Meet John and Rachel, who built their dream 40-ft tiny house on wheels to enjoy living in the place they love. They're parked on a beautiful small ranch property in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although it's an exceptionally expensive area, their THOW makes it possible. Even better, they help their elderly host, the property owner, with maintenance projects.
"As the cost of living, as we all know, just keeps going up and up, this became, really, the only option in order to be able to stay but stop having to have roommates, stop having to have people next to us in different apartments or above or below us.
We really wanted to have our own space. We were getting a little bit older, it felt like it was time for us to have a personal space without neighbors so close. And so I talked Rachel into it in some ways.
Our relationship has been wonderful. We definitely blossomed from more of a landlord-tenant to more of a very close family friend. At this point, we consider her family. She's been so supportive.
There's a lot of communal living that we do here, so we do help each other. Like I help with the yard, I help with the animals, and John helps with building projects, and fixing things. We just have this really nice harmony of life here."
-Rachel & John, @tinyhousecalifornia
Inside their Custom 40-ft Tiny House
John and Rachel's built their 40-ft tiny house on wheels in mid-2017. Of note, it's on a 34-foot-long trailer, with two loft overhangs that make it a total length of 40 feet. Overall, their home is 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall which comes to 500 square feet, including the lofted rooms. The design is based on plans by Tiny House Basics. Though, they added their own custom touches, like a wine rack that can hold 70 bottles of wine!
They further expanded their living space by building a 16-foot terraced deck. So dreamy! There's plenty of room for their grid-tied solar power and gray water system.
So all the water they use in their tiny house goes through a recirculatory system, filtered, and then pumped up to a gravity feed of the sprinklers around their parking spot. Impressively, they're using all of our water twice, not wasting anything. As a result, they benefit from having green plants all the time in their drought-ridden state when others have to turn their sprinklers off.
Their 40-ft Tiny House Cost & Financing
"The cost for our tiny, it was $80,000 all said and done for just materials. That includes the deck and the garage and the fencing, everything that we have here on the site, and the appliances.
So Rachel was great about frugal shopping. She waited for sales for the appliances, so we wound up getting those like half off, I think. And just material-wise, having done it all ourselves, we had no labor costs. A little bit went to the electrician to just pay for his services, but other than that it was sweat equity.
I got a partial loan. I don't remember the name of the bank, but it was a bank that did loans for manufactured homes, even DIYs. So that paid for, I think it was $50,000, $30,000, $50,000. And then I got a line of credit for $20,000. And we also had some savings at the time. So between the three of those things, we were able to finance the house.
The flat and credit we paid off very quickly because that was high interest. And so that was the first thing we tackled. And then the straight loan, the personal loan we just paid off. It was three years after we built the house. So in 2020, we paid off the house. So three years after building this thing, we had it completely paid off. And that was a great feeling."
-DIY tiny homeowners, John & Rachel
Watch the full tour of their dream 40-ft tiny house above!
Follow John & Rachel's DIY tiny house life on Instagram, @tinyhousecalifornia.