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A revolution of sorts began in the 1970s. Caravaners in New Zealand were looking for an inexpensive way to live a more nomadic lifestyle. Purchasing old farm trucks or working with vehicles in their possession, the Kiwis built unique living quarters, called a house truck, mainly from recycled materials.
These “house trucks” allowed them to become more transient. New Zealand embraced mobile residences, with less stringent laws than other countries. That way, the vehicles could remain on the road.
What Is a House Truck?
Any truck used as a foundation to build a mobile home is a house truck. Each one is different, as they’re from refurbished items. These homemade rigs aren’t allowed in many parts of the world, as they aren’t always structurally sound or roadworthy.
But the trend of house trucking really took off with the counterculture movements in the 1960s. The hippie lifestyle brought together groups of people interested in a nomadic existence. They were the perfect vehicle in which to explore.
New Zealand seemed to be at the forefront of this trend, with the first convoy of house trucks to travel as an artists’ show. It was called the Nambassa Winter Show with Mahana. From its conception in 1978 to today, several housetruckers still travel together. They were either producing transient shows or attending them.
What Types of Trucks Are Best for House Trucks?
What began as a necessity for an inexpensive travel vehicle turned into genius when the first house truckers remodeled flatbed farm trucks into mobile homes. In New Zealand, old Bedford or International trucks seemed to be the vehicle of choice on which to build.
They could recycle wood from imported car crates and demolished homes to create the exterior structure. They then add a used pot-belly stove for heat and barter for windows. And second-hand stores were useful in finding odd items to aid in the construction.
Some enterprising individuals stripped old school buses down to their frames, creating handmade house trucks almost from the ground up. Stock tanks became bathtubs, and wind turbines harnessed power for electricity as the house trucks improved in design.
Today’s caravans replicate some of the creative designs of their predecessors, with expensive commercial trucks as their foundations. But they all seem to be built with that same urgent sense of freedom and independence from a more conventional lifestyle.
Can You Build Your Own House Truck?
Anyone with the desire and access to materials can build a house truck. The trick is building it where you can drive and park it legally. New Zealand seems to be the only country that allows most to meander the roads and camp freely.
In fact, many still travel in family groups from city to city. A few areas actually offer camping permanently to these trucks. This might be akin to camping in a retro campground in the U.S. today.
With the tiny house movement becoming a popular option, building your own may be making a comeback of sorts. Many are designing their own tiny homes on truck beds, bypassing the need to hire a tow vehicle to move the house, giving them more mobility.
- Coppard, Steve (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Keep in Mind: If this motorhome isn’t for you, try a micro camper. Here are 10 Best Micro Campers Any Car Can Tow
How Much Would It Cost to Build a House Truck?
The final cost of constructing a house truck could go up to thousands of dollars, depending on the cost and the building materials. If recycling items, the price might be minimal.
But if your home on a flatbed trailer or in a school bus requires more high-end supplies with today’s amenities, you might be looking at a big price tag.
House Trucks You Have to See
Because they’re handcrafted, each one is unique with a story all its own. Here are three wildly different tiny homes created from trucks:
Salvaged Material House Truck
With a starting foundation of an old Bedford truck, this Aussie couple has created a cozy, welcoming home with recycled items like stained glass windows, wine crates, tin sheets, and cast-off lumber cuts. It’s handy that they have extensive carpentry skills, too!
With an elevated bed and a trap door shower, this house truck has a few surprises. The home sits semi-permanently on a parcel of land where the family has traded their working skills for land rent. They have a large garden and have built a detached outdoor kitchen and a compost toilet with its own outhouse.
Keep in Mind: If a house truck isn’t your style, these camping pods will give you The Ultimate Glamping Experience!
Offgrid Tiny House Truck
A truly mobile house truck has been built by a solo female traveler in New Zealand. Unlike other housetruckers, she created her home on an entirely blank slate, starting with a brand new Isuzu commercial truck.
The modern lines and use of expansive windows make this a serene and stylish tiny home. Attention to detail and clever use of space creates a large environment. The materials used, like cedar siding and thick insulation, increase its inhabitant’s comfort.
This Kiwi has added a small wood stove for heat, and she enjoys almost endless wall space to hang artwork and make her home feel quite welcoming. There are tons of storage and a large bathroom, as well.
Cabin House Truck
As with all house trucks, this version is of a uniquely personal design. Built on a 1996 Ford F350 diesel pickup truck, this Alaskan overlanding camper is created using ordinary wood as its base. The owner designed his rig to withstand constant movement along rough roads. It’s much like a little log cabin with a metal roof and fireplace pipe.
This house truck is extremely well-thought-out, utilizing every inch of space with dual uses. Aesthetics were also important to the owner, right down to making sure many see the fireplace flames from every vantage point. For a house that fits in an eight-foot truck bed, it hits all the necessary amenities and adds quite a few extra details.
A Unique RVing Experience
From hippie caravans to agricultural escapes, house trucks provide economical homes that can move from one campsite to another. “Homeowners” can put their own marks on these shelters, building them from scratch with found materials.
These unique campers have begun to disappear recently, but there is a strong chance we may see a resurgence of house trucks soon, built by creative dreamers who long to travel in a vehicle of their own design.
Have you ever thought of owning a house truck?
Last update on 2023-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API