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Snowflake tiny house – under construction

The Snowflake tiny house, a custom welded steel frame tiny house.


  • 8′x24′
  • GVW 9000Lbs
  • Sleeps 1-2 people
  • Welded steel frame 16 gauge cold formed steel studs
  • All connections welded
  • Stainless steel floor
  • Stainless steel shower enclosure
  • Stainless steel sink
  • Copper waste and water lines
  • Fabral steel siding exterior
  • Fabral steel siding interior


IMG_20171130_144934100 IMG_20171130_145002512 IMG_20171130_145027845 IMG_20171130_145056578 IMG_20171130_145251261

FYI, Tiny house news


Tiny House, trailer

Tiny House Trailer

We have 1 opening for building a tiny house through the rest of the year. Minnesota state rules are that we can only license up to 5 trailers a year without a dealers license and that the trailer title has to be in the companies name and sales tax paid on that purchase.  Since we have already licensed 3 this year, can only do one more.

To get the dealer license for trailers we have to have a display area that can display 7 trailers.
If you want to build a tiny house this year with Tiny Green Cabins you will need to contact us soon.

This does not affect Airstreams or trailers provided by the customer for us to build on.

We will also not buy and sell just trailers until further notice.

The Shiny Tiny; Airstream Update

The Shiny Tiny, part 1

In October, 2016, we received a phone call asking questions about building a tiny house that resembled an RV as they did a lot of relocating for their work and wanted to be able to stay at RV parks. However, they were experiencing a lot of pushback from RV parks about tiny houses, with one park owner saying “if it looked like an RV, say an Airstream, there would be no questions or issues.”

They then asked if we could renovate an Airstream to a nontoxic unit. They admitted that they called numerous places and no one could or would take on the project. They then asked, if I would consider doing it for them. I cautioned them that it would be out of our norm, but since we knew about nontoxic and chemical free tiny houses, we would do it. We set the budget and started looking for an older Airstream that could be gutted and rebuilt.


  • Price had to be under S15,000
  • No major denting of the roof
  • Few major leaks, All airstreams leak.
  • Within 500 miles of the shop
  • Not a “shiny turd”
  • No tail separation

A “shiny turd” is an Airstream that has been polished but not updated in any other way. It is shined up to get a higher sell price from unsuspecting buyers.

Shiny Turd

Shiny Turd

Another key difference is that a restored, renovated, or modernized Airstream will have documentation to prove that trailer has been repaired, a new axle installed, or the flooring replaced. A “shiny turd” will have none of that. A shiny turd is like a sign that says “buyer beware.”

Tail separation is when the tail end of trailer frame has separated from the main trailer, usually in connections to the trailer frame at the axles. A simple way to check this is to stand on the bumper and move up and down while noticing if the body of the trailer also moves or just the frame does. It is costly to fix and at this point, we were not considering rebuilding the trailer.

What we found was a 31ft 1983 Excella Airstream in fair condition. There was dent in the roof, the top was balding, it smelled slightly musty, and some of the appliances did not work. Since we would be gutting it down to the shell and tossing everything, the trailer appeared doable for the project, so we made a deal.

1983 Excella

1983 Excella

We towed it to the shop and started gutting it to the shell, and found that the floor had rot, which since all Airstreams leak, it was not a surprise. What we encountered next did surprise us. We removed the flooring and found the musty smell was strong. The pink fiberglass insulation in the floor had absorbed moisture with mouse droppings scattered on the top. Mice!!!IMG_20161117_103714750

Upon removal, we found that the underbelly had holes that allowed mice to get inside as well as many mouse carcasses. Upon closer examination, we decided to do a separation of the shell from the trailer so we could work on both. Once we had separation, we could see the holes in the frame from rust and corrosion as well as broken welds in outriggers. The trailer needed some major work.

After consulting with the buyers, it was determined to rebuild the trailer with heavier steel while reusing the axles, step assembly, tongue and hitch, as well as tank enclosures.  The rebuilt trailer cost $800 more than trying to fix the old frame.

The trailer was built for the Airstream in the background making sure we followed the old trailer design so that the shell could be reattached. This Airstream is being modernized to a nontoxic chemical free status. The couple chose the Airstream model over a tiny house as it would be accepted in RV parks for long stays without question.

Some have said that there is not much left of the original and while that is true, the most important parts are left; the RV certification and the shell which says I am an RV, and an Airstream! And it will provide a “safe” home for the owners to live in year around.

The new trailer

The new trailer

It has been said that you have not renovated an Airstream until you stood on the ground while inside the Airstream.

Stood on the ground

Stood on the ground

Airstream has a lot of different meaning for its’ parts such as “banana peels”

The floorplan;

Airstream Retorfit 5_2

If you want to follow the place we post pictures of the build click on the link Airstream Build

Come back for the next update to learn about that and more.















The Move

Or Growing pains for the shop

A month ago, we were informed that our space that we were sharing with Pete’s Fabrication and Repair was ending as he was terminating his lease with the buildings owners. Our 1st thought was to rent the whole shop out for Tiny Green Cabins, but after running numbers, it was proving to be more than I wanted to undertake at this time. Some of our ideas for using the extra space;

  • Rent out some space for a private party to build their own tiny house
  • Host a series of workshops on building tiny
  • Rent out space for someone needed a shop for a weekend or short project
  • Move to New Ulm, MN for a less expensive shop

In our search of New Ulm we found a place that was for sale and inquired about it. The building was for sale and it could be leased.

After asking questions about utilities, we learned that the heat bill was over a $1000 a month through the winter. That heat cost made the New Ulm space more expensive that what we were looking at in Blaine. We made an offer on the lease asking for the owner to pay for 50% of the propane costs for the 1st winter and we would do a 2 year lease. He declined .

So we decided to stay in the Blaine area for the foreseeable future.

Then we had a visit from another shop owner that did welding and fabrication whom asked if we would be willing to switch spaces. He had 3000 sqft and we had 6000 sqft. The numbers were a wee bit more friendly, and after some thinking and discussion with family, I decided to make the switch. That meant tow shops that were working plus one that was closing needed to switch spaces. For me, that was an easy task as my work had not accumulated a lot of stuff….yet!!

Our part of the move was easy. The fabricator has a lot of specialized equipment and a mezzanine to move. He said he had built the mezzanine so he could take it with him. This we had to see.

And he did it. I am impressed!!!

However, Pete was swamped with trying to finish up his back log of clients and others that heard he was closing and wanted that last minute car repair done by him.

So we loaded our trailer and moved it to the new place and then moved the hOMe out of the shop to its new place.

So, now it was up to sort things out, pack up what he wanted, and toss the rest. He tossed out a lot, and he still has a lot to sort and liquidate. In the meantime, he is using some of our space and will be having a fire sale over the next month..

We are just about finished with the hOMe bound for MA, and have the other custom hOMe started. And that is all we can fit in the shop until Pete moves his stuff out. In a week or so, we will have room to start the Prairie Rose for the workshop class we will be holding the end of October.  And when Pete moves his stuff, we will have room for a 3rd tiny house.

The start to finish of the move took 8 days, with the weekend included in that.  Now we need to organize the shelves and shop so we can find stuff easily.

If anyone wants us to build or start one in the next month or so, I would suggest that you book that slot. Otherwise, the next slot after that would be early spring of 2016.

Tiny House Builder, Jim

Tiny House Builder, Jim


Tiny House Parking Request

A tiny house special request

Tiny House OM Request

In need of parking place, can be temporary or permanent

One of our customers that retained us to build the attached tiny house for them has requested assistance in locating a place to park their hOMe tiny house. It is 28’ x 8’6”. Their ideal location would be in the vicinity of Framingham, MA. with availability as of August 1, 2015.

If you know of someone that has space for this couple to live in their tiny home such as a RV Park, trailer park, back yard, or field close to Framingham, MA. let us know. This tiny house is able to be lived in off the grid for extended periods of time with a solar system and 200 gallons of water storage tanks.

Send Jim an email at or comment on this thread.

Thank you – Jim

Firefighter buys a super tiny house

And you will not believe what she did!Nicki the Firefighter

In early May, we received a phone call from Nicki the Fire Fighter who lives in Savannah, Georgia. She had fallen in love with the Ravenlore tiny house and wanted to start the process rolling for purchasing it along with some changes. The list included eliminating the sleeping nook for a larger kitchen, adding a sink to the bathroom, and taking advantage of a sale we were holding, “Buy a Wildflower, Ravenlore, or Prairie Rose and get a 600 watt solar package for 2000 off” and could she select the paint colors. She loved the Carpenter Gothic architectural details of the Ravenlore tiny house and wanted it to “look like the Easter Bunny threw up all over it.”

Nicki is a firefighter, paramedic, and 1st responder in the Savannah, Georgia area and is passionate about life and her career. Some of her activities include kayaking, surfing, bike riding and exploring new places.

Nicki 2


She also likes to runs marathons……in full gear.



After we had it framed and sided, Masking 101

we started adding some color10622733_771073939616074_5362068251847797207_n

And more colormore tiny house color

And some more color1966108_10153365589384937_3958702924510469456_o

Then HGTV Tiny House Hunting called with the question; “do you know of any unique tiny houses that are close to completion that we could use in a new series? ” And Jim referred then to “Nicki the fighter” and she said “yes”
The crew showed up at the build site to shoot some film for “Nicki the Firefighter” episode with this film crew.
Tiny House Hunting Film Crew

Tiny House Hunting Film Crew

After which we finished the tiny house and the Ravenlore left for Savannah, Georgia and Tiny House Giant Journey filmed it as the courier was backing it into place for an open house that Nicki the firefighter had scheduled so all of her friends could see her new home. He even caught the jets overhead as he used hand signals to direct the driver. Pretty cool video and click the link below.


Stay Mentally Sharp

Stay Focused!

FocusGet comfortable but not TOO comfortable with your tools and work surroundings. When a project requires repeated cuts for identical parts – making the same cut 20 times, one’s mind can wander to that “date night”, lunch, a recent conversation, or that beer after work.

Never walk away from a tool while it is running and always wait for the blade to come to a complete stop before reaching for cut-offs near the blade. And never stand in line with the blade as when making rip cuts at the table saw; if the board kicks back, it is coming straight at you.  Also, never place your pushing hand in direct line with the cutting motion, regardless of the tool.

Tug the plug!

When not in use or during blade changes, unplug the tool, or if the tool has a safety tab – remove it from the on/off switch. This prevents you and shop visitors (young and old) from accidentally turning on a tool.

The same principle applies to pneumatic tools; when adding fasteners to a nailer always disconnect the air hose first. And always, always keep your hand away from the area to be nailed by at least 24”. I have had a gun slip which fired a nail into my hand when I was in a hurry and not focused. The head of the nail was in the web between the thumb and fingers with the point coming out the other side of the palm.  Luckily, I did not hit any bone and the Dr was able to clamp on a vise grip and pull it out in ER.

And finally, when working even a moderate height, pay attention to where you are standing and what you are standing on. Make doubly sure that you are safe. I was standing on a 2×12 x 8’ and thought to myself after looking at the surroundings, I would be safe.

A Cast and Surgery

A Cast and Surgery

I failed to notice the spike knot in the center of the board and seconds later was on the ground with a severely dislocated  and shattered ankle.  After a ride to the ER and surgery, and about 3 months of recovery, I was able to walk again. Although the steel plates holding the ankle together made it less able to respond to terrain changes.

Stay alert – Stay unhurt!


Reader Question on screws and tiny houses


I really like the idea of using welded steel framing for a tiny house on wheels but have some concerns.  How durable is the house after being moved a time or two?  Attaching sheathing (interior / exterior) will be done via something like screws – how secure are those screws after the house has been moved a few times?  (If i put a screw into wood then the length of the screw has contact with the wood. If i put a screw into a metal stud then only a short section of the screw has contact and that contact will work loose with movement of the structure).


One of the main differences in wood vs steel is that steel is not subject to the drying out or swelling to moisture conditions. This drying and swelling is what allows a wood screw to loosen up and back its way out of walls, hinges, and other connections. Even a screw of 2″ that is fully imbedded in a wood stud will loosen up just from being still on a foundation.

To solve this issue, some builders use a pneumatic gun with barbed nails in an attempt to lock the fastener and sheathing to the framing. In tests, the screw appears to have more holding power considering shear and double sided pullout.

In wood a #8 screw has 90lbs of shear and 168lbs of pullout.

However in steel framing a #8 screw has 103 lbs of shear and 204 lbs of two sided pullout.

In framing we use the self tapping course thread screw as all joints and connections are welded, which tends to often weld the screw in place also. Our supplier was concerned that while the screw would hold up for vibration and strength in a steel frame, he felt better when we suggested welding all joints also.

In the finishing we use a smaller self tapping screw that is fine threaded because the fine thread holds tighter with very little loosening up. We also use the impact screw gun to drive the screws in wood finish products deeper and that also increases the “hold” power of the screw. The screws also have a higher rating of hardness to minimize twisting the head and shaft apart. Fine threads in screws will hold any material to a steel 16 gauge steel stud or stronger. And steel being an inert material has stable properties and does not shrink of expand from moisture or humidity like wood

Do the screws loosen up over time from vibration. We have not encountered this in our experience even with our 1st tiny house that built 6 years ago travels between Minnesota and Texas twice a year without this happening.

Thanks for the question

Sawhorses and Slideouts

A Readers asks; “How do you make your sawhorses?”

Tiny House Sawhorse

Tiny House Sawhorse

You can make a pair from five 2 x 4 x8  cut into six 32-in. lengths and eight 26-1/4-in. lengths. Screw the 32-in. pieces into I-beam shapes and attach the legs to the I-beams with 3-in. screws. These screws, along with the upper edge of the I-beam, stabilize the legs. And when you need another workbench, just screw a piece of plywood on the sawhorses and you’ll have a stable table. By screwing the pieces together, it becomes easy to change the part, especially the top I beam member.

Another readers asks; ” What is your pricing on slide-outs?”



An 11 ft by 34 ½” slide-out adds about 350 pounds of weight to a tiny house for  each slide-out. A 6-10 ft. module costs approximately $7,900. A 10-13 ft module would be around $9,850, and a unit over 13 feet would be approximately $1,000 per lineal foot. In this picture, there are 2 slide-outs, the master bedroom would cost about $ 7, 900 while the living room/dinette slide-out would cost about $9,850.00.  This does not include a roll out canopy over the slide-out.


So….A Tiny House?

Winter Morning Wildflower

Winter Morning Wildflower


You just bought a tiny, green cabin.

It sounds like the first line in a children’s book, but it’s actually a lesser- known, higher-tech housing option.

Essentially, it is a very small house built on wheels.

It’s road-worthy. It’s a trailer. It’s a RV.

But it looks like a house, feels like a house and has all the amenities of a house, from a full-size sink and shower to a washer and dryer.

It’s built like a house and will last a lifetime, unlike those RV’s!

It has an incinerating toilet which burns waste into dry, sterile ash.

I will never have to pack a U-haul again to move!

It’s built like a fortress!