The Towhee has 168 square feet of living space, 20 square feet of loft and closet storage, and 20 square feet of porch, all on a seven by eighteen foot flatbed trailer. This charming gable roof house fits within legal limits for towing on public road, yet offers all the comforts of a well built and thoughtfully appointed stationary home.
A custom panel door of solid vertical grain fir with mullioned windows opens to a bright room filled with light from four dual paned windows. The front door is flanked by a cedar lined storage closet on one side and a utility closet containing the electrical panel and 19 gallon water heater on the other. Directly overhead is a loft offering 20 square feet of storage, and ahead lies the main room, with a vaulted ceiling. Along the right side is the compact galley kitchen overflowing with features and utility; seven foot long butcher block countertop and backsplash, an eight inch deep stainless steel Franke sink, a three burner gas range and oven by Amana, a Sanyo counterhigh 3.7 cubic foot capacity refrigerator and freezer, and custom cabinetry featuring shelf ledges over all four windows, two standard drawers, three toe kick drawers, three open upper shelves and four closed cabinets. The floors are bamboo planks finished in a warm honey tone, and smooth birch paneling sets off the fir beams supporting the sleeping loft sized for a queen sized mattress. The eye is drawn upward toward the octagonal loft window that fills the loft with light and opens to provide fresh air and a strong convection current for climate control. Below the loft is an office with two windows, phone and internet jacks, and three electrical outlets. Beside it is the bathroom, with a 32” shower stall, full size toilet, corner sink, triple mirrored medicine chest, and a window.
Every aspect of this house has been planned and built for durability and comfort. The floors, walls, and ceilings are insulated with rigid foam with a 19.9 R-value. The trailer foundation was flashed with rolled aluminum sheets and all gaps and seams were thoroughly sealed and filled. The pitched roof is a sandwich of ½ inch marine grade 5 ply roof sheathing, StormGuard high performance underlay, and 26 gauge standing seam steel panels with colorfast CoolRoof paint warranted to not crack, flake, chip or peel for a period of 45 years. We streamlined the roof design to eliminate the places where water intrusion is most often encountered as a roof ages. The entire roof is two continuous surfaces with no chimneys, roof jacks, seams (except at the top edge where the two meet) or changes in angle or slope. The siding is rough 1 x 6 tongue and groove cedar and the trim is reclaimed douglas fir, all coated with premium waterbourne finish that meets the new stricter volatile organic compound limits coming into play over the next two years.
The electrical wiring is compliant with current NEC (National Electrical Code) regulations, complete with GFI plugs and an arc fault breaker in the sleeping loft. There are nine dual electrical outlets inside (one each in the utility closet and kitchen, two each in the living room and sleeping loft, and three in the office) one outside at the front entry and one more at the back of the house (at the front of the trailer). The wood paneling below the electrical service panel is attached with screws so it can be removed if a permanent electrical service connection or other alteration is desired. A smoke alarm with battery backup is hardwired into its own dedicated circuit, and a fire extinguisher comes with the house unmounted, so the buyer can decide on its final location.
The house is wired with RG6 co-axial cable throughout; each room has a dedicated co-ax and CAT5 wire run for optimum speed and the ability to use each CAT5 cable as either a multiple line phone connection or as a wired Ethernet connection to the internet. The home runs start in the utility closet; they're easily accessible and can be modified to suit different purposes. There are four wall plates with phone jacks and Ethernet outlets (the living room, the kitchen, the office, and the loft). These runs are installed to keep the communications wires as far away from the electrical wires as possible to reduce potential interference.
Outside, at the front of the trailer (aka back wall of the house), several covered switches and hookup ports are available. First is the switch for the exterior light that illuminates the outside utility area. Next to it is the electrical service inlet. This house requires a dedicated 30 amp 110V circuit and includes a 50’ removable heavy duty RV extension cord to connect to it. Beside the electrical inlet is the water inlet, which accepts a standard US garden hose and is equipped with a hose bib. Then there’s a dual electrical outlet and a co-ax and combined Ethernet/phone inlet. When connected to either a telephone or Ethernet line, it will provide service to all the outlets in the house.
The interior is lit with nine built in brushed nickel light fixtures and halogen bulbs on dimmer switches for the ultimate in ambiance control. Two lights are in the kitchen area, one light over the living room, two each in the bathroom and office, and one each in the sleeping loft and storage loft. All the lights, particularly the kitchen lamps over the sink and stove, are strategically positioned to fully and directly light the space without creating frustrating shadows. The bedside light has a dimmer next to it and a switch on the ground floor, so if one forgets to turn it off it’s easily done without climbing back up the ladder. The exterior offers a light on the front porch switchable from inside the front door, and a utility light at the back end of the house with a switch on the exterior wall.
The plumbing consists of pipes fixtures and fittings certified to meet limits on lead in plumbing parts set by the California DTSC and meets standards set by the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code). Flexible PEX (cross linked polyethylene) tubing under the house allows for expansion and contraction without breakage in case of extreme temperatures. All exterior pipes are insulated with premium foam insulation. In the walls the plumbing is rigid copper tubing held together with premium SharkBite push-fit fittings for maximum hold, flexibility, and serviceability - they can be easily removed and reused if service, maintenance, or diagnostics is ever needed. The 19 gallon Kenmore water heater has a glass lined tank for maximum longevity and runs on a 110V circuit for ease of use, to make the entire house plug and play.