The Mad Housers

Low Rider

A Low Rider is composed of three parts - a living unit, a storage unit, and a porch. This makes for eleven panels all told, but there are only seven blueprints necessary. This is because the all four side panels are essentially identical, and the porch is simply a living unit floor panel. Here is the sketchup model for the Low Rider.

The Living Unit

The Living Unit is 8 feet by 4 feet on the ground, and is a little under four feet high in the front, dropping to slightly over three feet high in the back.

Because it cannot be safely heated with a stove, all panels are insulated. The floor is built up with two layers of asphalt-impregnated fiberboard and topped with 1/2" plywood, which both insulates the floor and builds it up to the level of the front panel's bottom plate, making it easier to clean. The roof is two layers of plywood sandwiching a layer of rigid foam insulation. And all the walls, front, back, and sides, incorporate three layers - an outermost layer of 3/8" plywood, an inner layer of rigid insulation, and a protective innermost layer of builder paper or house wrap, which prevents damage to the insulation.

House wrap works wonderfully as a protective layer for the fragile insulation, but can be expensive. Building paper also works well and gives a neat appearance, but it can be quite dark; it's a nice touch to paint the interior a light color if you use a dark material. To prevent a hassle in installation, tape the protective layer to the insulation before constructing the panel; this keeps it tight to the insulation.

The insulation in the floor and roof is added during assembly, but the insulation in the walls is built into the panels.

The Side Walls

The side walls get special mention for three reasons. First, the dimensions of the panels are identical for both the living unit and the storage unit, the only difference being that the storage units are not insulated. Second, the side panels are not square, and must be constructed carefully. Third, the panel for the left side and the right side are not identical, but instead are mirror images of each other. Take care not to make 'two left feet'.

The Storage Unit

The storage unit is a simpler, smaller, uninsulated version of the living unit; if you're building a Low Rider for the first time, you may wish to build a storage unit first.