Non-Toxic Teardrop Trailer

While I waited patiently for my own tiny home to be ready, I thought I would check out natural builder, Pat Hennebery's teardrop trailer.

Pat, of Cobworks (B.C., Canada) has built over 25 cob houses.

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Lately, Pat has become interested in healthy homes on trailers so we sat down to discuss his lovely teardrop trailer.

The trailer is 16 ft long and weighs in at about 4500 lbs. It is wired with one 15 amp outlet and was originally set up to use solar panels. 15 amps is not a lot, but it is enough to run a space heater or AC unit, making it a seasonal trailer in colder climates. In warmer climates you could live in it year-round! This trailer was made for Canadian summers and Mexican winters, and has made the round trip twice already.

The trailer is made mostly out of wood with no insulation. The ceiling is tongue & groove wood, the floors are solid wood, and the exterior siding is cedar which has been painted. Cedar, while it may have too strong a scent for people with severe MCS, does really well in wet climates; it's naturally quite mould proof.

Some plywood was used in the flooring and walls but Pat mentions it could be replaced with solid wood. This trailer could be made for a chemically sensitive person by using unscented woods, VOC-free glues, and natural finishes and paints.

The roof is stainless steel but Pat suggests that next time he would use aluminium to keep it as light as possible. I am concerned about this exterior vapour barrier used when the trailer is heated which could cause mould where the wood meets the metal. You would have to take a closer look at the roof design and possibly use foam up there to keep condensation from forming or not heat the trailer. You also want to look closely at the design of the floor. Here is a good example of a carefully made floor to eliminate some of the trickiest areas that cause mould.

It doesn't have plumbing so this kind of trailer is best used when you have an outhouse and outdoor shower. You could use a solar camp shower in a pinch if it's warm enough! I find those quite difficult to shower with though, I prefer an outdoor portable propane shower like this Colman one.

The back pop-out is designed for an outdoor kitchen. For those very sensitive to propane, this would not work very well, but since it is outdoors it could be tolerable. It's perfect at the village where Pat lives in the summer which has a communal kitchen.

The materials alone for this trailer came to 10K - though Pat was not on a tight budget and did splurge a bit on the wood for the ceiling, a new trailer and stainless roof. Still, it's good to keep in mind that even a medium sized trailer, with no plumbing and no kitchen, just isn't cheap.

The labour costs would add an additional 10K or so. The only way to do it on the cheap would be to spend a lot of time salvaging materials and building it yourself.... problem is, salvage materials can be very problematic for the chemically sensitive.

I think this simple chemical-free trailer would work well as a permanent dwelling somewhere warm, or, as a way to test out the locations effect and start trying chemical and mould avoidance. If you can build it yourself, it's probably the least expensive chemical-free trailer option. Compare it to your other options: an aluminium trailer, 27K,  a chemical-free tiny home, 50-65K, or, a refurbished Airstream 40K+. A used (offgassed) fibreglass trailer could be a good option for around 11K. The cheapest option is hacking a cargo trailer.

Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 5 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.

For individual help on choosing a tiny house, trailer, or RV, you can schedule a consultation with me here.

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The Multiple Chemical Survivor said...

I'm so excited about your new tiny house! Please keep us updated! Will you be giving tours or an open house?

Corinne said...

Of course J you can come visit

The Multiple Chemical Survivor said...

I've been watching the progress! I can't wait to see it all finished. Be sure to post lots of photos and let us know if it's really, truly safe!!! AND let me know when I can visit!

Corinne said...

WiIl do! Oct is a good time to visit but we ill still be plastering, putting hemp oil on the floors and putting in bathroom tiles, and changing the countertop. The end of the month it should be 99% finished! email me

The Multiple Chemical Survivor said...

I saw on the other site you had the tiny house weighed. If you are adding more stuff like tiles, doesn't that affect the total weight or is the weight just the framework? Is there a legal limit to weight or restrictions? Just curious.

Corinne said...

the weight of the trailer that it is on is rated for 10,000lbs that's why we were worried about the weight we wanted to know how much more it could take. It was well under weight so I'm not concerned about adding tiles and plaster on top of that. You can get trailers rated for much higher weights which I would definitely recommend doing as MgO board and MgO siding is very heavy.

Anonymous said...

Pat is a visionary artist, that respects the environment and loves nature. His creations are definitely unique and lovely!

Lauren Gottlieb said...

This blog is really great. The information here will surely be of some help to me. Thanks!.

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