
I don't see how the powers that be could argue with a residence with a bathroom and a kitchenette and an attached RV garage. I would not tell them you will be using the AS for living space.
Some municipalities don't allow storage of RVs on your own property at all. Some only allow them to be sorted in the rear yard. Some allow garages but of a certain area and height (not big enough for a trailer). Most urban municipalities do not allow you to live in an RV stored on your property unless that property is zoned for such a use. Zoning bylaws dictate what you can and can't do with your property. Each municipality is different and it is really important that you familiarize yourself with these bylaws before getting too far ahead of yourself.
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