Rolling Homes, the Art of Building a Housetruck

Everyone you know calls you that crazy artist, actually you just have your own sense of style. The idea of buying a motorhome, just like everybody else, rubs you the wrong way. Down the street is a used car lot with a second hand truck, about two ton size. They want to get rid of it cheap. With no body mounted on the back, they figure it’s worth a whole lot less. What they don’t know is it’s exactly what your looking for to build your own housetruck.

Way back in the early 70’s, when all the hippies were making their statement by going a different way, alternative lifestyles were the in thing. Many did exotic paint jobs on old school buses, and hit the road to the next commune. Others combined their carpentry skills with their artistic flare and created some extremely ornate and well built motorized homes of their own. Many lived in their creations for years, and some for decades.

Others not only built and lived in their Rolling Homes, but published books about their exploits. One of the first books to explore the subject was written by Jane Lidz, published in 1979. Appropriately titled Rolling Homes, it’s a gold mine of ideas for constructing your own mobile domain. Jane’s book has been out of print for many years, and is considered quite a collectors item.

One of those ranked as both builder and writer is Roger D. Beck,. His book, Some Turtles Have Nice Shells, documents many of these trucks built into rolling homes. Published in 2002, his book containing 400 photographs of his collection of pictures spanning decades of observing artistic creations. Included in the book is a photo journal of the progress of his fourth housetruck, built on a 1952 Federal 5 ton truck chassis. To see more of Roger’s creation as well as projects of others go to:

Mr. Sharkey is another builder in the field of Housetrucks. His collection of articles about may different rigs will amaze you. So many ideas and artistic touches. Stained glass windows, natural wood throughout, even lofts and glass front wood stoves. Who would want a standard motorhome after looking through all this wonderful information. Mr. Sharkey spent well beyond 10 years creating a real masterpiece from a 1963 Crown school bus. To see more on his project and many others be sure to visit:

New Zealand is a hot spot for house trucks, the book “Home Free” published in 1994 covers the down under take on the subject. Many people working the craft circuit and fairs chose to live in their own mobile habitats. Others hold gatherings around the country to display their handy work. The country is more excepting of a gypsy lifestyle, allowing many to remain mobile.

One thing to remember, when you build a signature piece, such as a Rolling Home, you aren’t being subtle. This kind of home will draw attention to you, people are curious. They want to see what kind of person you might be, they want to check out your portable mansion. The questions will flow forever. Not a bad thing over all, as you will be the center of attention where ever you go. If you like making a grand entrance, just arrive at a campground in one of these ornate vehicles, enough said.

Maybe you still want to explore your artistic side, but with a little less notice. Consider a used U-haul truck, or similar van bodied truck. From the outside it can look like a stock box truck, but open the door and it’s your own Taj Mahal. Refrain from installing a big picture window, limit yourself to a couple small ones higher up so people can’t see in. Then go park in any business area and you’ll fit right in. No one will suspect the truck with “Joe’s Plumbing” painted down the side is actually your incognito home on wheels.

The best part of building your own home on wheels is the quality you can put into it. Thick walls with real R-value in the insulation, personal artistic touches, such as stained glass accents. Maybe a high quality fancy wood stove and a leather sofa. Instead of having a queen sized bed taking up valuable floor space, maybe a Murphy style bed will work. Down to sleep, and tip it up into the wall for day time.

Most of the books mentioned are available at or your local Barnes & Nobel. The web is an excellent source of information. Plus you can buy yourself the truck of your dreams on E-Bay and get started. The sooner you start, the sooner you too can live the life of the Gypsy’s

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