Airstream housing units can be used as guesthouses, art or yoga studios, small homes or backyard getaways. They are still mobile, but need to be connected to the house septic system if they have a bathroom. He incorporates green building techniques, LED lighting and solar panels. Marvin also plans on restoring a few Airstreams with fun themes—his first is a Gene Autry/Roy Rogers/1950s cowboy theme with barn wood. He estimates a restored Airstream will cost around $25,000.
“I think tiny dwellings in the 300 square foot range are where people are going to head toward in the future,” Marvin said. “Once you downsize to the basics, you don’t need very much.”
Airstream is a brand of luxury recreational vehicle manufactured in Jackson Center, Ohio, USA. It is a division of Thor Industries. The company, which now employs more than 475 people, is the oldest in the industry. Airstream trailers are easily recognized by the distinctive shape of their rounded aluminum bodies. This shape dates back to the 1930s and is based on designs created by Hawley Bowlus. Bowlus had overseen construction of Charles Lindbergh's aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.
Starting in 1989, Airstream built Class B motorhomes based on the Ford Econoline chassis and the Dodge B-series van chassis. Production ceased after the 1999 model year. In 2004, Airstream introduced the Westfalia and Interstate, built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The Westfalia was discontinued in 2006.
Airstream, still based in Jackson Center, is a division of Thor, Inc. The company manufactures more than 2,000 trailers and several hundred motorhomes per year. Airstream produces several models — Sport, Flying Cloud, International Signature and Serenity, Pendleton, and Classic. 2015 trailer sizes range between 16 ft to 30 ft (4.9 to 9.4 m). Airstream also manufactures models for the European market.
If you're building your own tiny house on wheels and plan on getting it registered as an RV with your state, then research the DMV regulations ahead of time. In most states, a self-built RV will need to be inspected before the DMV will issue a license plate. Have detailed plans drawn up and take photos at each step of building, so that you can show electrical and plumbing work without having to cut into the walls at the DMV! Some folks avoid this step by purchasing a flat bed trailer manufactured by a company that provides a Vehicle Identification Number. They register the trailer but then don't go the extra step of re-registering it as an RV when finished building the tiny house. This isn't strictly legal, as many states charge fees based on weight or re-sale value. If you're planning to live remotely off-grid, you might consider it, but if you want to stay in an RV park or obtain RV insurance, you'll want to make the extra effort and get your tiny house registered as an RV.
Once registered, where will your house stay? Choices include someone's backyard, an RV park, your own land, or a tiny house community-ecovillage. Tiny houses on wheels are allowed as caregiver dwellings in the backyard of a person who needs assistance in Sonoma County, CA, as well as Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa & Sacramento, according to Sonya Tafejian of Tiny House Consulting Sonoma County. And on Nov. 20, 2015, Fresno city zoning approved tiny houses on wheels as backyard cottages without the requirement for the tiny house dweller to be a caregiver.
If not in a caregiver cottage, you'll be considered to be camping and regulations in some areas limit camping to a particular number of days; check with your local zoning office. Backyards and RV parks have the advantage of offering utility hook ups. It may be possible to camp on your own land, particularly if your land is classified as recreational rather than residential, but it's rare to be able to get utilities. North Yarmouth, Maine is exceptionally friendly to private camping.
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