by Dave Koszegi
on Friday, July 17th, 2015 at 12:57pm.
The Koszegi’s Tiny-Home Construction and Adventure
No matter how busy life gets, we try to make time as a family to hit the open road together, build campfires, toast marshmallows, make s’mores, and tell stories underneath the starry skies; with the hopes these will be passed on to the next generation. We are believers that the memories made on family camping trips are both lifelong and unforgettable.
For those of you who don’t know us, we are the Koszegi’s, a Port Alberni family consisting of Dave (Dad), Erin (Mom), Matteo (son), Julia (daughter) and Francesca (daughter). Every summer, we pack up enough belongings for the weekend, and embark on an annual camping trip in our Westfalia Volkswagon van to Hornby Island, a Salish Sea island located near Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley.
On last summer’s trip of 2014, we found ourselves curled inside our sleeping bags, reading Llyod’ Khan’s Tiny Homes on the Move to the kids by flashlight. The book chronicles 21st-century nomads - people who inhabit homes that are compact and mobile, either on wheels or in the water, so it seemed suitable for our camping trip.
As we read together, it began to dawn on us, that perhaps we too, could create a tiny home on wheels for next year’s trip. After all, the kids were getting bigger – and so were their duffel bags! We needed more space, and this could be the perfect family project.
At this time, there weren’t any plans available at the time that suited our needs, so we began to create our own. On our winter vacation, our friend gave us some graph graph paper and pencils so we sketched a scaled and mirrored image of the home we planned to build. To best accommodate our Westfalia, the door had to be placed on the opposite side, so the kids learned how to draft an effective plan the ‘old-fashioned’ way (even though there must be an app for that!). As well, the floor would be built over top of the wheels (as opposed to beside them) to give us more square footage – every inch counts!
Following the preparation and planning stages (including many trips to Beaver Creek Home Centre in Port Alberni) building commenced on January 17th in our driveway. The total capacity our van could haul is 1000lbs, and Derek Diedricksen’s (of Relaxshacks) plan was 1500lbs, so we had to cut the weight down by half. We were able to cut the weight in half by building with 2x2’s and 2x3’s (created by ripping 2x6’s) as opposed to 2x4’s. The home was then strengthened by screwing and gluing every piece. Our version is 5x9 wide by 8ft (not including the bathroom area), making it slightly larger than Diedreksen’s original floor plan.
Although many accomplished builders may be able to complete this project in a matter of short weeks, this was intended to be a family project; so it was worked on simply when we could. Some weekends, this was in between client showings, dance practice and recitals, soccer games, and general busy family life – whenever we could all be together.
As the weeks passed, the Tiny House on wheels began to take shape. What began as a draft on graph paper, soon became a tangible framework that began to resemble a home. But time was ticking. Only a couple weeks before our camping trip, we had to break it to the kids that we may need to shelve the project, and save it for next year’s camping trip. The kids wouldn’t have it – they raised their hands and said, “Koszegi’s never give up!” Fast forward a few months later, on Friday, June 26th, we had finally built our Tiny Home on Wheels - with exactly 48 hours to spare before our annual camping trip!
Click to watch how we did it:
Needless to say, we put down our hammers and exchanged huge high fives! Although Mom and Dad were a bit sore and achy, we will never forget the smiles on the kids’ faces, and how they jumped up and down for joy! We still have a couple of finishing details to add to the bunk upstairs, but likely those won’t be complete until next year – for now, we just intend on enjoying every moment we can in our new Tiny Home.
From the camping trip of 2014 where the plan was born inside our Westfalia van, until the moment we towed it on to the Horby Island ferry this summer of 2015, we learned some incredible lessons along the way
For every problem; together we found a solution. After all, the only way out is through – and it’s even better together. “It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.”
Special thanks to:
Beaver Creek Home Centre,Nasgaards Saw Mill, Canadian Tire, Arbutus RV, D.A.S.T Welding, Demex, First Glass, Twin City Auto Wrecking, Express Trailer
Special help from:
Bob Ellison, Albert See Jr., Brad Swager, Mark Andreade, Nathaniel Wynans
Lloyd Khan's book, Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels and Water