So, for those of you that don’t know us, We’re the Ruiz’s, and we live in a tent. You can stay up to date on recent events by following us on IG:https://www.instagram.com/denforourcubs/
=ZAC – KATIE – FOX – GRIZZLY=
Yes, everyone’s first reaction to hearing the word tent is a slight tilt of the head. You can almost feel the wave of thoughts about the four of us all shoved into a small camping tent, backed by a wall of questions about how we do accomplish our everyday tasks. It’s not until they actually see photos that they realize, “Ohhhhhhhh I see! Like a BIG tent! I’ve recently stopped saying “Tent” and just say “Square Yurt” since most people understand the yurt concept.
Why a canvas tent? This journey has a lot of back story which starts with us leaving OC for a better quality life. You can read about the start of our journey here https://denforourcubs.wordpress.com/about/ But this will pick up mostly where that post leaves off.
Our main goal was to build a livable space, while spending as little money as possible. Yes, there are other many other living options we could have chosen, but something about the challenge of living in a tent sucked us in. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, and I haven’t been able to find anyone living in a modernized canvas tent full time with kids. So, then it became a “Can it be done” scenario for us.
When we found out that we had an opportunity to move onto some river front property in NM, the offer was too good to pass up! The only problem was now, how do we get ONTO the property as quickly and as inexpensively as possible? With a Camper outlet not too far from where we’d setup camp, the first choice was to buy an old camper (which we did), and renovate it. That would get us onto the property the quickest, but the thought of spending a NM winter in tiny a 19ft camper was NOT an appealing idea!
Building a yurt has been something Katie and I have talked about for years, but the circular design and price point was just not what we were looking for. If only they made Square Yurts…
After a few weeks of research, I came across Canvas tents. The solution to our problem! A Square Yurt! I started pricing everything out, and figured we could do the full 20×16′ build for $5,000 (or less), which ended up being on point for us! We ended up coming across an old canvas tent at a local shop that we snagged for a great price! A new one in the size we wanted would have ended up costing about $1600+, so that helped the budget a lot!
Our plan was to live in the camper while we built the tent so we could be onsite and not have to rush. So we moved into our camper and setup camp. We lived in it for a total of 4 months
Now, I’m no builder. I do some minor wood working, but I 100% didn’t trust myself to build something structural with the possibility of heavy snow load and the pretty high winds that can come through the area. Lucky for me, I know a local Crocodile Dundee-like man, who also happens to be a carpenter!
We started by building the deck, which was the most tedious part, especially trying to getting it all leveled. (took about 2 full days of work!)
Then we built all the wall studs and trusses as 1 piece
We set and leveled each one individually.
Once they were up, we just needed to slide the tent over! (easier said than done!)
I paneled the lower half of the structure with pro panel. Eventually, if we decide we can live in it through another winter, we’ll get a custom tent made that will cover the full frame which would make a huge difference for keeping the tent warm.
Because the tent has no windows, we decided to panel the front of the tent with clear polycarbonate sheets to let the largest amount of light in, and to make the small space seem much more roomy. We also went with French doors so we can open them up to our 10×20′ deck in the summer time.
I built out the interior by myself, and built all of the furniture, countertops and shelving that I was capable of building with a bunch of barn wood I have. We do have limited electricity, so I used Led bulbs for most of the lights I made for the tent. LED bulbs take up very little wattage, so they were essential for the the tent. (My full time job is making creative lighting for our shop- MOONSTONEFOX So this was one of my favorite parts of designing the interior of our home!).
The whole tent took about 2 weeks of Building hours and cost about $4500. Building a livable home doesn’t get much cheaper than that!
So that just about sums up the build! We’re still working on details and getting things built inside, but here are some current photos of where we’re at right now!
If you guys have any questions let me know in the comments! I’ll also be doing future posts, so if you have any “specific areas of life, and how we manage” questions you’d like the answers to, let me know!
5 MONTH UPDATE:
So we’ve almost made it through winter living in the tent. We’ve had nights that have been well in the single digits and it honestly hasn’t been a problem staying warm. We’ve been using a indoor propane heater and that’s worked great! It’s snowed, we’ve had high winds, but the tent is holding strong! We’ve also done a lot of decorating and painting which have really made this place feel so much more like our home!