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Topic: Living in RV while building house?

Posted By: RipGlitter on 05/28/08 04:25pm

I plan to live on my building site in a 5th wheel, motor home or travel trailer while building my home. I will be living there alone and will take me about a year. If anyone has done this, do you have any advice on the advantages, if any, of the three types? I already have electric, phone, well and septic tank in and functional at the site. Every dollar saved is more for plywood, concrete and gravel, so I will be buying as inexpensive as possible. Any older models better suited to this than others? I just want something that doesn't leak and is functional. I’ve done some research, but do expect a sharp learning curve.

I am not an RVer so any advice is appreciated. The environment is Cascade foothills. Not too hot or cold, but it does rain a lot.

Thanks and,
Blue skies

Posted By: rockhillmanor on 05/28/08 04:43pm

Not to be a wet blanket on your dreams of a new house, but have you checked with your local county if you 'can' live in a trailer on the property? I know most places around where I lived they do not allow it. I would hate to see you get all set up and then have to leave.[emoticon]

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Posted By: RipGlitter on 05/28/08 05:05pm

rockhillmanor wrote:

Not to be a wet blanket on your dreams of a new house, but have you checked with your local county if you 'can' live in a trailer on the property? I know most places around where I lived they do not allow it. I would hate to see you get all set up and then have to leave.[emoticon]

No problems there. C,C and Rs have been researched. I did get one complaint from a buck deer last season, but he is in the freezer now.

I should add that the property is rural and on 7.5 acres. Rural as in deer, cougars and bears. Oh my.

* This post was edited 05/28/08 05:23pm by RipGlitter *

Posted By: rockhillmanor on 05/28/08 05:31pm

Good to know, not good for the deer though![emoticon]

Start here and take a look around at what an older RV would cost versus newer,and what amentities you like. Each ad offers 'plenty' of pictures of the inside of the RV's. And just about every brand and make will be represented for you to look at.

Surfing thru this site will give you an all around idea of what is available for what you want to use it for.

Good Luck. Have a Happy House Raising!


Posted By: lap527 on 05/28/08 05:34pm

We have done it not once but TWICE. The first time DH lost everything in a divorce but the payments. We actually lived in a campground for 3 years, bought a new boat, bought land, build a house, and saved about $10,000. We had everything in storage which depending on the season could be a pain. I guess laundry was the biggest pain. The second time around we did it from May until October. It wasn't as much fun the second time but did save alot of money while building. Each time we had different campers, TT, but they were only about 23' or 24' long. Hey go for it and enjoy the short time it takes to clean house.

2006 Dodge 3500 dually 4X4 / 2013 Livin Lite 10.0 TC /Torklift talons, fastguns, stableloads, superhitch, and truss/
14'V Nose Trailer Hauling 2014 Tri-glide Harley Davidson Or Four Wheeling on a 2017 Razr 900.

Posted By: tkcas01 on 05/28/08 05:54pm

Seems the common wisdom for "full timers" is a MH is preferred if you are going to be moving alot, so based on your situation, a trailer would be the best approach. Whether TT or FW would then be a personal preference. FW's seem to be a bit roomier, with higher ceilings, so depends on how much space you need. Either with a couple of slides would probably be fine. I'd also recommend late model previously owned, as prices will be lower and hopefully 1st owner worked out the kinks.

Roaming Full Timer
2004 Monaco Diplomat DST
2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Toad

Posted By: RipGlitter on 05/28/08 06:10pm

Thanks for the info rockhillmanor. The timing is, in a way, good for me. I had to stop building over a year ago because of the cost of materials. Now, I go to building site auctions and buy from builders who have had to stop building. Saving me big bucks. I’ve been looking thru Craiglist and strangely, the best deals seem to be larger class Cs, and not so much TTs or 5th wheels. At least locally. I guess people can’t drive them because of the fuel cost.

Wow, twice lap527??? No lady with me this time, so my purchase will be somewhat “rustic”. Storage is lined up, but hmmmmm, laundry. That could be interesting. Didn’t think of that.

Does anyone else have preference as to RV type for this application?

Posted before I saw what tkcas01 wrote.

Posted By: Chief45 on 05/28/08 07:20pm

Travel trailer with washer and dryer. A few thing to maintain as possible.
Good luck

Posted By: pammi on 05/28/08 07:37pm

Could you put a washer and dryer in a shed? Freezing might be a problem though.

2004 Rockwood Roo 23B (new to us in April, 2007)
2006 Nissan Xterra

When we camp, it's DH & me mostly. ">

Posted By: RipGlitter on 05/28/08 08:01pm

pammi wrote:

Could you put a washer and dryer in a shed? Freezing might be a problem though.

Thanks. The pressure tank for the well is in a small shed. It doesn't freeze often here and not for very long when it does. I could probably fit a small stackable w/d in there. I'll measure when next I'm at the site. I bet I'm going to miss a thousand things before this is over.

Posted By: tom_kat on 05/28/08 08:14pm

i know some one that did it and wintered over but had to get a permit with a time limit on the time he had to do its like 6 months you can live in one in certain areas.other areas they dont care depends on the county or town.

1985 Class A Holiday Rambler Imperial 33 +1979 Class C Holiday Rambler Statesman 1000 = 24 ft

Posted By: TennesseeBob on 05/28/08 08:21pm

Another option would be is to buy a small used mobile home to live in while buiding

2005 3500 Dodge QC Dually CTD ">
2004 Newmar American Star 32RLKS 3 slides

Posted By: Robert78121 on 05/29/08 07:21am

We're relocating to San Antonio and planning on buying 5 or so acres and living on property while we build. I think it's a great way to keep an eye on things and save some money at the same time. Plus, we're already familiar with the motorhome, so the kids should adjust better than if we moved ourselves into a strange apartment. They'll just think it's like camping.

Washington DC Area (NOVA)

Camper: 2004 Damon Daybreak 3285 WorkHorse 8.1
Toad: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ 4x4 - BlueOx
Toy: 2012 Ninja 650 - Versa Haul VH-SPORT-RO

Spent three years full time, so I know a little about it.

Posted By: mekamax on 05/29/08 10:54am

We've been developing property and living in a fifth wheel. What made it a lot easier for us was to build a barn with a leanto (spelling) we could put the RV under. This really helped to keep the elements off the older RV we bought. Also gave us room in bad weather to get out under cover in the barn - and a place for hubby to put all his stuff too! LOL (equipment - tractor etc.) In 2004 we bought an older 1997 Prowler 5th wheel with no slide - 28.5 feet long and it has worked well. It is fiberglass which we would recommend. A lot less maintenance with it being covered from the elements. Might be an idea as you will probably want a barn on 7 acres anyway to house equipment. Debbie

Posted By: TomW2 on 05/29/08 12:41pm

How much stuff do you want to have with you and how much room do you need to be comfortable.

You aren't likely to be wanting to make up the dinette or couch for a bed everyday so you would want something with a separate bed/bedroom with adequate closet space & drawers for your clothes.

You don't plan on moving around so anything with an engine would be a waste so it only makes sense that it be a towable. Since you are getting building supplies you probably have a rig to tow with but do you want to set it up with a fifth wheel hitch?

Unless you want it to feel like a house - which many fifth wheels do - then it makes sense to me for it to be a travel trailer. Smaller trailers, particularly without a slide, can be quite cramped. They may be OK for a deer hunting cabin or for a two week vacation but living in it for a year would turn into torture.

Before getting our 30' class C motor home we had decided on a 30' travel trailer (that includes the 3' of hitch) for our retirement. If you get much smaller you start sacrificing in various ways. For example, a bed tucked into a corner space that doesn't have full access around the bed makes making the bed a pain and might even result in problems getting in & out.

Someone mentioned the possibility of a small mobile home. Another possibility would be a small "park model" home - essentially a small mobile home but, unlike a mobile home which is often classified more like a house, a park model is actually an RV though they are often rather permanantly stationed in an "RV park", thus the name.

Posted By: Pete D on 05/29/08 04:19pm

The less stuf you have in a temporary home, the quicker the permanent home will be built!

Locally, it is possible to get a six-month permit to live on construction site in mobile home and it can be extended once.

1998 Ranger 4.0 4x4
1991 Scamp 13'

Posted By: RipGlitter on 05/29/08 04:20pm

Firstly, thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions.

CC&R's prohibit mobile homes but NOT RVs. Weird huh? Anyway, my building site is not visible from the road. I have already purchased a used portable RV cover to keep the sun off. I've had a chance to look at a few 90's MHs and FWs. About 30 feet seems to be good for size vs price. They are a good deal cheaper than when I was looking over a year ago. I don't have a tow vehicle, but a good friend owns a small trucking co. and we go together to the building supplies auctions. If I go FW, he can tow anything to my site that I can buy. If I go MH, I can use that for my winter hunting/fishing trips to the coast without buying a tow vehicle. Now, I stay about an hour away. Once my house is habitable, of course. FWs seem more livable and MHs seem more flexible. Still haven't decided.

I WILL miss my stuff for a while. I'm a small time collector of vintage guitars and amps, so storage must be secure and temperature controlled. That still beats the monthly $1200 house rental. I'll just have to learn to adapt.

Blue skies all.

Posted By: hitchup on 06/02/08 09:53am

We did the same thing in 1979 in Sweet Home, OR. Were inspired by a CA couple who relocated to our area. They put an RV on their land and had 3 pre-teen boys to deal with.

We tore down our old farmhouse to build a new one. We had 3 boys ages 18 mos to 7. We put most of our things into storage into an outbuilding. Then we lived in the back yard from May until mid-October in a 13 - 14 ft TT that cost less than $500. We resold it to another guy who moved it to a mill where he worked. He lived in it until winter hit.

The TT didn't have a working toilet, so we kept a bathroom w/shower during the tear down. It all worked fine until the rains made it too muddy around the TT. We moved into the house with open insulated walls and used oil space heaters to help keep us warm. It was a great adventure and we really saved on materials, such as buying the T1-11 siding left over at the MH mfger in Albany. And it was already prepainted.

2014 DRV Mobile Suite Estates 38RSB3....our custom home
2014 Ford F450 KR CC 4x4......his office
2015 Lance 1172 Motel FOR SALE
Working Fulltimers since 3/2005

"Shoot for the Moon! Even if you miss it, you will land among the Stars."

Posted By: Happy_Trails on 06/02/08 01:40pm

My cousin and wife lived on their lot in AZ while they built their house. They put in the electric, well and septic system hookups first. Moved in with a 40ft Class A they already had. Built a Two car garage and carport, to cover other stuff, tools, tractor and equipment, etc... Then went to work on their house. She dug the trenches for septic system, cellar, underground cables for electric etc, got very good at using a backhoe.

Her husband, from Boston, imported knotty pine and did a beautiful job on the kitchen cabinets, island counter, etc. The whole house is built better than many homes Ive seen built by contractors. With everything exactly the way they want it.

Bob & Nadine
1984 Allegro, always at home!
Living Life With a "Golden Age Passport"
and Thousand Trails VIP Membership, Priceless!
Home Park: Verde Valley.

Korean Veteran - 5th Regimental Combat Team
.....Every Mission assigned,

Posted By: david f on 06/04/08 11:38am

We are just finishing up our second extended stay in a motorhome, while I build a house. It has been seven months, and it has been well worth it. We did buy a new motorhome for this house, as we wanted our nine year old daughter to have her own space(bunkbeds). This allows me to get up in the morning, shut the doors, and read the paper, drink coffee, etc...
I would recommend a dehumidifier, an air filter(HEPA type), a 50 amp service(or 30), telephone, cable, etc... The one drawback was laundry, and I installed the washer and dryer as soon as I could.
Living small is a nice treat, but I am ready for my house to be done.
Our propane tank got filled every few weeks in the winter, since we also use our motorhome as a ski cabin. Now that our ski season is over, we try to use electric heaters more often, since we don't drive the motorhome much.
Good luck!

david f
2008 Windsport 34b
Safe-T-Plus,Davis Tru-trac rear trac bar, Xantrex 2000 Watt inverter with 4 six volt batteries, Genturi exhaust for generator
1 wife, 1 kid, 1 dog

Posted By: RipGlitter on 06/07/08 12:49am

Thanks everyone, for your suggestions and recollections.

Well, I'm on my way as an official RV owner. Initially, I was planning on a path similar to that taken by hitchup. Buy as cheaply as possible, and move into the house once the structure was up. I'm an experienced ultralite camper, and by myself, so this would be no problem for me. I'm also getting older, and a warn place to “go“ is becoming more valuable as time goes by.

Anyway, I found a 1988 31' Itaska motor home for next to nothing. It was being sold by a wonderful lady and gentleman who had just purchased a beautiful 40' diesel pusher. The Itaska looks like it was in a time capsule and is massively upgraded. I went through the checklist, recommended on this board, and it passed with flying colours. It's even been winterized and has manuals and logs. I plan to keep it that way too. So, for the price of several months rent on a house, the thing is paid for. Whooo hoooo!!!

All the site utilities are functioning, the gravel is laid and graded in the staging area and the foundation is dug. Now if it would just stop raining. Let the games begin!!!

Posted By: HDrider44 on 06/28/08 10:36am

We are living in our MH while the house is being built.
We poured a slad and framed, roofed and wired a 40x50 RV garage. Ran septic and water and pulled in.
We have been on the property now for a month. Just got internet yesterday in fact.
Now I don't care if it takes a year to finish the house. In fact I'm thinking we shouldn't have even started it. We are enjoying the RV lifestyle way to much [emoticon]

Dave & Diane and Jack (Our Golden)
2007 Tiffin Phaeton 40QSH
2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Posted By: grumpygrampy on 06/28/08 12:18pm

Did just what you have in mind, build a house while living in RV. One suggestion, I installed my hot water heater that was going into the house next to the RV and bypassed the small water heater giving me the larger volume of hot water. Had phone and electric coming from the temporary meter board. Same with water, used a hose from pump house. Good luck!!!

Posted By: PattieAM on 06/29/08 08:28am

If you currently have electric and septic on your property, you might consider either building your garage first or a fairly sturdy shed (insulate and add plumbing) - place your washer/dryer, refrigerator for the house in it and maybe utilize thermostat controlled space heater for winter.

You should be able to locate a travel trailer or 5th wheel that would meet your needs on the property. Check your want ads, and online classifieds and you might find a good deal. Being that you will be on your own property, you could easily run waterlines to your trailer and use heat-tape in winter months, as well as PVC lines to your septic.

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