Tag Archives: cheap

Cheap Green RV Living Resource

Good Morning!

I have been a big fan of the website cheaprvliving.com for a long time now. It is full of really useful information from Vandwellers and Fulltimers who have been living the alternative, mobile lifestyle for a long time, in everything from minivans to school buses. I really appreciate the no-frills attitude of the site and the vans/RVs/camper conversions that they feature. They have simple ideas about simple living.

I just recently discovered that cheaprvliving.com launched a sister site, called Cheap GREEN RV Living, and it’s all about how to live more sustainably in a camper, bus, converted van, or car. There are lots of ideas for off-grid alternative energy systems, boondocking tips and tricks, and how to respect the planet while living more freely. Some of the articles on CheapGreenRVLiving.com talk about how to pare down your possessions, some talk about the logistics of using the toilet, and others give detailed step by step instructions for installing a PV system on your van’s roof. My favorite page is the product reviews page. This guy is super honest and has actually used all of the products he reviews, so I found this article really useful.

Anyway, check out both sites if you haven’t already, you won’t be disappointed!

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Guest Post: Celina Dill Pickle, 16 year-old Tiny House builder, talks about keeping your eyes open and finding what you need

Today is our first guest post here at The COMET Camper blog, and I am really excited about introducing Celina Dill to you all. I mentioned her and her blog in an earlier post here, and we immediately started talking about guest posts and sharing ideas. She’s got an incredible eye for finding amazing second-hand building materials and interiors. Her frugality and style is impeccable! Also, Celina is 16 years old, and left traditional schooling to start building her own tiny house, something I strongly endorse and think is downright awesome.

So here it is, our first guest post. Thanks Celina for sharing!

Eyes Wide Open

by Celina Dill

Who am I?  “South Whidbey teen builds tiny transportable house” This just appeared in our local paper – check it out – http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/139133434.html

In our culture everyone seems to want the newest shiniest things. This attitude tends to create a lot of waste, because every time a new product comes out on the market the older one’s worth decreases. The trick is using this fact to your advantage. For example – If you use your computer to check email and listen to music, you don’t need the newest mac book air, with the speediest operating system. I am writing this on my trusty five year old mac book that I got off of craigslist for under $400. I do high level photoshop and image editing, and it does everything I need and more.The question to ask is what do you need (but never forget the wants). Then keep your eyes open wide. Question. Look at things for their possibilities. It is amazing what a coat of paint and a little effort can do!

My dad is working in a friend’s barn refurbishing/customizing a 1956 Airfloat trailer (EveryoneCanDance.com) but that is another story. One day we pull up to work on the trailer and saw a pile of large Douglas Fir logs. We questioned the owner, who said they were going to be fire wood. After talking to a few knowledgeable people in the wood world, I worked out a trade to get four of the logs. With the help of a good friend, they along with another log given to me by a student of ours (we teach dance – EveryoneCanDance.com) are now milled up in to beautiful flooring, siding and trim. My cost $0. Yes it took a lot of work, but what I got out of it is much more.

When you are searching for something specific, it is rare to find it at a low price. Unless you are willing to live with a few dents or scratches. I had been scouring craigslist for the perfect sink for months, when I found it. A beautiful 30′ cast iron enameled farmhouse sink, plus it happened to be just down the road. The only reason they were selling this sink is because they were getting a bigger one, plus it had a few little scratches. So $175 for a $1000 sink is ok with me!

Or how about my new Kohler Memoirs toilet? My dad and I were in Restore is Seattle just looking around when I spotted it. The beautiful lines of this decorative toilet, caught my eye and the price tag said $45. I couldn’t believe it, it looked perfect – so we went inside and asked. The catch? The toilet bowl is 3/4 of an inch tilted sideways. It was a manufacturing defect. But I figure my house will be a little off skew, so it will fit right in.

I found my Carrara marble counter top for $100 in a wooden crate behind a granite and marble place in the industrial area of Seattle. The key word is found. I was out there looking and asking and digging and measuring.

Another good strategy is to find people who collect things. Because at some point they will likely get rid of some of it. I got over half the wood for the studs of my house from a guy who had had it for 20 years. It was time for it to go, so I stepped in and did him a favor.

I can go on and on about what I have acquired for cheap, and thats because my eyes are open. I am constantly questioning, asking and searching. If you are doing something unique and interesting, people want to be a part of it and are willing to pitch in. But first and foremost effort is required.

Keep your eyes open,





Thanks so much Celina, your advice is so relevant today for DIYers and tiny house builders. Definitely check out Celina’s blog to see pictures of what she’s already found and what she’s still looking for. Celina and I have the same 1950’s Dixie stove (out of a camper), which is just a wonderful coincidence! Not to mention her father is restoring my favorite type of camper EVER – the Airfloat. And read the article about her that she links to…it has great pictures and talks more about her “unschooling” which I whole-heartedly agree with!

More later, so stay tuned! It’s good to be BACK!



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Free stuff, Craigslist, and The Side of The Road

So I’m really thrifty, and I’ve been really thrifty since forever. There is something about scavenging for deals that is really satisfying. Most of my thriftiness and frugality has led me to rely on used or second-hand everything – clothes, shoes, building materials, furniture. I really truly do prefer used items to new ones – I love a soft, worn t-shirt, vintage furniture, and old things (they were built better back then than the crap at the mall today). I’ve gotten really good at finding just about anything for free or really cheap. I always say, ask the universe, and the universe will provide!

Here’s some of the free stuff I’ve found so far for The COMET specifically:

Gorgeous hardwood flooring still in the box, free on the side of the road

Vintage Formica countertops with aluminum trim, free day at the Re-Store in Springfield when they moved

Fabric for curtains, given to me from friends

Textured glass for windows in the exact right sizes, free day at the Re-Store

Bamboo boards and lumber for kitchen, free on the side of the road

Vintage wallpaper, free box somewhere

If I had more storage space, I’d pick up every door and window that I saw on the side of the road and build a house out of all the free building stuff I find. Seriously. If you’re interested in this stuff, Derek Diedricksen over at relaxshacks has some great tips for dumpstering and hunting for free building materials. He’s the master of re-using free found objects in build projects.

And though I think finding great used stuff for free + cheap is mostly luck, it’s definitely good to know where to look and what to look for when you’re on the hunt. I want to give you all some tips and resources for finding free stuff and cheap used building materials or salvage.

Craigslist: let’s start with the most obvious one. Craigslist is a great place to start looking for free or cheap architectural salvage or materials. Check out the Free Stuff section first, then look more specifically for things you are interested in. I also always look for campers on Craigslist – they’re cheap and you can find a lot of fixer-uppers there. And free stuff is great, but remember to factor in how far away that free thing is and how long it will take you to get there + gas costs.

The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store: I can’t really gush enough about how much I love the Re-Store. Besides the fact that it supports a fabulous cause, it’s really wonderful because you can find just about anything for reasonably cheap. They sell used (or new, but always donated) building materials and appliances/other house items. If you’re into old house stuff like I am, you’ll love the stacks and stacks of 1950’s teal sinks and matching toilets. Sometimes they have great NOS items from the past, great place for vintage nuts to score some original decor for their homes. They have windows, doors, showers, hardware, paint, flooring, just about ANYTHING you can imagine. There’s a Re-Store in Worcester that I frequent, and another really huge one in Springfield, MA that is now called Eco-Building Bargains (they just moved into a gorgeous new eco-friendly building designed by my professor!).

The Side of The Road: My first word of advice for this topic is “don’t be embarrassed!” If you’re like me, you don’t think twice about pulling over, jumping out of your car, digging through some junk, and strapping a few windows onto your roof rack. But if you’re not used to it, it can be a little funny at first. Just remember you are doing the people getting rid of the stuff a favor! And you’re recycling that stuff so it doesn’t have to go into the trash! Some people say they go out looking for free stuff at night, but I think that’s maybe more suspicious? Anyway, however you do it, don’t hesitate. Free stuff on the side of the road is the best. I’ve found brand new items and totally useful things out on the side of the road. It’s just unbelievable what people throw away.

*I like to go to yard sales and flea markets late in the day, when people just want to get rid of everything and most everything is for free. Of course, all the best stuff might be gone, but you never know, you may find a hidden treasure. I once found a great set of skeleton string lights (perfect for the awning of a super badass camper) at the end of a yard sale, free for the taking.*

Dumpstering: I don’t know of any local dumpsters that are good for building materials, so I’m not too experienced in this department. (I used to dumpster dive more often, but never found any lumber). However, dumpstering behind a building where there is a business that sells building materials or anything you may be wanting is a good idea. This is one of those activities you want to do at night. And be careful! You don’t want the cops to hassle you, so be kinda stealthy.

Freecycle.org: This is a website where you can become a member of a Freecycle group in your area and trade with other members for stuff they are getting rid of. It seems like a great idea, but I don’t really know much more about it. I should really join up! I think the only reason I haven’t is because my local group was run through a yahoo group and I just couldn’t do another email address…I’d recommend looking into it though and seeing how your local Freecycle group operates!

I hope this was helpful! Please contact me with any questions, and tell me about the best thing you ever found for free in the comments!

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