Tortoise Shell Home – Best Tiny House Value

Bill Kastrinos’s tiny Tortoise Shell Homes have my vote for the best tiny house value. Bill builds a solid tiny house on wheels from wood or steel. The design is a simple pitched or flat roof with a bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping loft. You can order a complete house or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer you can get the framed house on trailer ready for your finishing touch.

Pictured here is the Naked Galapagos which costs about $7,500. A complete Galapagos costs just over $20,000. In all my looking I can’t find anything that offers so much value for so little money. You could build a simple tiny house on a permanent foundation with lumber for less but if you want your tiny house to be mobile Bill’s Tortoise Shell Homes are a great deal.

The steel framing option reduces weight significantly and improves strength. Bill’s is also a professional builder turned tiny house builder so the quality of his work is top notch. His shop is in Rohnert Park, California just north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Sonoma County. Photo credit Tortoise Shell Homes.

7 thoughts on “Tortoise Shell Home – Best Tiny House Value

  1. BJ says:

    I’m deifinitely favoring this lightweight shell…could build with pallets but would be much much heavier (and not as easy to move). This will be a family project for my 12 kids and me: to teach responsible utilization of earth’s resources, energy independence and minimalist consumerism…it will also serve as a guest casita ,and will eventually be my roving retirement home (to fulfill the promise of “1 month at your house, 1 month at your house….”)

    What is the estimated finished weight?

    Do you recommend foam core insulated panels to finish for insulation and weight minimization?

    What is the best exterior choice?

    What about the cost and estimated power needs for the home and power production for solar system (high-efficiency Sanyo PVPs)? On roof or separate tree? Inverter? grey water tanks? Water collection? What else a I not asking? 😉

    Are recommended heaters electric –or propane boat heaters?

  2. BJ says:

    Thanks. I know I will be utilizing lightweight (but attractive) pocket door panels (much as Jay does for a shower door)..and will utilize every possible attractive organizational/storage concept. I like the Japanese nesting furniture concepts…allows for flexibility…after all, who needs a guest room EVERY day? (if we did we wouldn’t be building these homes). Hanging storage, bulkheads, stair bookshelves, hidden drawers, and vertical storage solutions, in addition to flexible wallmounted cubbies and roll down storage for the little things that we so often find we need (esp in a little storage shed on the outside).

    Additional things I see in mine: a gray water system, rain water collection and filtration, composting toilet, and a solar clothes dryer;).

    Being a bit of a loner at heart (yes, with 12 kids, I still value my privacy) and a year round outdoor enthusiast, I definitely want to incorporate a folding wall solarium and integrated solar panel awning-style roof for the same…something that can fold up and roll up when moving, but be secure and usable when settled. That would facilitate year round plantings in a container garden, a cozy bench could have a lid that raises to reveal its double duty as a vermacompost bin … and would make the space very practical for longterm use…add a portable firepit and a french press and no one would need look for me for months on end.

  3. Nadine says:

    Love the idea. I believe that I live in a type of turtle tiny home. It is a 35 ft motorhome that I live in year round. I spend 6 months in Maine on the coast and the other 6 in Key West Fl. How is that cost effective? I spend nothing on heating or A/C. That in itself compensates for the fuel I spend to get from point A to point B, plus I like where I live. It is a little over 300sq ft of living space. Not everyones idea of a tiny house, but it meets the criteria. Did I mention I use solar panels and all LED lights and use all green or organics for everything where I can. That includes cat litter and food !!

    • Michael Janzen says:

      I personally think there are four main differences between a tiny house and RV:

      1. Aesthetics. A tiny house looks like a house, even more than a mobile home might look like one. Not suggesting one is better than another, just pointing out this very obvious difference.
      2. Tiny houses are built like houses and are truly 4 season homes. RVs tend to be tough in the winter unless you travel with the seasons.
      3. Tiny houses are much heavier and tougher to move. While being portable it is important to note that if portability is desired an RV or trailer is preferred.
      4. Tiny houses are often owner-built. There is something to be said for being able to build your own home.

      Just my two cents. RV’s and trailers are great at what they are designed for and tiny houses are no replacement. They simply provide another alternative to those looking to live light.

  4. Bullgator7 says:

    love living of the grid. 12 volt solar electirc fence chargers are great power sources,come with panel and battery. seems like most solar power users want to cont running big appliances. go with all 12 volts lighting, leds, boat 12v ac units, and 12 volt fridges. for fire i use propane.for waste use composting toilet. I have a clivus multrom apt unit can support two people. solves the waste water problem. working on a gypsy wagon design.

  5. Gabriel says:

    I liked the idea of using something other than wood for the skeleton. I have seen a closer look at that reveals steel studs which I have often seen in drywall installations.
    I am unfamiliar with that kind of use for steel studs and need your opinion on that:

    As far as I remember, the studs are rigid enough and difficult to bend, but do not resist “twisting” or torsion as much as wood does. I don’t know if the house stands high wind velocities, even well below hurricane levels. It’s difficult to see the thickness of the studs in the tortoiseshellshome website, but they look thin. I never saw a “stand-alone” structure of studs and it was always used as a dressing to an existing wall.

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