I have been thinking about building and renovating tiny houses for a long time. I was raised in Claremont, a city on the edge of LA, California and my father taught being an elementary school teacher and amateur carpenter, so he taught me carpentry. I’d often help build theater sets in junior high, senior high school, and college. Then, after college, I worked in video production for 10 years, but I became burned from constantly sitting behind a desk.
In 2012, I moved to Portland, Oregon since it felt more spacious than where I was living, and as the mother of my children, and her family, lived there. In 2016, I met a pal called Cody, who helped me renovate my garage right into a shop. Cody had an engineering degree, which helped me feel confident in my own carpentry work. After we started, I realized that building and renovating tiny houses, vans and sheds was more pleasurable than anything I have been doing previously.
Once we were focusing on my garage that year, we started discussing other projects. We were thinking about the thought of creating a treehouse to rent being an Airbnb property, but we didn’t have the specific property to create it on. So, we made a decision to create a tiny house on wheels. Both of us took out bank cards and said that certain folks would choose the trailer, and another would choose the lumber. The tiny house took per year to create and after it had been finished, we parked it in my own backyard in Portland. Then i built another tiny house in 2018.
I didn’t know very well what I would do next. Luckily, I had a pal who was an over-all contractor, and he asked easily would help him with demolition. Whilst helping my pal in 2019, I had an Airbnb guest stay static in the tiny house in my own backyard. Her name was Amber, and she was included with her daughter. I was divorced with two kids and most of us hit it off hanging out together that weekend, which been the weekend of my daughter’s fourth birthday.
Amber and I started speaking via FaceTime, then she arrived for a trip to Portland again, and from then on I visited visit her in Austin. After those first two visits I started making the trek back-and-forth between Portland and Austin regularly. Eventually we got married on New Year’s Eve 2021.
Things changed through the pandemic. I couldn’t fly to see Amber, therefore i bought a van, converted it, and drove it right down to Austin. Whilst I was converting the van, I posted it on Instagram and a pal of mine asked easily may help him convert two vans into tiny homes. Through the pandemic, the van and bus business became popular as people weren’t permitted to fly out, so that it appeared like everybody wished to be on the highway.
In October 2021, I wanted more vans to convert and sell, and I ran across a two storey bus from the U.K. where they call them “double decker buses” and instantly knew that I needed it. I love focusing on out-of-the-box projects. In college, I needed to possess a bus such as this. I played ultimate frisbee and I recall searching for buses that I possibly could get for my frisbee team, for all of us to operate a vehicle around in. If you ask me, these British “double decker” buses are cool and nostalgic. So, I contacted the dog owner, who lived in Vancouver. He explained that I’d love it, and even though it had low ceilings, I’d have the ability to renovate them. Before seeing the bus, I paid $1,000 upfront for this.
I did so not know where I would place the bus and how I would focus on it, since it was my first independent project, but I have been pulling on threads and letting things happen because they came along, instead of worrying about the near future. Weeks later, I met a pal called Ian who allowed me to go my tiny houses onto his property, on a river right close to his sauna and bathhouse in Redwood Forest. The location was beautiful also it was superior to my backyard.
The program was for the bus to become a tiny house rental property for guests in my own backyard. It had been lots of things before this, among which being truly a popular food cart in Portland, called “The Grilled Cheese Grill” for a few years. Before that, the bus was operating as soon as 1953, in Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England.
I knew that I had to focus on the ceiling, as upstairs it had been suprisingly low. So, I took out the ground in the entryway and turned that in to the kitchen, and took out the ground at the front end of the bus and turned it right into a bathroom. This gave me scope for a taller ceiling height upstairs. The cool thing is that for this reason, I could devote a normal-sized double bed, making way for your bathrooms downstairs. Altogether, the bus cost $8,000 and renovations cost $12,000. I also didn’t pay myself to accomplish it.
Whilst I was building the bus in the driveway, people would stop because I kept “The Grilled Cheese Grill” to remain the bus. Often, I’d get asked easily was reopening “The Grilled Cheese Grill”, and I’d explain that I was turning the bus right into a tiny house to book. People thought that it had been amazing. At one point, the bus would get cat calls and honks since it looked monumental.
I acquired married in January 2022 and finished the bus renovations in August 2022. The initial couple of weeks of renting out the bus were amazing. We only had three available days from the month. I charge $79 to $149 a night based on demand, but I’ve already made around $2,700 from renting it out, in per month, in fact it is already 80 percent booked up for another couple of months.
I clean the bus on the times that folks leave and I’m in touch with everybody who stays there. People think it’s great. One mom brought her two kids and she made them a fancy grilled cheese sandwich, in memory of “The Grilled Cheese Grill.”
Renovating the bus was exciting for me personally. I could make decisions by myself, but having my children mixed up in process was also good. My young daughter would help me move things around, which managed to get clear if you ask me that she’ll be really thinking about making things. Addressing be creative and watching everything coming together was an extremely fun process.
All views expressed in this post will be the author’s own.
As told to Carine Harb.