A Colorado man considers himself to be the luckiest man in the world to be living in a single wide mobile home. Not just any single wide, though. This mobile home was part of a design and construction project through the University of Colorado aptly called the TrailerWrap Project.
The TrailerWrap Project took an old single wide and gave it a modern Swedish design. The homes was basically gutted and rebuild/ I’ll let the photos and the video tell the story.
They also used a substantial system of concrete tie-downs to tether the unit to the site and withstand high winds. They added cross-bracing and metal columns for further support, which allowed them to extend steel tubing beyond the original frame to create thicker, insulated walls and gain a few more feet of living space. It is still movable. It has all the comforts of any other home, mobile or not and it is very easy on the eyes.
Potential Tax Issues
This ‘substantial system of concrete tie-downs’ created potential tax issues. We all know one of the best advantages of mobile and manufactured homes is low taxes. They are typically taxed like a car in most state.
Since the only thing that remains of the original mobile home is the steel chassis and this was an issue for the city’s inspector. Apparently, he didn’t want to allow the home to remain classified as a mobile home which would have significantly increased the property taxes. After all, this home can never be moved again, at least not how a mobile home is traditionally moved. A little pleading changed his mind – it was a college project on a man’s mobile home. His income wasn’t going into the home and the improvements may have priced him right out of his home.
Trailer Wrap Project
“Mobile homes came into being as a low-cost housing solution, serving that niche in between an apartment or condo and a standard suburban home,” says Hughes in his interview with Elle Decor.
“Their typical design, however, has been fundamentally flawed, with structural and spatial issues.” He is an architectural professor and was donated the original 1960’s mobile home. The home was gutted down to the chassis. From there, he and his students designed and built the concept home with donated materials and $36,000 in grants.
The original home was a mere 489 square foot, he was able to add to that by building a covered front deck. “We oriented the interiors toward this outdoor living room, which has a covered roof and feels like part of the house,” says Hughes.
“In a small space, if you can increase your view and access to the outdoors, your place feels larger.”
Concluding Thoughts on the TrailerWrap Project
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a college pick our mobile home to be rebuild from the ground up. Tom is a lucky man indeed but he knows it and his gratitude is apparent.
If you live in a single wide mobile home like me, you can pull a few good ideas from the TrailerWrap Project. Toms use of the Japanese screen to cover his closet doors is a great idea. Most older single wides that we’ve rented didn’t have closet doors at all. They are hard to keep on the tracks. The lightweight doors would be easy to add to a track system.
Another great idea that I got from the TrailerWrap Project is the 2″ slats that they’ve installed around the front porch. Energy efficiency and affordability were big factors in this home building project and any time you can create shade is beneficial.
These slats or modern furring strips also help make a mobile home look more modern. My only concern is upkeep and water. That’s a lot of little places water can seep into.
The architect, Michael Hughes, leaned heavily on Swedish design with clean repetitive lines. The green concept is popular because it reduces material consumption by reusing what is around. The architect used redwood from a resale store and scrap veneer plywood. Go to your local lumber supplier and see whats cheap and make it work!
*The photos and quotes are found on several different sites, including this video:
Thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!
This article was originally published on Sep 27, 2011 and updated on June 8, 2019.