If you asked Brian and Sharon Jones “What’s the best rig for full-time living?” they will probably quip “The one you make yourself, of course!” This Texas couple knows. Their adventure-bound big DIY RV has all the best quality features of a well-made tiny house or high end RV. But it has a price tag that’s thousands of dollars less.
“I think our home is unique in the tiny home world and the RV world,” says Brian, 45. He and his wife Sharon, 49, have seen enough RVs through the years to back up their confidence. They hit the road in 2012 when Sharon put her nursing job aside to follow a passion for photography and Brian stopped driving truck to write his first full-length novel, Indian Paintbrush. After workamping around the west and falling in love with the nomad life, they embarked on their homemade RV project after a disappointing search for second full-timing rig.
“Our 2007 Jayco travel trailer was in good shape but with no end to this lifestyle in site for us, we decided we needed something more durable that would withstand thousands of miles possibly for the next 20 to 30 years and beyond. If decide not to travel, we wanted to have a real home we could park,” says Brian.
Unfortunately, even the best quality RVs with reputations as a full-time RV rig couldn’t match their expectations of what a home on wheels should be like. Disappointed with what $100,000 would get them, they decided to invest time, money and construction skills into building their dream home.
Now, their one-of-a-kind big DIY RV design is chronicled at their blog. The tiny house movement inspired their project. It features a maintenance-free metal exterior and quality wood finishes planned for the interior. A robust solar electric power system will enable them to continue the boondocking lifestyle they love. Most of the labor has been done with their own two hands, other than when a friend helped set up the steel subframe, and helped with some of the plywood sheathing and sheet metal.
When complete, they’ll probably invest close to $70,000 in project materials. In return, they’ll have a road-ready, full-time RV home on wheels with exceptional quality. “I realize that doesn’t include labor, but I also believe we’ll have a far superior home,” explains Brian.
The RV’s frame and foundation is built with heavier gauge steel and better quality than a production RV frame. They expect theirs to stand the test of towing across thousands of miles over the toughest terrain. They purposely left out slide-outs, hydraulics, electric motors and other conventional RV systems, which Brian says ultimately become maintenance and repair issues neither want to deal with. Their big DIY RV is heavier than a typical production fifth wheel, but they’re happy with the trade-off.
The Big DIY RV Specs:
- Towed by a 2017 Dodge RAM 3500 4×4 dually regular cab featuring the Cummins diesel with 900 ft lbs torque, Aisin 6 speed automatic and 4:10 rear axle ratio, giving it the highest trailer load rating of approximately 31,200 lbs.
- Built on a purchased trailer with (3) 7,000 lb axles (total axle weight rating is 21,000 lbs) with a 30,000 lb hitch coupler.
- The RV is 43’ along the roof backbone and 13’6” tall at the peak
- Completed weight will be 18000 lbs to 19000 lbs empty and dry
- 200 gallons of fresh water capacity with 100 gallons of black and 100 gallons of gray
- Total length will be 60’ feet.
The project started in May 2018 and has taken longer than expected as they build it on a relative’s property. “It’s pretty slow with just the two of us working on it,” says the former commercial truck driver. He wants to finish by October 2019.
“We’re dying to get our wheels rolling again! We haven’t sat in one spot fr so long in over 6 years!”