Build a Gypsy Wagon in the Woods – All It Takes Is Ingenuity, Elbow Grease And (mostly) Recycled Components!

by , 06/21/15

cedar forest, wagon life, small house, home on wheels, nature and home

The first thing you notice about this gypsy wagon is the surrounding smell of cedar forest and the sound of crashing waves from the lake, which is just a stone’s throw over the hill. In the winter, woodsmoke spirals up from the chimney that juts out of the curved wagon roof. There’s a little lane leading up to the green glade, but it’s nicest to arrive at the caravan on foot.

The 8’ wide x 20’ long caravan, or vardo, has been parked in this particular beautiful forest for a few years, but it’s utterly moveable by a truck or tractor because it has wheels. It’s built on a salvaged 5 ton truck chassis that cost $100, purchased from the local wrecking yard. The floor joists for the house are nailed to fir beams that are bolted to the metal frame. There are regular 2 x 4 framed walls sitting on top of the floor joists and the whole structure is crowned with curve cut roof rafters. The 8’ x 20’ size was determined by the width legally allowed on public roads without the need for a “WIDE LOAD” escort car.

The construction methods used to create this wagon are a combination of tradition and ingenuity, and the building materials are both new and recycled. The floor is local B.C. hemlock T & G and most of the windows can be opened to let in fresh mountain air in. Even the windows are secondhand, scoured from the local classifieds. The unique round window at one end is a repurposed 1970’s picnic table top. The 1 1/2” nautical rope surrounding the window is the perfect flexible weather stripping, inside and out.

160 square feet, small house, art home

To accommodate the curve in the roof and the eyebrow entrance, the roofing material is flexible metal sheeting. There’s a raised ridge vent and two 3’ x 4’ raised Lexan curved skylights. The exterior shingles cost nothing but elbow grease and an artist’s eye — the shingles are sourced from spruce guitar top ‘seconds’, halved and split with a hatchet. The curves on the inside of the dwelling are covered with stretched canvas, firmly stapled in place and painted with white wash. The wagon is fully wired and has an RV plug outside for connecting it to a power source. The small 3 burner propane stove/oven was recycled from a camper van. Aficionados of the growing-in-popularity microhome movement, like The Tiny House Blog, are well versed in sourcing these small home components.

So, what about when nature calls?  There is a nearby composting toilet in an A-frame outhouse. A cast iron clawfoot bathtub over a firepit provides a hot soak for the hardy and an outdoor tap is connected to fresh spring water.

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  1. birdacre September 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

    very nice, if you want to see my wagon you can do a search under kevins gypsy wagon and you will find about 100 photos of my project from start to finish. hope all is well. kevin in ct

  2. Dean Overholser August 1, 2014 at 5:50 am

    Hi im building a g wagon for a neibhor it will fixed but with wagon wheels and all I love the concept and ideas that people have im a builder and already have people interested in the playhouse Gypsy wagon back yard style Peace&Love DEAN

  3. Robert Chester May 7, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I love your design …. are there more?

  4. Abigail Espinoza March 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

    How many can live in there? It seems like there’s enough room for just one small couple. </3

  5. cjsloane March 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Can you tell me what the interior walls are made out of?

  6. Samantha Toscano February 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Great piece! Just wondering, when was the home built? And do you know who or at least how many people live there? Thanks!

  7. Sherry LaSota February 14, 2014 at 4:32 am

    Oh I wish you had a PinIt button for Pinterest. Love this!!

  8. Lynda Cakebread July 7, 2013 at 8:12 am


  9. gardenbeez March 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

    This home is amazing and inspiring!

  10. William John December 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Does this come with an Out House?

  11. phoenix December 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Living in south jersey and looking at designing 2 of them. But need the first one to deal with me and my three daughters to be able to sleep in. So working
    on a bunk bed design for one end. Kids love camping and my back and neck are messed up so need more comfortable sleeping area. Looking for designs blue prints anything to simplify designing. Also what kind of truck chasis did you actually use.

  12. Ruth Iorio December 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I love this.

    The biggest problem with mobile living is finding an ideal location to park up in. You almost need to buy land, which defeats the purpose a little. I want to convert a school bus but increased regulations regarding parking and height in LA are making it difficult. Curious as to where this is located? Maybe I need to move ; )

    If you have any recommendations for caravan builders and / or school bus converters on the West Coast please message me or reply to this comment. Would really like to get our of our teeny van and into a larger, but still simple way of living which isn’t an ugly, power-consuming house….

  13. Mmadwalk September 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Do you ever rent out this tiny piece of heaven?

  14. ryenski September 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    What kind of skeleton is in the window in image #7?

  15. Joanne O September 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    On Hornby Island and there is a lovely young couple, Michelle and Lawrence, who are building gypsy caravans. Check out their website. build

  16. cynthia daniel August 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I’m eady to move in immediately!!! Please, let me know when my little bit of heaven is ready for a new caregiver

  17. QuinnAinsley August 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    I’ve been in love with tiny houses since I discovered them six years ago, and I think this one takes the cake for magical charm! I was stunned to learn that it is not far from where I live near Castlegar!

    I think I would add a light clay plaster finish to absorb and release heat and moisture (and negative ions). It would likely crack when moved, but is easy to repair.

    I would love to get contact info for ‘an awesome caravan builder in BC’. My husband and I are only a few years from an empty nest, and this is the lifestyle we are moving towards. Although we are improving, we’re not yet as handy as we could be.

    Thank you for sharing this joyful, inspiring home!

  18. quiet1 August 29, 2012 at 8:55 am

    :) now i know what to do with my horse trailer :) great ideas!

  19. Ajakseat August 29, 2012 at 7:29 am

    This one needs space and a friendly climate too.

  20. sharon strachan August 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

    This is fantastic….I want one! :)

  21. neko2631 August 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I got more and more choked up as I looked at your photos – to the point of tears. I think I’ll cry serendipity. I can’t build one of these, but if any makers would take payments, I could buy one. I live in Oregon in the US, but I have family in BC so traveling there wouldn’t be difficult. Can you turn me on to a couple of makers? It might end up meaning the world to me.

  22. Ilener August 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Absolutely breathtaking!
    How could I get some plans for this? I’m not sure about building the arched ceiling, which gives it so much!


  23. jennifermack August 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I love this – and beautiful design .

  24. rachel ross August 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Dear mchoment- I am so pleased that you love this wagon. I share the love and interest in the movement with you! Living simply is a way of being more closely connected to our values in a way that is tangible, eh? Thank you so much for taking a moment of your life to comment on this project….I appreciate it!~Rachel

  25. mchoment August 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I love this. Not sure where I would be able to put it yet but I am researching both places and types of tiny houses, it’s great movement.

  26. rachel ross August 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Hi ildiko1- Glad you like it..I do too! It’s a beautiful, artistic peaceful place to be. How could you have one? Probably two choices. You could build one-basically an 8′ x 20′ little house on a stripped down truck chassis- Or, you could buy one- there are a few builders around….where are you? I could connect you with an awesome caravan builder in BC Canada! ~Rachel

  27. ildiko1 August 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    LOVE IT! Can i have one????

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