Thinking tiny; living comfortably and efficiently

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Inspired by watching “Tiny Home” shows on TV lately, Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr has embarked on a new adventure—tiny home building. “They looked to be a fun, bite-sized project for my weekends and evenings, and as I watched the shows and searched the online communities, I noticed there was not much focus on the plumbing and mechanical systems. The shows and sales ads focus on the glamor part, cute and clever interior design stuff,” says Rohr.

Rohr’s hobby projects sometimes start by finding spare shop parts. Rohr has a shop and storage full of all sorts of left overs for hydronic systems, including a treasure trove of pumps, tube, insulation, controls, etc., but not enough of a pile to complete a home, really.

Rohr settled in on an 8 x 20 trailer as the platform, and started with a radiant floor and wall in mind. He also set out to build a super insulated shell. The entire project is basically a foam-insulated box, rigid board in the floor, spray foam walls and ceilings. (Take the video tour below)

Hot Rod worked with some leftover Roth Radiant Panels for the floor heat system, covered with thin cork tiles. He used some Radiant Engineering transfer plates for the entry wall heat. The entry wall is covered with polished stainless steel, 400 grade so it holds a magnet for hanging coats, hats, etc.


Pre-fabbing the plumbing before placing it inside the tiny home.

There are a couple of 120w Kyocera solar collectors hanging on the outside of the house that connect into a 12v deep-cycle battery system inside. The interior radiant heating is powered by a small, 3,000-watt Thermo 2000 electric boiler, DHW from a 12-gallon Lochinvar electric hot water tank. There are two loops in the floor, one end of the loop goes through some transfer plates behind the wall.


The mechanical room has a small footprint, equipped with a Thermo boiler and a 12-gallon hot water tank.


The radiant tubing goes in.

The beauty of tiny building is you can find odds and ends at Habitat ReStores, for example. “I found some window samples, fasteners, adhesives, used doors and miscellaneous trim materials for pennies on the dollar, and it goes to a good cause,” says Rohr.


The Flir infrared camera shows the working, in-floor radiant heat.

Working part time, it took six months from start to finish; a nice project when you can always see a finish date on the horizon. Priced a $35,000, it is an ideal price range for retirees or students. THOW tiny house on wheels are not typically moved often like a RV. Mostly they move to a location or get relocated every few years. They weigh a bit more that a similar sized RV, but are much more livable with substantial insulation, full-sized appliances, and home-like construction.

The overwhelming amount of calls from perspective buyers has been from women approaching retirement age. “It’s fun to reach out of your trade and work in other areas from time to time,” says Rohr.

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